Bob Maindelle Guide Lines Aug. 19

Patrons at the Stillhouse Hollow Marina show a large channel catfish caught recently from the fishing dock there.  A number of opportunities await shore-bound anglers here in Central Texas.

My phone rang around mid-afternoon Thursday. It was a friend from church who had attempted fishing off the courtesy dock located inside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Westcliff Park on Belton Lake.

Because the dock is intended for boat loading and unloading, he was asked not to fish off that structure by the park hosts.

Looking for options, my friend called and inquired about alternatives.

With both Belton and Stillhouse Hollow lake levels receding due to drought and summertime evaporation, bank fishing has become tougher than usual.

At Stillhouse, much of the water able to be reached by casting from the shoreline is clogged with hydrilla.

Regardless, there are still some productive options open to Central Texas bank anglers.

Fort Hood Fishing Options

According to Danny Riddlespriger at the Fort Hood Sportsmen’s Center, there are 13 ponds on Fort Hood which are routinely stocked and which remain open to the public year-round regardless of ongoing training in Fort Hood’s training areas.

The Sportsmen’s Center is located at Rod and Gun Club Loop, Bldg. 1937 at Fort Hood. Those without a Fort Hood pass or decal will need to get a visitor’s pass at the Marvin Leath Visitor’s Center located just outside Fort Hood’s main gate in order to get to the Center. A valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of auto liability insurance is required to obtain a pass.

Regardless of military affiliation, the process for gaining access to Fort Hood’s fishing opportunities remains the same — adult anglers must possess a Fort Hood fishing and area access card for $17, valid for one year from the date of purchase, in addition to a valid state fishing license.

In addition to the aforementioned 13 ponds, there are an additional 20-30 fishable bodies of water in the active training areas which are not stocked and which are subject to closure during military maneuvers in those areas.

Fort Hood fishing follows state-wide regulations closely with the most notable exception being the bag limit on catfish, which is 15 fish on Fort Hood, versus 25 fish statewide.

Those interested may contact the Fort Hood Sportsmen’s Center at 254.532.4552 or view the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) website at: hood.armymwr.com/programs/sportsmens-center or use the Facebook search tool and enter: FT Hood Outdoor Adventures.

Centex Sportsmen’s Club

The Centex Sportmen’s Club at Belton Lake operates a lighted, floating fishing dock with both indoor and outdoor fishing alternatives. The dock is open 24/7, 365 days per year.

A membership is required. To obtain membership, a candidate must have two sponsors (existing members) recommend them, and pay $85 per adult for the first year, and $35 each year thereafter for the season which runs from the start of September to the end of August.

Minors under the age of 17 may fish for free when accompanied by an adult member.

The Club maintains a porta-potty on the floating dock. They also keep the dock lighted during the night which serves to draw fish; they also routinely sink brush beneath the dock to attract cover-loving species of fish like crappie, sunfish, and largemouth bass.

Those interested may contact the Club’s president, Daniel Taylor, at 254-295-6386.

Aside from the fishing dock, the Club also maintains a clubhouse on Cen-Tex Sportmen’s Club Road near the entrance to Temple Lake Park on Adams Avenue in Belton.

When fishing at the dock, be sure to bring all necessary gear and supplies with you, as no products, tackle or bait is sold on the premises.

Bell County Sportsmen’s Club

The Bell County Sportsmen’s Club is located in a quiet cove on the Cedar Creek arm of Belton Lake. It, too, is a private organization open to members only.

To become a member, candidates must complete an application and submit a $20 fee for a background check. Membership costs $65 per year. Those with a spouse must also purchase a membership for their spouse.

In addition to focusing on fishing, the club also emphasizes its social aspect. The members hold a potluck meal each Saturday complete with boardgames, and hold a fish fry twice each year.

Indoor and outdoor fishing options both exist, and anglers may stand or be seated while fishing in either environment. The most prevalent species caught at the dock is crappie.

According to the Club’s bylaws, it is open to Bell County residents only.

Once membership is granted, members are issued a membership card with a five-digit passcode which allows access through the locked door onto the floating dock. Anglers may fish 24/7, 365 days per year and have control over the lights intended to draw fish and bait.

Brush is maintained beneath the dock to attract fish.

Those interested in pursuing membership may contact the Club’s president, Joe Miklovich, at 254-855-3395. The Club maintains a Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/SporstmansClub. Note this is not a typo — the “s” and “t” are actually transposed in the URL.

BLORA FISHING DOCK

The Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area floating fishing dock is located inside the sprawling BLORA park property off of North Nolan Road which runs along the south shore of Cowhouse Creek, one of the two main tributaries to Belton Lake.

The entire BLORA shoreline, as well as the floating fishing dock, is open to the public, not just those who are affiliated with the military. An entry fee is charged by the carload and is $3 per carload for military personnel and $10 per carload for civilian personnel.

BLORA is open around the clock to anglers, and fishing is permitted from both the shoreline (except in the swimming area and from the courtesy docks specified for boat loading and unloading) and the floating dock. Although the park’s other activities close at 11 p.m., fishing is permitted 24 hours per day.

Tents and fires are not permitted when fishing from the dock or shoreline.

BLORA’s floating fishing dock offers indoor and outdoor fishing. Fishing indoors is accomplished through three large wells in the floor of the dock. Outdoor fishing is accomplished along the four exterior sides of the rectangular dock.

The dock is lighted throughout the night, but no chum or brush is placed in the dock’s vicinity to attract fish.

According to Karl Washko, the administrative manager at BLORA, anglers typically catch crappie, bass, sunfish, carp and buffalo fish from the dock.

Because the fishing dock is located in a shallow cove, very low lake levels can force closure of the dock.

With the lake now less than 5 feet low, there is still plenty of water beneath the dock.

Anglers may call ahead to check conditions at 254-287-2523.

All state fishing regulations, including licensure requirements, apply at BLORA. There is a three-rods-per-angler maximum when fishing from the dock.

Stillhouse Hollow Marina

The Stillhouse Hollow Marina is located at 4596 Simmons Road within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Stillhouse Hollow Park. The marina’s phone number is 254-939-5741.

The marina permits fishing from the shoreline and from their lighted fishing dock. The dock allows for both indoor and outdoor fishing around the clock on the days the marina is open.

The marina is open from midnight to midnight every day except Monday and Thursday.

The cost of a 12-hour fishing pass is $3.75 for adults and $3 for kids 6-12 years of age. Seniors 65 and older get in free, as do disabled veterans possessing a disabled veteran’s fishing license, and kids under the age of 6.

According to marina manager Kelley Bartek, the fishing dock is equipped with a restroom, a store, a bait shop and a restaurant.

Anglers most often catch bass and sunfish from the dock. All statewide regulations apply, including licensure requirements.

The marina prohibits glass containers, sunflower seeds, and non-service related animals.

Frank’s Marina on Belton Lake is no longer an option.

As of approximately 2 years ago, the floating dockworks at Frank’s Marina was closed to the public.

Fishing from the docks is now limited to boat slip owners only.

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