Bob Maindelle Guide Lines Aug. 16

From left, Travis Scott, and Jordan, Bob and Justin Word, display Belton Lake white bass taken with a combination of downrigging and vertical work with MAL lures under stable weather conditions Friday.  The party caught and released 108 fish in four hours.

Based on trends extracted from over 30 years of fishing log entries I have made on Belton and Stillhouse Hollow lakes, one observation I have made is that the more stable the weather, the more consistent and predictable the fishing becomes.

By stable weather, I mean weather from one day to the next that is nearly identical. The past two weeks we have experienced just such a set of conditions. Each morning’s pre-dawn temperature has been between 76-79 degrees. Each day the wind has been out of the south between 6-9 mph at sunrise, increasing to around 13 mph in the afternoon. Each day the high temperature has reached around 100 by mid-afternoon, and so on. We have enjoyed this stable weather ever since the last disruption in our weather which was caused by Hurricane Hanna.

In addition, on Aug. 3 we encountered our most recent full moon, and the illuminated portion of the moon has been waning ever since, on its way to being a dark or new moon Aug. 19 .

During the summer months — which is the primary season in which aggressive, extended topwater feeding typically takes place — the darker the moon, the greater the tendency for fish to feed on topwater, not only under low-light conditions early in the morning and again around sunset, but also several hours into the morning, and sometimes beyond, with sufficient cloud cover.

This week produced some spectacular catches on both Belton and Stillhouse Hollow.

Last week, my clients averaged 125 fish caught per trip.

On Monday, my crew of three from Union Hall Baptist Church near Liberty Hill landed 232 fish. On Tuesday, my father-and-son crew consisting of Kyle and Luke Halfmann, of Rosebud, landed exactly 100 fish. On Wednesday, Valerie Gonzalez’s two children, 8-year-old Victoria Rosado and 6-year-old Derrick Rosado of Fort Hood, landed 60 fish, and on Friday morning, Killeen resident Bob Word, accompanied by his three adult grandsons, landed 108 fish.

Not only is the fishing consistent during stable weather, it is also predictable. By this, I mean fish tend to do the same things at nearly the same times and in the same places, day after day.

Each trip over the past two weeks has involved catching fish on topwater just before, during and after sunrise by sight-casting MAL lures to fish herding shad to the surface.

Afterward, as the fish moved downward in the water column and outward away from the shoreline, we found them again in 25 to 30 feet of water, either on bottom or suspended above the thermocline.

We located these fish while watching sonar and while using downriggers. The downriggers serve to allow fish to be caught while at the same time giving me an indicator as to how aggressive the fish we encounter on sonar are. For example, if I run the downrigger balls 3 to 4 feet over a school of 40-60 white bass and, as the balls pass over the fish, the fish lunge up toward the ball, strike the lures and trail after the balls, I know these fish are aggressive.

Seeing this, I will circle back over top of them and use my trolling motor’s Spot-Lock feature to hover atop them and drop MAL lures to them, reel these lures up through the fish from beneath, and expect solid results.

On the other hand, if I run these balls over the fish and they remain where they are in the water column without moving upward toward the balls, nor following after the balls, I will leave these fish alone even if I manage to catch one or two on the three-armed umbrella rigs I use behind those downrigger balls.

Occasionally, especially from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., schools of white bass would briefly feed on the surface before sounding again just seconds later, thus giving away their position.

Over on Stillhouse Hollow, the weekly 3X9 Series hosted by Tightlines Premium Fishing Tackle had spectacular results this week. The winning three-fish limit, landed by Paul Stokes and John Guerra, weighed an incredible 19.46 pounds. The largest bass anchoring that limit weighed 11.48 pounds.

Additionally, of the 59 fish weighed in during the tournament, six weighed 6.5 pounds or more.

So, what do you do with this information? First, it helps an angler who appreciates these trends to have realistic expectations about results. For example, if a stable weather pattern exists for several days and you are not “on” fish, catching them consistently, you will want to examine your approach, as something you are doing is not working. Most likely this concerns location. Fish will be feeding during these conditions, and you need to find them before you can catch them. Instead of sticking with favorite spots, go scouting for areas holding bait and fish using your sonar and your eyes.

Additionally, if your time to fish is limited, choosing to fish during stable conditions is a better investment of your limited time than taking time off of work, cashing in vacation, etc., to fish during turbulent weather. As you look at the seven-day forecast and you see a “cookie-cutter” pattern to the weather, the odds are in your favor.

On the other hand, if you see a forecast, as is currently on-hand for late Sunday through early this coming Thursday, with a wind shift followed by winds from the north and east, and accompanied by rain chances early in the week, you will be better off waiting until conditions improve and become stable once again.

The potential for days-long runs of stable weather is high until at least the third week of September when our weather typically begins to moderate as we head toward autumn.

Become a student of the weather and your results will improve.

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