I had an unfortunate cancellation today involving some returning customers who fell ill, so, we took lemons and made lemonade! I had been looking for a chance to get back on Belton since the flood water receded, and today offered that opportunity. I invited my mom, who just moved down here from Kentucky, along and we had a great day. We packed a lunch and made a full day of it and, for our efforts, were rewarded with 132 fish boated and released including 1 drum, 1 crappie, 3 largemouth, 3 keeper hybrid and a mix of 124 white bass and short hybrid. All but one white bass was taken by way of slabbing. As usual, we both geared up with a TNT 180 in 3/8 oz. I tried switching to 3/4 oz. a few times, but we experienced a lot of missed attempts when we did so and always wound up switching back to the 3/8’s smaller profile. The few fish we caught that regurgitated bait had smaller threadfin in their craw. Here’s how things unfolded…
Charlotte with a 4.0 pound largemouth — the largest she’s ever caught in 64 years!!
Charlotte with a “spoon-fed” hybrid out of 27 feet.
Start Time: 7:15a
PM End Time: 5:40p
Air Temp: 44F at trip’s start
Water Surface Temp: ~53 to 55F
Wind: Winds were light from the NW at 3-4 in the AM, dying to NE at 0-2 after 2:30p
Skies: We had continuous light rainfall until 11:30 with heavy grey skies, then rain tapered to a stop by 1:30, gradually completely clearing by sunset.
We covered a lot of ground today in order to get back in touch with what the fish were doing and where they were doing it.
We started off looking closely at some bird activity down towards the main lake, but these bird were over 40+ feet of water with no fish arches showing in the vicinity beneath them. Whe found abundant schoolsof suspended shad at 12-15′ beneath the surface in these areas. Occasionally a school would rise to the surface and give the birds a shot at a meal, but these birds were not working over fish, so we left them alone.
We moved on to Area 099 and looked over things with the graph. There is a nice break here from 20 to 25+ feet and we found fish up on the top of the break and along the side. We spent a good chunk of our morning trip within 30 yards of our initial buoy drop and boated over 40 fish here. By around 9:30 these fish got sluggish, so we went hunting a new school to work over.
At Area 560 we encountered fish at 27.5 feet deep and graphed them out to 34 feet (BA: 15T). I buoyed on the shallow fish, worked them first, then headed deeper as the action up shallow slowed. We added 24 fish to our count of of this area before the school wised up to our tricks.
We then moved to Area 561 along an extensive, gentle breakline. We graphed scattered fish for over 90 yards on this area before doubling back and buoying right on top of a fair piece of action. We would catch 4-6 fish in short order as a moving school would come by, then go without catching for a bit, then we’d catch 3-4 more in a flurry, then another dry spell … and so it went up until 11:30a by which time we’d boated 69 fish. I told my we had to catch 70 so it’d be easy to remember when I went to write this report, but her hands were pretty stiff and cold by then, so, I dropped a downrigger and, in about 5 mintues time we’d hooked up with an 11 inch white bass — fish #70 and our lunch ticket.
We took an hour’s break, warmed up, downed some leftovers and then went back after them with renewed vigor.
We looked deep initially and caught a drum and crappie and over 40 feet of water doing so, but, sonar revealed very little in the way of bait schools in deeper than 35 feet, so, we revised our approach to look in water no deeper than that.
We located fish at Area 562 (BA: 8T) and jigged for 22 fish there.
We located fish at Area 563 (BA: 6T) and jigged for 18 fish there.
We then encountered a lull in the action from 2:30 to 3:30pm as the skies cleared and wind went slack.
Around 3:30pm things picked back up a bit. We located fish at Area 438 and jigged for 12 fish. While here, I got a reliable report by phone from a friend who was catching whites steadily in the vicinity of Area 356.
We located fish at Area 564 (BA: 9T) and jigged for 9 fish.
We located fish at Area 565 (BA: 4HG, 2T) and jigged for 6 fish.
And we ended up at Area 138 (BA: 12HG) and jigged for 3 fish.
At these last 5 areas, we left fish while they were still actively feeding so as to try to locate other active fish during that window of feeding activity. I’ve emphasized many times in my blog entries that if you want to locate fish, you have to be willing to leave biting fish at areas your confident in to find fish while they are still in a biting mood. To fish a bite to the bitter end and then expect to move and find more cooperative fish is rarely a possibility. Fish simply don’t feed all the time, and this is especially true in the cold water period we’re now encountering.
TALLY = 132 FISH, all caught and released