FISH ON FIRE – 140 FISH @ BELTON BEFORE THE FRONT

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This morning, Veterans’ Day 2019, I fished with long-time client Steve Niemeier and two of his granddaughters, 11-year-old Macy Fowler, and 4 1/2 year old Zoey Haberer.  Steve is one of those fellows who (wisely) specifically plans his trips around peak fishing times of year — always coming out between mid-April and late May for the best hybrid striped bass fishing of the year (a quality fishery), and also coming out between late October and mid-December for the best white bass fishing of the year (a quantity fishery).

It amazes me that more folks don’t fish this time of year.  Both this past Saturday and again today, on a holiday, there were only 3 vehicles with trailers in the parking lot at a time when our fish tallies typically exceed 100 fish in a 4-hour trip.

I was excited for Steve and the girls as the weather forecast which, beginning last Wednesday showed the possibility of us cashing in on some strong, pre-frontal fishing action, held together long enough for us to take advantage of it.  Often, the timing of a big cold front’s arrival will speed up or slow down as the forecast matures, but this one stayed dead on.  We got in a full 4+ hours between 7-11am under perfect conditions — manageable breezes from the SW, then W, and with a nice layer of grey clouds.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   Everything was biting and biting well today.  This is a mix of blue and channel cats we took out of 38′ after the girls caught so many white bass they got bored with the success.  That’s Macy Fowler on the left with the hefty blue cat (3.75 pounds), and Steve helping his other granddaughter, Zoey Haberer, display her channel catfish while also holding his own blue cat.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   The white bass were really fired up.  We took 89 fish from one area without moving over a 1.75 hour span.  The only reason I moved very far at all was to create a little transition and distraction to get the girls to refocus at a new location using the same successful tailspinner tactics. We took 129 white bass in all.

PHOTO CAPTION:    Steve saved the best for last.  He boated our largest fish of the morning, this nice 20″, 4-pound hybrid right before the front moved in.

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  11 November 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  Fortunately, with a 4 1/2 year old onboard in the cool season when sunfish are no longer an option, we had pre-frontal weather to fire the fish up and provide lots of action.  For once, I was actually glad for all the small white bass Belton has produced of late, as it provided ample, constant action which was just right for my two youthful anglers.

We fished four distinct areas for white bass.  In actuality, we could have stayed put at any one of these and kept right on catching my moving the boat a tad, but, a boat ride tends to help kids refocus and gives them a renewed sense of expectation so they re-engage and focus better.  At all of the areas we fished, the tailspinner continued to produce well and outproduced the slab I tried on occasion, thanks to water which is still in the mid-60’s from top to bottom.

When little Zoey had all the fishing she could handle, she became the “fish-putter-backer”, using my dipnet to deposit our caught fish back into the lake very gently.  When that novelty wore off, she became the “chum-chucker”, freshening up our catfish spread with new chum to keep the fishing coming in and biting.

We landed 129 white bass, 3 channel catfish, 7 blue catfish, and 1 hybrid striped bass this morning, all in 4 hours’ of effort, for a grand total of 140 fish caught and released.

TALLY: 140 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  One really nice, unintended consequence of using the tailspinners is that all white bass are lip hooked every time.  Due to the length of the lure and the fact that the fish are approaching it from beneath and getting caught by the belly-hook, the length of the lure fit cross-wise in their mouths prevents the lure from being swallowed which is not the case with slabs.  This makes for very fast catch-and-release so when they are really biting hot and heavy my anglers can maximize their results;  of course, it is gentler on the fish, too.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:00A

End Time:  11:10A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  64F

Elevation: 2.37 feet low, 0.02′ 24-hour fall, 34 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  66.1F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SW10, scaling back and shifting to SSW5-6 before the “hammer dropped” and the cold front came in

Sky Conditions:  Grey skies the entire trip

GT = 30

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     This is what a perfect fishing forecast looks like — 7a to 11a !!

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas B0171C/788 (89 fish in 1.75 hours), B0185c/2041 (up to 110 fish), 1675 (up to 122 fish), and 1882 (our final 8 fish) – for white bass

**Area 1909 for catfish in ~38′

 

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

LORALEE, THE 10-YEAR-OLD FISH MAGNET – 139 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday afternoon I fished with 3 generations of ladies from the same family.  Melissa Kelley coordinated the trip well in advance so as to coincide with the 10th  birthday of her soon-to-be ten-year-old niece, Loralee Walker, the eldest daughter of Melissa’s younger sister.  Also joining us was Melissa’s mom (Loralee’s grandma), Sharon Kelley.

Grandma Sharon told me that given a choice between doing something more traditionally “girly”, like shopping, or being outdoors on the lake or in a deer stand, Loralee would choose the outdoor option every time.

The idea to celebrate Loralee’s birthday with a fishing trip stemmed from a fond memory Melissa had of a birthday spent in pursuit of striped bass on Lake Whitney back when she was a girl.  The memory always stuck with her, and she wanted to do something memorable like that for Loralee.

