WEATHER RADAR MORE USEFUL THAN SONAR! — 67 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH:    This morning I welcomed aboard Belton Police Chief Gene Ellis who treated his grandson, 10-year-old Bryson Ellis, and his 13-year-old nephew, Braden Hofstra from Spring, TX, to a “Kids Fish, Too!” fishing trip on Lake Belton.  Chief Ellis was along as a hands-on chaperone to help me help the boys be successful.

My “Kids Fish, Too!” trips are tailored just for kids.  We focus on catching what is biting, we limit the time to ~3.5 hours (versus 4+ for adult trips), and the price point is my least expensive at $195.

PHOTO CAPTION: From left, Belton Police Chief Gene Ellis, his grandson, Bryson Ellis, and Chief Ellis’ nephew (his sister’s son), Braden Hofstra of Spring, TX.  Bryson landed these two keeper hybrid and one short hybrid (which we released before taking the photo), all at the same time on a 3-armed umbrella rig.

PHOTO CAPTION: Braden Hofstra, left, and his cousin, Bryson Ellis, with four fistfuls of white bass the boys took using a combination of sight-casting and downrigging in our first 75 minutes of fishing.

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  Multi-species

WHERE WE FISHED:  Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED:  24 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  Violent thunderstorms moved through the area overnight from midnight thru around 5am.  As we began our trip at 6:30am, we enjoyed ideal fishing conditions with light grey cloud cover, comfortable temperatures, and a very light SSE breeze in the wake of the passage of the overnight storms.  Distant lightning could still be seen to the SE. These agreeable conditions lasted about an hour during which time we sight-cast to white bass and hybrid stripers driving shad to the surface.  3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slabs equipped with Hazy Eye Stingers did the job on these fish when retrieved very quickly.  Conditions declined when another storm cell, the vast majority of which would pass to our north, moved near and caused a wind shift to NNW.  Like someone turned off a switch, the surface action died instantly, although we were still able to catch fish for another 15 minutes or so via downrigging with 3-armed umbrella rigs.  We picked up singles, doubles, and one triple landed by Bryson, which included a just-legal hybrid, another 4-pound class hybrid, and a short hybrid.  After unhooking and releasing these 3 fish, we surveyed the situation, saw the wind was increasing rapidly, and moved to a more protected area.  The boys landed exactly 30 fish before this window closed.

The change in weather shut the whites and hybrid down, so, we headed up shallow and focused on sunfish as we waited for safe conditions to return.  During this time the boys learned how to use bream poles equipped with slipfloats to suspend live bait off bottom in shallow water in order to tempt a variety of sunfish, including mainly bluegill and green sunfish.  Over the next two hours the boys landed another 34 fish using this tactic.

Around 10am, we got a short break in the weather and got back out into deeper, open water in a final hunt for additional white bass using downriggers.  We found a mess of fish, but, for every 70 or 80 we went over, we’d tempt just one or two to strike.  These fish were tight to the bottom and were not budging.  We took one more double and one more single with two other missed opportunities in our final 45 minutes on the water and then called it a great day around 10:45 so Bryson could get to swim practice on time.

TALLY: 67 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:    We enjoyed the summer’s first organized topwater feed this morning with fish staying up and feeding versus the “popcorn” sporadic feeding witnessed up to this point, all involving young of the year shad.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:


Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 10:40a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 70F (rain cooled)

Elevation: 0.265 feet high, 0.11′ 24-hour drop,  1657 cfs flow

Water Surface Temp:    81.1F

Wind Speed & Direction: Winds were all over the map this morning, varying with incoming storm cells

Sky Conditions:  Humid, with 100% grey skies the entire trip

GT = 15

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  793-013-147 – generally following the westward trend in movement of topwater fish this morning prior to the north wind shift; 30 fish

**Area  502 (west side) – best sunfish action of the 5 areas tried; 34 fish

**Area 147-B0104C – successful downrigging early (after topwater died), and late; 3 fish

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

FREE S.K.I.F.F. TRIP FOR THE AVALOS KIDS – 93 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH:    This morning I conducted the 4th SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) program trip of the 2019 season.  Maria Cobian and her three children, 12-year-old Analie, 7-year-old Alexavier, and 5-year-old Camila all rose at 5:30a to meet me at Stillhouse Hollow. The children’s father, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant (SSG) Luis Avalos is currently assigned to Fort Bragg, NC, where he serves in a civil affairs role.  SSG Avalos has served for 15 years.  Mrs. Cobian serves as a contracted dental technician at a dental clinic on Fort Hood.

