WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Friday morning, April 28, I fished with Josh Welch and brothers Preston and Mason Ellis.
Josh runs a land development company, Weltex Investments, LLC., here in Central Texas, and the Ellis brothers run Ellis Air, an HVAC company also based here in Central Texas.
Josh had originally scheduled with me back in February, but one of his party members took ill. We rescheduled for June, but this morning when a sonar training student had to postpone due to illness, Josh was able to move his schedule around and enjoy the more productive fishing of April versus that which I would anticipate will be slower in June. Here is how the fishing went…
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Next available dates are June 6 and 21 (AM)
PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Preston and Mason Ellis and Josh Welch with a sampling of their 102 fish catch on Lake Belton just hours before a major weather event would move through Central Texas dumping 2+ inches of much needed rain.
PHOTO CAPTION: Preston Ellis, a regular weekly participant in the 3X9 Series bass tournaments held on Stillhouse, landed this magnum white bass which taped 15.25 inches. It came on a sight-cast MAL Heavy with chartreuse tail under birds.
WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton
WHEN WE FISHED: Friday, 28 April 2023 (AM)
HOW WE FISHED:
I had the fellows meet me at 6:45A hoping we would find white bass & hybrids pushing spawning shad onto the shoreline and enjoy some fast-paced fishing before the sun got too bright, however, due to the lack of wind impacting the shoreline from any given direction, there was a very weak spawn this morning. We had one smallmouth jump off at the boat, and another small white bass swipe at a lure at the end of a retrieve, and that was all we could garner in the shallows during the first part of the morning under low light conditions.
From that point forward we fished for heavily congregated fish in deep, open water, which we found primarily using side imaging, and we also enjoyed two episodes of fishing beneath Franklin’s gulls, which pointed the way to additional open water, active fish.
The first gull activity we got into was a bit misleading, as there were only small groups of fish, well dispersed, and scattered about on a fairly featureless bottom. The gulls reflected this in that, although they were flying and feeding, they were here, there, and everywhere over about a half mile of lake.
We caught about two dozen fish in this scenario, putting in a lot of effort to do it both vertically using a smoking tactic and horizontally using the sawtooth method. It is tough to leave bird activity and head out to try to find fish when you know there are at least a few fish around, but, this morning that decision made the difference between a 50-60 fish trip and a 100+ fish trip. Indeed, at the 3-hour mark on a 4 hour trip we had only 47 fish in the boat, but ended up with a total of 102 thanks to a strong 75-minute run as fog dimmed the light level and the winds ramped up.
After leaving those birds, we found two large, active groups of heavily congregated and bottom-oriented fish which perked up nicely once we got atop them and started working MAL Lures through them. As the second group was tailing out on us, we spotted our second helpful bit of bird activity.
Although this only lasted about 25 minutes, there were far more fish present beneath these birds, and we were able to take our fish count from 47 up to 71 in a matter of minutes.
Our final 31 fish of the day came at our last stop and over another short, 20 minute span. As the wind ratcheted up several miles per hour in a matter of minutes, the fish just came alive and began to suspend as much as 5 to 6 feet up off the bottom. The higher up in the water column the fish were, the more aggressive they tended to be. LiveScope helped everyone work their lures right past the noses of these shallowest fish, and we racked up our final 31 fish to put our trip total right at 102 before we called it a good morning and headed for lunch.
Our catch consisted of 1 largemouth bass, 2 freshwater drum, 14 short hybrid striped bass, with the balance being white bass of multiple age groups. Our white bass catch included one fish landed by Preston which went 15 1/4 inches. It’s body condition was not great, but it is good to see Belton Lake fish reaching that sort of length.
Here is a video I put together on the Smoking Tactic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDSvfXgrAUE
And, here is a video I put together on the Sawtooth Method: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC3FMEQHOMQ
TALLY: 102 fish caught and released
Find the entire family of MAL Lures here: https://whitebasstools.com/
OBSERVATIONS: Lack of wind overnight led to a very weak threadfin shad spawn this morning; we caught no fish up shallow via sight-casting during this low-light window. Our 2nd half of the trip was more productive than the 1st, as a thin, low fog layer moved in and dimmed the light a bit, and as the wind speed increased throughout the four hour trip.
Start Time: 6:45A
End Time: 11:00A
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 55F
Elevation: 14.24 feet low, 24 CFS flow, 0.16′ rise over the last 24 hrs. thanks to heavy rains Wed. night
Water Surface Temp: 68.4F on the surface.
Wind Speed & Direction: SSE6 building to SSE14 by trip’s end
Sky Condition: 50% white clouds on a blue sky with a white haze through 9:30, then an unusual mid-morning light fog moved in from the SE and kept it dim the remainder of the trip.
Moon Phase: Waxing gibbous moon at 56% illumination.
GT = 205
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
Area 2049 – 27 fish on smoked and sawtoothed MAL Heavies; 2 short hops
Area 717- 20 fish on smoked MAL Heavies
Area 1055 – 71 fish on MAL Heavies sight-cast or counted down to fish under Franklin’s gulls
Area 404 – 31 fish on smoked MAL Heavies
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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