Saint Victoria and “The Boys” — SKIFF Trip #21 – Belton Lake, 08 Oct. 2011

Big brother Michael Raines, 11, caught the big one today!

Middle brother Justin Raines, 9, battled a hybrid as the rain came down! You can see a big drop on the end of his nose, but, he’s still smiling!!

Little brother Austin Raines, 5, fished, then snacked, then fished, then snacked, then… well, you get the picture!

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 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…

Saturday, 08 Oct. 2011

Dear Austin Fly Fishers and Friends of SKIFF,

This afternoon, in the face of very tough weather conditions, we set off to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

This trip had been planned for over a month and was in celebration of Michael’s birthday. I fished a morning trip and felt fortunate to put together an average catch then. Now, weather was getting nastier so I called to offer to reschedule, but the enthusiasm level was so great, there was no turning back at this point. So, we loaded up and rolled the dice.

I need to back up here and tell you who “we” consisted of, as that in itself is both heart-warming and classic “Army family” stuff. Mrs. Victoria G. (herself a mother of kids in their 30’s and a grandma currently working full time for the US Postal Service) arrived with the 3 Raines’ boys. The boys’ dad, David, is deployed to Iraq with the Special Forces and has been for about 10 months now. The boys’ mom is not a part of their lives on a regular basis, and so Victoria and her husband (an Army buddy of Dave’s) have been mom and dad to the boys for nearly a year now. Two of the boys are overcoming special needs, thus adding even more challenges to daily life. Now if that isn’t a friend, I don’t know what is. Now, add to that the fact that Victoria not only chose to fish with the boys versus leaving them in my care for a few hours, but DID IT IN THE RAIN, well, that’s why I’ve dubbed her Saint Victoria!! What a blessing people like her are to others.

As for the fishing today, well, we headed to the single most productive area I had previously identified during my ~6 hour long morning trip which concluded just a few hours before the Raines boys arrived.

We got right to work and got downriggers down with a spread that included a single Pet Spoon and a single White Willow Spoon. The plan, according to St. Victoria, was to fish until the little one got antsy and then call it a great day right then.

Fish #1 went to little Austin. He reeled in a short hybrid and giggled and screamed the entire time he did it. That was a hoot.

Next, two keeper hybrid fell to the Pet Spoon allowing Justin and Michael to get their lines stretched. And so it went for 3 iterations (3 fish for each boy), not to mention 2 boxes of wheat thin crackers, 2 boxes of granola bars, a few PB&J sandwiches and a whole box of Twinkies (I think I got it all right).

I kept the largest 3 hybrid in the livewell for a photo-op. All 3 fish were 3.5 pounds+. Each time the boys lifted the livewell lid to “check” on the fish, Victoria just shook her head and said, “Those are the biggest fish I’ve ever seen!”.

By around 5:30, just as she suspected he might, Victoria gave me the “sign” that Austin was about to play out, so, we brought in the gear and “went really fast” back to the boat ramp.

The boys traipsed up the hill with me to my pickup and loaded into the back for a ride back down the boat ramp where Victoria was holding the boat and keeping it from getting knocked broadside and pushed up onto the shore in the stiff wind. I got the boat on the trailer and then all 4 of them hopped aboard for a ride to the restroom at the top of the hill with lifejackets and windbreakers all flagging in the breeze — this kind of resembled a parade float at this point if you can imagine that.

What a fun day we had!! The boys were just so excited to be outside, in the rain, in the wind, catching fish, eating soggy snacks, and doing all they got to do — most of which is not typically a part of their day to day lives.

Thank you all for making this possible!!


Bob Maindelle


Start Time: 3:15p

End Time: 5:45p

Air Temp: 73F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~76.3F

Wind: Winds were SE8-10.

Skies: Skies were 100% grey clouded with increasing thickness and decreasing light levels.