1st SKIFF TRIP OF 2018 NETS 2 FIRST FISH AWARDS!

WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Saturday evening I fished with U.S. Army Major Michael Byrnes and his oldest two children, Evelyn (age 13) and Michael (age 10).  We were originally supposed to fish over the holidays, but the weather just didn’t cooperate.  The delay worked out well, as it allowed Major Byrnes to accompany the kids on their big adventure.  Major Byrnes and his wife, Lyndsay, decided to move their family to Fort Hood for just 1 year from their home in Marshall, Wisconsin, instead of being separated from dad after he was called onto active duty to serve at Fort Hood with the 646th Regional Support Group.  This unit helps all National Guard and Reserve units coming through Ft. Hood to get logistically prepared for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.  This was the year’s first SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trip provided to military kids free of charge courtesy of the Austin Fly Fishers since 2009.

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From left: Major Michael Byrnes, his son, Michael Byrnes, and Evelyn Byrnes, each with a 2-year class white bass caught in the last hour of the day from a near-motionless school we found suspended over a channel beneath birds.

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Evelyn with our largest fish of the trip.

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Michael with the first fish of his life, which earned him a TPWD “First Fish Award”

WHAT WE FISHED FOR: This was a multi-species trip focused on white bass using artificial lures.

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Saturday afternoon, 13 January 2018

HOW WE FISHED:  We fished a full four hours.  As is typical of afternoon trips, we more than doubled our catch in the last hour.  Our first 3 hours were spent in deeper, clear water vertically jigging for white bass seen holding in schools on bottom.  We used snap-jigging and a slow easing tactic to catch our first 33 fish by 4:45pm.  There were instances where deadsticking would have been appropriate, but, given that Evenlyn and Michael were brand new to fishing and that setting the hook while deadsticking was going to be tough to get the hang of on their first trip out, I left that tactic alone.  In the final hour of our trip, a flock of helpful terns and gulls got active over top of a nearly immobile school of white bass (with a few hybrid hanging around) in an area where a nearby channel cuts close to the bank.  We slowly smoked our slabs through this large, cooperative school and put a final 35 fish in the boat, including the several largest white bass of the trip.

During this trip, Evelyn landed the first fish of her life — a 17 3/8″ freshwater drum.  Michael also landed the first fish of his life — a 7.25″ white bass.  We caught a total of 2 drum, 5 hybrid striped bass, 3 largemouth bass, and 58 white bass.

OBSERVATIONS/NOTES:   1) The cold water, north wind, high pressure, and clear skies today combined to really make the fish lethargic.  We saw way more fish on sonar than we had show interest in our baits.  In several instances, we only caught fish during the first few minutes our lures were dropped into a school; after catching 3 or 4, the fish just lost interest and settled back to bottom.

TALLY: 68 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:45p

End Time:  5:45p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  48F (then falling with an approaching cold front)

Water Surface Temp:  51.8 to 52.1F

Wind Speed & Direction:  N8-11

Sky Conditions: Clear, bluebird skies

Water Level: 3.14 feet low

GT = 0

Wx SNAPSHOT: N/A

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area B0026C – deep jigging for small whites

**Area B0012C – deep jigging for small whites

**Area B0027C – mid-depth slow smoking for suspended 2 & 3 year class white bass

 

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

Cold and Getting Colder — 81 Fish @ Belton

WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Thursday morning I fished with returning guest Dr. Michael Szkrybalo.  Michael is an emergency medicine physician who got his start in the U.S. Army and now works at Baylor Scott & White.  It was a wacky weather day and the fishing reflected that.  We began the day with what would be a high temperature of 56F, a balmy feel to the air, calm winds, and some thin fog.  Under these conditions we fished for nearly 2 fishless hours until a SE breeze began to move the water and the fish began to feed.  We caught the vast majority of our fish in about 90 minutes, between 10:30a and noon.  Nearly all of our fish were small, from the 2017 year class, but the action was steady during this “window” on slowly smoked 3/8 oz. slabs.  As I came off the lake, the winds were blowing at 20, gusting 25+ and the temperature had fallen to 50F.  By 3:30pm, the winds were blowing 30, gusting to 40, and the temperature had fallen to 41F.

This is what I refer to when I write about “year classes” of white bass.  The top fish is a 3-year-old white bass of ~13″, the fish in the center is a 2-year-old white bass of roughly 11.5″, and the fish on the bottom is a 1-year-old fish measuring about 8″.  In most  years on Belton and Stillhouse, we have some representation in at least the 1, 2, and 3 year-old fish classes.  Due to the past three year’s worth of spring water conditions (when the white bass spawn), the 2017 year class is by far the most abundant in both reservoirs right now.  Mike and I caught mainly 1 year class fish.

WHAT WE FISHED FOR: This was a multi-species trip focused on white bass using artificial lures.

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Thursday morning, 11 January 2018

HOW WE FISHED:  We fished in no less than 36 feet of water today, and out to as deep as 52 feet.  As the winds began to push from the SE and the bite slowly began, we used a snap-jigging tactic in very deep (45-52′) water.  As the winds built and shifted through the S, to the W, and then to the NW, the bite strengthened and went shallower.  During this window, a slow smoking tactic worked well during which time I sync’ed the rhythm of the thumper to the speed we needed to turn our spinning reel handles so as to avoid going too fast.

