FISH COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK – 92 FISH @ STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This morning, Feb. 24th, 2020, I fished with Shawn, Micah, and Kameron Chapman of Chapman Woodworking, based in Salado, TX.  Back in June of 2019, Shawn’s wife, Amy, got him a fishing gift certificate for Fathers’ Day and today was the day Shawn decided to redeem it.

The three men, along with about 20 other employees of the company, design, build, and install everything from cabinetry to kitchens, baths, bars, bookshelves, mudrooms, and more.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: Shawn, Micah, and Kameron Chapman with a portion of our catch of healthy, plump, one, two, and three year-old white bass which fell for slabs worked slowly near bottom as a mild, dry cold front pushed in through the morning hours.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Monday, 24 February 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED: We began the day chasing scattered fish under birds on mid-depth flats in three distinct locations, making two short hops at each before moving to the next.  Fish would patrol through in small packs and were a bit difficult to convince this morning.  We’d only picked up 14 fish and missed another half-dozen by 8:30.  When I felt enough light was present to illuminate some of the deeper channel segments, we switched over to fishing the channel and our results improved from that time on.  Especially productive was the time from 8:45 to 9:30 when the wind shifted from WSW through W to WNW and increased.  After the wind reached WNW, the bite toughened up again.

The go-to tactic all morning was easing with my small, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slabs with stinger hooks attached.  Used in conjunction with long rods and Garmin LiveScope, we were able to present baits very efficiently  as both bottom-dwelling fish and suspended, cruising fish showed on the sonar screen.

The bite ground to a halt by 11:45.  By that time we’d landed exactly 92 fish, including about 5 or 6 drum and the balance being white bass.

TALLY: 92 fish caught and released

 

OBSERVATIONS:   The best concentrations of fish we found were immediately adjacent to the river channel once again today.  Most bird (gull) action was focused on shallower, scattered fish feeding on mid-depth flats, wounding just enough sunfish to keep the birds’ attention.

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:   7:00A

End Time:  11:45A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  62F

Elevation: 3.26 low, +0.04′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: WSW at trip’s start, shifting slowly through the west, then to the WNW, and peaking around 9:30 at 13mph, then backing off to 10-11 mph thereafter.

Sky Conditions: 100% grey cover all morning

GT = 55

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1980 – scattered fish under birds

**Area SH0010G – scattered fish under birds

**Area 786/SH0002G – scattered fish under birds

**Area vic SH0001C – channel breakline for plentiful whites

**Area vic 1196 – scattered fish under birds

**Area 1502 – channel breakline for plentiful whites

**Area SH0012 – channel breakline for plentiful whites

Post-trip scouting: SH0011G – scattered fish under birds

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

A GUIDE IN TRAINING — 88 FISH @ STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday morning, Feb. 22nd, I fished with Mr. David Oliver of Brownwood, TX.  David is the soon-to-retire president of a small business with several locations in the DFW area.  He’s fished for largemouth competitively, he’s confident on crappie, he’s made some inroads into catfishing over this past year, and, today, hoped to start down the path of being able to consistently find and catch white bass.

David hopes to become a fishing guide on Lake Brownwood in his retirement, and so, in addition to many good questions he asked about white bass fishing, he also came prepared with questions about the guiding business and did a lot of observing that most folks that come aboard simply to catch fish don’t do.

PHOTO CAPTION:   Jumbo whites like these wide, fat, stocky fish made up a good percentage of our catch today as fish have put on weight as eggs and milt develop in preparation for the forthcoming spawn.   88 fish caught and released.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 23 February 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  We enjoyed “white bass weather” this morning — grey skies, manageable winds from a southerly direction, and a bit of a warming trend.  The fish turned on and were feeding well all morning.

