I post a monthly summary of results so those looking to plan a trip in advance can have a feel for where the fishing typically has been for that particular month in years past. Note that the cooler months (when bookings often fall off) can offer some of the most productive fishing of the year.

October 2009 helped us shake off the funk of the low pressure systems of September, then gave us enough rain in two short shots to put the lake 8.6 feet high.

Regardless, fish have begun moving into their winter haunts and the vertical jigging pattern is coming increasingly into play heading into November.

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 31 October 2009 – 73 Fish

Our cool weather patterns are beginning to fall into place, with vertical jigging in various forms now accounting for a majority of the fish caught. This trend will become more and more reliable right on through February. If you’re a blog follower or have fished with me in the summer months (or both) and you’ve been waiting to experience “electronic sight fishing” where we watch fish respond to our presentations on sonar, this is the time to get on the water with me. This morning I fished a second trip with high, stained water on Stillhouse. The water is still in rough shape, but the weather and wind conditions trumped all else, as usual, and we put together a respectable morning.

Start Time: 7:35a

End Time: 1:05pm

Air Temp: 46F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~64.5 to 65.5F

Wind: Winds were from the W to WNW the entire trip, but light except for a 45 minute span near noon when we had a steady 9 mph blow.

Skies: Skies were clear and bright.

I started off the day in shallow water and moved gradually deeper given the bright, clear conditions today. There are no birds yet working, so all the fish-finding was done the hard way — via sonar. The lake has come down from its peak on Wed. of 8.4 feet high, and is now 7.6 feet high. The fish really didn’t do much in the low light period. I missed a keeper largemouth in the saddle area off Area 245. I then headed to Area 386 and picked up a small largemouth and a crappie. I moved on to Area 532 (off in 12-16 feet of water) and saw little action and so covered a lot of water while watching sonar and flatline trolling. This time spent watching sonar revealed a heavy concentration of shad at 10-12 feet below the surface.

By around 9am, a steady, but still light wind had kicked in and I gave a look over Area 533. There was some emergent vegetation here that had just started growing as the summer growing months were coming to a close. The presence of this vegetation made it difficult to see fish on bottom, but I thought I saw fish mixed in and so gave it a try. As it turned out, there were lethargic, inactive fish lying on bottom in 18-19 feet here, but, with suspended shad also appearing on sonar here, I found very active, very aggressive schools of white bass at 10-12 feet mixed right in with and feeding upon the shad that were constantly occupying that stratus. I chose a 3/8 oz. TNT 180 as that is what the fish were preferring on my last outing and used that as a starting point for this trip. The fish responded favorably to a smoking retrieve with this lure, so I never switched or experimented with anything else today. I caught fish consistently from ~9:00 to 10:30 here, putting 42 fish in the boat. When things got soft due to the slacking breeze, and near-calm, bright conditions at that point, I moved to a deeper but similar area, Area 535.

Here, in 22-23 feet of water, I found the same kind of action on high, suspended fish feeding on that band of shad at 10-12 feet, as well as some bottom oriented fish, although those fish were still tough to goad into striking. Around 11:15, the wind went more westerly, and increased to and then stayed at about 9mph. At this point the fishing ramped up and hit a peak for the day with the suspended fish chasing down anything that came near them, and the bottom-hugging fish also perking up, raising up off the bottom in schools, chasing a smoked slab, as well as a jigged slab. The fish caught off bottom were generally better quality fish than the much small, but more active

73 FISH CAUGHT, All caught and released

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 29 October 2009 – 88 Fish

I launched this morning not really knowing what to expect. On the con side, we’ve had crazy weather, wind from all directions, new flood water come in, and dropping temperatures. On the other hand, this was the warmest day on the end of a warming trend, it was pre-frontal conditions, and the wind was brisk and with a westerly component to it. Stillhouse was 8.2 feet above full pool and fairly dingy. All courtesy docks are flooded and useless, and the ramps are underwater with the waterline now up into the turnarounds. There is a lot of floating debris due to the wind changing directions so frequently these past few days since Monday’s 2.5 inches of rain.



Start Time:7:30a

End Time: 1:35p

Air Temp: 73F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~67.5 to 68.5F

Wind: Winds were from the SSW in the morning starting at 11mph and slowly ramping up to 20+ by 11:00am and turning SW. Around 1pm the temperature dropped very suddenly, the wind slacked off, then kicked up again from the NNW increasing rapidly to 25-30mph.

Skies: Skies were cloudy, but fairly bright.

Upon launching before sunrise I took it slow as there was a tremendous amount of floating debris, large and small. I put out two flatlines and trolled a bit waiting for enough light to run the lake safely. I picked up one barely legal black bass on a Rip Shad in 12-14′ between Area 119 and the shoreline.

At safe light it was off to Area 107/116 to see if the turbidity had driven fish from that fairly consistent location. In about an hour’s time I picked up 14 white bass and 1 largemouth (pictured above) all in 10-12 feet of water, and all on the Cicada blade bait (Jeff has these now at Salado Creek Outfitters). I could tell the fish were locating prey with their lateral line and not so much by sight, as many were caught on the rear hook which never happens in clear water. I could also see fish aggressively swimming after my blade on sonar when I jigged it, only to miss it, then hit it again when it came to rest. One of my goals this trip was to pin down some high water fish locations, so, I left these fish still biting and went looking for more active fish.

I next went and looked over Area 531. Nothing showed on sonar.

At Area 533, sitting in 19-21 feet of water, I found a great congregation of fish literally number in the hundreds. These fish were spread over an area about 30 yards in length and about 15 yards in width. Every time I dropped my slab I came up with a fish or a missed strike, and saw 6-10 additional fish on sonar following the hooked fish. This happened over and over again for a full hour, during which time I boated exactly 50 fish (49 white bass and 1 short largemouth). These white bass were thoroughly mixed in sized from as short as 5 inches, up to 13 inches, with most going right at 11 inches. These fish looked healthy, and most defecated silver feces meaning they’ve been feeding well on shad. Again, I left these fish biting and looked for additional populations of active fish.

I headed to Area 035 and found fish suspended upwind of the face of this slope in fair numbers on sonar. I buoyed a small group of fish on bottom in 26-28 feet, but these fish were very sluggish. They often perked up and gave chase to a smoked slab, but wouldn’t overtake it and strike. I managed only two just-legal white bass here in about 35 minutes’ time.

Next, I looked at Areas 072/034, but there was no signs of life here.

I then headed to the 20-22′ contour off to the NE of Area 555 and picked up just one suspended white bass seen on sonar. No congregations of fish were found here.

Finally, I moved to Area 534. I found a very aggressive mixed bag of fish here including largemouth, white bass, and drum. Over the final 90 minutes of the trip, I put an additional 20 fish in the boat here including 2 drum, 3 largemouth, and 15 whites. The fish were most aggressive early on as the spot gave up 13 fish, then things got sluggish and had I had to work for 2 more before the wind died and then began to shift from SW through W towards NW. During this short-lived wind shift in advance of today’s significant cold front, the fish went on a very brief spree. Seeing 3 separate occasions where white bass were aggressive enough to chase large shad to the surface, I switched over to an aggressively worked blade bait, casting from shallow to deep and working the blade quickly. I ended the trip with 5 white bass in 6 casts before the wind went N, a bit of cold rain began to fall, and they locked down, with 15 more casts going unanswered. The show was now over and it was time to head for lunch!

TALLY = 88 FISH, all caught and released

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 19 October 2009 – 93 Fish

Today’s trip really underscored the impact winds have on fishing. This morning was the first time in a long time we had a wind I could get excited about — slowly increasing in speed throughout the morning and from just south of southwest. This set of conditions virtually guarantees a great day of fishing when it occurs, and our results today proved that out. Of 93 fish taken, 84 of them came in the morning when the winds were SSW. After noon, as the wind got stronger and came out of the east, the bite died down, only giving up 9 in the last 4 hours of the day.

Jacob (L) and Zachary (R) with a pair of crankbait bass taken this windy October 19th afternoon.

Start Time:7:30a

End Time: 7:20p

Air Temp: 75F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~73.1F

Wind: Winds were from the SSW in the morning starting at 7 and slowly ramping up to 18 by 11:30. Around 1pm the wind turned SSE and ramped up to about 22mph, tapering off to 14mph by trip’s end.

Skies: Skies were fair, cloudless and bright.

I headed out this morning and did a little exploring given the current water temperatures, shorter days, and early transition to fall weather.

Before sunrise I fancast a blade around Area 999 probing for some shallow white bass. I got 3 strikes, but no hookups in about 50 casts, and all of these strikes were on the fall, indicating sluggish fish — which isn’t uncommon given the low light conditions at this point. Regardless, this didn’t scream out to me to linger here, so I continued the search.

I first searched over the expanse of water from Area 114 to Area 112 and found schools of small white bass surface feeding on late-spawn shad fry on the surface. You really had to suspect these fish were there to start with, as they were feeding on these small prey fish so lightly and the wind was rippling the water such that there was essentially no visual cue that these fish were there — no sound, no splashes, no spray thrown in the air — nothing but a little “nervous water”. I put 7 fish in the boat, all on a Cork Rig, and then moved on looking for other congregations of fish.

I checked out Areas 293 and 317 and found nothing.

I headed to Area 531 and just grinned ear to ear when I saw 3 ospreys all working over a tight little patch of water, and each of them making dives or partial dives several time per minute. This indicates active fish chasing bait at or near the surface. In this case, it turned out to be schools of small white bass chasing small shad to the surface, and it was the small whites that the ospreys were feeding on. I limited my sonar searching and boat noise by slipping into this action from downwind and cutting everything off once I saw the first solid fish returns on sonar. This was a classic vertical jigging scenario with fish responding to jigging, easing, and smoking presentations, and actively pursuing the 1/8 and 1/4 oz. Rattle Snakie slabs, as well as the 3/8 TNT 180. The 1/2 oz. TNT 180 was too much size for them and my catch suffered when I put that one on. I also experimented with white and silver, and white got the nod as the water is still a bit stained from all the wind and water of late. Once the color was nailed down, and the fish showed a willingness to go for up to a 3/8 oz. profile, I kept the TNT 180 on in 3/8 oz. white as I like to use as heavy a slab as the fish are willing to tolerate.

I an area less than 80 foot by 80 foot, I took 77 fish in about 2 1/2 hours’ time. This catch included 4 largemouth (all keepers up to 3 pounds), 2 drum, and 71 white bass. Of these white bass, ~20 went better than 12 inches, with none exceeding 13 inches. The remainder of the white bass were fairly small, but in good condition, going right at 9-10 inches. By around 11:15a the action began to soften so I headed back in to prepare for the evening trip, hoping the wind would keep up with a westerly component.

As 3:00pm approached, I picked up two local 3rd Grade young men for what would be our 11th SKIFF trip of the season. SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) Trips are provided at no charge to those military children with a parent deployed in harm’s way or who has passed away while on active duty. Here is the report I furnished to the Austin Fly Fishers, the people who raise the funds to make these SKIFF trips possible:


Today’s SKIFF trip was spent in the company of two young men, Zachary Leonard and Jacob Bretthorst. Both are 3rd Graders, both have two younger sisters, and both are very much looking forward to getting their dads back from Iraq. Zachary is the son of Private First Class Daniel Leonard who serves as a medic with the 1st Cavalry Division in Taji, Iraq; and Jacob is the son of Major John Bretthorst who serves as a transportation officer with the 180th Transportation Battalion out of Camp Arifjan.

In order to give the moms of these boys a break, I picked both boys up at their homes. On our way to the boat ramp, I was treated to a recitation of Hebrews, Chapter 11 by Zach who is home-schooled — what a nice touch that was!

As we drove toward Stillhouse Hollow Lake, I asked the boys about their familiarity with the different kinds of rods and reels I had on board, and tried to assess their experience level so I knew where to start once we got on the water. I also covered all the items in my safety briefing with the boys while we were on the road.

I kept a sharp eye on the sway of the trees as we neared the lake. The weatherman forecast winds at up to 18mph. It was blowing every bit of 22mph with gusts higher. I was concerned that the wind would greatly limit our options, and that concern turned out to be well-founded.

After getting launched, we headed to a protected area and I taught both boys to cast a spinning outfit. They both got the hang of that in about 6-7 casts each.

We then filled the livewell so we could revive our catch before taking photos, and headed out in pursuit of our quarry. We first searched Area 110 with Reefrunner Ripshads (200 and 400 series) in Mooneye Minnow color. In about an hour’s time the boys boated 3 largemouth bass, of which 2 were keepers and the largest fish of our trip. The boys did real well at playing and landing the fish into a waiting net. We placed the two legal fish in the livewell to revive and for photos. Once we had strained that area thoroughly, I suggested we give a different technique a try in a different area. The boys were up for that.

We headed to north of Area 329 and I quickly saw on sonar that there was both white bass and shad holding here between the face of the slope and the river channel, over the short flat that runs from the channel to the base of the slope. We put Pet Spoons down in 32-35 feet of water, just slightly staggered. We spent about 75 minutes combing over a fair sized piece of bottom, and managed 5 white bass. The first 3 were small, so, when the last two were caught, and they were larger, the boys decided they’d like to cash in their chips and take pictures of both largemouth and both white bass right then and there. The wind was blowing so hard that I knew a good photo was going to be difficult, so we beached for stability’s sake and snapped a few photos to send to their dads.

I once again offered a change of pace, this time to vertical jigging in some 20’+ water near Area 531 for what I thought might be a mixed bag of fish. We embarked on this effort at around 6pm, and found the fishing very tough from this point on. We managed but one more white bass on a 3/8 oz. TNT slab from a very inactive schools of small whites that were hugging bottom tightly. The boys never did land a fish via this technique, but enjoyed learning the technique nonetheless.

With dark approaching around 7:15p, we did a quick visit up into some wind-blown shallows to check on the possibility of white bass at Area 110 to 116. Th
e boys then got to cast blade baits a bit, but we didn’t find fish there.

Our final effort was made by flatline trolling crankbaits along the circuit from Area 114, through Areas 336 and 319, to Area 343. This lent itself to allowing the boys to take the wheel and get an appreciation for steering the boat and navigating by GPS. I was here that our comedian, Zach, posed the question: “What do you get when you cross a chicken and a caterpillar?” To his delight, I gave up. He announced the answer was “Drumsticks for everyone!” I had to chuckle.

At dark we wrapped up our big, wind-blown, adventure. The boys were grinning ear to ear and couldn’t wait to tell their moms all the details of the 9 fish they brought in today. We enjoyed some reminiscing on our drive back to their homes, and I bid farewell to both with a firm handshake.

TALLY: 93 fish, all caught and released

OUTDOOR EXPO 2009 !! — Bell County Expo Center 10a – 6p, Sat., 17 Oct.


I want to thank all of you who stopped by the booth to speak with me this weekend. Whether you booked a trip, thought about booking a trip, picked up some literature or some good pre-owned equipment, or just swapped fishing stories, it was good to meet you (or see you again). I look forward to serving you on the water soon!

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 15 October 2009 – 26 Fish (PM Trip)

I was expectant tonight as I got on the water for a quick “stay in touch with the fish” trip for just a while before, during and after sunset. When these dry fronts come through, each one seems to spur white bass, hybrid striper, and crappie activity, while having just the opposite impact on sunfish and largemouth. I was targeting white bass on Stillhouse tonight.

Matching forage size is key all year long. This lineup accounts for 99% of my vertical jigging: the 1/8 oz. Rattle Snakie, the 1/4 oz. Rattle Snakie, the 3/8 oz. TNT 180, and the 1/2 oz. TNT 180.

Start Time: 4:35p

End Time: 7:05pm

Air Temp: 66F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~71.3F

Wind: Winds were driven by an approaching dry cold front and came from the NNW at about 16-17mph.

Skies: Skies were clear and bright.

I looked over Area 033 with sonar and saw little so kept right on going over to Area 037. On the NW (wind impacted) side of this feature, game fish arches appeared on sonar both on bottom and suspended off the slope. I fished the 21-27 foot segment of the slope and steadily caught fish, putting 11 whites and 1 largemouth in the boat. With it now established that the fish were using this area, and while they were still biting here, I intentionally left them to seek out other areas holding active fish. This turned out to be a good bet, as I also found fish at Area 035 in 21-23 feet, putting 7 fish in the boat, and I found active fish at Area 110 in 14-17 feet and put 6 fish in the boat here. The fish started to go soft while I was here. I did attempt one last area, Area 034, just as the sun was setting, and did catch one just-legal largemouth out of a bit of random brush on the bottom here, but the fish were done by now and I packed in in.

The early fall is a period of transition. Often times when I’m not fishing with guests, I’ll leave biting fish to find other biting fish. This is one of the most successful means of finding new, productive areas to fish. Fish only have limited times of activity over the course of a given day. If you stay on one spot and fish it during the entire window of activity, then go hunting fish once the window shuts down, you’re not likely to find active fish, and thus are not likely to gain confidence in new areas. On the other hand, if you keep track of areas that are good prospects, and fish them during the heart of an activity period, you’ll eventually encounter fish and can then add that area to your collection of areas you do have confidence in.

TALLY = 26 FISH, All caught and released

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 12 October 2009 – 21 Fish (PM Trip)

I fished just a quick evening trip tonight with a young man from church, Jaylen, who is staying with us while his mom recovers from illness. Blade baits were the ticket tonight for some low light white bass action in shallow water.

See more about these blade baits at the end of this blog entry. Now available at Salado Creek Outfitters!! Give Jeff a ring at 254-947-8239

Start Time: 5:10p

End Time: 7:35pm

Air Temp: 69F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~72.4F

Wind: Winds shifted from E to SE just as we got on the water, and blew at a steady 6-7 mph .

Skies: Skies were leaden grey the entire trip.

Environmental Note: White pelicans continue to migrate south; saw 3 larger terns heading over the lake from W to E to roost just prior to sunset. We’ve picked up another 1.25 inches of rain, now putting the lake just about a foot above full pool.

We got on the water, checked a deepwater dropoff with sonar, found nothing, then checked the edge of a deepwater flat and found nothing, and then spotted two stranded boaters paddling against the wind after their motor quit on them. It was a perfect opportunity to model a “do unto others” situation with Jaylen, so we did just that. We put fishing on hold for about 35 mintues to help out two young men from Ft. Hood. We towed them to their launch site at Dana Peak, wished them well, and returned to fishing. We took a look at a mid-depth section of bottom off a point near Area 419 and saw some bait and gamefish returns on sonar, but that didn’t pan out. We made one last move to Area 116 and finally contacted fish here. We fished about 35 minutes and landed 21 fish including 20 white bass of all sizes, and 1 fair 2.75 pound largemouth. We found fish at first in 12 feet of water, and they moved shallower as the light began to fail, finally ending up in less than 2 feet of water at Area 532 pushing small schools of shad in toward the newly flooded brush on the bank. Blade baits were the ticket.

Just a note on fishing tackle for you who follow this blog. I mention blade baits quite often and had no less than 8 people stop by my booth at the Bell County Expo Center asking about this bait. When I mention “blades” or “blade baits”, I’m referring to the Cicada made by Reef Runner Lures of Marblehead, Ohio. Cicadas are soon going to be available locally at Salado Creek Outfitters. Jeff Warren, the owner there knows what colors and sizes I use, and stocks those. Just tell him I sent you and he’ll know what you’re looking for.

21 FISH CAUGHT, All caught and released

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 10 October 2009 – 49 Fish (AM Trip)

I fished a family outing this morning with Barbara R. (mom) and two of her three sons, Michael (10) and Justin (7). Little Austin (5) was supposed to join us, but got sick, so dad took him to the doctor while the rest of the bunch continued with our fishing plans. This was the coldest morning we’ve had since the Spring, and it was grey and damp as well, but mom’s time to do things like this with the boys is limited, so we persisted despite the weather, and all 3 were real troopers. They all came dressed for the weather thanks to dad’s overseeing that process, and it all turned out well.


Dave (dad), Barbara (mom), Michael (big brother), Justin (middle brother), and Austin (little brother) with a pair of nice white bass we trolled up early today.

Start Time: 7:10a

End Time: 11:35am

Air Temp: 53F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~73.1F

Wind: Winds were from the NNE the entire trip at about 8mph .

Skies: Skies were leaden grey and heavily clouded the entire trip.

As we started out our trip we looked for shallow water white bass, but found them hard to come by. Tough fishing conditions, in addition to the fact that all 3 were rookies when it came to casting and retrieving, put us off to a pretty slow start. We did manage to hook into one ~11 inch white bass, but he shook the hook right at boatside. We stuck with casting from an anchored position until about 25 minutes past sunrise, and then went with a flatline trolling approach. Michael put our first fish in the boat off of Area ___, and about 25 minutes later, Justin put his first fish in the boat off of Area ___.

By now, we’d been at it for a while, the boys had both put a fish in the boat bigger than they’d ever caught before, and we were ready for a little something new. I moved us over to Area ___ and found some shallow water sunfish in a willing mood. We made short “hops” along this area and stayed on these fish for a full 90 minutes and landed exactly 45 sunfish using worms for bait. This was classic American stuff here — bobbers and bluegill!! The boys caught bluegill sunfish, longear sunfish, and green sunfish. On our second “hop”, Michael brought in a green sunfish, which, for that species, was a nice-sized fish going 4.75 inches long. A quick check of my onboard copy of the TPWD’s Jr. Angler records showed that this would set a record for that species on Stillhouse, so we placed that one in the livewell for the required photos and measurements at the close of the trip.

By around 10am, my trio of troopers was getting a little cold, as the temperature hadn’t risen at all, the N. wind was increasing a bit, and they’d been out in these conditions for over 3 hours now. I offered the possibility of baiting up with some live bait so we could have an opportunity at some larger fish to close out the trip while also having a chance to down some snacks and then keep hands in pockets and stay warm while still fishing. This got a big thumbs up from all concerned. We headed over to Area ___ and and I anchored on the N. facing slope which was being struck by the wind. We put baits out, swallowed snacks down, and placed hands in pockets for warmth. It didn’t take long to get our first big bite. It was Michael’s turn to catch a big one, so he took the rod and did his best, but the fish escaped before we got him close enough to see what it was, although I suspected a solid largemouth. So, we went back to waiting and watching. About 5-6 more minutes went by and our front rod went down. Michael grabbed this one and started reeling, but the fish was just stripping line off the reel despite all that. A few seconds into the fight a big largemouth lumbered up out of the water for a lazy headshake about 30 yards from the boat. Everyone’s eyes got big in disbelief. Michael kept reeling, and we finally got the fish boatside. Michael listened real well and manuevered his rod so as to slip the fish into the waiting net. His brother jumped up and down and he got a big hug from his mom. This fish weighed exactly 6 pounds!! Well now of course Justin’s hopes are up that he’s going to catch the twin sister to that big fish. We stayed a bit longer to try to make it happen, and we did connect him with a keeper white bass, but, that big fish was to be one of a kind this day. By 11:35 we’d had enough wet and wind for one day, met dad and Austin back at the dock and took some good family photos, as well as the photos of Michael’s record green sunfish and then parted ways.

TALLY = 49 FISH, all caught and released

Bob Maindelle, Owner, Holding The Line Guide Service and Kids Fish, Too! Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide, Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Lake Georgetown Fishing Guide, Walter E. Long (Decker) Lake Fishing Guide. Offering Salado Fishing, Killeen Fishing and Ft. Hood Fishing

Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 08 October 2009 – 57 Fish

I fished a father / daughter outing today with Jim and Shena S. of N. Austin. After a 50 year hiatus, Jim has rekindled his interest in fishing, finding it an enjoyable way to spend time with his daughter and grandson. Both he and Shena were self-confessed beginners and have been struggling to put all the pieces together while recently trying some kayak-based angling. They came with some very specific objectives in mind including: 1. To learn to read a lake to locate fish. 2. To understand the variables that affect fish activity and determine fishing tactics. 3. To obtain my recommendations on tackle selection and my evaluation what we have in our tackle box. And, 4. To learn to read fishing electronics and to get my recommendations for kayak electronics.

