A Boat Full by Randy Rowley 6/14/23 ©


For years I’d heard about a white bass guide on Lake Belton.  Although he had a great reputation, I never investigated him as he practiced catch-and-release, and FCS fishermen told me repeatedly that they wanted to keep their legal catch.  But after years of inconsistent hybrid/striped/white bass fishing trips on Lake Buchanan, where we averaged three hybrid/striper keepers per trip, I decided that catching 20+ white bass with the Lake Belton guide was appealing, even if I couldn’t keep them.

I found the guide (Bob Maindelle) via Google and researched him.  All 25 reviews were 5-star.  Many reviews praised his knowledge, experience, professionalism, disposition, and top-of-the-line equipment, which I greatly value.  He also had an incredibly detailed website, which I also greatly value.  I soon contacted him about a trip and emailed FCS a poll.  Three guys wanted to go with me, so I scheduled a trip for early June.

But I was concerned about scheduling a June trip, as according to Bob’s extensive records, his average catch for his June 2022 trips was 91.2 fish, but during May 2022, it was 181.7, and during April 2022, it was 185!  I was kicking myself for not starting the trip-planning process earlier in the year.

We boarded Bob’s boat on the first Monday in June, and after showing us his safety equipment, he took us about 100 yards offshore and showed us how to use his Maindelle’s All-Purpose Lure (MAL) Mini Rig on spinning reels and rods.  He developed the Mini Rigs for topwater fishing when the bass were ‘boiling’ and feeding on small, young shad.  Mepps (an inline spinner manufacturer) custom-made the lures for him.  Then we were off in search of white bass.

We didn’t travel long before Bob spotted ripples on the water, which he identified as schooling bass.  He turned off his big motor, engaged his trolling motor, gave us each a rod, and told us to look for splashes and to throw the lures beyond them.  It didn’t take long before Jim McGee had a tight line.  The rest of us quickly followed suit.

We fished there for around 45 minutes, catching 27 bass.  After catching six bass in a row, I asked to try my clear Heddon Super Spook Jr. dog walker that I’d brought along, tied on one of my baitcasting rods and reels.  Bob thought the lure was too big and encouraged me to try his Cork Rig with Streamer instead.  I did, but there were no takers.

When the bite began to wane, Bob took us to a cove by the ramp.  Three boats were in it.  It didn’t take us long to see why they were there – white bass were hitting the surface in several places!

We immediately started catching fish.  After a few minutes, Bob said I could try my Super Spook Jr.  I did and had the same results as I did with his Cork Rig and Streamer.  We fished in that cove for over an hour, catching 37 bass.

The bite started to wane, so Bob took us to an area near Fort Cavazos’ (formerly Fort Hood) Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area (BLORA), and he again spotted feeding schools of bass.  Bob had us switch to his MAL Heavy lures, and we started catching fish right away.  We weren’t there long before we saw a huge, dark blob heading our way – it was a huge school of shad, and fish were tearing into it.  It veered away after seeing Bob’s boat.

We spent the remainder of our morning there, moving once, not far from where we began.  Bob told us to let the lures have a four-second drop due to the increasing wind speed, but by the time we finished, we gave them a 20-second drop.

We used Bob’s MAL Heavy lures exclusively.  Bob also made extensive use of his Garmin Live Scope and two screens where we could see our lures dropping to the bottom, and then when we’d start to burn them back up, we’d see the bass rise, chase, and smash the lures!  It was incredibly fun – like video game fishing!  The bass never hit the lures as they fell.

Not long after we arrived, we landed our 100th bass.  I was ecstatic as we had exceeded Bob’s June 2022 91.2 fish per trip average.  But we showed no sign of slowing down.  Soon we were at 130, then 150, then 180, and then 200!  I ended our morning catching our 204th bass!  Bob said that only three trips so far in 2023 were 200-fish trips.  His website showed that only one trip in April exceeded our results, and that was a much better month, statistically.  Here is Bob’s incredibly detailed report (scroll down to 6/5/23).

There are two recounts in the Bible of fishermen catching boatloads of fish.  Luke 5:1-11 recounts that Jesus was teaching people at the Sea of Galilee’s shoreline.  Four fishermen were washing their nets from the previous night’s fruitless work.  Probably because the people were crowding him, Jesus got into the boat owned by Simon and asked him to take him out a short distance from shore.  Although Luke didn’t say it, he implied that Andrew, James, and John were with Simon, as Luke 5:5a says, “Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything’” (the four fishermen usually fished near each other – Simon and Andrew from Simon’s boat and James and John from their father’s boat).

After he finished teaching the people from Simon’s boat, Jesus asked Simon to go to deeper water and let down the nets for a catch.  Simon and Andrew did so, catching so many fish that their nets began to break.  James and John came to help, and the four fishermen filled up both boats to the point that they began to sink.  Luke 5:10b (NKJV) says, “And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid.  From now on you will catch men.’”  The miracle convinced the four men to leave everything and follow Jesus as his first disciples.

John 21:1-11 recounts that after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter, James, John, Nathanael, and two other disciples were together by the Sea of Galilee.  Peter decided to go fishing, and the other disciples went with him.  They got into a boat (probably Peter’s), went offshore, and fished.  But they were skunked.

Jesus stood on the shore early in the morning, but the disciples didn’t recognize him.  He asked the disciples if they had any fish.  They replied, “No.”  He told them to throw their net on the right side of the boat, and they would find some.  When they did, they couldn’t haul the net in because of the weight of 153 fish.  John proclaimed that the man on the shore was Jesus.  Hearing that, Peter, impulsive as usual, jumped into the water and swam to shore around 100 yards away.  The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net.

Jesus had cooked fish and had brought bread.  He invited the disciples to eat breakfast with him.  When they finished eating, Jesus had some unfinished business to resolve with Peter, who, during the Last Supper, bragged about how loyal he would be (see John chapter 13).  But then, as he watched Jesus’ trial from afar, Peter denied even knowing him when confronted three times (see John 18:15-27).  It was this man – who was ashamed of his failure and likely wanted life to return to as it had been before, that Jesus needed to address.

Jesus asked Peter if he loved him.  Peter replied, “‘Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you’” (verse 15b).  Jesus replied, “‘Feed my lambs’” (verse 15c).  Jesus asked him twice more, and Peter replied with the same answer.  Jesus replied after Peter’s second answer, “‘Take care of my sheep’” (verse 16c), and replied after Peter’s third answer, “‘Feed my sheep’” (verse 17c).

Peter might have thought that Jesus would restore him as the cornerstone on which he would build his church (see Matthew 16:18), but instead was given a new job of tending to Jesus’ sheep.  How must that have sounded to a failed and frustrated Peter?  “Come on, Jesus, I’m a failure, and you want me to do this too?”  He might have even considered being given this new job as a punishment.

But Jesus’ words to Peter, “Tend my sheep,” weren’t meant as retribution as in, “Now, because of your failure, you must do this.”  But instead, Jesus’ words were a simple call to look after the sheep Jesus loves so much – “Now you love them too.”

Most of what Jesus said and did during his ministry was about tending to people.  Now he told Peter to tend to those he loves.  Jesus didn’t replace Peter’s job to build Jesus’ church.  Instead, Jesus told him how to build it by caring for disciples with the tender grace of Christ.

After Jesus’ filling-Peter’s-boat-with-fish miracle, he commissioned the four fishermen to fish for men/evangelize.  After Jesus’ filling-Peter’s-net-with-fish miracle, he commissioned Peter (and the other disciples) to care for his fellow Christians/disciple – a more demanding and time-consuming role than just evangelism.  And Jesus stressed its importance again in his great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 (his last words).

When Jesus told his followers to make disciples, he didn’t enact a possession limit, as the TPWD has for white bass – he wants us to catch as many as we can and care for each one.

Dusty Hunt, Randy, Bill Atkinson, and Jim

Categories : Devotionals

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

Bible Verse of the Day

A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, But the LORD upholds the righteous.