WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Monday, August 7th, I fished with Mr. Gary Jones of Temple, Texas.
I first got to know Gary when I took him and a group of his buddies out fishing after he had bid on a gift certificate I had donated to a fundraiser for the Ralph Wilson Youth Club in Temple.
Gary really enjoyed my electronics-intensive approach to the pursuit of white bass, and booked a number of trips with me thereafter. He also took me to lunch at one point, letting me know the purpose of that lunch was to nail down all of the customized features of my boat so he could put together such a boat for himself.
One thing led to another, and, about a year ago, he purchased a well-appointed Boston Whaler Montauk 19-foot center console rigged nearly identically to my own boat. Ongoing COVID-related supply chain issues kept the boat from being completed in a timely manner.
This morning, I guided Gary, but did it aboard his own boat so I could show him some of the tricks of the trade to catching fish in the summer months. Along the way, we also kept checklist of things that needed to be tweaked on the boat to make it more efficient.
Here is how the fishing went …
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Next available dates are August 21 – 24 (AM)
PHOTO CAPTION: Gary holds the Pflueger Arbor reel with its distinctive large diameter spool and low gear ratio. The large diameter spool allowed for long casts with the lightweight MAL Mini. Of course, any spinning reel must be fully filled with line to provide maximum casting distance. This reel was matched to a St. Croix 8-foot, PFS80LMF2 spinning rod to further enhance casting distance.
PHOTO CAPTION: This was the first set of two sets of triples Gary landed as we downrigged through areas where topwater feeding recently occurred but then ended. We used 3-armed umbrella rigs equipped with Pet Spoons for this task.
WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton
WHEN WE FISHED: Monday, 07 August 2023
HOW WE FISHED:
Despite a 12-13 mph wind and the accompanying chop it produced, I still wanted to keep an eye out for low-light topwater action before sunrise this morning. If topwater action is going to be sustained in the summer months, it will typically be just before sunrise, and just after sunset on Lake Belton.
Despite the chop and occasional white capping on the water, we were able to spot a large group of fish which had pinned shad to the surface in open water, and which was staying put. We motored to within about 80 yards, then closed the final distance with the trolling motor so as not to spook these fish. We then began throwing MAL Heavies with white tails to start the catching.
Although there were mature shad being chased, we noted that the size of the shad the fish we caught were regurgitating were generally smaller shad. We switched over to the MAL Mini, and our catch rate improved significantly.
I knew that if conditions allowed for the MAL Mini to be used this morning, that we would try to stick with it based on this observation.
After these fish pushed down from the surface as the sun rose, we were able to keep right on catching them as we downrigged in a roughly 1500‘ x 1500‘ area in the vicinity where these first cropped up. As the downrigging was beginning to play out, I noticed the glint of water droplets being thrown into the air by white bass feeding over a mile away. We quickly brought in the downrigging gear and made a beeline to this action. While still about an eighth of a mile away, we slowed down to an idle and begin to observe to try to appreciate the big picture.
We recognized three district schools of white bass all forcing shad to the surface and feeding briefly then disappearing before emerging again on the surface, typically just yards away. This action was consistent enough for us to make a go of it by sight-casting.
As the wind and distance to the fish allowed, we stuck with long, 8-foot, St. Croix Panfish Series rods, coupled with Pflueger Arbor spinning reels and light, 10-pound, Suffix 832 braid to launch the MAL Minis as far as possible.
If the fish were churning on the surface as we made our casts, we began to retrieve immediately. If the fish were not visible as we cast, we would count the MAL Minis down to an 8 or 10 count before beginning our retrieve. We continued in this manner right up until about 9:45 AM when the last of the surface action died. We picked right back up downrigging at the scene of the last topwater action and put a final seven fish in the boat including one triple and four singles.
Along the way as we used Gary’s boat in a real-world scenario, we found we needed to correct a number of things which I summarized and sent to him as a checklist to use following our trip.
In right at four hours’ time, we landed a total of 80 fish, including 79 white bass, all of which were of legal size, and a single largemouth bass, which was approximately 15 inches in length.
TALLY: 80 fish caught and released.
See a tutorial on the Smoking Method here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDSvfXgrAUE
Here is a tutorial on the Sawtooth Method: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC3FMEQHOMQ
Find the entire family of MAL Lures here: https://whitebasstools.com/
OBSERVATIONS: Here was the water temperature profile down to 50′ (Lake Belton, Monday, 07 Aug. 2023):
0 feet, 86.4F
5 feet, 86.5F
10 feet, 86.7F
15 feet, 86.7F
20 feet, 86.7F
25 feet, 84.7f
30 feet, 77.9F
35 feet, 72.7F
40 feet, 68.2F
45 feet, 65.6F
50 feet, 64.3F
Start Time: 6:35A
End Time: 10:15A
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 79F
Elevation: 16.08 feet low, 1 CFS flow
Water Surface Temp: 86.4F on the surface.
Wind Speed & Direction: S12-13 at trip’s start, slowly scaling back to S7 by trip’s end
Sky Condition: 0% cloud cover on a slightly hazy blue sky.
Moon Phase: Waning gibbous moon at 60% illumination.
GT = 225
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
Area vic B0181G – topwater, transitioning to downrigging after fish left the surface
Area B0227G – topwater on MAL Minis
Area 1191 to B0029G – topwater on MAL Minis, transitioning to downrigging as fish finished feeding for the morning
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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