PRESIDENTS’ DAY 2020 — 56 FISH @ STILLHOUSE (AM)

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Presidents’ Day Monday (17 Feb. 2020) I fished with Mr. Steve Niemeier and his granddaughter, Macy Fowler, age 11, both of Temple.  Steve left the choice of lakes up to me.  This year there has been a pretty stark contrast between Stillhouse’s fewer, but larger, white bass, and Belton’s greater quantity of smaller fish, without exception.  Because we cashed in on high numbers on Macy’s last trip back on November 11th (140 fish in 4 hours on Belton), and because I saw that Macy did well in allowing herself to be coached, I felt we’d do well to head to Stillhouse and shoot for some larger fish, knowing that either lake would require a pretty technical approach given the low water temperature.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   Steve Niemeier and his granddaughter, Macy Fowler, with a few of the plump Stillhouse white bass we found very near the river channel on this Presidents’ Day morning outing.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Monday, 17 February 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED: We had about as many things going for us as we had working against us this morning, and I anticipated average results for this cool-water season.  The overriding issue is water temperature which is at or near the annual low right now.  Helping us today was wind, cloud cover, and the fact that we were at the end of a 3 day warming trend with a cold front due in midday the following day.  We weren’t lined up for pre-frontal fishing, but the conditions were okay.

We began working slabs vertically under birds at two distinct areas, but these birds are focused on the occasional sunfish crippled by scattered white bass and small largemouth on deep flats.  These fish are generally not schooled up heavily enough to sit atop of and catch high numbers.  We caught a few fish this way, but nothing to get excited about.

We experimented with using bladebaits up shallow and picked up a few “pioneers” trying to move upstream in preparation for spawning.  We picked up another half-dozen whites this way, but that action died suddenly as the skies, although still 100% grey and clouded, brightened.

With this brightening, we moved deep and came upon another group of bird working open water.  As I surveyed the situation with sonar, I saw good numbers of fish on bottom, suspended just up off bottom, and with a few “high riders” up off bottom in the water column as much as 15-20 feet off bottom in ~42 feet of water.

We sat over these fish for about 45 minutes and put about 20 fish in the boat aided by Garmin LiveScope, using an ultra-slow smoking tactic with my 3/8 oz. white, Hazy Eye slabs with stinger hooks attached..  The fish quit about 10 minutes after the last of the birds gave up.  It was interesting to observe a nearby angler in a bass boat who also fished this area, drawn in by the birds.  He fished, caught nothing, and left as he moved about much too quickly using his trolling motor.  It confirmed to me the need to sit in one well-chosen location, allowing the bite develop around us as we created commotion by jigging, thumping, and catching and releasing fish.

We checked a few more areas in our last 45 minutes on the water, finding one very solid concentration of fish adjacent to the old Lampasas River channel.  These fish were also in about 40 feet of water.  As is typical of late-morning fish, this population flared up with excitement as we got our slabs down and caught our first few fish, but then quickly cooled off.  We took a final 22 fish at this location, taking our tally from 34 fish, up to 56 fish on the morning.

 

TALLY: 56 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   The best concentrations of fish we found were immediately adjacent to the river channel today.  Only scattered fish were found away from the channel.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7A

End Time:  11:30A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  62F

Elevation: 3.36 low, No 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   54.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW6-9

Sky Conditions: 100% grey skies all morning

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1500 – scattered whites on mid-depth flat under gulls

**Area vic 735 – scattered whites on mid-depth flat under gulls

**Area vic SH0077C – shallow whites taken on blades

**Area vic SH0080C – active whites on deep flat adjacent to channel

**Area 1038 – active whites on channel breakline

 

 

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

THE FISH WENT TO T.O.W.N. –55 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday afternoon I fished with Beverly Travis of Belton and Alex Castillo of Austin on Lake Belton following a tough morning of fishing on Stillhouse.  Beverly tried to get her and her grandkids out with me last year, but foul weather prevented.  After visiting my booth at the Central Texas Boat and Outdoor Show the week before, we made plans to try again today.

I offered the option of more, but smaller fish at Belton, or fewer, but larger, white bass at Stillhouse.  Beverly, who coordinated the trip, opted for greater action at Lake Belton.

This time, Beverly brought Alex Castillo.  The two ladies met through a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program called Texas Outdoors-Woman Network (T.O.W.N.).  The mission of T.O.W.N. is to provide all women the opportunity to experience outdoor activities in a safe, non-threatening, and supportive environment.  The program was started by several graduates of TPWD’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshop.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: Beverly Travis, a Christian counselor from Belton, and Alex Castillo, who works in the environmental field in Austin, teamed up through TPWD’s Texas Outdoors-Woman Network (T.O.W.N.) to split a half-day white bass fishing trip on Lake Belton, landing 55 fish on a tough day of fishing.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 01 February 2020, PM

HOW WE FISHED: I was prepared for a tough afternoon today.  As I rolled into the launch area, long-time Belton multi-species angler Mike P. was on his way out after having fished a long morning and into the afternoon for just 24 fish as he chased white bass, resulting in just 2 legal fish in his catch.  I had similar difficulties not finding fish, but getting them to bite, over at Stillhouse, landing just 20 fish between 7:15 and noon.

Before we left the launch area I provided a thorough explanation on the very slow, methodical tactic of “easing” we would rely on to catch our fish this afternoon, emphasizing how important very slow movement was, and demonstrating it for Bev and Alex.

The ladies got the hang of the tactic very quickly.  As was the case on Stillhouse this morning, finding fish was not all that challenging, but getting them to bite was another story.  Routinely, when I found fish on an area, there were several dozen fish in the schools I Spot-Locked atop of.  Such a school would typically yield 2-4 fish fairly soon after we began jigging, and then the fish, though still present, would shut down.  Seeing this trend develop, we adjusted our approach and moved very readily to new “batches” of fish soon after a given school would shut down.

We did well, given the conditions, boating a total of 55 fish, including 3 drum and 52 white bass.  One interesting note was the intensity of this evening’s low-light bite.  As we used the trolling motor to ease into our final area of the trip, I saw fish suspended in the water column from halfway to bottom, all the way to the bottom.  This was the first time I’d seen fish more than a foot off bottom all day (Belton or Stillhouse).  As we fished for these fish and began catching them, the fish suddenly turned on well.  We took our tally from 36 fish to a final count of 55 fish (hence, 19 fish caught) in the last 20 minutes of the trip.

We relied on the very reliable white, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab, with stinger hook attached.  Roughly 80% of the fish caught today (Belton and Stillhouse) came on the stinger hook, as has been my experience for several years now when the water temperatures reach near annual lows.

TALLY: 55 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   Experienced a hard low-light feed at and just following sunset tonight, following a day of tough fishing. 19 fish in 20 minutes from fish all throughout the lower half of the water column.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    2:00P

End Time:  6:15P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  66F

Elevation: 3.00 low, -0.02′ 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: NW7-0

Sky Conditions: Clear, cloud-free, blue skies

GT = 30

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  B0113C to 1671 to 565 : 3 short hops early, then one final stop near sunset

**Area 1845 to 1619: 3 short hops early, then 2 short hops later on second visit here

 

 

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 GRANDPA LEE – 20 FISH @ STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday morning I fished with Mr. Lee Vancleave, his 13-year-old grandson, Konnar, and Konnar’s 13-year-old buddy, Chris.  Lee was retired, got bored with retirement, and went back to work doing what he had done prior to retiring, which was crunching data and generating reports for a state agency.  Konnar, who lives with his grandpa, and his buddy, Chris, became friends through school and sports in Pfluegerville, TX.

Although my first choice for today’s trip would have been Belton known this season for higher numbers of smaller fish, Lee requested we fish Stillhouse as it is more accessible to him, thus, he wanted to become more familiar with it in addition to catching some fish.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: Lee, Chris, and Konnar with a few of the plump white bass we took on 3/8 oz. slabs on a very tough morning.

