BONUS BASS — 38+ POUND/5 FISH SACK ON STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This morning, Thursday, Jan. 14th, I fished with returning guest and retired Georgetown restaurateur, Dwight Stone, under ideal pre-frontal conditions on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.

A mild, dry front was forecast to hit around 10AM, and NOAA hit this one right on the head.  We enjoyed all of the benefits of pre-frontal fishing with no rain and no strong winds.

It would be an understatement to say the fish were fired up!

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  My first 10.00-pound largemouth bass for a client in my 15 years of guiding for white bass and hybrid stripers was landed this morning by Dwight Stone of Georgetown.  He caught this on one of my white Hazy Eye slabs with stinger hooks attached.

PHOTO CAPTION: About a half-hour later, Dwight put this one on the deck, as well.  6.25 pounds.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  I chipped in with a 7.75 early in the morning …

 

PHOTO CAPTION: …and a 9.50 after the wind started to blow.  What a morning!!

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Thursday (AM), 14 January 2021

HOW WE FISHED:

The big story this morning was the wonderful bycatch of quality largemouth bass we landed on light slabs and spinning gear intended for our target species — white bass.

The top 5 fish Dwight and I landed this morning weighed 10.00 pounds, 9.50 pounds, 7.75 pounds, 6.25 pound, and 5.125 pounds (38.625 pounds total, all measured on a certified scale).  Dwight’s 10-pound fish was the first ten-pound largemouth I’ve ever had a client land in 15 years of guiding for white bass and hybrid stripers.  It measured 24 1/8 inches and was in excellent shape.  The tail lobes were not even scarred or nicked.

Every last one of these fish was taken on my Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook attached.   We used the lighter 3/8 oz. version when the winds were calmed, and I upped to to 3/4 oz. when things got nautical.

Those stinger hooks really earned their keep this morning, as every one of the bass we landed (9 total) did at least one head-shake, and that stinger, in combination with the treble, held the slab fast and kept it from being whipped around like a ball-and-chain, and thus coming loose.

We handled all of these fish very quickly and gently, and that, combined with a slow rise from bottom due to taking our time using light spinning gear, made for a barotrauma-free release for each one of them.

Amidst all of this excitement we landed a steady stream of quality white bass, as well — 98 of them to be exact.  The fish we found in the first three hours came from scattered, small groups wandering on deep flats, and the fish we found in the final hour were smaller, more bunched up, and were closer to the channel break.

We landed more fish in our final hour than in the first three hours, combined, thanks to the pressure change accompanying the arrival of the dry cold front.

Since we’d done quite well, and had increasing winds and decreasing action by 11:20A, we wrapped it up right at the 4-hour mark this morning and I prepared to turn around and head over to fish an afternoon trip on Belton.

An easing tactic was the primary fish-catching technique this morning.

Hazy Eye Slabs and Stinger Hooks are found here: https://whitebasstools.com/

TALLY: 107 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  Classic, strong, pre-frontal fishing activity experienced this morning; with helpful bird action through 10:15AM in multiple locations.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:  7:20A

End Time: 11:20P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 40F

Elevation:  0.72′ low with a 0.0’ 24-hour change and 34 CFS flow thru the dam (note that Belton rose about 0.50 feet with the rain which fell last Wednesday and Thursday).

Water Surface Temp: 50.0F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW5-6 at sunrise, slowly and steadily increasing while swinging through W to WNW.  By trip’s end we had WNW16 gusting 20 as the front arrived.

Sky Condition: Clear, bluebird skies

Moon Phase: Waxing crescent moon at 2% illumination 

GT = 5

Wx SNAPSHOT:

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas 0082 (2 fish), 1138 (14 fish), 1950 (20 fish), and SH0001C (71 fish as the front arrived)

 

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

GORE-TEX GATHERINGS — 202 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Wednesday morning, January 6th, I welcomed returning guests PJ Condit and Scott Smith, joined by first-time guest Brandon Schaefer.

PJ and Scott became friends a few years ago when they attended an event at the same retreat center near Lexington, TX.

PJ is the lead minister at Community Christian Church in Round Rock, and Scott is the senior pastor at Crestview Christian Church in Copperas Cove.

