Garrett Gay Captures “Big Fish” Award with Magnum Belton White Bass — 131 Fish

This past Saturday evening, New Year’s Eve, I fished with father and son team Lain Gay and his 14-year-old son, Garrett, from Kingwood, Texas, up northeast of Houston.  We fished a multi-species trip on Lake Belton focused primarily on white bass.

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Garrett Gay of Kingwood, TX, with an exceptional 15.5 inch Lake Belton white bass.  This fish eclipsed the 15.00″ threshold which qualifies Garrett for a “Big Fish” award, the first step in pursuing Texas “Elite Angler” status.  This fish came on a white slab equipped with a Hazy Eye Stinger hook.

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From left: Garrett and Lain Gay amassed a catch of 131 fish in 4+ hours on the water this past New Year’s Eve.

Lain grew up in Buda, TX, and now makes his living selling dental implants in the Houston area.   He found me doing a Google search while here in central Texas visiting his parents for the holidays.

The trip divided pretty evenly into two parts. The first part, under brighter and windier conditions, we conducted toward the main basin where we jigged for heavily schooled, but typically smallish, white bass in 40 to 46 feet of water. For this deep work we used 3/8 oz. Redneck Fish’n Jigs Model 180 slabs in white equipped with Hazy Eye Stinger hooks. We fished these rigs with an “easing” tactic since the fish were very tightly holding to the bottom.

In 2.25 hours of effort we had already landed exactly 80 fish when I proposed to the fellows that we violate one of my most basic rules of fishing which is “never leave fish to find fish”, all in hopes of catching a few larger whites and possibly some hybrid striper.

The second part of our trip consisted of an effort to put some larger fish in the boat. For this, we headed up into one of Belton’s tributaries to seek out more fertile and slightly more turbid water.

We spent about 35 minutes looking for our first fish in this area, but once we got onto a few fish courtesy of sonar, I figured out what the fish were doing and was able to stay on them right up until the last fish hit at dark at about 5:40 PM.

Whereas the majority of the fish we caught in deeper, more clear water were one year old fish, the majority of the fish we caught in the more turbid, shallow water were two-year-old fish with a few three-year class fish thrown in. Once again, there was no helpful bird action to speak of, save for a few frisky terns that dove down on the water within 50 yards of us for only a few moments.

In retrospect, we were glad we made the move, as the largest white bass of the trip, captured by Garrett, came as a result of this move. That fish measured 15.5 inches which eclipses the threshold length to qualify for a TPWD “Big Fish Award”.  Once an angler captures a certain number of “Big Fish”, that angler then qualifies for Texas “Elite Angler” status.

By the time all was said and done, we had landed exactly 131 fish. The last fish came right at dark, at 5:40 PM.

TALLY = 131 FISH, all caught and released

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:00pm

End Time:  5:40pm

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 68F

Water Surface Temp:  58.7F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSW9-12

Sky Conditions: 40% white cloud cover on a fair sky

Water Level:  0.57 feet above full pool

GT =  50

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1875 –  white bass action on a breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic

**Area 1876 –  white bass action on a breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic

**Area 1392 –  white bass action on a breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic

**Area 1877-1864 – white bass action on mid-depth hump on 3/4 oz. slabs using snap jigging

**Area 1878 – white bass action on mid-depth hump on 3/4 oz. slabs using snap jigging

Bob Maindelle

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

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LGrD-sm7Bo6tDPIv0z4jg

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/holdingtheline/

All in the Family — 105 Fish, Stillhouse Hollow, 31 Dec.

This past Saturday morning, December 31st, I fished with my nephews-in-law, Steven Darst, of Belton Texas, and Alan Kirkpatrick, of Pearland, Texas.

 

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From left: Steven Darst and Allen Kirkpatrick put 105 fish in the boat on a grey, breezy New Year’s Eve.

