Zoe with 1 of 4 large white bass she caught tonight.
Mason, with 1 of 4 large white bass he caught tonight.
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…
Friday, 11 May, 2013
This evening I welcomed aboard 7 year old Zoe Leonard and 6 year old Mason Andrade. Zoe is the daughter of Specialist and Mrs. Daniel Leonard of Ft. Hood. Daniel has been deployed to Iraq twice, is currently on a 1 month assignment to the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, LA, and will then deploy to Afghanistan this summer. Mason is the son of Staff Sergeant and Mrs. Jason Andrade of Ft. Hood. Jason has been deployed three times and is currently at a 2 month long school at Ft. Jackson, SC, preparing him for recruiting duty.
As we met at the Cedar Gap Park boat ramp on Stillhouse, the weather was bright and warm with a mild breeze. The weather radar showed a line of storms way out by Abilene moving slowly enough not to threaten our fishing, so, off we went in search of fish.
I realized I made a “tactical error” in dealing with a 6 and 7 year old in “going fast” (34 mph) from place to place as I checked several areas for fish. The “going fast” fast became the centerpiece of the trip, rather than the fishing as I intended, but, as long as the mom’s got a 4 hour break and we caught at least a few fish, I’d be okay with that!!
We only fished one area tonight, that was Area 074, but, we fished it 3 times! As we first arrived, I could see a few fish hanging along the breakline. Due to the unstable weather we were experiencing, I decided to hedge our bet with live bait today. So, we used a “Carolina Rig”-style setup with circle hooks baited with live shad to tempt whatever swam beneath us. On our first attempt, we drew an immediate response, and both kids caught a fish within minutes of our arrival. Then the inevitable question, “Mr. Bob, when are we going to go fast again?”. Well, I talked them into holding off until they’d each caught one more fish. For better or worse, that took about 57 seconds!! Now, I had to make good on my promise, so, in came the baits, up came the trolling motor and off we went to “go fast” for a bit.
Soon, we were right back on top of Area 074 with the same rigs still fishing for the same cluster of white bass. In trying to prolong our stay during this visit, I had the kids get their own baits out of the tank, and lower their own lines to the bottom. Good thing, too, because the next two fish took fully 58 seconds to bite! We brought these fish in, left the lines out of the water, placed the fish in the “revival tank” and prepared to take the photos you see above. Next, we had snacks, and, as soon as snacks were done — “Mr. Bob, can we go fast again??”.
Up came the trolling motor and off we went for another spin! Soon, we were right back on top of Area 074. You guessed it — same rigs, same fish, same routine, and, in about 4 minutes’ time, two more white bass came flopping over the side.
By this time, our skies had begun to turn ugly. I whipped out my iPhone and checked the weather radar to find that convective thunderstorms had begun popping up to the north and west of us nearby. I told the kids we’d better be safe than sorry (and explained that in terms a 6 and 7 year old could understand). We brought the gear in and I motored (more slowly now because I realized I’d have to creatively come up with something for the kids to do until pickup time since fishing was quickly moving off the table as an option) back to the ramp. We’d boated 8 fish while consuming 8 gallons of gas (not quite, but almost)!
I had the kids participate in a very hands-on way in all of the steps of re-loading the boat onto the trailer. As I secured everything for travel, I instructed the kids to get in the cab of the truck after hearing the first rumble of distant thunder and seeing some distant lightning to the northwest. When I made it into the cab, I was pleasantly surprised to see the kids already buckled in. I complimented them on having great “initiative”. They both looked at me for an explanation on what initiative was. I told them initiative is doing something that you know needs to be done BEFORE anyone has to tell you to do it. Only then did they smile, realizing I had complimented them.
I contacted moms to make sure we were okay to seek refuge at the Maindelle household. I then contacted Mrs. Maindelle to make sure we were okay to seek refuge at the Maindelle household. I got 3 thumbs up so, off we went. It was now about 7:15, and I’d need to come up with at least an hour’s entertainment which I was confident Buddy and Pumpkin (America’s greatest mutts) could provide at least 45 minutes of.
Well, we played with the dogs and snacked and colored and told stories and picked wildflowers and made a special video for all of you which, if the electrons all line up, I hope you’ll find attached!
We had a very fun time, got the kids’ minds off missing daddies for a while, and gave a bit of a break to two moms who could use it. No, we didn’t just slay the fish tonight, but, as you all know there is more to fishing than just catching fish (I can’t believe I just wrote that — I must be getting soft).
Thank you all, Friends of SKIFF, for greasing the skids to allow nights like this to happen for kids like Zoe and Mason.
Start Time: 4:15p
End Time: 7:30p
Air Temp: 78F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: ~68.5F
Wind: Winds were E8-9.
Skies: Skies were grey.
Holding the Line Guide Service