WHO I FISHED WITH:
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PHOTO CAPTION: Fellow full-time, professional fishing guide Jason Weisberg of REEL Fishing Guide Service on Lake Richland-Chambers joined me today on Lake Belton to provide me with an on-the-water workshop on winter dead-sticking tactics and options.
WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton
WHEN WE FISHED: Tuesday, 30 Jan. 2023 (AM)
HOW WE FISHED:
I got on the water around 8 AM and fished solo until Jason‘s arrival about an hour later.
This was learning point number one. Jason finds that fishing for open water fish does not necessarily require an early start, in fact, he has noticed a trend of excellent fishing in the afternoons on Richland Chambers. Indeed, the fastest action we experienced, albeit from bottom-oriented fish, was at the very last area. We fished just after 1 PM.
Prior to Jason‘s arrival I used my traditional slow-smoking tactics with a white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slab to land nine white bass, and one drum from out of a school of bottom-hugging fish I’d found in around 35 feet of water.
Once Jason joined me, we no longer searched for fish on bottom, but instead, focused on finding large concentrations of bait with at least a few gamefish signatures mixed in. This was learning point number two. The initial presence of great numbers of gamefish is not necessary in order for an area fished with deadstick tactics to really turn on and produce. This is because this method slowly draws fish in and, courtesy of both thumping and splashing, accumulates these fish under the boat while the fishing is taking place.
We hit seven areas together, and fished each of them in much the same way. We both used small, fluke-like baits. Jason used a multicolored lime/red pattern, whereas I used white. We really did not see much of a preference from the fish.
This technique depends heavily on Garmin LiveScope used from a Spot-Locked position (after we discussed the pros and cons of Spot-Locking versus drifting or controlled drifting). Our fish typically showed up at the interface between the lower part of the middle third of the water column and the upper part of the bottom third of the water column.
Once the fish were seen moving in from the left or right hand side of the screen, we would position our baits on a collision course with the fish as they moved towards us, and would then very slowly ease the lure past the fishes’ noses prior to them swimming by. If the fish showed interest, we would continue lifting slowly, hoping for a pursuit and a strike.
Some places produced better than others, but all places produced at least a few fish. The final big learning point for me today was the sorts of bottom topographies which are good candidates for this wintertime tactic.
After selecting what he felt were some ideal areas, Jason encouraged me to choose a few likely areas of my own toward the end of the trip. It was a real confidence builder to find an area I suspected would hold fish, see what we needed to see in the way of shad and gamefish, and then get baits in the water and catch fish there after observing just a few times.
With 75 fish in the boat, we wrapped up the trip targeting another bottom-hugging school of white bass in 42′. Jason fished the same bait in the same manner as when we were deadsticking, while I changed over to the white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slab so we could do an apples-to-apples comparison on the baits. We put another 25 fish in the boat before quitting at 100 fish even; both baits produced the same for these fish as they flared up quickly, and also died down quickly.
Our final count today was exactly 100 fish, which included 5 freshwater drum, 1 largemouth bass, and a roughly 60/40 split of hybrid/white bass. This was, by far, the greatest number of hybrid I have landed in several years. All but one of these hybrid were short, with most going right at 17 inches with a healthy (but not plump) body condition.
Here is a tutorial on the slow-smoking tactic … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIPopSLUYoQ
TALLY: 100 fish caught and released.
OBSERVATIONS: Here was the water temperature profile taken down to 55′ on 30 Jan.:
Start Time: 7:55A
End Time: 1:20P
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 45F
Elevation: 14.2 feet low, 40 CFS flow
Water Surface Temp: 45.0F on the surface.
Wind Speed & Direction: WSW winds varying from 4-9 all morning
Sky Condition: Pale blue sky w/ ~30% wispy white cloud cover.
Moon Phase: Waning gibbous moon at 81% illumination.
GT = N/A
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
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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