Fishing with the Farmer, Part 2 — 63 Fish, Belton Hybrid Fishing Guide Report, 30 April 2013

This morning I fished with returning guest Kirby L. Kirby’s goal for this trip was to be introduced to hybrid striped bass fishing using live shad

Our late morning action was hot and heavy as a light breeze came up and revived a bite that had died by 9:30. It was all we could do to keep 3-4 rods baited and fishing. Multiple instances of 2-4 hookups at the same time occurred. Here, Kirby holds our largest fish of the trip, a 23″ hybrid weighing 6.00 pounds on a certified scale.

Kirby is a neat fellow. Some years ago he decided he had enough of corporate America, bought some farmland which he now irrigates with water from the Little River, and makes his living as a crop farmer. He’s always had a thing for fishing and recently bought a boat, so, now he’s trying to get smart on how to pursue the various species Texas waters have to offer both in freshwater and in salt. Yesterday, he wrestled with a muddy and stubborn irrigacion bump from sunup til sundown and was ready for a little time to unwind this morning.

In early June of last year Kirby and his wife came out with the goal of being introduced to downrigging. We did well on that trip experiencing some topwater action followed by a solid lesson in downrigger use.

Although hybrid striped bass can be caught most any time of year on live shad, I feel there is no better time than the roughly 6 week window corresponding with the threadfin shad spawn in April and May.

This morning I found ample bait readily caught with a cast net well before sunrise right at Area 1200. This year’s crop of spawning shad is a very healthy crop with excellent length, girth, and color. 4-5″ baits were abundant.

As we got going this morning we ran sonar while idling along in the vicinity of Area 1199 and found exactly what we were looking for — nice arches showing on the colored sonar unit to be suspended up off bottom and grouped together.

I first chummed to keep those fish beneath us and draw in other fish, and then we put out 4 downlines, each baited with large, lively threadfin shad. From ~7:30 to 9:30am this area produced a total of 39 fish including 4 white bass all around 12-13″, 1 short hybrid striped bass, and 34 legal hybrid striped bass (18″ or larger) with the largest fish weighing in at 4.25 pounds. Inexplicably, at about 9:30 the action just stopped — there was no wind shift, no light level change, nothing perceivable, but, the fish definitely got disinterested.

We headed out to search for a feeding population of fish elsewhere. Due to the light fog, seeing for any distance was difficult, so, during the 2 hours spent at Area 1199, I did not see any bird activity, however, as I checked out Area 156, there were ~20 laughing gulls resting on the water in this area. At the time I encountered them, they were pecking insects off the water’s surface, but I felt that fish activity must have drawn them here in the first place. I went into search mode with my sonar and we located a solid school of hybrid striped bass in ~31 feet of water. I got chum down, then our baits down and up came the hybrid after the baits. We found the fishing at 22-24 feet over the 31 foot bottom drew strikes almost as soon as the bait sank to that level and nearly every single time. We caught fish non-stop from 10:00a to 11:05a when Kirby had to pull the plug and leave the fish biting to honor a commitment he’d made today.

During our time on this location we boated 1 more 12″ white bass, 1 more short hybrid, and 22 more legal hybrid. Kirby landed two more 4+ pound hybrid here, as well as our largest fish of the trip, a 23 inch, 6.00 pound hybrid (shown above). We finished up with 63 fish boated this morning.

Given that the goal was to give Kirby a well-rounded exposure to live-shad fishing for hybrid, it was nice to have ample opportunity go through the process of locating, chumming, baiting, hooking, fighting, landing, releasing, rebaiting, etc. quite a number of times so that it’ll all come back when Kirby puts the lessons learned on this trip to use as a fishing guide to his own two kiddos.

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TALLY = 63 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 7:15a

End Time: 11:15a

Air Temp: 64F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 66.7F

Wind: Winds were calm at trip’s start, slowly increasing to SSE7-8 and leveling off.

Skies: Skies were grey with very light fog at sunrise.

Bob Maindelle

Holding the Line Guide Service


Salado, Texas

Cub Scout Pack 511 Goes Fishing !!! Austin Fishing Guide Report, 27 April 2013, 92 Fish

This morning I fished with Cub Scout Pack 511 out of the Austin area — yes, the ENTIRE pack!!