We planned to start a bit earlier than usual this morning due to both the high heat and high winds forecast for later in the morning.

S.K.I.F.F. stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun.  This program began in May of 2009.  It is funded by the donations and fundraising efforts of the Austin Fly Fishers.  S.K.I.F.F. provides the children of military personnel separated from their families due to duty commitments with the opportunity to go fishing.  I coordinate and conduct these 3.5 to 4 hour adventures on Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, just outside the gates of Fort Hood in Bell County, TX.

PHOTO CAPTION: From left, Analie (12), Camila (5), and Alexavier (7), each with a white bass caught via downrigging less than 30 minutes from the time we launched the boat.  After 4 hours on the water, the three kids had amassed a catch of 93 fish including additional white bass and several species of sunfish.

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  Multi-species

WHERE WE FISHED:  Stillhouse Hollow

WHEN WE FISHED:  22 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED: With high winds forecast for the latter part of the morning and with two kids under the age of 8 on board, I thought it best to start our trip off using a downrigging tactic, as it takes place in open water which may not have been accessible to us in high winds, and it takes a bit more patience, which I knew would be in shorter supply by the time the last half of the trip came around.

We went in age order while downrigging, allowing Camila, the youngest, to catch the first fish which hit on the downriggers, followed by her brother, and then by her older sister.  Each of the kids got several rounds of catching in, landing both singles and doubles, before the open water bite died off around 8:35am.

As the very first fish came aboard this morning, Camila earned her “First Fish Award” certificate granted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  This made her the sixth child to accomplish this feat with Holding the Line Guide Service so far in this 2019 season.

After the kids’ interest in downrigging waned as the wait time between fish increased with the light level, we headed up shallow and caught sunfish in abundance using a slipfloat rig with both live and artificial baits suspended beneath.

TALLY: 93 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:    We are now right at the time of year when the first topwater action generated by white bass and largemouth feeding on young of the year shad typically begins to occur on Stillhouse, but, there was once again no sign of that this morning.  Sighting this was certainly not aided by the winds which were already near whitecapping strength before sunrise.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:


Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 10:45a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 78F

Elevation: 1.75 feet high, 0.12 ‘ 24-hour drop, 909 cfs flow

Water Surface Temp:    82.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: Winds S12-14 for the first 3 hours, then ramping up to 16 in the final hour

Sky Conditions:  Humid, partly cloudy at 40% white-grey clouds over a blue sky.

GT = 0

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic SH0037C – best of 3 areas we downrigged white bass at

**Area 422 – solid producer for sunfish including bluegill, green, redear, and longears

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

JUNE IS JUST THAT WAY! — 103 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:    This morning I fished with returning guest Brad Kadinger.  I first met Brad last June when he boated 83 fish as we enjoyed fishing Stillhouse together under heavy grey skies with occasional rain brought in by a strong low pressure system. Brad is originally from South Dakota; he moved to Wisconsin, and then headed here to Texas late in 2017.  He works as a carpenter for a home builder in the west Austin area.

A buddy of Brad’s was supposed to join us, but his travel plans into Austin were hindered and, unfortunately, his plane didn’t land until an hour after our trip concluded.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:     Brad Kadinger with a pair of hybrid landed seconds apart.  One fell for a tailspinner as we worked artificials on the starboard side of the boat.  The other fell for a live shad on the live bait we had suspended from the port side.

PHOTO CAPTION:     After downrigging in shallower water under low light conditions, we moved out to deeper water as the sun rose higher.  In two areas a few yards apart we encountered white bass in the 1, 2, and 3 year classes, short hybrid and legal hybrid, and also pulled 3 largemouth.  The largemouth all came on the tailspinners.

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  Multi-species

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  21 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   I was pleasantly surprised at our results today after a few trips in which I’ve struggled a bit lately on both Belton and Stillhouse as the annual lake changes that typically occur in June took place, in addition to the rapid shedding of the last of the flood waters which accumulated most recently in May.  I always have in my mind a figure on how I expect the day’s conditions and the season we’re in to produce.  I was expecting for a catch in the low 40’s today.

This morning we took advantage of the strong south winds slamming into south-facing shorelines to cover water and pick up white bass, hybrid striped bass and a single largemouth bass via downrigging with 3-armed umbrella rigs under low light conditions from 6:30a to around 8:30a.  We picked up singles and doubles steadily as we kept an eye on sonar and adjusted our downrigger balls to track just above the depth of the fish we saw, typically 14-21 feet down over a deeper bottom.  On one occasion we passed into a solid congregation of fish and I decided to try to stop upwind of them and cast downwind into them, working our baits horizontally through these fish.  This failed to yield a single fish, so, we returned to downrigging and went right back to catching fish with our small Pet Spoons which did a great job of imitating the young of the year shad these fish regurgitated.

After the shallow water, low-light bite died, I moved out to deeper water and searched for congregations of bottom-oriented fish we could use Spot-Lock to hover atop of and work slabs and/or tailspinners through, along with dropping some live bait.  I looked over a few areas, found ample bait in a relaxed “carpet the bottom” posture, and therefore moved on.  After looking at two such areas, we found bottom-oriented, well-congregated fish at a third location around 8:45.  These fish kept us plenty busy right through 11am when we left them biting so Brad could head to the Austin airport to get his buddy.  We “smoked” with tailspinners the entire time.  I occasionally tried a slab as Brad kept on with the tailspinner.  As I’ve experienced in the past, these summertime fish just seem more interested in the additional flash and vibration of the tailspinner and today was no exception.

Once the fish really got responding to the thumper, to schoolmates being caught and released, and to the commotion of our jigging efforts, we really ignored the livebait and stayed with the more engaging artificial work in conjunction with Garmin LiveScope, which Brad had never experienced before.

I commented to Brad about how this LiveScope technology makes you a better angler by allowing you to be more precise and more efficient by only working lures before active fish and then by not stopping your presentation too early once a fish shows interest.

For better or for worse, the vast majority of this morning’s solid catch came from one general area.  This means that I didn’t get to check on other potential areas to see if they would produce, as well (as I would do if I were scouting without clients aboard).  This is still June, and, just because we caught over a hundred today doesn’t really have much bearing on what we might catch on the next trip.  June is just that way!

TALLY: 103 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   We routinely noted that 1) the fish seemed to perk up during stronger, longer periods of gusting wind, and 2) that more often than not, when one of us hooked up, the other did so nearly immediately, as if the first hooked fish goaded others into striking, as well.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:


Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 11:00a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 77F

Elevation:  0.64 feet high, 0.16 ‘ 24-hour drop, 1,661 cfs flow

Water Surface Temp:    81.9F

Wind Speed & Direction:  Strong winds all morning with whitecaps before sunrise, blowing 14-17 entire trip, with gusts to 20.

Sky Conditions:  Humid, partly cloudy at 50% grey clouds 

GT = 45

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 024 – early downrigging

**Area  vic 016-813 – early downrigging

**Area vic 1298/150 – smoking for 84 fish in 2.5 hours with 2 short hops for heavily congregated bottom-huggers

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

3 GENERATIONS OF HANKINS ABOARD – 21 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH:    This morning I fished with 3 generations of the Hankins family.  Mr. Jim Hankins, age 84, is father to Linda Hankins (of Belton Small Animal Clinic fame), and grandfather to 17-year-old Clayton.  Clayton is the son of Linda’s brother, Kelly Hankins, and his wife, Lizzie.  This was a Fathers’ Day trip from Linda to Jim.

Jim is a retired U.S. Army Infantry officer now residing in Harker Heights.  A majority of his assignments were with airborne units.  He was born in Roswell, NM, and had some interesting tales to tell of what went down there through the eyes of a “local”.

Clayton just graduated from high school and is headed to Tarleton State University, located in Stephenville, TX.

PHOTO CAPTION:    Linda, Jim, and Clayton Hankins with a portion of this morning’s white bass catch on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  White bass

WHERE WE FISHED:  Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

WHEN WE FISHED:  19 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  This morning’s trip consisted of  nearly all downrigging.  June is always a tough month, and this year has been no exception.  After a brilliant full moon, the early morning’s calm surface was lifeless.  No insects hatching, no sunfish dimpling the surface in the shallows, no bait pods of shad nor gamefish chasing after them, no rough fish rolling — just nothing.

I went with the downriggers which allowed us to cover water efficiently looking at sonar the whole while and still have baits in the water.  While we did find a few “pockets” of fish, there was not much of a pattern to put together.  On the few occasions that we did find larger schools of fish and attempt to hover atop them to try some vertical work, the fish moved on too quickly to allow for success.

Nonetheless, the 3-armed umbrella rig equipped with small Pet Spoons did put some fish in the boat for us this morning, including a triple (our first success of the morning landed by Linda) and several doubles.  Based on fish and bait location in the water column, we ran the balls between 24-27 feet deep most of the morning.

TALLY: 21 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  Typically tough June conditions made tougher by an unobscured full moon.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:


Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 11:30a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: Rain cooled 76F

Elevation:   2.19 feet high, 0.14 ‘ 24-hour drop, 909 cfs flow

Water Surface Temp:    81.1F

Wind Speed & Direction:  Calm at sunrise, slowly increasing to S7 by mid-trip, then to SSW13 by trip’s end

Sky Conditions:  Clear, dry, blue sky

GT = 160

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Circuit 205-206-660-644-1114-SH0047C-914

**Area  vic  255 parallel to channel

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

LITTLE FISH IN A BIG POND – 30 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH:    This morning I fished Lake Belton with returning guest Rick Snelgrooes and his son, Sean.  On this trip, Rick brought along his big sister, Renee Watson, and her husband, Craig, from the San Clemente region of California. Renee is a retired registered nurse, and Craig is a retired fire chief.

Rick is a California transplant who has really taken to fishing in Texas — to the point of building his own pond, complete with a fisheries consultant to do it right!

Rick is easy-going and good-natured, and I always look forward to the trips I run with him and his guests aboard.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:     A blessing and a curse.  Young-of-the-year shad are now present in an incredible abundance on Lake Belton.  This will ensure ample forage and a healthy fishery for the year to come, but it also gives fish a readily available food source which is so small it is difficult to imitate.  As I was doing some pre-dawn scouting in advance of my trip this morning I picked up this white bass in an area at which we would later return to and downrig.  This white bass spit up about 25 threadfin shad fry like the ones I positioned here.  Most were partially digested; these must have been just recently consumed.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Renee Watson of San Clemente, CA, with a nice Lake Belton hybrid striped bass.  We took this fish on a 3/4 oz. Hazy Eye Shad with Hazy Eye Stinger hook attached while fishing both artificials and live bait.  Fish seemed to fire up on the artificials immediately and then quickly lost interest, leaving the bait to provide action thereafter.

PHOTO CAPTION: Like father, like son — always smiling.  From left, Sean Snelgrooes and his father, Rick, landed a “double-double” — 2 sets of 2 fish at the same time, each pair coming on a downrigged 3-armed umbrella rig in water under 20 feet.

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  White bass & hybrid striped bass

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED:  17 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED: No matter how you slice it, June and October are always tough fishing months on Belton and Stillhouse.  These are months of change — June with a rapid warm up and formation of a thermocline, and October with a rapid cool down and turnover which eliminates the thermocline.  Add to that some violent overnight weather, and a north wind at dawn, and it was just hard to expect the fish to do much this morning.

We persisted nonetheless and began our morning downrigging in shallow water where some white bass were showing themselves as they fed on young of the year shad they had forced to the surface.

We picked up a few singles and a few doubles, putting 9 fish in the boat before the sun broke through and shone directly for a short time, but long enough to kill the topwater and shallow bite.

We moved off-shore and searched for more heavily congregated, bottom-oriented fish.  What we found was a bit frustrating — we’d graph a nice group of fish, get set up over them with bait off of one side of the boat and artificials used on the opposite side, catch a few fish, only to have them move off and not return.  We picked at the fish this way for a spell, picking up both hybrid and white bass, but never really getting anything going, despite checking 6 distinct areas

In our last 90 minutes, I ran and checked an area which held no fish when I originally checked it earlier in the morning.  On a gentle slope in about 43 feet of water, a handful of fish showed up on sonar suspended 4-5 feet off bottom with many more schoolmates barely separated from bottom right beneath them.  Once again we put out a combination of live bait and artificials.  I’ve noted from the past 3 trips on Belton that the artificials will get hit quickly, but that the fish turn off to them fairly quickly, as well.  The live bait, on the other hand, produced a steady action.

