Tonight I fished the 3rd S.K.I.F.F. trip of this 2010 season. SKIFF stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun. These trips are provided free of charge to the children of deployed soldiers, and are funded by the donations and fundraising efforts of the Austin Fly Fishers. Below is my customary note to the members of the Austin Fly Fishers which I write to them following each SKIFF trip:
Kaden (L) and Joshua (R) show off the largest of the 93 fish they landed tonight.
This was the situation down below as shown on traditional sonar (R) and on Lowrance StructureScan in the downview mode (L)
Start Time: 4:30p
End Time: 8:30p
Air Temp: 77F at trip’s start, cooling toward sunset, and with a cooling, drying NW breeze in place.
Water Surface Temp: ~71F
Wind: Winds were hard from the NW at 17 as a disturbance passed by and cleared and dried the atmosphere. Winds tapered off to NW 8 by trip’s end.
Skies: Skies went from mostly cloud to partly cloudy.
Dear Ron, Austin Fly Fishers, and friends of S.K.I.F.F.,
On the afternoon of May 4th, I arrived at the home of Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. Chad Nelson to pick up their son, Joshua, and his best friend, Kaden Evans, the son of Sergeant First Class and Mrs. Steve Evans. LTC Nelson is serving at Camp Victory in Iraq as a Medical Service Corps officer, and SFC Evans is serving as a Combat Engineer at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Frontenac in Afghanistan alongside the Canadian military. When I arrived, two very enthusiastic 2nd graders were in the front yard with backpacks on, ready to climb in the truck and go fishing. We’d originally scheduled the trip for the previous Saturday but a hard north wind was blowing and severe thunderstorms were forecast, so we postponed.
On our drive to the boatramp at Stillhouse Reservoir, I prompted the boys to share their fishing experiences with me so I could gauge what they would and wouldn’t be capable of doing. Both boys’ dads fish regularly and, despite their young age, both boys were proficient with spinning gear, which bode well for them.
After launching and a safety briefing, we probed along the shoreline near Area 203 for sunfish to make sure the boys did catch something during this outing, as the weather again looked a bit threatening with heavy clouds to our west and a few drops of rain falling now and then. We boated 8 sunfish in about 30 minutes and when it looked like the weather was going to improve with a clearing NW breeze and brightening skies, we left out for open water and big fish.
We searched Area 339 with sonar and found little, and so kept on searching. Next, we looked at Area 122 which consists of gently sloping topography ending abruptly at the old river channel. The sonar just lit up with both bait and gamefish, so I tossed out a marker buoy and hovered us over these fish with the trolling motor. We used a “smoking” retrieve with TNT 180 slabs in 3/8 oz. tied on and caught white bass, literally, until Joshua got a reddened “hot spot” worn onto his right hand from reeling the fish in. Every single fish was of legal size, with most going right at 11.75 inches. About this time the fish began to slack off a bit, so, I ran us up into the wind, anchored into the slope, and we put some baited downlines in the water in hopes of tempting some larger fish.
Eventually big fish found us, and by the time everything was said and done, we’d landed 8 largemouth bass including a 3.75 pounder for Joshua, and two 3.00 pounders for Kaden, as well as 5 other keeper-sized black bass. As we patiently waited on the baits to work their magic, we cast downwind from the stern of the anchored boat over fish holding downwind of our position. We “lift-dropped” our slabs through these fish and picked off a white bass on every third cast or so from off bottom in ~33 feet of water.
By 8:30p, the action was waning and the boys needed to get back home (as it was already past their 2nd grade bedtimes!), so we brought all the rods in and headed to the dock. The boys put a total of 93 fish in the boat today including 8 sunfish, 8 largemouth bass, and 77 white bass, thus making this the single most productive S.K.I.F.F. trip we’ve taken in the history of the program so far.
Joshua and Kaden really got along well, were respectful to me and to one another, and were fun kids to be with. Thank you all very much for your support of S.K.I.F.F. and for making this happen for these two young men.
P.S. Dave Hill, you’ll probably recognize the fish holding tool used on those sunfish in the photos I’ve attached with this letter!! Thanks!!