Time to “Rest & Digest” – 103 Fish @ Belton

WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Friday, August 28th, I fished with Nathan and Trisha Ratliff and their four kids, Amelia (11), Hannah (10), Hunter (7), and Clara (4), of Harker Heights, TX, on a Kids Fish, Too! adventure on Lake Belton.  


PHOTO CAPTION #1: Back row: Nathan and Trisha; front row, from left: Amelia, Hunter, Clara, and Hannah.




HOW WE FISHED:   The Ratliffs arrived with no prior fishing experience and no prior boating experience, so, I planned ahead to have them show up a bit earlier than normal so as to cover things more thoroughly than I might with a family that had prior experience.

Trips like this, with quite an age spread over several kids, can be a bit tough as what it takes to interest and engage an 11-year-old is quite different from what it takes to interest and engage a 4-year-old. My plan was to seek after quantity, and let quality fall where it may so as to keep fish coming over the side of the boat and maintain the kids’ interest over the 3 1/2 hours these kid-specific trips last for.

We started out looking for topwater action which did not materialize thanks to the heavy chop on the water, but, that kept the traffic light and allowed us to get onto fish without company nearby until right as the fish were winding down their low-light feed.  We had the fish to ourselves for about 40 minutes, during which time we put singles and doubles in the boat on downriggers equipped with 3-armed umbrella rigs; only once did we stop to fish MAL Lures, primarily because in the time it would take to make everyone proficient, we’d miss a lot of opportunity for fish on the downriggers which everyone was already now familiar with. 

By the time the low-light feed was over, we’d landed 28 white bass. We gave the white bass time time to ‘rest and digest’ (Amelia really like that term) from their early morning binge by heading up shallow to do some sunfishing with plans to save our final hour to pursue additional white bass out in deeper water. The shallow sunfishing went well.  We landed 40 sunfish (bluegill, greens, and longears).  By around 8:45 AM I was hoping to get back in open water to start hunting white bass again, and, by this time, the kids had landed 30 sunfish.  Amelia asked if she could catch ‘just one more’ about 10 times!  Yep — she’s hooked!  Anyway, we sunfished another 15 minutes and put 10 more fish in the boat for a total of 40 sunfish, then, around 9AM we headed back out for a final hour’s worth of white bass fishing.

We hit two areas, finding fish suspended at 25-27′ deep at the first and finding fish on bottom in 25′ at the second.  In our final hour or so, we landed 3 sets of triples, about as many doubles, and plenty of singles, all in the 0, 1, and 2 year class.  By 10AM, the time we’d all hoped all four kids would be able to make it through, we had 94 fish in the boat.  This time it was dad urging the kids to push on ’til we’d reached 100 fish for the morning. That took all of about 12 minutes as we landed our final triple, four singles, and one double in that span of time.

It’s always nice to be able to “finish strong”, especially with kids on board.

TALLY: 103 fish caught and released (62 white bass, 1 hybrid striper, 40 sunfish)


OBSERVATIONS:  ~12 mph chop put would-be surface feeders down this morning, so there was no topwater action where we were.  Sonar lit up and provided ample downrigging opportunities.



Start Time:  6:30A

End Time: 10:15A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 81F

Elevation:  2.70′ low, -0.06′ 24-hour change, 51 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  83.9F

Wind Speed & Direction: Light winds under 3mph from the ENE due to counter-clockwise rotation of the atmosphere impacted by Hurricane Laura Sky Condition: Hazy blue skies

Moon Phase: Waxing gibbous with 78% illumination

GT = 0




**Area vic 903 – combination of downrigging and working MAL Lures vertically for low-light fish away from the crowd; lasted until ~7:40

**Area B0163C – 40 sunfish

**Area vic 684 – downrigging for whites (+ 1 hybrid); fish at 25-27′ suspended, balls at 23′

**Area B0021G through B0030G  – downrigging for whites; fish at 25′ on bottom, balls @22′


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



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.



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





**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


WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning I fished a multi-species trip with Kris Wagner and his sons, 14-year-old Nick, and soon-to-be 10-year-old Charlie.  Kris makes his living as a urologist at Scott & White and enjoys biking. Nick is the real fisherman of the family, looking for opportunities to fish whenever and wherever he can, be it for sunfish in Nolan Creek or catfish at summer camp.  Charlie landed our fish for the record books — a spotted bass.  More about that, with a photo, in my Sunday “Guide Lines” column on Aug. 26th, though.


From left: Nick, Kris, and Charlie.  Because our fish were coming up from 35+ feet this morning where the water temperature was much cooler, we had to handle our fish quickly to ensure they could be released in excellent shape.  These three fish were actually all caught by Nick at the same time on his 3-armed umbrella rig.  I unhooked them, handed one to each family member, and we snapped a photo — all in a matter of seconds.  We then watched these all dig back down to that deep, dark, cool water they’d come from.

WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  This was a multi-species trip focused on white bass.

WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

WHEN WE FISHED:  Saturday morning, 18 August 2018

HOW WE FISHED:  We fished 4 areas and found fish at three of them.  I also ran sonar over 2 other areas and passed on them due to lack of fish and bait.  When fish and bait showed on sonar, we downrigged successfully and, whenever a mass of bottom-oriented white bass would show on sonar (typically setting both downriggers off as we passed over), we would stop the boat, hover atop of them and work tailspinners vertically.  This approach yielded 54 fish including 2 drum, 1 spotted bass, and 51 white bass through around 11a.  As we headed back to the ramp, I spotted some surface feeding action on a flat adjacent to the river channel.  Sonar revealed heavy schools of young of the year shad present with white bass throughout the lower third of the water column right there with them.  We went right to working tailspinners given how concentrated these fish showed to be on sonar, and wound up staying an additional hour working these fish over, and taking our tally up to 102 fish (adding 47 white bass and 1 drum to our prior total of 54 fish).

OBSERVATIONS/NOTES:  It was surprising to see fish feeding so aggressively at Area SH0053C between 11a and noon after the strong bite we’d experienced elsewhere had clearly died to nil.  This was the best topwater action I’d seen since Monday.


TALLY: 102 fish, all caught and released



Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 12:00 noon

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 76F

Water Surface Temp:   83.8F

Wind Speed & Direction: Light winds under 4mph from S for first 90 minutes, pick up up to WSW12 for the remainder of the trip.

Sky Conditions: ~20% cloud cover

Water Level: 7.36 feet low and falling

GT = 55




**Area   SH0052C thru 1425 – scant

**Area  1448-495-1970 – white bass via downriggers and tailspinners

**Area SH0053C – 48 white bass between 11a & noon – location revealed by surface action in SW wind at 12 mph


Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingelleTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle