SCOUTING PAYS OFF — 73 FISH @ STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, September 17th, 2020, I fished with Robert Hughes from near Lubbock, TX, accompanied by his grandson, Nathan Elliott, who lives in Gatesville and works in Harker Heights.

Robert, age 74, retired from the janitorial supply business, and Nathan is a professional firefighter employed by the City of Harker Heights, working out of the firehouse on FM3481, near Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir. Nathan coordinated this trip for his grandparents as part of their 57th wedding anniversary during which they drove down to see him.   

PHOTO CAPTION #1:  Nathan Elliott and his grandfather, 74-year-old Robert Hughes, shared a day on the water in pursuit of white bass.  Downrigging with Pet Spoons and vertical work with MAL Lures put 73 fish in the boat today.

 

WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

HOW WE FISHED:  After getting off a plane inbound from Alaska in the wee hours on Wednesday morning, I slept briefly, then got right out on the water to scout in advance of this trip, as I’d not fished locally since Labor Day Monday and there had been a lot of environmental change since that time (6′ elevation increase, a cold front, and atypical, extended periods of NE winds).  

I opted to invest my scouting efforts on Stillhouse for several reasons: 1) the Corps is releasing water from Lake Belton (a negative factor), 2) the release rate at Lake Belton led me to believe the gates would shut soon, thus introducing another negative variable to an already tough scenario, 3) I got below average reports from those fishing both Belton and Stillhouse while I was away, and 4) my 30+ years of record-keeping indicate that, in a tough scenario, Stillhouse typically outperforms Belton.

The scouting went well.  My goal was to catch 3 fish at a given area and then move on to check additional areas, and, in so doing, I found 4 fish-holding areas which we could fish today.

When all was said and done, we put this morning’s trip together on just 2 of those 4 scouted areas.  Today’s conditions were a bit better than during my scouting efforts yesterday, in that we had both a steady, manageable wind (vs. calm yesterday), and light cloud cover (vs. clear skies yesterday).

We met up at 6:45A, had lines in the water around 7:05A, caught fish via downrigging for 2 solid hours before the suspended, scattered schools of white bass we were targeting dispersed. We landed 33 fish during this time using Pet Spoons on 3-armed umbrella rigs.

We next looked at an area I scouted yesterday (but found nothing present at that time); I did this because the wind was blowing into the area leading me to believe it could have turned on overnight.  It did not.

So, we moved on to a third area I scouted with good results yesterday.  We found fish very active there from 9:20 until around 10:20.   Sonar was quite active with both balled up shad and gamefish as I idled around, so, we began to put downriggers down.  No sooner did Nathan get his set to depth then it went off.  When I saw the aggression level of these fish, I directed Robert to unrig his downrigger, and to send an MAL Lure plummeting for the bottom instead.

Long story short, we sat on a large, moderately aggressive school of white bass for a full hour and pulled another 43 fish without moving the boat, all on chartreuse MAL Lures.  I like the chartreuse whenever there is cloud cover, whereas the white and chartreuse fish equally well under clear, sunny skies.  

Fortunately, both fellows quickly got the hang of timing their presentation of the MAL Lure to the passing of the fish beneath the boat via the use of Garmin LiveScope, doing this just as you would “lead” a bird when shooting a shotgun.  The rest was history.

By 10:20, the wind was quickly coming out of the fishes’ sails, and, after spending our final 15 minutes downrigging and failing to add even a single fish to the tally, we called it a good day and headed back to the dock.

TALLY: 73 fish caught and released (71 white bass, 1 freshwater drum, and 1 largemouth bass)

OBSERVATIONS:   No water has been released from Stillhouse since the recent rains, thus allowing 6+ feet of new water to accumulate, whereas Belton had a flow of 1,645 cfs  this morning and was slowly falling as a result.  During the day (Thursday, 17 Sep.), the COE reduced the flow from Belton to 51 CFS — yet another negative factor I’m glad we avoided).  

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES: 

Start Time:  6:40A

End Time: 11:00A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 75F

Elevation:  3.14′ high, +0.02′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow (up over 6 feet after ~4.50″ began fell on Wednesday – Friday, 02-03 Sep., followed by another 1.25″ on 10 Sep.)

