WHO I FISHED WITH: On Wednesday, 01 June 2022, I fished with returning client Phil Moore, accompanied by two new guests — Clinton White and Gary Jones.
Phil retired some time ago from his position with a water supply corporation and is very active in ministry through Memorial Baptist Church in Killeen. Clinton is a retired educator from out in West Texas, and Gary is the current Dawson Independent School District superintendent, in the Lamesa/Brownfield area.
Here is how the fishing went …
My next openings will be on July 12th – 14th. Weekday mornings are always best. Saturdays are available for on-the-water sonar training sessions (only) until after Labor Day when I’ll again offer Saturday morning fishing trips (until mid-March 2023).
PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Clinton White, Gary Jones, and Phil Moore with a nice take for this first day of June 2022. We found fish on topwater early, then transitioned to vertical tactics after the skies brightened.
PHOTO CAPTION: The young-of-the-year threadfin shad which were spawned earliest this spring have grown out to just over an inch long now and are EVERYWHERE. They definitely are the center of the white basses’ attention now. Many of our caught fish were regurgitating these hapless little forage fish. The top shad is intact and had not been eaten long before it was regurgitated. The lower one was digested partially before being expelled.
WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton
WHEN WE FISHED: Wednesday (AM), 01 June 2022
HOW WE FISHED:
With light winds and thin, but complete, grey cloud cover and heavy, humid air in place, it just “felt right” for topwater action this morning when I poked my head out the door just after 4AM.
I placed my topwater rod set in the boat right next to the MAL Heavy rods for deep, vertical work, and headed out.
Sure enough, just after greeting my trio of guests and covering all the standard pre-trip items, I began to see the telltale “nervous water” created by white bass feeding gingerly on young of the year threadfin shad.
The schools of surface-feeding whites appeared here and there at first, but, as the light level increased through the clouds, the feeding grew stronger and stronger.
In under an hour, we put 46 fish in the boat primarily by sight-casting to these fish. There are a few keys to capitalizing on these surface feeders. The biggest one is avoiding running all over the place trying to get to the fish. Instead, either staying in a well-chosen location where the fish have shown a tendency to feed, or getting ahead of a group of feeding fish so as to fish them as they approach, as they surround, and as they move away, are MUCH better options.
I intentionally moved away from another angler who “joined” us, as he whipped the water into a froth doing acrobatics with his trolling motor trying to speed over to every small group of fish which showed themselves … that just didn’t work out too well for him.
The second key is wisely choosing where to cast so your lure is lobbed over as many fish as possible then retrieved before it sinks below the level of the fish.
My topwater rods are all light, 8-foot spinning rods with large arbor reels and light, 10-pound braid, terminated with an MAL Original with one of the three treble hook tines snipped off and the barbs pressed down. This makes for super-fast unhooking so more casts can be executed over a given period of time.
PHOTO CAPTION: My modifications of the MAL Original for surface action: 1) snip off 1 of the 3 tines for quicker releases, 2) press down the barbs for faster unhooking, 3) go with a white tail, as immature shad do not have yellow tails yet, and 4) use a “speed clip” of some sort so you can quickly change a bait without having to retie. If a hybrid or striper mangles your bait, if a hook breaks, etc. you can just slip the old on off and put the new one on and keep casting. I also keep a backup rod with an identical setup at the ready. I use the MAL Original as it is the lightest lure in the MAL Lure family, so it doesn’t sink below the surface feeding fish too quickly.
Even on the best days, on Lake Belton (fairly clear water) the “window” of opportunity usually doesn’t last more than 40 minutes or so. So, one needs to “make hay while the sun shines”.
After the topwater chapter ended, we headed out to deep water, found congregated fish both on bottom, and loosely schooled in the lower third of the water column along more steeply sloped bottoms being impacted by the wind, We worked MAL Heavy Barbless Lures vertically for the remainder of our trip, using the “smoking” tactic. This accounted for 154 additional fish.
The fishing fell off sharply around 10:10. I stayed on the fish we’d found at our final deep water spot longer than I normally would have in order to help the fellows reach the 200 fish mark. I felt that to leave fish at this point in an attempt to find fish might just backfire.
We hit that 200 fish mark right at 10:30, then I cruised around looking for a few more fish but found nothing until I noticed a blue heron diving repeatedly out in open, deep water. A quick look with the spotting scope showed white bass driving shad to the surface under the darkened conditions brought on by briefly thickening cloud cover. I eased over to the action, everyone caught one last fish (Phil got 2!) on the topwater rods, and we called it a great morning with 204 fish landed.
A complete description of the vertical “smoking:” method is found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDSvfXgrAUE
Our 204 fish catch included exactly 201 white bass, 1 short hybrid striper, 1 freshwater drum, and 1 largemouth bass.
The entire family of MAL Lures is found here: https://whitebasstools.com/
TALLY: 204 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: 1) White bass are definitely turning on to young of the year threadfin now. 2) In addition to bottom-hugging fish, loosely grouped fish in the lower third of the water column were consistently found on the windward side of deeper, steeper bottom features.
Start Time: 6:30A
End Time: 11:00A
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 75F
Elevation: 4.42 feet low, 0.03’ fall in last 24 hours, 32 CFS flow
Water Surface Temp: 77.9F
Wind Speed & Direction: Light/variable winds at trip’s start under 2mph, then picking up from the SE at under 8 mph from ~8A on.
Sky Condition: Greyed over skies for the first hour, followed by steady clearing to ~60-80% grey clouds on a white sky for the remainder of the trip.
Moon Phase: Waxing crescent moon at 4% illumination.
GT = 30
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
Areas 698 (early topwater/shallow water), Area 083/958 (bottom oriented), Area B0094G (suspended on slope), Area 2033 (suspended on slope)
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)
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