When all was said and done, we’d landed 30 fish, including legal hybrid, short hybrid, white bass, largemouth bass, and a single channel cat, and missed a few more on both bait and artificials.

TALLY: 30 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS: There is an incredible amount of young-of-the-year shad in the lake right now, and they can be see at all depths, down to around 50 feet, with a predominance up near the surface, down about 5-8 feet.  Patches of “popcorn” feeding by whites and juvenile hybrid could be seen all morning as these fish gorged on these slow, defenseless fry at will out over deep, open water as they wander aimlessly just following the food.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:
Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 11:45a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: Rain cooled 68F

Elevation:   1.42 feet high, 0.09 ‘ 24-hour rise, 2192 cfs flow

Water Surface Temp:    80.0F

Wind Speed & Direction:  N8 at sunrise, shifting through NE to E to ENE, all at under 7mph

Sky Conditions:  90% light grey clouds entire trip

GT = 65

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  vic 023-024 – downrigging under low light conditions after sighting surface feeders gorging on young of the year shad fry here under light wind conditions

**Area  vic 1384 – a few deepwater fish here, but they moved quickly and did not return

**Area  vic 150 – late morning bite by short hybrid and white bass in ~42′; fish were fairly well congregated in the lower 3 feet of the water column.

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

FATHERS’ DAY FISHING WITH KEVIN, JASON, & THE GIRLS

WHO I FISHED WITH:    This past Saturday morning, 15 June, I fished with a 2-family party of six.  Kevin, Paige, and Katelyn Fitzgerald were joined by Jason, Chanah, and Makenzie Huggett. The two families got to know each other through their daughters’ interest in competitive volleyball.

Paige orchestrated the whole thing several weeks in advance (I love folks who plan ahead!!) as a Fathers’ Day outing.  As I considered (planned ahead) for the trip, I felt Belton would produce better.  Because Paige had originally indicated the two dads’ interests mainly lay in learning Stillhouse, I called ahead to explain the situation and get her input.  Long story short she felt it was far more important for the fellows to learn how to approach white bass fishing on Stillhouse than to catch a bunch of fish elsewhere, so, we focused on Stillhouse.

If you’re wondering why Belton is outperforming Stillhouse, see the temperature comparison chart in my “Observations” section below.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:    From left: Chanah (love the Zoom Bait Co. hat!), Makenzie and Jason Huggett, and Kevin, Katelyn, and Paige Fitzgerald.

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  White bass

WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

WHEN WE FISHED:  15 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   One thing is for sure, these two dads had a ton of really good questions.  They asked the right kind of questions like, “Why did you look here for fish?” versus (not so good questions like) “What’s your favorite lure?”.  This kind of thing told me they were already on the right track of understanding that location is the most critical element in consistent success.

I had hoped to introduce Kevin and Jason to at least two effective summertime tactics: downrigging and smoking.  Many days these two tactics go hand in hand as I cover water with downriggers to find fish, then work concentrations of fish over with a vertical smoking tactic to exploit what I’ve found.

Today, we found only scattered fish which were suspended, and small groups of bottom-oriented fish which were in insufficient quantities to make stopping to work vertically pay off well.

Even so, just the introduction to the efficacy of downrigging blew these fellows away.  We were able to pick up singles, multiple doubles, and (for Makenzie) a triple.  The action peaked from 7:15 to 8:45 after which the wind drove us away from the area at which I preferred to be searching for fish.  While we were there, the best action came as we ran the balls at 19-23 feet over a deeper bottom and watched bottom-oriented wolfpacks of fish launch off bottom to come up to the baits to feed.  We did not see the majority of these fish before they revealed themselves as they rose off bottom because the were initially super tight to the bottom.

We encountered a bit more action, primarily on suspended fish holding around 22-26 feet down over a deeper bottom.  The fish we caught here came as singles only and were not coming from off the bottom.  We were catching only the suspended fish already seen on sonar.

