Lightning Strikes Twice — 31 Fish, SKIFF Trip #17

This morning, Wednesday, August 16th, I conducted the 17th SKIFF program trip of the 2017 season. Joining me today was 10-year-old Keyonte’ Charleston.  If that name sounds familiar, it’s because I took his younger brother, Jayvion Charleston, on a SKIFF trip just last week.  We fished on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.

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This 13 1/8″ white bass was the first fish of 10-year-old Keyonte’ Charleston’s life.  It earned him a TPWD “First Fish Award”.  Mr. Dave Hill of the Austin Fly Fishers, sponsors of the SKIFF Program, came along as a capable first mate.  Dave holds up 4 fingers indicating Keyonte”s landing of 4 fish all at the same time, 3 fish on one rod immediately followed by 1 fish on another.

Keyonte”s father, SSG Christopher Charleston, is a Cavalry scout currently deployed to South Korea.

Keyonte’ showed up this morning with a big smile that never went away in 4 hours of fishing, even during some slow times at the start of the trip when the sun was hidden by clouds and the fish weren’t yet playing their A-game.

Also showing up this morning was special guest Mr. Dave Hill of the Austin Fly Fishers.  Dave and Manuel Pena are the two men who carry the lion’s share of the fundraising and donation work behind the scenes that make SKIFF happen.  It was great to have capable help onboard to rig lines, undo tangles and unhook fish.

Prior to this trip, Keyonte’ had never before caught a fish.  He has watched all manner of fishing shows, he has studied fish behavior and knew about the behavior of various sorts of fish, and he even owns his own fishing rod and reel (which mom got him for his most recent birthday), but, despite all of that, he had never caught a fish.

Well, he ended that drought in a big way this morning.  As we got our lines in the water (2 downriggers, each equipped with a 3-armed umbrella rig) and downrigged across the mouth of a cove near where an old streambed and the old Lampasas River channel join, sonar revealed a nice school of fish holding just below the level our downrigger balls were set at.  The starboard rod went off first with a triple (3 fish at a time).  As we moved a few yards further, the port rod went off as well with a double.  Keyonte’ landed the triple, then had one of the fish on the double drop off, so, we wound up with 4 of those 5 fish on the “fish counter”, but, what a way to land your first fish!  This scenario earned Keyonte’ a TPWD “First Fish Award”.

We went on to fish 2 more areas, each producing better than the one before, and taking our fish count up to 27 fish by 10am.  At this point, I switched gears and introduced Keyonte’ to sunfishing with a bream pole.  He landed 4 bluegill sunfish before we had to make the rough ride across open water to get back to his mom on time at 10:45.

Keyonte’ ended his morning with 31 fish caught and released, including 25 white bass, 2 largemouth bass, and 4 bluegill sunfish.

Yes, lightning struck twice — both Charleston boys landed the first fish of their lives just days apart!

“Homefront” spouses with a husband or wife away from home on military duty (not just deployments) are welcomed to call me at 254.368.7411 to arrange for free 4-hour outing for your children.  Homefront parents are always welcome to attend, but are equally welcome to take some downtime from their own children and leave them in my care for this time on the water.  This is all made possible through the sponsorship and work of the Austin Fly Fishers and the supportive allies they have developed along the way.

TALLY: 31 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 10:45a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 78F

Water Surface Temp: 86.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSW breeze 11-15 mph the entire trip

Sky Conditions: 20% white cloud cover

Water Level: 0.20 feet low and slowly falling with only evaporative losses; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 0

Wx SNAPSHOT:

16AUG17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 202-400 –  5 downrigged white bass under low light

**Area vic 1198 – 6 fish downrigging for white bass

**Area vic 668-820 – 13 fish downrigging and 3 fish smoking tailspinners

**Area 1098 – 4 sunfish on slipfloats

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

5 Sets of Triples! What a Day to Downrig! — 61 Fish, 15 Aug. ’17

This morning, Tuesday, 15 Aug., I fished with Al Sachnik and his teenaged son, Jeffrey.  The Sachnik’s live in Harker Heights, TX.  Al serves as a commissioned officer in the US Army where he has recently been assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division.

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From left: Jeffrey Sachnik and his dad, Al, did a father-and-son multi-species morning trip with me on Stillhouse today.  We landed 58 white bass, 2 largemouth, and 1 sunfish.  Downrigging was the ticket today.