Daniel V. caught the largest fish during today’s Pack 511 Fishing Derby — 39″ longnose gar.

Aiden H. caught the second largest fish during today’s Pack 511 Fishing Derby — 16 7/8″ largemouth.

Sara V. caught the third largest fish during today’s Pack 511 Fishing Derby — 14″ white bass.

Back in February, Joan S., the Pack Leader contacted me seeking advice on how to do a well-run, fishing-focused outdoor scouting event which helped the scouts meet the criteria necessary for earning a fishing “belt loop” and fishing “pin”. They would be based out of the Dana Peak campground on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.

We agreed upon doing a “round robin” of 3 events, 1) fish identification/fishing regulations, 2) knot tying and hook baiting, and 3) casting. I helped in this by doing a “train the trainer” for her volunteers the night before and by providing all the supplies necessary for these events. I would also operate my boat all day Saturday to give the kids hands-on fishing experience, trying to help every last boy land at least one fish. In doing this, we organized the fishing trips like a “length-only” catch and release tournament in which we recorded the length of each boy’s longest fish and saw how they all compared at the end of the day.

As dawn Saturday rolled around, Joan had organized her scouts into teams of 3 boys, each chaperoned by one adult. I took each team of 4 out with the mission of helping each boy catch at least one fish. We did these trips within a timeframe of just 30-50 minutes each, then returned to shore to drop off the successful anglers and bring onboard another hopeful team of 4.

Long story short, we batted a thousand today! Every single boy caught at least one fish, and some as many as 10 in their short time on the water.

Our biggest fish of the trip was a 39 inch longnose gar landed by Daniel V. Our 2nd place finisher was Aiden H., who boated a 16 7/8 inch largemouth bass. And our 3rd place finisher was Sara V. (there because her brother is a scout and her folks came to the campout to support him); she caught a 14″ white bass.

Quite a number of the 31 kids who came out on the boat caught the first fish of their lives today. This was a very full but very fun day, made enjoyable by the can-do, helpful attitudes of the adult volunteers who made this come together for the kids.

Today’s hotspots were: Area 116 early for shallow fish caught on flatlined crankbaits, Area 684/290 just post-sunrise for downrigged fish down 14-16 feet, Area 372 from mid-morning to early afternoon for deep-downrigged and vertically jigged fish in 22-25 feet, and Area 1201 in mid-afternoon for deep-downrigged and vertically jigged fish in 25-26 feet.

TALLY = 92 Fish

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TALLY = 90 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 4:30p

Air Temp: 69F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 66.2F

Wind: Winds were SSE15 at trip’s start, tapering off sharply around 9:30 to light and variable.

Skies: Skies were partly cloudy 80-100% and grey for all but the first 2 hours following sunrise.

Bob Maindelle

Holding the Line Guide Service


Salado, Texas

SKIFF Trip #2013-3 — Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun (SKIFF) Trip Report, 25 April 2013

Cameron’s saying for the trip was, “Patience is a value.” Fortunately, we didn’t have to exercise much patience on this outing!

The S.K.I.F.F. (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) Program exists to take the children of deployed or deceased soldiers on fishing trips at no charge to the soldiers’ families as a way of showing our support for our troops and providing a respite for their spouses. The following is a note to SKIFF supporters about this most recent outing…

Thursday, 25 April, 2013

Dear Friends of SKIFF,

This afternoon I fished on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir with Caleb (7) and Cameron (10) Rother.

These brothers are the oldest two of the Rother’s 3 children. Sergeant Chad Rother is currently deployed to Afghanistan where he serves with the 1st Cavalry Division as an infantryman. The boys’ mom, Jenn, works as a personal trainer near Fort Hood.

Today was the second day of light north winds following Monday’s cold front, but we enjoyed a wind shift to the ESE while we were on the water, accompanied by light but complete cloud cover. This Spring has been slow in developing with water temperatures still only in the mid-60’s.