About 30 minutes into the trip I gave Loralee the nickname “Fish Magnet” because, more often than not, as I watched sonar and let everyone know when we had a nice school of fish under the boat, Loralee would already have her rod bowed over and a fish reeled halfway back to the boat.  Heck, there were even times when the sonar didn’t show ANY fish and Loraless would still have her rod bowed over and a fish reeled halfway back to the boat.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Loralee Walker, birthday girl and fish magnet, with the best fish of the trip, a 19.5 inch Lake Belton hybrid striped bass.  Don’t let the dress, pastel rainbow and unicorn fool you — this girl can fish!!

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From the left, that’s Loralee’s aunt Melissa, then Loralee, and Loralee’s grandma, Sharon.

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  09 November 2019, PM

HOW WE FISHED:  I was actually scheduled to fish an AM and PM trip today, but, after considering the weather (heavy fog early followed by dead calm and bright skies) and my clients (a granddad, dad, and two elementary-aged boys), I postponed that one.  The afternoon’s southerly breeze, however, looked promising, as it was the first returning southerly breeze after a cold front.

We did a bit of spot-hopping to put together our catch this afternoon, but, with the water still near 66F, the fish were readily taking what we offered (tailspinners) whenever I found them on sonar.

After hitting 3 separate areas and “short hopping” at two of them, we amassed a catch of 100 fish by 4:25p.  We then took a restroom break and continued on fishing until sunset, hitting another two areas, both of which produced fish for us.

As has been the case this fall, we encountered a lot of small white bass, although this evening’s ratio of shorts to keepers was the best I’ve seen since the fall fishing has kicked in.  Additionally, we boated 4 legal hybrid and several that were barely short — all of which gave a tremendous fight on the ultralight rods I’ve retooled with so as to make the catching of the plentiful small white bass sporty.

A moderate-speed, plain-Jane retrieve on the tailspinners produced consistently until right at sunset.  At sunset, the fish, although still present and willing to bite, were unwilling to chase.  I switched tactics very quickly, putting a rod rigged with a Hazy Eye 3/8 oz. slab/stinger hook combination in everyone’s hands and gave them a quick-and-dirty lesson on the technique of “easing”.  This accounted for our last half-dozen fish or so.  After the sun set, it started cooling off quickly and so we called it a good day right then and headed the boat back to the dock.

TALLY: 139 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:    1) we had a better (5:1) short to legal white bass ratio today. 2) We had more legal hybrid (and hybrid overall) in the catch this afternoon than in any trip since the water has begun cooling off. 3) In areas with slick water (due to being sheltered from the S. wind) schools of small shad could be seen feeding on the surface this afternoon on a widespread basis.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    1:30P

End Time:  5:40P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  63F

Elevation: 2.33 feet low, 0.03′ 24-hour fall, 34 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  65.8F

Wind Speed & Direction:  S5-6 the entire trip

Sky Conditions:  Light blue skies

GT = 80

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas B0185C, B1086C, vic B0121C, vic 1882, vic 1024

 

 

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

ADDING TO THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE — 125 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Wednesday morning I fished with Jerry Worley, his son-in-law, A.J. Shiller, and friends David Vahrenkamp, and Clay O’Dell.  Jerry owns and operates Jerry Worley Insurance Agency in Harker Heights, A.J. is with the Killeen Fire Department, and David and Clay work at Bates Nissan in Killeen.

If it is true that you can gauge the depth of friendship by the amount of criticism you’ll allow to be hurled at you by those referred to as friends, then you’d come away knowing these fellows are pretty tight.  We actually added two new words to the English language during this trip as a result of this tight-knit friendship.

The first, a noun, was the term “Worley”.  Used in a sentence: Oh, you just did a Worley!  This is to say that an angler successfully hooked and played a fish all the way to the boat, only to have the fish drop back into the water before crossing the gunwale into the boat, and thus keeping it from being counted in the day’s tally.

The second, also a noun, was the term “A.J.”.  Used in a sentence: Oh, there goes another A.J.!  That is to say that an angler waited very patiently with his/her rod held perfectly still while waiting for a catfish to strike on a baited hook, only to have such a delayed response in setting the hook that the fish gets away without being hooked, never to return.

I don’t know how Clay and David escaped unscathed, but, remember, I did not go to lunch with them, so, more could definitely have happened after they exited the boat.  Check Urban Dictionary next month for the revisions.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  From left: Clay O’Dell, David Vahrenkamp, A.J. Shiller, & Jerry Worley each with a pair of Belton Lake white bass taken on tailspinners.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   A.J. Shiller came up with this nice 8.75 pound yellow (a.k.a. flathead) catfish from out of 25 feet of water.  We rounded out the catfish roundup with channel catfish and blue catfish, as well.

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  06 November 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  Strong numbers of smaller fish have been the theme this fall when it comes to white bass, and today was right in line with that trend.  We finished the morning out with 125 fish boated, which included 104 white bass, 2 largemouth, 1 drum, 1 yellow cat, 12 bluecat, and 5 channel catfish.  The “short to legal ratio” on the white bass ran right about 8:1 this morning.

