6 year old Jacob Allison and a plump November white bass taken out of 36 feet of water at Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.
Major Brian Allison and his son, Jacob, on the day Brian left the U.S. for a 1 year tour in Afghanistan in April 2011.
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…
Monday, 21 Nov. 2011
Dear Austin Fly Fishers and Friends of SKIFF,
At 2:30 this afternoon I found myself standing curbside in a quiet, well-kept subdivision in Harker Heights, TX. I was waiting for the school bus of 6-year old Jacob Allison to arrive so we could start our afternoon fishing adventure.
Since I don’t have my own children, this experience was a new one for me … the streets, vacant just moments before, came to life as moms and too-young-for-school-children emerged from everywhere to walk down to the bus stop to meet their precious cargo.
Jacob’s mom, Sarah, and his little sister, Kate, were right in the mix. Jacob is the son and oldest child of Major and Mrs. Brian Allison. Brian just completed a company command and now serves as a liaison officer with the 1st Cavalry Division’s headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. This is Brian’s 4th deployment of at least a year in length.
As Jacob got closer to his house, he looked at his mom with an unsure look. There was a man and a boat parked outside his house. He quickly put two and two together and realized today was the day of the big fishing trip his mom mentioned would happen “pretty soon”.
I had already buckled his car seat in place, had his snacks in the truck cab, and got an extra jacket from mom “just in case”.
We shook hands and off we went. Although the weather was beautiful, it just wasn’t fishing weather. The grey skies and wind of the morning gave way to fair skies and near calm conditions in the afternoon. You may have seen me write before: calm winds and white bass don’t mix!!
As we headed to the boat ramp, I asked Jacob if he’d ever caught a fish before. He didn’t give me a simple yes or no, rather, he said, “Well, I have a funny fish story.” Hey, this was my kind of kid!!
We launched the boat and got on the water. I looked very closely at two underwater features that have been holding good numbers of white bass over the past few weeks. Sonar showed nil on the first area. As we approached the second, sonar showed small schools of white bass (20-40 fish each) clustered together at Areas 927, 945, and 926. Although there were gulls in the area, they were distracted by an insect hatch and were of no use in helping to find fish today.
As we got our baits down to where we’d marked fish, I jigged heavily to create commotion and draw fish in and then gave Jacob the green light to jig once the fish came in towards my lure. It truly took teamwork to make things happen today.
Jacob’s technique was solid and consistent and as a result, he boated 17 white bass on a very tough afternoon that required a very technical approach that is beyond the reach of most 1st graders.
After our trip we headed over to the gas station to top off — really just to extend our “guy time” a little because I knew Jacob was really missing his dad. He’d been home on R&R recently, and it’s always tough to see them step back on a plane and depart for several more months.
Following our trip I gave Jacob and Kate a SKIFF bracelet (Kate went immediately to put it in the jewelry box in her closet), and Jacob got his tackle box and camping blanket, as well.
Thank you, one and all, for the part you played, large or small, in making this day possible for Jacob. It was a bright spot in the midst of a tough time.
Start Time: 2:30p
End Time: 6:30p
Air Temp: 71F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 64.9F.
Wind: Winds were calm.
Skies: Skies were fair with grey clouds building in the north near sunset.