WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Saturday, January 6, I conducted the fourth SKIFF trip of the 2024 season. Joining me this morning was Zayden Bush, son of U.S. Army Sergeant First Class (E7) Christopher Bush and his wife, Trista.

Zayden, a sharp, cheerful kid and fast learner, is facing about nine weeks of separation from his father as he goes through the US Army drill instructor training course.

ABOUT SKIFF:  SKIFF trips have been provided to military families at no charge since May of 2009.  SKIFF is funded by donations from Austin Fly Fishers, The McBride Foundation, & Austin Subaru.  S.K.I.F.F. provides children of military personnel separated from their families by duty commitments with the opportunity to fish.  SKIFF trips are also provided to Gold Star families who have lost their service member.  In mid-2019, SKIFF began providing trips to kids of bona fide disabled veterans.  I conduct these 3.5 hour adventures on Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir year ’round.  Call or text 254.368.7411.

Here is how the fishing went…


Here’s an up-to-date calendar so you can check availability:

Next available dates are Jan. 9-11 (AMs)


PHOTO CAPTION:  Zayden Bush used a slow-smoking tactic in combination with Garmin LiveScope to capture this 17.25-inch white bass — a pending Junior Angler lake record in the Junior Angler category.


PHOTO CAPTION: Most every winter trip targeting white bass is now producing both largemouth bass and freshwater drum as a welcome bycatch.  This fellow went 4.00 pounds.


PHOTO CAPTION: This freshwater drum slurped Zayden’s slab up off the bottom as he was using a snap-jigging tactic.


Find the Bladed Hazy Eye Slab here:

WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

WHEN WE FISHED: Saturday, 06 Jan. 2023 (AM)


A mild, dry Pacific cold front pushed through overnight, leaving the morning air significantly dryer and cooler, and our winds out of the north west. Although the impact of a mild front is always a tossup, this front definitely  benefited our efforts this morning.
As I waited for Zayden and his mom to arrive, birds were working aggressively, and once we covered the preliminary safety and gear issues, we got right under these birds and went to catching.
Zayden landed 16 fish including 15 white bass, and a freshwater drum  as we made three short hops under this first flock of birds.  We used a combination of snap-jigging and slow-smoking.
When this bird action dissipated, I ran sonar, found a group of fish which were not under birds and fished for them. They were not nearly as aggressive. We left them after catching just two.  I used my spotting scope to identify another group of birds working over top of fish. We arrived beneath them and finished out the trip on that location.
In this situation the fish were on, and suspended as much as 8 feet up off, bottom in about 42 feet of water . The fish highest up in the water column were the most active. The thumper served to consolidate the fish and kept them interested while the LiveScope allowed us to present our baits to individual fish right up beneath the boat as we employed a smoking tactic.
Zayden landed a total of 26 fish here, including four largemouth bass . As I watched him get increasingly better at working his slab using the smoking tactic, I watched his bait approach a large fish showing on Garmin LiveScope from beneath. As his lure cruised by that fish, it took his bait, and the fight was on. Judging by the bend in the rod, I assumed this was yet another quality largemouth, however, when it got to the surface, I saw that it was a truly large white bass.
I netted the fish got it right into the livewell to make sure it stayed healthy, and then placed it on a measuring board to check it. It was exactly 17.25 inches, thus beating the current Junior Angler lake record white bass by a half inch.
Zayden landed a total of 44 fish this morning with his last fish coming on the third technique I introduced him to, which was casting with a jig head and curl tail grub. His last fish of the morning, an 11 inch white bass. was the one and only fish he landed on that method.  With that, we called it a good morning and headed in around 10:30 AM.
All fish were taken on a white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slab this morning.

Here is a tutorial on the snap-jigging method we used …

Here is a tutorial on the slow-smoking tactic we used…

TALLY: 44 fish caught and released.



The water temperature profile measured on Stillhouse Hollow on 01 Jan. 2024 was:

0 feet 54.3F
5 feet 54.7F
10 feet, 54.9F
15 feet, 54.9F
20 feet, 54.9F
25 feet, 54.9F
30 feet, 54.9F
35 feet, 54.9F
40 feet, 54.7F
45 feet, 54.2F
50 feet, 53.6F



Start Time: 7:45A

End Time: 10:30A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 8F

Elevation: 17.78 feet low, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp: 54.3F on the surface.

Wind Speed & Direction: NNW wind at 6-8

Sky Condition: Clear, bluebird sky

Moon Phase: Waning crescent moon at 28% illumination.

GT = N/A





Area SH0016C/SH0002C – 16  fish snap-jigging & smoking white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs
Area 0133 – 2  fish snap-jigging white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs
Area vic SH0241 – 26 fish smoking white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs


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)





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