This morning I fished with father-and-son team Curtis and Josh Wright from the Austin area. We specifically pursued white bass on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir. This was the Curtis’ 5th trip with me, and Josh’s 3rd.
L to R: Curtis and Josh Wright with a sampling of the 110 fish we caught today immediately following the passage of a complex of showers that dropped 1/4″ of rain overnight and left moderate temperatures, grey skies, and a NE breeze in its wake.
Josh is a 15-year-old high school student now on winter break from the Austin Independent School District, and Curtis is part-owner of a small business in Austin focused on optimizing loan portfolio performance for those dealing with loan programs in banking, education, and more.
The whole concept of going on a guided trip with me this day started the day before when Curtis contacted me asking for a referral for some solid coastal angling this time of year. I referred him to Cajun Phil Broussard’s “Cajun Paradise Lodge” operation on Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana after my friend and fellow guide Bruce Shuler of Shuler Outdoors recommended it to me.
After considering the time, distance and expense of a trip to Louisiana, Curtis decided to “keep it local” and gun for white bass on Stillhouse Hollow instead.
We experienced a ¼” of rain overnight, but, as I prepared for our trip beginning around 5:15am, it was clear that the rain would be moving off to the east by trip time, and a really good weather situation would be developing. I saw this exact same set of circumstances develop most recently on the day of the big Fishing for Freedom tournament on Lake Belton – as soon as the rain passed but while the grey clouds were still present, the fishing just went off the charts.
As we got going this morning, we enjoyed helpful bird activity courtesy of both gulls and terns right up until around 10:30am. These birds showed the way to two distinct areas where white bass were actively feeding on bait. The first area was in 22-25 feet of water, and the second was in 40-44 feet of water. We put 24 fish in the boat by slabbing with white ¾ oz Redneck Fishn Jigs model 180 slabs at the first area we fished, and 35 more fish at the second area we fish under birds, taking our tally up to 59 fish. All of the fish on these first two areas were solid, average Stillhouse white bass, going right at 12-13.5 inches. As the last birds departed from this area, we were then on our own to find additional fish “the hard way”, via sonar.
There are a number of deep-water areas that seem to activate in the winter and on a north wind, so, I began to look over such areas. We were fortunate to find fish all over the very first area I checked, and we were able to add an additional 33 fish to our tally via vertical jigging, taking our total to 92 fish. As we worked over this area for about 45 minutes, we saw the fish slow down significantly in the last 15 minutes here. As we slabbed, we found it necessary to allow our slabs to hang motionless for ~4 seconds or so to draw strikes versus the shorter pause time we had been using up until this point. About 4 of 5 fish on this area were smallish fish.
With 92 fish now boated and the “beginning of the end” before us (indicated by the absence of birds and the slowdown of the fish activity), I hoped we had enough time in this feeding window to break the 100 fish mark.
I headed to another open-water area that often lights up on a north wind, and, although there were fish on it, they were very stubborn. We landed just 2 fish in about 10 minutes of effort. I backed off of these fish, and looked with sonar just a few yards in all directions, thinking if the school was well-dispersed enough that we could fool a few more fish into biting, even if it took multiple “short hops” to get our lures in front of the few still-active fish amongst a population of increasingly inactive fish. As it turned out, the very first “hop” we made, about 15 yards NW of our initial stop had enough willing fish on it to allow us to meet and then exceed our goal. Over the next 25 minutes we put a final 16 fish in the boat, taking our grand total for the day up to 110 fish, including 1 largemouth, 4 freshwater drum, and 105 white bass, including the single largest white bass of the trip taken early on by Curtis, which taped in at 14.25”.
All but one of our fish today was taken on slabs fished vertically.
TALLY = 110 FISH, all caught and released
GUIDE’S WEBSITE: http://holdingthelineguideservice.com/
Start Time: 7:20a
End Time: 12:30p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 48F
Water Surface Temp: 57.3F
Wind Speed & Direction: NE10-13
Sky Conditions: 100% heavy overcast following a ¼” overnight
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**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
Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide
Belton Lake Fishing Guide
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)