She Rides, She Ropes, and Fish Fear Her!! 55 Fish, Stillhouse, 29 Feb. 2012

This morning I welcomed aboard a very nice, young couple — Glenn and JJ.

JJ and Glenn did very well under less than ideal conditions because they were disciplined in their technique, were teachable, and stayed focused the entire time on bite detection. Well done!!

Glenn delivers portable storage building all over the state of Texas for a living, and Miss JJ hails from Prescott, AZ, where she serves as a school nurse, an emergency room nurse, an ambulance nurse, and somehow finds time to go calf roping on a regular basis! Oh, and did I mention she also runs half-marathons and mud-runs? She claimed that’s just to work off the Dairy Queen habit, though!!

We had some wild weather this morning, but, the fish didn’t seem bothered at all, as is often the case this time of year when warming water gets their metabolism on the rise.

As we got going, the surface was glass calm under heavy grey skies. I decided to try shallow early so we headed to troll a “circuit” with flatlined crankbaits from Area 324 to Area 103. We picked up 6 fish in this stretch of water as well a 2 other fish at adjacent areas 055 and 701. 6 of these fish came on white or white/chartreuse Rapala Shad Raps, and the other 2 came on Reef Runner Rip Shad 200’s. As we trolled along, the already dark skies got darker and we were treated to a light rainshower lasting about 15 minutes or so. A stiff N. breeze cleared out the rain and we suddenly had enough wind to get a deepwater bite going.

We left the shallows and headed deep. I looked over 4 areas before locating fish at a fifth area, Area 176/254. I found fish along the face of the breakline here in 15 to 22 feet, as well as at the top of the breakline at 15 feet. I buoyed the shallowest fish on the flattest terrain and we began fishing with 3/4 oz. TNT180 slabs. We began pulling fish right away, with Glenn and JJ boating 14 before the school drifted away.

We then moved a short hop in this same general area and found abundant suspended fish here from 17 to 22 feet deep over a 26 foot bottom. We changed out rods and used a slow smoking tactic for these fish, adding 8 more to the count before these fish wised up.

Finally, still in this vicinity, we moved back to the breakline, a little further W. than we had been earlier, encountered fish on the breakline’s face at 20-22 feet, and used slabs and horizontally worked Cicadas to boat another 9 fish before finally leaving this area.

This mid-depth bite died just as the last remnant of the N. breeze that cleared out the rain was about to die. The surface calmed, the clouds began to thin, and the atmosphere now warmed rapidly. This was a bad combination for white bass, but, we persisted. We had to look over 8 different deepwater location to find just a scant school of semi-interested fish, but, find them we did and, after “short-hopping” several times on top of Area 925/1041, we managed to tease up another 24 fish using a combination of jigging and easing over the course of our final 90 minutes.

By 12:30 we’d seen the best of it and headed back in, but not before snapping a few photos of our best fish of the day. As we got the fish out of the livewell, our largest white bass just would not cooperate. It kept squirming and shaking at inopportune moments as we were trying to get our shots lined up. Finally, after 3 attempts at getting her thumb to stay put in the fish’s mouth, JJ shouts, “STOP!!” at the top of her lungs, and lo and behold, the fish never moved another muscle. It makes me wish she would have shouted “BITE!!” around 8 o’clock this morning. Hindsight is always 20/20.

TALLY = 55 FISH, all caught and released, including 3 largemouth, and 52 white bass.

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Start Time: 7:30a

End Time: 12:30p

Air Temp: 66F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 56.1F

Wind: Winds were calm at (obscured) sunrise, turning N8 during and following a brief rain shower, then going slack once again.

Skies: Skies were overcast until approx. 10:40a, then cleared to 20% cloudy and fair.

Whites, Blacks, Crappie, & Drum!! — 67 Fish on Stillhouse — 25 Feb. 2012

This morning I welcomed back John and Kelly M. and their 14 year old son, Matthew, all of Troy, TX. With snowsuits donned and earmuffs on, we braved the chill and it paid off handsomely!

