This afternoon, December 30th, I fished with Bryetun Maxwell and his grandpa, Bob McCaughey, both of Killeen, TX. This was the 28th SKIFF trip of the 2014 season. SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trips are provided free of charge to families whose children are separated from a parent due to that parent’s military service, thanks to the Austin Fly Fishers and a network of supportive individuals from all over the U.S. All it takes is a phone call from a parent to me at 254-368-7411 to reserve a date.
Bryetun Maxwell and his PaPa Bob with a pair of white bass taken on slabs as a slow-moving cold front passed into the central Texas area today.
Bryetun got quite a kick out of hooking two fish on one slab — one on the treble hook affixed to the bottom, and one on the single assist hook affixed to the line tie.
Here’s what was going on beneath the boat as the arriving front stirred these several hundred fish into a feeding mode for over 3 hours.
Bryetun is an 8-year-old third grade student. He is son of U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Jonathan Maxwell and Mrs. Mindy Maxwell. TEC Sergeant Maxwell is currently deployed to Southwest Asia and is assigned to the 3rd Weather Squadron. This is his 3rd wartime deployment. Bryetun’s grandpa, PaPa Bob, joined us as a non-fishing chaperone.
Just before the Christmas holidays, Bryetun’s grandmother, Mary McCaughey, saw a recent newspaper article about the SKIFF program and approached me about taking her grandson out fishing. When I saw how today’s cold front was due to arrive, I knew the fishing would be very good as long as Bryetun could tolerate the conditions. To their credit, mom and grandpa saw to it that Bryetun was bundled up with 4 layers of clothing plus a lifejacket on top, a hat, gloves, and more. All this helped Bryetun endure for about 3 1/2 hours of a planned 4 hour trip before the increasing cold, wind, windchill factor, and setting sun pushed him to his limit and he let me know his face and legs were just too cold to keep going.
Fortunately, the fish, although definitely slowing down due to the falling water temperatures, were actively feeding for the entire time we were on the water. We made 3 stops this afternoon finding fish at each one and exposing Bryetun to several variations on the theme of vertical jigging. The first two concentrations of fish we found with sonar, and the last was pointed out to us by actively working terns. We wound up catching 55 white bass and a single freshwater drum on this chilly December day.
This was my last trip for 2014, as tomorrow’s post-frontal conditions will make for poor fishing. This 28th SKIFF trip set our SKIFF Program record for the most SKIFF trips conducted in a year since the program’s inception in 2009, a testament to the long-term support of the Austin Fly Fishers for our men and women in uniform and their families.
TALLY = 56 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 1:30p
End Time: 4:45p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 45F
Water Surface Temp: 52.8 to 53.4F
Wind Speed & Direction: NNE13
Sky Conditions: Greyed over entire time.
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 074, slow-smoking for 28 fish
**Area 1197, easing for 20 fish
**Area 1517, slow-smoking for 8 fish
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)