Jim S. with his largest catch of the day, a 4.25 pound largemouth

Shena and Jim with Shena’s 2.75 pounder taken on a blade bait.

Start Time: 7:10a

End Time: 6:35pm

Air Temp: 65F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~74.3F

Wind: Winds were from the S to SSE the entire trip beginning at about 10 mph and ramping up to over 25mph due to compressional warming prior to an advancing cold front due to arrive tomorrow.

Skies: Skies were overcast the entire trip.

I’ve got to say at the onset that this was a most memorable trip, not so much because of the fish we caught, though we did well, but, because of Jim and Shena’s enthusiasm to learn about this sport. I do not exaggerate when I say that this 74 year old fellow brought a 2-page, type-written, single spaced list of questions to be sure to ask as we made our way through the day. It was a neat experience for me to relive my own journey through the sport as I thought of sound answers to Jim’s questions.

As we began our day, I broke out the topographic map of Stillhouse and showed my guests where we’d be fishing and why we’d be fishing there given the season, water temperature, and past experience. We slipped up into Area 407 looking for some shallow white bass and black bass action here on bladebaits. I got a white bass on my first “confirmation” cast checking to see what the attitude of the fish was like this day. I then gave Jim and Shena pointers to get them working their blades in an effective manner. They went on to both catch fish by way of the blades, including a nice 2.75 pound largemouth boated by Shena not 40 minutes into our trip. Before the shallow bite died, we’d managed 8 fish caught here.

Once the shallow bite died down, we checked Area 999 to no avail. We then fished Area 116 at the 10-14 foot contour by way of flatline trolling, and picked up a fish on every pass for 10 consecutive passes, skipped a pass, then picked up an 11th fish here. Our tally now stood at 19 fish.

In an effort to try to introduce a multitude of techniques, we shifted our efforts now to some deeper water and gave both vertical jigging and downrigging a try. Both of these techniques lent themselves well to giving instruction on the use of and interpretation of sonar. We targeted just to the west of Area 135 as it was in line with the now SSE wind blowing around 17-19mph, and the SSE end of the feature was our focus since that is where the wind was impacting. Sonar revealed ample fish within 2 feet of bottom in about 27 feet of water. We began by vertical jigging with slabs, but boat control in the nearly 20mph wind became an issue, and I wasn’t confident Jim and Shena could get and keep their presentation in the “sweet spot” near bottom. We did encounter some patrolling schools of suspended white bass here which allowed us to “smoke” our slabs and hookup. Shena and I both landed fish and Jim missed on this way before things got too rough and I switched us over to downrigging. We boated 4 white bass by downrigging, all on the #13 Pet Spoon, before the fish and bait holding on the high point of this area moved off. We’d now boated 25 fish.

The wind now cranked up another notch to over 22mph and we decided to take a mid-day restroom break. While tied up at dockside, I introduced another technique that Jim and Shena could take back and introduce to 5 year old James (son / grandson) — that of float fishing with a pole. We baited up with a bit of worm and poked around the shoreline, quickly coming up with 2 sunfish and a blacktail shiner — just enough to demonstrate the technique, show how the float looks during the “nibble” versus when the fish fully “take” the bait, etc. The count now stood at 28 fish landed.

At this point we decided to take an on-the-water lunch break while introducing yet another technique — that of live bait fishing. As Jim and Shena downed some groceries, I set up some downline with live shad in the vicinity of Area 529. We had some good success through about 2:00p, then things got quiet after that. Prior to the fish settling down, we landed 3 largemouth, including the largest fish of the trip, a 4.25 pounder, as well as 2 white bass and a nice 13″ crappie. The tally now stood at 34 fish caught, with several more lost on, as is typical when fishing live bait.

