Ryan, the 9-Year-Old with a Bucket List! — 91 Fish Before the Storm

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Veterans’ Day 2022, I conducted the 14th S.K.I.F.F. program trip of the 2022 season, welcoming aboard 9-year-old Ryan Howell Jr.

Ryan’s dad, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Howell Sr., has served in the military for 16+ years.  He is currently deployed to Iraq as a military policeman.  Mrs. Meisha Howell arranged for this trip after Mrs. Denise Igo was kind enough to make the Ft. Hood military community aware of this opportunity (thru her Fort Hood Area Events Facebook page) I set aside for the Veterans’ Day holiday when the kids from the Killeen Independent School District would be out of school.

Ryan is quite experienced for his age, having fished with his dad and grandfather quite a bit.  He told me he was really excited when he heard his mom had arranged for the trip because catching white bass was on his bucket list!!

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-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.

Here is how the fishing went …

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PHOTO CAPTION: Nine-year-old Ryan Howell Jr. with the first two “Bucket List” white bass he landed as the fish went absolutely wild in advance of a major cold front’s arrival this Veterans’ Day 2022.

WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED:  Friday, 11 November 2022 (AM)

HOW WE FISHED: 

The fish were just incredibly aggressive this morning under true “pre-frontal” conditions.  As I arrived at the ramp this morning, it was uncomfortably humid, 70F, and flat calm.  By 9:45A, the temperature would drop to 55F very suddenly with the arrival of a major cold front.  That front’s lead edge caused hail, heavy rain, and severe thunderstorms all across Central Texas for about a 40-minute span.

We launched knowing that our trip would likely be curtailed by weather, and I let Ryan know that when we heard thunder rumbling in the west we’d need to pack up.

Well, he was a real trooper, donning some raingear I loaned him, his rubber boots, and some warm clothing beneath to stick it out with me in the blowing rain to cash in on this fantastic fishing.

We stayed as long as I felt was prudent.  About the time we heard the first rumble of thunder way out to the west of us, the National Weather Service sent out a severe thunderstorm warning for a “fan” from Burnett east toward Salado. We were well north of that, but didn’t want to take any chances.  We called it a great day with 91 fish taken in right at 2.5 hours of fishing.

Fishing was super simple, as the fish were present at the first (and only) two places I looked for them.  They were way up off bottom chasing bait hard and therefore showed up on sonar quite well.

We used MAL Originals with white tails to load the boat with 91 fish in a short but sweet, rapid-fire sequence.  The fish were still biting when we left.

Ryan and I fished side-by-side as we watched Garmin LiveScope and landed 77 white bass, and 14 short hybrid striped bass.

TUTORIAL SMOKING VIDEO (Vertical): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDSvfXgrAUE
TUTORIAL SAWTOOTH VIDEO (Horizontal): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC3FMEQHOMQ

TALLY: 91 fish caught and released

Find MAL Lures here: https://whitebasstools.com/

OBSERVATIONS: Classic pre-frontal, frenzied feeding activity was observed this morning from (obscured) sunrise until we could no longer safely stay on the water.  The fish were still biting when we departed.

 

WEATHER DATA:

Start Time: 6:55A

End Time:  9:40A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 70F (falling to 55F by 9:45A)

Elevation: 13.32 feet low, 0.01′ fall in last 24 hours, 40 CFS flow.

Water Surface Temp: 69.1F

Wind Speed & Direction:  Calm at sunrise, then quickly ramping up to NW15-17 as the lead edge of the front blew in.

Sky Condition: 100% grey cloud cover all morning, with rain added after the front moved in.

Moon Phase: Waning gibbous moon at 91% illumination.

GT = N/A

Wx SNAPSHOT: 

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

Area vic 1000 (26 fish), Area B0184C (65 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

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow #BeltonFishingGuide #LakeBeltonFishingGuide #BeltonLakeFishingGuide #stripers #stripedbassfishing #rockfish #sandbass #freshwaterfishing #fishing #bass #bassfishing #whitebass #panfish #crappie #fishingonaboat #fishingtackle #fishinglife #fishingsport #fishingaddict #fishingpicoftheday #fishingtime #fishinggear #fishingday #Fitec #mepps

SUNFISH SANDWICH ON WHITE BASS BREAD! — 153 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Wednesday, August 5th, I welcomed aboard the Puente family who signed up for a family fishing trip through the Fort Hood SKIES Program.  Joining me was Mrs. Denise Puente and her three children, Mario (age 13), Cecilia (age 7), and Pablo (age 5). 

The kids’ father, U.S. Army Master Sergeant Mario Puente is a combat engineer with 18 years in the military. SKIESUnlimited stands for Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration, and Skills.

SKIESUnlimited offers dozens of activities for military and Department of Defense kids of all ages, ranging from gymnastics to piano lessons, from academic tutoring to various forms of dance, and more. To participate in such courses, children must first be registered with Child and Youth Services. Registration is free and is accomplished by contacting Parent Central Services at 254-287-8029. Once registered, parents may go online to enroll their children for the myriad courses available, including my own “Fishing 101”.

