This morning I fished with two soldiers’ kids — Alex Bailey (age 7) and Cody McNeal (age 11). This was the 13th SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trip conducted so far this year.
Alex took big fish honors today with this nice largemouth bass that went 2.75 pounds.
Cody holds a pair of stocky 3 year old white bass from the 2010 year class of fish hatched in the Lampasas River.
Alex’s dad, Sergeant Christopher Bailey is a veteran of two Iraqi deployments, serves as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle mechanic, and is currently assigned to 3-8 Cavalry. His unit is currently in the field, thus taking him away from his family. Cody’s step-dad, Staff Sergeant Lee Igo, is a veteran of one Iraqi deployment and now in the Operations section of the 166th Aviation unit. His job is to help train Army reservists so they are prepared to take on what faces them in Afghanistan. To do so, he must spend significant time in the field environment with his trainees, thus taking him away from his family, as well.
The boys were a joy to have onboard today. They were both well-behaved, energetic, eager to succeed, and (most importantly) willing to listen so as to learn what to do to be successful.
In summary, we boated 52 fish in four hours. We began downrigging and that approach yielded 1 largemouth bass, 1 channel catfish, 1 freshwater drum, and 36 white bass in the 1, 2, and 3 year classes (Areas 040 to 1245, Areas 842-251, and Areas 822-495). The fish were a bit subdued today as they often are when the winds are calm to light and the sun shines brightly.
In the last 30 minutes of our trip, I offered that we change up and, for variety’s sake, gun for some sunfish up shallow. The boys took me up on that offer and we headed to Area 1098 to fish over some wood, rock, and hydrilla. We put another 13 fish in the boat very quickly using slipfloats and maggots.
Two humorous events took place I thought worth mentioning. First, after just (literally) 2 minutes with our lines in the water we were hooked up and Alex took first fish honors bringing in a channel catfish. Then Cody took a turn with a white bass, then, it was back to Alex who brought in his second fish — also a white bass. After the commotion of releasing his second fish had died down, Alex exclaimed, “I can’t believe I know how to fish now.” It was as if the suddenness of our success caught him off guard to where he thought the experience he now had under his belt was going to take much longer to accumulate.
The next funny thing involved an “offer” by Cody. We were preparing to take a photo. For those kids new to fishing, I generally have them use a non-piercing fish holder (like a Boga-Grip) to hold their fish. Today was no exception. I gave the boys both 2 fish holders and told them I’d ask them for the holder one at a time as I attached the fish we’d saved in the livewell. At this point Alex asked how the fish-holder worked. Before I could explain, Cody very sincerely says to Alex, “You see these jaws, they move when you slide the handle back. Do you want me to use it on you and show you how it works?”. Never a dull moment when fishing with kids!! For those of you wondering, I did NOT permit that demonstration.
I should mention that Cody’s mom, Denise, runs a very well-respected local Facebook page called “Fort Hood Area Events”. She has over 16,000 followers and has kindly offered to help me bolster our online presence to get the word about SKIFF out to the Fort Hood community we wish to serve. It is neat when individuals take their interests, resources, and gifts and use them to help others. I appreciate ALL of you “Friends of SKIFF” doing just that!
TALLY = 52 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:45a
End Time: 10:45a
Air Temp: 81F at trip’s start, staying constant due to the cooling NE breeze.
Water Surface Temp: 86.1F
Wind: Winds were light at <3mph SSW the entire trip.
Skies: Skies were fair to hazy with 40% cloud cover.
Holding the Line Guide Service