Report of a Suspicious Vehicle — 142 Fish, Belton, 03 Oct. 2015

On this cool, crisp early October morning, I met up with a party of three on Belton Lake for a morning of chasing white bass and hybrid striped bass. The “ringleader” was Brian Bishop from the Houston area.    Joining him were his nephew, Corwyn Raesz, and Corwyn’s grandfather, Bobby Rusk, both from the Fort Worth area.


From left: Corwyn, Brian, and Bobby with a mess of white bass caught via a vertical approach, after fish were found using downriggers as a search tool.  As has been the case all summer, most of the fish we caught were smaller than these we held onto for photos.

Brian is a computer guy still in his working years, Bobby retired from computer-oriented civil service over 20 years ago, and Corwyn works for an ad agency and focuses on Bank of America as his primary client.

The crew encountered what can only be described as some “Murphy’s Law” this morning. We were to meet at 6:45 AM so as to be on the water for any top water bite that developed. When GPS sent them in the wrong direction, and as they toured through a Belton neighborhood in Bobby’s really-cool looking 1970’s vintage Continental, they drew the attention of local law enforcement. A friendly neighborhood Bell County Sheriff’s Dept. patrolman pulled the odd looking car over just to make sure the occupants were legit.

Convinced that they were indeed okay fellows, the deputy sent them on their way, and they arrived at the boat ramp about 35 minutes late, just as the top water bite was shutting down.  Then, as they went to exit the vehicle (which, by the way had some groovy, retractable headlight covers!!), the driver’s side window stuck in the down position, costing us even more precious time as the topwater bite clock ticked down.

I sped to my best bet on remaining topwater action and we wound up catching 3 fish on the surface before the bright, direct sun shut it down.

Fortunately, we were able to find some deep water fish by using downriggers to probe the depths, catching quite a number of singles, doubles, and triples beginning at around 8 AM. When multiple passes with the downriggers continued to produce fish on every pass, I decided to use the Spot Lock feature on the Minn Kota trolling motor in order to hang right above the fish we were seeing on sonar.  At times, the bottom was blanketed with fish, and stayed that way for fair lengths of time.   We made for “short hops” by moving a few yards forwards, backwards, left, or right of where we first encountered fish, and stayed on fish for three solid hours from 8 AM to 11 AM.

When all was said and done we boated exactly 142 fish including white bass, hybrid striped bass, freshwater drum, and one blue catfish.

As has been the case nearly all summer, most of these fish were smallish, but the numbers were through the roof.

As has also been the case all summer, the three armed umbrella rig equipped with Pet Spoons did the trick for downrigging, and the 3/8 ounce Redneck Fish’n’ Jigs (formerly known as the TNT 180) in 3/8 ounce did the trick on the bottom-oriented fish we slabbed for vertically.


TALLY = 142 FISH, all caught and released






Start Time: 7:20a

End Time:  11:30a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 57F

Water Surface Temp:  80.6F

Wind Speed & Direction: NNW9-11

Sky Conditions:  Cloudless

Other: GT= 65



**Area 1607 & 1119 light, concluding topwater action

**Area 1602/841/1019 downrigging leading to slabbing



Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Salado, TX

Weekend SKIFF Double-header — 155 Fish, Belton Lake, 01-02 Oct. 2015

This past weekend I had the opportunity to take 5 Army kids out on Belton Lake, fishing with the Avery family on Friday evening, and a contingent from 3 different families on Saturday evening.


Laney Avery caught our largest fish of the trip on Friday, boating this  1.75 pound blue cat that chased down her 3/8 oz. Redneck Fish’n’ Jigs Model 180 slab.

Big sister Anna Avery landed our largest white bass of the evening from out of ~35 feet of water using a vertical jigging tactic.

And, with a bit of help from mom, little sister Bailey kept up with her older sisters the best she could.

This was Saturday’s crew.  From left: Mrs. Shaydee Pappas, Emma Tilonsky (rear), Josiah Pappas (front), and Julian Gerena.


FRIDAY: This past Friday evening I fished the 18th SKIFF trip of the season with the Avery family of Harker Heights, Texas. Accompanying me were Anna, Laney, and Bailey Avery, and their mom, Donna Avery.  Captain Eric Avery, a US Army chaplain, is serving a one year deployment with the 1st Cavalry Division in South Korea.