Because David’s desire was to learn both techniques and location skills, we never just sat atop a group of fish we found and caught them until they quit.  Rather, we worked this more like I would do when I go out scouting — look for fish with sonar, catch a few to confirm size, species, and level of activity, then move on to try to do likewise elsewhere.   When I scout, I normally catch no more than 3 to 5 fish.  Today, we made it more like 15-20 fish at each location as David got the hang of the easing and smoking tactics I showed him and as he struggled to leave his crappie tactics aside for the day.  Additionally, because he has his own Garmin LiveScope setup a bit differently than I do, he did some observing on the way I use the downward view with my own “pet” settings to focus in on bottom-hugging white bass.

We found aggressively feeding, schooled fish at four distinct locations and more scattered, less aggressive fish at two other locations.  The action is happening along the river channel right now, no doubt about it.  The further we strayed from the channel, the fewer fish we found and the less aggressive those fish were.

We noted (as I did on Monday and Tuesday) that much of the obvious bird action taking place right now is driven by loons and not by white bass.

In an effort to demonstrate the use of bladebaits for shallow work, we fished up shallow for a bit this morning.  We got exactly one strike and I was not positive that came from a white bass.  So, we quickly dropped that (although the demonstration was still helpful), and only focused on deep water.  All of our fish were taken from 32-48 feet of water this morning.

TALLY: 88 fish caught and released

 

OBSERVATIONS:   The best concentrations of fish we found were immediately adjacent to the river channel once again today.  Most bird (gull) action was focused on loons; no terns observed).

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:   7:00A

End Time:  1:15P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  44F

Elevation: 3.30 low, -0.01′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   51.9F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSE6 building to SSE12 steadily over the course of the morning

Sky Conditions: 100% grey cover all morning

GT = 18

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1043/1512 sparse action on deep flat

**Area SH0001C – large congregation on river channel

**Area vic 1502 – large congregation on river channel

**Area vic 339 –  sparse action on deep flat

**Area vic 1302 –  sparse action on deep flat

**Area SH0008G – large congregation on river channel

**Area SH0009G – large congregation on river channel

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

WE NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP — 48 FISH @ STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Tuesday morning, February 19th, I fished with a crew of four young men from Georgetown, TX — 3 brothers and a buddy, all escorted by the brothers’ mom, Pam Carroll.

Pam called me while I was in the midst of conducting a guided trip on Monday morning.  As a single mom of three, she was trying hard to help her sons experience the great outdoors, but that wasn’t exactly going as planned.  The family had camped out in an RV at Cedar Breaks Park on Lake Georgetown and made several attempts at catching fish, but to no avail.  Kids got cranky.  Kids got lost.  Dog got lost.  Grandma got worn out.  Sister went home early with Grandma.  Mom started wondering what’s so great about the outdoors after all.

A quick Google search on her smart phone led her to me.  She indicated her interest in seeking “professional help” (her words, verbatim).  I chuckled.  We talked things over and, long story short, met at 7:15AM the following day on Stillhouse for a morning in pursuit of white bass (or anything else with scales) for Corban (11), Connor (9), Cade (8), and family friend Cooper Rhea (11).

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left:  Connor Carroll, Cooper Rhea, Corban and Cade Carroll, all with evidence of their Presidents’ Day weekend fishing adventure success story that went down to the wire to in the making.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Tuesday, 18 February 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  The weather forecast was really up in the air.  No two of the sources I use for weather could agree on wind direction, wind speed, ambient temperature, chance of rain, etc.  It was clear that a cold front would arrive, but the timing was uncertain.  As I headed to bed on Monday night, the wake-up air temperature was due to be 53F.  When my alarm went off just before 5AM, it was 64F.  I read my Bible, then looked at my weather apps — the cold front had slowed down and the lead edge was now due in around 10AM.

As I got to the lake, the temperature drop which took place in the preceding 2 hours or so, thanks to clearing skies, allowed a thick fog to form on the lake (not good).  Additionally, the winds went calm (also not good).

Incredibly, Pam showed up with a Ford Explorer full of (mostly) dressed boys 3 minutes early.  I was impressed, as I know that was no small feat, especially given that the family spent the night in an RV.

I went over safety stuff, gear stuff, tactics, and then asked the Lord to grant us safety and success.

Off we went.

