Nobody On The Road … Nobody on the Beach — 57 Fish

WHO I FISHED WITH: Yep, it was like the Don Henley classic out there this morning …  this morning, Thursday, August 31, I fished a “Beat the Heat“ special trip with returning guests, Jim Wood and George Vanriper — and company was quite scarce!

My “Beat the Heat“ trips are three hours in length with the fee prorated accordingly (versus 4+ hours for a standard trip).   These trips are focused on topwater action in that low-light portion of the morning when such activity is most likely.

I’m offering these through Sept. 14 if anyone else is interested.

Jim, a retired surgeon, and George, a retired army aviator, used this occasion to meet one another in person for the first time after George asked me to suggest others he might occasionally pair up with to fish lakes Belton and Stillhouse. Both men are boat owners and are pretty good largemouth bass anglers in their own right, so , I helped put them in touch with one another.

Here is how the fishing went…

Here’s an up-to-date calendar so you can check availability:

Next available dates are Sept. 5-7 (AM)

PHOTO CAPTION:  Retired U.S. Army aviator George VanRiper and retired surgeon Dr. Jim Wood with some handsome whites taken on early morning topwater on an all-but-deserted Lake Belton.


PHOTO CAPTION: Jim and George’s catch of 57 fish included 3 hybrid, of which only this guy was a keeper (and was released).  52 of the 54 white bass were of legal size.


PHOTO CAPTION: This was the view of the parking lot at the boat ramp this morning.  I love this time of year!!  Kids are back to school, summer vacation is over, football is kicking in, and hunting cranks up tomorrow  … all these factors equate to less and less pressure on the fish and freedom to pursue fish without being followed or crowded.


WHEN WE FISHED:  Thursday, 31 August 2023


We were originally scheduled to fish yesterday, but, with a pretty stiff north wind still blowing after Sunday’s cold front moved through, I did not feel confident about topwater action materializing. We put off the trip until this morning when the north winds were due to let up and south winds were due to return once again.

This turned out to be a good decision.

Around 10:05, the winds went nearly slack prior to the forthcoming wind shift, and the heat really started pouring on. We wrapped up at that time with exactly 57 fish boated. As is often the case, this time of year, the lake was nearly deserted.

Although there was not the amount, nor the intensity, of topwater action this morning as compared to before the cold front’s arrival, we were able to get into about 90 minutes’ worth of action during which my two anglers were able to boat exactly 44 fish using Cork Rigs.

Cork Rigs, which I make by hand and sell on my website, couple a popping cork with a shad-sized streamer, and allow for a light bait to be presented at long distances.

Once the topwater action died down at 8:15, the job of putting fish in the boat immediately got much tougher.

We pressed on until about 10:05 and put a final 13 additional fish in the boat, including three hybrid, and, our only two short white bass.  All of these fish were taken using downriggers with 3-armed umbrella rigs equipped with Pet Spoons.

TALLY: 57 fish caught and released.

See a tutorial on the Smoking Method here:

Here is a tutorial on the Sawtooth Method:

Find the Cork Rig here:

OBSERVATIONS: Here was the water temperature profile taken this morning:

0 feet, 86.8F
5 feet, 86.8F
10 feet, 86.8F
15 feet, 86.8F
20 feet, 86.8F
25 feet, 86.2F
30 feet, 83.3F
35 feet, 75.6F
40 feet, 68.2F
45 feet, 65.6F
50 feet, 64.5F


Start Time: 6:35A

End Time: 10:05A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 73F

Elevation: 17.11 feet low, 56 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp: 86.8F on the surface.

Wind Speed & Direction:  WNW6 at trip’s start, slowly fading to calm by trip’s end as a forthcoming windshift was underway

Sky Condition: 0% cloud cover on a slightly hazy blue sky.

Moon Phase: Full super blue moon at 100% illumination.

GT = 75




Area 1055 to 1545 – 43 legal white bass & 1 short hybrid by 8:15A

Area B0084G thru B0085G, and Area 1223 – singles, doubles, and a triple for a total of 14 fish by downrigging Pet Spoons on 3-armed umbrella rigs.



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 #Fitec


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




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Big TIme Topwater — 72 Fish, 09 July 2014

This morning I fished with returning guest and retired naval flight surgeon Ray Johnson of Harker Heights, TX.


Ray Johnson with a typical topwater hybrid striped bass.  These smaller hybrid and white bass fed long and hard on the surface at mid-morning today.  Spotting them, casting to them, and watching them trail and then smash our lures was a lot of fun!

Although the weather has been stable and the fishing very consistent, especially on Belton’s topwater bite, I’m always a bit concerned when I see us going towards a full moon as that seems to dampen the topwater bite.  Today the moon rose during the day, so overnight illumination was not a big factor, and the fish fed well.  Actually, they fed better on top in the middle of the morning than they did at first light.

Long story short we spent 3.5 hours of our 4.25 hours on the water looking for and/or cashing in on topwater action.  When we found active fish I tried to stay as far away as I could while still being able to reach the fish with a long cast.  We used Cork Rigs with shad imitators designed to “match the hatch” of the baitfish the white bass and hybrid striper were feeding on.

I had intended to do more live bait fishing than we did today (only about 20 minutes’ worth at the very end of the trip), but the topwater was so abundant, easy, and fun, Ray and I were loathe to leave it behind for the uncertainty of a few larger fish.

We boated 71 fish throwing Cork Rigs, all of which were a mixture of white bass and “short” (less than 18″ long) hybrid stripers.  We also landed one just-legal largemouth during the short time we fished live baits.

Just a few tips on topwater:

1. Beware of your boat’s wake.  A folding wake will cause topwater fish to leave the surface.

2. Keep your distance.  Don’t go any closer to the fish than you need to.

3. Have plenty of line on your reel.  Full spools cast farther.

4. Match the hatch.  Look at what the fish are eating and match the color and size.

5. Approach from upwind.  It’s always better to cast downwind and drift into the fish than to chase them into the wind.

6. Use single hooks.  Treble hooks take a long time to get out, and increase the time between landing a fish and taking another cast.

7. Keep your retrieve speed high.  On Belton and Stillhouse, with their clear water, you’re just trying to create an illusion of fleeing baitfish, denying the gamefish a real good look at your fake offering.








Start Time: 6:00 am

End Time:  10:15 am

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  75F

Water Surface Temp:  82.2F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSW7-8

Sky Conditions:  Thin grey haze on a fair sky

Other: GT=0



**Area  1271 Low light topwater

**Area  718 to 497 to 1069 widespread topwater feed from 7:45a to 9:15a

**Area 1409 largemouth on live bait


Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Salado, TX