OBSERVATIONS/NOTES:   1) The pre-frontal wind shift had everything to do with turning the fish on. 2) The arrival of cold, dry air on the  NNW wind had everything to do with turning the bite back off.

TALLY: 81 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 7:20a

End Time:  12:30p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  56F (then falling with an approaching cold front)

Water Surface Temp:  52.8F

Wind Speed & Direction:  Calm until around 9:20, then light SE until 10:30, then swinging quickly through S, to W, to NNW and building to 20+

Sky Conditions: 100% cloud cover with light fog with slow clearing to 30% by the time the front roared in

Water Level: 3.09 feet low

GT = 10

Wx SNAPSHOT:

JAN 11

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 1177

**Area B0014C (with 2 short hops)

**Area 382 (with 2 short hops)

 

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

It’s All Relative — 05 Jan. 2018 (PM Trip)

WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Friday afernoon I fished with Willis Creed and his son, Skyler Creed, from north central Missouri.  Willis is a timber-framed home builder and Skyler is a college student at Missouri State University in Columbia.  The two came down to Texas to visit some friends and go hog hunting here in Central Texas, and decided to “mix it up” a little and do some fishing after the weather moderated a bit.  Since the cold weather we experienced here wasn’t nearly as cold as what these fellows are used to back home up north, they didn’t mind hunting and fishing in the cold — it’s all relative, I suppose!  Either way, all three of us enjoyed fishing Belton with near zero boat traffic.

Father and Son

From left: Willis and Skyler Creed of Missouri with a mixed bag of fish we took in 30 feet of water while working slabs with a finesse tactic.  The pair boated 89 fish in water with a surface temperature around 51-52F.

WHAT WE FISHED FOR: This was a multi-species trip focused on white bass using artificial lures.

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Friday afternoon, 05 January 2018

HOW WE FISHED:  We fished primarily in deep, 42+ foot water today until our very last stop, which came in 28-30′.  We fish with just two retrieves: slow smoking for suspended and more active bottom-oriented fish, and snap-jigging for non-aggressive bottom-oriented fish.  100% of our fish were taken on the smaller 3/8 oz. slab with the Hazy Eye Stinger Hook attached.  We used an extended pause while snap-jigging and found many of our fish came on the pause.

OBSERVATIONS/NOTES:   1) Today, out of necessity, we stopped on what I would normally consider marginal sonar returns.  The extended cold snap really did impact the fishery, dropping our water temperatures about 6 degrees in just 5 days.  Fish were hard to find and definitely not heavily schooled, nor feeding aggressively.  Therefore, when I saw any fish activity, we stopped, worked over top of them and figured out if we could get them turned on.  This worked out for us at about 3 of the 6 or 7 areas we patrolled and paved the way to a respectable 89 fish afternoon as we enjoyed a slow warmup.

TALLY: 89 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:45p

End Time:  5:50p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  48F

Water Surface Temp:  52.1F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSE at 10-12 all afternoon

Sky Conditions: <10% scattered white cloud cover

Water Level: 3.00 feet low

GT = 0

Wx SNAPSHOT:

JAN 05

 

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area B0026C

**Area B0025C

**Area 1024

**Area 163 (out a bit deeper than the waypoint, and with 2 short hops)

 

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

Cold Snap Sets Fishing Back a Bit — 60 Fish, 05 Jan (AM)

WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Friday morning I fished with fishing buddies Tim Pham and John Kolbeck.  The two met via an online fishing forum and have been splitting the cost on fishing trips and taking trips of their own ever since.  Tim works in the Austin tech industry and John is a snowbird spending winters in Texas near his kids, then migrating back to International Falls, MN, in the summers where he fishes (and formerly guided on) Rainy Lake, a quarter-million acre natural lake known for walleye fishing and more.

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From left: John Kolbeck and Tim Pham with some of the better white bass we landed today.  Limpsticking/deadsticking came on strong in our last hour for suspended fish otherwise increasingly disinterested in even our slowest vertical retrieves.  All fish came in water with a surface temperature around 51-52F.

WHAT WE FISHED FOR: This was a multi-species trip focused on white bass using artificial lures.

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Friday morning, 05 January 2018

HOW WE FISHED:  We fished primarily in deep, 42-45 foot water this morning.  We fished using three tactics: slow smoking for active, suspended fish and for more active bottom-oriented fish, snap-jigging for non-aggressive bottom-oriented fish, and limpsticking/deadsticking for non-aggressive suspended fish.  All of the fish taken via smoking and snap-jigging were taken on the smaller 3/8 oz. slab with the Hazy Eye Stinger Hook attached.  We used an extended pause while snap-jigging and found many of our fish came on the pause.  The fish taken via limpsticking/deadsticking were all taken on a soft plastic and jighead suspended at or just above the level the fish were suspended at.

OBSERVATIONS/NOTES:   1) Today, out of necessity, we stopped several times on what I would normally consider marginal sonar returns.  The extended cold snap really did impact the fishery, dropping our water temperatures about 6 degrees in just 5 days.  Fish were hard to find and definitely not heavily schooled, nor feeding aggressively.  Therefore, when I saw any fish activity, we stopped, worked over top of them and figured out if we could get them turned on.

TALLY: 60 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 7:20a

End Time:  12:15p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  39F

Water Surface Temp:  52.1F

Wind Speed & Direction:  Calm at trip’s start, building to SSE6-8

Sky Conditions: <20% scattered white cloud cover

Water Level: 3.00 feet low

GT = 40

Wx SNAPSHOT:

JAN 05

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic B0004C – slow smoking and snap-jigging

**Area vic B0014C – slow smoking and snap-jigging

**Area B0025C – slow smoking, snap-jigging, and limp/deadsticking

 

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

2017 ENDS WITH A BANG — 167 FISH WITH CHIEF RANDLES & THE “KIDS”

WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Saturday morning I fished with Temple Fire Chief Mitch Randles, his adult son, Kevin Randles, his adult daughter, Sabrina Randles, and Sabrina’s fiance, Dakota McDonald.  This trip was in celebration of Sabrina’s birthday and has become a bit of a family tradition.  I really enjoy taking this family out — they are just solid people with a love of family.  When the tornado hit Joplin, MO, several years ago, the Randles lost just about everything, but picked themselves up by the bootstraps, dusted themselves off, and made a new start here in Central Texas.  Missouri’s loss was definitely our gain!  Now Sabrina and Dakota have wedding plans for the autumn of 2018 and plan to stay local, so, hopefully we’ll have these fine folks around for years to come!

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From left: Sabrina, Dakota, and Kevin landed these nice hybrid all just seconds apart as a nice school moved beneath the boat and crushed their slabs.

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Chief Randles picked this nice one up on a slow-smoking retrieve.  I noted Mitch was reeling a bit more slowly than everyone else and was doing a bit better on getting bit, so, we all observed his retrieve speed, slowed down, and everyone began doing better from that point on.

 

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Without even trying for them, nor changing our tactics to suit them, we caught at least 2+ limits of keeper largemouth bass today in the 40+ foot water we fished.  As the water cools, the largemouth will continue to go deep, bunch up, and hit slabs.  Just make sure you’ve got your Hazy Eye Stinger Hook on those slabs!!

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And the birthday girl with her best fish of the trip!  As her dad would say, “Happy birthday, Squirt!”

 

WHAT WE FISHED FOR: This was a multi-species trip focused on white bass and hybrid stripers using artificial lures.

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Saturday morning, 30 December, 2017

HOW WE FISHED:   Our first stop came on a breakline in about 34′ where we found a mix of white bass, largemouth, short hybrid, and freshwater drum using sonar.  It is always beneficial to have fish cooperate early in the trip so I can coach folks out of any bad habits in their jigging techniques so they build on a solid foundation for the rest of the outing, and such was the case this morning.  After this first area tapered off, we went looking for more action.  At just before 9am, I spotted bird activity as I scanned with my spotting scope.  We were fortunate to find fish under birds without other boats around and enjoyed 30 minutes or so of undisturbed, fast fishing using a smoking tactic for fish that were both bottom-oriented and suspended from 25 feet down to bottom in ~43 feet of water.  When this dried up, we made four more stops, all under birds, over the remainder of the morning.  We only encountered one lull in the action shortly after the wind shifted from E to N, at which time the wind picked up and the conditions began to feel more “raw”.  The bite went strong until 11:35, then tapered to nil by 11:50.  Right at noon or so we were headed back to the dock with 167 fish landed and a smoked pork butt on the Randles’ minds!!

OBSERVATIONS/NOTES:   1) After a full day of “birdlessness” yesterday, the birds were “all over it” this morning, working from just before 9am through about 11:35 with just a brief lull as the wind shift from E to N came in. 2) The largemouth bass are really coming on strong in deep water.  Without trying, we landed at least 2 full limits of keeper largemouth as a by-catch targeting white bass and hybrid. 3) A very slow smoking retrieve outperformed all others when fish were suspended.  4) Fish have begun to respond well to snap-jigging.

TALLY: 167 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 8:00a

End Time:  12:15p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  49F

Water Surface Temp:  55.3F

Wind Speed & Direction:  ESE4-6 at trip’s start with a balmy feel to the air; a wind shift around 9:40am shifted winds 90 degrees through to the NNW at 4-6, then, the velocity slowly tapered up to just shy of whitecapped (~12mph) by trips end.  The cool dampness and wind chill factor could definitely be felt versus the nearly comfortable starting temperature.

Sky Conditions: 100% grey clouds

Water Level: 2.90 feet low

GT = 0

Wx SNAPSHOT:

30DEC17

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  B0022C

**Area  B0023c/348/1144 (under birds and over a wide-spread area; still had to use sonar to find the spot on the spot)

**Area B0024C

**Area vic 1556

**Area vic 1152

**Area  B0023c/348/1144  (after birds started feeding here a second time)

 

Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle