I post a monthly summary of results so those looking to plan a trip in advance can have a feel for where the fishing typically has been for that particular month in years past. Note that the cooler months (when bookings often fall off) can offer some of the most productive fishing of the year.

November was our most productive month of 2009 with 1,113 fish caught. This month saw our fish get fully into exhibiting cold water behaviors of bunching up, slowing down, and becoming very susceptible to vertical jigging. With little extended cold weather experienced right up until the last few days of the month and clear, stable water conditions, we posted some high numbers this month, albeit with a lot of small fish included in the mix.

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 28 November 2009 – 156 FISH

I got to fish a family trip today with my brother, Andy Maindelle, and my nephew and niece, Trent and Molly, all of N. Austin. We had solid action from 7:15a to 11:15a, albeit with a lot of small fish today.

Andy with our two best fish, both going between 14-15 inches.

Here is a graph showing the size distribution of our catch today.

Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 11:20am

Air Temp: 53F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~61.5F

Wind: Winds were light from the SSE at trip’s start, then picked up gradually to about 10mph from due S.

Skies: Skies were fair during the trip, clouding to grey later in the day.

We got out on the water just minutes before sunrise and found our first action between Areas 550 and 531 (BA: 9HG, 2C, 1H). These fish were well scattered both vertically and horizontally, so we worked our slabs (TNT 180’s in 3/8 oz.) lift-drop style and stayed consistently hooked up for about 75 minutes, boating 43 fish before the action here went flat.

We made a move to Area 537/538 but found that pretty quiet and didn’t stay more than 10 minutes.

We then made a move to Area 549. As we motored in from deep to shallow, we picked up solid sonar returns of fish on bottom beginning in 31 feet and found them solid through to the top of the feature at 27 feet. We dropped 4 slabs down and had 4 hookups immediately. I buoyed and we stayed on these fish right up until they completely quit at around 11:15. for the first half of 2 plus hours we spent here, we smoked the fish as they were very active and aggressive. After that, jigging, easing and occasional smoking was the ticket. Not once today did we see groups of suspended fish in this area. Every fish we caught originated on bottom.

Because I had family along and already knew their ability level, and because the fishing has been so consistent of late, I knew we’d be catching a lot of fish today and so therefore I came prepared to do an informal size distribution analysis. Basically, we measured every single one of the 153 white bass we caught and classified them in 1 inch increments to see how our catch measured up. The chart I’ve pasted in shows the results of our efforts. In addition to our white bass, we also landed 1 drum, 1 largemouth, and 1 crappie. The final analysis showed that 22 fish (14.3 percent of our white bass catch) was of legal size. I plan to continue doing these studies on occasion for comparison’s sake.

TALLY = 154 FISH, all caught and released

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – Thanksgiving Day 2009 – 80 FISH

Well what does a fishing guide do on a day off? Fish, of course!! I just got in a quick but productive trip by myself today hoping to keep tabs on fish location. The kitchen pass was good until 10:30a, then it was off to my father-in-law’s house!!

Fish were found both on bottom and suspended at 12-15 feet today and responded well to a jigging spoon in a vertical presentation, but the water is getting cool enough now where horizontal movement after horizontally moving baits will fall off sharply.

Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 10:10am

Air Temp: 39F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~59-61F

Wind: Winds were light from the SW at 3-4 until 10am, then went flat calm for the remainder of the day.

Skies: Skies were clear and bright at sunrise, then slowly became fair over the course of the day.

I launched right at sunrise and headed for some open water in the vicinity of Area 531 (BA: 15HG). Close inspection revealed fish barely dimpling the surface as they chased bait toward the top. The gamefish rarely broke the water’s surface, but pushed bait far enough upward that the bait broke the surface. I caught fish both jigging and smoking, and the 3/8 oz. white TNT 180 was the ticket as a real close match on forage size. I made a couple of attempts with a lift-drop retrieve and with a blade bait with poor results. These fish are really locked into a vertical mode now and will stay that way as the water gets colder. I landed 26 fish here including one 1.75 pound largemouth and 25 white bass. I left these fish biting to find other concentrations of active fish. The action here trended from E to W as time passed.