Matthew was beyond excited about landing this 3.25 pound, 20″ largemouth after boating several white bass just minutes earlier. When I asked if he knew he had a big fish on, he said, “Well, I did notice it was pulling a lot harder.”

(L to R) Matthew, Kelly, and John with 6 of the 67 fish we caught today — these were the best of the batch of the white bass we landed today. Only 3 of our whites were “shorts” – falling under 10″.

This family and I had fished together on Belton Lake back in the early fall primarily using downrigging and smoking techniques targeting white bass and hybrid. This morning we fished Stillhouse, primarily due to the great volume of fresh water that flooded into Belton since last Saturday’s rains causing a 4+ foot rise there. Such a rise typically scatters the fish and slows the bite for a while, so, we played it safe on Stillhouse where the rain’s impact was not so great.

As we got going, I was about to stop the boat over open water for the sake of doing a little jigging demo to show everyone the necessary tactics required for our cold water fish, but, as I was about to do so, I noted a bit of bird activity at Area 1043. Our forecast for this morning could have been better — light N winds due to turn S by midday. The question was how much wind would get going and how quickly? White bass just get very, very hard to catch in windless conditions. So, with a light W breeze blowing since around sunrise and a nice layer of cloud cover to boot, I wanted to make hay while the sun shone not knowing what the mid-morning was going to bring.

We got to where the birds were working, and, fortunately, they kept on working and pointed the way to bottom-hugging white bass on this main lake flat. I halted us over a solid congregation of fish showing on sonar, dropped a slab down to test the waters, immediately came up with a keeper white, and then got a rod in everyone’s hands along with quick but exact guidance on how to work their slabs effectively. Immediately everyone was catching fish. After 5 or 6 white bass were boated, Matthew hooted and hollered from the starboard rear corner that he had a big one on. I got the net and got back to him just in time to dip a nice 3.25 pound, 20 inch largemouth out of the water! We all ooh’ed and aah’ed for a bit, but went right back to jigging so as not to let the bite go cold on us. By the time things in this area settled down (which coincided with the calming of light W. breeze) we had boated 19 fish including Matthew’s largemouth, one drum, and 17 white bass, all of which were in the 11-12 inch range.

We searched over a few areas with sonar and found little, so we moved on. As we moved, a transition in the weather occurred in that we went from overcast with a W. breeze to bright with calm conditions. Bright, calm conditions are, in my opinion, the toughest conditions under which to catch white bass — and we were there! We found a few fish in around 34 feet just east of Area 1030 and, despite seeing them on sonar, got only 2 white bass and 1 drum to perk up and bite.

When conditions are tough, I often head to deep water. In times of environmental change (like the 2+ feet of new water coming into Stillhouse) and in times of tough environmental conditions (like calm, bright conditions), depth seems to have a buffering effect on these factors allowing for some fish to still be caught. So, we headed to deep water (40 to 50 feet) and looked hard with sonar. I say “looked hard” because even with the best sonar equipment, a white bass shows up as an image of precious few pixels in deep water. We looked over 4 areas before finding any fish at all, and, once we found some, the results were much the same as before … few fish showing and even fewer biting. We boated one white bass and one drum at Area 935.

As we went to search out additional deepwater areas, a light SSE ripple began to develop. It was slight, but it was better than calm. As we approached the area I was hoping to find fish on (Area 1042), the sonar lit up with fish — most right on or just off the bottom. This was good! I got the boat positioned over these fish and they stayed right there under us. We got slabs down and stared to work them and the fish responded. As the winds picked up from the SSE to perhaps 7 mph, the fish began to feed even harder. We’d all stripped out of part of our winter clothing by now, but, with that breeze coming up, we started putting it right back on again. Over the last 70 minutes of the trip we took our tally from 24 fish up to our final total of 67 fish boated using a combination of jigging and easing tactics on the trusty white TNT180’s in 3/4 oz.

