Belton/Stillhouse Fishing Summary (with photos) - Week of 14-20 March, 579 Fish

Despite a 28 morning low on March 12, just prior to the start of spring break, this week’s weather led to a net warming of our local lakes, thus nudging up the metabolism of all of the warm-water species of fish living in them.

Increasing day length also has begun to cause fish to be less lethargic than during the shorter, cooler, darker days of winter.

Spring break week is always the single busiest week of the year for me as families begin taking their first vacation days of the year after the Christmas holidays to spend with children who are out of school. It normally coincides with the first noticeable uptick in fishing as we emerge from winter.

As the week prior to spring break came to a close, I found the fishing on Stillhouse Hollow Lake hit-or-miss with small, nomadic groups of white bass milling around both upstream and downstream of the Lampasas River mouth. With a near total lack of current to draw these fish upstream to spawn, the fishing just was not as consistent as it could be this time of year.

This placed me on Belton Lake to search for fish in deeper waters, using deep topographic features. Belton tends to produce more, but smaller, white bass, whereas Stillhouse tends to produce fewer, but better quality white bass.

Given that all of my trips this week involved kids aboard, I opted for the action provided by lots of smaller fish. Additionally, the go-to tactic producing for me on Stillhouse the week before involved lots of horizontal casting using MAL Heavy Lures cast cross-wind. This can turn into a real nightmare if even one of the anglers aboard is not an accomplished caster.

The fish located on Belton’s deeper topographic features lend themselves to vertical tactics which are much easier to teach and manage, and which are not nearly so negatively impacted by wind.
I started the week off fishing with three teen-aged boys on spring break from Belton High School — Zach Dennison, Cooper Fix and Clayton Oaks. The boys started out taking white bass in under 20 feet of water casting MAL Heavy Lures with silver blades and chartreuse tails while the light level was low just before, during and after sunrise. As the clouds thinned and the skies brightened, the fish moved out and we began to fish deeper.

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The Dennison Party

Using white, 5/8-ounce Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs, the boys boated the majority of their 103-fish catch in their four hours on the water from this deeper water using the vertical tactics.
Fishing the same body of water on consecutive days helps me guide each subsequent party a bit better as we eliminate unproductive water with each trip, thus gaining valuable, current experience with each hour that passes.

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The Van Riper Party

By Tuesday, as I fished with the Van Riper party — George, Geoff and Greg Van Riper and Kaden Howley — I had a better idea of where I needed to be, and when I needed to be there. That previous day’s experience, in addition to the bump we got by fishing as a cold front entered into Central Texas, led to a 200-fish trip that day. Because high winds prevented effective casting for four anglers, all of our fishing was vertical, using the white, 5/8-ounce Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs.

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The Connollys

On Wednesday, I fished a double. The Connolly family of Copperas Cove — James, Angie, Ryan and Chloe — joined me in the morning for a catch of 82 fish under tougher, post-frontal weather with its characteristic blue skies, calm winds and cool, dry air.

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The Maedgens

That same afternoon, the Maedgen family of Salado — Marshall, Kristi, Kase and Kate — enjoyed a 102-fish outing on what was the single most pleasant trip of the week with highs in the mid-70s, warm sun shining on us and a mild breeze blowing.

Both of these trips involved nothing but vertical presentations with the white, 5/8-oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slab. The slab’s attraction to white bass comes for several reasons. First, it is the same size, color, and shape as the threadfin shad which make up the vast majority of the white bass diet. Next, the distinguishing feature of this lure, the small, spinning willowleaf blade attached to the treble hook, puts off flash and vibration. Finally, the stinger hook ups the catch rate on this lure by placing a hook at the head of the lure in addition to the standard placement of the treble hook at the tail end of the lure.

High winds brought a premature end to the week on St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday. Although I got in the scheduled morning trip with Scott Keeler and his 13-year-old son, Wyatt, from north Texas, the National Weather Service issued a wind advisory starting at noon that day and extending to 7 a.m. on Friday.

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The Keelers

The Keelers put together a two-man catch of 92 fish. Since the first hour or so of their trip was overcast with a thin fog falling over Belton Lake, we began fishing up shallow using MAL Heavy Lures with silver blades and chartreuse tails. They landed six fish at each of three shallow locations in under 18 feet of water before we moved out deeper to fish vertically as the clouds thinned and the skies brightened.

The remainder of the Keelers’ trip was spent in deeper water, 30 to 38 feet deep, using the Bladed Hazy Eye Slab presented with a slow-smoking tactic.

As Friday came around, it was clear that the winds were simply too high to fish safely with the 10-year-old boy and his grandfather scheduled to fish with me. I had to bump them back to Friday morning due to the high winds on Thursday afternoon. We all hoped the winds would relent, but with straightline winds at 22 mph, gusting to just over 30 prior to sunrise on Friday, there was just no prudent way to make it happen.

As it turned out, the National Weather Service extended the wind advisory through 4 p.m. on Friday.

As spring break came to a close, these several parties amassed a collective catch of 579 fish, averaging 115.8 fish per trip over the five trips our wild Texas spring weather allowed for.

Last edited by Holding The Line; 03/23/22 10:48 AM.

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Bob Maindelle, 254-368-7411
Holding The Line Guide Service
Stillhouse & Belton
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