We got going around 4pm. The boys personalities emerged immediately. Cameron was all about the entire experience, enjoying the boat, the surroundings, and the fishing. Caleb was all about the fish and only the fish. When Cameron landed the first fish (and the second) that didn’t sit too well with his younger brother’s competitive nature. By the time all was said and done, both of the boys caught plenty of fish and the individual tally got lost in the shuffle as I tried to stress that this was a team effort.

In all, we caught 76 fish on this outing, including 74 white bass, 1 crappie, and 1 diminutive largemouth bass. The first dozen fish we boated came off of Area 993 in 21-26 feet of water. We downrigged for these fish until we found a concentration of them, then buoyed that concentration and worked vertically using a “smoking” tactic with a TNT180 slab (3/4 oz. white) to take advantage of what we’d found. When that action settled down (and with 48 fish now boated), we headed to Area 1017 where a deep flat drops off into the old river channel and again “smoked” with our slabs for our final 28 fish of the evening.

Earlier this morning I was asked to do a live radio broadcast on Fort Hood’s own 24/7 on-line radio station( We recorded a 35 minute segment as we interviewed live so the edited segment can be replayed continuously. The radio station personnel will also be feeding the interview to 15 local ClearChannel civilian radio stations on Saturday and Sunday, May 4th and 5th. The DJ’s I interviewed with requested “just off the water” photos, so I was able to supply them with a few shots of Caleb and Cameron’s successes. It was a good day for SKIFF today in more ways than one!

Note about Photographs: Due to the limitations of this blog, I can only post so many photos in a given entry, so, in order to share ALL photos from EACH trip, I’ve created a Facebook page. There you’ll find essentially the same trip summary with more photos to document each trip. Click here to visit…

See all photos on Facebook

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Start Time: 4:00p

End Time: 8:15p

Air Temp: 66F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~66.2F

Wind: Winds were light from the NNE at around 7-8, shifting ESE8-9 by 4:30, then slowly tapering to light and variable by sunset.

Skies: Skies were 100% greyed over.

He Caught Fish Until it Hurt!! — 86 Fish, Belton Lake Fishing Guide Report, 23 April 2013

This morning I fished with Phil M. of Killeen. The mission of this trip was stress relief!!

Pre-frontal conditions put the predators in overdrive this morning — of 86 fish landed over half were legal (18+ inch) hybrid striped bass .

Phil is an east Texas native, a Viet Nam veteran, a husband, father, and grandfather, and a lay leader at Memorial Baptist Church in Killeen where he now serves as the facilities/maintenance manager. Phil and his wife, Casey, recently lost two family members close to them and this trip was something I could offer to bring some cheer and a day away from the daily pressures of life.

We got going well before dawn this morning. Phil is a “systems” kind of guy, meaning he likes to know how everything comes together, so, I invited him along for the “whole enchilada” of launching the boat, catching bait before the trip, finding fish with sonar, and then cashing in on catching the gamefish we’d located. Afterwards, he stayed for reloading the boat, draining the bait tank, scrubbing the deck down, refueling, trailering back home … the whole works.

We had to search a bit for the live shad we used as bait this morning, but, at our forth stop (at Area 1200) we found what we were looking for. I’ve netted shad in Belton for over 20 years now and this morning’s haul of about 220 baits in four throws was the most robust bunch of bait I’ve ever collected. These baits were big, fat, long, and wide — and frisky coming out of 66 degree water. Over 15% of these threadfin shad were 4.5″ long or longer.

As is typical this time of year, where bait can be found on windblown shorelines, the hybrid striper and other gamefish are often not too far behind. We found all the fish we needed right on top of Area 1199, just a short distance from where we netted bait.

As we got our first lines in the water around 7:20a, the skies were still very murky due to thick cloud cover (to the point of drizzle). The fish were active and up high in the water column. We set our baits 15-17 feet below the surface and kept them there through the first 2 hours.

As the wind lessened and the skies brightened a bit, the fish pushed down further. From 9:30 to 10:30 or so, we set our baits down at 17-18 feet, and from ~10:30 to the end of the trip around 12:30, we fished the baits around 21-23 feet down.