Jim and Shena had no other plans today, nor did I. They didn’t mind waiting out the lull in action that I predicted would last until ~5pm or so, and, besides, Jim was only half-way through his list of questions, so, we made another move, anchored in a bit of a protected area (Area 530), let down some baits and ate blonde brownies and talked fishing until things picked up later in the evening.

Around 5:15, some bottom hugging white bass moved in on our shad — we landed 3 in a row and couldn’t keep the rods baited fast enough — an indicator that we needed to get our artificial offerings back down. Shena was quick to adopt to the situation. She dropped a slab and began smoking it and caught fish very consistently for about a half-hour. Jim stuck with the bait a bit longer and also caught fish, although many of the shad were a bit large for many of the smaller white bass to engulf, so we wound up getting a lot of short strikes and tail-struck baits. Once Jim joined in with Shena and I fishing vertically, all three of us were then able to put fish in the boat By around 6pm, that flurry was beginning to slow down and eventually died altogether. That last “blitz” of white bass earned us an additional 23 fish to close out our trip on a great note.

The skies had begun to clear and the wind began to calm as the day crept toward sunset. We took an extra few minutes to crack open Jim’s tacklebox and discuss, section by section, appropriate scenarios in which the various lures he’d purchased would be effective.

By trip’s end we’d accomplished what we’d set out to do and caught some fish while doing it. Jim and Shena departed very pleased that they’d done more than catch fish — they’d increased their own potential to catch fish.

TALLY = 57 FISH, all caught and released

Bob Maindelle, Owner, Holding The Line Guide Service and Kids Fish, Too! Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide, Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Lake Georgetown Fishing Guide, Walter E. Long (Decker) Lake Fishing Guide. Offering Salado Fishing, Killeen Fishing and Ft. Hood Fishing

Belton Lake Fishing Guide Report – 05 October 2009 – 21 Fish (AM Trip)

I fished a morning trip today with father and son team Ed and Blake K. Ed is visiting from Metarie, LA, and Blake resides in Pfluegerville.

Blake and I suspect that Big Ed brought the “gris-gris” down to Texas with him — not good!

Honestly, this is the longest stretch of poor fishing weather I’ve encountered in a long time. Yet again today we had NNE winds and an occluded front with low pressure sitting on us making the fishing very, very tough.

Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 12:35p

Air Temp: 69F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~76.5F

Wind: Winds were NNE at 6-7, turning ENE by trip’s end.

Skies: Skies were heavily overcast and grey for the duration of the trip today.

We got on the water pre-sunrise and headed to between Areas 171 and 165. We had some fair success on white bass taken on cast blade baits in 14 feet of water and less fished lift-drop style. These fish were scattered and sluggish and came one or two at a time. We picked up total of 18 fish here by 9:40, including 17 white bass (14 legal) and a short hybrid.

Once our casting success played out, we stuck in this area and ran downriggers over the same shallower areas, and out to 26 feet as we saw gamefish and shad. This yielded only an additional short hybrid and another legal white bass.

Since we were still seeing fair sonar returns for bait and gamefish, we gave drifting with live shad a try. We had 3 strikes, all resulting in tail-stripped baits — a sure sign of small white bass just worrying the large gizzard shad baits.

We moved on and spot-hopped a number of areas, catching only 1 short largemouth on a downrigger beyond 10:15 am. The spots we checked included from 365 all the way around to 508 (we saw bait at 35-40 feet the entire time but without gamefish mixed in), Area 84, 187, 152, and 344. At these areas we tried a combination of downrigging and vertical jigging to no avail.

If it weren’t for Ed’s good stories about the good old days of fishing in the Gulf near New Orleans, today would have been tough to swallow.

TALLY = 21 FISH, all caught and released

Bob Maindelle, Owner, Holding The Line Guide Service and Kids Fish, Too! Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide, Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Lake Georgetown Fishing Guide, Walter E. Long (Decker) Lake Fishing Guide. Offering Salado Fishing, Killeen Fishing and Ft. Hood Fishing