 

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 01 February 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  We faced a very tough bite this morning — a sentiment shared by several others in my “network” fishing both Belton and Stillhouse.  I felt fortunate to observe birds (mainly gulls) beginning to work just prior to sunrise, but, the bird action was much more intense than the fish action beneath.  When we found fish on sonar, they were tight to the bottom, they were in small packs of 5-10 fish, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to bite.  I’d dare say we’d observe 20-30 fish on LiveScope pass through the midst of our 4 slabs working to get one bite.  After the birds gave up, it got even tougher.

We slowly eased our slabs for a grand total of 20 fish and, despite average weekend boat traffic for this cooler time of year, and with boats occasionally straying near us as we all hunted birds, we saw only one other fish landed by a gentleman snap-jigging from his kayak.

True to form, though, the white bass we landed this morning were all solid, well-proportioned, legal-sized whites.

One very good recreational angler I compared notes with on Lake Belton fish until around 1:15 and managed only 24 fish, of which only 2 were legal sized white bass.

TALLY: 20 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   An unusually tough bite given the ample bird action.  I noted most bird action was generated by gulls lifting sunfish off the surface, not by terns, nor involving shad.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:15A

End Time:  NOON

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  38F

Elevation: 3.50 low, 0.01′ 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   52.8F

Wind Speed & Direction: SW7-9

Sky Conditions: Clear, cloud-free, blue skies

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  329 – bird action at sunrise and for 45 minutes thereafter

**Area 1887 – best action of the day, albeit still slow

**Area SH0109C – late morning gull action with more bird activity above than fish action below

 

 

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

GO SLOW, OR GO FISHLESS — 75 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Friday morning I fished with U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Burley and his son, Nick Burley.  Kyle is stationed here at Ft. Hood and resides in Harker Heights.  Nick flew in from the D.C. area for a few days of visiting.  The two are originally from Pennsylvania where fly fishing for trout is more the norm.

Between the shared interest in fishing I have with Nick, and the shared interest I have with Kyle in long-distance rifle shooting, the conversation over the course of the morning was engaging.  All three of us shared an interest in well-prepared Texas smoked meats!!

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Despite catching fish of other species, including our target species (white bass), Kyle and Nick specifically asked me to snap shots of their drum which anchored our catch today weight-wise.

PHOTO CAPTION: Belton’s drum (and blue catfish) have become plentiful and healthy thanks to a bumper crop of zebra mussels as an abundant food source, I suspect.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Friday, 31 January 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:   I presented Kyle with two options two days in advance of our trip, based both on past experience and current results: fish for more, but smaller white bass on Belton, or fewer, but larger white bass on Stillhouse.  In the interest of action, Kyle opted for Belton.  We caught fish over the entirety of the trip, although the timeframe from 8:00 to 9:30 produced best (which, coincidentally, coincided with the start of increased cloud cover and the peak wind conditions for the morning).  As anticipated, we caught solid numbers of smaller fish, 75 in all.  This catch included mainly white bass, with a few largemouth and freshwater drum sprinkled in for variety.

The go-to tactic this morning was a slow easing tactic using my smaller white, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye slabs with stinger hooks attached.  We caught fish in 27 to 42 feet of water.

We did not encounter any helpful bird activity, although plenty of loons, gulls, terns, and osprey are present.

TALLY: 75 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   Despite a NW wind which has been coinciding with good bird action thus far this winter, such did not materialize today.  Many gulls and terns are now distracted by loon activity.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:30A

End Time:  NOON

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  43F

Elevation: 2.98 low, no 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: NNW8-12

Sky Conditions: 20% white clouds on blue sky at trip’s start, with cloud cover increasing to 65% by 9A, then decreasing back to 20% by trip’s end

GT = 35

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  BG0026 – best action of AM, and deepest water fished all morning

**Area 1882

**Area  1077

**Area  2032

 

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

GOLD STAR FISHING WITH BRADLEY WARNER — 57 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH: In just about anything else American, earning a gold star is a desirable outcome.  In the military, it means you lost your life while on active duty.

Today, I fished with Bradley Warner, the son of a Gold Star soldier, the late U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Daniel Warner.

Bradley showed up punctually and eager to fish.  I was particularly thankful today for all those who have helped SKIFF come into being and expand through the years.  Over the holidays, Bradley’s mom, Jennifer, picked up on a SKIFF posting on the Fort Hood Area Events Facebook page, felt a trip would be a good fit for her son, and, in a matter of a few days, I was welcoming Bradley across the bow of my boat.