I didn’t have to look long — as I idled over the Area 54 complex, I found abundant fish here both on bottom and suspended at 12-15 feet. I smoked fish when I could track them on sonar and jigged them when i couldn’t and put together a nice bag here of 54 fish, including one 2 1/3 pound largemouth and 53 white bass of all sizes, but with none exceeding 13.75 inches. The action this morning here trended from S to N as time passed, with a brief resurgence of about 10 minutes in length back on the S. side.

By 10am, as the already light breeze went flat, the fishing died, too.

TALLY = 80 FISH, all caught and released

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 24 November 2009 – 101 Fish

Whoa!! Someone left the refrigerator door open AND the fan turned on!! I fished today with Ted M. of Belton, along with his 3 grandchildren, Ryan (10), Jenny (8), and Josh (6 1/2). The kids are from a missionary family that is home for a year’s furlough from Paraguay — each is home-schooled and was a joy to have aboard — polite, eager to learn, willing to follow helpful instructions — just real good kids. We experienced the passage of a dry cold front in the overnight hours. This was a mild front which, due to pre-frontal cloud cover, gave us very little in the way of a temperature drop on the leading edge. In fact, today’s morning low was 53F, as compared to yesterday’s pre-frontal morning low of 49F. By the time we hit the water, the skies were clearing, and a stiff, dry breeze was building from the NNW.

We put 4 keepers in the livewell for photos, but the wind was so hard we had to take them to the dock just to find a place stable enough to take the pictures!! (L to R – Ted, Josh, Ryan, and Jenny)

Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 10:10am

Air Temp: 53F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~63.0F

Wind: Winds were strong at 17-19 from the NNW just about the entire trip, with very infrequent higher gusts. By trip’s end the winds were turning due N.

Skies: Skies were clear and bright

Because the front came in only hours before our trip, and the wind wasn’t gale force, the surface temperature was still right at 63F. Still, I was concerned about the cold for the sake of the kids’ comfort. With this in mind, we began our trip protected from the wind on the E. side of a land mass (Area 543), and I chose to start us off downrigging so only my hands were exposed to the cold. The kids faced rearward and kept an eye on the downrigger rods as I worked the boat over water ranging from 17-26 feet here. We hooked up with 4 white bass, thus allowing each of the kids to “break the ice” (bad cold weather pun, sorry!) and get used to holding and handling the baitcasting rod used for this kind of fishing. After about 25 minutes passed and the sun rose, the fish here became scarce, so we packed up and went fish-hunting.

As we got back onto the main lake, the wind had actually let up a bit, so, we ran for a bit to Area Area 089 to 106 (BA: 20 HG). I ran sonar over the area and found fish both on bottom in 21 to 25 feet and suspended up high at 13-16 feet. As we started off here, it was still pretty cool due to wind chill so we stuck with the downrigging approach and did moderately well, taking our tally up to 14 fish using White Willow Spoons, both dressed and undressed, staggered at 25 feet and 13-16 feet.

By about 8:20, the sun was shining full force, and, despite the stiffening breeze, it had warmed sufficiently to where the kids could each hold their rods independently, which opened up the possibility of slabbing for fish. After covering a good bit of water while downrigging and watching sonar at the same time, I never did happen upon a big congregation of fish worth buoying over, so, we headed to Area 550 (BA: 18HG/1L/2C). There, in 23-26 feet of water sonar just lit up with fish on and up to 4 feet off bottom in thick congregations. This was looking good!! I provided all of the kids (who had minimal fishing experience) with a closed faced outfit to circumvent the mechanics of flipping and closing the bail on an open faced reel. This way they held and pushed the freespool button with their left hand and reeled with their right — no changing hands required. I also put as heavy a slab on for the kids as I thought we could get away with (3/4 oz. TNT 180) so the kids would feel a distinct “thud” when the lure was on bottom, thus allowing them to keep track of the depth they were fishing at. Well, bottom line, here’s what happened: We pulled up in this spot, I threw a buoy to keep track of our position in the wind, I gave the kids a simple lesson on how to work their jigging spoon, and they just went to town pulling 87 fish (86 white bass and 1 crappie) over the side in about 75 minutes’ time. By 10am, the two younger ones were beginning to play out — they had all the wind, cold, and waves a 6 and 8 year old can take. Ryan, on the other hand — I think he’d still be out there with me if Grandpa had allowed him to stay! He was just so enthusiastic and eager to learn all the little tips and tricks I sent his way to polish his already solid basics.

Anyway, shortly after 10am, little Josh brought in fish #100 and Miss Jenny brought fish #101 in, and we decided to call it a great day at that point. We left those fish still biting and headed to the dock.

TALLY = 101 fish, all caught and released

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 23 November 2009 – 123 Fish

Man what a great day! Great guests, great weather, great fishing … everything was just right today! Joining me aboard today was returning guest Chuck S. and his 5th Grade son, Matthew. Chuck also invited a buddy from work, Mike D., and Mike’s 8th Grade daughter, Heather.

Everybody caught a bunch of ’em today!! From L to R Mike, Heather, Matthew, and Chuck

Matthew stayed focused the entire trip, and it paid off for him!

Start Time: 6:35a

End Time: 11:20am

Air Temp: 49F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~63.5F

Wind: Winds were light from the S. at trip’s start, then went calm, then came up well from the SSW at 9-10 thus spurring on a good feed.

Skies: Skies were clear with ground fog, then cleared during the calm wind, then went 100% light grey cloud cover as the SSW wind began.

We met up at 6:35am and I spent a bit of time familiarizing everyone with the spinning tackle we would be using today, as well as the two methods of working slabs that I anticipated would be appropriate given today’s conditions. We launched just before sunup and, due to lingering fog and calm winds, spent a bit of time downrigging and waiting on the conditions to get a bit more favorable.

We took about 6-7 passes with the downriggers in and around Area 543, and pulled up 4 white bass — two each for the kids so they could get accustomed to the use of the rods, keeping a good fighting angle on the rod, learning when and when not to reel, etc.

After about 35 minutes, a bit of a S. breeze began and the sun began to warm the atmosphere causing the fog to diminish. We headed to Area 078 and, upon arrival, saw some small white bass feeding in the surface film very tentatively. I wove through this area with eyes fixed on sonar and saw that the fish were scattered. I stopped us, put us in a hover, and we went to work vertical jigging. We came up with 3 fish in short order here as I moved us from fish pod to fish pod using the graph, then had everyone work over the well-spread, bottom-hugging fish we saw on sonar. The fog came and went and came again and then finally cleared. As it did, I headed us toward Area 375 (BA: 10 HG).

At Area 375 we found both bottom-hugging and suspended fish (both active) in good numbers. I had the kids on either side of me on the casting deck vertical jigging and the dads to our flanks working their slabs in a lift-drop fashion. This kept fish stirred up and biting right at the boat. We quickly put 27 white bass of all sizes in the boat. These fish were very aggressive and were also fairly prone to moving. So, over the next hour, we spot-hopped in this general vicinity as we found and lost schools of fish on sonar. We had some visual cues as small pods of smaller fish would “boil” on the top after shad, and we consistently caught fish of all sizes from these areas after we observed this and began fishing for them.

Around 9am, the wind died, and the sun burned off the fog. It got very warm and very bright very quickly, and with a slick surface (not good!). I had looked at the forecast very closely the night before and knew we should be getting more wind — I just hoped it was in time to spur the morning bite back on. We did what we could by downrigging as the fish settled down, and came up with a single fish every few minutes, primarily from suspended pods of fish holding at 15-17 feet and at 20-22 feet in a circuit from Area 375 to 314 to 103.

Around 9:45 our wind finally arrived, along with some wonderful, grey cloud cover. The wind was from just west of south and right at 8-10 mph. After the wind had worked on the water for about 20-25 minutes, we spotted some action at Area 549 (three separate pods of fish feeding on the surface over a short span of time). As I idled in, sonar lit up. There in 28-30 feet of water was a school of white bass about 12 feet thick. I quickly got a buoy down and we went to work on these fish for about 75 minutes straight. With 5 rods working, it didn’t take long to amass a sizeable catch of fish. Matt caught the big fish today, a chunky largemouth that went exactly 2 pounds; he also landed a drum — all the rest were white bass ranging from 6 1/2 to 13 1/4 inches with a fairly even distribution of year classes accounted for. Again, I observed that we’re not seeing anywhere near the by-catch of largemouth bass that we’ve seen over the past 2 years, due, I believe, to the reappearance of hydrilla (the preferred habitat of largemouth).

We ended our day at 11:20 with exactly 123 fish boated. We got back to the dock courtesy of Matthew’s boat handling skills, got offloaded, and I pointed everyone toward Johnny’s barbeque place in Salado. And so ended another great day on Stillhouse.

TALLY = 123 fish, all caught and released.

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 21 Nov. 2009 – SKIFF Trip #13 – 77 FISH

Today I ran my 13th SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trip, sponsored by the Austin Fly Fishers. SKIFF trips are provided FREE OF CHARGE to military kids who, due to death or deployment, are without a mom or dad in their life for an extended period of time.

Curtis (L) and D’Ante with our first 3 of 77 fish caught today on a cold, wet November day.

For each SKIFF trip I run, I provide a detailed report to the good folks at AFF. I share that report with you below:

Dear AFF,

Today I had the privilege of fishing with two young men from military families — 12 year old Curtis Taylor, son of Staff Sergeant Curtis and Mrs. Una of Ft. Hood Texas, and 10 year old D’Ante Lee, son of Sergeant First Class Darnell and Mrs. Malissa Lee of Harker Heights. SSG Taylor was sent to Korea for a 13+ month tour only four months after returning from his 2nd Iraqi deployment; he is stationed at Camp Humphries. SFC Lee is deployed to Iraq and is currently stationed at Forward Operating Base War Horse.

These boys were both troopers today as the weather was just to the point of requiring hats, gloves, 2 layers on the bottom and 4 layers on the top, and with a light mist falling most of the morning. The temperature was pegged at 52 degrees, with a bit of a windchill from the ESE blow coming at around 6-7 mph.

After picking the boys up, we launched at the Dana Peak Park facility on Stillhouse Hollow. I’d fished several trips the prior week and had a good idea on fish location. We first hit an offshore channel break in 30-32 feet of water (Area 122). I gave the boys some OJT on working a jigging spoon (TNT 180 in 3/8 oz.) and, slowly but surely, they got the hang of things. As expected, there were some rookie mistakes made (turning the spinning reel handle the wrong way, over-doing the jigging motion, horsing in a hooked fish or not reeling it in at all, etc.) but, these are all learning points, and good excuses to praise the boys when they learned not to do these things as the trip unfolded. At this first area we landed 13 white bass up to 14 inches, and had at least 6 pull off the hook before landing them due to some of those rookie mistakes.

Once things at that area died down a bit, we looked elsewhere for fish. At one area we saw a herring gull and 3 ospreys all working over a small piece of water. I assumed white bass were pushing shad to the surface, so I headed there expecting some good fishing, only to find out there was a struggling, nearly dead fish just below the surface. All four birds were waiting for the fish to give up the ghost and see if they could be the first to make a meal out of it. We got to the spot just at the right time and the boys got to see one of the ospreys tuck wings, dive hard, and snatch the fish out of the water, then go airborne while fighting off the competition. Good stuff!!

