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

END OF SPRING BREAK 2020 – 38 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Saturday morning, March 14th, I fished with Cooper (age 8) and Riley (age 6) Harkrider of Buda, TX, and their cousin, Isaac Aguilar (age 10), from Wylie, TX, all accompanied by Dave Dedrick and Joey Harkrider, who came as non-fishing chaperones to help make the kids successful (and who did a great job at that).

Mrs. Sarah Harkrider coordinated the trip back in late January.  I shared with her that, due to the technical nature of the fishing this time of year and the lack of variety in the presentations used, this time of year can be tough for taking younger elementary-aged kids out.  She assured me there would be ample adult supervision and so we agreed to give it a go.

The families camped out at Dana Peak Park on Stillhouse, and we met up and fished on Lake Belton.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:    From left:  Isaac Aguilar, Cooper Harkrider, and Riley Harkrider with a few of the Lake Belton white bass they caught this morning as a light mist fell and easterly winds blew.

PHOTO CAPTION: Cooper Harkrider with our largest fish of the trip — a zebra-mussel fattened freshwater drum which fell for his slab.  I don’t think you can smile harder than that!

WHEN WE FISHED:  14 March, 2002, AM

HOW WE FISHED: With the kids so young and the vertical presentation pretty demanding as far as consistency with speed of presentation, I took longer than I normally would before we left the launch site to show the kids what needed to be done and then “quizzed” each of the kids by having them demonstrate that they understood what needed to be done, thus giving me a chance to coach any adjustments needed before we began fishing.

We found fish in a number of areas today, but, many of these fish were just shut down and wouldn’t bite, or, if they did bite, did all of the biting as soon as we arrived, but then shut down quickly thereafter — very much a continuation of what I observed on Stillhouse yesterday morning with my party of three adults.

We all fished off of the starboard side of the boat so I could watch the kids’ techniques.  Joey hunkered down full-time with Riley, Dave kept an eye on Isaac, and I had Cooper immediately to my left so we could all help keep the kids’ presentations consistent.

Even though we never got into a huge group of active fish that fed for long whiles, the action we experienced was steady and spread well over the morning so the kids stayed engaged.  Even Riley, at age 6, showed no signs of letting up until we had already planned to make one final stop before heading in.  The kids never set down their rods the whole time and were eager (sometimes too eager) to let down their lines at each new location we arrived at.

NOAA called for southerly winds, but we had easterly winds instead; NOAA also called for winds at 10 at sunrise slowly rising to 14, but we had calm conditions through 8:30, followed by a ramp-up from nil to 16 over the next 3 hours.  As the old saying goes, “Winds from the east, fish bite least.”.  This was definitely the toughest trip of the spring break week.

TALLY: 38 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  Still a good many birds — mainly terns — on the lake, but only saw two instances of them working, neither of which led us to active fish.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:   7:30A

End Time:  11:15A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 70F

Elevation: 0.85′ low, +0.0 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  57.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: Calm for 70 minutes, then going E and building to E14 by trip’s end

Sky Conditions: Grey overcast the entire trip with light mist from 7:30 to 8:00A

GT = 0

 

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 738/1859/1871 along 18-22′ mark

**Area vic 1736

**Area vic 132 (fished it twice)

**Area vic 097

 

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

Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle

SPRING BREAK 2020 – 60 FISH @ STILLHOUSE

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Friday morning, March 13th, I fished with three buddies who all became acquainted through Temple Bible Church — Shawn Leverington, Paul Spinn, and Adam Kuykendall.

Shawn is a U.S. Army company commander at the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood, and fished with me once before when he and his dad, a missionary in Turkey, joined me over this past holiday season.  Paul works at Grey Base, the joint use military/civilian airfield on West Fort Hood, working operations for chartered military aircraft, and Adam is a student — going back to school at Temple College in Temple, TX.

It was a bit surreal being out on our own little island (my boat) while the global spin-up around coronavirus began to have significant local implications around us — hording at grocery stores, school cancellations, limiting of public gatherings, imposition of airline flight restrictions, and more.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:    From left: Paul Spinn, Shawn Leverington, and Adam Kuykendall, each with mature, girthy white bass taken on mid-depth flats using bladebaits in a horizontal presentation.

WHEN WE FISHED:  13 March, 2002, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  Fishing started a bit tougher this morning despite the now-routine gull activity, as the winds were dead calm and remained that way for the first full hour of the morning.  We found fish scattered and feeding on mid-depth flats, but the number of fish and the activity level of these fish was much reduced versus this first hour of low-light in the previous four mornings this week.

Around 8:30, a light SE ripple began to disturb the surface and we experience the strongest 45 minute period of the day as this wind became sustained (albeit still quite light, under 6mph).  During this time we fished bladebaits horizontally and scored on every 3rd or 4th cast while working these vibrating lures in 30-34 feet of water.