 

PHOTO CAPTION #1: From left:  Cecilia, Mario Jr., and Pablo Puente with three of the 153 fish they landed on a trip which saw each youngster catch the first fish of his/her life.  

WHEN WE FISHED: 05 August, 2020, AM  

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake  

HOW WE FISHED:

This morning, we began and ended with white bass, and fished for sunfish in the middle  … a sunfish sandwich on white bass bread!

Since I had two young children aboard, and since none of the kids had previous fishing experience, I opted not to use any tactics involving casting this morning.  So, when the white bass began to feed on topwater as I anticipated they would on a southerly wind, we ran twin downriggers each equipped with 3-armed umbrella rigs in and around the schools to take singles, doubles, and triples for the first 50 minutes of the morning.  Once the sun’s rays struck the water, the topwater action was over. By this time, the kids had landed 34 fish, including the first fish each had ever caught.

We moved on to deeper water and found sparse action near Area 313/B0186C, and picked up 6 more fish here.  By now, Pablo was “spoiled” by the easy, early fishing, and was getting pretty antsy pretty quickly. I decided to head up shallow and target sunfish.  Mario got the hang of this instantly, then Cecilia got to where she could present to and land fish independently, which left Denise to work one-on-one with Pablo, and me to untangle lines, unhook fish, and re-bait hooks.  We parked in one boat-sized area, fishing within 20 feet of the boat on the port and starboard sides, and landed exactly 101 sunfish here before the bite waned, the air heated up, and Pablo needed another change of venue.

I suggested since we’d begun the trip with downrigging, and then got to experience sunfishing, that we might now once again use downriggers to find more white bass, but, this time, to fish for them vertically using spinning gear and MAL Lures, once (if!) a school of this species was found on bottom using sonar. Fortunately, we made a move to the right place at the right time and were able to put a final 12 fish in the boat, including one fish per child using the MAL Lures retrieved straight up off the bottom in about 32 feet of water. Pablo’s statute of limitation expired at the 3.5 hour mark, and we called it a great morning right at 10AM with 153 fish landed for our efforts.  

TALLY: 153 fish caught and released  

OBSERVATIONS:  Southerly breezes had the fish back in a feeding mode and making up for lost time from yesterday.  

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:  6:30A

End Time: 10:00A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 75F

Elevation:  1.62′ low, -0.04′ 24-hour change, 51 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  83.4F

Wind Speed & Direction: S6-8 the entire morning

Moon Phase: Full moon +2 today

GT = N/A  

Wx SNAPSHOT:

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 018 to 811 – downrigging in and around topwater schools for singles, doubles and triples (36 fish in 50 minutes)

**Area vic 313 to B0186C – another half-dozen fish on ‘rigger from out of smaller, suspended, roaming schools **Area B0032G – sunfish galore **Area vic 1576 – late morning white bass; downrigged to find; MAL Lures worked vertically to catch

 

Bob Maindelle  

Full-time, Professional Fishing Guide and Owner of Holding the Line Guide Service

Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide

254.368.7411 (call or text)   Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bobmaindelle  

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow #BeltonFishingGuide #LakeBeltonFishingGuide

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

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

#fishingaddict #fishingpicoftheday #fishingtime #fishinggear #fishingday

#Fitec

 

ALL ABOUT EATER CATFISH – 21 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Friday evening, May 1st, I welcomed returning guests Rick Powell and Ricardo Cisneros aboard.  During the Coronavirus shutdown, I took my wife, Rebecca, and a handful of friends out fishing specifically for blue catfish on Lake Belton.  Ricardo, who regularly follows my Facebook posts, saw this and hoped to duplicate the effort on occasions where he hoped to catch a few “eating-sized” catfish (12+ inches).

He requested I take he and his friend (and boss) Rick Powell out to show them what I’d learned.

No, I’m not starting to guide for catfish and don’t intend to do so in the future, but, as the fishery offers consistency and as the quality of these fish continue to improve on Lake Belton (due to zebra mussel consumption, I suspect), I will no doubt routinely mix in some catfishing in my multi-species trips. Additionally, my 100% C&R policy still pertains to this species.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: This is what the methods I’ve pieced together (with a good bit of help from Steve Webb) typically produce – smaller “eater-sized” blue catfish, two of which provide 4 fillets — just enough for a 1-person serving if kept and cleaned properly. Most fish are 12-15 inches, like this one held by Ricardo Cisneros.

WHEN WE FISHED:  01 May, 2020, PM

HOW WE FISHED: First, I search for blue catfish concentrations on sonar.  Next, I Spot-Lock and chum with range cubes, then get right down to fishing vertically with my “Catfish Plumb” bait holders tipped with fresh, dead shad or non-stink doughbait.  To enhance things, I’ve brought Garmin LiveScope to bear, which allows slightly suspended fish to be targeted.  Otherwise, the default bait position is just inches off bottom.

