WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Saturday morning I fished our only locally available option — Stillhouse Hollow — with co-workers Ray Elliot and Drew Kelm of CSA Construction, as well as Drew’s wife, Jessie, and Ray’s nephew, Bobby. Drew is part of the crew constructing the new drinking water treatment plant adjacent to the Kempner Water Supply Corp. plant on Stillhouse. All but Bobby came out with me once before around this same time in early November last year when our conditions were much more conducive to catching a nice bunch of fish.
With so much environmental change occurring over such a short period of time the normally excellent fishing (often on par with or even better than fishing during the spring warmup in March and April) simply hasn’t materialized, and, I don’t know if it will this season. Not only did our lakes rise nearly 15 feet in a matter of hours, but the temperature fell from the high 70’s to the mid-60’s. Additionally, there is quite a flow of accumulated flood water being released from both Belton and Stillhouse now. Belton’s flow is nearly 4,000 cfs, and Stillhouse’s flow is nearly 2,000 cfs. Adding insult to injury, our most severe cold front just passed through on Thursday, dropping temperatures into the 40’s all day Saturday, and another reinforcing cold front moved in overnight (Sunday into Monday). We just can’t seem to get any traction with any manner of stability in the weather.
From the left, that’s Drew, Jessie, Ray (who brought his own lawnchair and the best in “red dirt” music, complete with portable, waterproof speakers), and Bobby.
WHAT WE FISHED FOR: This was a multi-species trip focused on white bass.
WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow
WHEN WE FISHED: Saturday morning, November 10, 2018
HOW WE FISHED: I covered A LOT of water with sonar, primarily looking for bait, assuming gamefish would not be too far away. We found fish in 2 distinct areas, one on the main basin and one in the upper third of the reservoir. The fish we caught from the first area were caught via a smoking tactic using 3/8 oz. white Hazy Eye slabs with Hazy Eye Stinger hooks attached. These fish were suspended when I first found them on sonar, and they responded well to thumping, consolidating under the boat at 20-25 feet deep over a deeper bottom. A moderate “smoking” retrieve did the trick for these fish, although many fish passed on the presentation, as well.
The second distinct population of fish we found were in about 52 feet of water on the lake’s main basin. These fish were also in an area with an abundance of bait, however, these fish presented on sonar as tightly bunched schools holding on or within 3-4 feet of the bottom. These fish were much more aggressive — as soon as we got Spot Locked over top of them using the Ulterra and got our slabs down to them, they immediately responded to a smoking tactic with a moderate retrieve. However, as is often the case on “cold front fish”, the feeding spree was short-lived. Although the fish were still present in good numbers, they just turned off and only occasionally could one then be duped into taking a slab.
We wound up with exactly 30 fish today. I was thankful that all aboard had a good bit of prior fishing experience so they could understand that we faced an uphill battle today with the variety of environmental factors working against us.
OBSERVATIONS: Saw a number of loons, cormorants, and gulls have arrived with the most recent cold front. What little bird activity I observed was fueled by loons driving bait or bringing bait to the surface with gulls responding overhead. I observed no fish-related bird activity. Belton Lake is now 11.54 feet high and falling about 0.26 feet per day.
TALLY: 30 fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:50 am
End Time: 12:00 noon
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 43F
Water Surface Temp: 64.4F
Wind Speed & Direction: NNE 10 at trip’s start, slowly tapering down to NNE3-4 by trip’s end
Sky Conditions: 100% grey cloud cover with occasional sprinkles in the first hour
Water Level: 12.7 feet high and falling by about 0.14 feet daily
GT = 90
Wx SNAPSHOT: N/A
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 054 – smoking for suspended white bass
**Area vic 644-1239 – smoking for more heavily schooled bottom-hugging white bass
Bob Maindelle, Belton Lake Fishing Guide
Full-time, Professional Fishing Guide and Owner of Holding the Line Guide Service
Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide
254.368.7411 (call or text)