Once that activity tapered to nil, around 10:20, we began searching channel edges for fish.  We did find what we were after, but, in addition to a few pockets of active fish, we also encountered fish very reluctant to feed, or, which fed as soon as we made our presentations, but then quit short afterward, refusing to “fire up” for any sustained period of time.

TALLY: 60 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  No more Sandhill Cranes noted migrating today despite southerly winds to carry them north.  Likely they’ve all moved through now.  Credible reports of fish arriving at Gravel Crossing/Log Jam areas.

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:   7:35A

End Time:  Noon

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 68F

Elevation: 2.93′ low, +0.0 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  62F

Wind Speed & Direction: Calm for 70 minutes, then light SE breeze at 6

Sky Conditions: Grey overcast the entire trip

GT = 0

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 1960 – light action on blades under birds over mid-depth flat

**Area vic SH0010G – light action on blades under birds over mid-depth flat

**Area vic 553 – light action on blades under birds over mid-depth flat

**Area vic 0288 – brief action on slabs by channel-oriented whites

**Area vic 0234 – brief action on slabs by channel-oriented whites

**Area SH0018G  – brief action on slabs by channel-oriented whites

**Area vic SH0011G  – brief action on slabs by channel-oriented 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

SPRING BREAK 2020 – SKIFF TRIP #3 – 67 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This evening, March 11th, 2020, was Day 3 of the week-long spring break for most of our local school districts.

Joining me this afternoon on Lake Belton were siblings Michael and Leilani Brown, accompanied by their mom, Santa Brown.

This trip was a SKIFF program trip which I provide, free of charge, to children who are separated from their parents by military duty.

In this case, the kids’ dad, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Brown, is away on extended field time.  Brown has served in the military for 14 years and currently works with drones.

Mrs. Brown is a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Chemical Corps.  I met her and her children at the Neighborhood Walmart Market about two weeks ago when I noticed the kids staring at the fish logo on my wife, Rebecca’s, car.

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:   Michael Brown III and Leilani Brown show part of their catch made on a spring break SKIFF program fishing trip while their dad is away from home on military duty.

WHEN WE FISHED:  11 March, 2002, AM

HOW WE FISHED: I opted to take the kids to Lake Belton this evening, as the evening bite on Stillhouse is typically pretty weak when it comes to white bass.  Also, the high numbers of small white bass now in Belton would help ensure the kids stayed engaged.

We found three different schools of willing white bass in two distinct areas and fired them up with a slow-smoking tactic.

Unlike the fish we’ve been catching at Stillhouse, these fish were not relating to the river channel, rather, they were on a gentle slope leading to a deeper basin area.

When all was said and done, the kids landed drum, largemouth, and white bass and lasted right up until sunset, amassing a catch of 67 fish.  We relied on the white, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook to get the job done.

TALLY: 67 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  Lake Belton still has a strong bird population.  We spotted strong numbers of gulls resting on the water in loose groups.  The only activity from the birds was that of feeding on insects; nothing helpful to finding fish this evening.

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:   4:00P

End Time:  7:45P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 79F

Elevation: 0.93′ low, +0.06 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  58.4F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSE8-9

Sky Conditions: Partly cloudy with 60% white clouds

GT = 0

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area B0195C

**Area B0130C/B0117C

**Area B0017G

 

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

SPRING BREAK 2020 — NOT JUST FOR KIDS — 65 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This morning, March 11th, 2020, was Day 3 of the week-long spring break for most of our local school districts.

Joining me this morning was Mr. Jeff Arbogust of Kempner, TX.  Jeff retired from the landscape architecture business to a ranch outside Kempner fairly recently, and gave me a call to discuss sampling the fishing this area had to offer.

Jeff previously lived east of Austin where he kept a kayak for fishing on the Colorado River, and kept a boat for fishing on Walter E. Long Reservoir.

Today we pursued white bass on Stillhouse.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:   For a third day in a row, we took quality largemouth on deep flats while working bladebaits for white bass.  This largemouth weighed 6.50 on a certified scale.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Fat, egg-laden female white bass were once again ready to eat this morning.

WHEN WE FISHED:  11 March, 2002, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  We enjoyed the “standard” sunrise bird action this morning, but, as soon as it was over, we experienced the deadly combination of sun and lack of wind.  Things got pretty quiet until a SSW wind began to push around 9:50AM.  I hated to lose that magic low light period, but, there was nothing to be done about it.

Once the wind picked up, the fish immediately went into gear and engaged in a late morning feed.

We fished under the birds for 21 fish over two distinct mid-depth flats, picked up another 25 fish as soon as the wind began blowing as we located over the river channel breakline, then finished up the trip with a final 19 fish at yet another channel breakline.  We worked 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slabs with stinger hooks for these channel-oriented fish.

TALLY: 65 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  Temperature profile down to 35 feet:

0 feet 58.3F

5 feet 58F

10 feet 58.2F

15 feet 57.5F

20 feet 57.1F

25 feet 56.9F

30 feet 56.6F

35 feet 56.5F

 

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:   7:40A

End Time:  12:10P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 67F

Elevation: 2.97′ low, +0.01 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  58.4F

Wind Speed & Direction: Light and variable thru 9:50 when a SSW developed and ramped up over the next hour to SSW12-13

Sky Conditions: Partly cloudy with 40% white clouds on a blue sky all morning

GT = 0

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area  1980 – blades for white on mid-depth flat

**Area  551/552- blades for white on mid-depth flat

**Area vic 0111/0114 – channel breakline congregation of whites

**Area vic 0234   – channel breakline congregation of 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

SPRING BREAK 2020 – FOWLER/GILMORE CREW – 95 FISH

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This morning, March 10th, 2020, was Day 2 of the week-long spring break for most of our local school districts.

Joining me this morning were fishing buddies Caleb Fowler, age 14, and Tevin Gilmore, age 17, both of Belton.

Mr. Steve Niemeier had arranged for he and Caleb, his grandson, to fish this morning, but a death in the family kept him from participating, so, Tevin got the nod and filled in.

PHOTO CAPTION:   Tevin Gilmore (left) and Caleb Fowler did some fishing on their spring break from Belton Independent School District.

PHOTO CAPTION:  Tevin Gilmore with a nice deepwater largemouth caught while working bladebaits under birds.

WHEN WE FISHED:  10 March, 2002, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  Fog was a bit of a curve-ball this morning.  As I left the house, the skies were clear with stars shining brightly.  As I approached the lake, the temperature must have just dropped to the dewpoint as the lighter it got, the heavier the fog became.  That fog, and the typically windless conditions which normally accompany fog, made spotting birds tough, made travel slow, and had the fish in a bit of a funk.  Thankfully, the warming water and impact it has on fish metabolism is starting to trump all else.

We fished only three locations this morning.  The first, under birds, was on a mid-depth flat for fish actively patrolling for small sunfish and shad.  The last two areas we hit were both on the channel breakline.  We fished the fish on the flats with bladebaits and we fished the channel-oriented fish with slabs.

The flats gave up 32 fish.  The first channel break gave up 16 fish, including a catfish of great proportions landed by Caleb, which will be the subject of a stand-alone article soon to follow; the last channel break gave up the remainder of our fish (47 fish), for a total of 95 fish landed this morning including white bass, several freshwater drum, one largemouth bass, and once blue cat.

We fished the Cicada blades with a “lift-drop” tactic and we fished the Hazy Eye Slabs with an easing tactic, save for about a 25 minute span when the feeding peaked and we used a slow smoking tactic.

 

TALLY: 95 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  Saw first flocks of north-bound Sandhill cranes migrating this past Saturday, 07 March.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:   7:40A

End Time:  11:30A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 64F

Elevation: 2.98′ low, +0.02 24-hour change, 1 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:  58.3F

Wind Speed & Direction: Light and variable

Sky Conditions: Varying densities of fog all morning

GT = 55

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow

Wx SNAPSHOT:   

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area vic 302/SH0039C – scattered fish under gulls

**Area vic SH0014G – channel breakline congregation of whites

**Area vic 234/746  – channel breakline congregation of 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

An Evening of Firsts and Personal Bests — 38 Fish

WHO I FISHED WITH: Today I fished with Mr. Kenn Renner, his son and daughter-in-law, Justin and Ariana Renner, and Kenn’s father-in-law, George Walter.  Thanks to an incredibly aggressive feed in the morning, this evening’s action was pretty subdued, but, we celebrated a few firsts and personal bests with the nearly 40 fish we landed.  At age 78, George landed the first fish of his life, and, at age 20, Ariana also landed the first fish of her life.  Justin landed the largest fish he’d ever landed, and everyone caught more fish on this trip than they’d ever caught before.

IMG_4402 (2)

Justin Renner with the largest fish of the trip AND the largest fish of his life.

IMG_4395 (2)

 

Although white bass are the “staple” for this time of year, we also landed hybrid, largemouth bass, and freshwater drum.  From left: Justin and Ariana Renner, George Walter, and Kenn Renner.

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

WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton

WHEN WE FISHED: Tuesday evening, 14 November 2017

HOW WE FISHED: Fishing was tough this evening.  Instead of finding large, bottom-hugging schools of white bass in a feeding posture, every area I checked had only a sprinkling of fish, if that.  We  got slabs down when we saw action and “picked” at them, a few at a time.  Right at last light we got right under some helpful gulls which helped us put our last 4 fish in the boat.  All fish caught were caught on 3/8 oz. slabs.

OBSERVATIONS/NOTES:  N/A

TALLY: 38 FISH, all caught and released

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time: 1:30p

End Time: 6:00p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 77F

Water Surface Temp: 69.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: SSE9-11

Sky Conditions: 30-40% grey cloud cover

Water Level: 2.33 feet low

GT = 0

Wx SNAPSHOT:

14NOV17

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Area 2050

**Area 2051

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@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www/twitter.com/bobmaindelle