Our first 2.5 hours saw us land only 3 fish and miss three more, with no fish on the line for the youngest brother, Cade.  There were no fish showing on sonar, no birds working beyond a 20 minute span right at sunrise, and it was just tough, until…

At about 9:40, the lightest SW breeze began and the 100% grey cloud cover thinned just enough to brighten things up a tad.  I moved us to a breakline from a deep flat into the river channel and there, finally, on sonar was a bottom blanketed with white bass over a 50 yard span.  I literally exhaled a sigh of relief knowing that the boys were soon going to see their dream come true.

I deployed the Ulterra, marked the fish with my cursor on the H’bird Solix, and we Spot-Locked on the fish.  I issued out rods, being careful not to get tangled at this critical juncture, and emphatically reminded the boys not to drop their slabs until I let them know it was okay to do so (once the boat was fixed atop the fish).

I reminded the boys as they held their rods out directly in front themselves about the fundamentals of the technique we’d practiced.  We all let down our slabs to bottom at the same time and the magic started to happen.

The boys caught fish after fish — 45 in all — at this location right through 10:45 AM, during which time the wind developed from the west, then went slack, then began pushing lightly from the NW, then ramped up and shifted to NNW reaching a peak velocity of ~13 mph.  This was a short-lived, pre-frontal scenario and the boys were well-practiced by this point to take full advantage of the potential.

As the winds came full-on, the fish shut down, the boys got cold, and the fun factor started to fade; Pam and I knew it was a good time to call it a success and head for the dock.

The boys landed a total of 48 fish, including 46 white bass, 1 largemouth bass, and 1 drum.  Mission complete!

 

TALLY: 48 fish caught and released

 

OBSERVATIONS:   The best concentrations of fish we found were immediately adjacent to the river channel once again today.  Temperature profile from surface to 55 feet deep was as follows:

0 feet 56.3F

5 feet 56F

10 feet 56F

15 feet 55.9F

20 feet 55.4F

25 feet 55.2F

30 feet 54.3F

35 feet 53.7F

40 feet 53.5F

45 feet 53.2F

50 feet 53.1F

55 feet 52.9F

 

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:   7:15A

End Time:  10:45A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  64F, then dropping as the cold front moved in

Elevation: 3.35 low, -0.01′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   56.3F

Wind Speed & Direction: See narrative (changing wind scenario with incoming front)

Sky Conditions: 100% grey cover all morning

GT = N/A

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

 

**Area  SH0002G/544 – light action under early birds; 2 fish landed 3 missed

**Area SH0001C – channel drop which yielded nearly all of our fish

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

PRESIDENTS’ DAY 2020 – 108 FISH @ BELTON (PM)

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Presidents’ Day Monday afternoon (17 Feb. 2020) I fished with Mr. Marshall Smith, his dad, Bob Smith, and Marshall’s 5-year-old son, Bobby.  This year there has been a pretty stark contrast between Stillhouse’s fewer, but larger, white bass, and Belton’s greater quantity of smaller fish, without exception.  Because we had a 5-year-old aboard, Marshall and I agreed that the better action, albeit for smaller fish, would be more well-suited for Bobby’s age and attention span.  This turned out to be a good call.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: Bob, Marshall, and Bobby Smith with a few of the 108 fish we landed at the end of a 3-day warming trend on Lake Belton.  We primarily caught white bass, but also managed a few largemouth and drum, as well.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Monday, 17 February 2020, PM

HOW WE FISHED:  After observing how the better concentrations of white bass I found on Stillhouse today during my morning trip were holding adjacent to the river channel, I focused on like areas to start off with at Belton.  This turned out to be a very good call.  We found all of our fish within a roughly 1/2 mile stretch of river channel today and kept the action steady from start to finish, with a noticeable “low-light” uptick right at the end of the trip as the sun disappeared below the horizon.

Fishing was very straightforward, if not lacking in variety.  We used 3/8 oz., white Hazy Eye Slabs with stinger hooks attached in two different ways, depending on how the fish presented on Garmin LiveScope.  If the fish were holding tight to the bottom, or settled down after being previously suspended, we used a slow easing tactic. If (as was the case the majority of the time) we found the fish were more active and were up and feeding from a suspended posture, we used a slow smoking tactic to seal the deal.

Bobby stayed engaged the entire time, but not necessarily in fishing!  He did land several fish with assistance, then landed several independently, then got promoted to live-well checker, to fish-putter-backer, to possible-keeper-fish-ruler-operator … you get the gist of it.

Having three generations aboard is a reel treat, especially when the older generations come aboard with the mindset of making the younger one successful, as was the case this afternoon.

 

TALLY: 108 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   The best concentrations of fish we found were immediately adjacent to the river channel today. Helpful bird action by ~8 gulls led to our “low-light” bite location where we put more than 20 fish in the boat in about as many minutes as the fish went on a pre-dusk feeding spree (albeit still in slow motion).

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    2:15P

End Time:  6:15P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  78F

Elevation: 2.29 low, No 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   54.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW6-9

Sky Conditions: 60% white cloud cover all afternoon

GT = 50

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

 

**Area vic 1671

**Area B0015G to B0016G – area loaded with suspended white adjacent to channel

**Area vic 997

**Area 565/1659

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

PRESIDENTS’ DAY 2020 — 56 FISH @ STILLHOUSE (AM)

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Presidents’ Day Monday (17 Feb. 2020) I fished with Mr. Steve Niemeier and his granddaughter, Macy Fowler, age 11, both of Temple.  Steve left the choice of lakes up to me.  This year there has been a pretty stark contrast between Stillhouse’s fewer, but larger, white bass, and Belton’s greater quantity of smaller fish, without exception.  Because we cashed in on high numbers on Macy’s last trip back on November 11th (140 fish in 4 hours on Belton), and because I saw that Macy did well in allowing herself to be coached, I felt we’d do well to head to Stillhouse and shoot for some larger fish, knowing that either lake would require a pretty technical approach given the low water temperature.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   Steve Niemeier and his granddaughter, Macy Fowler, with a few of the plump Stillhouse white bass we found very near the river channel on this Presidents’ Day morning outing.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Monday, 17 February 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED: We had about as many things going for us as we had working against us this morning, and I anticipated average results for this cool-water season.  The overriding issue is water temperature which is at or near the annual low right now.  Helping us today was wind, cloud cover, and the fact that we were at the end of a 3 day warming trend with a cold front due in midday the following day.  We weren’t lined up for pre-frontal fishing, but the conditions were okay.

We began working slabs vertically under birds at two distinct areas, but these birds are focused on the occasional sunfish crippled by scattered white bass and small largemouth on deep flats.  These fish are generally not schooled up heavily enough to sit atop of and catch high numbers.  We caught a few fish this way, but nothing to get excited about.

We experimented with using bladebaits up shallow and picked up a few “pioneers” trying to move upstream in preparation for spawning.  We picked up another half-dozen whites this way, but that action died suddenly as the skies, although still 100% grey and clouded, brightened.

With this brightening, we moved deep and came upon another group of bird working open water.  As I surveyed the situation with sonar, I saw good numbers of fish on bottom, suspended just up off bottom, and with a few “high riders” up off bottom in the water column as much as 15-20 feet off bottom in ~42 feet of water.

We sat over these fish for about 45 minutes and put about 20 fish in the boat aided by Garmin LiveScope, using an ultra-slow smoking tactic with my 3/8 oz. white, Hazy Eye slabs with stinger hooks attached..  The fish quit about 10 minutes after the last of the birds gave up.  It was interesting to observe a nearby angler in a bass boat who also fished this area, drawn in by the birds.  He fished, caught nothing, and left as he moved about much too quickly using his trolling motor.  It confirmed to me the need to sit in one well-chosen location, allowing the bite develop around us as we created commotion by jigging, thumping, and catching and releasing fish.

We checked a few more areas in our last 45 minutes on the water, finding one very solid concentration of fish adjacent to the old Lampasas River channel.  These fish were also in about 40 feet of water.  As is typical of late-morning fish, this population flared up with excitement as we got our slabs down and caught our first few fish, but then quickly cooled off.  We took a final 22 fish at this location, taking our tally from 34 fish, up to 56 fish on the morning.

 

TALLY: 56 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   The best concentrations of fish we found were immediately adjacent to the river channel today.  Only scattered fish were found away from the channel.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7A

End Time:  11:30A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  62F

Elevation: 3.36 low, No 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   54.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW6-9

Sky Conditions: 100% grey skies all morning

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1500 – scattered whites on mid-depth flat under gulls

**Area vic 735 – scattered whites on mid-depth flat under gulls

**Area vic SH0077C – shallow whites taken on blades

**Area vic SH0080C – active whites on deep flat adjacent to channel

**Area 1038 – active whites on channel breakline

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

THE FISH WENT TO T.O.W.N. –55 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday afternoon I fished with Beverly Travis of Belton and Alex Castillo of Austin on Lake Belton following a tough morning of fishing on Stillhouse.  Beverly tried to get her and her grandkids out with me last year, but foul weather prevented.  After visiting my booth at the Central Texas Boat and Outdoor Show the week before, we made plans to try again today.

I offered the option of more, but smaller fish at Belton, or fewer, but larger, white bass at Stillhouse.  Beverly, who coordinated the trip, opted for greater action at Lake Belton.

This time, Beverly brought Alex Castillo.  The two ladies met through a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program called Texas Outdoors-Woman Network (T.O.W.N.).  The mission of T.O.W.N. is to provide all women the opportunity to experience outdoor activities in a safe, non-threatening, and supportive environment.  The program was started by several graduates of TPWD’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshop.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: Beverly Travis, a Christian counselor from Belton, and Alex Castillo, who works in the environmental field in Austin, teamed up through TPWD’s Texas Outdoors-Woman Network (T.O.W.N.) to split a half-day white bass fishing trip on Lake Belton, landing 55 fish on a tough day of fishing.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 01 February 2020, PM

HOW WE FISHED: I was prepared for a tough afternoon today.  As I rolled into the launch area, long-time Belton multi-species angler Mike P. was on his way out after having fished a long morning and into the afternoon for just 24 fish as he chased white bass, resulting in just 2 legal fish in his catch.  I had similar difficulties not finding fish, but getting them to bite, over at Stillhouse, landing just 20 fish between 7:15 and noon.

Before we left the launch area I provided a thorough explanation on the very slow, methodical tactic of “easing” we would rely on to catch our fish this afternoon, emphasizing how important very slow movement was, and demonstrating it for Bev and Alex.

The ladies got the hang of the tactic very quickly.  As was the case on Stillhouse this morning, finding fish was not all that challenging, but getting them to bite was another story.  Routinely, when I found fish on an area, there were several dozen fish in the schools I Spot-Locked atop of.  Such a school would typically yield 2-4 fish fairly soon after we began jigging, and then the fish, though still present, would shut down.  Seeing this trend develop, we adjusted our approach and moved very readily to new “batches” of fish soon after a given school would shut down.

We did well, given the conditions, boating a total of 55 fish, including 3 drum and 52 white bass.  One interesting note was the intensity of this evening’s low-light bite.  As we used the trolling motor to ease into our final area of the trip, I saw fish suspended in the water column from halfway to bottom, all the way to the bottom.  This was the first time I’d seen fish more than a foot off bottom all day (Belton or Stillhouse).  As we fished for these fish and began catching them, the fish suddenly turned on well.  We took our tally from 36 fish to a final count of 55 fish (hence, 19 fish caught) in the last 20 minutes of the trip.

We relied on the very reliable white, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab, with stinger hook attached.  Roughly 80% of the fish caught today (Belton and Stillhouse) came on the stinger hook, as has been my experience for several years now when the water temperatures reach near annual lows.