TALLY = 67 FISH, all caught and released, including 2 largemouth, 2 drum, 1 crappie, and 62 white bass.

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Start Time: 8:00a

End Time: 12:45p

Air Temp: 42F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 55.5F

Wind: Winds were W4 at sunrise, then calmed from 9:45 until around 11:00a, then came around SSE7-8 to trip’s end.

Skies: Skies were overcast until approx. 9:45a, then cleared to fair.

While Dad’s Away, the Kids will Play!! — 41 Fish, Stillhouse Lake, 25 Feb. 2012

This afternoon I welcomed back youth anglers Lauren and Zach V. of Ft. Hood. The kids’ dad, Major Craig V., is serving in Afghanistan right now so, through the Ft. Hood SKIES program, their mom, Charlotte, signed them up to fish with me today.

Although the lion’s share of our catch today consisted of white bass, we had other species mixed in with our catch, as commonly happens in the Spring when the water first begins to warm. Here Zach shows us a nice crappie he boated.

Lauren caught this drum that moved in along the bottom to vacuum up the leftovers after a heavy white bass feed left baitfish parts scattered here and there.

Less than 30 minutes had passed from the end of my morning trip with a wonderful family from Troy, TX, to the start of this trip with Lauren and Zach. I knew we could return to the areas that produced for us this morning, but, they had just “turned off” and it would be later in the afternoon that they’d “turn on” again, so, we still needed to find some fish in the meantime.

I headed for deep water, given the bright but windy conditions we now had. My first stop was at Area 1041. This is in about 40 feet of water. As I scanned slowly with sonar, I saw a tight cluster of fish holding on a little irregularity in the bottom. I buoyed the spot and returned to fish it. I explained carefully to the kids how to work their slabs effectively and immediately Lauren caught a fish, then another, then another before I could even have my hands free long enough to tutor Zach a little. Once Zach got the hang of things, he joined in the party, too, and the fishing stayed solid for about 45 minutes during which time the kids boated 14 fish including 1 drum and 13 white bass (all keeper size and then some). Once this played out we looked over 3 more similar areas to no avail.

I then headed for Area 1042 where we had done well in the morning. By now the wind had reached a peak of about 15 mph, the sun was getting low and the shadows long, and things felt fishy — I don’t know how else to describe that 6th sense. As we moved up on this area, fish in prime feeding posture, just 6-9 inches off bottom were there in great numbers. I got us set up over these fish and we went to work. In came fish after fish for 30 minutes straight — 22 of them to be exact, all right at 11 to 12 inches, and all on white TNT180 slabs in 3/4 oz. By 4:00 pm the kids’ hands hurt from reeling in the fish and using the little hand muscles they don’t normally use, and the cold from the strong wind was beginning to sink in a bit. The fish were still raring to go, but the kids — not so much!! So, as much as I hated to do it, we left those fish still biting to go and search for fish in a more wind-protected area.

We did find a few cooperative fish off the slope at Area 1044 in about 32 feet, and fished them a short while, boating 5 more fish. I kept the kids engaged as we set a group goal of breaking the 40 fish mark, but, soon after that goal was met the attention spans ran out.

I knew their mom needed a break having been a deployment-induced single mom for almost a year now, so, we did some “exploring” on one of the protected shorelines collecting aluminum cans so the kids could warm up a bit as we waited the 25 minutes or so for mom’s return. I should report that in addition to the 41 fish we caught, we also collected a full 5 gallon bucket of crushed aluminum cans!! What a bonus!

The kids did a great job today and Lauren, especially, made laugh out loud a number of times with her quirky sense of humor. I’d embarrass her too much if I included the funniest thing she said, but her #2 statement that, “I fell asleep one time in math class and found inner peace” ranked right up there!! This was a fun trip!