As we got going today, a grey cloud bank in the east kept things just so-so until the sun cleared those clouds and things started to happen.

Al and Jeffery have made some DIY attempts as various forms of fishing with limited success, and were very interested in fundamentals.  Although much of what I do from a boat in open water in pursuit of white bass doesn’t translate directly to bank fishing, there are some common skills and I pointed those out as opportunity knocked.

We had a great downrigger bite today including five sets of triples. I’ve never before had a half- or full-day party land that many sets of triples (3 fish caught on one rod at the same time using an umbrella rig with 3 arms).  Several times as we downrigged sonar would reveal heavy concentrations of fish sulking on bottom, and several times we stopped over top of these fish with Spot Lock on the Ulterra trolling motor.  The results were the same each time:  we’d pick up a few fish right of the bat, then the fish would turn off and lose interest despite still being present right under the boat and within a few feet of bottom.  We just rolled with these punches, caught what we could quickly using vertical tactics, then returned to downrigging to move on, catch fish horizontally, and seek out the next big group of bottom-huggers to vertically jig for.

All told today we landed 58 white bass and 2 average largemouth bass.   Our white bass included a blend of 1, 2, and 3-year class fish.

After boating our 60th fish right around 11am, I thought it would be helpful to do a quick demo of how to go about catching sunfish up in shallow cover, so, I spent a good bit of time explaining the approach, then had Jeffery put the theory into action until he landed a sunfish using the system I’d just explained.  The nice thing about sunfishing is that you don’t need a boat, motor, expensive electronics, etc. to get your string stretched.

TALLY: 61 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 11:30a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 77F

Water Surface Temp: 85.0F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSW breeze 10-14 mph the entire trip

Sky Conditions: 40% grey cloud cover until 7:20am, then quickly thinning to <20% white cloud cover

Water Level: 0.15 feet low and slowly falling with only evaporative losses each day; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 30

Wx SNAPSHOT:

15AUG17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1981-1965 – white bass via downrigging and smoking tailspinners from 7:30 thru 9:00

**Area 1970-1085- white bass via downrigging and smoking slabs & tailspinners from 9:30 thru 11:00

**Area 231 – quick sunfish demo for just 1 fish

 

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

New Lake Record for 9-year-old Will McCabe – 62 Fish, 14 Aug. ’17

This past Monday morning I fished with Leon Kyrish of Canyon Lake, TX, and his two grandsons, Connor (age12) and Will McCabe (age 9) of San Antonio.  We fished a multi-species trip on Stillhouse primarily in pursuit of white bass.

WILLIAMMCCABE

 

This 1/2 pound, 8.5 inch sunfish landed by Will McCabe replaced the long-standing lake record for redear sunfish held by Christian Molyneaux (6 inches and 0.14 pounds) since 2006.  Molyneaux, also a client of mine, is now serving our nation in the US Air Force.

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Big brother Connor McCabe did very well on the white bass today.  He was a fast learner and was very consistent in his presentation when we jigged vertically.

The cloud cover in the eastern sky this morning was fairly thick and grey, so the light level remain subdued through about 8:15, as did the fishing.  Once the sun thinned the clouds and the sky began to brighten, bait and gamefish began moving and the bite picked up well for the middle two hours of our trip.

We began downrigging for white bass with balls set at 29-31 feet for fish just slightly deeper that that and picked up a half-dozen fish in our first hour.

As the clouds thinned around 8am, I spotted the first largemouth working shad on the surface and we keyed in on that in order to find even more white bass in that vicinity nearer the bottom.

We picked up our first few fish downrigging, then, as the action built, found a single bottom-hugging school of fish stationary enough to hover over top of and jig for using both slabs and tailspinners.  As the action slowed, we went back to downrigging to comb out those still-active fish from amongst a decreasing active population.  By the time the gamefish feed ran its course, the boys had put 47 fish in the boat.

Because the boys enjoy sunfishing and have access to a farm pond near their home, they were anxious to pick up some tips about how to improve their presentation to this species after I mentioned it in my “opening briefing” at dockside just after their arrival.

The boys seemed to track the several key components of my finesse sunfishing system, and, while putting that system to the test, landed a total of 15 sunfish in the boat including bluegill sunfish, longear sunfish, and redear sunfish.  One of the redears Will latched into in about 3.5 feet of water near a stand of submerged woody brush turned out to be a new lake record.

