Vertical Jigging on Belton Lake — SKIFF Trip 2012-1 – Jan. 7th,. 2012 – 31 Fish

The following blog entry appears in the form of a report to those who support the S.K.I.F.F. program …

Michael holds one of two hybrid we landed today.

Luke yelled, “This is bigger than the other ones!

” as he reeled in this deepwater largemouth.

The boys display the best 4 white bass we boated this morning.

The S.K.I.F.F. (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) Program exists to take the children of deployed or deceased soldiers on fishing trips at no charge to the soldiers’ families as a way of showing our support for our troops and providing a respite for their spouses. The following is a note to SKIFF supporters about this most recent outing…

Saturday, 07 Jan. 2012

Dear Austin Fly Fishers and Friends of SKIFF,

This morning I was accompanied on the first SKIFF trip of 2012 by the sons of U.S. Army Specialist Jack Foreman. SPC Foreman is a former brickmason now serving our nation in Afghanistan as a helicopter refueler with the 1st Air Cavalry under the 1st Cavalry Division. Michael (13) is a student at Smith Middle School on Ft. Hood, and his brother, Lucas (Luke) is a 7 year old 2nd grader at Clarke Elementary School there.

I linked up with the boys and their mom, Mrs. Julie Foreman, at a local bank and shuttled the boys to Belton Lake for our trip this morning. We got launched at around 7:30 am and actually struggled a bit until around 9:30 am. I’m beginning to see a “mid-morning pattern” developing here, as this same thing happened on a full day trip I took yesterday.

When the fish turned on the action stayed solid for about 2 hours solid and then died pretty quickly.

Our first success came at Area 1007/1008 in about 27-29 feet of water. We found schooled white bass here and used a very straightforward vertical jigging technique to tempt these fish. The boys really listened well and stayed focused and consistent with their jigging technique and were successful as a result of that. We worked hard to keep our 3/4 oz. slabs a set distance off bottom so they would be right at the level at which we were seeing fish on sonar. As the water gets slowly colder, longer pauses between jigging strokes become more essential, and that was the case today. We fished this first area for about an hour with the boys landing 21 fish (1 largemouth and 20 white bass).

It was interesting to note that two of the white bass we caught today were males dripping milt in advance of spawning. Yesterday, on a full day trip with adults, we boated 177 fish, and not a single fish showed any sign of milt production. What a difference a day makes!

Just as these fish were tapering off, we spotted some bird activity in the distance and ran to it. I saw some “high riding” fish in the upper 1/3 of the water column as we ran sonar over the general area the birds were patrolling, so, we downrigged for about 15 minutes without success. The birds gave up on the area, so, we did, too.

We continued the hunt for fish, this time looking over 3 different areas before finding fish stacked up in about 27 feet at Area 1012. These fish were much more aggressive when we first got our baits down to them as compared to the first area we’d fished, but, as is often the case in the late morning, these fish turned off very suddenly as well. We put exactly 10 more fish in the boat here including 2 hybrid and 1 keeper largemouth.

Luke had never been fishing before today. His grandpa is the fisherman of the family and has an age limit of 8 years old before you get to go out with him, so, when Luke boated his first white bass of the morning, along with it he earned a Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. “First Fish Award” which will arrive by mail in about a week and a half!

We’d now been hard after it for 4+ hours and had an agreed upon 12:15 curfew set to meet mom back at the bank parking lot, so, we stowed the gear, took some photos to commemorate the trip with and send to dad, and took a brisk boat ride back in to the ramp area.

Thank you, always, for your support. I want to especially thank Dave Hill and Manuel Pena for coming down and working our booth at the Central Texas Boat Show representing SKIFF this weekend in Belton. They ran the booth so I could conduct the trip described above. We met a lot of good folks, made some good contacts, kept on getting the word out about SKIFF, and even signed up a handful of kids on the spot.

TALLY = 31 FISH, all caught and released

Start Time: 7:30a

End Time: 11:45a

Air Temp: 46F.

Water Surface Temp: 51.0F.

Wind: Winds were WNW9 at trip’s start and stayed constant.

Skies: Skies were clear and bright.

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