Steven makes his living as a elementary school teacher with the Killeen Independent school District and as the pastor of a small Baptist church in Crawford, Texas. Allen works in the human resources department of an oil company in Houston.

This morning’s trip targeted white bass on Stillhouse Hollow reservoir. Because I had an afternoon trip booked, and because I had a request specifically to fish Stillhouse this coming Monday, I chose to fish on Stillhouse so I could quickly get turned back around for the afternoon trip (on Belton), and so as to do a bit of scouting for Monday’s effort.

We enjoyed breezy conditions and gray skies all morning, both of which are ideal for white bass fishing. We fished five locations this morning and amassed a catch of 105 fish.

All of the fish we caught were caught on the Redneck Fish’n Jigs Model 180 in the white color and in 3/8 oz. with a Hazy Eye Stinger hook affixed to the line tie. The majority of our catch consisted of one year old white bass, with enough two and three-year-old fish thrown in to keep it interesting. We also landed a handful of largemouth bass. We used both an easing tactic and a snap jigging tactic. We typically began with the more active easing tactic, and then as the fish eased off and lost interest, we would finish out at a particular area using snap jigging.

As was the case on my last two trips to Belton and again this morning on Stillhouse, birds only minimally assisted us in locating fish. All fish except those at our last area were found using sonar, and all fish were related to some manner of breakline.

TALLY = 105 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 7:00am

End Time:  10:45am

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 53F

Water Surface Temp:  58.7F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSW9-12

Sky Conditions: 100% heavy grey cloud cover

Water Level:  0.38 feet above full pool

GT =  0

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 103/1873 –  white bass action on a breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic

**Area 784 –  white bass at base of hump on 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic

**Area vic 1057 – –  white bass action on a breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic in 36′

**Area 1874 – larger white bass in a small school at mouth of cove holding on old drainage feature

Bob Maindelle

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

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LGrD-sm7Bo6tDPIv0z4jg

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/holdingtheline/

Better than Icefishing in Iowa!! — 80 Fish, Belton Lake, 30 Dec.

This past Friday evening, December 30th, I fished with returning guests Steve and Mary Robar who “snowbird” in Kingsland, Texas, in their RV each winter. On this trip to Belton Lake, Steve and Mary invited along their niece, Melissa Haley, and her friend, Kelly Irwin, both from Sioux City, Iowa.

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From left: Steve Robar, Mary Robar, Melissa Haley, and Kelly Irwin with the largest 5 of the 80 fish we landed on this raw, grey late December afternoon.

Steve is retired from finance work as a federal employee who worked for NOAA, and Mary is retired from the medical field where she worked in the x-ray department at a hospital in Denver, CO.  Melissa is a third-grade public school teacher, and Kelly works in a bicycle shop.

After finishing up an 80 fish morning trip just an hour and 15 minutes earlier, I picked up where that trip left off and began searching for deep white bass on breaklines.

Our first stop of the day was our best. We enjoyed 75 minutes’ worth of consistent action, and during this time put 42 fish in the boat. From roughly 2:30 to around 3:30, we were able to find fish, but they were not all that enthusiastic, nor did we find schools near the size of that first one we encountered. By 3:30, we found another loosely congregated group of fish over a 60 yard span holding at the same contour level on a breakline in 42 feet of water. We spot-hopped along this contour, and put white bass in the one, two, and three year class in the boat, as well as occasional hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, and drum. This area held up until approximately 4:45 when I headed back to the shallower main lake area that has produced for me over the past several evenings.

This evening was to be no different – – Area 1001 produced a final 11 fish to close out this evening’s trip with exactly 80 fish, thus matching the morning trip’s results.

