WHO I FISHED WITH: After reserving dates more than four months in advance, Mr. Joe Oliver treated two of his three sets of grandkids to morning fishing trips on Lake Belton this week.
DAY ONE: First up was Joe’s eldest son, Corey, now residing in Utah. His kids, 11-year-old twins Cullen and Presley, and 9-year-old Harper, were the focus of our attention this day.
DAY TWO: On day two I welcomed aboard Joe’s only daughter, Amber Pugh, now residing in Academy, TX. Her three kids, Ben (14), Beau (7), and Addie (6), were the focus of our attention this day.
PHOTO CAPTION: Day 1 Crew: From left, Presley, Harper, Corey, and Cullen Oliver
PHOTO CAPTION: Day 2 Crew: From left, Beau, Ben, and Addie Pugh.
PHOTO CAPTION: Largest fish Day 1: Presley Oliver, 4.75 pound hybrid striped bass.
PHOTO CAPTION: Largest fish Day 2: Beau Pugh, 8.25 pound smallmouth buffalofish.
WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton
WHEN WE FISHED: Monday and Tuesday (AM), 26 & 27 July 2021
HOW WE FISHED:
On Monday, we enjoyed near-calm conditions around sunrise, thus allowing for excellent sighting conditions to see white bass forcing shad to the surface just before, during, and after sunrise. Once these fish got up on top and stayed there a while, I was able to maneuver the boat to give everyone a shot at casting to these fish. Prior to that topwater action, and then again just after it ended, the downriggers produced well.
Once the downriggers stopped producing (as the fish slowed the pace of their patrolling and became more sedentary) we worked MAL Heavy Lures in white vertically for fish we spotted individually and in schools on Garmin LiveScope.
For the topwater fish, we were using the MAL Heavy in white. For the downrigged fish, were were using 3-armed umbrella rigs with Pet Spoons.
Around 8:15A, the fishing died down and we went to shore for a “bio break”. Things were quiet for about an hour, during which time we headed up shallow to target sunfish. The sunfish, though catchable, are just not congregated in coves as they would normally be under more stable water conditions. The still-falling elevation (about a tenth of a foot per day) has prevented this. Still, we hit two areas and landed 8 panfish on longrods with bait and let the kids get that out of their system.
Around 9AM, we spotted topwater action by white bass over deeper, open water and pursued these until the wind came up, increased wave height, and killed that bite right around 10:15AM. Our tally on this trip was 83 fish, including 76 white bass, 1 hybrid striped bass, and 6 sunfish.
On Tuesday, some things were the same and some things were different. First, we had a well-rippled surface at first light, so there was no visible topwater action. All 18 fish we caught during this “low-light bite” came as singles and doubles on the downriggers.
After the downrigging no longer produced, the two younger kids weren’t really able to retrieve the MAL Lures as needed to provoke fish to bite when fished vertically in conjunction with LiveScope, so, we cut away to sunfishing a bit earlier than on the day prior.
Up shallow the situation was the same, with falling water leading to fewer, more scattered sunfish than under normal summer conditions. We spent about an hour, from roughly 8-9A, fishing bait under floats for a total of 13 sunfish.
Around 9A, with favorable wind conditions, I looked over the same broad stretch of water which produced mid-morning topwater action for us yesterday. Just like clockwork, a few fish from a few schools got things started, then, within ten minutes the action built, with multiple large schools all forcing shad to the surface simultaneously. Numerous fish we landed regurgitated as many as five or six freshly devoured threadfin shad. This action tapered back down within an hour’s time, and, by 10:10 it was over.
I made an observation yesterday which led me to make a bait change on the topwater rods versus my lure choice for the day before. Given that the kids were not all that experienced, I noted some delay from the the time the bait hit the water to the time the retrieve began. With the MAL Heavy, the bait sinks very quickly, which is counterproductive for topwater fish. On Tuesday, I used MAL Originals, which are 1/4 oz. lighter, and accompanied that with some specific coaching on getting the bail flipped quickly and quickly starting the retrieve so as to keep the lure high up in the water column.
Our tally for Day Two was 72 fish, including 58 white bass, 1 smallmouth buffalofish, and 13 sunfish.
MAL Lures are found here: https://whitebasstools.com/
2 DAY TALLY: 155 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: Sunfishing is definitely off correlating with rapidly falling water.
Start Time: 6:20a
End Time: 10:00a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 72F on Monday, 73F on Tuesday
Elevation: 1.61′ high, .11′ fall, and a flow of 1,597cfs on Monday, 1.50′ high, .10 fall, and 1,597 CFS on Tuesday
Water Surface Temp: 82.4F on Monday, 84.1 on Tuesday
Wind Speed & Direction: S4-9 all morning on Monday, S3-7 all morning on Tuesday
Sky Condition: Cloudless with a white haze; bright both mornings
Moon Phase: Waning gibbous moon at 93% illumination on Monday; waning gibbous moon at 86% illumination on Tuesday
GT = 130
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1070 – low light downrigging while waiting on topwater to develop
**Area 1070 to 1924 – moderate topwater action
**Area vic 1924 – vertical work with MAL Heavy Lures in white with Garmin LiveScope
**Area B0160C & B0054G – sunfish
**Area B0027G through 1586 – mid-morning topwater action
**Area B0153C to 1933 – extended downrigging due to lack of topwater action
**Area 710 Cove – sunfish
**Area 1381 was center of mass for widespread mid-morning topwater action
Full-time, Professional Fishing Guide and Owner of Holding the Line Guide Service
Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide
254.368.7411 (call or text) Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com
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