With no helpful bird action to key on, we began methodically checking potential fish-holding areas thoroughly with sonar, relying heavily upon down-imaging to sort out fish from the bottom they were holding tightly to.

Over the course of the morning we found 5 different areas which produced fish after checking about twice as many areas.  The fish were not as worked up this morning with fairly mild weather in place.  Each time we found fish, it was only because a small percentage of all the fish present there were holding up off bottom enough to be seen on sonar.  Once we began working baits for those fish, many more fish would become apparent as they lifted off bottom and came in to the commotion.

A number of areas held gamefish, but the baitfish in the area were clearly relaxed and formed in a horizontal blanket instead of being absent or balled up — not good!

The tailspinner is still hard to beat right now given the still-warm water (which actually warmed a bit on the surface over the course of these past few mild days and cloudy nights).

We stayed on the white bass until we’d boated at least 100, then stayed on that final area until it played out after our 108th fish came over the gunwale.  We then changed up and pursued catfish.

The catfish were not super-charged, either.  Although I found plenty of them, they, like the white bass, we a good bit more lackadaisical.  We wound up fishing two areas, with each producing blue cat as soon as we got baits down, followed by channel cat after the scent of our chum and baits had more time to work.

TALLY: 125 fish caught and released

 

OBSERVATIONS:   Once again, we did not really get into fish until after 7:30 (with DST now over), so, I’m glad I pushed out meeting time up to 7:00 so as to reduce the wait between getting launched and catching our first fish.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:00A

End Time:  12:10P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  70F

Elevation: 2.33 feet low, 0.00′ 24-hour fall, 34 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  66.8F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSE8-10 the entire trip

Sky Conditions:  Moderate density grey cloud cover, 100%

GT = 65

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas  B0183C, vic 1619, vic 1815, vic 1077, and vic 788 (with 2 short hops) for white bass

**Areas B0015C and 1934/2062 for catfish

 

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

INNOVATIVE DEVICE SIMPLIFIES SOLO BOAT LAUNCHING

 

This is a “cut and paste” from my article in the KDH 2 weekends ago. Wish I’d installed this years ago!!

By Bob Maindelle | For the Herald Oct 27, 2019

Back on Sept. 8, I wrote about a simple device which makes launching my boat when I am unaccompanied much easier and quicker.

I got a great amount of feedback on that article, and many who contacted me asked the logical question, “Do you have an easy way to load your boat back onto your trailer, as well?”

The answer is “Yes.”

After doing a good bit of research online, reading online reviews, watching numerous YouTube videos and more, all focused on the various commercially available automatic boat latching systems on the market, I decided to purchase a Drotto Catch-N-Release Boat Latch.

After deciding on the Drotto device, I also spoke with Darren Dressen, the owner of the company which produces the device, Drotto Products. Dressen, from South Dakota, was a pleasant fellow who found necessity to be the mother of invention.

 

HOW IT WAS BEFORE

As with many V-hulled boats, my boat would do one of two things when I drove it up onto my trailer at the conclusion of a fishing trip. Either the boat would stop short of the bow eye overlapping the bow roller (typically if the trailer was just a bit too shallow), or the bow eye would seat, as desired, just overlapping the bow roller while the outboard was in forward gear, but would then roll backwards away from the bow roller once I put the motor in neutral (typically if the trailer was backed in just right, or a bit too deeply).

Either scenario created some hassle as it would leave the boat a few inches too far back on the trailer, thus requiring that I manually crank the boat further up onto the trailer using the winch. On boats with rollers (versus bunkboards) this would have to be done before pulling the boat out of the water, lest the boat roll rearward and wind up partially or fully off the trailer.

This involves stepping over the bow or laying down and reaching under the bow to latch the winch strap hook onto the bow eye and hand-cranking the winch to prevent the boat from rolling back.

HOW IT IS NOW

With the Drotto device now installed, and with the trailer backed into the water, I now simply center my boat on the trailer and drive the boat slowly forward onto it, allowing my guideposts and bunkboards to center the boat and bring it to a stop on the trailer about two to three feet short of its final position.

With the outboard steered directly forward, I goose the throttle to create enough forward thrust to slide the boat forward on the trailer, thus moving the bow eye into the slick alignment plates on the Drotto device. The device then guides the bow eye so as to make direct contact with the latching mechanism which then activates, bringing the two halves of the clamping mechanism together around the bow eye.

When the mechanism positively latches, it makes a distinctive sound loud enough to be heard over the noise of the outboard, so there is no doubt the boat is securely latched in place.

The boat is now locked in place on the trailer and will not go any farther forward, nor will it slip backward.

I then simply turn off the motor, trim it up, step out of the boat, get into my tow vehicle and pull out of the water. For safety, I still attach the winch strap and tie-down straps after clearing out of the ramp area.

THE NEXT LAUNCH

After securing the boat onto the trailer with the Drotto device, and before launching the next time, I simply push upward on the release arm of the Drotto device. This opens the jaws of the clamping mechanism, leaving only the winch strap hook attached to the bow eye. From there, the launch procedure is no different from launching without the device installed.

INSTALLATION WAS EASY

One of the main features of the Drotto device which led me to choose it over similar devices was the simplicity of installation. After launching the boat to give me room to work around the bow eye, I removed the through-bolt which held my bow roller in place and replaced the bow roller with the Drotto device, leaving it loose enough to be able to be repositioned by hand.

I then backed the trailer into the water to a normal loading position and drove the boat forward until it made contact with the Drotto device. The device was pushed into proper position by the shape and movement of the bow of the boat. I then tightened the device with a pair of ¾-inch wrenches, thus making this the final mounted position of the Drotto device.

Next, I attached the release arm using a single nut and bolt, tightened with a half-inch wrench. The release arm allows the clamping mechanism to be opened prior to launching the next time. In 15 minutes’ time, the installation of the device and release arm was complete.

Bow rollers typically come in two sizes, 3-inch or 3.75-inch. Once you determine the width of your bow roller, you can order the correct model of Drotto for your trailer. The device is offered in powder-coated black or in galvanized steel.

IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?

If the boat loading issues I described above are what you encounter, then the Drotto device will overcome these issues. Typically, V-hulled boats and/or trailers with rollers will benefit most from the Drotto device. Although some bass boat hull and trailer combinations may benefit from such a latching device, most bass boat hulls are flat enough to prevent rolling backward once they are snugged up on the trailer such that the bow eye overlaps the bow roller on the winch block.

Flat-bottomed boats and trailers are not compatible with the Drotto device.

I do want to point out that I paid the retail price for this device, which was around $260. I did not get any breaks or discounts. I am not on the company’s pro or field staff, and I have no business relationship with Drotto Products. As with other fishing-related gear that I have reported on in this column, I have chosen to share this information about the Drotto device with you because, after much use, it has proven to be a time-saving, durable device which makes my fishing experience more enjoyable by reducing hassles at the boat ramp after the fishing is concluded.

FANTASTIC FALL FISHING CONTINUES – 124 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday morning, November 2nd, I fished with returning guests Jim Downing and Eric Martin.  Although I’d fished with both men previously, they’d never before come out together.  This turned out to be a win-win situation, as my original party had to postpone due to a death in the family, and Jim’s opening day of deer season plans also fell through.  When I posted on Facebook that I had a last-minute opening, he jumped on it and brought Eric with him.  Unfortunately, the two “other guys” Jim invited thought it would be too cold to fish, and wound up staying home.  Jim was quick to send them both texts when our fish count reached 100, letting them know they zigged when they should have zagged.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:    This is why they are called ‘Multi-species Trips’ — be it large drum, cooperative catfish, or a bunch of white bass, not being set on one fish and one method allows the flexibility to pursue what is biting well.  We set aside the final hour of this morning’s trip to finding and catching deep-water blue cats.  Jim Downing came up with this 4.75 pounder right around noon.  That’s Eric Martin looking on.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  We didn’t go catfishing until we’d landed at least 100 fish by way of vertical jigging first.  Although the fish were not quite as aggressive as during times with cloud cover, the fish bit well after around 8:45a, despite a mild cold front moving in and reinforcing the already cool weather in place.

 

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  02 November 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:    Fishing was much today as it has been for the past several weeks since the weather has cooled down.  We used sonar to search for and pin down the locations of heavily congregated white bass in water from 30-36 feet in multiple areas, relying heavily upon the target separating capabilities of down-imaging and side-imaging.  Once these fish are found, we used the i-Pilot Link capability of my Minn Kota Ulterra to give the command (through the sonar unit) to the trolling motor to both go to, and then stay in a hover atop of these fish.

When the fish are turned on, the very first lure dropped among them stirs the hornets’ nest and the bite is on.  Yesterday, each group of fish we got on (3 groups in all) bit well for 35-45 minutes, then tapered off.

The DIY tailspinners I crafted specifically to overcome the various shortfalls of the commercially available versions out there continue to produce better than slabs thus far, although I am sure slabs will begin to outperform the tailspinners once the water cools more and the fish slow down (a time when I rely on my “easing” tactic).

By exactly 10:51am we had landed our 104th fish of the morning.  Since both fellows expressed an interest in catfish, I suggested that we leave our final hour or so dedicated to chasing catfish.  They were excited to do that, so, we “retooled” and got right down to catfishing.  We wound up landed exactly 20 catfish including a few channel cats, with the majority being blues.  Our 3rd to last fish taken this morning was the largest of the trip — a 4.75 pound bluecat taken by Jim.

In our mix of 104 non-catfish caught before we made the shift, we landed white bass, one hybrid striper, one largemouth bass, and several freshwater drum up to 3.75 pounds.

As has been the case for quite some time now, the vast majority of the white bass landed were small.  To keep things sporty, I’ve actually obtained some very nice ultra-light rods through St. Croix from out of their Panfish Series.  With light braid and my 1 oz. tailspinners, even the fight of a small fish can be felt well.

