Belton Fishing Guide Report – 12 August 2010 – 25 Fish

I fished an evening trip on Belton Lake today with William L. of Las Vegas, NV, and 15 year old son, Casey. The family is new to the area and getting acquainted with some of our local outdoor options, and so booked a trip with me to see what mid-summer Central Texas fishing is like.

Casey with his sweet 7.25 pound hybrid striped bass which measured 25.50 inches.

William and Casey with a trio of keeper that fell for our downrigging program.

The pair had some previous experience fishing for school-sized striped bass on Lake Mead and other Colorado River chain lakes out west, but had never downrigged before. I was impressed in that after I explained to them what we’d be doing, they researched the method on the internet so they had some idea of what to expect, and were looking forward to putting theory into practice. I explained that this was the single most effective tactic in the heat of the summer unless (very unpredictable) topwater action broke out.

So, we met around 5:30pm and got to work. We had a very quiet first hour on the water, hooking 5 fish and only boating 2, including a single white bass at Area 472, and another just east of Area 478.

Around 6:30, we made our way over to Area 084 and planned, based on solid sonar returns showing bait and gamefish here, to set up with a series of staggered ellipses. Well, about 40 yards and about as many seconds after setting our first ball down to depth, we were fast onto our first of 23 fish to be taken from this area — a circuit just a few yards W. of Area 084, and oriented N and S.

We kept the program going by first increasing our bait size (changing from P12’s to P13’s that I made), then going from silver to white. Over the next 90 minutes we boated 8 keeper hybrid including one of our better hybrid of the year, a 25.50 inch, 7.25 pounder that Casey fought to the boat while doing really well and keeping his calm. We also boated 3 other short hybrid, and 11 more white bass.

I looked every so often for topwater, but saw none, as the SE wind was blowing ~12mph and making the surface a bit rough to observe. I spoke with another Belton “regular” and he went our specifically in search of topwater, but, judging by how quickly he returned, I suspect he found none.

By dark, we were still graphing fish galore, but they’d done all they were going to do, so, we called it a great day and headed back in.

Both men boated personal best fish on this trip, with William putting a 5.00 pounder over the side, and, of course, with Casey sliding his 7.25 pounder into the net.

Great job, fellows!!

TALLY = 25 FISH, all caught and released

Today’s conditions:

Start Time: 5:30pm

End Time (AM): 8:40pm

Air Temperature at Trip’s Start: 98F

Water Surface Temperature: 88.1F

Winds: SSE7-12

Skies: Fair and partly cloudy.

Lake Georgetown Instructional Fishing Trip — 12 Aug. 2010 – 12 Fish

We did something a little different today. I was contacted by Mr. Pitt G. of Austin who had fished with me once before about a year ago. He and his wife, Vicky, have 10 grandchildren and they own a fairly well-equipped fishing boat, but aren’t using it to it’s full potential. Pitt wanted me to take him out on a body of water close to his home and show him how the equipment I rely on works in hopes of being able to enjoy some success when he takes his grandkids.

Vicky with a short hybrid striper she took on topwater this morning during a very light feed.

Pitt and Vicky with a mixed bag taken on a tough, bright, still Texas day in August.

We began our day looking over the span of water covered by Areas 653, 654, and 655. The skies were bright with a light WSW breeze blowing. I suspected we might find some topwater action here, and, just after sunrise, those suspicions were confirmed. The fish were in small wolfpack and not heavily schooled up, and were feeding near, but not on, the surface. This made for a tough situation, as we only saw fish here and there, and even then only for seconds at a time. Nonetheless, as Pitt and Vicky worked out their casting kinks, they each boated a fish on topwater baits and hooked and lost others.

Finally, near Area 655, we encountered two larger schools of white bass, both over 14 feet of water. This told me the fish were a bit shallower than we’d been looking up to this point, so, with surface action waning, we hooked up the downriggers and ‘rigged up 2 more fish right off the bat.

Things here settled down as the winds died and the sun’s intensity increased, so, we headed on to Areas 404 and 398 and trolled staggered ellipses over this area watching sonar closely. We found pretty solid gamefish returns, but no shad here at all. We did manage to land two solid white bass holding at 14 feet deep over 24-25 feet of water here (close to Area 404), but, not seeing any bait made me decide to move on.

We headed to Areas 656-657 and again trolled a series of staggered ellipses here where, on our initial approach, we’d graphed a several large schools of shad holding along the bottom in 14-16 feet, and then saw two small, briefly appearing schools of white bass working on the top in the same area. We boated only 1 largemouth bass here, but lost 3 other fish that were on for several moments but then shook off.

By around 11 or so it was getting pretty darn hot and windless, so, we decided to call it a day at that point.

We started making our way back in and along the way stopped and fished some man-made cover at Area 652 with bream rods and slipfloats to give Pitt and Vicky an option for the younger grandkids whenever sunfish are accessible. In less than 10 minutes we boated 5 bluegill sunfish allowing them to see the effectiveness and simplicity of this method of angling.

By finishing time, I was able to 1) introduce the pair to several reliable areas to look for fish in this summer season on Georgetown Lake, 2) fish with topwater gear, 3) fish with downrigging gear, 4) fish using the “lift-drop” method with jigs for bottom-hugging fish, 5) use slipfloat rigs for sunfish, 6) differentiate gamefish “signatures” vs. rough fish splashes on topwater, and 7) interpret sonar readings of gamefish and baitfish. This was a lot to cover in a short time span, but, once each discipline is practiced again the slope of the learning curve will lessen and success will come. Bottom line: there is still no substitute for time spent on the water.


Today’s conditions:

Start Time (AM): 6:40am

End Time (AM): 11:25am

Air Temperature at Trip’s Start: 78F

Water Surface Temperature: 87.6F

Winds: 0-3 from the WSW

Skies: Clear and bright.

Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide Report — 09 August 2010 — New Lake Record!!

I fished a morning trip today with returning guests David (dad), Jack (12 year old son), and Jay (almost 9 year old son) of Temple, Tx. As David and I discussed the short list of options for the very hot water conditions we’re currently experiencing, we agreed to go with the (very effective) downrigging approach for as long as the boys remained enthusiastic about it, and then to fish for sunfish up shallow, or cast to surface feeding fish if the opportunity presented itself.

Jay’s 8.375 inch, 0.75 pound bluegill sunfish — a new Stillhouse Jr. Angler Lake Record!!

David grins as both boys work the rods after a double hookup — one of several we enjoyed on this day of solid white bass action.

As we got going, the air temp was 76 F and the water surface temp. was a shade over 87F. There was not a cloud in the sky and the wind was very slight, so it was shaping up early to be another hot, bright day in a string of very hot, bright days.

I very thoroughly covered downrigging with the trio so they could participate to the fullest extent by rigging their own lines and then reaping the rewards of their own labors. Long story short, we had a solid 3-hour long downrigger bite by very healthy 12-14 inch white bass from our start time to around 9:45am. We found this action first between Area 644 and ARea 444, then moved over to Area 205 for the last 30 minutes of the “window”. Over this span of time we boated 38 fish including 3 largemouth, 1 drum, and 34 white bass. Every fish came on small silver Pet Spoons as this closely imitated the size of the forage the fish regurgitated as we boated them. By 9:45 or so the fish were thinning out and, as is often the case with kids, the novelty of this action-packed method was wearing off a bit.

The boys jumped at the chance to changeup and do some shallow water panfishing, so, we changed gears and headed for hydrilla with slipfloat rigs and struggled a bit at Area 189, but then cashed in at Area 231, boating exactly 40 sunfish in about an hour and 45 minutes’ time. Of these sunfish, 39 were bluegill, and the other was a longear (which is a very unusual ratio). One of the highlights of the trip came when Jay’s ultralight rod bent unusually deeply and over the side came a jumbo sunfish that measured 8.375 inches in length and 0.75 pounds. I suspected that was going to eclipse the current lake record and, after checking my on-board set of water body records, I congratulated Jay on catching a new lake record.

By 11:30 the novelty had worn off on this method, too and with the breeze dying and the temperatures rising, dad and I decided to call it good day at that point.

TALLY = 78 FISH, all caught and released

Today’s conditions:

Start Time (AM): 6:30am

End Time (AM): 11:30am

Air Temperature at Trip’s Start: 76F

Water Surface Temperature: 87.8F

Winds: SW3-5

Skies: Fair and partly cloudy.

SKIFF Trip #7 for the 2010 Season – 07 August 2010 – 26 FISH

The following is a copy of my report to the Austin Fly Fishers (AFF). The AFF raises the funds necessary to send the children of deployed soldiers on free fishing trips while dad or mom is away. I take the lead on coordinating and conducting the trips and provide a report like the one that follows after each trip…

Dear Austin Fly Fishers,

This morning, Saturday, August 7th, I was joined by two really fine young men, 11 year old Benjamin Goode, and his younger brother, Caleb, who turned 10 today! We fished this, the 7th SKIFF trip of the 2010 season, on Stillhouse Hollow.

Mrs. Katherine Goode and her boys, Benjamin (R) and Caleb (L) with 2 of their 26 fish caught today

The boys’ father, Lieutenant Colonel Keith Goode is a deployed U.S. Army chaplain serving with the Third Armored Corps (III Corps) in Baghdad, Iraq. He’s in the middle of a 12 month deployment and is to return in January/February 2011. If the boys told me once, they told me a dozen times — “But he’ll be back on R&R in September.” They sure are looking forward to that.

These boys are 2 of 10 (yes, you read that correctly, 10, children) in the Goode family which range in age from 2 to 19. The boys are home-schooled, very well-mannered, and informed me they are both fully capable of changing a mean diaper!

The boys’ mom, Mrs. Katherine Goode, heard of SKIFF through Mrs. Crowley, another Army chaplain’s wife, who attended a previous SKIFF trip in late June of this year with her two children.

As we got underway today, I taught the boys how to cast a spinning rig just in case we ran into some topwater action. However, most of the fish I’ve been catching lately have been taken on downriggers, so we spent a good bit of time making sure the boys understood the in’s and out’s of that gear, too.

Our first stop of the morning came near Area 041, a deep dropoff, and the water to the N and NW of it, up into 25 feet or so. The fish we found on sonar appeared to be white bass, and they were holding just above the well-defined thermocline in 24-27 feet of water. We got two rods down right over their heads rigged up with white and silver Pet Spoons and went to work. After boating 5 or 6 fish and going through the rigging process each time with both boys, they got the hang of things and were doing everything themselves from that point on.

The boys worked really well together by taking turns on the rods so they each caught the same number of fish. They also helped one another out by reeling up the downrigger ball for the guy fighting his fish so the fish didn’t get tangled on the hardware.

By 9:30, we’d boated 24 fish (21 white bass, 2 largemouth, and 1 drum) and found the action getting soft here.

We moved on to Area 644 and searched for fish and bait with sonar. My eyes were glued to the screen, but I asked the boys to keep a lookout for jumping fish and diving birds. All of the sudden, Ben says, “I just saw a fish jump!”. Then Caleb chimed in, “Oooh, I just saw one, too!”. As I looked around, I could see we were on top of the start of a topwater feed by largemouth bass targeting small 1-3 inch long shad. Equipped with their casting lessons, the boys went to work casting at every fish near and far as the largemouth showed themselves individually and in schools.

Under such conditions, however, these largemouth are very tough to catch. The water is gin clear, the skies were bright, and the winds were nearly slack. If a fish is to be caught, the cast has to be very quick and very accurate to present a bait while the fish are still in the act of chasing a particular shad. Try as they might, the boys just couldn’t make it happen in this scenario. Before we left, I hooked up on 2 largemouth and passed the rod off so they each got at least some small reward for all the effort they put in on these tough fish.

By trip’s end we’d boated 26 fish. We kept our two largest white bass in the livewell so we could take a photo with mom at the dock. We met Mrs. Goode, patiently waiting in the minivan, at the appointed time of 10:45 and sent the boys on home with t-shirts, ball caps, and tackleboxes in tow, and big plans for a Chuck E. Cheese birthday bash later in the day for Caleb.

What a great day on the water.

Thank you all for making this possible … next Saturday I have a trip scheduled for 2 more of the Goode boys — John (13) and Daniel (8). I can’t wait!!

Take care,

–Bob Maindelle

Today’s conditions:

Start Time (AM): 6:45am

End Time (AM): 10:45am

Air Temperature at Trip’s Start: 76F

Water Surface Temperature: 90.1F

Winds: SW3-6

Skies: Fair and partly cloudy.