I arranged to meet Mrs. Avery and her daughters in front of their home in Harker Heights so she could follow me over to the boat ramp we launched from on Belton Lake. Our trip divided neatly into three parts. Part one involved some moderate action on downriggers used over deep open water. This allowed the girls to enjoy some instant success, get a feel for the equipment we would be using, and allow us to catch at least a few fish during what is normally a slower time in the late afternoon, before the more intensive feeding occurs near sunset.

Part two of our trip involved finding fish in deep water that were congregated tightly together and more ready to feed.  In this case, instead of downrigging horizontally, we hovered over these fish and fished vertically with 3/8 ounce slab spoons and did quite well.  Always in such scenarios, the first fish is the hardest to catch out of such a school, then once that first fish is caught, the rest of the school seems to loosen up and is much easier to tempt.

The third and final chapter of our trip occurred right at, and just beyond, sunset. At this time, moderate-sized schools of white bass began to force shad to the surface and feed upon them there, thus giving us a visual cue as to their location. Since the girls were very new to fishing, and were unfamiliar with casting, and given that the boat was a bit crowded with five aboard, I opted to use one 3-armed umbrella rig in a flat line trolling array, and one rig on the downrigger kept up above the 12 foot mark, in order to target these very shallow and aggressive fish. When all was said and done tonight, we had boated exactly 90 fish.  Laney walked away with the big fish prize, a 1.75 pound blue catfish caught from among a school of white bass, and on the same slab that those white bass had fallen for.

SATURDAY: On Saturday evening, I met up with Mrs. Shaydee Pappas, her son, Josiah, and two children whose mothers Shaydee had gotten to know through her son’s school, 7-year-old Emma Tilonsky, and 6-year-old  Julian Gerena.  Josiah’s father is a U.S. Air Force Tech Sergeant on assignment in Qatar, Emma’s step-father, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Matt Bryant is currently at the National Training Center in the Mojave Dessert of California and her father, Sean Tilonsky, is currently stationed in Hawaii.  Julian’s dad, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Julian Gerena, is stationed in Korea.

I was thankful for Mrs. Pappas’ help, as I had quite a lively, young crew aboard.  Fortunately, the fish cooperated a majority of the time, and when they didn’t, the snacks Mrs. Pappas brought filled in the gaps quite nicely.

Due to their young age and limited experience, I tried to keep the downriggers going as long as I could.  I am quite thankful for the good engineers at Cannon for making electronic downriggers, as I can’t imagine what my right arm would have felt like after attempting to manually retrieve two 12 pound lead balls for nearly 4 straight hours, and after rotator cuff surgery!!!  The downrigger bite for suspended fish holding at around 27 feet dried up around 6pm, thanks to some moderately thick, grey cloud cover in the west which would obscure the sunset.

As the light faded, we headed shallow and I “parked” us over top of some nice schools of white bass and hybrid stripers using the Spot-Lock feature on the Minn Kota.  Shaydee and I did our best to coach the kids to be successful in using lead slabs fished vertically, but, the manual dexterity just wasn’t quite there to keep the many steps and the cadence of the presentation going effectively, so, we went back to downrigging with the balls kept up high and did nearly as well as we would have otherwise.

During this outing, Julian boated the first fish of his lifetime, thus earning him a Texas Parks and Wildlife “First Fish Award”.

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 youth in high school.

TALLY = 90 Fish on Friday, 65 fish on Saturday, 155 fish total, all caught and released



Start Time: 4:00p both days

End Time: 8:00p both days

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 86 Friday, 83 Saturday

Water Surface Temp: 84.0F Friday, 82.6 Saturday

Wind Speed & Direction: NNE9-11 Friday, NNE5-8 Saturday

Sky Conditions: Fair, cloudless skies on Friday; 60% thin, grey cloud cover in the western sky on Saturday.

Note: Lake has dropped 0.04 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 593.00 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool

Other: GT= 0




**Areas 677, 1604, 1071


**Areas 1601, 1602, 841, 1019


Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Salado, TX