TALLY = 41 FISH, all caught and released, including 1 largemouth, 1 drum, 1 crappie, and 38 white bass.

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Start Time: 1:30p

End Time: 5:30p

Air Temp: 63F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 55.6F

Wind: Winds were S14.

Skies: Skies were fair.

Big Fish and Rising Waters!! SKIFF Trip #2012-4, Feb. 20th, 34 Fish

The following blog entry appears in the form of a report to those who support the Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun (S.K.I.F.F.) program …

Mason started things off right this morning. Our first fish boated was this 5.25 pound largemouth. Its belly was unusually distended, making me think it had just eaten a sizeable sunfish, drum, or gizzard shad.

Not to be outdone, big brother Tyler boated an outsized white bass today — it measured 14.75 inches.

20 February 2012

Dear Friends of S.K.I.F.F.,

Today was Presidents’ Day and the local schools were on holiday. This coincided with good weather and so I made some arrangements and fished this morning with Tyler and Mason Chapman, the sons of Captain Micah and Mrs. Jamie Chapman. Captain Chapman is a U.S. Army Infantry officer currently serving in Kuwait on the operations staff of his unit as part of the 1st Cavalry Division as he awaits company command. This is his 3rd deployment.

Also joining me today were Kyle and Marty Wall, a father and son videography crew who are supporting SKIFF with their filming talents.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect today as we had nearly 2 feet of fresh water come into the reservoir following the much needed rains this past Saturday. The upper 1/3 of the lake is muddy and thus a no-go for white bass, so, we began our search for fish today in clear water.

Things got off to a slow start as the winds were very light.

We did see some herring gulls looking “fishy” in that they refused to leave a particular patch of water near Area 242, but, as much as they circled and looked interested, rarely did one dive down to the water to indicate the presence of bait driven there by gamefish below. We did pick up our first fish of the day at this location — the 5.25 pound largemouth shown in the photo above — on a 3/8 oz. white TNT180 slab.

Next, we headed for deeper water and began sweeping with sonar over some deep (35-45′) breaklines and rises. We located fish at two distinct locations — at Area 1041, and between Area 873 and Area 1042. The action here started very tentatively with only a single drum and a single white bass boated while the wind was still light. By 9:30, the wind was sustained at 8+ and a grey overcast sky was firmly in place … things were about to get fishy!

Over the course of the next two hours the fishing improved and stayed consistent. The boys managed a total of 34 fish caught today, including 1 largemouth, 2 drum, and 31 white bass. This winter fishing can be productive, but it is also demanding. Your technique must be dead on. Even with biting fish as a reward for good technique, good technique is hard for younger kids to maintain for long spells. So, understanding that, I’ve learned to punctuate the time with “transitions”, such as having a snack, taking photos of the catch, checking on the fish in the livewell, checking on the sonar and reporting back to me what is going on … then we return to jigging afresh and try to maintain focus in bursts.

Our film crew did a great job today. I look forward to showing you some of their work at an upcoming Austin Fly Fishers meeting later this year.

In the meantime, thank you all for your support, and let all of us anglers give thanks to the Lord for the much needed rain we received this past weekend.


–Bob Maindelle


TALLY = 34 FISH all caught and released

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Start Time: 7:15a

End Time: 11:45a

Air Temp: 43F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 54.8F.

Wind: Winds were S3 at trip’s start, building to S9.

Skies: Skies were 100% greyed over the entire trip.

Hard Wind … Hot Bite!! 114 Fish on Stillhouse, 20 Feb. 2012 – Austin Fishing Guide Report

Following a 4.5 hour trip this morning, I returned to waters at approximately 2:45p with a party of 4 … Andy M. and his son Trent from north Austin, and Andy’s brother-in-law, Coby D., and Coby’s daughter Brynn, in for a visit from Atlanta, Georgia.

