WHO I FISHED WITH: In just about anything else American, earning a gold star is a desirable outcome.  In the military, it means you lost your life while on active duty.

Today, I fished with Bradley Warner, the son of a Gold Star soldier, the late U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Daniel Warner.

Bradley showed up punctually and eager to fish.  I was particularly thankful today for all those who have helped SKIFF come into being and expand through the years.  Over the holidays, Bradley’s mom, Jennifer, picked up on a SKIFF posting on the Fort Hood Area Events Facebook page, felt a trip would be a good fit for her son, and, in a matter of a few days, I was welcoming Bradley across the bow of my boat.

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:  Bradley Warner of Killeen with a pair of hefty Lake Belton white bass.  During our 4-hour trip, we also landed hybrid striped bass and freshwater drum.

WHEN WE FISHED:  Tuesday, 07 January 2020, AM

HOW WE FISHED:  Following a very chilly 36F start, complete with a north breeze making it even chillier, we began our catching for the day by finding bottom-hugging white bass holding on a deep breakline at right around 8:10AM.  The sonar returns were scarce at first, but, knowing few other forms of life would be in the areas we searched, we went ahead and dropped baits on what we saw.  Before long we were boating small white bass routinely, landing a total of 19 before our luck ran out at this first stop.

We looked over 3 distinct areas thereafter and found little.  I headed on to a fourth location and, as we found fish and began slabbing, the only bird action we witnessed all morning materialized right on top of us.  It was great to be able to ride out this entire episode of bird action from its start at 9:44 to its conclusion around 10:40, which coincided with the cessation of the wind.  The most intense bird action took place in the first 40 minutes, from 9:44 to 10:20, then tapered off afterwards.  Although a few birds remained flitting around beyond 11AM, the bite all but ended when the wind laid down.

Interestingly, the slower the action got, the deeper the fish moved until, just before it got slow enough for us to call it quits, we were taking white bass off the bottom in over 60 feet of water.

Prior to the bird action, the lighter of the two slabs I traditionally rely upon (the white 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook) used with an easing tactic worked best.  As we encountered more mobile, aggressive fish under birds (and a greater proportion of hybrids mixed in), we bumped up to a 3/4 oz. slab and used a slow smoking tactic.  Several times this morning we had white bass and drum regurgitate whole shad, and each matched the length of the larger 3/4 oz. slab.

Bradley was a fast learner, and had a very natural, easy hookset motion, which served him well. He also played the larger fish he hooked very patiently.  As a result, we lost very few of the fish we hooked this morning.

TALLY: 57 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:   NNW wind = bird action.  We experienced the deepest fish activity I’ve encountered thus far this winter with white bass caught on bottom in 62′.


Start Time:    7:45A

End Time:  11:45A

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  36F

Elevation: 3.07′ low, 0.01′ 24-hour change, 20 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp:   53F

Wind Speed & Direction: NW7 at sunrise and for 2 hours thereafter, then slowly tapering to calm by 11:10

Sky Conditions: Bluebird skies

GT = N/A

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow




**Area 1390 – easing for bottom huggers

**Area 682 thru 953 under birds

**Area B0013G endpoint of AM action in 62′ water (with lake -3′)


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)





Twitter: www/


WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Monday morning I had the pleasure of fishing with a true Central Texas native, Dirk Miller, owner of Miller’s Smokehouse on Central Ave. in Belton.  It was one of those win-win situations … I had a party which had to cancel last minute on Monday’s trip and so I posted a discounted trip on Facebook and, within the hour, Dirk let me know he’d like to go.  He was already planning to try to kayak fish at Fayette (which would have been tough after the winds exceed the forecast by quite a bit).

Dirk is an avid multi-species angler, so, we had a lot to talk about.  I really enjoyed our conversation about the trophy blue cat fishery over on Tawakoni.

At trip’s end, Dirk paid for the trip and then some, AND presented me with jalapeno and cheese stuffed summer sausage and a mess of beef-pork blend “snack sticks” (think Slim Jim, only way bigger and way better).  Now, bear in mind, this was above and beyond that upon which we had dined on during our numerous snack breaks on the water!  I texted my wife and told her to put our lunch plans on hold, as they had just changed for the better!!

We saved the best for last.  This big ol’ channel cat took Dirk’s slab, came to net, and we called it a great day right then and there and headed for the boat ramp.


Despite the incoming cold front, the white bass really thumped our slabs this morning and fell for a variety of retrieves.


Oh yeah!!!  I’ve received some good tips through the years.  This ranks right at the top.


WHAT WE FISHED FOR:  This was a multi-species trip focused on white bass.  We also landed numerous drum and one chunky channel cat.

WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow

WHEN WE FISHED:  Monday morning,  November 26, 2018

HOW WE FISHED:   We fished through the tail-end of a mild, dry cold front’s arrival this morning with winds 13-14 from the NNW the entire time, making for a wind-chill well below freezing.  However, the moving water got the fish feeding well, allowing us to land fish consistently for the entire 4+ hours we fished.  The fish were most aggressive in the first 90 minutes and actually chased a slab as we used a smoking tactic.  After the skies brightened and mid-morning rolled around, the bite slowed and we had to downshift to snap-jigging, but the fish thumped us steadily and kept it busy enough to ward off the chill.  We ended up with 77 fish including about a dozen drum, one channel cat, and the balance of white bass, mainly in the 1.5 and 2.5 year class.

OBSERVATIONS:   We had a strong start and a strong end, with a slow hour in the middle.  The fish really turned on in the last 90 minutes before the obscured sunrise; this action coincided with the appearance of many schools of small shad feeding on the surface all over the lake after the winds had been calm for about an hour.


TALLY: 77 fish, all caught and released



Start Time: 7:00a

End Time: 11:30a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 34F

Water Surface Temp: 56.6

Wind Speed & Direction: NNW13-14

Sky Conditions: Full, grey cloud cover all afternoon

Water Level: 10.78 feet high and falling by about 0.18 feet daily w/ 1,182 cfs flow, increasing to ~1530cfs around noon

GT = 55

#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow




**Area SH0070C – low light smoking

**Area SH0067C- 1701-SH0064C – snap-jigging

**Area  vic 713  – snap-jigging

**Area  SH0071C  – snap-jigging



Bob Maindelle, Belton Lake Fishing Guide

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)




Twitter: www/