The following is a copy of my report to the Austin Fly Fishers (AFF). The AFF raises the funds necessary to send the children of deployed soldiers on free fishing trips while dad or mom is away. I take the lead on coordinating and conducting the trips and provide a report like the one that follows after each trip…
Dear Austin Fly Fishers,
This morning, Saturday, August 7th, I was joined by two really fine young men, 11 year old Benjamin Goode, and his younger brother, Caleb, who turned 10 today! We fished this, the 7th SKIFF trip of the 2010 season, on Stillhouse Hollow.
Mrs. Katherine Goode and her boys, Benjamin (R) and Caleb (L) with 2 of their 26 fish caught today
The boys’ father, Lieutenant Colonel Keith Goode is a deployed U.S. Army chaplain serving with the Third Armored Corps (III Corps) in Baghdad, Iraq. He’s in the middle of a 12 month deployment and is to return in January/February 2011. If the boys told me once, they told me a dozen times — “But he’ll be back on R&R in September.” They sure are looking forward to that.
These boys are 2 of 10 (yes, you read that correctly, 10, children) in the Goode family which range in age from 2 to 19. The boys are home-schooled, very well-mannered, and informed me they are both fully capable of changing a mean diaper!
The boys’ mom, Mrs. Katherine Goode, heard of SKIFF through Mrs. Crowley, another Army chaplain’s wife, who attended a previous SKIFF trip in late June of this year with her two children.
As we got underway today, I taught the boys how to cast a spinning rig just in case we ran into some topwater action. However, most of the fish I’ve been catching lately have been taken on downriggers, so we spent a good bit of time making sure the boys understood the in’s and out’s of that gear, too.
Our first stop of the morning came near Area 041, a deep dropoff, and the water to the N and NW of it, up into 25 feet or so. The fish we found on sonar appeared to be white bass, and they were holding just above the well-defined thermocline in 24-27 feet of water. We got two rods down right over their heads rigged up with white and silver Pet Spoons and went to work. After boating 5 or 6 fish and going through the rigging process each time with both boys, they got the hang of things and were doing everything themselves from that point on.
The boys worked really well together by taking turns on the rods so they each caught the same number of fish. They also helped one another out by reeling up the downrigger ball for the guy fighting his fish so the fish didn’t get tangled on the hardware.
By 9:30, we’d boated 24 fish (21 white bass, 2 largemouth, and 1 drum) and found the action getting soft here.
We moved on to Area 644 and searched for fish and bait with sonar. My eyes were glued to the screen, but I asked the boys to keep a lookout for jumping fish and diving birds. All of the sudden, Ben says, “I just saw a fish jump!”. Then Caleb chimed in, “Oooh, I just saw one, too!”. As I looked around, I could see we were on top of the start of a topwater feed by largemouth bass targeting small 1-3 inch long shad. Equipped with their casting lessons, the boys went to work casting at every fish near and far as the largemouth showed themselves individually and in schools.
Under such conditions, however, these largemouth are very tough to catch. The water is gin clear, the skies were bright, and the winds were nearly slack. If a fish is to be caught, the cast has to be very quick and very accurate to present a bait while the fish are still in the act of chasing a particular shad. Try as they might, the boys just couldn’t make it happen in this scenario. Before we left, I hooked up on 2 largemouth and passed the rod off so they each got at least some small reward for all the effort they put in on these tough fish.
By trip’s end we’d boated 26 fish. We kept our two largest white bass in the livewell so we could take a photo with mom at the dock. We met Mrs. Goode, patiently waiting in the minivan, at the appointed time of 10:45 and sent the boys on home with t-shirts, ball caps, and tackleboxes in tow, and big plans for a Chuck E. Cheese birthday bash later in the day for Caleb.
What a great day on the water.
Thank you all for making this possible … next Saturday I have a trip scheduled for 2 more of the Goode boys — John (13) and Daniel (8). I can’t wait!!
Start Time (AM): 6:45am
End Time (AM): 10:45am
Air Temperature at Trip’s Start: 76F
Water Surface Temperature: 90.1F
Skies: Fair and partly cloudy.