The S.K.I.F.F. (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) Program exists to take the children of deployed or deceased soldiers on fishing trips at no charge to the soldiers’ families. The following is a note to SKIFF supporters about this most recent outing…
Monday, August 15, 2011
Dear Friends of S.K.I.F.F.,
This morning I was joined by 3 young people — 10 year old Lauren Vieth and 8 year old Zachary Vieth both from Ft. Hood, TX, and 13 year old Colton Verdine of Salado, TX. The Vieth’s dad, Major Craig Vieth, is currently serving in Afghanistan with the 1st Cavalry Division at Bagram Airfield. Colton’s dad, Staff Sergeant Verdine, is deployed as a National Guardsman out of Camp Mabry, Austin, and is an infantryman now stationed in the Ghazni Province of Afghanistan.
The moms got the kids to the boatramp on time, about 15 minutes before sunrise. This allowed us to take our time getting goodies stowed, work our way through the no-wake zone, and do some hands-on training with both spinning and conventional tackle before the sun rose and the fish started working.
We remain under the influence of a strong high pressure system and that made for clear skies, light winds and high temperatures today. The fish have been behaving in nearly identical patterns for over a month now, and so again today we got right on top of the fish without having to do much probing or searching with sonar to make it happen.
We decided we’d use the downriggers first to find and catch fish, and, if we found any heavy concentrations of fish, we were already practiced at jigging for them. We went in height order, from smallest to tallest, so Zachary, then Lauren, then Colton took turns on the dual downrigger rods equipped with Pet Spoons. We had a very productive first two hours, catching fish consistently throughout this time, and boating a total of 29 fish, including 26 white bass and 3 largemouth. These fish came from between Areas 854 and 863.
Lauren (reluctantly!) holds her largest white bass of the trip without the help of a Boga Grip!
Our first fish of the day, landed by Zachary, took Texas Parks and Wildlife Department “Big Fish Award” honors (set at certain lengths for certain species) by surpassing the 15 inch mark with his white bass that measured 15 5/8 inches! Later, Colton boated a chunky largemouth that eclipsed the 2 pound mark, so, we had a nice mix of quality and quantity.
Zachary with his TPWD “Big Fish” award-winner – a white bass measuring 15 5/8 inches
By around 9:10, the light SW breeze we had went dead and it became very hot, very still, and very bright — not a good combination for white bass. We struggled for about 40 minutes trying to get back on fish. I knew this was an uphill battle without some wind blowing, so, by 10:00, with no winds on the way, we changed over to fishing for shallower panfish and hunted up some sunfish over some deep-growing hydrilla beds. The kids got the hang of the slip float technique I showed them in no time at all and in about 45 minutes time on our first and only hydrilla bed, the kids landed 24 sunfish (23 bluegill and 1 green sunfish). These fish came off of Area 231. So we had a great “opener” and great “closer” and everyone returned to the dock and to mom very enthusiastic about our adventure.
But, it isn’t over until it’s over…
Mrs. Vieth showed up first to pick up Lauren and Zachary. As they headed out of the parking lot, Colton gave his mom a call on her cell phone to check on her arrival time. That’s when we noticed several “wolfpacks” of largemouth bass driving shad to the surface about 100 yards away from the us (Area 199). It was hard to miss on the now-glassy surface. I looked at Colton and he knew exactly what was going through my mind — WE NEED TO GET OVER THERE! So he hopped in, I shoved off, we motored near the fish, and cut the outboard and trolled into them to keep from spooking the fish. We then fired casts with swimbaits into the frenzy and put an extra 4 fish on the tally as a result of our 11th hour efforts.
The following photo is NOT staged. It shows Colton, with a bass he just landed out of a school that blew up on topwater, talking on his cell phone with his mom, asking if we could stay another 10 minutes longer to fish for the schooling largemouth!!! The action died off pretty quickly as it often does under windless conditions, and we headed back in for keeps, now with a total of 57 fish instead of 53!!
Read the paragraph above for details on the cell phone!!
As I try to squeeze in as many SKIFF trips as I can before school goes back in session, I appreciate all of you who have helped contribute the pieces to make this whole greater than the sum of its parts. You’ve helped with rods, reels, tackle, sonar, line, funding, mementos for the participants, notes of encouragement to me, and more. This is a great relationship and makes a real and positive impact here in the Fort Hood area. Thank you all!!