This morning’s trip on Belton Lake was the twelfth S.K.I.F.F. trip I’ve run for 2011.
Sisters Nadia (L) and Isabella (R) with a pair of fish we came up with on two separate downrigger. The girls landed these at the same time after we passed over a suspended school of mixed white bass and hybrid stripers.
Big sister caught the big fish this morning!
S.K.I.F.F. (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) exists to take the children of deployed or deceased soldiers on fishing trips at no charge to the soldiers’ families. Below is my report to the membership of the Austin Fly Fishers and other SKIFF supporters …
02 July 2011
This morning I fished with 9 year old Nadia Meyer and 7 year old Isabella Meyer, accompanied by their father, First Sergeant Phil Meyer who is currently serving with the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Hood. Phil’s wife and the girls’ mother, First Sergeant Jovana Meyer is also on active duty and is now stationed at Forward Operating Base (F.O.B.) “Sharana” in Afghanistan with Alpha Company, 1-227th Aviation.
Phil, who will retire in October, has been deployed to Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, and Iraq (twice). Jovana has been deployed to Iraq twice and now Afghanistan.
I met the trio at the dock at 5:45am so we could get in some casting lessons before launching as I had a strong suspicion that we’d be treated to a topwater bite at first light. As we pushed away from the dock and idled through the no-wake zone, Phil’s phone rang. It was Jovana calling from Afghanistan. She was about to board a helicopter to head out to more remote locations to check on her troops and wanted to check in with Phil before she left the relative safety of her F.O.B. That was a surreal moment. Here we were starting our day in shorts and t-shirt on a boat going fishing in America, and this mother of two was in pounds of hot combat gear on a dusty flat spot somewhere a half a world away ready to board a helicopter to bring encouragement to other soldiers serving under her.
Today’s fishing story was written in three distinct chapters … with a happy ending
Chapter One — topwater action started at first light and lasted until sunrise. We caught 14 fish including both white bass and short hybrid striped bass on Cork Rigs as they fed over shallow water on shad they forced to the surface. This took place between Areas 014 and 027.
Chapter Two — when the topwater died, there was a bit of a lull as the fish and bait transitioned to deeper water. During this time, we continued to pick off fish using downriggers geared up with my summertime favorite – a pair of Pet/Licker combos, thus putting 4 baits in the water at one time and at the depth we saw fish holding at on sonar. We boated 6 fish as we downrigged.
Chapter Three — once the transition to deeper water occurred, more and more fish began to appear on a distinct, gentle mound rising 3 feet above the rest of the bottom in about 37 feet of water. I hovered the boat by e-anchoring and we “smoked” 3/4 oz. TNT 180 slabs to boat our final 31 fish of the day including our two largest fish — keeper-sized hybrid stripers going right at 18-19 inches in length and weighing in at ~3 pounds.
By the time 9:45 rolled around Nadia’s wrist was hurting from all the fish she’d reeled in, both girls were in need of a nap from their very early wake-up, and a T-Ball fundraiser awaited them in Temple, so, we called it a great morning of fishing right there and parted ways.
Lord willing, Jovana returns in April 2012. Thank you AFF and SKIFF supporters for creating a bright spot for the girls (and Phil) in their long wait for mom’s return!!
Happy Independence Day to all of you! Freedom definitely is not free.
Start Time: 5:45a
End Time: 9:45a
Air Temp: 77F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: ~82.1F
Wind: Winds were S4 at first light increasing to S6-7 by trip’s end .
Skies: Skies were fair, dry, and bright with no clouds.