A resident of Killeen for over 20 years, Robert Williamson first came to Killeen while on active duty as a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army in 1995. Shortly thereafter, Williamson transitioned into civilian life, putting his college degree to work for him and gaining a position as an educator in the Killeen Independent School District, where he remains employed to this day.
Williamson and his wife, Yong, saw both of their older daughters, Bobbie and Mary, graduate from Ellison High School and move on to careers of their own. Bobbie now works as a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Baylor Scott & White Hospital, and Mary is a school teacher in Bryan.
One daughter, 6-year-old April, a student at Memorial Christian Academy in Killeen, remains at home.
On Wednesday morning, I got to fish with Williamson and April on a “daddy-daughter” trip before the business of the new school year begins. We chose Belton Lake as our destination as it has produced both quality fish and quantities of fish all summer.
Fishing trips with children as young as April require some planning if the trip is to be a success, leaving children with a favorable impression of this wholesome pastime. Williamson and I discussed in detail how I suggested we break this trip down into multiple, short segments in order to keep April’s attention for the full four-hour span. Fortunately, the fish cooperated fully, and we were able to do just as we had planned.
A few minutes prior to sunrise, I positioned us in an area where I felt topwater action was likely to occur based on my observations over the past two weeks. As we shut down the outboard, refrained from speaking and just looked and listened, we observed “nervous water” about 120 yards from us. This nervous water is caused when the wakes of feeding fish move contrary to the direction of the wind, thus making a distinct stippled appearance on the surface.
As we arrived in the vicinity of the disturbance, we observed both white bass and hybrid striped bass pinning shad against the surface and gorging themselves on the hapless forage fish. This initiated what turned out to be a 90-minute long topwater feed during which Williamson and I cast into the fray and then let April retrieve the lures we had cast directly through the fish.
The second segment of our trip began as the intensity of the topwater feed began to fade and the fish began to push down deeper in the water column, but still remained active. We used twin Cannon Digi-Troll downriggers with 12-pound balls, each rigged with a three-armed umbrella rig equipped with Luhr Jensen Pet Spoons selected to match the forage size.
We lowered our downrigger balls to between 13 and 20 feet as sonar signatures of the schooled fish beneath us dictated. We regularly took singles and doubles (two fish at a time on one rod) and fished this way for about 70 minutes.
As we entered our third hour, I took us up shallow and introduced April to fishing for sunfish using slip floats and live bait. We hit two brushy areas that serve as ambush points for the sunfish, and caught juvenile largemouth, juvenile smallmouth, bluegill sunfish, longear sunfish and green sunfish.
The final segment of our trip involved chumming for, and attracting, blue catfish to the lake bottom beneath our boat out in open water, and fishing for them with the same thing we used as a chum — fresh, dead shad. We got the boat set up in a hover using a GPS-equipped Ulterra trolling motor to avoid disturbing the bottom by anchoring. We then placed our chum bag over the side, and got some loose chum sprinkled about. Immediately, the blue catfish started hitting and did not stop as long as we put fresh baits down in front of them.
By 10:30 a.m., the wind had begun to settle, the sun was getting hot, and April was about to reach her limit on this grand adventure. We decided to call it a day right there, with a grand total of 87 fish boated by this bright and energetic little girl.