WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Wednesday evening I fished an evening trip with U.S. Army retiree Garrett Ralston and his 14-year-old son, Liam.
I normally decline trips on summer afternoons, especially if kids are involved, because the first 2.5 hours of a 4 hour trip will be predictably slow.
Garrett had limited time to spend with Liam before he headed back to California to start the new school year, and my mornings are full for the next several weeks, so, I offered a “short trip” just to take in the 3 hours of light. Garrett agreed that would work for he and Liam, so we planned on it.
PHOTO CAPTION: Liam Ralston and his dad, Garrett, with 4 of the 68 white bass they landed in high heat and humidity just before sunset using MAL Original Lures in chartreuse.
WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton
WHEN WE FISHED: Wednesday (PM), 28 July 2021
HOW WE FISHED:
Summer afternoon fishing is predictably tough. No matter where I’ve looked or what I’ve done in the past 29 years on Lake Belton, the white bass just don’t fire up until after 6PM, and, truth be told, most of the catching takes place minutes before, during, and after sunset.
This trip was a prime example. I scaled back the duration of the trip to 3 hours. In the first 2.25 hours, we landed 22 fish. In the final .75 hours, we landed another 46 fish, for a grand total of 68 fish.
Around 6:45, as we ran downriggers to cover lots of ground, watching my H’bird Solix’s side-imaging like a hawk, we began to see small schools of white bass beginning to coalesce and patrol. I would spot them on side-imaging, mark them, then navigate back to them using my mapping function on my sonar unit. Some schools moved before we got back to them, but some didn’t, and those that didn’t would yield a fish or two each. Before long, enough schools were milling around in the area we were patrolling that I felt we could get them to respond to a vertical tactic using MAL Lures.
We chose MAL Heavy Lures in white for this work, and steadily caught singles and doubles as Garrett and Liam got accustomed to the assistance Garmin LiveScope offered them.
After about an hour at this, the light finally dimmed enough to spur fish to rise to the surface and trap shad there. Although the feeding was not violent or splashy (because the bait is small and doesn’t require aggressive chasing on the part of the predator fish), it was noticeable on the nearly smooth lake’s surface.
We had the fish all to ourselves as the fed on topwater for about 40 minutes. I had Garrett on my left and Liam on my right up on the bow casting deck as I ran the trolling motor manually seated between them, keeping them in casting distance and taking off fish as fast as they could catch them.
For this work, I chose long rods, large diameter spools, light line, and the MAL Original Lure in chartreuse. The Original, although it doesn’t cast as far as the MAL Heavy, also does not sink as quickly, so, when I wanted to be sure my clients were keeping their retrieves up high in the water column where the fish were, I went with this 5/8 oz. bait over the 7/8 oz. bait.
By the time the fish quit right at dark, we’d landed 68 fish, 100% of which were white bass.
MAL Lures are found here: https://whitebasstools.com/
TALLY: 68 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: USACE is releasing at 1,595 cfs on Belton.
Start Time: 6:20a
End Time: 10:10a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 75F
Elevation: 1.36′ high, .12′ fall, and a flow of 1,595cfs
Water Surface Temp: 90.2F
Wind Speed & Direction: S under 3mph
Sky Condition: 20% high white cloud cover on a hazy blue sky
Moon Phase: Waning gibbous moon at 78% illumination
GT = 9
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 085 downrigging, transitioning to vertical MAL work with LiveScope
**Area 1641 to 014 – productive low-light 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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