Next, we tried a little downrigging but no sooner got the balls down to depth in the vicintity of Area 035, then I spotted 6-7 herring gulls working over bait pushed to the surface by gamefish. We hastily cranked the downrigger balls and lines in and sped to the action (Area 545), got our slabs down in the fray, and caught 38 fish in less than 30 minutes’ time at this area where the bottom drops from 19 to over 28 feet in a rather short horizontal span. By the time this group of fish was settling down, another group of 3-4 herring gulls pointed the way to another active school of white bass (Area 546), this time in 26-27 feet of water. By now the boys were in a groove and required no coaching at all to be consistently successful. We continued fishing vertically with slabs here and added another 26 fish to our count, bringing our trip tally to 77 fish boated.

By noon, the action was dying out and further success would require more focus and technical ability than the boys could muster at this point — besides, anything slower than we’d just experienced would be anti-climactic, so, we downed some snacks and called it a great day.

I appreciate all of you making a way for these kids to experience this. This really does come as a relief to the moms to have a little downtime without their kiddos on their hip, and it never fails to bring a smile to the faces of the kids that come out. Although the notes from overseas are often brief, the dads I’ve heard from do appreciate that their families are looked after during their absence.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,


Bob Maindelle

Holding the Line Guide Service

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 19 November 2009 – 243 Fish

In my lifetime I’ve been on several thousand fishing trips — today’s trip will stand out among them. This was the single most productive day I’ve ever had on Stillhouse. The white bass aggressively fed from before sunrise and until the winds died at around 3:30pm. I boated exactly 243 fish today. People often e-mail me and ask how I keep track of my fish. I use a manual counting device — each time a fish comes over the side (and no, I don’t count those that jump off or get away) I click the lever and keep up with things that way. Having exact numbers allows me to compare trends from season to season, lake to lake, and year to year.

This manner of heavily congregated white bass schooling was commonplace today. There are about 32 fish shown in this shot in a small area under the boat covered by the sonar. Now, imagine this density of fish spread over 40 to 80 yards of bottom — that’s literally thousands of fish congregated together. This is what we encountered today!!

Here, the white bass were so aggressive, that two of them chased my marker buoy weight 1/2 way up off bottom as I left these fish biting to find additional active fish. As I paused to take this screen shot, the buoy weight, seen as a dark line, is leveled off at 14 feet.

Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 3:34pm

Air Temp: 63F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~64.3 to 64.8F

Wind: Winds were from the SSE today, beginning light, increasing to ~15 by noon to 2p, then tapering to slack by 3:30p.

Skies: Skies were 100% cloudy nearly all day with the exeption of a break in the clouds around noon. Clouds thickened to the point of sprinkling by 4:30p.

Environmental Notes: Spotted a mature bald eagle today; today’s weather was pre-frontal.

I began the day hoping birds would assist me in locating fish. Although I did see 3 gulls patrolling early in the morning, they kept right on going. I went with the old reliable Plan B of searching with sonar, first looking at the high end of the breakline at Area 543. There were fish showing here, and they were suspended just off bottom — a good sign. I positioned over them and in about 80 minutes’ time, boated 13 fish on a combination of slabs and live shad fished via tightline. This included 11 white bass and 2 short largemouth.

I left this area after the action settled, and headed to Area 537 (BA: 13HG/11C) and the vicinity within 80 yards all around it. As I idled around, there were fish everywhere, from top to bottom, and they were in abundance. Long story short, I fished here for 3 hours and for 3 hours straight caught fish via blade bait (cast and jigged), via slab (single and tandem rigged with a Hazy Eye Shad), and (for just 3 or 4 fish) via the Cork Rig on topwater. By far the most productive of these combinations was the TNT 180 (3/8 oz. white) with the Hazy Eye Shad fished above it. When I made an effort to do so, nearly 80% of the hooked fish could be converted into a double during the time I spent in this area. I did notice that many of the doubles I caught were smaller, as they were coming out of suspended schools, versus the larger, but fewer, specimens that came primarily off bottom. By 11am, these fish began to get sluggish (although they never quit) as the sun began to brighten and become visible for the first time all day. I landed exactly 100 fish here (97 white bass, 3 largemouth with one going 3.25 pounds) and then, with the action going soft, headed to do some experimenting.

I found nothing at Area 100.

I headed to the circuit of Area 114, 336, 319 and 343. I attempted flatline trolling here (2 passes) without result. It was now around noon.

I headed to Area 546 (BA: 5HG) which lies in about 27 feet of water. As I idled in, I found solid sonar readings in the lower 1/3 of the water column. I went to work on these fish and found them immediately willing to strike on a single slab, but then got them worked into a frenzy sufficient to allow several fish to be taken on the Hazy Eye tandem. I caught exactly 52 fish here (51 white bass, 1 drum), and these fish were still actively pursuing a smoked slab when I decided to leave them and continue checking areas for the presence of fish. At this point in the day, the wind began to increase and stay at its peak of about 15mph for about 2 hours, all the while with grey clouds continuing to build and humidity increasing — a great scenario. This was all pre-frontal in advance of a mild cold front that would drop rain all day the following day and turn winds northerly.

With 165 fish now boated, I headed to Area 035 for a look — no shad, no stop.

I headed to Area 547 and, at the N. edge of the feature, found fish piled up on the breakline in 30-32 feet of water. I fished this area for 1 hour and 4 minutes, boating 38 fish (37 white bass, 1 largemouth). This water was deeper and clearer and also gave up a better average size fish — about 12.75″ on average, and produced the largest white bass of the trip, one going a shade under 14″. Around 2:40p the wind started to slack off and these fish began to slack off too. Those fish that were suspended just about turned off completely, leaving fish on bottom still striking, but they had to be worked for.

I headed to Area 033 and found shad, but no fish, and decided to try anyway. Zero’ed here.

My last stop came at Area 122. Again this was in 31-32 feet of water, and this time sonar showed fish without shad. I dropped a slab down and on the very first bounce came up with a solid white bass. One small largemouth and 38 more white bass would follow this one until, at about 3:30, the wind stopped completely and the fish quit biting. Not an hour later, we’d receive some drizzle in advance of the approaching cold front, with more rain overnight and then a full day’s rain the following day.

One interesting observation concerning largemouth bass. This fall, my by-catch of largemouth while white bass fishing has been (and was today) much lower than over the last two years. I suspect this is because we do have a good crop of hydrilla beginning to make a comeback. Up until now, with the loss of 100% of our hydrilla to the 2007 flooding, the bass were going to deep water and making use of topographic features there to ambush shad and other prey. Now that their much preferred habitat (aquatic vegetation) is making a comeback, they are inhabiting that instead of these “non-traditional” 20-30 foot depths where the white bass tend to dwell. The largemouth I am catching with the whites are as they have traditionally been — that is, small and pale, indicating they’ve spent a long time in that deep water.

TALLY = 243 FISH, all caught and released

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 14 November 2009 – 56 Fish

I fished a half-day evening trip with Jason W. of the Salt Lake City, UT, area. Jason was sent by the Army to Ft. Hood for some training and decided to sample our local fishery while enjoying some weekend downtime.

Here’s a “macro” shot of the eye of a white bass. Their Latin name is “Chrysops” which means golden eye. You can see why …

Start Time: 1:00p

End Time: 6:15pm

Air Temp: 76F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~68.3F

Wind: S at 13, then slowly turning SE after 5p, then tapering to calm by sunset.

Skies: Skies were partly cloudy, with the air fairly humid in advance of a cold front due in late tomorrow.

In our pre-trip communications, I let Jason know that our trip would likely start off slowly, as the 11:30am to 3:00pm window is just a predictably slow time on Stillhouse under typical circumstances. In trying to compensate ahead of time for this, I netted live shad which, when fish are in a neutral or negative mood, can hedge your bet a bit.

We started off simply searching for bait concentrations on sonar and finally began to ping some frequent, concentrated schools of shad suspended at 12-17 feet down over 19 to 30 feet of water. We swept the area with sonar looking for gamefish relating to the shad, and found both bottom oriented and suspended fish. We focused on the bottom oriented fish using live shad. On the very first drop, not seconds after I got my tightline adjusted, I had a hit (probably from a white bass) that stripped my bait off. I racked my rod up since we were obviously on fish, and just ran the trolling motor so we could focus on Jason’s efforts. Over about an hour’s time, we both hovered and drifted with a drift sock, all the while experiencing about a dozen strikes and landing 2 fish, both average white bass of about 11 inches. All of this was in the vicinity of Area 035, and to the NNW of it.

At one point, while motoring back upwind for a drift, I passed over a substantial school of suspended gamefish in the vicinity of Area 536. This was a clear sign of increasing gamefish activity, and so we racked our bait rods up and turned to downrigging to see what might happen. In very short order we boated 10 white bass, including 2 instances where we had doubles on. After about 35 minutes or so, these fish thinned out at about the same time the wind took a bit more of a SW turn and the skies cleared a bit of the thin haze that had persisted thus far.

I got that “sixth sense” feeling that we’d see an uptick in action pretty quickly in response to that weather change. We headed to Area 537, and, upon idling in saw sonar literally light up with both suspended fish and fish within 3-4 feet of bottom and on bottom itself.

Jason and I both geared up with slabs (TNT180’s in 3/8 and 1/2 oz. — Jeff carries them at Salado Creek Outfitters) and went to work on these fish. This was the kind of scenario where I just really appreciated having an accomplished angler on board, as he instinctively knew what was happening and, with just a bit of refinement on his technique, caught fish after fish right along side me for about 45 minutes straight. We caught a mix of predominantly white bass (adding 39 more of them to our tally) and a few smaller largemouth bass (3 to be exact, all of which were very pale from much time spent in this deeper 24-26 feet of water). We caught fish by lift-dropping out horizontally, as well as by smoking and jigging. We had our best success using the lighter slabs in the vertical mode and better luck on the heavier slabs in the horizontal mode. We left this area at around 4:50p with 54 fish boated, after the action died as the wind turned SE again and began a slow taper toward calm by sunset.

Jason had indicated a desire to learn bass fishing techniques on this trip, and, since he’d had a great introduction to slabbing, we then tried to get him on some Carolina rig fish. We began at Area 089. I worked a blade bait and immediately got one short largemouth as the bait neared bottom on my first cast. Jason worked on getting the feel for the Carolina Rig but we never scored on that.

We then moved to Area 532 to put him up a bit shallower so he could feel the Carolina Rig in the rod tip a bit better given the rocks, etc. on bottom here. He did get the feel of things, but we still didn’t connect with fish here.

We made a stop at the irregular bottom feature near Area 540, and got just one short crappie here.

We moved on to Area 541 and scratched, then returned to Area 540 looking for some last minute white bass action, but scratched there, too. It now being dark, we called it a day.

TALLY = 56 FISH, all caught and released

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 13 November 2009 – 44 Fish

I fished this afternoon with Bill H. of Belfalls, TX. Bill is a retired Navy man and an all around decent, godly fellow. We set our sights on jigging for white bass today and, after a late start due to some .. ahem … licensing issues, got into them pretty good after my good friend Jeff Warren at Salado Creek Outfitters took care of our paperwork problem for us.

Bill H. holding two of several doubles we caught as the whites came in shallow to feed on shad this evening at sunset.

Start Time: 2:40p

End Time: 5:45pm

Air Temp: 77F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~67.5F

Wind: SSW at 13 tapering to calm by sunset.

Skies: Skies were fair.

As we talked over our options for the trip today, we realized we both like vertical jigging, so we searched for fish that would lend themselves to that approach given their depth and location.

We checked several areas without success before being tipped off by a lone osprey. As we were fishing nearby we saw the osprey cover down on a small piece of water and really look it over hard. After a short time, it dove down and snatched up a 8-9 inch white bass, no doubt out of a surface feeding school of whites obscured by the chop on the water.

