S.K.I.F.F. (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) exists to take the children of deployed and deceased soldiers on professionally guided fishing trips at no charge to the family. These trips are provided through my guide service, Holding the Line Guide Service, with funds generated by the Austin Fly Fishers, and with the support of businesses and individuals from all over the U.S.
Here is my report for today’s trip…
Monday, 25 October 2010
William (with stung thumb in air) and Austin show off a few of the 86 they worked over on today’s pre-frontal excursion
Dear Ron and the Austin Fly Fishers,
I had a great fishing trip this morning with two young men from Ft. Hood. Austin Bayless is the 8 year old son of Wyatt and Jennifer Bayless. First Lieutenant Bayless is serving at Forward Operating Base Echo for a one year tour with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq. William Moore is the 9 year old son of Ramey and Stephanie Moore, both originally from Paris, TX. Captain Ramey is an armor officer serving with the 4th Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division in northern Iraq. Both men are on their second tour to Iraq. Their wives know each other through a connection made in homeschooling their children and learned of SKIFF that way.
We linked up at 6:45am and despite the darkness and the early hour, the boys were bursting with enthusiasm. William told me he woke up at 3:15am and really couldn’t get back to sleep because “I was thinking about fishing so bad!”.
I opted to head to Belton Lake for this trip as it has been giving up great numbers of fish, albeit smallish ones of late. But, when working with 8 and 9 year olds, quantity trumps quality every time, so, to Belton we went.
In summary, we caught fish from the moment we let down our slabs for the first time and until we had to reel up at about 11:15 to meet the agreed upon finish time I’d discussed with Mrs. Moore earlier.
We started off around Area 473 and used a smoking technique on spinning gear rigged with TNT 180 slab spoons to take a mixed bag of short and keeper white bass, short hybrid, and a few keeper largemouth in 26-31 feet of water. We caught 36 fish here before the bite weakened around 9:30.
We then checked out Area 356 and found a few fish on the N. facing breakline from 24 to 32 feet and smoked a few of these before switching over to downriggers just to add some variety to our day. We caught only 9 fish here before moving on, including a nice crappie boated by Austin, all on Pet Spoons. It was at this spot that William got randomly stung on his thumb by a yellow jacket — that took the wind out of his sails for a few minutes, but Austin and I tried to snap him out of it, and, after a while he bounced back.
Finally, we fished over 38-40 feet of water directly between Areas 098 and 294 and in less than an hour’s time boated 41 more fish, nearly all of which were solid 13 inch white bass! The timing on this last bit of action was great … the boys were now well-practiced at jigging, and the pre-frontal winds were starting to ramp up from just W of S, thus putting the fish into overdrive.
By trip’s end we’d boated exactly 86 fish and the boys just couldn’t wait to tell somebody about their exploits.
I drove the boys from the lake back to town to link up with moms … this is when William provided ample evidence that his comedian’s license has expired … Austin and I were subjected to such “groaners” as:
Q: Who is the best repairman in the ocean?
A: The hammerhead shark!!
Q: Who is considered the greatest musketeer of the sea?
A: The swordfish!!
Unfortunately, he had about a million of these zingers and tried every last one of them out on Austin and I!!
You just can’t make this kind of stuff up!! Thank you, AFF, for doing all you do behind the scenes to allow for days like this to play out for our military’s kids.