TALLY = 80 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:00p

End Time:  5:30p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 52F

Water Surface Temp:  58.7F

Wind Speed & Direction:  ESE8-10

Sky Conditions: 100% heavy grey cloud cover

Water Level:  0.49 feet above full pool

GT =  20

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1023 –  white bass action on a 42′ breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic

**Area vic 1870 to 1679 –  white bass action on a 40-42′ breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic

**Area 1001 – low-light bite on slabs in ~25′

Bob Maindelle

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

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LGrD-sm7Bo6tDPIv0z4jg

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/holdingtheline/

Grandpa Bill & the Peanut Packer — 80 Fish, Lake Belton, 30 Dec.

This past Friday morning, December 30th, I fished with Bill McClure of Leander, Texas, and his nine-year-old grandson, Beruke Mekonen, of Marble Falls, Texas.

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From left: Beruke Mekonen and his grandfather, Bill McClure, with a nice Belton Lake hybrid striper that Beruke attracted, hooked, fought, and landed using a 3/8 oz. slab with a stinger hook attached.

 

Bill works for the Texas General Land Office  and oversees contracts and contractors that service the various Texas State veterans’ homes. With only five or six years to go until retirement, Bill took some mental notes about the layout of my boat, and also how we went about catching our fish this morning. He plans to do a good bit of boating and fishing in his retirement.

Beruke is a 4th grader who enjoys soccer, his Jack Russel/Dachshund mix dog, and peanuts.  I think Beruke somehow managed to eat a bushel of peanuts between all the fish he caught!

After yesterday’s fairly mild cold front moved through the area, we had gray, cloudy conditions, with very light east northeast winds through 9 AM. During this span, we boated only four fish and observed no bird activity whatsoever.

At around 9 AM, the first sustained breeze of the day began to blow from just  south of east at around 5 to 6 mph. The fishing improved instantaneously. As I ran sonar over a deep break line, we located fish holding on that breakline, and they appeared to be well consolidated. Long story short, we fished over top of this large school of white bass for 2.75 hours and put exactly 76 fish in the boat.

The technique was straightforward – –used a small 3/8 oz. Model 180 slab in white (made by Redneck Fish’n Jigs) equipped with a Hazy Eye Shad stinger hook to imitate the small shad these fish were feeding on and routinely regurgitated at boat side as we caught and released them. We simply used a vertical “easing” tactic and put white bass, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, and freshwater drum in the boat.

Bill has already made plans to bring two other grandkids out when he and Beruke return during spring break this coming March.

Our final tally was exactly 80 fish caught and released.

TALLY = 80 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 7:00a

End Time:  11:50a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 44F

Water Surface Temp:  58.7F

Wind Speed & Direction:  Calm ’til 9a, then ESE 5-6

Sky Conditions: 100% heavy grey cloud cover with occasional light rain between 10:30 and noon

Water Level:  0.49 feet above full pool

GT =  35

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 787/682 – 2.25 hours of steady white bass action on a 42′ breakline

Bob Maindelle

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

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LGrD-sm7Bo6tDPIv0z4jg

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/holdingtheline/

Matching the ‘Write’ Guy with the Right Guide — 168 Fish with Mike and Hallie Cox

This past Wednesday afternoon I fished a multi-species trip on Lake Belton with father and daughter pair Mike Cox and Hallie Cox of Austin.

 

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Above: Texas author Mike Cox with a nice 18.5″ Lake Belton hybrid striped bass.  This was only the second hybrid Mike has ever landed.  The first, a 12-incher, came just moments before this one struck Mike’s slab.

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Hallie and Mike Cox display a sampling of the larger white bass that fell for our 3/8 oz. slabs equipped with Hazy Eye Stinger hooks in mid-afternoon over 32′ of water.
Back in September, I was invited by Mr. John Jefferson to speak at the Austin Woods and Waters hunting and fishing club and Mike was in the audience. My topic was a addressing a typical year of fishing through all of the seasons on both Belton and Stillhouse Hollow. While Hallie was home from the University of Texas on winter break, Mike decided to see for himself if the fishing was as good as I had advertised.

Mike started his career as a reporter, with much of his early work done for the Austin American Statesman.  Later, he began writing books and has authored over 20 works, mainly about Texas, including Time of the Rangers: The Texas Rangers, 1900 to Present, as well as The Texas Rangers: Wearing the Cinco Peso, 1821-1900, and Texas Disasters, True Stories of Tragedy and Survival.

Our conditions this afternoon were very good. We found ourselves at the tail end of a warming trend with mostly cloudy skies and a breeze just west of the south.

We were able to get on deep fish in clear water right away this afternoon thanks to some loons diving down on shad and indicating the presence of fish.  In our first 90 minutes on the water put over 70 fish in the boat. There was then a bit of a lull in the action as the skies brightened and the wind slacked off a bit for about 45 minutes. Around 3:30 or so, some low grey clouds obscured the sun, the south southwest breeze begin to blow a bit stronger, and the fish responded well to this change. Over the next 75 minutes we were able to take our tally up to 115 fish before the fish discontinued their feed in the 32 foot water we were fishing, the sending us hunting for active fish once again.

Surprisingly, no gulls or terns fed this evening, so all of the fish we found we found with sonar. Around 4:45 I pulled up on the same area that lit up with fish just prior to sunset last evening, and just like clockwork, the fish moved in, perked up, and bit well right up until dark. We put a final 53 fish in the boat at this area including the very first hybrid striped bass Mike had ever landed. He replaced that 12 inch long personal best just moments later with a nice 18 inch hybrid striper that weighed in right at 3 1/8 pounds.

As the sun set, our grand total stood at 168 fish.

TALLY = 168 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:00p

End Time:  5:20p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 74F

Water Surface Temp:  58.7F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSW6-9

Sky Conditions: 50% cloud cover on a fair sky

Water Level:  0.50 feet above full pool

GT =  30

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1023/678 –  large, deep school of smaller white bass in 42′ giving up 70 fish in 2 hours

**Area 1871 – school of mixed class of 1, 2, & 3 year fish in 32′ giving up 45 fish

**Area 1001 – excited school of fish in low-light feeding conditions in 25′ giving up 53 fish

 

Bob Maindelle

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

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LGrD-sm7Bo6tDPIv0z4jg

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/holdingtheline/

SKIFF PROGRAM’S 2016 SEASON COMES TO A CLOSE — 51 Fish for the Reynnells Kids

As the last day of balmy, 70 degree weather moved east out of Texas, I conducted the last Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun (SKIFF) trip of the year with 11-year-old Emily Reynnells and her 8-year-old brother, Josh, aboard this past Wednesday morning, Dec. 28th.

 

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Above: Emily Reynnells, daughter of U.S. Army Major Steve Reynnells and his wife, Johanna, with the largest fish of the final SKIFF trip of 2016.  This Stillhouse Lake largemouth measured 18 inches.

 

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From left: Emily and Josh Reynnells with white bass that fell for our small, 3/8 oz. slabs.

Like many military kids today, it seems Josh and Emily’s dad, Major Steve Reynnells, has been gone on duty more than he has been at home during their lives.  Major Reynnells served in Iraq from 2010 to 2011.  He was then sent to Fort Polk, LA, from 2014 to 2016.  Then, just when he thought he might get to return to Texas and his family from Fort Polk, he got orders sending him to Afghanistan, where he is currently serving, for nearly another year.  And then there is the training, field time, and schooling that takes place even when our soldiers are back at their home posts that often keep them from truly being at home, even when they are “home”.

I picked the kids up at their home in Harker Heights, TX, with my boat in tow and we headed for Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, a 6,000 acre impoundment managed by the Corps of Engineers.  With school out for the Christmas break and dad overseas, the kids’ mom, Johanna, scheduled a bit of needed respite time without the kids around.  This is one of the most welcomed features of the SKIFF program – providing a break to the homefront parent.