I mentally marked the spot; we got quickly to that vicinity and looked with sonar, finding a little quirk in the bottom topography here that evidently was holding these fish. We began our efforts here as sonar dictated, in about 17-19 feet. As the afternoon passed and the light dimmed more and more, we found the fish getting shallower and shallower, eventually spilling over up onto an adjacent flat in only 6-9 feet of water, with some fish actually popping shad on the surface or just sub-surface. All this transpired at Area 540.

We jigged the deeper fish with TNT 180’s and threw Cicadas at the shallow fish. By my wife-imposed curfew of 5:45pm, we’d boated 44 fish ranging from 6 to 14 inches and had a blast doing it.

TALLY = 44 FISH, all caught and released

SCOUTS OUT !! 11 November 2009 – Stillhouse – 51 FISH

Today brought with it quite a variety of angling events. I started in the early morning with a gentleman on board interested in fly fishing. I targeted fish on my own at mid-day with conventional tackle. I hosted a Cub Scout pack from 1:30 to 4:00pm, and then netted shad and did a little shallow casting as the sun set in the evening.

This den of Cub Scouts qualified for their fishing belt badge and their boat safety belt badge today.

Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 5:55pm

Air Temp: 57F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~67.5F

Wind: Winds were calm at sunrise, turning NNE by 8:30am, building to NNE at 12mph by 10:30am, then tapering off to NNE at 6 by sunset

Skies: Skies were clear and blue under the influence of high pressure.

Over the past several mornings, I’ve spotted surface feeding white bass at Area 542. With the weather forecast to show no significant changes for today, I took a chance and contacted a past guest of mine who asked me to give him a ring whenever fish were doing well on fly equipment. As happens on occasion, we were ready to go and the fish didn’t show. By 7:45 am we’d boated 1 stray white bass on the fly, but no surface action was going to erupt, so, we went with Plan B.

We headed to Area 538, found active white bass and largemouth bass on sonar in around 23 feet of water. We anchored, used a slab to verify the presence and activity level of the fish, then used a Rio T-8 Shooting Head to get the fly deep in a hurry, followed by a slow stripping retrieve. My guest managed 1 white bass this way in about 50 minutes’ time, however, each time either of us picked up a spinning rod to check fish activity with a slab, we’d get a fish. Eventually, we stowed the fly gear, went with a slabbing approach and bagged 11 white bass and 4 largemouth bass here.

Around 9:30, we moved and searched the 089 vicinity, found a tight, small group of small whites on the bottom here and added a final fish to our count, making our morning take with him on board a tally of 16 fish.

My guest had to leave sooner than a 1/2 day trip would typically entail, so, after dropping him off at the boat ramp, I intended to gather shad for a trip on Saturday. Just as I was preparing the net, etc., a strong breeze began to build, which often triggers fish activity. I set the nets aside and headed to Area 100 just to check on any action that might be spurred by the wind. Upon arrival, the sonar reveal abundant shad to the west side of this feature. I put a slab down and the fish cooperated, with the lake giving up 24 fish in less than 45 minutes’ time.

I then broke for lunch and, by 1:30 pm met 4 boys from a local Cub Scout den to help them with a few merit badges. Long story short, after the “ground training” was concluded, we downrigged for just less than an hour and were able to boat one white bass per boy in that time from Area 035 (1 fish) and Area 089 (3 fish).

By 4:15 pm the boys were headed back to Killeen as happy campers, and I had one chore to tend to … catching shad. I headed to between Areas 541-542 and began to throw the castnet. In the time from my arrival around 5:00p to 5:20p I netted about 20 shad coming in 3-5 per every 3rd toss, with the rest going empty. Then, I noticed fleeing schools of shad on the surface with white bass doing the herding. I cast out and retrieved the Cicada blade bait here in a lift-drop style and added 7 fish to the grand total for today.

TALLY = 51 FISH, all caught and released