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…
Looking out for little brother…
D-E-T-E-R-M-I-N-A-T-I-O-N !! No man has ever put more effort into landing an 8 oz. white bass than this little man!!
Monday, Nov. 1st, 2010
Dear Friends of SKIFF,
This morning I took the two youngest sons of Captain Ramey Moore, the gentleman whose note of thanks I passed on to you last week. Captain Moore is serving with the U.S. Army in Mosul, Iraq.
Reece (age 7) and Noah (age 4) had a bit of fishing experience under their belts as we got going this morning, and recollected a few hauls of bluegill and catfish from out of the Red River with grandpa who hails from Paris, TX.
The boys’ mom, Stephanie, and I agreed on a meeting location where I picked the boys up and took them on over to Belton Lake. On the way we talked about dad coming home in December for R&R, about grandpa’s herd of cows that wear “earrings with numbers on them”, the one “cow that’s a bull”, about trick-or-treating, and about a fun, past visit to Great Wolf Lodge in Dallas.
As we got on the water, Priority #1 was to get a fish, any fish, in the livewell so that Noah could have something to amuse himself with in case things were a bit slow (this is a good tip for any of you taking kids 6 or younger fishing!!). We scored 3 keeper white bass on downriggers in the first 15 minutes of the trip (at Area 677 to 473), so, that issue was quickly put to bed.
The day began with about 40% cloud cover and a S. wind at 9. That wind steadily moved SW, then W, then NW as the very lead edge of a cold front due to bring cooler weather later this week passed through. The fishing was slow until the velocity of the wind jumped suddenly from 8-9 up to 14-15 as the winds shifted from W to NW at around 10am. At this point, over 2 hours into what we’d planned to be a 4 hour trip, we’d only boated 11 fish with a short, strong sunrise bite followed by a long lull during which time we jigged 3 fish (at Areas 682 and SW of 94) and managed 5 more just sporadically on the downriggers (around Area 302-487).
Almost as if someone flipped a switch, when the wind increased and changed direction, fish began to rise up off bottom and feed throughout the water column. We were fishing over Area 684/685 and witnessed a “mat” of fish blanketing the bottom at 28-32 feet, large schools of fish suspended from 16-20 feet down, and occasional bursts on the surface as fish pursued shad upward.
In the final hour and 30 minutes we boated 24 more fish by way of downrigging and flatline trolling. Reece was very helpful in that he paid out the right amount of line very consistently and was able to both raise and lower the downrigger balls as needed. Little Noah’s manual dexterity was a bit more limited, but, he did a good job of getting the right amount of line out for our trolled baits so I could set the downrigger clips and still steer and watch sonar.
We had a really “cool” thing happen at the peak of the feed around 11am — Reece had just landed a hybrid striper on the “red rod” (a Lamiglas ‘Jared Johnson’ Kokanee rod made just for downrigging). There was about 7 feet of line hanging from the tip of the rod to the bait (a Pet Spoon). As I worked with the boys to unhook the fish and snap a photo, I set the rod in rodholder on the starboard side of the boat that I normally rest livebait rods in. As we moved along (the boat was in gear because we still had the second downrigger deployed) and the Pet Spoon skipped along on the surface of the water just a rod’s length out from the boat, another hybrid raced to the surface and just exploded on the bait. You’ve gotta’ love the drags on those Ambassadeur 5500’s — that fish ripped 45 more feet of line off that reel in a split second. Well, one more split second passed and Noah had a death grip on the cork handle of the rod and proceeded to make short work of that fish!!
By 11:30 the winds had begun to subside, the sky began to clear, the air had a drier feel to it and the fishing began to drop off rapidly. We decided to call it a day right there with 34 fish boated for our efforts today.
The seasons are definitely changing now — there is next to no sunfish bite left in the shallows, leaving only downrigging and the occasional jigging for really jazzed fish open as options for the youngest of kids. As the winter comes on harder, I’ll focus on older kids (5th grade and higher) able to do the more technical tasks required for vertical jigging successfully, and who have a longer attention span and a bit more patience. Once mid-March arrives it will be “game on” for all-comers once again.
Thank you very much for your support, and especially for your notes and e-mails of encouragement!!