Fishing conditions on the big area lakes remain tough, according to outdoors expert and tournament angler Donnie Mathes.

“Stillhouse and Belton are still kind of tough,” said Mathes, a 30-year game warden at Fort Hood. “This week at the Tuesday Night Tournament (at Stillhouse), hardly anyone caught any fish and some people that can really fish didn’t catch a thing.”

The fishing conditions are better at the Fort Hood ponds.

“The Fort Hood ponds, with the few cool nights we’ve had, are responding quicker to the big lakes,” Mathes said. “All we need is one 24-hour period in the 60s and those ponds will cool down very, very quickly — a lot quicker than the big lakes.”

According to Mathes, area anglers are optimistic things will improve relatively soon.

“The key to improved conditions is we need different weather than we’ve had in the past few days,” Mathes said. “It’s still in the 90s. We need nights to get into the 60s and then the days not to warm up to 95. Once that happens, fishing will change.”

The “Fishing For Freedom” event takes place Oct. 24 at Belton Lake. The annual event allows military service members to enjoy a day of fishing with angling experts, including some non-Texans.

“People from all over the country fly here to help the soldiers on that day,” Mathes said. “You’ll see some big-name fishermen coming here for that event. There will be over 250 boats on Belton Lake that day. It’s a great event.

“Conditions could be very good by then. Typically, by then, we get better  fishing than what we have now.”

Military service members can sign up to participate in the event by contacting Killeen’s “Texas Boat World.”

Contact Allan Mandell at or 254-501-7566 and read his column at

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