Great Day on Belton! — 102 Fish with the Duecy’s & Littrell’s

This Saturday morning I met Mr. Mike Duecy and his son, Jacob, and Mr. Brad Littrell and his daughter, Madilyn, for a morning of white bass and hybrid striper fishing on Belton Lake.  The plan was for the two dads to come along as extra eyes and ears, but to let the kids do all the fishing.

Mike and Jacob pose with one of Jacob’s first fish of the morning taken during a brief topwater frenzy that lasted only 20 minutes.


Madilyn landed this nice hybrid striped bass which fell for a well-placed cork rig cast to boiling fish by her dad, Brad.


Jacob landed our largest fish today, a 3.50 pound blue catfish that fell for a moving Pet Spoon.

I have to admit it … I goofed up a bit this morning.  Originally, only Mike and Jacob were going to come on a different date, and at a time when I was launching out of Rogers Park.  This morning, we agreed to meet at 6:30 sharp so as not to miss a lick of any topwater bite that might develop.  By 6:35, I’d not yet seen Mike and Brad, so I called them.  They said they were in the parking lot.  Well, I had quite a clear view of the parking lot and could see they were not in it.  I asked which boat ramp they were at, and Mike responded, “Rogers Park.”   I had done a “cut-and-paste” from the former set of directions into Mike’s email for this trip and sent him to the wrong park!!  I almost panicked thinking my blunder would cause us to miss the topwater bite.  But, (thank you, Lord!) we had heavy cloud cover (to the point of some sprinkles falling) which obscured the sunrise and pushed the start of the topwater bite back enough to save my hide.

It worked out perfectly!  We “met in the middle” at yet another boat ramp and made a mad dash for where I thought some topwater action might occur.  As we arrived, the surface was like glass with no fish yet feeding on top, but, I saw some fish showing suspended just below the surface at 9-12 feet over a 20-22 foot bottom.  We put downriggers down and scored on both rods after just a few minutes of fishing.  No sooner did the kids hook up, than I spotted the morning’s first and only topwater action.  A mix of white bass and hybrid stripers were forcing shad against the surface and devouring them.  I cleared the decks of all obstructions, instructed the dads to lob our cork rigs into the fray, then hand the hooked fish off to the kids to enjoy the fight.  This “family system” worked great, and, in the brief 20 minutes the fish stayed active, my four guests “tag-teamed” 17 fish with very few complications (tangles, knots, crossed lines, lines in trolling motor, and other such Murphy’s Law events that tend only to happen when the bite is really good).

After the surface bite died, we turned to downrigging to mop up, and, while the handful of other boats that had joined in on the topwater action left, we were able to boat 5 more fish until the combination of light and slack winds killed the bite.  We’d boated 22 fish by this time.

Next, it was off to the shallows for panfish.  Today we landed bluegill sunfish, orange spotted sunfish, green sunfish, and blacktail shiners — a combination of 20 to be exact, fishing with bream poles and a combination of worms and GULP!.  The novelty of this portion of the adventure lasted about as long as the supply of fish at this area did — about 35 minutes.

Then it was on to the final phase of the trip — hunting for “popcorn” schools of white bass to be targeted by slabbing and/or downrigging.  We did not have to search long to find aggressive schools of small white bass forcing small threadfin shad briefly to the surface, only to submerge in seconds and disappear.  We relied on sonar to ferret out the location of these schools once they sounded.  The schools were moving much more rapidly today than earlier in the week, and our efforts at slabbing from a fixed position did not go well.  So, we rigged up with twin downriggers and proceeded to “wear ’em out” for about an hour, taking our tally from 42 fish, up to exactly 102 fish.  That made for 60 fish boated in about 70 minutes allowing no time for the kids to get board or the dads to get a break from resetting the downriggers as I navigated and read sonar.

A great morning on Belton!!  Despite both fishing their entire lives, neither Mike nor Brad had ever broken the century mark on a trip before.  To do it with their kids was truly icing on the cake!


TALLY = 102 FISH, all caught and released






Start Time: 6:45a

End Time:  11:00a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  77F

Water Surface Temp:  88-89F

Wind Speed & Direction: Breeze was light and variable

Sky Conditions:  95% cloud cover with light sprinkles prior to sunrise; clouds slowly dissipating to 60% with brighter skies.

Note: Lake has dropped 0.01 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 594.26 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool

Other: GT= 85



**Area 010/012 early topwater followed by downrigging further out

**Area 492 panfishing

**Area 081/1578 slabbing/downrigging for “popcorn” white bass


Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Salado, TX

SKIFF Trip with the Merker Family – 71 Fish, Belton, 14 Aug.

This past Friday morning I met Mrs. Tina Merker and her three children, Kaley (13), Candice (10), and Benny (6) on Belton Lake for the 2015 season’s 12th SKIFF Program fishing trip.

The Merker’s eldest daughter, Kaley, took this long-bodied 20 inch hybrid on topwater.


The Merker’s middle child, Candice, boated this just-legal 18″ hybrid striper on a cork rig worked across the surface.

Little brother Benny took this 19 inch hybrid on cork rig worked on top; and he worked up a sweat landing it.  That’s a lot of hybrid for a little guy!


The children’s father, U.S. Army First Sergeant Benjamin Merker, is currently stationed at Camp Casey, South Korea.  He is the senior non-commissioned officer in a forward support company working with a field artillery unit in support of the 1st Cavalry Division.  He has served for 18 years.  Mrs. Tina Merker is no stranger to leadership, either — she serves as the leader of her husband’s unit’s Family Readiness Group (FRG) which offers grassroots support and disseminates information to the families “back home” while their soldiers are away.

With the lunar cycle right on the new (dark) moon today, topwater action was strong and lasted a long while, aided by a bit of wind and a bit of cloud cover.  All three kids managed to land 5 fish each during the topwater bite as I cast their lines for them and let them retrieve their baits through the frenzied action on the surface.

After the topwater action died, we enjoyed another full hour of solid downrigging action which tapered to nil by around 9:30.  At that time we went up shallow and panfished for sunfish, small bass, and blacktail shiners for about a half-hour.  We closed out the trip working slabs vertically through suspended white bass and, in the last 30 minutes, took our fish count from 47 to 71 as the girls really got the hang of working the slabs and caught fish after fish as I worked with Benny to chip in a few of our own.

During this trip both Benny and Candice earned their “First Fish Award” from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.  Each landed a just-legal hybrid striper as the first fish of their lifetime.

SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trips are provided free of charge to families whose children are separated from a parent due to that parent’s military service, thanks to the Austin Fly Fishers and a network of supportive individuals, organizations, and companies from all over the U.S. All it takes is a phone call from a parent to me at 254-368-7411 to reserve a date. SKIFF is open to children in elementary and middle school, as well as teens in high school.
TALLY = 71 FISH, all caught and released

Start Time: 6:40a

End Time: 10:45a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 79F

Water Surface Temp: 87-88F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSE9-11

Sky Conditions: 80% thin grey cloud cover under a fair sky; dissipating to 10% gradually over the span of the trip

Note: Lake has dropped 0.01 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 594.27 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool

Other: GT= 0



**Area 084 topwater for 1st hour of the trip

**Area 302/1070 downrigging for 2nd hour of the trip

**Area 492 panfishing

**Area 1577 smoking slabs late; popcorn white bass action visible



Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Salado, TX