WHO I FISHED WITH: On Saturday, January 27, I ran the sixth SKIFF trip of the 2024 season, welcoming aboard George Garza Jr. and Cameron Garza, the sons of U.S. Army veteran George Garza Sr. and U.S. Army active duty Staff Sergeant Ayeisha Garza.

George is a 100% disabled veteran.  Injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device (IED) blast forced him to medically retire.  SSG Ayeisha Garza is still on active duty with 22 years of service under her belt.

George also paid the way for his sons’ two friends, Darryl Price and Logan Sherman, to come along this morning.

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

Here is how the fishing went…


Here’s an up-to-date calendar so you can check availability: https://holdingthelineguideservice.com/available-dates.php

Next available dates are Jan. 30 & 31, and Feb. 1 (AMs)


PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Darryl Price, George Garza Jr., Cameron Garza, and Logan Sherman (with no gloves or loaner gloves!) show off the biggest of the white bass they landed on a chilly, windy morning as a cold front made its way into Central Texas.


Find the Bladed Hazy Eye Slab here: https://whitebasstools.com/

WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

WHEN WE FISHED: Saturday, 27 Jan. 2023 (AM)


In summary, the fish were fired up this morning, thanks to NW winds on the rise with an incoming cold front, but the combination of snotty conditions above the water’s surface and the boys’ very light clothing caused them to get pretty cold pretty quickly.  We fished for under two hours with the entire time under steadily thinning, grey cloud cover.


Birds once again led the way to the fish we caught.  Most all of the action right now is taking place within 200 feet of the river channel.


White bass were patrolling on the flats adjacent to the channel in small groups.  By using the thumper, we drew fish in from around us, giving the boys a shot at catching each time a group cruised by on bottom directly beneath the boat.


I had everyone rigged up with white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs and using a slow-smoking tactic.  I helped the boys keep the proper retrieve speed by using the thumper as a metronome.  Garmin LiveScope aided the boys’ efforts.


The boys had very little prior fishing experience, so the learning curve was a bit steep this morning. Each took a bit of time to get used to the smooth handle-turning which the slow-smoking tactic requires, and each lost a few fish after they were hooked by either turning the spinning reel’s handle backwards or allowing slack in the line by moving their rod tips excessively while fighting fish, but they all learned from their mistakes and finished much stronger than they started.


The cold got to the boys and we had to head back in prior to 10AM.


As each hopped off the boat, I gave him a “high-five” and a little ribbing about not wearing Crocs or slippers the next time they come fishing with me in the winter.  Each sheepishly grinned!   There are just some things kids have to learn the hard way.


After returning the boys to civilization, the birds were still quite active, so, I headed back out to do some scouting and found fish in two additional locations adjacent to the channel.  I moved short distances at each of the two locations several times as LiveScope in forward mode and/or Humminbird Side Imaging revealed fish, catching 70 additional fish before wrapping up around 1P.


I alternated between using the Bladed Hazy Eye Slab vertically, and sawtoothing for shallower fish using a jighead and grub.

Here is a tutorial on the snap-jigging method … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGtrnAQ_T94&t=55s

Here is a tutorial on the slow-smoking tactic we used… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIPopSLUYoQ

TALLY: 18 fish caught and released by clients; plus 70 additional fish landed during scouting after clients’ early departure = 88 fish caught and released



The water temperature profile measured on Stillhouse Hollow on 27 Jan. 2024 was:



Start Time: 8:05A

End Time: 9:55A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 49F

Elevation: 17.30 feet low, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp: 49.7F on the surface.

Wind Speed & Direction: NW15-17 with slightly higher gusts all morning

Sky Condition: Grey skies until 10:30, then slowly clearing to 60% white cloud cover on a blue sky

Moon Phase: Waning gibbous moon at 97% illumination.

GT = N/A





Area SH0016G – 10 fish slow-smoking white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs
Area SH0260G – 8 fish slow-smoking white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs
Area vic 1167 – 39 fish @ 3 short hops with 3/8 oz. jighead and white curl-tail grub
SH0271G – 31 fish @ 2 short hops slow-smoking white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs


Bob Maindelle

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

Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bobmaindelle

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