(L to R) Brynne, Coby, Trent, and Andy… everybody caught fish today and plenty of them. We boated a grand total of 114 fish, most of which were white bass measuring right around 11 to 11.5 inches. Very few went smaller, and perhaps 10-15 exceeded 12 inches.

All but our young lady guest had extensive prior freshwater fishing experience, and all were quite capable with spinning gear. This alone would increase their potential as the day unfolded.

Keying off of this morning’s success, we began this afternoon’s hunt in deeper water (35-45 feet). It seems the stability this deep water offers during this time of flux with an elevation increase underway is preferred by the fish. I located very few fish today in less than 32 feet of water.

We located fish on 5 distinct areas this evening …

Area 1005 sat in 42 feet of water and produced our first 44 fish for us. These fish were heavily congregated and were in that traditional feeding posture just 6-9 inches off bottom. These fish readily struck our 3/4 oz. slabs fished with a simple jigging technique. Eventually, these fish lost all interest. They still clearly showed on bottom on sonar, but they were now totally disinterested.

Next, Area 935 produced only 4 fish for us, despite seeing a school of 30-40 fish showing on the leeward side of the feature as we idled through and marked the are with a buoy.

Next, we fished Area 1042. This area produced well for us this morning, and the fish were in the exact same place where we’d encountered them in the morning. I noted that as we caught our first few fish, many fish rose up off the bottom by 2-3 feet and then stayed there for quite some time. Seeing this, I had my party switch over to an “easing” tactic. That did the trick and kept our strings stretched for a solid 35 minutes, taking our count up to 96 fish. Eventually these fish moved on.

We moved to just west of Area 259/260 and found the only fish of the day situated in less than 32 feet of water. We found smallish white bass here holding tight to the bottom in 25-26 feet of water. We put a total of 8 fish in the boat, too a break to take photos before the light failed, then went right back to catching fish again, in all putting an additional 6 fish in the boat, taking our tally up to 110 fish.

As the shadows got long and the air began to cool, we headed back towards the boatramp, making one final stop at just north of Area 679-785. We saw fish here at the 30 foot level, but, they were mostly suspended. We broke out our “easing” tactic again on these fish and wound up boating our final 4 fish here before calling it a day and taking a brisk ride back to the boatramp.

TALLY = 114 FISH all caught and released

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Start Time: 2:45p

End Time: 6:25p

Air Temp: 60F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 54.9F.

Wind: Winds were SSW15, slowly tapering to SSW9.

Skies: Skies were fair and 30% cloudy.

Not Exactly Tarpon! Stillhouse Fishing Report — 49 Fish — 17 Feb. 2012

I fished this morning on Stillhouse Hollow with Mark K. Mark recently moved to this area from Florida as an electrical contractor working on the Darnall Army Hospital expansion project on Ft. Hood.

We caught fish from start to finish today, all on slabs both jigged and “eased”. Mark grips a pair of 13.50 inch fish taken on slabs today.

This morning’s weather had a fishy feel to it — cool, damp, grey, and cloudy. An occluded front to our SE has been responsible for the balmy conditions these past few days, but, as it moves east, things will no doubt get dicey soon. I wanted to get on the water before the weather began to deteriorate.

Based on below average success fishing early in the morning yesterday, we delayed this morning’s start to 8am. This worked well as we immediately got onto fish and the fish were ready to feed … no tentative takers this morning as I had encountered early on yesterday.

I really enjoyed Mark’s company. He’s a likeable, fit, well-spoken fellow in his early 40’s. Most of Mark’s prior fishing experience came through shallow water angling in Florida, as well as during one conventional tackle bonefish trip to the Bahamas. He was already familiar with spinning tackle and the basics of hooksetting, playing fish, etc. So, without much coaching required, we just focused on putting fish in the boat.

Over the course of our trip we fished only 3 distinct areas and found the situation similar at each. The white bass were in a feeding posture, just inches off the bottom, and were heavily congregated. As we first got our slabs down (we used 3/8 and 3/4 oz. in both white and chartreuse today without any appreciable difference in success) the fish would strike as we worked them in a straightforward jigging technique. After we boated a few fish, they would then get more and more reluctant, responding well to an easing tactic. Eventually, even though lots of fish continued to show on sonar, they would become much less enthused about even the easing tactic. Ultimately, despite fish still being present, they’d just stop hitting, thus sending us looking for a “fresh” population fish, where this cycle would repeat itself.

We fished this way at Area 074, Area 1017, and Area 402 catching equally well at each and putting together a nice bag of 48 white bass and a single drum. We culled our fish to keep just the chunkiest two for an end of trip photo. The fish Mark is holding in the photo both went 13.50 inches.

TALLY = 49 FISH all caught and released

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Start Time: 8:00a

End Time: 11:15a

Air Temp: 50F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 56.6F.

Wind: Winds were N6.

Skies: Skies were grey and 100% cloudy the entire trip.

Large, Deep Schools were the Rule Today, 60 Fish, 16 Feb. 2012, Austin Fishing Guide Report

In advance of several trips this upcoming long weekend, I got out and scouted around a bit this morning with very good results on Stillhouse.

All but the fish taken around sunrise today were taken in deep water, some in as much as 46 feet. Here you see a tightly grouped school of white bass. These fish were holding just off to the side of a shallower hump.

These fish were among the most aggressive of all the fish I found today. When white bass appear 6-9 inches off of the bottom in a linear formation, they are “hot to trot”!

These fish were the deepest I found today. Most were suspended, although there were a few bottom-huggers here, too. I used a smoking tactic to convince these suspended fish to strike.

As always on scouting days, the object is not to catch a bunch of fish, but to find areas where fish can be caught so I can return their with clients and make them successful.

I launched this morning right around (obscured) sunrise and decided to fish shallow early. I found a few tentative terns working over an expansive area, mostly searching and occasionally feeding. I honed in on one trough-like area between Areas 055 and 995 that the birds seemed drawn to and did find a lot of bait there, with a few gamefish sprinked in. These fish were suspended and moving in 12-16 feet of water and were finicky. I caught my first on flatlining with a Rip Shad 200 as I probed the area. Once I marked fish I worked with a 3/8 oz. chartreuse slab to put 4 more fish in the boat before continuing my search.

My search put me in deeper waters today as follows, enjoying solid success at each area …

Area 074 – caught 5 and moved

Area 1034 – caught 5 and moved

Area 1030 – caught 10 and moved

Area 948 – caught 5 and moved

Area 935 – caught 5 and moved

Area 1036 – caught 20 and moved (used a slow “smoking” technique on the last 10 as an experiment)

Area 1038 – caught 5 and wrapped up

Having a solid handful of areas where the fish demonstrate recent activity is a confidence builder and helps me keep my clients on fish for the majority of the time spent on the water — this is especially important when kids or youth are aboard.

TALLY = 60 FISH all caught and released

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Start Time: 7:15a

End Time: 1:15p

Air Temp: 53F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 56.6F.

Wind: Winds were NW6.

Skies: Skies were grey and 100% cloudy the entire trip.

Boston & Bob Go Fishing!! — SKIFF Trip 2012-#3, Stillhouse Hollow, 11 Feb. 2012

The following blog entry appears in the form of a report to those who support the S.K.I.F.F. program …

Boston caught a mixed bag of 11 fish this morning, including 8 white bass, 1 crappie, 1 drum, and 1 largemouth bass.

11 February 2012

Dear Friends of S.K.I.F.F.,

Today I fished with Boston Dillree, the 7 year old son of Staff Sergeant Dismas and Dr. Amy Dillree of Harker Heights, TX. SSG Dillree is currently stationed at Camp Marmal in Afghanistan where he works in Army Aviation as a technical inspector and crew chief. This is his (catch this!!) 7th deployment in 9 years. Dr. Amy Dillree is a PhD and operates “Behavior for Life, Inc.” which serves children affected by autism and the families they come from.

