WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Tuesday, 16 May, I fished with Mr. Mike French of Salado, and one of his sons-in-law, Rob Cabaniss of Morgan’s Point, TX.
Mike bid on a fishing gift certificate I had recently donated to the Salado United Methodist Church for their wild game dinner which raised around $30,000 for the church’s various missions.
In stark contrast with yesterday’s results made difficult by weather, weather turned out to be our best friend this morning thanks to grey skies and breeze on the heels of a mild cold front which came in overnight.
Here is how the fishing went.….
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PHOTO CAPTION:Mike French with a sweet Lake Belton hybrid striped bass taken by counting down an MAL Heavy Lure with chartreuse tail to a 6-count as these fish stalked shad and forced them to the surface to trap and eat them.
PHOTO CAPTION: Rob Cabaniss with a 4-pound class hybrid which fell for his MAL Heavy Lure worked via a count-down method to this fish any many others which were suspended down about 15′ beneath the surface.
PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Rob Cabaniss and his father-in-law, Mike French, with a few of the nice white bass we caught using a variety of tactics on Lake Belton.
WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton
WHEN WE FISHED: Tuesday, 16 May 2023 (AM)
HOW WE FISHED:
We got going this morning right at 7 AM under overcast skies with a temperature of about 68°, and a night light northerly breeze at around 3 to 4 mph. The threadfin shad spawn was going full tilt on those banks impacted by the wind.
As I was observing both the lake surface for signs of fish, as well as sonar, I was using my spotting scope to see things more distant than my unaided I could detect. I picked up some bird activity some distance away, and we drove to it to find a few Franklin’s gulls scouting but not really committed to any given patch of water. I ran sonar through the area and found white bass and hybrid were suspended and moving, indicating they were intercepting spawning shad moving back off the bank towards deep water as the sky began to brighten.
We picked up a handful of fish fishing MAL Heavy Lures with chartreuse tails vertically using a smoking tactic before I both saw and heard gamefish forcing bait fish to the surface and feeding on them aggressively within about 100 yards of us.
I moved us to those fish and we begin sight casting for what would be ~3 hours of such sight casting to white bass and short hybrid stripers feeding on 3.5 to 4 inch long threadfin shad over open water.
The MAL Heavy with chartreuse tail was a near perfect match for these broadsided, silver forage fish with bright yellow tails which get particularly bright during the spawn. See photo …
As the fish finally disappeared from the surface, and the 10 or 12 gulls that were working them dispersed, we had managed a total of 85 fish.
I could see abundant fish still in the area suspended 15 to 20 feet below the surface. We rigged up with twin downriggers, each equipped with three armed umbrella rigs terminated with a trio of # 13 Pet Spoons with silver prismatic tape and yellow tails. Mike and Rob very quickly got the hang of deploying the downriggers, leaving me to spot and drive to fish using, sight and sonar. We wound up with another 21 fish taken as singles and doubles before these fish pushed even deeper down to the 30 to 40 foot level and quit feeding.
It was now 10:30 and I gave the fellows the option of continuing to downrig, while letting them know that our success rate would drop off given what I was seeing on sonar, or going and looking afresh for fish holding on open water topographies. They opted for the latter, and we headed out to find fish we could park on top of and work MAL Lures through.
This turned out well for us. I rather quickly found a school of fish holding on and over a 42 foot bottom. These fish were already suspended 6 to 7 feet off the bottom, telling me they were already feeding. We quickly got atop them, got the splasher working, and landed exactly 30 more fish before they quit right around 11:15 AM as a line of light rain clouds moved in from the north and west.
Our 136 fish catch this morning consisted of two largemouth bass and a roughly 60/40 split of white bass versus hybrid striper. Of the hybrid, five were of legal size. Only three of our white bass were sub-legal fish (under 10 inches).
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: 136 fish caught and released
Find the entire family of MAL Lures here: https://whitebasstools.com/
OBSERVATIONS: One BIG observation: I spotted the first “offshore” schools of nomadic white bass feeding on the tiny young-of-the-year shad which were the earliest spawned this year yesterday. Shad were still spawning on windblown shorelines this morning. Here is the water temperature profile taken yesterday:
0 feet, 76.3F
5 feet, 76.7F
10 feet, 75.7F
15 feet, 75.1F
20 feet, 73.9F
25 feet, 72.2F
30 feet, 67.4F
35 feet, 66.8F
40 feet, 66.0F
45 feet, 65.0F
50 feet, 64.1F
55 feet, 62.2F
60 feet, 60.8F
Start Time: 7A
End Time: 11:15A
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 68F
Elevation: 13.34 feet low, 24 CFS flow, 0.16′ rise over the last 24 hours
Water Surface Temp: ~76F on the surface.
Wind Speed & Direction: NW5-6 with occasional brief gusts NW9
Sky Condition: “Squinting” grey cloud cover most of the morning.
Moon Phase: Waning crescent moon at 11% illumination.
GT = 30
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
Area 1356 to B0220G – 85 fish sight casting MAL Heavies
Area vic B0220G – 26 fish downrigging
Area 1469/B0151G – 30 fish smoking MAL Heavies in 42′
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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