This redear sunfish weighed 0.50 pounds on a certified scale and measured 8.50 inches.

With a late checkout from the house the family rented near Lake Belton awaiting them, and a 5:00pm departure from their home in San Antonio planned so as to get Will to football practice on time, we wrapped it up right at the 4-hour mark at 10:45am with exactly 62 fish landed for our efforts.

TALLY: 62 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 10:45a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 80F

Water Surface Temp: 85.7F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW breeze 9-12 mph the entire trip

Sky Conditions: 80% grey cloud cover until 8am, then quickly thinning to 20% white cloud cover

Water Level: 0.10 feet low and slowly falling with only evaporative losses of ~0.02 feet per day; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 25

Wx SNAPSHOT:

14AUG17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1704-664 – downrigged for suspended fish at mid-depth under low-light

**Area 1965-1980 – downrigged for increasingly active whites tipped off by surface feeding largemouth

**Area 1980 – smoked on this number

**Area  1980-1501 – downrigging up thru the end of the morning bite around 10:10

**Areas 1979 and 456 – sunfish on slipfloats

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

Belton Sisters Earn First Fish Awards — 41 Fish, 12 Aug. ’17

This past Saturday morning on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, I welcomed Mrs. Suzette Sullivan and her two daughters, Asia (age 16) and Sara (age 8) for the girls’ first fishing trip and their first time on a boat.

SaraSullivanFirstFish

 

This white bass was the first catch of Sara’s life.  It earned her a TPWD “First Fish Award”.

 

AsiaSullivanFirstFish

 

…and this white bass was the first fish of Asia’s life.  She, too, earned a “First Fish Award”.

Mrs. Sullivan works at Baylor Scott & White where another client, Dr. Bill Johnston, referred her to me.  She booked the trip just for the girls and came along as a non-fishing chaperone.  During our trip, she shared that her intention was for the girls’ grandfather to introduce them to fishing, but that he passed away before that could happen.

Asia was quite leery of the movement of the boat, but got more used to it as the day went by.  Both girls screamed with excitement anytime something new happened — our first fish biting, our first fish flopping on the floor of the boat, the first time we accelerated to over 20mph, the first time I opened the worm box, etc., etc.   For someone who does this day in and day out for a living, it was a bit of an eye-opener on how much I can take for granted sometimes.

The stable weather, bright skies, and favorable winds assured a good bite this morning.  We were able to enjoy some variety in the fishing by employing downriggers, using slabs and tailspinners in a vertical mode, and by sunfishing up shallow with bait.

Less than 15 minutes into the trip I was snapping photos of the girls’ first fish of their lives, for which each will receive a “First Fish Award” from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.

Particularly exciting to Sara was catching white bass from out of deep water using a “smoking” tactic with a spinning reel.  Whenever she hooked a fish and got it near the surface, she started screaming loudly — so loudly, in fact, that I had to tactfully address “curbing our enthusiasm”.  Unfortunately, on busy summer weekends if we begin to draw attention to ourselves, other boats will crowd us and try to horn in on the action.  I don’t mind others catching fish, but when they run nearby with an outboard going and with sonar pinging and interfering with my onboard units, that’s a bit much.   Sara understood and celebrated more quietly for the remainder of the trip.

By the time 10 o’clock rolled around, the wind had slacked off, most of the cloud cover had dissipated, and it was getting very hot.  We wrapped up with a total of 41 fish landed by the girls.

TALLY: 41 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:40a

End Time: 10:10a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 80F

Water Surface Temp: 85.7F

Wind Speed & Direction: S breeze 7-9 mph the entire trip

Sky Conditions: 20% white cloud cover

Water Level: 0.04 feet low and slowly falling with only evaporative losses of ~0.02 feet per day; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 15

Wx SNAPSHOT:

12AUG17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1506-664 – downrigged for suspended fish at mid-depth under low-light

**Areas 1960 and 1510 – smoked on these numbers for white bass

**Area 1312 – smoked on it and downrigged around it for white bass

**Area 1572 – sunfishing

 

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

And the “First Fish Award” Goes To … — 41 Fish, SKIFF Trip #16

This past Friday morning I conducted the 16th SKIFF program trip of the 2017 season. Joining me today were two 5-year-old boys, Tyler Haas and Jayvion Charleston.  Mrs. Jessica Charleston came along as a chaperone.  We fished on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.