Concentration is a must, as the catfish typically take only one swipe at the bait, during which time a quick, hard hookset is a must.

In 3.5 hours’ time, some of which was set aside for Humminbird side-imaging explanation and Garmin LiveScope explanation, we put 22 blue cat over the side of the boat with just as many missed on the hookset.

 

TALLY: 22 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS: As I searched for spawning shad, a definite, shallow-water and shad-oriented fishery is also ripe for picking, albeit short-lived with the action drying up about the time the direct sun peeks over the eastern horizon.

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:   4:00P

End Time:  7:30P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 82F

Elevation:  0.77′  high, 0.06 foot 24-hour rise, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  70F

Wind Speed & Direction:  S17 at trip’s start, tapering to S14 by trip’s end

Sky Conditions: 30% high white haze on blue skies

GT =28

 

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic B0073C (fished it at start of trip and end of trip with 2 other non-productive stops in between)

 

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)

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow #BeltonFishingGuide #LakeBeltonFishingGuide

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

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

#fishingaddict #fishingpicoftheday #fishingtime #fishinggear #fishingday

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

First Fish of Her Life! — SKIFF Trip #7 of 2014, 54 Fish

This morning I ran the 7th SKIFF trip of the 2014 season, welcoming aboard three young people – Noah Golaboff, Erin Golaboff, and Carson Darling.  In case you are not familiar with this program, SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trips are provided free of charge to families whose children are separated from a parent due to that parent’s military service thanks to the Austin Fly Fishers and a network of supportive individuals from all over the U.S. All it takes is a phone call from a parent to me at 254-368-7411 to reserve a date.

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Erin Golaboff, age 10, caught the first fish of her life today — a small green sunfish.  She then built on success and landed even larger fish, including this foot-long channel catfish.

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Carson Darling, age 6, wore out the sunfish with a little help from his “Poppy”.

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The role of First Mate fell to Noah Golaboff, taking care of all the things for the younger kids that I didn’t have enough hands for.  He caught his fair share of sunfish and white bass, too.

Noah and Erin are the oldest and youngest of the four children of Colonel Stan Golaboff and his wife, Michele. COL Golaboff is an ordnance officer serving full-time with the Texas National Guard. In his current duty position he travels often with much of his time spent at Camp Mabry in Austin. This particular week, his wife was also away from home at an educator’s conference, so, it was an ideal time to loan some structure to the week and give their kids an opportunity to experience the outdoors.

Carson, age 6, is the son of Staff Sergeant Anthony Lyons and his wife, Ashley Lyons. SSG Lyons is currently assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division and is participating in a multi-national training exercise in Germany for several weeks. Carson was chaperoned by his grandfather, Jim French, of Copperas Cove, TX.

We met at Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir at 6:45am, got lifejackets on and shoved off. We spent our first half-hour searching 3 separate areas for topwater action, but none was to be found. This tropical air mass we’ve had over us for quite some time now has prevented the unobscured sunrises that typically generate the sudden brightening that typically spurs topwater action on Stillhouse. We found no topwater action this morning.

We then headed shallow to target sunfish living in shallow hydrilla beds. With a six-year-old and a ten-year-old (who had never caught a fish before), I was sure this was going to be a hit … and it was! Once the kids all got the hang of setting the hook just right when the slipfloat slid underwater, they were unstoppable. We caught bluegill sunfish and green sunfish – 40 in all, to be exact. Erin landed the first fish of her lifetime, a four inch green sunfish.

When the sunfish wised up to our trickery, we agreed to head deep and target some larger fish by downrigging for white bass. Our tools of the trade this day were a pair of three-arm umbrella rigs allowing us to present six baits on two rods. The fish we found were down between 29 and 31 feet over a 33-36 foot bottom. The fish were not overly aggressive, but, over the next 90 minutes we managed 14 fish, including 4 sets of doubles. We brought in 12 white bass, 1 largemouth bass, and 1 channel catfish using this technique.  This year I changed out my old manually operated Cannon Easi-Troll downriggers for a pair of electronic Digi-Troll 10’s.  I’ve taken note how the kids love pushing the up, down, and auto-up buttons when it’s someone else’s turn to reel in a fish, so, that is yet another task I’ve turned over to my guests to engage them to the greatest extent I can.

We closed out the trip by fishing live baits for the last 25 minutes or so over some deeper hydrilla beds, targeting largemouth bass. This time of year this approach usually works best when fish are seen at least occasionally feeding on topwater. I knew our chances were slim since we saw no topwater action at all today, and, indeed, we caught no largemouth.
So, we ended our trip with 54 fish boated.

TALLY = 54 FISH, all caught and released

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TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

 

Start Time: 6:45am

End Time: 11:00am

Air Temp.: 75F @ trip’s start
Water Surface Temp.: 82F
Wind: SSW8-9
Skies: 100% bright grey cloud cover
Other Notes: N/A
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1098 – Sunfish
**Area 1260/864 – White bass on the breakline
** Areas 853/1395 – White bass
Bob Maindelle

Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411
www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com
Salado, Texas