This trip was a bit different in that Boston has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a high-functioning form of Autism. Meeting new people and entering new environments can be overwhelming to Boston, so, to “grease the skids” a bit, I stopped over to meet him in his own surroundings at home after fishing this past Thursday evening. His mom and I agreed that putting Boston in my boat (a new environment) with me (a new person) could be a bit too much for him. That initial meeting, which included him touring my boat and me getting a look at his Lego collection, went very well and took the edge off of things. Amy told me Boston had really been missing his dad (to the point of tears) lately and this would be a good time for our trip. I knew once I put a date on the calendar, we’d have to make it happen or risk significant further disappointment! So, we nailed down today as our date, but, little did we know what surprises the weatherman had in store for us.

I picked Boston up at 7:40 and we were on the water by 8:00. It was 34F and a brisk N. wind was already up to 11mph and building.

We did a bit of flatline trolling with Reefrunner Ripshads in order to cover water and keep Boston’s hands warm until the sun’s radiation could be felt a bit more. We picked up a white bass, then a crappie, then a largemouth, all around Area 700. This let him explore the boat, ask a bunch of questions and catch fish all at the same time and worked out well. Boston has an i-Pad and does a good bit of research on it. He filled me in on quite a number of Guinness Book world records. Somehow we got on the topic of Valentine’s Day when he asked me if I had any plans with my wife. I told him Miss Rebecca and I were planning to go eat Chinese food that day. He volunteered that he’d be giving “Emily” a Valentine’s Day Card (along with all the other girls and boys in his 2nd Grade class).

When the birds that led us to this area left, we went in search of fish with sonar. I’d scouted several areas this past Monday and Thursday hoping we’d be able to make this trip happen today, but the building wind prevented us from accessing these open water areas. We found fish without having to do a whole lot of sonar work at Area 069. Boston really did well at mimicking the technique necessary for tempting the fish today … we used an “easing” tactic with jigging spoons to get our bait in front of fish holding in loose, small schools about 4-9 feet off bottom. The combination of a good graphite rod and sensitive braided line made the “take” of the white bass able to be readily felt. Boston got the hang of this and stuck with his technique really well allowing him to boat 7 white bass here, all around 11 inches.

After things settled down in this area, we went looking for more fish. We found a congregation of fish at Area 074 around 9:30am and fished over them for about an hour. These fish were in about 26 feet of water and were very tight to the bottom. At the time we got on this area, the winds were really ramping up to what would be their highest velocity of the day — around 16mph. Also, the skies were beginning to clear from the fair appearance they’d had up to this point. This indicates that the pressure was rising and, as they often do, the fish really locked up. Despite jigging right in and among these schooled fish, we managed only to hook 3 and boat 1. By 11:00 or so, the cold was beginning to soak in to Boston. I knew this because he was telling me in great detail about all the places he was currently experiencing “goose bumps”!!

We tried a bit of downrigging without success in a more sheltered area and then headed back in where my sun-warmed Ford F-150 cab greeted us in the parking lot.

Thank you all very, very much for giving to SKIFF and for your fundraising efforts, donations of time, gear, and more. Supporting our soldiers and their families is an honor and I thank you for equipping me to meet their needs!


–Bob Maindelle


TALLY = 11 FISH all caught and released

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Start Time: 8:00a

End Time: 11:40a

Air Temp: 34F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 55.3F.

Wind: Winds were N11 at trip’s start, building to N16.

Skies: Skies were fair at sunrise, then going bluebird by trip’s end.

Location! Location! Location! 29 Fish, 09 Feb. 2012, Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report

In advance of a forthcoming challenge this weekend, I did a little pre-trip scouting this evening.

Here’s where I found fish today on a deep break, as shown on colored sonar. That entire yellow-green mass along the bottom is a densely packed school of fish.