TALLY: 124 fish caught and released

 

OBSERVATIONS:   Once again, we did not really get into fish until after 8:30, despite meeting up for the trip around 7:30.  This happened on the previous trip, as well, and I attributed that to lack of wind on that day.  This morning, we had plenty of wind before sunrise, so, I’m thinking this is a behavioral thing, not a wind-related issue.  With time change taking place, I’m pushing back my start times this coming week to 7:00 (same light level as at 8:00 before turning clocks back) and until the fish dictate otherwise.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:30A

End Time:  12:15P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  36F

Elevation: 2.27 feet low, 0.02′ 24-hour fall, 34 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  64.1F

Wind Speed & Direction:  NW8-9 the entire trip

Sky Conditions:  Clear blue skies the entire trip

GT = 50

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas B0119C, vic 327, and 1819/1934 were all loaded down with bottom-hugging white bass

**Area B0015C gave up both blue and channel cats

**Area 150 give up blue cat only, including the 4.75 pounder landed by Jim

 

 

 

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 THE FATHER-IN-LAW — 153 @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This morning, November 1st, 2019, I fished with returning guest Oscar Leal of Georgetown, and his son-in-law, Kevin Garlick, of Round Rock.  This was Oscar’s third trip with me this year; he was accompanied by his good friend Dwight Stone on his first two trip’s out with me.

Oscar, after retiring, went back to work at AMD in south Austin where he does product testing on the hardware side of the house.  Kevin is in sales for a national company focused on various forms of security systems.

If the weather cooperates, we hope to get Kevin’s kids (Oscar’s grandkids) out on the water next weekend.  As an incentive, Kevin took some live video of the Garmin LiveScope in action.  Evidently the kids are into the new VR (virtual reality) gaming, and, according to Kevin, the LiveScope is even better than VR!

With the water temperature falling through the white bass’ preferred temperature range of 62-74F (my observation), the action is really hot and heavy right now.  If there is a downside, it is that there are simply a lot of small fish in the system right now.  For every 10-12 fish caught, only 1 will be of a legal size (10+ inches).  The action, however is incredible, and the bycatch of largemouth, drum, hybrid, and catfish keeps things interesting, as well.

PHOTO CAPTION:   We had to put a bunch of fish in the boat to come up with enough keepers to do a photo to commemorate the trip, but, the action was non-stop this morning after the returning southerly wind began to blow just after 8:30.  Every one of the 153 fish we landed this morning came on a tailspinner. That’s Kevin Garlick on the left and Oscar Leal on the right.

PHOTO CAPTION: We took a few freshwater drum and one hybrid striper as bycatch today.

 

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  01 November 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   With the days now short and cold, there is really no need to be out on the water before sunrise.  We met up at 7:30 and still had plenty of time to go over admin, safety, techniques, and pray before we took off after fish.  We waited through a fishless hour while the winds were just barely rippling the surface.  At 8:39 we landed our first fish, and from that point on it was near continuous catching for the rest of the morning.  As the wind speed rose, the intensity of the bite rose with it.  As evidence of this, we put a final 51 fish in the boat in the last 45 minutes we spent on the water, from 11:30 to 12:15.  Prior to that, we’d boated 102 between the start of the bite at 8:39 and departing for our last fishing area around 11:30.

We landed 5 drum, 1 legal hybrid striped bass, and 147 white bass.  Every last fish came on a smoked tailspinner fished at a moderate cadence.  There is no other way to put it — there are just a lot of small white bass in Belton’s “system” right now.  No matter what I try or where I go, I know I’m going to have to sift through 6-12 short white bass before landing one of substance.  There is a definite gap between the smallest fish, which max out around 8.75 inches, and the next year class which stretches to just over 12 inches.  It is my theory that because we have a lot of small bait (thanks to a very successful shad spawn this spring), all the white bass are mixed together.  If there were an abundance of larger shad which this year’s crop of white bass would be too small to consume, there might be more segregation between year classes.  I don’t really have a way to test this, nor does it really matter.  Regardless, the action is great!

TALLY: 153 fish caught and released

 

OBSERVATIONS:    We experienced our first frost overnight last night.  As I drove to the lake between 6:30 and 7:00am, the temperatures in the low spots reached as cool as 24F

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:40A

End Time:  12:15P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  29F

Elevation: 2.24 feet low, 0.04′ 24-hour fall, 34 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  64.9F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSE2-3 until 8:30, then coming up rapidly to SSE12 until 10, then leveling off at SSE9-10

Sky Conditions:  Clear blue skies until around 9:30, then slowly building to 30% thin white cloud cover

 

GT = 25

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas 2055, 1740, 1398, vic 327, and 1916 were all loaded down with bottom-hugging white bass

 

 

 

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

AGGIES ABOARD!!!! – 100 FISH @ (CHILLY) LAKE BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This cold, rainy morning I welcomed aboard friends who came to know one another while part of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets — Doug Blackwell and Grant Olbrich.  The men were in the same unit at A&M and have remained friends through the years.

Doug and his wife live in Killeen where Doug works in the pawn business.  Grant and his wife now live in the China Springs area near Waco, following Grant’s retirement as a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, as well as from Delta Airlines where he worked as a pilot.

Both fellows are godly men, so the conversation today was encouraging and good-natured, despite the inclement weather.  Grant recounted how his grandfather, who resided in Westphalia and Temple, taught him to fish on Lake Belton, so it was a bit sentimental to return to the lake many years later.  Sadly, Doug lost his dad exactly 50 years ago on this date when he was only 6 years old.  Both fellows had fond memories of catfishing as they were growing up.  In fact, Grant shared that he proposed to his wife over a jason jar full of stinkbait!

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  That’s Grant on the left and Doug on the right. Between Grant’s red hands and nose and Doug’s gritted teeth, you can bet it was chilly out there today.  NOAA showed a windchill factor of 39F for the entirety of the trip.  I suppose those Aggies just weren’t going to be outlasted by a West Pointer, though!

 

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  30 October 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   Due to the short day length and heavy cloud cover, we really didn’t have enough light to see well until around 7:35am.  Additionally, there was much “sea smoke” as the lake gave up surface heat and created a mist at the surface which was patchy in nature and which was blown by the wind.

We found white bass in three distinct areas this morning, putting exactly 50 fish in the boat at our first stop (vic 1177), including 1 drum, 1 hybrid, 1 largemouth bass, and 47 white bass (BA).  We moved on after catching these 50 fish, as the majority of the white bass were smallish.  Thus far this season, moving to leave small fish in hopes of finding larger ones really hasn’t paid off, but, it never will if I don’t experiment now and then, and both Doug and Grant were okay with the move.

We moved to our second area and put another 18 fish in the boat, including 1 drum, 1 hybrid, and 16 white bass.  The “keeper to short fish ratio” was a bit better here, so we were glad we made the move.

As these fish settled down, I let the fellows know we could move again and do more of the same vertical work with tailspinners, or, make an attempt at drawing some catfish action.  Since both fellows had grown up fishing for cats, this appealed to them, so, off we went in pursuit of catfish.  We chummed them in and then caught them with prepared baits in about 32 feet of water.  It was interesting to note that of the 14 cats we landed today, half were channels and half were blues, with all of the blues coming early in our stop with the channels following.  As the catfish bite slowed, our tally was at 82 fish landed.  I offered that we could hit one more area for white bass to round out our day’s catch at right at 100 fish, then head in so the fellows could pay a visit to Mr. Dirk Miller over at Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton before parting ways.

We looked at two areas, finding no fish home at the first, and then plenty of white bass holding at the top of a breakline which began in 25 feet of water.  We worked our trusty tailspinners, but a final 18 fish in the boat, and as we did, Doug hooked his lure onto the largest guide on the rod and sat down, readying himself for the final boatride to lunch.

TALLY: 100 fish caught and released (BA = 12G x 2)

 

OBSERVATIONS:  (BA = 12G x 2)  1) Yesterday’s scouting certainly paid off.  The fish I found yesterday did the same things at the same times and in the same places this morning, thus letting us do much more catching than fishing. 2) The lake has now turned over.  There was no sulphuric odor coming over the dam yesterday morning, and, today, when I did a temperature profile at 5-foot increments down to 60 feet, the water was a uniform 68.6F from top to bottom.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:40A

End Time:  12:15P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  43F

Elevation: 2.12 feet low, 0.00′ 24-hour fall, 34 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  68.6F

Wind Speed & Direction:  NW11-12 for the entire trip

Sky Conditions:  Heavy grey, rainy skies

 

GT = 50

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 1177 – whites

**Area triangulated by B0098C/2055/2054   – whites

**Area B0173C – catfish

**Area vic 1815 – whites

 

 

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

OUT SCOUTING WITH THE OLD TIMERS — 45 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This cold, rainy morning I went out for about 3 hours scouting on Lake Belton and invited along two Belton Lake old-timers — retired fishing guide George O’Connor, and long-time multispecies angler Rodney Tyroch.  Mr. O sold his boat last year and Rodney and I wanted to make sure he still gets to wet a line now and then, so, when I made plans to check out some areas I’ve yet to fish so far in this cool season, I invited them along to help me in the scouting effort.  When it comes to white bass and hybrid in the cool months, the more lines in the water creating commotion, the better.

Mr. O’Connor is a first generation American.  His dad came from the “Old Country” (Ireland) and worked until he died at age 75.  George is a Vietnam veteran who served in-country as a military policeman after doing a prior enlistment in a US Signal Corps military occupational specialty.

Rodney was born and raised on an east Bell County farm by Czech parents and grandparents, and started his own plumbing business, among other things, at a young age.

Both men are good friends, have helped me tremendously since I was just in my 20’s and all through the years as I was building my business.  They’ve both come to “see the light” on catch-and-release, and have great stories to tell every time we’re on the water together.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  That’s George O’Connor, age 81, on the left in his trademark snowmobile suit, and Rodney Tyroch, age 68, on the right.  We found 0, 1, 2, and 3 year class white bass, short hybrids, and drum all mixed together and all feeding on shad about 2.5″ in length, spread over a 200-yard areas and feeding in a way they typically do in cool-water conditions.

 

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  29 October 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   We did more driving and sonar reading this morning than fishing, stopping only when the configuration of fish showing on bottom looked to be a sure bet.  We stopped three times and caught fish at two of those stops.  The first stop was for a small patch of small fish in just 17′, we caught fish immediately after dropping down, landed 3, and the action was over.  Later, we found a widespread group of mixed fish (whites, hybrid, drum) feeding from bottom in 37′, all the way up to the surface, occasionally seeing a fish swipe in the chop.

We used a combinations of slabs and tailspinners to land another 42 fish, with several others getting off as George and Rodney worked through the learning curve of working tailspinners on braided line.

By 10:30, Mr. O was getting cold, and when Rodney mentioned an early lunch at China Cafe, that just sealed the deal.  We reeled ’em in and headed for the ramp very satisfied that we’d found and caught fish under some tough conditions.

 

TALLY: 45 fish caught and released (BA = 24G)

 

OBSERVATIONS:    (BA = 24G) The fish behaved in a manner very typical of cool water fish in that they fed throughout the water column with a majority of the fish in the lower third.  No real response to the thumper yet.  Fish did respond to a snap-jigging tactic, an easing tactic, and a smoking tactic.  Up until today, the smoking was about the only way I’ve had very consistent success.  I experimented with slabs, comparing performance side-by-side (literally) with tailspinners.  The tailspinners performed more consistently still, but, I suspect that trend will reverse as the water continues to cool.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:30A

End Time:  10:30A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  45F

Elevation: 2.12 feet low, 0.01′ 24-hour fall, 34 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  68.6F

Wind Speed & Direction:  NW13 at obscured sunrise and for 1 hour thereafter, then scaling back to NW9

Sky Conditions:  Heavy grey, rainy skies

 

GT = N/A

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic B0117C – 3 white bass

**Area triangulated by B0098C/2055/2054 – mixed bag of 42 fish

 

 

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

POST-FRONTAL NEAR MISS – 136 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday I fished with the leadership team of Real Star Property Management LLC — Eli and Isaac Schlabach and Brandon Griffith.  This was the crew’s third trip with me, in addition to a sonar training I did with Eli and Isaac back this past summer.

The fellows originally scheduled near back-to-back trips in late summer this year, so, instead of doing the same thing twice, I suggested they delay their second trip so as to allow me to introduce them to cool weather tactics.  Fortunately, this panned out well yesterday.

This makes the third time now we’ve had a significant cold front blow through in which the day after the front’s passage we’ve still had sufficient winds from a northerly direction to move the water, versus the often still conditions that can be a part of post-frontal weather.  Although the clear, dry, cold “bluebird” skies still existed, the wind trumped all of that and allowed us to keep right on catching fish today, and with very sparse traffic on the lake thanks to the 45F pre-sunrise temperatures and brisk breeze which created a wind chill

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  From left: Isaac Schlabach, Brandon Griffith, and Eli Schlabach, each with a pair of white bass taken on tailspinners in 25-28 feet of water.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Brandon had become accustomed to the smaller whites we were catching when this just-legal hybrid took ahold of his presentation.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Eli took this nice specimen of a drum.  Drum haven’t made up a large part of my catch lately because I haven’t really been using slabs much with the water still in the 70’s.  That’ll all be changing real soon.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Isaac took this drum on a tailspinner.  The fish, which we watched chase and strike the lure on Garmin LiveScope, came about 15 feet off bottom, following the lure before catching up to it and taking it.

 

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  26 October 2019, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  We fished this trip in 3 distinct segments.  Just before, during, and after sunrise we downrigged in 20-25 feet of water for schooled and moving white bass cruising along the bottom just 0 to 4 feet off bottom in pursuit of shad.  3-armed umbrella rigs with Pet Spoons did the trick on these fish, giving up singles, doubles, and two sets of triples, yielding a total of 23 fish before that fishery shut down with the rising, brightening sun.  I believe the days of shallow forays at dawn up into the 12-15 foot range will probably disappear with the chill brought on by this cold front.

Next, we sought out schools of tightly congregated white bass holding on slow-sloping terrain which we targeted with a smoking tactic using tailspinners.  The fish we found this morning were a good 5-8 feet shallower than where we’d left them under Thursday’s pre-frontal conditions.  25-28 feet of water produced well this morning for another 74 fish, including white bass, hybrid striped bass, and a few drum.  Our tally now stood at 97 fish by about 10:45am.

Our last effort targeted blue catfish.  Strangely enough, the blues we found this morning were in the deepest water I’ve found them in throughout my blue cat experimentation this season — around 47 feet.  We chummed ’em in and caught ’em up — 39 catfish in all, with a few channels amongst the blues.

 

TALLY: 136 fish caught and released

 

OBSERVATIONS:    1) On 12, 22, and 26 October Belton continued producing well after a cold front’s passage thanks to continuing winds from a northerly direction at 9-12 mph.  2) The white bass we found this morning were a good 5-8 feet shallower than where we’d left them under Thursday’s pre-frontal conditions.  25-28 feet of water produced well. 3) The blues we found this morning were in the deepest water I’ve found them in throughout my blue cat experimentation this season — around 47 feet.

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:00A

End Time:  11:45A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  45F

Elevation:  1.94 feet low, 0.02′ 24-hour fall, 34 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  71.3F

Wind Speed & Direction:  NW12 at sunrise and steady for the entire morning

Sky Conditions:  Bluebird skies

 

GT = 25

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  812 was center of mass for downrigging effort – 23 fish

**Areas vic 327, vic 1827, and vic 1678 all gave up white bass on smoked tailspinners – 74 fish

**Area  B0115C – 39 catfish

 

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

PRE-FRONTAL FRENZY – 284 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Thursday I fished a full day trip with Randy and Patti Vines of Lubbock, Texas.  The Vines are a retired couple who love to fish and do a good bit of traveling inside the state of Texas fishing for all different species of fish in all seasons and conditions, sometimes with guides, and sometimes on their own.  Randy retired from working at a power plant and Patti retired from certified public accountant work.

I offer full day trips October through February when the days are cooler and shorter, and when the midday lull between the morning bite and the afternoon bite is also short.

Due to the incoming cold front, which was forecast for the afternoon, we fished a long morning trip (5.5 hours versus 4 hours) and then fished from 2:00 to 5:50pm, with an off-the-water lunch break in between.

The Vines originally scheduled 2 full days of fishing, but the incoming cold front saw to it that Friday’s effort would not come to be, thanks to straight-line winds over 20mph all day, with gusts to 30mph.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Randy is a good sport and secure in his manhood!  I’ll bet not 2 in 100 men would let me take a photo with their wife holding a bigger fish than the one they caught.  Nice catch, Patti!!  I will say that Randy was not grinning as widely as Mrs. Pat as this photo was snapped.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  We had to sift through a bunch of this year’s crop of white bass to catch keepers, but the action was strong and steady and the chance of getting an nice white bass was there all day, from sun-up until the weather drove us off the lake.

 

 

WHERE WE FISHED:  Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  24 October 2019, Full day

HOW WE FISHED:

MORNING PORTION: In the morning, we started off downrigging before the obscured sunrise.  We put a total of 23 fish in the boat using 3-armed umbrella rigs equipped with Pet Spoons chosen to match forage size.  Although a few fish went up shallow during this low-light feed, most hung back in 20-25 feet of water.

After the downrigging ended, we spent the remainder of the morning vertical jigging with tailspinners used in a smoking-style retrieve.  We hit only two areas, both in 30-35 feet of water.  The first gave up 50 fish including white bass and hybrid stripers; the second area gave up 77 fish, all of which were white bass. With the water temperature still in the low 70’s, the fish were chasing long and hard.  We concluded the morning portion of our trip after landing our 150th fish.

AFTERNOON PORTION: We got back on the water at 2pm, mainly so I could be sure to give the Vines a full 8 hours of fishing if the weather turned bad before sunset (which it did).  For variety’s sake, we started the afternoon gunning for bluecat using chum to bring the fish in after finding them on sonar, and using prepared baits to catch them.  We landed 28 fish in 42 feet of water before the bite slacked off. We then got right back on the white bass with tailspinners, catching fish right up until the cold front hit.  During this time we hit two more areas, the first and second in 30-35 feet of water and the second in 27 feet of water.  All three areas were somewhat wind-sheltered (even though the wind was not blowing all that hard), and, as the pressure began to change in advance of the cold front’s arrival, gamefish began to get extremely active, chasing shad to the surface and throughout the entire water column.  Our last area fished gave up a final 60 fish in only about 40 minutes’ time.

When the winds went calm we could see eerie black clouds out toward Gatesville and we knew it was time to go.  We ran back in and, as I pulled the boat onto the trailer the north wind began to blow.  By the time I stowed my gear and got on the road to head home, the temperature had dropped from 76F to 57F.  By the time I made it home it was pouring, blowing, and dark.

TALLY: 284 fish caught and released

 

OBSERVATIONS:    If I could have custom-ordered a set of autumn weather conditions, the conditions we had today would be it.  We had manageable winds with a southerly component all day, we had light grey cloud cover all day, and we had a front move in, thus allowing us to enjoy that pre-frontal uptick in activity in the hour or so before the wind-shift.

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:00A

End Time:  5:50P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  64F

Elevation:  1.94 feet low, 0.02′ 24-hour fall, 34 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  70.4F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SE10-11 all day until 5:30P, then going calm before the front hit, then blowing NNW20+ as the front hit right at 6PM

Sky Conditions:  Overcast grey skies all day

 

GT = 25

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 1882 downrigging for 6 whites

**Area  1177 to B0119C for 70 whites/hybrid

**Area  vic B0178C for 8 catfish

 

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