WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning I fished Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir with accomplished bass tournament angler Kyle Kirkes, accompanied by one of his employees, Joseph Cruz, of Copperas Cove.
Kyle is a hard-working, local, small businessman who operates Lonestar Irrigation, an irrigation, pest control, and fencing company. Kyle does good work. He’s does pest control for me, and I’ve trusted him to service my mom’s home, as well — and we don’t let just anybody take care of my mom!!
This trip was an “employee appreciation” event for Joseph who has been with Kyle for several years now.
PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Joseph Cruz and Kyle Kirkes with white bass from Stillhouse Hollow which we took using three different methods this morning.
WHEN WE FISHED: 12 June, 2020, AM
HOW WE FISHED: I’m not a believer in “beginner’s luck”, but, if there was such a thing, Joseph would be the poster child for it. Joseph doesn’t fish a whole lot, and, when he does, by his own admission, it is from the bank and typically doesn’t produce a lot of fish. This morning, after a brief rundown on how the downriggers worked, Joseph was into our first fish of the day … or, should I say our first 3 fish of the day. The guy kicked us off with a triple — 3 fish, one on each of the 3 lures on the 3-armed umbrella rig we were using. Then, he just kept the doubles coming over and over again. He had 7 fish in the boat before Kyle knew what was going on.
We downrigged successfully at two distinct areas about a half-mile apart from each other, occasionally stopping briefly whenever I saw bottom-oriented fish clustered sufficiently tight together to lead me to believe we had a chance at hovering atop them and taking them vertically. It seemed that each time we stopped, Joseph would hook and land the first fish from the school below.
Both fellows are hard workers and make a living with their hands. I shared with them how “hands-on” people tend to get the hang of setting up the downriggers much more quickly than folks who make a living by talking on the phone, riding a desk, or staring at a computer. Indeed, I gave these guys one demo (crawl), then talked them through doing the downrigger setup themselves (walk), and then they were off doing it themselves with little need for coaching from that point forward (run). Crawl, walk, run — where have all you veterans heard that before?!? This made us very efficient, as my sole job then was to steer the boat and keep us on fish.
As the SW breeze which barely rippled the surface subsided, it revealed light, widespread surface action caused by largemouth, white bass, and gar chasing shad individually to the surface (NOT the surface-churning topwater action which will come later in the summer, if we’re lucky). Seeing this, we focused our efforts in the vicinity of the action and soon detected a large school of bottom-oriented white bass out some yards to our left showing on the Humminbird Solix’s side-imaging view. I marked these, then ran over them with a downrigger ball (unrigged) to see if I could elicit a response.
For more about this “wrecking ball” tactic, see my In-Fisherman magazine article: Wrecking Ball White Bass by Bob Maindelle
When the fish came to the moving ball, I knew it was “game on”. We Spot-Locked and worked modified Gangbanger spoons horizontally and MAL lures vertically through these fish taking our tally up to 87 fish by around 9AM when the sonar and surface water went quiet.
We moved, checked two locations with minimal results, and then arrived at at third location. As soon as I slowed the boat, the sonar lit up with bait in a horizontal band from 20-25 feet deep over a deeper bottom.
We got the ‘riggers down, caught fish on each one, then brought them right back up again because what I saw near bottom was the best look I’ve seen since back on the morning of June 1st on Lake Belton, before the water began to stratify.
Long story short, we worked MAL lures vertically in one area and put an additional 49 fish in the boat before they finally quit right around 10:15. Our final tally was 137 fish, including 2 largemouth, 1 drum, and 134 white bass in the 1-, 2-, and 3-year class.
TALLY: 137 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: A definite thermal break, clearly visible on sonar, is now in place on the upper (river) end of the reservoir, topping out at 32 – 34′.
Start Time: 6:15A
End Time: 10:25A
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 64F
Elevation: 0.39′ high, 0.05′ drop, 1 CFS flow
Water Surface Temp: 80.3F
Wind Speed & Direction: SW4 at sunrise, going light and variable shortly thereafter, then picking up from the ESE at 7-9 beginning around 9:15
Sky Conditions: Cloudless “bluebird” sky
GT = 75
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area SH0017C to SH0079C – downrigging for suspended fish with balls @ 21′; 1 stop for vertical work
**Area SH0024G – brief downrigging leading to vertical and horizontal work (2 hops)
**Area SH0025G – brief downrigging leading to vertical work; 1 stop for 49 fish
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)