Happy 8th Birthday, Natalie! — 24 Fish, Stillhouse Hollow, 18 Dec. 2014

This morning I went white bass fishing on Central Texas’ Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir with Mr. Norm Dobias and his granddaughter, Natalie Ansley, in celebration of Natalie’s 8th birthday.


Happy 8th Birthday, Natalie!  You did great!


Natalie Ansley and her PaPa Norm Dobias after a morning of fishing on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.

Norm, known to Natalie as PaPa, came along as a non-fishing chaperone, so all of my attention was devoted to making Natalie successful.  Natalie has 3 sisters with another sibling on the way in March.  She is homeschooled, very articulate, and very pleasant.  She also showed up ready to fish!  PaPa taught her how to cast a close-faced reel prior to our trip, and, from what I understand, she enjoyed that so much she spent half a day casting into a swimming pool.  Norm is retired from both the dry cleaning business and from making a living as an auctioneer.

We waited until the night before to make a call on going today because the weather forecast was pretty questionable — I liked the prospect of grey skies and moderate temperatures, but was concerned about the lack of wind.

As we got going, we were blessed to find a hungry flock of about 5 ring-billed seagulls feeding over some fairly active white bass holding fairly tight to bottom in 25-27 feet.  Without wind and under a light fog, I knew these fish would be difficult for a “rookie” to catch via vertical jigging, so, I went with a downrigging approach, using twin ‘riggers each equipped with one White Willow Spoon set only 8-10 feet behind the ‘rigger ball.

After that first flock of gulls dissipated, a second flock of gulls organized over top of another patch of feeding fish in 28-30 feet of water about 500 yards away.  We rigged up the exact same way as before and were able to add another 4 fish to our tally by running our ‘rigger balls ~3 feet off bottom.

By around 9:50, this second flock of gulls had dissipated, so we headed out to look for more bird action.  Once again we found it, this time in the form of a small flock of terns working over fairly shallow 12-15 foot water.  We put out crankbaits on both sides of the boat to flatline troll to try to find fish since the terns were covering a pretty expansive area.  Once we found fish willing to bite and/or a concentration of fish on sonar, we stopped and worked bladebaits near bottom to exploit what we’d found.  Our pre-trip casting review at the boat ramp came in handy here, as Natalie was capable of making straight 40+ foot casts effectively, and then effectively working her bait back to the boat, as well.  She hooked and landed a number of white bass without any assistance whatsoever.

By 10:55 the water turned glassy smooth, the birds had gone to roost, and the fishing died hard.  We called it a day with 24 fish caught on Miss Natalie’s big birthday fishing adventure.


TALLY = 24 FISH, all caught and released






Start Time: 7:10a

End Time:  10:55p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  49F

Water Surface Temp: 57.3F

Wind Speed & Direction:  Light and variable

Sky Conditions: 100% heavy overcast bordering on light fog

Other: GT=20


**Area  978 downrigging for 9  fish under low-light conditions and gulls

**Area 1501 downrigging for 4 fish

**Area 052 through 1351 – flatline trolling to find fish and then working bladebaits horizontally to increase efficiency, 11 fish

Bob Maindelle

Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide

Belton Lake Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)