And here is what that same bunch of fish looked like on Lowrance DownScan Imaging.

And … here’s what one of those schoolmates looked like in person!! Note that my slab “matches the hatch” by nearly perfectly imitating the size of the bait these fish were feeding on. That freshly regurgitated shad was thrown up by this white bass just as I boated it.

I’m to take a 10 year-old young man with special needs out this weekend and the conditions are going to be difficult due to stiff north winds and cold front conditions. I scouted several areas Monday and put two more on the “milk run” list today…

The goal of this evening’s trip was not to catch as many fish as I could, but to locate as many fish holding areas as I could. Fish are really not that hard to catch, but, finding them can be a “needle in a haystack” proposition some days.

Today I located fish on Area 935 in about 35 feet of water at around 5pm. I quickly boated 15 fish and left them still very active to find more fish. I next found fish on Area 786 in about 21 feet of water at around 6pm. I boated an additional 14 fish here until they quit biting at dark, around 6:40. These fish were not nearly as densely schooled and, with the failing light, were biting much more tentatively.

TALLY = 29 FISH all caught and released

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Start Time: 3:30p

End Time: 6:40p

Air Temp: 58F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 56.4F.

Wind: Winds were SE7.

Skies: Skies were grey and about 90% cloudy the entire trip.

Scouting Pays Off — Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report — 42 Fish, 06 Feb. 2012

This morning I fished fished solo on Stillhouse as it’s been a while since I put my finger on the pulse of things here.

The fish were sluggish early on this morning, and an “eased” 3/8 oz. slab did best (two rightmost lures are 3/8 oz). By late morning as the fish became more active color and size seemed much less important as fish hit 3/4 oz and 3/8 oz. slabs equally well.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I’m a proponent of “staying in touch” with fish and bait movement by getting on the water very regularly, even if only for short periods of time. I use the term “getting on the water” instead of “fishing” because many times I’ll simply run sonar to check areas out without ever wetting a line.

Today was one of those days when such efforts paid off. Here’s how…

Since Stillhouse has now dropped 17-18 feet below full pool, some areas I’d normally be fishing this time of year are literally out of the water. I’ve had to relook at the lake in its currently reduced configuration and find areas that exist now (depth-wise and topography-wise) that are similar in construct to the areas I have been accustomed to fishing in years with normal water levels. This has involved a lot of detailed map reading and then on-the-water verification once potential areas are identified.

What happened today was very unique. As I went to check out an area, I found bird activity over top of it, which is a strong indicator of fish action beneath, especially when no loons or cormorants are present. As I searched with sonar I found fish where I’d hoped they’d be, but, I also found nearby, connected areas pointed out by the bird action which, upon inspection with sonar, proved to be bottom features not shown on the electronic topo maps, and which were attractive to fish.

Rarely do I find fish under birds and not place a waypoint on my chartplotter only so I can return there later and check it out. Some of my most reliable fishing areas were first discovered by watching sonar while following winter bird action.

So, for 3.5 hours invested, I came away with 7 distinct new areas to revisit in this winter season, and in the future should low lake conditions persist or return. The action occurred as follows:

Area 1025, caught 5 fish and moved to the next visible bird action.

Area 1026, caught 5 fish and moved to the next visible bird action.

Area 1027, caught 5 fish and moved to the next visible bird action.

Area 1028, caught 5 fish and moved to the next visible bird action.

Area 1029, caught 5 fish and moved to the next visible bird action.

Area 1030, caught 12 fish and moved.

Area 74, caught 5 fish.

All fish were taken on TNT 180 slabs. I changed up today using a white 3/4 oz. slab, a 3/8 oz. chartreuse slab, and a 3/8 oz. silver slab.

TALLY = 42 FISH all caught and released

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Start Time: 8:30a

End Time: 11:45a

Air Temp: 38F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 56.4F.

Wind: Winds were NNE4-5.

Skies: Skies were grey the entire trip.