The kids were excited to see whitetail deer along the way, and the flock of coots at lakeside that greeted us as we arrived at the launch site.

The conditions were good for white bass fishing, with some grey cloud cover and a manageable southerly breeze.  Additionally, a migratory population of gulls feeding on shad pushed to the surface by hungry white bass beneath made fish location fairly simple.

Over our 4 hours together, the kids landed exactly 51 fish with Emily’s 18 inch largemouth anchoring the catch.  Using an “easing” tactic with a white 3/8 oz. slab was the key as we held steady over top of the fish using the newest Minn Kota trolling motor “Spot Lock” technology so the kids could more easily look and feel for strikes down 20 to 40 feet below the boat.

THE SEASON IN REVIEW …

Thanks to your donations, contributions, fundraising efforts, scholarships, grants, program discounts, encouragement, and more, we were able to put exactly 44 kids on the water over the course of 19 guided trips in 2016, thus bringing the total number of kids SKIFF has taken fishing since its inception in 2009 to 346.

This year those 44 kids landed 1,081 fish – an average of over 24 fish caught per child.  The grand total number of fish caught since the program’s start now stands at 8,382.

In 2016, seven of our SKIFF participants landed the first fish of their lifetime and were awarded a Texas Parks and Wildlife “First Fish Award”.

For all of this, “thank you” just does not seem adequate, but, nonetheless, THANK YOU!!!!

 

 

Details on the Reynnells kids’ trip…

TALLY = 51fish, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 7:00a

End Time:  11:00a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 62F

Water Surface Temp:  60.0F

Wind Speed & Direction:  Calm at trip’s start, quickly building up to SSW01-12

Sky Conditions: 50% cloud cover on a fair sky

Water Level:  0.45 feet above full pool

GT =  0

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1721 – wolfpacks of fish in ~26′ but pretty tight-lipped thanks to the near calm conditions for the first 35 minutes

**Area 1060 – single large school of white bass holding on a breakline

**Area 091 – single small school of white bass holding on a breakline

**Area 784 – most productive area, and the last one we fished under the windiest and cloudiest conditions of the morning.  Very large school of smallish white bass were holding in 32′ at the base of this hump.  We landed 26 fish in our final 40 minutes on the water here.

Bob Maindelle

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

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LGrD-sm7Bo6tDPIv0z4jg

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/holdingtheline/

Fishing Cousins — 134 Fish, Lake Belton, 27 Dec.

This past Tuesday afternoon I fished with three young ladies aged 10, 11, and 12. My youngest angler was Annemarie Curran, joined by her cousins, Ella and Grace Rinehart.

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From left: Ella Rinehart, Annemarie Curran, and Grace Rinehart put a grand total of 134 fish in the boat under balmy conditions on Dec. 27th.

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Above: Grace landed our largest hybrid right near sunset.

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Above: Annemarie landed our largest freshwater drum from out of over 40′ of water in mid-afternoon.

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Above: Ella landed this 10″ white bass, the very first fish she ever caught!!

Chaperoning the girls were brothers-in-law Mike Curran and Eddie Rinehart, and the girls’ grandpa, Phil Curran, all from the Austin area.

Customarily, I arrive at the boat ramp about 30 minutes before my clients are due. Today, as I waited, the weather had me quite concerned. The thin gray cloud cover we had in place all day began to thin, and the light northeast breeze which never got up over 7 mph to start with, appear to be fading. Gray and breezy conditions are ideal; it we were headed for just the opposite – – clear, calm conditions.

As the kids arrived with their dads and their grandfather, I went over all of my usual dockside orientation items, and by the time we shoved off, a very thin gray layer of clouds began to obscure the direct sun, and a very light northeast breeze at 3 to 4 mph was at least rippling the surface.

The first area I searched with sonar revealed little. The second area I search with sonar revealed even less. As I looked over the third area I’d hoped to find fish at, I probed a bit deeper – – between 40 and 45 feet — and found a few fish. This was just enough of a hint to get me headed in the right direction, and, even though the bite wasn’t very strong here, Ella was able to catch the first fish of her life at this location — a 10″ white bass.

At the next area I searched, I found more fish at around 42 feet, and once we got those fish started, they bit for a solid 2.25 hours which is quite incredible given the nearly windless conditions that evolved as we sat on this area. We used white, 3/8 oz. Redneck Fish’n Jigs Model 180 slabs with a Hazy Eye Stinger hook attached at the line tie to seal the deal using an easing tactic the entire time.  We landed mainly white bass, but also had a few hybrid striper, largemouth, drum, and even one channel cat bite on our slabs.

By around 4:15 PM, as the 77th fish was pulled aboard, the sonar finally went blank and I knew it was time to begin searching once again. As I made my way towards shallower water (anticipating that if we were going to have a low-light evening bite, that it would happen in shallower water) we were blessed to find a handful of helpful gulls just starting to get antsy over top of a school of very active fish pushing shad to the surface where these gulls could get at them. We eased on top of these fish and used a smoking tactic with larger, three-quarter ounce white slabs equipped with Hazy Eye Stinger hooks to provide the girls with a grand finale. In under 40 minutes, we took our tally from 77 fish up to 134 fish with a mixed bag of hybrid striper, white bass, drum, and largemouth bass.

Despite this trip being dedicated to making the girls successful, Mike, Eddie, and Phil all thanked me, expressing how they learned a lot, too, especially concerning the use and interpretation of sonar.

 

TALLY = 134 fish, all caught and released

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:00p

End Time:  5:00p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 74F

Water Surface Temp:  58.6F

Wind Speed & Direction:  NNW4 at trip’s start, tapering to near calm

Sky Conditions: 50% cloud cover on a fair sky

Water Level:  0.51 feet above full pool

GT =  105

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1872- a few white bass by easing from a bottom-hugging school in 40-45 feet of water

**Area 1870 – 2.25 hours of steady action by easing from a bottom-hugging school in 40-45 feet of water

**Area 1001 – 57 fish in 40 minutes fishing 3/4 oz. slabs for bottom-oriented and suspended fish initially located under birds

Bob Maindelle

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

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LGrD-sm7Bo6tDPIv0z4jg

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/holdingtheline

Christmas Eve Fishing with Andrew Zills & Fred Jackson — 163 Fish, Lake Belton

This afternoon, Christmas Eve 2016, I had the pleasure of fishing with Andrew Zills and his father-in-law, Fred Jackson.  We fished a multi-species trip on Lake Belton, expecting mainly white bass on slabs.

 

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From left: Fred Jackson and his son-in-law, Andrew Zills, with the one and only hybrid landed today out of a tally of 165 fish.

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Fred and Andrew with a sampling of the white bass that aggressively fed for a full 2.5 hours under birds, pushing large, 3.5 to 4.0 inch shad to the surface and throughout the water column.
I first got to know Andrew when a man by the name of Dean Renkes, the grandfather of the boy Andrew’s wife is the nanny to, brought Andrew out for a live bait fishing trip focused on hybrid striper about two years ago in April of 2015.

Last December I got to fish with Andrew once again, this time accompanied by his wife, Megan. Andrew is an enlisted man serving in the Army’s Corps of Engineers, and Fred, originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, is the news director at American Family Radio based in Tupelo, Mississippi.

I opted for an afternoon trip today because the morning the winds were forecast to be quite light. No matter what the season, light winds make fishing difficult. Also, we were to have heavier cloud cover this afternoon.  When it comes to white bass and hybrid stripers, the combination of wind and gray cloud cover is hard to beat.

As was the case yesterday, our first hour on the water from 1 PM to 2 PM was slow. There were no birds working and what fish we found were very tightly holding to the bottom. At exactly 2:05 PM, I spotted the first flock of helpful gulls working over fish, eating the shad that the game fish were forcing to the surface.

As I approached this feeding spree at idle speed I watched closely to see if I could gauge the size of the baitfish that the birds were grabbing from the surface. It quickly became apparent that the bait here was quite large – – 3.5 to 4 inch threadfin shad. When I found what I was after on sonar and used the Minn Kota Spot Lock function to hold us on top of these fish, we went with large profile three-quarter ounce slabs in bright white and equipped with Hazy Eye Stinger hooks in order to match the bait size closely. This served us very well.

From 2:05 and until 4:35, we caught fish nonstop taking our tally from the 12 fish we had caught before the birds started working, up to 165 fish for the afternoon’s final tally.

All of this action took place over a stretch of water approximately 1 mile long. We simply spot-hopped after aggressive bird activity.  Once the bird action died away, and once the remaining fish still present on bottom stopped feeding, the cycle would then repeat itself – – active birds signaled active fish, followed by a dispersion of the birds with fish action still remaining sub-surface, followed by an absence of birds with fish on the bottom only, followed by that grinding to a halt and prompting us to look elsewhere for active birds on active fish.

For our efforts today, we landed one legal hybrid striped bass, two largemouth bass, approximately 30 freshwater drum, and the balance of our catch was made up of white bass in the one through three year class, ranging from 10 to 13 inches.

Fred paid me a very nice complement stating that he had learned more about fishing in this one afternoon on the water than he had over the course of his entire life.

Merry Christmas to all of you.  I’ll be off the water tomorrow as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and then back out after ‘em next week.

TALLY = 165 fish, all caught and released

Wx Snapshot:

24dec16

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:00p

End Time:  5:00p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 70F

Water Surface Temp:  57.4F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSE12-14

Sky Conditions: 100% grey skies not quite to the point of precipitation

Water Level:  0.33 feet above full pool

GT =  200

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1868 white bass by easing from a bottom-hugging school

**Area vic. 957 through 740 — 2.5 hours of solid fish action under birds using slabs via slow smoking and easing

**Area 1867 white bass by easing from a bottom-hugging school

Bob Maindelle

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

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Brothers in Arms, Brothers in Christ — 102 Fish, Lake Belton, 23 Dec.

This past Friday afternoon, December 23rd, I fished with Andres “Andy” Cota and Nick Quintana pursuing white bass and hybrid striper on Lake Belton.

 

 

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From left: Nick Quintana and Andy Cota with a sampling of the just-legal hybrid we got into in 40 feet of water between 2-3pm under birds.  We fished for suspended fish when the birds worked, and fish near bottom when they didn’t.

Both Andy and Nick are nearing the end of their one and only enlistment in the U.S. Army as infantrymen in the First Cavalry division. Nick and his wife, Amanda, are from Las Vegas, Nevada, and Andres and his wife, Christel, are from Arizona. As their time in the military draws to a close, both men hope to get on with the Copperas Cove Police Department. I first got to know both men through Memorial Baptist Church, where all of us worship together.

I chose the afternoon over the morning today because greater wind speed was forecast for the afternoon, and that did come to fruition. The entire day was overcast just to the point of drizzle with the ambient temperature hovering between 50 and 53°. A thin blanket of fog developed right around 11:30 AM and persisted through sunset.

Our first hour on the water was disrupted thanks to a fellow angler in need of a tow back to the boat ramp. As it turns out, the fellow flagging us down from across the water was a past client of mine, who also did an on the water sonar training with me some years ago. We actually got down to fishing by around 1:50 PM, and immediately got under actively working birds feeding on shad driven to the surface by white bass and hybrid stripers feeding on those shad from beneath. As we hovered over these fish in 40 feet of water, we put our first 46 fish in the boat over our first two hours of fishing while spot hopping just two or three times over a roughly 100 yards span to keep up with the birds.

After this action died down, and given that the heavy fog and clouds were obscuring the sun to a great extent, I chose to look shallower, figuring that the low light bite would take place earlier than normal this evening.

As we made our way to the next area I intended to try, we found yet another flock of gulls actively working fish, this time in 30 feet of water. We spot hopped twice over about a 1/8 mile span and, in the last hour, doubled our catch and then some. Fishing slabs equipped with Hazy Eye Stinger hooks, we boated fish after fish including white bass, hybrid striper, and freshwater drum, taking our tally up to 102 before the fish quit at dark.

As it turns out, Andy had never been in a motorized boat before, and neither had any significant prior fishing experience. I hope they did not go home spoiled!

TALLY = 102 fish, all caught and released

Wx Snapshot:

23dec16

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:00p

End Time:  5:05p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 51F

Water Surface Temp:  56.7F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SE6-8

Sky Conditions: 100% grey skies with a light but complete blanket of fog over the entire lake

Water Level:  0.33 feet above full pool

GT =  0

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1866 to 682; whites, drum, largemouth and hybrids by snap-jigging and easing

**Area vic. 560; whites, drum and hybrids by snap-jigging and easing

**Area 561; whites, drum and hybrids by snap-jigging and easing

Bob Maindelle

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

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LGrD-sm7Bo6tDPIv0z4jg

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Kids Go On Winter Break as Fish Go Into Winter Mode — 138 Fish, Belton

This past Wednesday afternoon, December 21st, I fished with John and Elaine Wyckoff of Belton, and their three grandchildren, Dacia, Malia, and Gabriel Rodriguez.

wyckoff-kdh

 

From left: Maila, Gabriel, and Dacia Rodriguez of Belton were treated to a Christmas break fishing trip by their grandparents, John and Elaine Wyckoff, also of Belton.  The party of 5 put exactly 138 fish in the boat in right at 4 hours this past Wednesday afternoon.

When weather forced a cancellation of our Saturday, 03 December, trip John was minded to push the trip back to spring break, but added that he and Elaine would like to fish and not merely serve as chaperones. Hearing this, I suggested that we do a winter trip instead when the go-to technique is vertical jigging, which lends itself well to having multiple anglers fishing simultaneously.

We compared notes and I looked at the weather forecast and saw this day’s southerly winds between cold fronts and felt this would be an opportune time to catch fish and not expose the kids to extreme cold as we did it.

This hunch turned out to be correct as we were able to land at least a few fish at every single stop we made today, with some spots giving up 15, 20, 30, or more fish.

Today, all of the fish we encountered demanded the same presentation – – an easing tactic using small slabs equipped with stinger hooks. I have mentioned a number of times through the years how effective this stinger hook is. From mid-December through early March, 50% or greater of the fish caught on slabs are caught on the stinger hook in the mouth first, with the treble hooks simply latching on after-the-fact somewhere outside the mouth.

We caught a variety of species today including two short hybrid stripers, about six largemouth bass, about a dozen drum, with the balance being made up of white bass.

Although we did see birds on the water and in the air today, none of them were helpful in locating fish, which is pretty typical for afternoon fishing.

When all was said and done my crew of five had landed 138 fish in right at four hours’ time.

 

TALLY = 138 fish, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:00p

End Time:  5:10p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 61F

Water Surface Temp:  56.8F

Wind Speed & Direction:  S12, tapering to S4 in 30 minutes

Sky Conditions: 50% high, thin wispy white clouds on a fair sky

Water Level:  0.33 feet above full pool

GT =  50

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 192 – 15 fish by easing

**Area 327/1815 –  a few fish by easing

**Area 1827 –  a few fish by easing

**Area 1635/1820 – 15 fish by easing

**Area 1187/1285 – 38 fish by easing

**Area 1272-1802 – balance of the catch at this last area; all caught by easing

Bob Maindelle

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

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LGrD-sm7Bo6tDPIv0z4jg

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/holdingtheline