We boated a total of 86 fish today including 1 largemouth bass, 29 white bass, and ~56 hybrid striped bass. Of these 86 fish, only three hybrid were “short fish”; all other white bass were over 10″ and all other hybrid striper were 18″ and longer. All of the keeper-sized hybrid were in a tight shot-group size-wise, all going right at 18-20 inches and right at 3.00 to 3.50 pounds. Phil’s largest hybrid weighed in at 3.75 pounds on a certified scale

Today’s outstanding fishing was due largely to weather. We fished during the last hours of a warming trend with diminishing southerly winds and nice grey cloud cover which would give way to a mild cold front with cooling, northerly winds (which began around 12:45p). As we enjoyed success at Area 1200, I had a credible report of like success from another fisherman who boated ~30 hybrid until his bait ran out in the vicinity of Area 369/382. The fish were simply turned on today!

Phil enjoyed a few “firsts” today. This was the first time he’d ever fished for hybrid striped bass, this was the first time he’d ever used circle hooks, and this was the first time he’d ever used reels equipped with bait clickers.

No sooner did we hit the bank following our trip than Phil had a text headed to Mrs. Casey about our big day!! Mission accomplished.

Later in the day I saw Phil massaging his shoulder and chest muscles. He then informed me that “…those fish liked to wear me out!”.

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TALLY = 86 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 12:35p

Air Temp: 67F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 66.4F

Wind: Winds were SSE15 at trip’s start, tapering off sharply around 9:30 to light and variable.

Skies: Skies were grey in advance of an approaching cold front.

Bob Maindelle

Holding the Line Guide Service


Salado, Texas

A Ship Nick-named “The Lazarus” — 39 Fish — Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide Report, 20 April 2013

This morning I fished Kenny R., pastor of Skyline Baptist in Killeen, and his friend, Dan, a recently retired missionary to Brazil.

The fish were very scattered today, we had to hunt and peck, hunt and peck all morning to put together the 39 fish bag that we did. That’s Dan, the missionary, on the left, and Kenny, the preacher, on the right.

As we got started this morning, right before sunset we saw a small pack of white bass “crashing bait” by forcing spawning threadfin shad up to the bank and up to the surface as they pursued in shallow water. We managed to boat a quick 7 beefy white bass out of this school before the sun rose, the skies brightened and the fish disappeared from Area 667.

Next, we hung around Area 116 and did some flatline trolling while monitoring two broad flats that have provided consistent action over the past several weeks. We came up with just one small white bass here and decided to press on without seeing any bird action or topwater action.

We stopped and fished with both horizontally cast Cicada bladebaits and with downriggers equipped with tandem-rigged Pet Spoons in a large expanse bounded by Areas 100, 101, and 330. As we began fishing over fish we’d located with sonar, several great white egrets began feeding over open water and were quickly joined by 3 gulls. These birds were drawn by white bass feeding on shad. While it was great to be in the midst of fish, these birds were easily covering a quarter-mile’s worth of water which spoke to the scattered nature of the fish today. Unfortunately, the bird action (and the topwater feed that fueled it) lasted only 5-10 minutes at most. Small packs of 3-4 fish were here, there, and everywhere, so, we’d catch a few, then have to move, catch a few more then have to move. We never really got covered down on a sizeable population of fish for any period of time. Of all the techniques we employed today, the downriggers really shined, as they allowed us to cover the span between packs of fish quickly and allowed us to have 4 baits in the water right where the fish were. To this end, we caught 3 or 4 sets of doubles today on the tandem rigs. At one point we put out two flatline rods in addition to the downriggers for a total of 6 baits in the water and caught fish on them, as well, as they dove down to the 12-14 foot mark, just above our downrigged baits fishing at 15-18 feet down.

By 10:30 this bite was winding down and so we set out to search deeper water for more congregated fish. We found one spot of fish right at Area 036 and vertically jigged that area for 1 drum and 3 white bass. By 11:15, knowing the best was now behind us, we decided to call it a day and head in for some lunch. We’d boated a total of 39 fish for our effort, including 1 white crappie, 1 drum, 1 largemouth bass, and 36 white bass of all sizes, from 6″ up to 14″.

I was intrigued by Dan’s lifetime of service to the Lord as a missionary with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He had plenty of stories to tell. When I specifically asked about a “how we had to improvise” story, he fondly remembered the time a local fishing boat accidentally struck his own boat, shearing off his exhaust pipe. Given that marine exhaust pipes are hard to come by on the Amazon River, he rigged up a big baked bean can to serve as a makeshift exhaust pipe until a more suitable repair could be made. He added that the boat, named “The Apostle” should have been named “The Lazarus”, as it had sunk twice and had twice been “resurrected” before being replaced by a more grand vessel nearly twice the size thanks to the $200,000 donation of a woman from Kansas!!

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TALLY = 39 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 11:20a

Air Temp: 45F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 66.4F

Wind: Winds were SSE6-8 for the entire trip.

Skies: Skies were fair and cloudless.

Ospreys Point the Way to Topwater Action — 49 Fish — Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Charter, 19 April

This morning I fished with Rick R. of Austin on his second outing with me. Our focus was hungry white bass returning to the reservoir following the spawn.

Rick show our 3rd and 4th largest white bass of the trip. Why not show the 1st and 2nd largest, you ask? Well, in an interesting turn of events, they flipped out of the boat seconds before the photo was to be taken!!.

The Spring warmup is underway and, despite a mild cold front that blew in yesterday and left NW winds in its path this morning, the fish were not really deterred at all from feeding. This is totally opposite of what you find in the heart of winter where water temperatures are falling and cold fronts only speed that fall further. Rather, in the Spring the water is warming, and cold fronts, if severe, delay or slightly reverse the trend, but, once the fishes’ metabolism starts to rise, they have to keep their bellies full to keep up.

Rick is a small businessman and had to honor a commitment to get a bid in early this morning, so, we were delayed in getting him on the water by about 45 minutes, but, this gave me an opportunity do some scouting and, when he arrived, we drove straight to the fish I’d found earlier, boated four white bass on top of Area 1198 on TNT180 slabs and moved on after the fishing tapered off.

Our next stop came in the vicinity of Area 101. We spotted two osprey in “hover & dive” mode over a school of shallow white bass driving shad to the surface. Unlike gulls and terns which key in on the shad, the osprey are after big game — the white bass themselves! We saw an “up close and personal” grab as an osprey hovered, folded its wings, dove, and successfully snatched a white bass from just below the surface where it lingered a bit too long chasing shad. Anyway, we began working this area with down riggers and came up with 7 fish, including 3 sets of doubles, and realized that downrigging was NOT the most efficient way to angle for these very abundant and aggressively feeding fish. So, we switched over to bladebaits and fished them in the top 10 feet of the water column until the fish began to settle back down, after which we vertically jigged for them. By the time all was said and done here, we’d boated another 43 fish here in the 1, 2, and 3 year classes.

When the fishing at Area 101 died, the morning feed was just about over everywhere else. We did not spot a single additional school of white bass in feeding mode from this time (~11:05) until the time we wrapped up at 12:30.

We did a lot of looking, finding schools of shad quite regularly, but found no white bass. I spotted some light gamefish action on bottom at Area 1057, buoyed that area, and began fishing it. Richard came up with a deepwater largemouth and a white crappie, and I hooked and lost what I suspected was a white bass, but, no schoolmates rose up off bottom with the hooked fish.

Realizing we’d hit the point of diminishing returns (about a half hour earlier!!) we decided to call it a good day right there with 49 fish boated including 47 white bass, 1 white crappie, and 1 largemouth bass.

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TALLY = 49 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 12:30p

Air Temp: 40F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 66.2F

Wind: Winds were WNW11 at trip’s start, tapering up to NNW16 by trip’s end.

Skies: Skies were fair and cloudless.

Belton Live Shad Fishing, 16 April 2013 — 64 Fish — Belton Lake Fishing Tour Report

This morning I fished with David C. of Morgan’s Point and his father, Rich, who traveled to Texas from Florida for a few days to visit his son.