ABOUT SKIFF:  This fishing trip was provided to this military family at no charge.  S.K.I.F.F. stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun.  This program began in May of 2009.  It is funded by the donations and fundraising efforts of the Austin Fly Fishers and other organizations they have partnered with.  S.K.I.F.F. provides the children of military personnel separated from their families due to duty commitments with the opportunity to go fishing.  SKIFF trips are also provided, free of charge, to Gold Star families who have lost their service member while he or she was on active duty.  In mid-2019, SKIFF also began providing trips to dependents whose parents are bona fide disabled veterans.  I coordinate and conduct these 3.5 to 4 hour adventures on Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, just outside the gates of Fort Hood in Bell County, TX, year ’round.  Call or text 254.368.7411.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Bradley Warner of Killeen with a pair of hefty Lake Belton white bass.  During our 4-hour trip, we also landed hybrid striped bass and freshwater drum.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Tuesday, 07 January 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  Following a very chilly 36F start, complete with a north breeze making it even chillier, we began our catching for the day by finding bottom-hugging white bass holding on a deep breakline at right around 8:10AM.  The sonar returns were scarce at first, but, knowing few other forms of life would be in the areas we searched, we went ahead and dropped baits on what we saw.  Before long we were boating small white bass routinely, landing a total of 19 before our luck ran out at this first stop.

We looked over 3 distinct areas thereafter and found little.  I headed on to a fourth location and, as we found fish and began slabbing, the only bird action we witnessed all morning materialized right on top of us.  It was great to be able to ride out this entire episode of bird action from its start at 9:44 to its conclusion around 10:40, which coincided with the cessation of the wind.  The most intense bird action took place in the first 40 minutes, from 9:44 to 10:20, then tapered off afterwards.  Although a few birds remained flitting around beyond 11AM, the bite all but ended when the wind laid down.

Interestingly, the slower the action got, the deeper the fish moved until, just before it got slow enough for us to call it quits, we were taking white bass off the bottom in over 60 feet of water.

Prior to the bird action, the lighter of the two slabs I traditionally rely upon (the white 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook) used with an easing tactic worked best.  As we encountered more mobile, aggressive fish under birds (and a greater proportion of hybrids mixed in), we bumped up to a 3/4 oz. slab and used a slow smoking tactic.  Several times this morning we had white bass and drum regurgitate whole shad, and each matched the length of the larger 3/4 oz. slab.

Bradley was a fast learner, and had a very natural, easy hookset motion, which served him well. He also played the larger fish he hooked very patiently.  As a result, we lost very few of the fish we hooked this morning.

TALLY: 57 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   NNW wind = bird action.  We experienced the deepest fish activity I’ve encountered thus far this winter with white bass caught on bottom in 62′.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:45A

End Time:  11:45A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  36F

Elevation: 3.07′ low, 0.01′ 24-hour change, 20 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53F

Wind Speed & Direction: NW7 at sunrise and for 2 hours thereafter, then slowly tapering to calm by 11:10

Sky Conditions: Bluebird skies

GT = N/A

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 1390 – easing for bottom huggers

**Area 682 thru 953 under birds

**Area B0013G endpoint of AM action in 62′ water (with lake -3′)

 

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

YOU “BEN” FISHIN’ WITH MATTIE VERY LONG? — 73 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH: This afternoon, 04 January 2020, I fished with Ben Adams and his girlfriend, Mattie Hawkins, on Lake Belton.

Ben, originally from Spring Branch, TX, is working his way through an MBA program with Texas A&M, focused on oil industry logistics, and Mattie, an A&M grad. from Friendswood, TX, is working as a veterinarian technician at Gulf Coast Veterinarian Specialists, where the TV show ‘Animal ER’ is filmed.

The two came to visit Central Texas so Ben could meet Mattie’s extended family — her grandfather, aunt, uncle, sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephews.  Ben’s previous experiences angling have all been via wading in shallow saltwater for speckled trout and redfish, and he was looking forward to the change of locale and tactics that came with this afternoon’s trip targeting white bass and hybrid striped bass.

PHOTO CAPTION: Ben Adams, with most of his prior fishing experiences taking place in salt water, immediately noted the similarities between this 6 pound freshwater drum and its saltwater cousin, the redfish.  Freshwater drum are also related to black drum and the Atlantic croaker, all of which are in the Sciaenidae family of fishes.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: As long as the wind rippled the water, the white bass bit.  Ben and Mattie landed 73 fish this afternoon on Lake Belton.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 04 January 2020, PM

HOW WE FISHED:  After this morning’s prolonged feed, I came off the water between trips, grabbed some lunch and just hoped that the wind velocity, which was forecast to be NW6-9 all day, would behave as forecast.  Without that wind, we’d be looking at a bright, calm, post-frontal condition which is amongst the toughest there is.

As it turned out, the wind did hold up through 5P.  When it died, the fishing died with it, but, before that happened, we managed a nice mixed bag of 73 fish including white bass, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass, and freshwater drum.

During our 4 hours on the water there were two brief episodes of light bird activity over open water.  We got to both quickly and fished them both thoroughly, but found the birds were behaving more aggressively than the fish beneath them.  Nonetheless, we did add a few fish to our tally during both of these events, but, the lion’s share of our success came as we found deep, well-consolidated groups of white bass holding on breaklines in 35-42 feet of water.

We found three such groups and vertically jigged for these fish using an easing tactic.  We made use of my thumping device to increase fish interest, we made use of Garmin LiveScope technology to know how and when fish were responding to our presentations as well as to “pick off” high-riding fish suspended up in the water column.  And, we made use of the “old faithful” 3/8 oz. white Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook attached to seal the deal over and over again.

As the wind died around 5p, the fish activity quickly tapered to nil.  We caught and released a total of 73 this afternoon.

TALLY: 73 fish caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    1:40P

End Time: 5:40P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  66F

Elevation: 3.04′ low, 0.00′ 24-hour change, 20 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   54.0F

Wind Speed & Direction:  NW6-7 at trip’s start, tapering to calm by around 5P

Sky Conditions:  Post-frontal, bluebird skies

GT = 0

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic B0196C (bottom-huggers found with sonar)

**Area vic B0078C (bottom-huggers found with sonar)

**Area vic 1750 (light bird action)

**Area vic B0098C (bottom-huggers found with sonar)

 

 

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

THEN AND NOW — 127 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, 04 January 2020, I fished with Dr. Craig Molyneaux and his adult son, Christian Molyneaux, of Salado.  Craig, a retired dentist, now serves as the Associate Pastor of Ministries at Memorial Baptist Church in Killeen.  Christian is a U.S. Airforce airman serving in his first enlistment, and is currently stationed at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

I’ve had the privilege of knowing the Molyneaux family since 1995 when they first arrived in Killeen to establish a dental practice (Killeen Dental) from the ground up.

I’ve fished with Craig and Christian a few times in the years since, hence the “then and now” photo below…

PHOTO CAPTION: Then (September 2007) and now (January 2020).  Both the boy and the fish grew considerably!!

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Well, the old man’s still got it.  Craig landed our biggest fish of the morning!  This Lake Belton hybrid striper went 5.00 pounds on a certified scale.

PHOTO CAPTION: Father and son landed 127 fish on a beautiful, clear, dry, breezy Texas winter morning.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday, 04 January 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED: After shaking the fog which made fishing pretty tough of late, a nice, stiff cold front pushed all of that out to the east on Friday, leaving cool, dry, but still breezy conditions this morning.  The northwest winds typically mean bird action, and this morning was no exception.  After finding our own fish on sonar along a deep breakline, bird action erupted about 70 minutes after sunset and stayed “fishably intense” right through 11:30.

By “bird action”, I mean the scenario in which migratory, fish-eating birds, namely ring-billed gulls and Forster’s terns, concentrate on one patch of water and begin rapidly and repeatedly feeding on dead and crippled shad which gamefish, namely white bass and hybrid stripers, are pushing toward the surface as they feed on those shad from the bottom, upwards.

During the 70 minutes or so during which we fished for bottom-hugging and less aggressive white bass, we used a slow, easing tactic equipped with Hazy Eye Slabs of my own making.  We used white, 3/8 oz. versions with stinger hooks attached.  (You can find those here:  SLABS).

Once I observed the bird action and looked at the relative intensity of it, I felt we’d be dealing with more aggressive fish, and with more hybrid striped bass.  For this reason, we changed out our 3/8 oz. lures for the 3/4 oz. version (also in white and with stinger hooks attached).  These have hooks which are one size larger (5’s versus 6’s) and they sink more quickly.  As we began fishing under the birds, we switched over to a more aggressive smoking tactic.

Some clients grasp the tactics I try to coach them in more quickly than others, and, to their credit, Craig and Christian came out of the shoots really executing the easing tactic and the smoking tactic very well, and their results this morning reflected that.  When I saw flaws in their technique, I pointed them out and they adjusted well, and then continued to fish more efficiently thereafter.

TALLY: 127 fish caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:45A

End Time:  11:45A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  34F

Elevation: 3.04′ low, 0.00′ 24-hour change, 20 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   54.0F

Wind Speed & Direction:  NW7-9 all morning

Sky Conditions:  Post-frontal, bluebird skies

GT = 0

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 2038 easing for white bass

**Area 1275 through 1749 for mixed bag under birds

 

 

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

DOCTOR IN “TRAIN”ING — 101 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, 02 January 2020, I fished with Dr. Jim Wood of McGregor, TX.  Jim is “essentially” retired, but still works a few shifts now and again in his specialty of wound care over in Harker Heights.

Jim runs his own bass boat with Lowrance electronics, but enjoys doing a guided trip now and then in pursuit of something other than largemouth.

I’ve got an Alaskan vacation planned for later this year with my mom and wife and was picking Jim’s brain about it since he’s been up that way with family three times now.  As we were discussing all this, a recent trip he’d made to a model train museum on the East Coast came up.  As it turns out, Jim’s had a lifelong fascination with model trains and even worked for the railroad in Houston during his summer breaks while working his way through college.  I don’t know if Mrs. Wood knows this yet, but Jim shared that he’s planning on converting one of his bedrooms to a train room over the course of the next year — he’s got something like 28 large U-Haul boxes of accessories to equip said room!!!  I remembered thinking to myself about this time that a plan is really only a wish if your wife hasn’t bought into it yet.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   Dr. Jim Wood of McGregor, TX, had a 101 fish morning on Belton.  98 white bass, 2 largemouth, and 1 drum, all on the 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook affixed.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Thursday, 02 January 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  We’re definitely in winter fishing mode and the fish are “moody” as they typically are from now until the warmup in March.  We found fish as shallow as 16 feet and as deep as 32 feet this morning, and their responses to our presentations were all over the map.  We had stopped the boat and let down lines at ~15 distinct locations this morning; at only two were the fish really geared up and ready to bite; at another 2 or 3, the fish were just turned off — we could get them to raise perhaps a half-foot to a foot off bottom, but they would not chase any further, nor would they bite.  The rest of our stops saw action somewhere in between — we’d roll up on the fish, catch a few eager ones right off the bat, then the fish would throttle back, allowing us to catch a handful more before turning off and forcing us to move on.

Slowly but surely we put together a decent catch.  By 11:30A, we’d landed 88 fish.  I suggested to Jim that we either fish until we’d caught 100 fish or until noon, whichever came first, as I had to scoot over to Stillhouse for a sonar training by 1:30P.  Well, at exactly 11:53A, our 100th and 101st fish came aboard and we began wrapping up at that time.

With the exception of 4-5 smaller white bass which we landed while working small Cicada bladebaits horizontally in 16-18 feet of water, every other fish was taken on the white, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook attached.

OBSERVATIONS:  Fish behavior varied greatly today, even amongst small schools geographically near to each other.

