The Bass After the Battle — 45 Fish with the West Virginia Guardsmen

This past Thursday evening I fished a multi-species trip with West Virginia National Guardsmen Scott Piper, Mac McAninch, Floyd Watts, and Phil Arnold. This same crew, minus Floyd, also came out with me this past Tuesday evening and had such a good time that they wanted to treat Floyd to a trip, too.


Fresh from the fight — West Virginia National Guardsman Floyd Watts hit Belton Lake, courtesy of a few fishermen in his unit, within hours of stepping off his plane back to U.S. soil from Iraq.

Floyd, literally, just got off a plane coming in from Iraq hours before stepping aboard my boat.  As we headed out in the 92F afternoon heat, he commented how “cool” it was versus the 120F+ heat he’d left behind, and said 90F was a typical temperature around midnight where he’d just come from.

This afternoon’s bite was a tough one, thanks to unstable weather and light winds. We employed a variety of tactics to put together a total bag of 45 fish.

We first connected with fish via downrigging over a small breakline dropping from 17 to 28 feet. We used Pet Spoons behind a pair of downriggers with the ball set between 14 and 17 feet to get bit. This area gave up 14 fish.

Next, we moved on to deeper water and found abundant, schooled fish, however they were locked down on bottom. We were able to convince a few to strike using a smoking tactic, but results were few and far between. When I switched over to the downrigger, the fish really never budged. Usually, in deep water, and when fish are tied to the bottom, active fish will come up out of the school and inspect the downrigger ball as it passes by overhead. We really never saw this happen until nearly 7:15 PM. We gave cat fishing a try in the meantime as we waited for the sun to get lower, hoping the whitebass would get more active as that happened. The catfish certainly cooperated, but as has been the case all summer, ran pretty small.

Once the sun got behind a thin layer of clouds in the western sky, a few fish responded immediately and began to strike on top water. We got to them as quickly as we can and threw soft plastics on jigheads, catching a few whites and a few largemouth.

As the next 45 minutes passed, the sun set below the western horizon, and during what is normally the best window for top water action, none took place this evening.

We finished out the night with a grand total of 45 fish and talked of the fellows returning for some of the awesome late November fishing after their aircraft returned from Iraq and these Guardsmen returned from their home state to pick them up.

Floyd took big fish honors with a 3.25 pound hybrid taken on a slab worked vertically.


TALLY = 45 fish, all caught and released



Start Time: 4:30p

End Time:  8:30p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 92F

Water Surface Temp:  87F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSE5

Sky Conditions: 20% cloud cover on a fair sky.

Water Level: ~2.80 feet high.  Lake is falling slowly at ~.11 feet per day

GT = 20



**Area 168/169 downrigging for whites on a breakline

**Area 1070/1802 smoking slabs for reluctant, deep, schooled whites and hybrid

**Area 1784/1781 pre-dusk downrigging in <25′

**Area 1762 brief topwater

**Area 020 fancasting for last-light bite


Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)


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