Something’s Fishy at Deer Camp — 138 Fish, Stillhouse, 29 Dec. 2014

As they did around this time last holiday season, Mr. Joe Rader, his son, Joey, and his nephew, Ryan, joined me for an evening of white bass fishing on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.  Around this time of year Joe’s family sets up a week-long deer camp on the Montieth Ranch west of Salado, TX, doing some RV camping, hunting, and relaxing.  For the past two years, they’ve mixed in a little fishing, as well.


Joey Rader with a 1.75 pound largemouth he reeled in from ~40 feet of water.  This fish was mixed in with a large school of white bass and took a 3/4 oz. slab worked along the bottom.  That’s cousin Ryan in the background.


L. To R. : Ryan, Joe, and Joey with a trio of white bass between 13 & 14 inches.


Ryan with one of the freshwater drum we took along bottom on slabs.

Joe only had yesterday and today available for fishing, and I wanted to choose the best half-day window I could.  Sunday was easily ruled out due to a cold, wet northeast wind which offers predictably poor fishing.  This morning was due to be clear, cold (27F with a heavy frost), and still — the clear and cold are no big deal, but windless conditions and white bass just do not go well together.  So, that left us with this afternoon.

As I looked at the forecast beginning last Friday, this afternoon looked like it would offer temps in the 50’s, light but increasing cloud cover, and at least a breeze from the S or SW around 7-10.  This forecast held true and we wound up with wonderful conditions and some pretty hot white bass action as a result.

Due to the bright, low-wind conditions, my first instinct was to start deep and work our way back shallow as the sun’s angle decreased towards dark.  We found our first fish in around 50 feet of water, our next stop was in 44 feet of water, then 40, then 33, and we finished up in 26 feet of water.  As they often do, toward sunset, even the shallowest fish we found in 26 feet of water began to rise up off the bottom and suspended or slowly moved about in a horizontal band of water from 14 to 20 feet deep.  Although a standard vertical jigging tactic worked all day, in this last 30 minutes it was necessary to get our baits in front of these suspended fish, which we successfully did by doing a “slow smoke” tactic, taking our slabs from bottom, upwards ~17 feet to within 9 feet of the surface and adequately covering this 6 foot band the white bass had moved up into.

Ryan, age 10, had a good bit of fishing experience under his belt already, and today added to his store of knowledge some sound lessons on properly fighting fish by limiting rod movement so as not to allow slack in the line at any point in the fight.  Joey, age 6, did great for about the first 2 1/2 hours, then was satisfied to sample the snacks, reel in fish either Joe or I had hooked, release unhooked fish, spectate, etc.  Both boys did infinitely better than they did just a year ago.

This was a great day to be on the water, and great conditions for kids — willing fish that cooperated from start to finish accompanied by bearable weather.  For our efforts we boated 138 fish including 2 largemouth bass, 3 freshwater drum, and 133 white bass.  I hope Deer Camp 2015 will be a little fishy, too!

TALLY = 138 FISH, all but 3 caught and released




Start Time: 1:30p

End Time: 5:45p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 53F

Water Surface Temp: 54.4F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSW7-9

Sky Conditions: 130% high, wispy clouds on a fair sky

Other: GT=25


**Area  946 vertical jigging for 68 fish

**Area  948 vertical jigging for 40 fish

**Area  1451 vertical jigging for 10 fish

**Area  1309 slow smoking for 1 suspended fish

**Area  1516 slow smoking for 19 fish

Bob Maindelle
Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide
Belton Lake Fishing Guide
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)