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The 3.5 inch sunfish was the first fish of 5-year-old Jayvion Charleston’s life.  It earned him a TPWD “First Fish Award”.

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Tyler Haas scored on some nice 2-year class white bass.

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Jayvion with a typical central Texas white bass taken from deep, clear water on a downrigged bait.
Both boys’ fathers, SSG Christopher Charleston and SSG David Haas, are staff sergeants in the U.S. Army, both are Cavalry scouts, and both are currently deployed to South Korea.

Although Jayvion had been on a boat before, he had never before landed a fish, so, that was priority number one. Given the boys’ age and what I suspected of their attention spans, I chose to start off the day fishing for sunfish up in shallow, cover filled water for the sake of “instant gratification”.

After explaining to the boys how the bream poles that we were going to be fishing with worked and why we were cutting the bait (earthworms) into such small segments, I decided to go one-on-one with the boys at first as they worked their way through the learning curve of reacting to their float being pulled under by a sunfish.

Jayvion’s hook, line sinker, and slip float were in the water, literally, less than three seconds when the first fish of his life pulled the float down; Jayvion reacted well and latched into a 3.5 inch juvenile sunfish. His smile was bigger than the fish.

After taking a few photos so we could apply for his TPWD “First Fish Award”, we released that fish and went on to catch 11 more — six sunfish for each boy– before moving on to something different.

Our next chapter in the day was to fish deep water with downriggers in hopes of landing some larger white bass. Fortunately, the first area I chose to search out with sonar revealed enough suspended fish present to downrig for. We got two downriggers in the water and, over the next 50 minutes, were able to put six singles and a double in the boat thus taking our fish count up to 20.

Both boys seemed more interested in investing our remaining time in pursuing more sunfish and so, that is exactly what we did, right up until about 10:15, when little Tyler wore out on us. We split another 21 sunfish across two similar, shallow, cover-filled areas and finished the trip with a total of 41 fish boated.

“Homefront” spouses with a husband or wife away from home on military duty (not just deployments) are welcomed to call me at 254.368.7411 to arrange for free 4-hour outing for your children.  Homefront parents are always welcome to attend, but are equally welcome to take some downtime from their own children and leave them in my care for this time on the water.  This is all made possible through the sponsorship and work of the Austin Fly Fishers and the supportive allies they have developed along the way.

TALLY: 41 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:40a

End Time: 10:20a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 78F

Water Surface Temp: 86.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSW breeze 8-10 mph the entire trip

Sky Conditions: 20% white cloud cover

Water Level: 0.02 feet low and slowly falling with only evaporative losses of ~0.02 feet per day; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 0

Wx SNAPSHOT:

11AUG17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 239 –  sunfish under low light

**Area 041-1962 – downrigging for white bass

**Areas 1418 and 1416 – sunfish on slipfloats

 

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

An Analog Dad in a Digital World — 60 Fish, 10 Aug. ’17

This past Friday morning, August 10th, I was joined by Mr. Ryan Dunlap and his friend, Joni Lethco. Ryan’s kids, Brooke and Logan, and Joni’s son, Flynt, also joined in the fun.  We fished a multi-species trip focused on white bass on Stillhouse Lake.

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Brooke Dunlap got the ball rolling for us this morning, taking this nice 3 year class white bass from out of 36 feet of water.  Brooke may look chipper in the photo, but she only got 3 hours of sleep before the trip after competing in a rodeo up near Ft. Worth the night before.

 

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Logan Dunlap and Joni Lethco with a pair of white bass that struck our downriggers right about the same time.

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Flynt Lethco, a high school student from the small town of Mullin, TX, with a nice double he came up with as we downrigged in an area thick with baitfish this morning.

 

Fishing has been just so – so this week, and I let my crew know that we would have to work for each fish we caught today. I anticipated we would catch fish with the downriggers, and also hoped that we could add some variety by fishing vertically for more heavily congregated fish we found near bottom as we downrigged.

We fished four distinct areas this morning and found fish at the last three of them.

The fish behaved in much the same way at each — the fish would perk up and take interest in our downrigger presentations, allowing us to catch on the first three or four passes over them, then, after that, even though the fish were still in the same locations, they just lost interest quickly.

