"Medic!! Someone get a medic!!" This poor man's hands and arms are cramping from reeling in fish after fish!!
Don was truly a one man show this morning -- single-handedly boating 94 fish. This 5.25 pound hybrid hit early in the trip on live shad and was among the largest hybrid we would catch.
Later, Don put this nice 3.75 pound largemouth in the boat. It came on a deadstick slab held 2' off bottom.
The shad spawn on Belton Lake continues. During this time of year the gamefish that prey on them follow them in close and seem keenly attracted to them. The bite always seems faster, more aggressive and more productive during this spawn time than at other times of year when live shad are used.
Today was a guide's dream day and I spent it with Don T. of Harker Heights, who makes his living as a paramedic working on an ambulance crew out of Georgetown. I showed up, launched, and searched for all of 4 minutes for shad. I threw the net 2 times for all the bait I needed and waited for Don to arrive. We headed to an area where I'd been doing well over the weekend (Area 1070), spent all of 8 minutes searching with sonar and found what we were looking for without another boat anywhere near by (at least for a while!). We intended to fish 6 live bait rods and, honest to goodness, never got even 4 rods in the water, baited, and left in the rod holders. The fishing was that good!
We caught most of our large keeper hybrid (4 to 5.25 pounds) in the first hour with 2-4 lines out. Then, the fishing picked up, with mostly borderline hybrid making up the catch, going 17-19 inches and either side of 3 pounds. During this time we put two baited lines out on one side and used slabs on the other side of the boat. Every time we hooked a fish and reeled it up, schoolmates would follow leading me to think that working a slab from bottom to top would produce, and it did. We caught several white bass, hybrid (short and keeper) and one largemouth on the slabs, but, the real deal was the live shad today without a doubt.
For the last 1 1/2 hours of our trip we could literally (LITERALLY!) only keep one rod baited. The shad was typically struck by the time our rig hit the bottom. During this time we didn't even bother using a rod holder. Don just let the bait to bottom, adjusted it to the depth we were seeing fish, and held the rod still for 5-8 seconds and waited for the tip to bury under the water and let the circle hooks work their magic. During this spree, most of the fish were short hybrid and decent white bass, but man was there a bunch of them!
Lively shad, circle hooks and good technique (not trying to "set the hook" and waiting until the fish truly had the bait) made for great success today.
We boated a total of 94 fish, and missed a few more. We boated 3 largemouth, 1 small mouth, and the balance was made up of hybrid and white bass. Of our first 23 fish boated, all were hybrid and 18 of those surpassed 18". After that, I couldn't keep up with the numbers in my head, but used my trusty "fish clicker" to keep tabs on the grand total.
Don had never done much more than wet a line for catfish with his dad prior to this trip. I told him we was going to go home spoiled because rarely have I ever seen fish stay so aggressive for a full 4 hours like they did today. Further, Belton rarely fishes well on a bright, calm day, but, against all odds we chalked up an awesome morning on the water.
A special thanks to Don's wife, Gail, whose idea it was to get him a gift certificate for this trip!
TALLY = 94 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:30a
End Time: 11:45a
Air Temp: 63F at trip's start.
Water Surface Temp: 73.4F
Wind: Winds were near calm with a ripple from the NNE.
Skies: Skies were fair.