Big Fish, Ugly Fish, SKIFF Trip #18, Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, 29 Aug 2011, 58 Fish

Little brother, big fish!! Wade caught our largest fish of the trip today, a 15 1/2 inch largemouth bass.

Big brother, ugly fish!! Christopher landed this spunky channel cat that hit, of all things, a downrigged Pet Spoon traveling about 3 miles per hour in 31 feet of water!

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 as a way of showing our support for our troops and providing a respite for their spouses. The following is a note to SKIFF supporters about this most recent outing…

Monday, 29 August, 2011

This morning I was joined around 7 a.m. by brothers Christopher R. (4th Grade) and Wade R.(Kindergarten) of Copperas Cove, TX. Their dad, Lieutenant Colonel James R. is currently deployed for 1 year and is slated to return to the U.S. in July of 2012. Mrs. Karen R. is taking care of the home front including home-schooling the boys, which is what allowed them the flexibility of being on the water with me on this weekday while public school is in session.

The boys both had very limited prior fishing experience, so, we started with the very basics of safety on the boat, and moved right into how to hold and reel both spinning and conventional tackle.

If Wade asked once, he asked 75 times in the 4 minutes it took us to motor through the no-wake zone, “How fast are we going to go?” Each time my answer was the same, “This boat can go about 30 miles per hour, but it’ll feel faster than that because there is no windshield in front of you like you have in a car.” Once I’d cleared the no-wake zone by a minimum of 1/16th of an inch, I throttled up and Wade was thrilled!!

Now it was off the the fishing grounds. Today’s hunt began in deep water (40-50 feet) with fish suspended and scattered in a 4-foot band from ~28 to 32 feet deep. I ran the downriggers (two) in this “band of life”, one with a Pet Spoon and one with a White Willow and we began picking up fish regularly. By 8:20a we landed 18 fish including 15 white bass up to 13.5 inches, 1 channel catfish, and 2 school-sized largemouth bass. I could tell the boys were getting increasingly “antsy” in between fish as we waited for our lures to work their magic, so, after fish #18 was swung aboard, we changed up a bit and took our act shallow.

We headed over to a deep, still-green weedbed that I haven’t fished in a long time (Area HB002), and was pleased to see all kinds of fish activity through my polarized lenses as we idled around this area. I got us stopped in one place so as to make a steady platform for the boys, and we then broke out the sunfish tackle and pursued bluegill sunfish, green sunfish, and longear sunfish with slipcorks and maggots for a while. As we watched sunfish of all sizes swim by, get brave, and take our baits, we also observed small largemouth patrolling nearby, as well as a nearly 3 foot long spotted gar. With great action, two young boys, and spiderweb line, tangles soon proved to be an issue, so, we engineered a suitable solution in which one brother would fish with one rod long enough to catch 2 fish, while the other brother sat “criss-cross-applesauce” (for us old-timers that is the politically correct term that used to be referred to as sitting “Indian-style”). Once 2 fish were landed, the boys would swap positions and roles and it worked out great!! — Can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that before as I recalled all the time over the past decades I’ve spend untangling kids’ lines! Oh well! Long story short, we put exactly 30 sunfish in the boat here and, by around 10am, the kids were again ready for a change of pace.

I headed us uplake and looked around with sonar. We were fortunate enough to have our search coincide with the start of a breeze from the west, as well as some grey cloud cover thick enough to obscure the sun. At the very first area I searched (Area 251), sonar lit up with exactly what I was hoping to see — tightly schooled, bottom-hugging white bass. I e-anchored over top of these fish, and reviewed the jigging techniques I’d instructed the boys on earlier “just in case”. Down went the slabs and up came the white bass, 10 in all, each caught “all by myself” as the boys said!! All I did was coach and unhook fish. We closed out our day with a tally of 58 fish caught and released.

By the time this school of fish played out, it was time to meet mom back at the boat ramp, so, we prepped the boat for travel, I again informed Wade exactly how fast we’d be traveling, and we made a beeline to the boat ramp just in time to see the blue Honda minivan pull in to the parking lot.

As I accompanied the boys up to the parking lot, I presented them each with a SKIFF tackle box, a SKIFF bracelet, a SKIFF camping blanket, and a brand new lure to decorate their new tackle box with. You’d have thought it was Christmas!

Thank you one and all for helping to make memories like this for the kids of our armed forces!!


–Bob Maindelle


Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 11:00a

Air Temp: 78F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~86.4F

Wind: Winds were SSW4.

Skies: Skies were greyed over sufficiently to obscure the sun; light level still bright.