As you are all aware with the rain we’ve had, both Belton and Stillhouse lakes are at well above full pool. In fact, Belton’s full level is 594 feet and is currently at 603.88. That’s 7.33 feet above. Stillhouse’s full level is 617 feet and is currently at 629.61, and both are still rising.
You are probably wondering why the Corps of Engineers doesn’t keep the lake levels at a constant rather than letting them go above pool or to flood stage. To understand this, you have to understand the rivers that feed the two lakes, where they drain into and what happens if too much water is released at one time.
Let’s start with the Lampasas River and its tributaries, which flow into Stillhouse Hollow Lake. The Lampasas River below Stillhouse Hollow Dam flows about nine miles south east and joins the Leon River.
Belton Lake is fed by the Leon River and its tributaries. The Leon, below Belton Dam, then flows about 12 miles where it joins with the Lampasas River below Stillhouse Hollow Dam and creates the Little River, which then flows 75 miles until it dumps into the Brazos River. Both the Little River and the Brazos are currently at, or close to, flood stage.
I don’t know if you have ever driven down to Little River Academy and then on into Marlin, but the land there is relatively flat and very prone to flooding if not controlled properly. The Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District, has done a superb job of maintaining water levels so that that area’s flooding is minimized as much as possible. OK, enough on topography and flooding!
Even under significantly high water conditions, you can still go out and catch a bigun’!
One of Copperas Cove’s finest, Detective Rick Counter, did just that on May 3. Counter, who is also a member of the Copperas Cove Bass Club and fishes the Media Bass Individual Trail, was out on Stillhouse Hollow Lake — after working all day with the Cove Police Department, trying to locate fish and practice for the upcoming Media Bass Tournament on May 7. He and another member of the club, Johnny Hull, were fighting the rising water, windy conditions and flooded areas on Stillhouse while attempting to locate enough fish to make Rick a winner.
They had been out for about 20 minutes and had thrown numerous types of baits when they decided to fish an area on the northeast side of the lake. Counter decided to slow down and throw a Carolina Rigged creature bait to try to locate fish in about 19-20 feet of water. He made several casts to the area before he felt the tap at the end of his line. He hesitated just long enough to allow the fish to fully inhale the creature bait, then set the hook. He immediately knew he had a good fish on the other end as the brute fought hard to break away. He kept his normal cool and slowly brought the fish to the boat so Johnny could lip the fish and bring it into the boat. It was a true “Toad,” slang for a huge Bass, at 10 pounds and 4 ounces.
Congrats, Rick, on catching an awesome fish! After a brief photo session, he released the monster back into Stillhouse, with hopes that he could catch her again during the competition. Please note how Rick is holding the fish in the photo — with a fish this size, if you hold it only by the lower lip you can hurt it by dislocating the lower jaw.
As you can see, you can catch big fish even in flooded conditions. You just have to be persistent and patient and locate the right spot, and then that magic can happen for you just like it did for Rick.
Send your photos and comments by email and who knows, maybe you and your fish will show up in a future article.
So get out there, wet the line, locate the fish and catch a bigun’!
Jasper Johnson is retired Army and the Copperas Cove Bass Club secretary. To contact him, call 318-218-0358 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.