PRESIDENTS’ DAY 2020 — 56 FISH @ STILLHOUSE (AM)

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Presidents’ Day Monday (17 Feb. 2020) I fished with Mr. Steve Niemeier and his granddaughter, Macy Fowler, age 11, both of Temple.  Steve left the choice of lakes up to me.  This year there has been a pretty stark contrast between Stillhouse’s fewer, but larger, white bass, and Belton’s greater quantity of smaller fish, without exception.  Because we cashed in on high numbers on Macy’s last trip back on November 11th (140 fish in 4 hours on Belton), and because I saw that Macy did well in allowing herself to be coached, I felt we’d do well to head to Stillhouse and shoot for some larger fish, knowing that either lake would require a pretty technical approach given the low water temperature.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   Steve Niemeier and his granddaughter, Macy Fowler, with a few of the plump Stillhouse white bass we found very near the river channel on this Presidents’ Day morning outing.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Monday, 17 February 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED: We had about as many things going for us as we had working against us this morning, and I anticipated average results for this cool-water season.  The overriding issue is water temperature which is at or near the annual low right now.  Helping us today was wind, cloud cover, and the fact that we were at the end of a 3 day warming trend with a cold front due in midday the following day.  We weren’t lined up for pre-frontal fishing, but the conditions were okay.

We began working slabs vertically under birds at two distinct areas, but these birds are focused on the occasional sunfish crippled by scattered white bass and small largemouth on deep flats.  These fish are generally not schooled up heavily enough to sit atop of and catch high numbers.  We caught a few fish this way, but nothing to get excited about.

We experimented with using bladebaits up shallow and picked up a few “pioneers” trying to move upstream in preparation for spawning.  We picked up another half-dozen whites this way, but that action died suddenly as the skies, although still 100% grey and clouded, brightened.

With this brightening, we moved deep and came upon another group of bird working open water.  As I surveyed the situation with sonar, I saw good numbers of fish on bottom, suspended just up off bottom, and with a few “high riders” up off bottom in the water column as much as 15-20 feet off bottom in ~42 feet of water.

We sat over these fish for about 45 minutes and put about 20 fish in the boat aided by Garmin LiveScope, using an ultra-slow smoking tactic with my 3/8 oz. white, Hazy Eye slabs with stinger hooks attached..  The fish quit about 10 minutes after the last of the birds gave up.  It was interesting to observe a nearby angler in a bass boat who also fished this area, drawn in by the birds.  He fished, caught nothing, and left as he moved about much too quickly using his trolling motor.  It confirmed to me the need to sit in one well-chosen location, allowing the bite develop around us as we created commotion by jigging, thumping, and catching and releasing fish.

We checked a few more areas in our last 45 minutes on the water, finding one very solid concentration of fish adjacent to the old Lampasas River channel.  These fish were also in about 40 feet of water.  As is typical of late-morning fish, this population flared up with excitement as we got our slabs down and caught our first few fish, but then quickly cooled off.  We took a final 22 fish at this location, taking our tally from 34 fish, up to 56 fish on the morning.

 

TALLY: 56 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   The best concentrations of fish we found were immediately adjacent to the river channel today.  Only scattered fish were found away from the channel.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7A

End Time:  11:30A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  62F

Elevation: 3.36 low, No 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   54.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW6-9

Sky Conditions: 100% grey skies all morning

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1500 – scattered whites on mid-depth flat under gulls

**Area vic 735 – scattered whites on mid-depth flat under gulls

**Area vic SH0077C – shallow whites taken on blades

**Area vic SH0080C – active whites on deep flat adjacent to channel

**Area 1038 – active whites on channel breakline

 

 

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

THE FISH WENT TO T.O.W.N. –55 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday afternoon I fished with Beverly Travis of Belton and Alex Castillo of Austin on Lake Belton following a tough morning of fishing on Stillhouse.  Beverly tried to get her and her grandkids out with me last year, but foul weather prevented.  After visiting my booth at the Central Texas Boat and Outdoor Show the week before, we made plans to try again today.

I offered the option of more, but smaller fish at Belton, or fewer, but larger, white bass at Stillhouse.  Beverly, who coordinated the trip, opted for greater action at Lake Belton.

This time, Beverly brought Alex Castillo.  The two ladies met through a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program called Texas Outdoors-Woman Network (T.O.W.N.).  The mission of T.O.W.N. is to provide all women the opportunity to experience outdoor activities in a safe, non-threatening, and supportive environment.  The program was started by several graduates of TPWD’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshop.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: Beverly Travis, a Christian counselor from Belton, and Alex Castillo, who works in the environmental field in Austin, teamed up through TPWD’s Texas Outdoors-Woman Network (T.O.W.N.) to split a half-day white bass fishing trip on Lake Belton, landing 55 fish on a tough day of fishing.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 01 February 2020, PM

HOW WE FISHED: I was prepared for a tough afternoon today.  As I rolled into the launch area, long-time Belton multi-species angler Mike P. was on his way out after having fished a long morning and into the afternoon for just 24 fish as he chased white bass, resulting in just 2 legal fish in his catch.  I had similar difficulties not finding fish, but getting them to bite, over at Stillhouse, landing just 20 fish between 7:15 and noon.

Before we left the launch area I provided a thorough explanation on the very slow, methodical tactic of “easing” we would rely on to catch our fish this afternoon, emphasizing how important very slow movement was, and demonstrating it for Bev and Alex.

The ladies got the hang of the tactic very quickly.  As was the case on Stillhouse this morning, finding fish was not all that challenging, but getting them to bite was another story.  Routinely, when I found fish on an area, there were several dozen fish in the schools I Spot-Locked atop of.  Such a school would typically yield 2-4 fish fairly soon after we began jigging, and then the fish, though still present, would shut down.  Seeing this trend develop, we adjusted our approach and moved very readily to new “batches” of fish soon after a given school would shut down.

We did well, given the conditions, boating a total of 55 fish, including 3 drum and 52 white bass.  One interesting note was the intensity of this evening’s low-light bite.  As we used the trolling motor to ease into our final area of the trip, I saw fish suspended in the water column from halfway to bottom, all the way to the bottom.  This was the first time I’d seen fish more than a foot off bottom all day (Belton or Stillhouse).  As we fished for these fish and began catching them, the fish suddenly turned on well.  We took our tally from 36 fish to a final count of 55 fish (hence, 19 fish caught) in the last 20 minutes of the trip.

We relied on the very reliable white, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab, with stinger hook attached.  Roughly 80% of the fish caught today (Belton and Stillhouse) came on the stinger hook, as has been my experience for several years now when the water temperatures reach near annual lows.

TALLY: 55 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   Experienced a hard low-light feed at and just following sunset tonight, following a day of tough fishing. 19 fish in 20 minutes from fish all throughout the lower half of the water column.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    2:00P

End Time:  6:15P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  66F

Elevation: 3.00 low, -0.02′ 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: NW7-0

Sky Conditions: Clear, cloud-free, blue skies

GT = 30

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  B0113C to 1671 to 565 : 3 short hops early, then one final stop near sunset

**Area 1845 to 1619: 3 short hops early, then 2 short hops later on second visit here

 

 

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

FISHIN’ WITH GRANDPA LEE – 20 FISH @ STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday morning I fished with Mr. Lee Vancleave, his 13-year-old grandson, Konnar, and Konnar’s 13-year-old buddy, Chris.  Lee was retired, got bored with retirement, and went back to work doing what he had done prior to retiring, which was crunching data and generating reports for a state agency.  Konnar, who lives with his grandpa, and his buddy, Chris, became friends through school and sports in Pfluegerville, TX.

Although my first choice for today’s trip would have been Belton known this season for higher numbers of smaller fish, Lee requested we fish Stillhouse as it is more accessible to him, thus, he wanted to become more familiar with it in addition to catching some fish.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: Lee, Chris, and Konnar with a few of the plump white bass we took on 3/8 oz. slabs on a very tough morning.

 

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 01 February 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  We faced a very tough bite this morning — a sentiment shared by several others in my “network” fishing both Belton and Stillhouse.  I felt fortunate to observe birds (mainly gulls) beginning to work just prior to sunrise, but, the bird action was much more intense than the fish action beneath.  When we found fish on sonar, they were tight to the bottom, they were in small packs of 5-10 fish, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to bite.  I’d dare say we’d observe 20-30 fish on LiveScope pass through the midst of our 4 slabs working to get one bite.  After the birds gave up, it got even tougher.

We slowly eased our slabs for a grand total of 20 fish and, despite average weekend boat traffic for this cooler time of year, and with boats occasionally straying near us as we all hunted birds, we saw only one other fish landed by a gentleman snap-jigging from his kayak.

True to form, though, the white bass we landed this morning were all solid, well-proportioned, legal-sized whites.

One very good recreational angler I compared notes with on Lake Belton fish until around 1:15 and managed only 24 fish, of which only 2 were legal sized white bass.

TALLY: 20 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   An unusually tough bite given the ample bird action.  I noted most bird action was generated by gulls lifting sunfish off the surface, not by terns, nor involving shad.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:15A

End Time:  NOON

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  38F

Elevation: 3.50 low, 0.01′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   52.8F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW7-9

Sky Conditions: Clear, cloud-free, blue skies

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  329 – bird action at sunrise and for 45 minutes thereafter

**Area 1887 – best action of the day, albeit still slow

**Area SH0109C – late morning gull action with more bird activity above than fish action below

 

 

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

GO SLOW, OR GO FISHLESS — 75 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Friday morning I fished with U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Burley and his son, Nick Burley.  Kyle is stationed here at Ft. Hood and resides in Harker Heights.  Nick flew in from the D.C. area for a few days of visiting.  The two are originally from Pennsylvania where fly fishing for trout is more the norm.

Between the shared interest in fishing I have with Nick, and the shared interest I have with Kyle in long-distance rifle shooting, the conversation over the course of the morning was engaging.  All three of us shared an interest in well-prepared Texas smoked meats!!

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Despite catching fish of other species, including our target species (white bass), Kyle and Nick specifically asked me to snap shots of their drum which anchored our catch today weight-wise.

PHOTO CAPTION: Belton’s drum (and blue catfish) have become plentiful and healthy thanks to a bumper crop of zebra mussels as an abundant food source, I suspect.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Friday, 31 January 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   I presented Kyle with two options two days in advance of our trip, based both on past experience and current results: fish for more, but smaller white bass on Belton, or fewer, but larger white bass on Stillhouse.  In the interest of action, Kyle opted for Belton.  We caught fish over the entirety of the trip, although the timeframe from 8:00 to 9:30 produced best (which, coincidentally, coincided with the start of increased cloud cover and the peak wind conditions for the morning).  As anticipated, we caught solid numbers of smaller fish, 75 in all.  This catch included mainly white bass, with a few largemouth and freshwater drum sprinkled in for variety.

The go-to tactic this morning was a slow easing tactic using my smaller white, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye slabs with stinger hooks attached.  We caught fish in 27 to 42 feet of water.

We did not encounter any helpful bird activity, although plenty of loons, gulls, terns, and osprey are present.

TALLY: 75 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   Despite a NW wind which has been coinciding with good bird action thus far this winter, such did not materialize today.  Many gulls and terns are now distracted by loon activity.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:30A

End Time:  NOON

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  43F

Elevation: 2.98 low, no 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: NNW8-12

Sky Conditions: 20% white clouds on blue sky at trip’s start, with cloud cover increasing to 65% by 9A, then decreasing back to 20% by trip’s end

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  BG0026 – best action of AM, and deepest water fished all morning

**Area 1882

**Area  1077

**Area  2032

 

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