I noticed similar behavior during the three or four times that we stopped over top of congregated fish to vertical jig for them. As soon as we got baits down to the bottom and started working our slabs, the fish would bite aggressively, allowing each angler two or three fish. After that, even though the fish were still present, they would just “sit tight” and ignore our presentations. The activity just seemed to come in spurts.

As Joni and the kids did most of the fishing, and Ryan and I just helped with getting the downriggers set and other supportive tasks, they racked up a catch of exactly 60 fish one or two fish at a time, enduring the often windless heat as they did so.

By around 11 AM, with the fishing slowing down, the temperature rising, and the wind staying near calm, we decided to call it a good day with exactly 60 fish in the boat.

As we wrapped things up, I let Ryan know I’d be sending him photos and links to this summary by email.  He then informed me he didn’t do email.  I asked about Facebook — no Facebook.  I kidded him that he was just an analog dad in a digital world, and let him know I’d send everything to the kids instead!

TALLY: 60 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 11:00a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 78F

Water Surface Temp: 84.7F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSW breeze 4-6mph the entire trip

Sky Conditions: 30% white cloud cover

Water Level: At exactly full pool (622.0 ft ASL)  and slowly falling with only evaporative losses of ~0.02 feet per day; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 0

Wx SNAPSHOT:

10AUG17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 1962-1976-039 — downrigging and smoking

**Area 1977 & 1978 – smoking on these numbers and downrigged in between

**Area 1971-1440 – — downrigging and smoking

Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

Hot Ain’t the Word for It — 37 Fish, SKIFF Trip #15

This past Wednesday evening, August 9th, I fished a “last-minute” SKIFF program trip with the Erp family of Killeen.  This was the 15th such trip this season.  Thus far, 33 kids have had the opportunity to fish for free this year while their military parent was away from home on duty.

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Despite the afternoon heat, intensified by light winds and high humidity, Eden Erp landed the majority of the 37 fish she and her 5-year-old brother, Warren, put in the boat this hot August afternoon.

Mrs. Katie Erp and her two children, Eden and Warren, have taken advantage of the SKIFF program previously, and so when her husband, Andy Erp, a US Army warrant officer, got “hey – you’d” unexpectedly and sent to the National Training Center (NTC) in Death Valley California at Fort Erwin, Katie gave me a ring to see if we could get the kids on the water during his absence.

I normally would not take younger kids in the heat of a Texas summer afternoon, but afternoons are all I had open to accommodate her request, given my very busy schedule which is always quite full in the weeks prior to the start of public school as parents and grandparents try to squeeze in a little bit more vacation before the school year.

The fishing for other than sunfish was predictably slow, so I made sure we started the trip successfully sunfishing, and ended the trip successfully sunfishing, saving the middle part for hunting a few deep white bass.

The heat got to five-year-old Warren after about 70 minutes after which he crashed in a shady corner of the boat while his big sister, Eden, hung in there like a real trooper and caught both white bass on downriggers and sunfish up shallow right up through around 8 PM.

When the kids had all the fun and sun they could muster, we had put together a catch of 37 fish for our efforts.

“Homefront” spouses with a husband or wife away from home on military duty (not just deployments) are welcomed to call me at 254.368.7411 to arrange for free 4-hour outing for your children.  Homefront parents are always welcome to attend, but are equally welcome to take some downtime from their own children and leave them in my care for this time on the water.  This is all made possible through the sponsorship and work of the Austin Fly Fishers and the supportive allies they have developed along the way.

TALLY: 37 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 4:30p

End Time: 8:00p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 90F

Water Surface Temp: 87.1F

Wind Speed & Direction: ENE breeze 3-4mph the entire trip

Sky Conditions: 60% white cloud cover & very humid

Water Level: 0.1 feet high and slowly falling with only evaporative losses of ~0.02 feet per day; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 0

Wx SNAPSHOT:

09AUG17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 239 – sunfish on slipfloats

**Area 865 – whites on downrigger

**Area 660-1241 – whites on downrigger

**Area 200 – sunfish on slipfloats

Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

Tortorich Kids Land 36 on Ft. Hood SKIESUnlimited Trip — 09 Aug. ’17 (AM)

This morning, Wednesday, August 9th, I fished with 12-year-old AmiLee Tortorich and her 8-year-old brother, Brayden.  The kids’ mom signed them up for this “Fishing 101” activity through the Fort Hood SKIESUnlimited Program.