Brandon, a friend of PJ’s, has spent his entire career in law enforcement.

The three fellows came out today as a result of a Facebook post I made on Monday wherein I saw pre-frontal conditions developing, and did not have anyone on the books to enjoy that opportunity.  I indicated that anyone who signed up should enjoy above average fishing thanks to the weather scenario.

That weather scenario included a 67% chance of rain with a total accumulation of 0.14 inches from 6A to 1P, so, I advised everyone to bring raingear.

Because fishing in the rain is not for everyone, I have, on occasion had parties request to postpone under conditions I knew full-well would produce some great fishing.  On such occasions, I’ve scrambled to post the opening on Facebook so the day would not be a loss.  On several occasions PJ has stepped up and claimed those openings, so, when everyone arrived this morning I observed we were “…fixing to have another Gore-Tex gathering,” knowing nature might beat us up a bit before we cashed in on the pre-frontal fishing.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: From left, Brandon Schaefer, Pastor PJ Condit, and Pastor Scott Smith during our Gore-Tex gathering on Lake Belton under pre-frontal conditions.  These fellows boated 202 fish.

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Wednesday (AM), 06 January 2021

HOW WE FISHED:

Pre-frontal fishing is the closest thing in the fishing world there is to gambling.  When all goes well, the payoff can be big, but, all doesn’t go well sometimes.

The weather scenario, according to the NOAA forecast, was for SSE winds to begin shifting through the SW, then W, then just north of W by mid-morning.  A brief chance of light rain existed during the passage of the lead edge of the front, followed by increasingly strong WNW winds.

That was the “theory”.  The reality was that we had a thick blanket of fog which no forecaster made any mention of, accompanied by light winds from the SE for about the first 3 hours of the morning.  This was because the approach of the front had slowed down.

After a nearly fishless first hour, we began to score some fish using an easing tactic in conjunction with my small, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slabs with stinger hooks, up in shallow (under 25′) water.

Into our second hour, and just as everyone got in to the groove of lifting their baits, setting the hook at the right time, etc., we were beginning to put fish in the boat steadily when an incredible boom of thunder rattled the still, foggy air around us like artillery and, even though it was miles to our south and west, we all ducked, grabbed rods to lay them down, turned off sonar, and made a beeline for the nearest shoreline so we wouldn’t be the highest-profile targets out there to get lightning’s attention.

We enjoyed manly conversation in a 25-minute thunderstorming downpour while occasionally glancing at weather radar to watch the storm cell’s direction of travel.

Things were not looking good, but, bottom line: there was no way I was going to advertise above-average fishing and then take these three guys back to the dock with anything less.

We had now paid our dues.  Once that thunderstorm passed, the skies began to brighten, the fog began to clear, and the fish fishing began to ratchet up notches at a time.

Once those fish started biting, they just absolutely cranked up.  With every additional mile-per-hour of wind speed, the bite got more and more aggressive.

We fished three areas after that storm’s passage and landed exactly 202 fish, including 1 freshwater drum, 5 largemouth bass, and 195 white bass.

To catch these fish, we alternated between an easing tactic and a slow-smoking retrieve when fish were in a chasing mood and/or too far off the bottom to use an easing tactic, all with that light 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab.

As the fellows quickly gained experience in scrutinizing the Garmin LiveScope screen for fish position and attitude, they slowly became adept at choosing a smoking or easing tactic, as appropriate, and that is where we really started to capitalize on the aggressive fish.

After such a slow start and having them endure the dousing they did, I kept them on on the water through 2:30P, at which time we agreed to quit only so they still had a chance of making a late lunch over at Miller’s Smokehouse!!!

We gambled, and it paid off.

Hazy Eye Slabs and Stinger Hooks are found here: https://whitebasstools.com/

TALLY: 202 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  Classic, strong, pre-frontal fishing activity experienced this morning; no helpful bird action.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:  8:00A

End Time: 2:30P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 58F

Elevation:  0.72′ low with a 0.0’ 24-hour change and 34 CFS flow thru the dam (note that Belton rose about 0.50 feet with the rain which fell last Wednesday and Thursday).

Water Surface Temp: 53.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: Calm to SSE4 as fog persisted through about 10:30A; then winds shifted SW, then W, then NW and began to intensify in the hours thereafter.  When we departed the winds were NW16 gusting 22 and blew even harder later in the afternoon.

Sky Condition: Fog through 10:30, followed by a thunderstorm, after which the cold front moved in and began clearing the skies to blue and cloudless.

Moon Phase: Last quarter moon at 49% illumination 

GT = 10

Wx SNAPSHOT:

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas 099 (slow, shallow), 1177 (pre-storm), 1294 (following wind shift), 1551/1293 (following wind shift), 1614 (following wind shift)

 

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

SORTASTITIOUS, NOT SUPERSTITIOUS — 68 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Tuesday afternoon I fished with Dave and Andy Covington of Belton, TX, with Dave’s mom, Terri, coming along as a spectator, videographer, photographer, and snack-passer-outer.

Terri got this trip as a Christmas present for Andy (who, at age 7, originally asked for a boat for Christmas!).  In early December when Terri and I spoke by phone about this arrangement, we somewhat randomly chose Wednesday, Dec. 30th, as the date to make the trip happen, however, Mother Nature had other things in mind as we had a cold, wet downpour all day that day.

We relooked at the weather forecast and the Belton Independent School District calendar, and agreed that this date worked in both regards.  Things turned out as well as can be expected fishing with a 7-year-old in 50-degree water…

 

PHOTO CAPTION #1:

PHOTO CAPTION: From left, Dave, Andy, and Terri Covington on Lake Belton, cashing in Andy’s Christmas fishing gift certificate.

 

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Tuesday (PM), 05 January 2021

HOW WE FISHED:

With a pretty solid weather forecast (SE winds on the end of a 3-day warmup, and with building cloud cover) I was not concerned so much about finding biting fish as I was in coaching Andy to stay consistent with the pretty demanding tactics we would have to employ to enjoy sustained action.

Fortunately, like many kids engaged in sports, he was coachable, and he also connected his own level of attention to detail with his success rate  — he understood his chances to catch fish were best when he carefully tried doing everything right, every time.

Because we were between weather fronts, the fish were feeding, but sort of lackadaisically, so we went with small, 3/8 oz. white Hazy Eye Slabs with stinger hooks, and worked them with an easing tactic on, and just off, the bottom.

As is often the case in such scenarios, most of our results at each area we visited were front-loaded, meaning we’d catch most of the fish we were going to catch at a given area right after starting our presentations, only to have the interest level drop off sharply after only a short period of time.

This simply meant we had to move routinely, if only a few boat-lengths away, to keep fish interested.

As we fished our first area, the subject of superstitions about fishing came up.  I told my crew how some people get really caught up in connecting things with no bearing on fishing whatsoever to their fishing success, such as wearing a “lucky” fishing hat or shirt.  It was then that Dave shared with us that he, personally, was sortastitious, but definitely not superstitious.

Thanks to cloud cover building in the western sky late in the afternoon, the light level began to dim well before sunrise, thus shifting the bite up shallower than during the first two-thirds of the trip.

We closed out the trip in between 22-26 feet of water taking fish at the fastest pace of the entire trip in our last 40 minutes on the water as the fish put on a low-light feed which I haven’t observed in quite sometime.

We ended up with 68 fish by the time they shut down right at sunset.

Hazy Eye Slabs and Stinger Hooks are found here: https://whitebasstools.com/

TALLY: 68 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  We experienced a strong low-light feed this evening in the last 40 minutes preceding sunset; the action then died suddenly once the sun set.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:  1:15P

End Time: 5:40P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 68F

Elevation:  0.74′ low with a 0.02’ 24-hour fall and 34 CFS flow thru the dam (note that Belton rose about 0.50 feet with the rain which fell last Wednesday and Thursday).

Water Surface Temp: 54.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSE8-10 all afternoon.

Sky Condition: Light blue skies with quickly building cloud cover throughout the afternoon to ~75% cover by sunset.

Moon Phase: Waning gibbous moon at 60% illumination 

GT = 100

Wx SNAPSHOT:

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas B0067G, 295/409/1943, vic 150 (best average size), vic 1943, vic 171 (shallow), vic B0172C (shallow)

 

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

FIRST TRIP OF 2021 — 88 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Monday, Jan. 4th, I fished a half-day trip with Mr. Ty Burcham and the Salcedo brothers: Owen (17), Ian (15), and Levi (10), all from around the Austin area.

I was concerned about the weather because as far back as Friday afternoon, the NOAA forecast was calling for near zero cloud cover and light winds.  I would normally postpone under such conditions if they followed a cold front, but, the cold front’s impact was most drastically felt on Saturday.  Sunday saw a return of southerly winds, so I knew we could catch fish this morning, albeit with some effort.  Besides, the kids’ schedule had no flexibility, so we took lemons and made some lemonade.

 

PHOTO CAPTION #1:  This was my crew this morning, from left: Levi, Owen, Ty, and Ian.

PHOTO CAPTION #2:  Ty wound up boating the biggest fish of the day, a 19-inch hybrid, thereby earning the right to buy lunch for everyone!

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Monday (AM), 04 January 2021

HOW WE FISHED:

Before we left the launch area this morning, I provided a “live demo” on how we would need to slowly and methodically move our slabs in order to have success this morning.  Once it seemed everyone understood what we were doing and why we were doing it, we moved out to hunt for fish.

Fish were not all that hard to find today, but the ratio of biting fish to fish found was, as anticipated, pretty low.

By the second area we stopped at, everyone’s technique was effective enough to catch fish consistently, and, as the skies brightened and the fish roused a bit more, our catch rate began to climb.

Fishing was slow but consistent, and the diminutive, white 3/8 oz. slab got the nod for use this morning.  As we had fish regurgitate the shad they had eaten, that 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab was a dead ringer for the real deal.

Around 10AM, the bite began to weaken, as the fish would only fire as soon as we dropped our slabs down, but would shut down soon after.  In hopes that more open water would at least be rippled by the wind, I chose to change locations.  When we did, I found a handful of helpful birds (mainly terns) working a small patch of open water.  We checked it out with sonar, saw fish both on bottom and suspended, Spot-Locked on them, and broke out the MAL Lures for about a 45-minute go at some fish which were generally large than those we’d been catching up to that point.  It was during this time that Ty landed our one and only hybrid of the trip.

To tempt the fish with the MAL, we had to get the blade going with as little handle-turning as necessary, then downshift to as slow a speed as possible while still keeping the blade spinning.  Even when it wasn’t fish quite perfectly, it still out-produced slabs while the fish were aggressive.

By around 11:00, the fish had settled back down, so we took a “middle of the road” approach and used our slabs with a slow-smoking retrieve (as they can be worked a bit more slowly than MAL Lures which require a bit of speed at the beginning of the retrieve to get the blade going).  This worked well for another 30 minutes and then these open water fish gave up altogether.

By now it was noon and I told everyone I’d try to get us on fish one last time so everyone could go home with a rod bent right up to the last minute.  We did find one final school of fish, and, although they were small, the boys enjoyed catching them.

We wrapped up this morning with 85 white bass, 2 freshwater drum, and 1 hybrid striped bass.

Hazy Eye Slabs and Stinger Hooks are found here: https://whitebasstools.com/

TALLY: 88 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  About 30 minutes of helpful bird activity from ~10:15 to 10:45 under calm, bright conditions.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:  7:45A

End Time: 12:30P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 39F

Elevation:  .72 low with a 0.02’ 24-hour fall and 34 CFS flow thru the dam (Belton rose about 0.50 feet with the rain which fell last Wednesday and Thursday.  Although 2.0 to 2.5 inches fell area wide, it came in doses which soaked in, resulting in minimal runoff.

Water Surface Temp: 52.6F

Wind Speed & Direction: Never more than a slight ripple on brief occasions.  Nearly flat calm all AM.

Sky Condition: 0% cloud cover on a bright blue sky.

Moon Phase: Waning gibbous moon at 71% illumination 

GT = 110

Wx SNAPSHOT:

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas  B0009C thru 376, vic 1275 (open water birds), vic B0186C

 

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