Today I ran my 13th SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trip, sponsored by the Austin Fly Fishers. SKIFF trips are provided FREE OF CHARGE to military kids who, due to death or deployment, are without a mom or dad in their life for an extended period of time.
Curtis (L) and D’Ante with our first 3 of 77 fish caught today on a cold, wet November day.
For each SKIFF trip I run, I provide a detailed report to the good folks at AFF. I share that report with you below:
Today I had the privilege of fishing with two young men from military families — 12 year old Curtis Taylor, son of Staff Sergeant Curtis and Mrs. Una of Ft. Hood Texas, and 10 year old D’Ante Lee, son of Sergeant First Class Darnell and Mrs. Malissa Lee of Harker Heights. SSG Taylor was sent to Korea for a 13+ month tour only four months after returning from his 2nd Iraqi deployment; he is stationed at Camp Humphries. SFC Lee is deployed to Iraq and is currently stationed at Forward Operating Base War Horse.
These boys were both troopers today as the weather was just to the point of requiring hats, gloves, 2 layers on the bottom and 4 layers on the top, and with a light mist falling most of the morning. The temperature was pegged at 52 degrees, with a bit of a windchill from the ESE blow coming at around 6-7 mph.
After picking the boys up, we launched at the Dana Peak Park facility on Stillhouse Hollow. I’d fished several trips the prior week and had a good idea on fish location. We first hit an offshore channel break in 30-32 feet of water (Area 122). I gave the boys some OJT on working a jigging spoon (TNT 180 in 3/8 oz.) and, slowly but surely, they got the hang of things. As expected, there were some rookie mistakes made (turning the spinning reel handle the wrong way, over-doing the jigging motion, horsing in a hooked fish or not reeling it in at all, etc.) but, these are all learning points, and good excuses to praise the boys when they learned not to do these things as the trip unfolded. At this first area we landed 13 white bass up to 14 inches, and had at least 6 pull off the hook before landing them due to some of those rookie mistakes.
Once things at that area died down a bit, we looked elsewhere for fish. At one area we saw a herring gull and 3 ospreys all working over a small piece of water. I assumed white bass were pushing shad to the surface, so I headed there expecting some good fishing, only to find out there was a struggling, nearly dead fish just below the surface. All four birds were waiting for the fish to give up the ghost and see if they could be the first to make a meal out of it. We got to the spot just at the right time and the boys got to see one of the ospreys tuck wings, dive hard, and snatch the fish out of the water, then go airborne while fighting off the competition. Good stuff!!
Next, we tried a little downrigging but no sooner got the balls down to depth in the vicintity of Area 035, then I spotted 6-7 herring gulls working over bait pushed to the surface by gamefish. We hastily cranked the downrigger balls and lines in and sped to the action (Area 545), got our slabs down in the fray, and caught 38 fish in less than 30 minutes’ time at this area where the bottom drops from 19 to over 28 feet in a rather short horizontal span. By the time this group of fish was settling down, another group of 3-4 herring gulls pointed the way to another active school of white bass (Area 546), this time in 26-27 feet of water. By now the boys were in a groove and required no coaching at all to be consistently successful. We continued fishing vertically with slabs here and added another 26 fish to our count, bringing our trip tally to 77 fish boated.
By noon, the action was dying out and further success would require more focus and technical ability than the boys could muster at this point — besides, anything slower than we’d just experienced would be anti-climactic, so, we downed some snacks and called it a great day.
I appreciate all of you making a way for these kids to experience this. This really does come as a relief to the moms to have a little downtime without their kiddos on their hip, and it never fails to bring a smile to the faces of the kids that come out. Although the notes from overseas are often brief, the dads I’ve heard from do appreciate that their families are looked after during their absence.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,
Holding the Line Guide Service