Water Surface Temp:  81.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: NNE11 all morning

Sky Condition: 80-90% grey cloud cover

Moon Phase: New moon today

GT =35

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 1133 to 482 –  downrigging with Pet Spoons on 3-armed umbrella rigs for 33 fish in 2+ hours.

**Area vic SH0033G –  MAL Lures worked vertically in 35′ to the shallow side of this area for 40 fish in ~ 1 hour

 

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

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow #BeltonFishingGuide #LakeBeltonFishingGuide

#BeltonLakeFishingGuide #stripers #stripedbassfishing #rockfish #sandbass #freshwaterfishing #fishing

#bass #bassfishing #whitebass #panfish #crappie #fishingonaboat #fishingtackle #fishinglife #fishingsport

#fishingaddict #fishingpicoftheday #fishingtime #fishinggear #fishingday

#Fitec

LABOR DAY 2020 WITH THE REED BOYS – 54 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, September 7th, 2020, I fished with retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant Bryan Reed and his 3 sons — Evan (age 12), Colin (age 10), and Carson (age 8).

After retiring from the military police, Bryan trained and hired on with Edward Jones and hopes to open his own office after spending some time at the office in Killeen, TX.

The boys, who came out with me on a SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trip 2 years ago, all go to school in the Killeen Independent School District, and are involved in karate.

PHOTO CAPTION #1:    The Reed boys in 2020, from left, Colin, Evan, Carson, and Bryan.

 

PHOTO CAPTION #2:    The Reed boys in 2018, from left, Carson, Colin, and Evan.

WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

HOW WE FISHED: Fishing was a bit laborious on this Labor Day Monday.   Thankfully, due to flooding and the fact that public school cranks back up again tomorrow, the crowds were fairly light, in fact, lighter than on a “normal” summer weekend.

We went nearly an hour working to get our first bite, and, even when it came it wasn’t like the floodgates opened and we kept right on catching them from that point on.  The fish were just in a negative mood until about 8AM, then things started happening right up until around 10:15.  

Around 8AM, we began to see larger schools of white bass forming (10-15 fish vs. 3-5 fish earlier on).  The shad began to ball up and suspend versus blanketing the bottom earlier on.  Nearby largemouth began to surface feed versus no surface action earlier on. And, best of all, a little resident flock of terns began to point out the most active pods of fish spread over quite an expanse of open water.

We alternated between downrigging and vertical MAL Lure work to keep fish coming in the boat.  Although the fish were feeding, it was not an aggressive, hard feed.  Only a few times did I find fish in a posture where I felt the MAL Lures would shine, and, when we worked them, the fish only stayed interested briefly, thus necessitating that we return to horizontal work with the downriggers.

By the time the bite in the vicinity of Area 062 began to taper off around 9AM, we’d gone from a tally of 1 to a tally of 38.

We moved on as the action was waning, but before it completely shut down in hopes of finding another population of fish which started their feeding cycle a bit later.  

We were able to relocate fish, this time in the vicinity of Area 453.  We downrigged to find these fish and caught a few on the downriggers, but really made money by using MAL Lures for suspended fish holding in a vertical band from 24-29 feet deep over a deeper bottom.

Once the fish quit the MAL Lure bite, they were about done altogether.  We only landed 2 more thereafter in ~25 more minutes of downrigging effort covering quite a  span of water.

To summarize, we fished a full four hours with the span from 8AM to 10:15 producing all of the fish.  We downrigged about 70% of our time today, with the balance consisting of MAL Lure vertical work.

TALLY: 54 fish caught and released (52 white bass and 2 largemouth bass)

OBSERVATIONS:   A low intensity feed took place today from 8:00 – 10:15A.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES: 

Start Time:  6:40A

End Time: 10:50A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 73F

Elevation:  1.22′ high, +0.20′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow (up 4.18 feet after ~4.50″ began fell on Wednesday – Friday, 02-03 Sep.)