TALLY: 23 fish caught and released, including 21 white bass and 2 freshwater drum

OBSERVATIONS:   Here is the temperature profile I took at Stillhouse on Saturday, compared with the one I took on Belton the day before.  There is a significant thermal break forming at 35 feet on Stillhouse — the start of the setup of the thermocline.  There is no such indication of that yet on Lake Belton:

Depth Belton Temp. 14JUN Stillhouse Temp. 15JUN
0 81.7 81.5
5 81.7 81.7
10 81.7 81.7
15 81.7 81.7
20 81.7 81.7
25 81.7 81.7
30 80.7 81.5
35 79.6 80.2
40 78 77.4
45 77.5 74.7
50 76.6 71.3
55 75.6 70.2
60 75.2 69.1

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 11:15a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 74

Elevation:   1.72 feet high, 0.19 ‘ 24-hour drop, 2197 flow

Water Surface Temp:    81.5

Wind Speed & Direction:  S12 at sunrise/start time, ramping up to S18 by trip’s end

Sky Conditions:  100% light grey clouds at trip’s start, clearing to 35% white clouds on blue sky by trip’s end.

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  vic 480 – solid fishing from 7:15 to 8:45 taking downrigged fish by pulling whites off bottom up to our spread

**Area  vic 1563 – less aggressive, suspended fish on downriggers

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

HYBRIDS ON BORROWED TIME AT BELTON – 46 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH:    This past Friday morning, June 14th, I fished with Doug Hicks and his fiancee, Mallory Kurpinsky, both from California.  Doug is stationed at Fort Hood where he serves as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.  He and Mallory plan to wed once she has earned her bachelor’s degree.  This trip was originally scheduled for January when Mallory flew out for a visit over the holidays, but foul weather prevented us from going.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   Mallory Kurpinsky and Doug Hicks with a pair of the 36 legal hybrid striped bass we caught on Lake Belton using live shad fished near bottom.

 

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  Multi-species, focusing on hybrid and white bass

WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  14 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   Because the seasonal change from spring to summer is underway thanks to steadily warming temperatures, we designated this as a multi-species trip.  I hesitate to focus exclusively on hybrid outside the mid-April to early June timeframe as summer hybrid fishing can mean a lot of waiting between fish which just doesn’t compare with the rapid-fire action seen in the springtime.

As we began our day, we found some deep, heavily congregated white bass and worked them over with a vertical presentation at first, then, when they tired of that rather quickly, we tried tempting them by going horizontal with a downrigging approach.  That also took a few whites and a few short hybrid, but we were only scratching the surface given the number of fish present (but not biting).

We looked over two more areas finding little before encountering a solid bunch of hybrid in about 42 feet of water right around 9:30.  These fish would keep us busy for a full 2 hours, providing action on live shad rods fished on one side of the boat and providing action on spinning rods equipped with tailspinners on the other side of the boat.  Over these two hours we picked up exactly 36 legal hybrid and a handful of white bass before the action tapered off around 11:30.

TALLY: 46 fish caught and released, including 36 legal hybrid striped bass

OBSERVATIONS:  I was surprised to find as many hybrid as we found congregated like they were on bottom.  Normally dispersion due to thermocline development becomes an issue, but that has not been the case yet.  Here is the temperature profile I took:

0 feet 81.7F

5 feet 81.7F

10 feet 81.7F

15 feet 81.7F

20 feet 81.7F

25 feet 81.5F

30 feet 80.7F

35 feet 79.6F

40 feet 78FF

45 feet 77.5F

50 feet 76.6F

55 feet 75.6F

60 feet 75.2F

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 11:30a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:

Elevation:   1.72 feet high, 0.19 ‘ 24-hour drop, 2197 flow

Water Surface Temp:   81.7F

Wind Speed & Direction: Steadily ramping up from S6mph to S15mph over the course of the morning

Sky Conditions:  Very thin, high clouds appearing like a white haze more than organized clouds

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1298 for early white bass/short hybrid action going vertical and via downrigging

**Area 1374 two hours of solid hybrid action on shad and artificials

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

FIRST FISH AWARDS FOR THE DUGGER BOYS — SKIFF TRIP #3

WHO I FISHED WITH:   On Thursday, June 13th, the two oldest sons of Captain and Mrs. Zach Dugger came aboard for a morning spent in pursuit of white bass and sunfish on Stillhouse Hollow.  This was the third SKIFF trip of the 2019 season.

CPT Dugger is a West Point graduate who commissioned as an Army aviator. He went on to certify in fixed-wing aircraft.  CPT Dugger recently deployed to Southwest Asia.  Zach, Riley, and their boys will next head to Bozeman, Montana, where Zach will attend Montana State University to obtain his Masters Degree, then move back to West Point, NY, where he will instruct cadets.

Caleb, age 3, and Zane, age 5 were surprisingly alert at our 6:20am start time.  I try to start as early as parents are willing to arrive so as to get in our fishing before the summer heat really kicks in by late morning.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:    U.S. Army Captain Zach Dugger’s oldest son, Zane, with a downriggered white bass taken on a 3-armed umbrella rig set at around 20′.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:    U.S. Army Captain Zach Dugger’s middle son, Caleb, with a white bass.  Both Caleb and his brother, Zane, earned their TPWD “First Fish Award” during this morning’s trip.

 

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  Multi-species; mainly white bass and sunfish

WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

WHEN WE FISHED:  13 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   

With kids this young, I knew we’d have to shoot for instant gratification and build in multiple transitions to keep their interest up.

Neither young man had ever landed a fish before, to “Job 1” was to get each boy to land a fish.  We accomplished that within minutes of their arrival by using fiberglass bream poles and balsa floats to target bluegill feeding on hatching insects in the pre-dawn light near shore.

These fish earned the boys a TPWD “First Fish Award”.

We moved on to do some downrigging for white bass but didn’t find much at the first place we searched, so, it was back to sunfishing before trying once again to land some white bass.

On our second shot at white bass I found a school of loosely schooled, suspended fish on sonar.  They were holding at around 22 feet deep over a deeper bottom.  My summertime staple, the 3-armed umbrella rig equipped with Pet Spoons run behind my downriggers did the trick for singles and doubles time after time until the boys grew tired of the success.

As we came up on the 3 hour mark, we decided to take one more shot at sunfish to end the trip on a lively, productive note.  When all was said and done, Caleb and Zane had landed 30 fish and earned their First Fish certificates.

TALLY: 30 fish caught and released

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:20a

End Time: 9:00a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:   73F

Elevation:  3.35 feet high on a 24-hour fall of 0.41 feet and with a flow of 1750 cfs

Water Surface Temp:  82.6F

Wind Speed & Direction: NE3-4 all morning

Sky Conditions: 30% white, high, thin clouds all morning 

GT = 0

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas for sunfish: 456, 420, and 203

**Areas for white bass: vic SH0110C/SH0111C/SH0113C, and SH0119C

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

A FISH LARGER THAN THE FISHERMAN WHO CAUGHT IT – 74 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH:   This past Wednesday morning, I welcomed back Mr. Frank Killoran.  Frank fished with me once before, along with his wife.  On this trip, he was joined by his son, Scott, and the two men assisted me in making Scott’s three kids (Frank’s grandkids) successful.  Whenever I have younger kids aboard we shoot for quantity over quality and really “mix it up” so we’re not doing one thing for too long, lest the kids get bored for fidgety.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   5-year-old Chris Killoran and his grandpa, Frank Killoran, with a 5.5 pound longnose gar which was, literally, longer than Chris.  This fish fell for a downrigged Pet Spoon while we were otherwise fooling white bass.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  From left, siblings Ericka Taylor (age 9), Chase Killoran (age 6), and Chris Killoran (age 5) put the hurt on 74 fish.  Each child landed their very first fish during this morning’s trip.

 

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  Multi-species; mainly white bass and sunfish

WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  12 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  We broke this trip down into four short segments which fit into a 3.5 hour timespan (which, over the years I’ve found is about max for kids aged 5-7).  Segment 1 was deep-jigging for white bass with tailspinners.  While we did catch fish this way, and while it did afford each child the opportunity to catch the first fish of their lives, the fish were not overly aggressive, and they moved frequently, so, we didn’t spend too long doing this.  Segment 2 was downrigging for suspended fish.  This put a few fish in the boat, including Chris’ gar, but was pretty slow.  Segment 3 was deep downrigging near bottom.  This paid off well, producing multiple doubles and steady action for as long as the kids stayed interested.  Before long the novelty of this method wore off on the boys and so we left these fish biting to move on to Segment 4, our final adventure, which involved fishing for sunfish in shallow water using bait and slipfloats.  This also went well and the boys wore out just about the same time the fish at this location got thinned out enough to require patience.