Bro and Sis

 

AmiLee and Brayden Tortorich landed 36 fish during their 4-hour Fort Hood SKIESUnlimited trip on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.  The siblings were introduced to downrigging, vertical jigging, and sight casting under unusually cool August conditions.

IMG_3520

AmiLee landed our largest fish of the trip and didn’t hesitate to grip it like a pro for a quick photo before it was released.  This largemouth bass struck a silver Pet Spoon with a white feather tail.

Our weather was still a bit out of the ordinary for August, with a cool north wind blowing this morning taking the surface temperature down a bit overnight and dropping the air temperature to around 76F.

We primarily used downriggers this morning as the fish were scattered and a bit reluctant to strike.  Quite a few times we saw large schools of fish which, under typical August weather conditions, would strike when the downrigged baits got near them.  This morning, the majority of those encounters resulted in those fish refusing our offerings.

Around 8am we made a move and found some light, scattered surface action driven by largemouth bass chasing shad to the surface.  Mixed in with these largemouth, and lower in the water column, were white bass.

We remained in this active location for the remainder of our trip; this allowed the kids to continue downrigging successfully, but also allowed them to do some vertical jigging and some sight casting to the largemouth on top.  With about 45 minutes left in our trip, I offered that we could either continue pursuing the white bass as we had been doing, or head up shallow and catch more, but smaller, sunfish.

To my surprise, the kids opted to stick with it for more white bass action, as they really enjoyed setting and operating the downriggers.  This choice got them 6 more fish in the last 45 minutes of our trip, including the trip’s one and only “triple” where AmiLee caught 3 fish at a time on her 3-armed umbrella rig.

SKIESUnlimited stands for Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration, and Skills.

SKIESUnlimited offers dozens of activities for military and Department of Defense kids of all ages, ranging from gymnastics to piano lessons, from academic tutoring to various forms of dance, and more.  Monetary credit for such courses is available for children whose military parents are deployed.

To participate in such courses, children must first be registered with Child and Youth Services.

Registration is free and is accomplished by contacting Parent Central Services at 254-287-8029.

Once registered, parents may go online to enroll their children for the myriad courses available.

TALLY: 36 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:30am

End Time: 10:30am

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 76F

Water Surface Temp: 83.8F

Wind Speed & Direction: N breeze 4-6 mph the entire trip

Sky Conditions: ~10% cloud cover.

Water Level: 0.1 feet high and slowly falling with only evaporative losses of ~0.02 feet per day; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 0

Wx SNAPSHOT:

09AUG17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 484-1221 downrigging under low light conditions with a grey cloud bank in the east obscuring sunrise

**Area 1510-1316 a mix of downrigging, sight casting, and smoking for a largemouth/white bass mix

 

Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

Spotty Fishing After the Rains — 35 Fish, Belton, 07 Aug ’17

This past Monday evening, in the wake of area-wide rainfall that occurred from late Sunday night through early Monday afternoon, I fished for a second time with US Army retiree Lee Walker.

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In the wake of storms that persisted through early afternoon, fishing was very spotty thereafter.  Fish would turn on and then turn right back off again.

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During his introduction to downrigging, Lee wound up catching a “triple”, with one fish striking each of the three Pet Spoons on the 3-armed umbrella rigs which account for the majority of the fish I catch on downriggers.

Lee had previously done both a sonar training trip with me and then, last fall, took advantage of a Veterans’ Day special I was running just for vets.  We were in contact by phone between 4-5 am this morning comparing notes on weather radar hoping to get a morning trip in, but, rain, thunder, and lightning persisted, so, we pushed back to this evening.

Lee is an avid Lake Belton angler and was hoping to get some insights into summer fishing on Belton more than just going out and putting fish in the boat.

The unstable weather made things tough this afternoon, so we had to work for each of the fish we caught.  We kicked off the trip by downrigging.  The downrigging produced singles, doubles, and even a bonus triple (catching 1 fish on each of the 3 hooks of the umbrella rig, thus allowing the angler to catch 3 fish at a time.  All the while we were downrigging, we also kept a sharp eye on sonar to see if there were any large clusters of fish on bottom that could be jigged for.

At the third area we patrolled, we got into such a cluster of fish, picked off 4 whites and 2 hybrid in under 3 minutes, and then never found another active group of fish like that the remainder of the trip.