TALLY: 101 Fish

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:45A

End Time:  Noon

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  50F

Elevation: 3.07′ low, 0.05′ 24-hour change, 20 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   54.0F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SW8-9 all morning

Sky Conditions:  100% grey cloud cover with light rain in the final 30 minutes

GT = 25

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 826

**Area vic B0184C to 1619

**Area vic B0028C to 2032

**Area vic 788 (shallow blades)

**Area vic 381 to B0071C

 

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

 

 

STARTING 2020 OFF RIGHT — 50 FISH ON SEASON’S FIRST SKIFF TRIP

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, New Year’s Day 2020, I kicked the season off with a S.K.I.F.F. program trip just for 14-year-old Emani Frazier of Killeen, TX.  Emani is an 8th grader at Union Grove Middle School where she enjoys playing volleyball.  She’ll head to Harker Heights High School for her freshman year next year.

Emani’s mom, Melissa Frazier, is a disabled U.S. Army veteran and single parent to her 5 daughters, of which Emani is the youngest.  Melissa left Queens, NY, in her early 20’s to join the military and was honorably discharged as a sergeant after multiple enlistments.  She is active with the Central Texas Wounded Warrior Project and, through their Facebook page, learned of the S.K.I.F.F. program.

ABOUT SKIFF:  This fishing trip was provided to this military family at no charge.  S.K.I.F.F. stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun.  This program began in May of 2009.  It is funded by the donations and fundraising efforts of the Austin Fly Fishers and other organizations they have partnered with.  S.K.I.F.F. provides the children of military personnel separated from their families due to duty commitments with the opportunity to go fishing.  SKIFF trips are also provided, free of charge, to Gold Star families who have lost their service member while he or she was on active duty.  In mid-2019, SKIFF also began providing trips to dependents whose parents are bona fide disabled veterans.  I coordinate and conduct these 3.5 to 4 hour adventures on Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, just outside the gates of Fort Hood in Bell County, TX, year ’round.  Call or text 254.368.7411.

PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: 14-year-old Emani Frazier and her mom, Melissa Frazier, worked up 50 fish on a pretty raw, cool, cloudy, damp morning on Lake Belton.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Wednesday, 01 January 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED: Both Melissa and Emani had a little prior fishing experience, albeit with bait, before this morning’s trip with me, so, I assessed what they already had a good grip on and then built on that.

Both were good listeners and fast learners and, in no time, had the “easing” tactic which is so effective this time of year down pat.  We used light spinning gear with the very reliable 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slabs with stinger hooks attached and wound up catching white bass, largemouth bass, and hybrid striped bass.  No freshwater drum this morning.

Today’s weather was just an average “between fronts” kind of day, and the fish activity reflected that.  The fish were not shut down, but they weren’t fired up, either.  Each time we found fish using sonar, we caught a few (perhaps 5-10) and then had to move on as the remaining fish there quickly lost interest, and we did not draw other fish in with the commotion our hooked fish caused.

By 11:20, we’d landed 43 fish and I could tell that Emani was getting cold, despite dressing well.  I suggested we fish until 11:45 or until we’d landed 50 fish, whichever came first, mainly to give Emani a goal to shoot for and a known end time so she could anticipate warming up again.  The ladies were both good with this challenge, and, by 11:40, we’d landed our 50 fish and were taking photos to commemorate the morning.

Thanks to the cloud cover, we found fish up shallow, and, thanks to the cooling water, we also found fish deep.  We caught fish from 16 to 28 feet deep this morning.

TALLY: 50 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  Scant bird activity this morning with more terns than gulls doing a lot of looking and feeding on surface-oriented shad, but not working over fish. After the trip concluded, I scouted several additional areas, finding fish at B0058C, B0010G, and B0072C, landing 5 fish at each and moving on while the fish were still biting.

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:    7:45A

End Time:  11:45A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  48F

Elevation: 3.01′ low, 0.02′ 24-hour change, 20 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   54.1F

Wind Speed & Direction: Calm and foggy conditions which were very localized.  The entire area was not foggy, only the lake’s surface due to the temperature disparity between the cold air and the warmer water.

Sky Conditions: Sun obscured all morning by grey cloud cover which served to stabilize the temperatures overnight and into this morning

GT = N/A

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 818 to 1024; 4 short hops

**Area vic 1659

**Area vic B0003G; 3 short hops

 

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