On Saturday, 27 Feb., I conducted the second SKIFF trip of the 2016 season. SKIFF stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun, and exists to get the children of soldiers out on the water while those soldiers are away from their families due to military duty.
Emily had great vertical jigging technique and landed fish consistently once I coached her on how and when to set the hook.
Joining me this afternoon were Emily and Josh Reynnells of Harker Heights, TX. The children’s father, U.S. Army Major Steve Reynnells is currently stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana. With dad gone, and big sister, Lauren, now in college at Dallas Baptist University, that leaves mom, Johanna Reynnells, as essentially a single parent of two elementary-aged kids for a majority of the time. Mrs. Reynnells needed a break, and I was glad to oblige by getting the kids on the water for most of the afternoon.
Water temperatures have already risen into the high 50’s on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, and the white bass we were targeting are definitely on the move up into the upper reaches of the reservoir, in and near the Lampasas River.
Based on success I enjoyed with two clients from South Dakota earlier this week, I began our trip in deep water. I find deep water buffers some of the factors that often diminish a shallow bite, such as turbulent weather, calm conditions, and bright conditions.
This turned out to be a good choice, as we sat for 90 minutes on top of one boat-sized area and landed 51 fish including 49 white bass and 2 freshwater drum, all fishing vertically with slabs. The Spot Lock feature on my Ulterra trolling motor held us tightly atop the bottom feature we were fishing, and allowed me the freedom to move about to unhook fish, untangle lines, and coach.
It’s funny how, even on the best days of fishing, kids’ enthusiasm can wane in situations that would keep adults’ hearts pumping for hours. Despite the one-fish-every-two-minutes catch rate we were enjoying, Josh wore out first. Having fished professionally with kids for years now, I had to reach into my bag of tricks to keep him engaged so Emily could continue fishing. I pulled out my “thumping stick” and had Josh beat on the bottom of the boat while having him observe sonar to watch the fish “reply” to his efforts. I put Josh in charge of returning all caught fish to the water using a variety of creative techniques. And, of course, there was good, old reliable “snack time”.
By around 4p, the kids were both ready for a change of scenery, so, we headed up towards the Lampasas River observing for helpful bird activity as we went. Although the gulls and terns didn’t provide us with any clues, sonar sure did, indicating a nice school of white bass holding on the edge of the river channel in a place that would lend itself to more vertical jigging, which the kids were now experts at.
We landed another 15 fish at this second and final stop of the day, then cranked ‘er up and headed ‘er home to mom and Princess, the family dog. The kids put together a respectable catch of 66 fish during their afternoon on the water.
If you are a military family and mom or dad is away on duty of any sort, please call me if I can help your situation by providing a free fishing trip.
If you are a supporter of SKIFF, thank you for coming alongside the Austin Fly Fishers to make such trips possible for the families at Fort Hood, TX, and beyond.
TALLY = 66 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 2:15p
End Time: 6:30p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 64F
Water Surface Temp: 59.0F
Wind Speed & Direction: S13-14
Sky Conditions: 40% white clouds on a blue sky.
Water Level: 622.39 with 622.0 being full pool. 0.03 feet of water was released in the last 24 hours.
Other: GT= 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 531 – Casting blades for shallow whites under birds
**Area 054 – Slow action on blades and slabs for whites as they wrapped up their low-light feed
**Area 094 – Moderate action on blades in 16-17 feet as breeze began to ripple surface
**Area 092 – Moderate action on slabs in 20-25 feet as breeze began to ripple surface
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