David landed this hybrid striped bass, our largest fish of the trip today, on a live shad fished over 26 feet of water.

David is an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor who recently wrapped up his residency, and Rich is a retired steel industry executive who began a second career as a respiratory therapist after finding retirement a bit too lax.

We focused on Belton today for the shot it gave us as some hybrid stripers, knowing that Stillhouse is producing good numbers of fish, but many of them have been smallish. I had netted live shad the night before as the shad netting can be a bit unpredictable given the forecast morning weather conditions we were to face.

We fished 5 areas today, and the last 4 of them produced fish, but the hybrid were just hard to come by.

We first contacted fish at Area 308 around 7:45am. As would be the case everywhere we went, the bait size and even type did not seem to matter. We put down shad ranging from 2.25 up to 5 inches, as well as glass minnows, sunfish and spot-tail shiners, and did equally well on all of them. I did have one jumbo gizzard shad about 8″ long which did not draw a strike. We picked up white bass, 1 just-legal hybrid, several blue catfish, and one channel cat here.

We moved on to Area 1000. More white bass in the 1, 2, and 3 year class size range.

We moved on to Area 369/382 and both e-anchored and drifted. More white bass, short hybrid, and more catfish.

Finally, we moved to Area 619. More white bass and more blue cats.

Each time we got hunkered down, got some chum going and got a bite started, fish would begin to stack up on the bottom. Several times we put the bait rods on one side of the boat and vertically jigged off the other with slabs and did very well, again on white bass, whenever we tried that.

For our efforts today we wound up with 64 fish boated. The action was consistent throughout the timeframe from 7:45 to around 12:30. I noted today that we saw very, very few suspended fish. Even when we hooked fish and reeled them in up off the bottom, few schoolmates followed, and those that did returned quickly to bottom. I also noted a total lack of bird activity. Even our resident blue herons were relatively inactive today.

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TALLY = 64 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 1:00p

Air Temp: 70F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 66F

Wind: Winds were SSE10 at trip’s start, tapering up to SSE15-16 by trip’s end.

Skies: Skies were partly cloudy at 60% with otherwise hazy blue sky.

Sound the Bugle(s) — The Fish are Biting!! — 112 Fish, Stillhouse Hollow, 13 April 2013

This morning I fished with Rob L. of Georgetown, and three 8th grade boys including Rob’s son, Andrew, and Andrew’s two friends, Caleb and Chase.

From L to R: Andrew, Chase, Caleb, and Rob with our best 4 fish culled from the 112 we boated this morning. The majority of our catch came on bladebaits in the first two hours following sunrise.

We enjoyed very good fishing conditions today including winds from the S. early on, a gentle but consistent breeze and nice, light grey cloud cover. Additionally, all four of my guests had substantial previous fishing experience, so, we were able to take full advantage of all of the action we found this morning. Most of the boys’ prior experience came with largemouth bass fishing, but, many of the mechanics carried over well into the techniques we used today including flatline trolling, downrigging, horizontal casting with bladebaits, and vertical jigging with slabs.

As we began our day, we headed to Area 116 just prior to sunrise and ran a “circuit” here flatline trolling crankbaits in 12-16 feet of water. We picked up 6 fish, including 5 white bass, 4 of which went 12+ inches, and 1 largemouth before some distant, helpful bird activity led us to even better action.

Spread over ~1/8 mile of open water (between Areas 101 and 1194) we found gulls, ospreys, and blue herons working over open water and regularly taking both white bass and/or the baitfish the white bass were preying upon. The white bass were working in small schools of 10-15 fish and were spread from top to bottom, with the heaviest concentration on bottom and with a substantial number of fish holding ~8-10 feet beneath the surface. I assessed our situation and felt that going with horizontally worked bladebaits would offer our best shot at these fish, so, we got all rods slinging bladebaits worked in either a lift-drop fashion on bottom, or with an 8-count countdown from the surface on a straight retrieve and we did very well for the next ~2.5 hours, so long as our conditions remained consistent. Over this span of time we boated 71 white bass, 2 drum, and 1 largemouth bass. These fish came from the 1, 2, and 3 year class, with the majority in the 2 year class.

