The following blog entry appears in the form of a report to those who support the Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun (S.K.I.F.F.) program which serves to put the children of deployed or deceased soldiers on the water at no charge to their families…
Toby proudly holds this trip’s trophy — a 2.25 pound largemouth that nailed his TNT180 slab in 32 feet of water .
30 November 2012
Dear Friends of S.K.I.F.F.,
This evening I fished with 8 year old Toby S., the son of Staff Sergeant Cheyenne S. and his wife, Anitra. Toby’s dad is currently serving in Afghanistan as an infantryman with the 2-7 Cavalry.
Mr. Marty Wall and his younger son, Evan, also accompanied us tonight as our videographers.
I had fished a morning trip with a U.S. Navy veteran in his 70’s, so I already had a good idea as to where the fish were hiding. We essentially drove straight from the courtesy dock at the boat launch to the fish, found them on sonar, buoyed them, and began to catch fish from the very first time we dropped our lures to bottom and for the next 2+ hours!
Today’s late afternoon bite offered plenty of quality white bass action for fish exceeding 13″.
The weather conditions were favorable with a manageable breeze from the SW and partly clouded skies. We were just barely past full moon which can make the daytime fishing a bit tougher than otherwise, but, there were plenty of fish to go around.
Prior to this experience, Toby had fished a time or two, but had only one fish, a sunfish, to his credit. Fortunately, Toby was both a fast learner and an enthusiastic learner. When theory (my explanation of a given method) turned to reality (with a live fish on the end of his line), his brain made the association very quickly and he was quick to replicate the movements that led to success.
We primarily used a combination of smoking and vertical jigging today, both with 3/4 oz. TNT slabs in silver/white.
Our first success came at Area 638/805 in about 32 feet of water. We boated a total of 47 fish at this location before the failing light made this deep-water area a bit too dark to allow for a continued strong bite.
We moved on to a shallower, brighter area, Area 767. We found fish scattered and tight to bottom, but gave it a try here anyway and wound up boating only 2 white bass here, although both were healthy 13+ inch fish. The sun set around 5:30 as we fished this area.
In the winter months, fish tend to feed shallow early and late in the low-light conditions around sunrise and sunset. With this in mind, we made one final move to a shallow flat and ran downriggers down at 12-17 feet over an 18-19 foot bottom. We ran two rods, each rigged up with a tandem rig of 2 Pet Spoons each (4 lures in the water). Less than 3 minutes went by and we had our first strike. Toby handled that one very well after following instructions closely on how to work around the downrigging hardware to keep the fish free to play in to boat side. After we released that fish, we got the gear back down to depth and this time scored a double! Two fish at one time on one rod! Toby was very excited about the novelty of that catch.
Around 5:50 the bite died with the failing light and we got packed up and ready to run back to shore, but, not before doing a little onboard tackle craft. Toby’s dad had given Toby a new Gerber multi-tool as a present on the day he departed for Afghanistan and Toby has been itching to use it. I had a few rods rigged with crankbaits for flatline trolling which I knew needed to come off, so, we got out the old (new) Gerber and went to work cutting line and trimming knots down to size.
We managed to boat a total of 52 fish this afternoon, with the largest of the white bass going between 13-14 inches, and with a token largemouth thrown in for good measure, which weighed in at 2.25 pounds.
Toby’s mom was very appreciative of the opportunity we presented to Toby. We are all looking forward to the final copy of the video that Marty and Evan produce!
Thank you all for your support of S.K.I.F.F. — whether you are an individual donor, one of the Austin Fly Fishers who works behind the scenes, a state employee who sends “First Fish” or “Big Fish” awards out to the kids, or on staff at one of the companies in the fishing industry who made the decision to supply line, rods, reels, lifejackets, electronics, lures, gear etc. to this effort, I can tell you it makes a difference to the families of our soldiers who volunteer to serve in harm’s way to keep the fight outside America’s borders. Thank you very much!
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Start Time: 3:00p
End Time: 6:00p
Air Temp: 76F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 63.5F
Wind: SSW6-7 the entire trip.