This morning I went white bass fishing on Central Texas’ Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir with Jim Mobley and Elwood Harmon, long-time friends and neighbors from Harker Heights, TX.
Elwood Harmon caught this magnum-sized 16.50 inch white bass on Stillhouse in 18-20 feet of water on a bladebait. White bass of this quality are quite rare on our clear, infertile, limestone lakes of Central Texas. Elwood earned a TPWD Big Fish award for landing this fish.
Just minutes after Elwood boated his magnum white bass, Jim came up with a 14.75 inch white bass which, on most days, would take big fish honors on Stillhouse or Belton.
Jim grew up in this area and remembers walking the banks of the now-inundated Lampasas River before Stillhouse Hollow was impounded in 1969; he works for an accounting firm in Killeen. Elwood is a Vietnam veteran who retired after 21 years of service in the U.S. Army, and went on to a second career in the car business. He is originally from northeastern Maine (and still has that great “Down East” accent!).
As I watched the weather forecast develop beginning last Thursday, it called for a mild, dry cold front to push into the area overnight Sunday and into the daytime hours on Monday. This typically bodes well for fishing at least until the water temperatures drop into the low 50’s or high 40’s, so, I gave Jim a call and we put the trip on the books.
The fishing lately has been bird-oriented in the early hours of my morning trips, followed by solid fishing in deeper water in late morning after the birds dissipate.
Right on cue, as Jim and Elwood were making their way down the boat ramp to meet me, the first flock of gulls began working over open water, so, we skipped a number of “formalites” and made a beeline for the birds. I found fish under birds in three distinct locations this morning, however, at the first two, the fish were not nearly as cooperative as the number of birds and those birds’ activity level would indicate. We actually had more birds working over us than during any single trip so far this season, yet had a pretty average start, putting just 13 fish in the boat by the time the first 90 minutes of the trip had gone by. These fish came primarily on horizontally worked bladebaits, with a few more added by way of slabbing on bottom. An attempt at downrigging drew no strikes.
The third flock of birds we encountered helped us out a whole lot more than the first two. This time we had terns working the fish instead of gulls like we had at the first two areas, and, these fish were in shallower water (16-20 feet versus 24-27 feet). We cast Cicadas directly into the increasing wind and worked them close to bottom all the way back to the boat, adding an additional 24 fish to our tally over the two hours we spent working for the fish in this manner. The fish were definitely clustered together — with 3 of us casting, it was not uncommon for 2 or all 3 of us to hook up at the same time, nor was it uncommon for all of us to go without a strike for a spell between encountering such clusters. Out of this area Elwood pulled a really healthy 16.5″ white bass (which will earn him a TPWD Big Fish Award), and just minutes later, Jim pulled a 14.75″ white bass — both exceptional fish for our relatively infertile limestone lakes here in Central Texas. Most of our fish from this area went right at 12.75″.
Around 11:15, this activity dried up and we set out looking in deeper water for more heavily schooled white bass. We looked over 2 areas that had been producing well on the murky southerly winds we had up until Saturday, but neither of these panned out. We finally caught up with a moderately-sized school in about 32 feet of water and went to work vertically jigging for them. No sooner did we let down than Jim and I both came up with fish, and the action continued for about 40 minutes, albeit for fairly small fish.
By around 12:15, this deepwater action had ground to a halt, all bird life was sleeping on the shore, and it was apparent the morning feed had run its course. We ended up with exactly 50 fish for the morning.
TALLY = 50 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:15a
End Time: 12:20p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 61F
Water Surface Temp: 58.1F
Wind Speed & Direction: W7 increasing to WNW12 by trip’s end
Sky Conditions: Cloudless fair skies.
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 977 for 5 fish under low-light conditions and gulls
**Area 1312/1310 for 8 fish under gulls
**Area 1167/303 spot-hopping for 24 fish on bladebaits (best quality fish here)
**Area 981 vertically jigging for 13 fish (most small fish from a single school)
Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide
Belton Lake Fishing Guide
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)