Around 10am, the action began to get a bit soft as the wind slowly shifted from S to SSE and as the skies brightened. We quickly transitioned from casting to downrigging in order to cover a lot of water quickly and take advantage of the few remaining active fish in this same area. We put 6 more fish in the boat, including a double, before this action died for good. Our tally now stood at 86 fish. I noted that the boys seemed really excited about downrigging, despite the fact that it is a less “hands on” approach than other methods we’d employed. I also noted that, during our stint of downrigging, the boys dug into a 1 pound bag of “Bugle” snacks (that’s 1 pound bag EACH, not a single 1 pound bag shared by the group). I then made the correlation that the most popular tactic of downrigging was popular because it allowed the boys to fish AND eat at the same time!!

Next, it was out to deepwater to hunt for more concentrated fish where the light was more dim. We searched a number of areas without success before finding a nice concentration of fish at Area 1197. These fish were holding tight to a minor breakline in about 37 feet of water. These fish responded well to a vertical jigging presentation using 3/4 oz. TNT 180 slabs in white color. We added 17 white bass and 1 largemouth to our count at this location in just 15 minutes or so, taking our tally up to 104 fish, and giving the boys their first taste of deep water vertical jigging success.

We ended our day at just to the SE of Area 1017, in about 32 feet of water, just off the main river channel. We found a small school of white bass in this location and worked them over thoroughly, pulling another 8 fish in before things shut down and we decided to call it a great day there and then. We closed out the trip taking some photos and the boys then proceeded to break out a picnic lunch (contained in a box which was easily a 30 inch cube!) to be eaten at lakeside. Rob, I don’t want to know what you and Mrs. L. pay for groceries each month!! Just glad you had enough left over for a fishing trip!!

TALLY = 112 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 12:00noon

Air Temp: 56F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 62-63F

Wind: Winds were S to SSE7-12 for the entire trip.

Skies: Skies were light grey and 100% cloudy until 9:30am, then slowly cleared towards trip’s end.

Fishing for Dit-Dits with Cross Dressers!?! — 54 Fish – Austin Fishing Guide Report, 12 April 2012

This morning I fished with friend and fellow fishing guide, Bruce Shuler, of Port Mansfield.

We had a few intentions today including: 1) to enjoy some time on the water together, 2) to help Bruce re-familiarize with state of the art sonar, and 3) to catch a few fish under what we both knew would be some tough, post-frontal conditions. We accomplished all of the above and still had time to share a pizza over at Joe’s on Hwy. 195 before noon!!

Bruce has spent many years now wading and drifting the Laguna Madre where 5 feet of water is deep and where a 6″ change of depth is considered a breakline. There, sonar is basically used to keep from going aground and for whatever nautical chart features they offer — not so much for looking for fish and the structures they hold on. Our deep, clear, Hill Country lakes, on the other hand are among the most sonar intensive kind of water to fish due to lack of visible cover. So, we spent an inordinate amount of time today just idling and interpreting sonar.

We did manage to hunt down some fish despite the bright, clear, calm conditions you can see in the photo. We found some fish up shallow in 16-18 feet after a slow first hour, in the vicinity of Area 1194/052. A handful of terns and gulls helped us zero in on these fish. We boated 42 white bass here in the 1, 2, and 3 year old year classes.

Later, from about 9:45 to 10:45 we found a few more fish in 25 feet of water a few yards back off the river channel at Area 1196/566, and put a final 14 fish in the boat here. These fish were distinctly clustered together. As we idled over these fish, the otherwise flat, white line representing the lake’s bottom on my sonar screen set to down-looking mode showed a series of closely spaced oval shapes holding very near to, but not quite on, the bottom. These were fish. I pointed these out to Bruce with my forefinger and said as I pointed to each oval, “Okay, you see these? Dit, dit, dit, dit, dit … each one of these is a fish.” Bruce chuckled at my choice of that descriptor and said he now knew to look for the Dit-Dits.

Earlier, we’d discussed his preference for casting tackle versus spinning gear. I personally prefer spinning gear because I can teach novices to cast quality gear in very little time, thus helping them catch more fish. Bruce, on the other hand, calls spinning reels “cross dressers”, a nickname he came up with given the reels’ ability to quickly have their handles switched from left-hand retrieve to right-hand retrieve.

So, to summarize, I suppose I chose to fish for dit-dits with cross dressers, where as Bruce chose to angle for them with baitcasters.

Can you tell we kept it light today?

Oh yeah, we caught 54 fish despite ourselves!!

TALLY = 54 fish, all caught and released

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Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 10:45a

Air Temp: 46F at trip’s start

Water Surface Temp: ~62F

Wind: Winds were light and variable the entire trip.

Cloud Cover: Skies were bluebird under high pressure following Wednesday’s cold front passage.

Rockpointe Rocked the ‘House — 153 Fish – Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide Report — 11 April 2013

This morning I welcomed back Shane M., his 14 year old daughter, Grace, as well as Shayne O., and his 18 year old son Jayce. All are a part of Rockpointe Church in Leander where Shayne serves as senior pastor.

Jayce (who stands 6’7″ and weighs 260) hold his trophy 36.5″ yellow catfish estimated at 32-37 pounds

The whole Rockpointe Church crew scored big today with a nice mix of quality and quantity.

Well, we truly saved the best for last today. After 6+ hours on the water I was tidying up the boat a bit while a short but strong midday white bass bite was winding down. We had just managed to boat 61 white bass in under 45 minutes at what would be our last stop of the day. The bites were now coming few and far between and at least 2 people’s minds were on Johnny’s BBQ. Then it happened. Jayce felt a bite, set the hook, and instead of raising the fish upward a few feet on the hookset as had been the case for our 152 white bass boated today, this fish jerked his rod down to the water — hard. An 8 1/2+ minute battle (that’s long for freshwater) ensured during which Jayce’s hand muscles cramped and we all peered over the side of the boat just waiting for a glimpse of whatever had inhaled Jayce’s slab. We brought to net a 36.5″ yellow catfish, which, according to catch and release formulas, would typically weight in at 32-37 pounds. We handled the fish minimally, took some good photos and released the fish in excellent condition, high-fiving as it swam away with powerful tail strokes. Very exciting!! This all transpired right on top of Area 036.

Now, let’s back up. As we got on the water, we did a flatline trolling pass at Area 116, picking up 1 nice white bass, but, before we could finish a full circuit, some helpful birds began to work and so we got quickly to them and worked beneath them. We found active white bass pursuing shad to the surface in ~20 feet of water at Area 324/106. We used blade baits worked near bottom to boat 18 fish before this action died, along with the day’s strongest bird activity — pretty short and sweet.

From about 8:30 to 10:45, we enjoyed consistent albeit moderately-paced action in ~24-27 feet of water at both the vicinity of Area 1167 as well as all over Area 556. Most of these were on the small side, and every last one came on a 3/4 oz. slab. Mixed in with our catch of 58 white bass taken off these two areas, were 4 freshwater drum and 1 crappie.

Things got very tough between 10:45 and 12:00 as the wind nearly died and the skies continued to brighten under the climbing sun. By 12:30, we’d boated 81 fish and felt that with everyone now well-acquainted with vertical jigging, we could break the 100 fish mark if we found just one concentration of even fairly lethargic fish. We made 3-4 stops, adding only 4 more small white bass to our tally. Finally, I moved to Area 036 and we found what we were looking for. There were tightly bunched white bass here on a breakline, and a few were even up off bottom in a feeding posture. We got right down to business and, in our last 45 minutes, put exactly 61 fish in the boat, blowing our 100 fish goal out of the water, adding some nice 13+ inch white bass to our catch, and allowing us to end the day on a great note, then made even greater by Jayce’s goliath catfish described earlier.

TALLY = 153 fish, all caught and released

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Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 1:45p

Air Temp: 43F at trip’s start

Water Surface Temp: ~62-63F

Wind: Winds were NNW at 13, tapering down to NNW6 by 10:30a.

Cloud Cover:We were under light grey skies at sunrise, with skies quickly clearing to bright and cloudless by 9:30.