Water Surface Temp:  81.8F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW11 at sunrise, decreasing to SW7 by 8AM, and leveling off there

Sky Condition: Cloudless blue sky

Moon Phase: Waning gibbous with 84% illumination 

GT =25

Wx SNAPSHOT: 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 062 – downrigging and vertical MAL Lure work for 38 white bass by 9A

**Area vic453 – downrigging and vertical MAL Lure work for 16 white bass from 9A to 11A (with only 2 fish after 10:25)

 

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

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow #BeltonFishingGuide #LakeBeltonFishingGuide

#BeltonLakeFishingGuide #stripers #stripedbassfishing #rockfish #sandbass #freshwaterfishing #fishing

#bass #bassfishing #whitebass #panfish #crappie #fishingonaboat #fishingtackle #fishinglife #fishingsport

#fishingaddict #fishingpicoftheday #fishingtime #fishinggear #fishingday

#Fitec

SOLID RESULTS DESPITE THE FLOODING — 55 FISH @ STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, September 5th, 2020, I fished with Killeen native Keith Carroll and his 5-year-old son, Andrew.

Keith, an Ellison High School graduate, now lives with his wife in Cedar Park, TX, where he makes his living as a graphic artist working in the clothing industry with a firm based in San Marcos, TX.

Since many of you who follow my blog/Facebook page are local, I’ll mention that Keith’s mom, Barbara Carroll was a foreign language and TAG program teacher at Ellison H.S. ‘back in the day’.

Although Andrew has been fishing before, he’d never been on a boat before, but, it seemed no big deal for him as we cruised around 30 mph toward our first fishing area as we awaited sunrise.

PHOTO CAPTION #1:  Keith Carroll and his 5-year-old son wound up with 55 fish this morning on a day I thought would have been tougher than it was thanks to 3.5+ feet of flood water coming into this ~6.400 acre reservoir. WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

HOW WE FISHED:  I really was not sure exactly what to expect today.  We had a number of negative factors working against us, namely the NE wind, and 3.5 feet of new water brought in by 3 days of rain which dropped about 3.5 to 5.5 inches throughout the Leon and Lampasas River watersheds.

So, we just got out there and fished!  We looked for natural signs of fish activity and we used sonar and wound up piecing together a pretty solid trip. The fish definitely got more active in the last 2 hours than they were in the first two hours.  The first two hours of the trip saw cloud-darkened skies and lighter winds, whereas the winds picked up (although still from the ENE) and the skies brightened to “squinting intensity” in the last two hours. We alternated between fishing for white bass and sunfish as Andrew’s interest level and attention span dictated. 

As we fished for white bass, we encountered 3 instances where the fish were sufficiently congregated to allow for vertical work with the MAL Lure, otherwise, we had to downrig for them.

The sunfishing definitely got easier with all of the flooded vegetation now standing in the 1/2 foot of floodwater versus trying to access them in the matted hydrilla which existed while the lake was nearly 3′ low earlier in the week.  We went after ’em with lightweight floats, small hooks, small splitshot, and small baits presented with a bream pole.

In our first round of white bass fishing, we landed 13 white bass and 1 largemouth.  During our first round of sunfishing, we landed 13 sunfish.  We switched back over to white bass and landed another 22 white bass, then finished up fishing shallow for sunfish, putting a final 6 bluegill in the boat.

TALLY: 55 fish caught and released (35 white bass, 19 sunfish, 1 largemouth bass)

OBSERVATIONS:   Fishing was not nearly as negatively impacted as I suspected it might be with 3.51 feet of fresh floodwater coming in over a 3-day period.

Temperature Profile:

0 feet 82.6F

5 feet 83.3F

10 feet 83.6F

15 feet 83.6F

20 feet 83.6F

25 feet 83.6F

30 feet 83.1F

35 feet 80.9F

40 feet 77.4F

45 feet 75.7F

50 feet 74.8F

55 feet 73.9F

60 feet 65.5F

65 feet 61.9F

 

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES: 

Start Time:  6:40A

End Time: 10:50A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 73F

Elevation:  0.55′ high, +1.18′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow (up 3.51 feet after ~4.50″ began fell on Wednesday – Friday)

Water Surface Temp:  81.9F

Wind Speed & Direction: ENE6 at obscured sunrise, increasing to ENE9 by trip’s end

Moon Phase: Waning gibbous with 90% illumination (full moon +2 days )

GT = 0

 

Wx SNAPSHOT:  N/A  

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1395-041 – early downrigging for whites

**Area 914-1102 – early downrigging for whites with 1 round of MAL Lures worked vertically

**Area Sh0121C – sunfish

**Area 671-1447 – late downrigging for whites with 2 rounds of MAL Lures worked vertically

**Area 189 – 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

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow #BeltonFishingGuide #LakeBeltonFishingGuide

#BeltonLakeFishingGuide #stripers #stripedbassfishing #rockfish #sandbass #freshwaterfishing #fishing

#bass #bassfishing #whitebass #panfish #crappie #fishingonaboat #fishingtackle #fishinglife #fishingsport

#fishingaddict #fishingpicoftheday #fishingtime #fishinggear #fishingday

#Fitec

HAIL TO THE CHIEF — 70 FISH CPR’d @ STILLHOUSE; MAL LURE GETS A WORKOUT

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Tuesday, September 1st, I fished with first-time guest Chuck Kimble, the Chief of Police for the City of Killeen. Chief Kimble celebrated his third anniversary in that position today.

Aside from Chuck’s current status as a public servant, he is also a U.S. Army veteran, as is his wife. The Kimbles came to Central Texas a few years ago from Fayetteville, NC, just outside the gates of Ft. Bragg.

Chuck recently bought a pre-owned Bayliner and is slowly getting into fishing as time allows, so, he came not only to catch fish, but to learn new approaches to catching fish this morning.

PHOTO CAPTION #1:   Chuck Kimble with some mature white bass we took in deep water on MAL Lures.  Chartreuse did the trick today under 100% grey cloud cover.

WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

HOW WE FISHED:  Today the weather “wrinkled” on us a bit versus the “cookie-cutter” weather we’ve enjoyed since the passage of last week’s hurricane-influenced weather.  The winds were up early and strong this morning, and we dealt with 100% grey cloud cover all morning, as well.

The fish were still generally in the same pattern, but the topwater feeding activity was much reduced today as the winds and cloud cover made the surface more difficult for gamefish to pin bait against. Generally, we downrigged from 6:50 until about 8:00, then found white bass heavily schooled both on bottom and suspended and worked MAL Lures through them until around 9:20. 

We then moved to an area I’d not fished yet this summer and alternated between downrigging and using MAL Lures to close out the trip with exactly 70 white bass landed.

The use of Garmin LiveScope in downward mode absolutely helped put more fish in the boat as we were able to very precisely time the rise of our lures through horizontally moving schools of white bass.  We were also able to track the rise and fall of our lures 100% of the time, thus allowing us to continue retrieving when we saw we were getting followed, and, on the other hand, stop a retrieve short and allow it to return to bottom once we saw no fish expressed interest.

TALLY: 70 white bass caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   About 20 terns were helpful in finding active fish between 8:00 and 9:15.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES: 

Start Time:  6:25A

End Time: 10:35A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 82F

Elevation:  2.95′ low, -0.06′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  83.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: S12 prior to sunrise, slowly increasing to SSW 15 by 9:15, then gusting higher thereafter.

Moon Phase: Waxing gibbous with 99% illumination (full moon -1)

GT = 5

Wx SNAPSHOT:  

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 853 – low light downrigging

**Area 062 to 071 – MAL Lures worked vertically for bottom-hugging and suspended fish

**Area vic 912/1133 – MAL Lures worked vertically for bottom-hugging and suspended fish

**Area 1222 to 668  – alternated between MAL Lure vertical work and downrigging horizontal work

 

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

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow #BeltonFishingGuide #LakeBeltonFishingGuide

#BeltonLakeFishingGuide #stripers #stripedbassfishing #rockfish #sandbass #freshwaterfishing #fishing

#bass #bassfishing #whitebass #panfish #crappie #fishingonaboat #fishingtackle #fishinglife #fishingsport

#fishingaddict #fishingpicoftheday #fishingtime #fishinggear #fishingday

#Fitec