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