TALLY: 55 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   Experienced a hard low-light feed at and just following sunset tonight, following a day of tough fishing. 19 fish in 20 minutes from fish all throughout the lower half of the water column.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    2:00P

End Time:  6:15P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  66F

Elevation: 3.00 low, -0.02′ 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: NW7-0

Sky Conditions: Clear, cloud-free, blue skies

GT = 30

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  B0113C to 1671 to 565 : 3 short hops early, then one final stop near sunset

**Area 1845 to 1619: 3 short hops early, then 2 short hops later on second visit here

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

FISHIN’ WITH GRANDPA LEE – 20 FISH @ STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday morning I fished with Mr. Lee Vancleave, his 13-year-old grandson, Konnar, and Konnar’s 13-year-old buddy, Chris.  Lee was retired, got bored with retirement, and went back to work doing what he had done prior to retiring, which was crunching data and generating reports for a state agency.  Konnar, who lives with his grandpa, and his buddy, Chris, became friends through school and sports in Pfluegerville, TX.

Although my first choice for today’s trip would have been Belton known this season for higher numbers of smaller fish, Lee requested we fish Stillhouse as it is more accessible to him, thus, he wanted to become more familiar with it in addition to catching some fish.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: Lee, Chris, and Konnar with a few of the plump white bass we took on 3/8 oz. slabs on a very tough morning.

 

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 01 February 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  We faced a very tough bite this morning — a sentiment shared by several others in my “network” fishing both Belton and Stillhouse.  I felt fortunate to observe birds (mainly gulls) beginning to work just prior to sunrise, but, the bird action was much more intense than the fish action beneath.  When we found fish on sonar, they were tight to the bottom, they were in small packs of 5-10 fish, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to bite.  I’d dare say we’d observe 20-30 fish on LiveScope pass through the midst of our 4 slabs working to get one bite.  After the birds gave up, it got even tougher.

We slowly eased our slabs for a grand total of 20 fish and, despite average weekend boat traffic for this cooler time of year, and with boats occasionally straying near us as we all hunted birds, we saw only one other fish landed by a gentleman snap-jigging from his kayak.

True to form, though, the white bass we landed this morning were all solid, well-proportioned, legal-sized whites.

One very good recreational angler I compared notes with on Lake Belton fish until around 1:15 and managed only 24 fish, of which only 2 were legal sized white bass.

TALLY: 20 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   An unusually tough bite given the ample bird action.  I noted most bird action was generated by gulls lifting sunfish off the surface, not by terns, nor involving shad.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:15A

End Time:  NOON

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  38F

Elevation: 3.50 low, 0.01′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   52.8F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW7-9

Sky Conditions: Clear, cloud-free, blue skies

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  329 – bird action at sunrise and for 45 minutes thereafter

**Area 1887 – best action of the day, albeit still slow

**Area SH0109C – late morning gull action with more bird activity above than fish action below

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

GO SLOW, OR GO FISHLESS — 75 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Friday morning I fished with U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Burley and his son, Nick Burley.  Kyle is stationed here at Ft. Hood and resides in Harker Heights.  Nick flew in from the D.C. area for a few days of visiting.  The two are originally from Pennsylvania where fly fishing for trout is more the norm.

Between the shared interest in fishing I have with Nick, and the shared interest I have with Kyle in long-distance rifle shooting, the conversation over the course of the morning was engaging.  All three of us shared an interest in well-prepared Texas smoked meats!!

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Despite catching fish of other species, including our target species (white bass), Kyle and Nick specifically asked me to snap shots of their drum which anchored our catch today weight-wise.

PHOTO CAPTION: Belton’s drum (and blue catfish) have become plentiful and healthy thanks to a bumper crop of zebra mussels as an abundant food source, I suspect.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Friday, 31 January 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   I presented Kyle with two options two days in advance of our trip, based both on past experience and current results: fish for more, but smaller white bass on Belton, or fewer, but larger white bass on Stillhouse.  In the interest of action, Kyle opted for Belton.  We caught fish over the entirety of the trip, although the timeframe from 8:00 to 9:30 produced best (which, coincidentally, coincided with the start of increased cloud cover and the peak wind conditions for the morning).  As anticipated, we caught solid numbers of smaller fish, 75 in all.  This catch included mainly white bass, with a few largemouth and freshwater drum sprinkled in for variety.

The go-to tactic this morning was a slow easing tactic using my smaller white, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye slabs with stinger hooks attached.  We caught fish in 27 to 42 feet of water.

We did not encounter any helpful bird activity, although plenty of loons, gulls, terns, and osprey are present.

TALLY: 75 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   Despite a NW wind which has been coinciding with good bird action thus far this winter, such did not materialize today.  Many gulls and terns are now distracted by loon activity.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:30A

End Time:  NOON

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  43F

Elevation: 2.98 low, no 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: NNW8-12

Sky Conditions: 20% white clouds on blue sky at trip’s start, with cloud cover increasing to 65% by 9A, then decreasing back to 20% by trip’s end

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  BG0026 – best action of AM, and deepest water fished all morning

**Area 1882

**Area  1077

**Area  2032

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

GOLD STAR FISHING WITH BRADLEY WARNER — 57 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH: In just about anything else American, earning a gold star is a desirable outcome.  In the military, it means you lost your life while on active duty.

Today, I fished with Bradley Warner, the son of a Gold Star soldier, the late U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Daniel Warner.

Bradley showed up punctually and eager to fish.  I was particularly thankful today for all those who have helped SKIFF come into being and expand through the years.  Over the holidays, Bradley’s mom, Jennifer, picked up on a SKIFF posting on the Fort Hood Area Events Facebook page, felt a trip would be a good fit for her son, and, in a matter of a few days, I was welcoming Bradley across the bow of my boat.

ABOUT SKIFF:  This fishing trip was provided to this military family at no charge.  S.K.I.F.F. stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun.  This program began in May of 2009.  It is funded by the donations and fundraising efforts of the Austin Fly Fishers and other organizations they have partnered with.  S.K.I.F.F. provides the children of military personnel separated from their families due to duty commitments with the opportunity to go fishing.  SKIFF trips are also provided, free of charge, to Gold Star families who have lost their service member while he or she was on active duty.  In mid-2019, SKIFF also began providing trips to dependents whose parents are bona fide disabled veterans.  I coordinate and conduct these 3.5 to 4 hour adventures on Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, just outside the gates of Fort Hood in Bell County, TX, year ’round.  Call or text 254.368.7411.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Bradley Warner of Killeen with a pair of hefty Lake Belton white bass.  During our 4-hour trip, we also landed hybrid striped bass and freshwater drum.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Tuesday, 07 January 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  Following a very chilly 36F start, complete with a north breeze making it even chillier, we began our catching for the day by finding bottom-hugging white bass holding on a deep breakline at right around 8:10AM.  The sonar returns were scarce at first, but, knowing few other forms of life would be in the areas we searched, we went ahead and dropped baits on what we saw.  Before long we were boating small white bass routinely, landing a total of 19 before our luck ran out at this first stop.

We looked over 3 distinct areas thereafter and found little.  I headed on to a fourth location and, as we found fish and began slabbing, the only bird action we witnessed all morning materialized right on top of us.  It was great to be able to ride out this entire episode of bird action from its start at 9:44 to its conclusion around 10:40, which coincided with the cessation of the wind.  The most intense bird action took place in the first 40 minutes, from 9:44 to 10:20, then tapered off afterwards.  Although a few birds remained flitting around beyond 11AM, the bite all but ended when the wind laid down.

Interestingly, the slower the action got, the deeper the fish moved until, just before it got slow enough for us to call it quits, we were taking white bass off the bottom in over 60 feet of water.

Prior to the bird action, the lighter of the two slabs I traditionally rely upon (the white 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook) used with an easing tactic worked best.  As we encountered more mobile, aggressive fish under birds (and a greater proportion of hybrids mixed in), we bumped up to a 3/4 oz. slab and used a slow smoking tactic.  Several times this morning we had white bass and drum regurgitate whole shad, and each matched the length of the larger 3/4 oz. slab.

Bradley was a fast learner, and had a very natural, easy hookset motion, which served him well. He also played the larger fish he hooked very patiently.  As a result, we lost very few of the fish we hooked this morning.

TALLY: 57 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   NNW wind = bird action.  We experienced the deepest fish activity I’ve encountered thus far this winter with white bass caught on bottom in 62′.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:45A

End Time:  11:45A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  36F

Elevation: 3.07′ low, 0.01′ 24-hour change, 20 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53F

Wind Speed & Direction: NW7 at sunrise and for 2 hours thereafter, then slowly tapering to calm by 11:10

Sky Conditions: Bluebird skies

GT = N/A

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1390 – easing for bottom huggers

**Area 682 thru 953 under birds

**Area B0013G endpoint of AM action in 62′ water (with lake -3′)

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

YOU “BEN” FISHIN’ WITH MATTIE VERY LONG? — 73 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH: This afternoon, 04 January 2020, I fished with Ben Adams and his girlfriend, Mattie Hawkins, on Lake Belton.

Ben, originally from Spring Branch, TX, is working his way through an MBA program with Texas A&M, focused on oil industry logistics, and Mattie, an A&M grad. from Friendswood, TX, is working as a veterinarian technician at Gulf Coast Veterinarian Specialists, where the TV show ‘Animal ER’ is filmed.

The two came to visit Central Texas so Ben could meet Mattie’s extended family — her grandfather, aunt, uncle, sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephews.  Ben’s previous experiences angling have all been via wading in shallow saltwater for speckled trout and redfish, and he was looking forward to the change of locale and tactics that came with this afternoon’s trip targeting white bass and hybrid striped bass.

PHOTO CAPTION: Ben Adams, with most of his prior fishing experiences taking place in salt water, immediately noted the similarities between this 6 pound freshwater drum and its saltwater cousin, the redfish.  Freshwater drum are also related to black drum and the Atlantic croaker, all of which are in the Sciaenidae family of fishes.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: As long as the wind rippled the water, the white bass bit.  Ben and Mattie landed 73 fish this afternoon on Lake Belton.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 04 January 2020, PM

HOW WE FISHED:  After this morning’s prolonged feed, I came off the water between trips, grabbed some lunch and just hoped that the wind velocity, which was forecast to be NW6-9 all day, would behave as forecast.  Without that wind, we’d be looking at a bright, calm, post-frontal condition which is amongst the toughest there is.

As it turned out, the wind did hold up through 5P.  When it died, the fishing died with it, but, before that happened, we managed a nice mixed bag of 73 fish including white bass, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass, and freshwater drum.

During our 4 hours on the water there were two brief episodes of light bird activity over open water.  We got to both quickly and fished them both thoroughly, but found the birds were behaving more aggressively than the fish beneath them.  Nonetheless, we did add a few fish to our tally during both of these events, but, the lion’s share of our success came as we found deep, well-consolidated groups of white bass holding on breaklines in 35-42 feet of water.

We found three such groups and vertically jigged for these fish using an easing tactic.  We made use of my thumping device to increase fish interest, we made use of Garmin LiveScope technology to know how and when fish were responding to our presentations as well as to “pick off” high-riding fish suspended up in the water column.  And, we made use of the “old faithful” 3/8 oz. white Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook attached to seal the deal over and over again.

As the wind died around 5p, the fish activity quickly tapered to nil.  We caught and released a total of 73 this afternoon.

TALLY: 73 fish caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    1:40P

End Time: 5:40P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  66F

Elevation: 3.04′ low, 0.00′ 24-hour change, 20 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   54.0F

Wind Speed & Direction:  NW6-7 at trip’s start, tapering to calm by around 5P

Sky Conditions:  Post-frontal, bluebird skies

GT = 0

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic B0196C (bottom-huggers found with sonar)

**Area vic B0078C (bottom-huggers found with sonar)

**Area vic 1750 (light bird action)

**Area vic B0098C (bottom-huggers found with sonar)

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle