This morning I fished with father and son Ray and Carlos W. of Harker Heights, TX.
This was one of 5 pairs of hybrid Ray and Carlos brought on board. It seemed every time one of our rods went down, another would accompany it, allowing for lots of "doubles" today.
We met at the recent Harker Heights Memorial Day Parade where I had a small booth set up as a part of the Farmers' Market to advertise the free trips I offer to deployed soldiers' kids.
When Ray and I first spoke and coordinated this trip, his goal was to improve his own fishing efforts by seeing how I went about locating and fishing for fish on Belton. Ray, who is an active duty NCO, keeps his boat at the BLORA marina, but has had a string of poor luck on trips of his own.
Starting off today, we had very calm, bright conditions (never good on Belton). We encountered a bit of topwater action at between Areas 014 and 010. The fish moved from east to west as the skies brightened. We boated 18 fish from this fairly aggressive topwater action before boat pressure and the intense sun put the fish down. The fish we caught responded well to Cork Rigs.
Next, we searched far and wide for signs of suspended fish now that the thermocline is definitely setting up around 31 feet. We managed 1 hybrid from above the thermocline in open water, but saw little bait in this particular area, and so moved on.
We found solid gamefish and baitfish marks on sonar in the vicinity of Area 844, down around 24 feet. We began working these fish over with downriggers. We found small Pet Spoons did the best job of imitating the very small, young of the year shad that the fish we caught were regurgitating. I initially had one Pet Spoon and 1 umbrella rig on, but we went with tandem Pets and did well once we made the adjustment. We boated a total of 9 fish here before the loose school dissipated. When this happened, and given the surface was still calm and the sun was still bright, we switched over to live bait and slowed down to match the mood of the fish.
We picked up 3 hybrid right on Area 844 before that, too, slowed down.
We ended our trip with a bang, finding a very active school of hybrid near a breakline at Area 1097 in 28 feet of water, and at a time when the wind began to blow. These fish were in feeding posture -- grouped together, and about 18" off bottom. We got in a hover over top of the fish, and before we could get the 2nd of our 4 bait rods down, the first rod went down very powerfully. Long story short, over the next hour, we boated a total of 18 fish here including 15 hybrid, 2 largemouth, and 1 drum.
We had more bait on board and I was ready to keep fishing, but, a previous engagement meant the fellows had to be back on the dock at noon, so, we called it a day at high noon with 48 fish to show for our efforts. Ray was very appreciative of the time we spent going over how the sonar and downrigger system works together, and how all the "details" of the lure selection, downrigger release clip setup, setback distance, etc., etc. all work together to allow for consistent success.
TALLY = 48 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:15a
End Time: 12:00 noon
Air Temp: 74F at trip's start.
Water Surface Temp: 82.1F
Wind: Winds were calm at sunrise, then picked up from the ENE at 7-8 around 10:30am
Skies: Skies were fair and cloudless as our low pressure moved to the east.