TALLY: 74 fish caught and released, including 32 white bass, 3 short hybrid, 1 longnose gar, and 38 sunfish

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 9:15a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:   68F

Elevation:   2.11 feet high on a 24-hour fall of 0.13 feet and with a flow of 2705 cfs

Water Surface Temp:  81.7F

Wind Speed & Direction: WNW3-4 all morning

Sky Conditions: 40% white, high, thin clouds all morning 

GT = 15

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 150 produced white bass via vertical work with tailspinners and deep downrigging with Pet Spoons on a 3-armed umbrella rig

**Area 502 produced 38 sunfish

 

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

HYBRID HAUL!! – 95 FISH/44 LEGAL HYBRID

WHO I FISHED WITH:   This morning, Tuesday, June 4th, I welcomed aboard Derrick Fontenot, his girfriend, Veronica Merritt, and their friend, Tony Siefner, whom Derrick works with.  All three are veterans — Derrick and Veronica served in the U.S. Army, and Tony served in the U.S. Navy.

This trip was a long time in the making.  Derrick originally scheduled this trip last summer, but weather hindered our efforts and the peak spring hybrid bite was over by the time things settled down.  Once again, Derrick was scheduled during the peak spring hybrid bite this year, but, flooding rains with lightning moved in the morning of our trip.  So, this makeup to the makeup finally happened, and, according to my crew, it was well worth the wait.

This morning’s catch included our greatest tally of legal hybrid striped bass in this 2019 season — 44 in all.

PHOTO CAPTION:  Veronica Merritt led the big fish contest with the 4.75 pounder until late in the game when Derrick came up with a dandy.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Derrick Fontenot with our single largest fish of the trip.  This thick rascal went 5.50 pounds.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  U.S. Navy vet turned Samsung engineering tech Tony Siefner with a sweet 5-pounder that crushed his live shad hung in 48 feet of water.

 

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  Hybrid Striped Bass

WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  04 June 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED: We met this morning at just before 6am and looked for some pre-dawn topwater action from white bass and hybrid stripers chasing shad in shallow water.  The forecast called for light winds, but in reality, the winds were 9-10 from the SE before sunrise, which put both a chop and a bit of swell on the water, thus making spotting topwater fish very tough.  We landed 1 largemouth, 1 white bass, and 2 bluecat on paddletail grubs, but wrapped that effort up early and went right to live shad fishing in deeper water.

We fished 3 deepwater areas this morning.  The first was loaded down with white bass and short hybrid to the point where I was concerned about just burning through bait, so, we used bait just long enough for everyone to work out the kinks on when to do what with the barbless circle hooks so they were good to go once we encountered larger, legal-sized hybrid, and then we worked the whites and short hybrid over with tailspinners in 48 feet of water, landing 25 fish and then moving on in search of large hybrid.

The second and third areas we hit today were similar in depth and topography.  Thanks to the ideal weather conditions, the hybrid on both areas were on the prowl, up off bottom, thus making them much easier to spot on sonar as we searched for them.  After we found them, fishing was straightforward.  Smaller shad once again outperformed medium- or large-sized threadfin (and I tend to avoid gizzard shad).

Everyone quickly got the hang of the timing of their response when the bait-clicker alerted them to the presence of a fish taking the bait, and from then on our results were solid.  We ended up with a total of 95 fish, of which 44 were legal hybrid, with the top two fish going 5.00 and 5.50 pounds.  We had very few issues with bothersome blue cats today and only occasionally got visited by white bass once we moved away from that first location.

Derrick came prepared with a lot of good questions and determined he would join me for on-the-water sonar training sometime later this summer.

OBSERVATIONS:  Today’s weather conditions were PERFECT.  This is just what I would have ordered if the weather was selectable.  Fish were still very tight to the bottom once again today.  We caught 100% of our fish 3 cranks up.

TALLY: 95 fish caught and released, with 44 legal hybrid in this mix of hybrid, short hybrid, white bass, largemouth bass, channel cat, and blue cat

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 6:00a

End Time: 11:15a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:   75F

Elevation:   5.68 feet high on a 24-hour fall of 0.51 feet and with a flow of 4586 cfs

Water Surface Temp:   79.7F

Wind Speed & Direction: S7-8 all morning

Sky Conditions:   100% cloudy all morning with perfect “squinting light” brightness

GT = 15

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic  1646/1653 – pre-dawn drift and cast for 4 fish

**Area  vic  187 – 25 whites/short hybrid on tailspinners

**Area vic 1556 – solid hybrid bite on live shad

**Area vic B0152JWC – solid hybrid bite on live shad

 

 

Bob Maindelle

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)

 

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle