I fished a “Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun” (SKIFF) trip today. Below is the note I sent to the program sponsors …
Dear Austin Fly Fishers,
On Saturday, June 26th, I welcomed 10 year old Joel Crowley, his 8 year old sister, Hannah, and their mom, Sharon, for our sixth S.K.I.F.F. trip of the year. We chose Stillhouse Hollow at the destination for this excursion.
Joel (10) and Hannah (8) with four white bass jigged from a deep school
A screenshot of a portion of the large school of white bass we found in 47 feet of water at mid-morning; 43 fish are visible in the black and white image, and many more fish existed outside the transducer’s reach
I recently met with Chaplain Bill Shelnutt, the Religious Education Coordinator for all of Ft. Hood, concerning offering trips to those families he ministers to whose mom or dad is deployed. The Crowley’s are the first family I’ve had the privilege of fishing with as a result of that meeting. Husband and dad, Bob Crowley is a chaplain (rank of major) with the Third Armored Corps now stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, until approx. January of 2011.
We began our trip at 6:15am with the customary safety briefing and then headed out to look for fish just as the sun began to rise. Lately, I’ve encountered some fair topwater action on school-sized largemouth bass pursuing young-of-the-year-shad early in the morning. We did a “listening halt” over an expanse of water where some topwater action had been occurring earlier in the week, but, we didn’t find much and so headed to search out fish in deeper water using downrigging equipment.
We found fish with the downriggers consistently holding at around 24 feet from Area 484 to Area 206 and caught them consistently from 7:00am through 8:40am. During this time, we used a tandem rig with a Lunker Licker spoon up front and a Pet Spoon behind to catch 21 fish including white bass, freshwater drum, and largemouth bass. At one point, Miss Hannah caught two fish at the same time — one on each spoon!! She would appreciate me letting you know she also caught a “yellow hat fish” (which blew off her head at 30 mph) and a “brown weed fish”.
When this action got soft, I moved us and found heavy concentrations of white bass in the bottom 3-4 feet of the water column along the bottom of an old creek bed in 47 feet of water (Area 650). This school of fish was spread over a 30 yard area, so, we put the trolling motor down and hovered over these fish and used a “smoking” technique to catch fish after fish on jigging spoons before the school drifted off. During this frenzy we put an additional 17 fish in the boat — all fat, healthy 13+ inch long white bass.
It was now around 9:30 and the kids literally had sore, red palms from reeling in the white bass. We decided to change things up a bit and close out the trip with some sunfishing in a quiet cove (Area 231) to get out of the wind which was now ramping up to around 16 mph or so. In about 40 minutes’ time, using simple slip cork rigs and worms, the kids landed 8 sunfish which included bluegill, longear sunfish, and green sunfish.
Around 10:30 we snapped a few photos of our largest 4 white bass and returned them to the water, then headed back to the dock. I presented the kids each with a SKIFF tacklebox, a SKIFF ballcap, and a SKIFF t-shirt and bid them farewell. Our total catch this trip was 46 fish.
Mrs. Crowley was very appreciative to all of us for offering this to her family. She’s asked me for your mailing address so she can send a note to all of you.
I’ll keep you posted when we get trip #7 lined up. Until then, thank you for your support and for making this opportunity available to our Ft. Hood kids!
P.S. I’ve included 2 photos, one of the kids with their 4 largest white bass of the day, and one of a portion of the big school of whites we found on sonar.
Start Time: 6:15a
End Time: 10:45a
Air Temp: 77F at trip’s start, heading towards the high-90’s.
Water Surface Temp: ~86.5F
Wind: Winds were S4 at sunrise, slowly swinging and tapering up to SSW14-16 by trip’s end.
Skies: Skies were clear and bright with 25% cloud cover.