By 7:00p, with the sun ducking in and out of thick grey cloud cover, some light surface action began to brew and lots of young of the year shad appeared on the calming surface.  We both had high hopes of a sunset topwater feed, but, none developed.

When all was said and done, we landed 33 white bass and 2 hybrid stripers with the majority of the fish coming on the downriggers, 4 coming on topwater, and 6 coming on slabs worked vertically.

With tomorrow’s weather looking very unstable, I postponed that day’s trip; Wednesday looks like we’ll be back in the groove.

TALLY: 35 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 4:10p

End Time: 8:35p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 85F

Water Surface Temp: 85.1F

Wind Speed & Direction: ESE4-5 for the first 3 hours, then going calm in the final hour

Sky Conditions: ~40% cloud cover the entire trip

Water Level: 0.23 feet low and slowly falling with only evaporative losses of ~0.02 feet per day; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 10

Wx SNAPSHOT:

07AUG17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1946-1584-815 downrigging

**Area 1972-904 downrigging and smoking

**Area 1271-1186 downrigging

**Area 483-1402-501 sparse topwater

Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

Joint Angling Operations – 64 Fish, Stillhouse, 05 Aug. ’17

This past Saturday morning, August 5th, I fished with Rob Mixer and Josh Dow in pursuit of white bass on Stillhouse Hollow.

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From left: Rob Mixer and Josh Dow with a pair of white bass we took right at sunrise this morning on downriggers.  The stable weather following Wednesday’s storms has left predictable fishing in its wake.

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Josh Dow with our largest fish of the trip, a 3 pound class largemouth taken from near bottom in 38′ on a slab worked vertically.

Rob’s wife arranged this trip for Rob’s birthday, initially inquiring about fishing on Lake Georgetown because it is closer to where they live.  Unfortunately on most warm weekends Georgetown is a wake-filled zoo due to increased traffic there which occurred when Austinites went searching for an alternative to Lake Travis during the recent drought.  Botttom line: we agreed Stillhouse would be the best choice for this weekend.

As I went over the several thing I typically review before we get lines in the water (safety, intro to spinning and casting gear, and prayer), I learned that Rob is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and that Josh is a graduate of the US Naval Academy.  So, being a US Military Academy grad myself, we had a lot in common.  After the required chiding about this season’s Army football victory over Navy, we cleared the air and got down to fishing.

With a SSE breeze, little cloud cover and stable weather conditions, the fishing this morning was predictable and the pace of our catch was average.

We began the morning downrigging with balls set around 28-32 feet over a deeper bottom for white bass that were primarily suspended.  We caught singles and doubles in our first hour taking our tally up to 11 fish before we spotted largemouth chasing shad on topwater some distance away.

As we arrived at the scene of the commotion, the commotion had died down a good bit.  We landed 2 largemouth bass but moved on pretty quickly as the action was not consolidated enough to make it profitable.

Our third stop of the morning found us presenting vertically to the most heavily schooled white bass we’d find on sonar all morning.  These fish were on and near bottom, thus leading me to believe we could effectively use a “smoking” tactic to catch them with.  This did turn out to be the case as we were able to put exactly 33 additional fish in the boat (31 whites, 2 drum) using ¾ oz. slabs.

As this population of fish settled down around 10:10, we moved to our final stop of the morning, an area that in many ways mimicked the topography of the place we just left.

As I motored slowly over the area, sonar revealed abundant white bass, both on bottom and suspended up off bottom.  We took our first crack at them by smoking, which went well for another 8 fish, then, when the bottom action dried up, we closed out the day by making another few downrigger passes at the suspenders, taking our count to 64 fish.

TALLY: 64 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:25a

End Time: 11:00a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 77F

Water Surface Temp: 85.1F

Wind Speed & Direction: SE4-5 the entire trip

Sky Conditions: Under 20% cloud cover the entire trip

Water Level: 0.17feet low and slowly falling with only evaporative losses of ~0.02 feet per day; 0 cfs release at dam

GT = 30

Wx SNAPSHOT:

 

05AUG17

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 484-444-660 early, low-light downrigging for 11 fish

**Area vic 1783 – scattered topwater action by schoolie largemouth for 2 fish

**Area 453 to 1085 – well-congregated white bass on and just off bottom – smoking slabs for 33 fish

**Area 1971 through 1440 – smoke and downrig for 18 white bass

 

Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle