I fished a morning half day S.K.I.F.F. trip (#8) today with Brycen Schmidt, a Harker Heights Kindergartener, and son of Captain and Mrs. Steven Schmidt. CPT Schmidt is an Army aviator deployed to Iraq with 2/227 Aviation Regiment. Miss Grace Lewis, a 3rd grade young lady I know through my church, also participated in this outing. This and all S.K.I.F.F. trips are sponsored by the Austin Fly Fishers. S.K.I.F.F. stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun and is a program available to the families of deployed soldiers wherein their children can participate in an all-expenses-paid, professionally guided fishing trip of about 4 hours in duration.
Brycen S. with a nice schoolie bass he played and landed all by himself.
Grace L. with a big bass and a bigger smile.
During this trip we had two very memorable moments. First, Brycen caught the first fish of his life (he’s 5); it was a black-tail shiner. Then Grace caught a record-setting green sunfish. In all, the kids caught a mixed bag of 45 fish. I continued fishing after this trip, accounting for the balance of the tally today.
Start Time: 7:00am
End Time: 1:50pm
Air Temp: 74F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: ~82.4F
Wind: Winds were from the NW at trip’s start, swinging through N, then NE, then E, then going slack, and picking up from the SE by trip’s end.
Skies: Fair through 11:30, then darkening and becoming overcast through 1:30, then clearing.
To make things easy on the two moms, we met at the Harker Heights High School parking lot and caravanned to the launch site from there. Grace’s mom went along on the trip, whereas Brycen wanted to take his trip on his own.
By 7:15, Grace, her mom, Nam, Brycen, and I cast off from the dock and our adventure had begun.
Our first stop for these young rookies was at Area 189. There is a sizeable colony of sunfish here including bluegill, longear, and green sunfish, as well as the occasional juvenile bass or shiner.
We baited up with bream poles and worms. I showed the kids how to roll cast to get the line out a distance from the boat, and they picked up on that technique pretty quickly. We fished for a full hour and a half here and the area produced very consistently between snacking and untangling lines. It was at this area that both kids caught their notable catches. We boated a total of 19 fish here before moving on.
By 9:15 or so this area had played out, so we moved to a similar area (Area 231)that was even more protected from the wind. The kids were now well-practiced at setting the hook once the float submerged, and with the decreased wind making the floats easy to “read”, the fish didn’t have a chance. In 30 minutes at this area the kids literally doubled their catch to 38 fish before I suggested that we go after some larger fish with the balance of our time remaining.
By 10:00 we were graphing white bass on sonar over 27-32 feet of water between Areas 196 and 240. The fish were holding in a horizontal band at 24-26 feet and there was scattered bait in the area.
I had the kids participate in preparing to downrig for these fish by stripping out our fishing lines to the correct distance behind the boat. Before long we had 2 lines on 2 ‘riggers working their magic. By 11:00 we had boated two 13-inch largemouth, a freshwater drum, and 4 white bass. The kids did really well at playing and landing these fish and didn’t miss a single opportunity by losing a fish to horsing or jumping. By 11:00 the winds had turned E. and the bite was softening, as it often does when blowing from that direction.
By 11:15 we were to meet Brycen’s mom back at the ramp, so we concluded our trip for the kids at this point, took the required photos for Grace’s lake record and for Brycen’s first fish award and said our goodbyes.
Afterwards, I wanted to experiment with a new dual-rod holder for one of my downriggers which would allow me to fish 2 lines on one ‘rigger. The experiment went so-so, but, while I was idling over open water to do all of this, the winds went slack, we got some good overcast conditions, and some topwater action began to ramp up. After landing 2 largemouth and a white bass on the downriggers and looking over the baitfish situation with sonar as I did, I hung around a little while to see if the topwater was really going to turn on … and it did.
From 12:10 to 1:50 and from Area 056 to Area 425, there was rarely a time when I did not have one or more fish popping up within casting distance. Most were short white bass, with some short largemouth mixed in. Short or not, I love catching fish on topwater and commenced to do just that taking 2 more largemouth and 28 more white bass on a Cork Rig before the skies began to brighten and the wind began again out of the SE.
I called it day at that point.
TALLY = 78 FISH, all caught and released
Bob Maindelle, Owner, Holding The Line Guide Service and Kids Fish, Too! Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide, Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Lake Georgetown Fishing Guide, Walter E. Long (Decker) Lake Fishing Guide. Offering Salado Fishing, Killeen Fishing and Ft. Hood Fishing