This is a great article about our “neighborhood” lake here in Harker Heights. From our office, I can be on the lake in less than 10 minutes! We spent enough time on this lake when my sons were growing up that we can claim it as a home away from home. – Jean Shine
In Central Texas we are blessed with abundant outdoor recreation opportunities such as parks, trails, lakes
and fishing areas all within less than 30 minutes drive of our home, yet many times I see these parks and lakes being under utilized.
I talk to local people every week who simply aren't aware of all the opportunities we have for outdoor recreation right here in our own backyard.
One of the best kept secrets in the state is Stillhouse Hollow Lake located just a few miles southeast of Killeen. The lake is an impoundment of the Lampasas River and was completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1968 and covers 6,430 acres at full conservation pool.
Most of the land around the lake is Corps of Engineers property keeping lakeside development to a minimum.
The shoreline is mostly rocky and the water is typically very clear.
Several parks surround the lake and offer a variety of recreational uses including camping, fishing, picnicking, boat launching, hiking and more.
The lake experienced dramatic flooding in the spring and summer of 2007 and reached levels 40 feet higher than normal.
Several parks experienced significant damage and were closed for extended periods of time while repairs were made. Most of these parks are now back in operation with the exception of Dana Peak where only the boat ramp has re-opened. Lake managers expect to fully re-open Dana Peak in the spring of 2010.
Hours and entry fees for the parks vary with most of the parks closing at sunset and several of them including Rivers Bend and Cedar Gap having no entry fees.
Currently the lake is at or near the normal pool elevation of 622 feet above sea level. Over the past few weeks the lake reached levels of 6-8 feet above normal with the heavy rains we received.
Lake managers have been releasing a high volume of water from the dam at 3100 cubic feet per second and anticipate reducing this to around 1500 cubic feet per second as the lake reaches normal levels.
This is a perfect time of the year to enjoy picnics at Stillhouse Hollow because the parks are less crowded and you can have your choice of picnic areas. Also the cooler temperatures are a blessing since the lake has very few shaded picnic areas. If you do decide to picnic on a warm day, it's a good idea to bring a canopy or umbrella for shade.
The well maintained concrete boat ramps at Stillhouse Hollow are wide and gently sloping. Most of them have courtesy docks nearby for easy loading and unloading of passengers and gear.
Free launch is available at Cedar Gap and Rivers Bend. Remember to observe courtesy rules on the boat ramps such as waiting your turn and having your boat ready to launch when you back down the ramp.
You should observe the "no wake" zones near boat ramps as a courtesy and safety precaution.
Autumn fishing is great on Stillhouse Hollow with the most popular species being white bass and largemouth bass. White bass are moving into deeper water now and you'll need sonar gear and deep water lures to tackle these feisty fighters.
Largemouth bass can still be found in shallow water on warm afternoons and will move between the deep water off the points and the shallow areas in the coves depending on weather and wind conditions.
Dark colored plastic worms and shad imitation crankbaits are the lures of choice right now for largemouth bass.
I've spoken to several fishermen who are catching good numbers of catfish on trotlines and jugs as well as rods and reels fished from the shore.
They are using live bait such as perch and Black Saltys and cut bait such as shad and chicken livers to catch channel and yellow cat.
In warmer weather, boating becomes more popular on Stillhouse Hollow with several great areas for water skiing and tubing.
Even on the windiest days, you can usually find a quiet cove behind some high bluffs to pull the kids on a tube.
Be sure to stay a safe distance away from fishermen and anchored boats. Sailing and kayaking are gaining popularity on the lake as well and most evenings you can see several kayakers near Rivers Bend park with at least one kayak club frequenting the lake.
We are truly blessed to have such a beautiful and diverse outdoor recreation area and I encourage you to put down the remote, shut off the computer, gather up the kids and get out and enjoy the outdoors at Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
By Jeff Warren