This morning I was joined for a “S.K.I.F.F.” fishing trip by Asia (age 12), Qwentin (age 9), and Aiyana (age 5) Phimmasone, accompanied by their mom, Nancy.
Qwentin was all smiles when he landed two fish at a time as we downrigged with Pet Spoons.
Asia was “Miss Consistency” today. She caught both sets of “triples” (3 fish at a time) and excelled at whatever technique we were using at the time and without the need for much coaching.
Aiyana fished, snacked, and provided ample on-board entertainment for our whole group this morning.
SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trips are provided free of charge to families whose children are separated from a parent due to that parent’s military service thanks to the Austin Fly Fishers and a network of supportive individuals from all over the U.S. All it takes is a phone call from a parent to me at 254-368-7411 to reserve a date.
The kids and Nancy lost their father and husband on the 29th of April, 2013, while he was serving on active duty in the rank of Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army. The family has since moved up to the Dallas area where they drove in from this morning, setting out at 2:30am for a 6:55am trip start time just to be sure they weren’t late!!
I immediately picked up on two things we had to overcome. First, 5 year old Aiyana had never been on a boat before and was very nervous about things before we even shoved off. Second, the kids had all watched numerous TV episodes as a part of “SHARK WEEK” on Animal Planet, and were a little leery about possibly entering the food chain as we launched. I gave Aiyana a small job to do (filling up the livewell manually) and that got her mind off her fears and we were on our way!
We began our trip by downrigging today (Area 040/1245) and everyone got 4 “turns” at reeling in the fish we caught including singles, doubles, and even triples! As with any 5 year old, Aiyana’s attention span was short, and, despite good fishing, she needed some variety. So, we “went fast” as she requested, and headed to a new area to fish to keep her engaged.
Our second stop (Area 453 thru 822 to 495) was even more productive than the first (Thanks, Aiyana!). All 3 kids took two turns at reeling in the white bass that were very aggressively chasing our Pet Spoon offerings, when, all of the sudden, surface feeding action erupted all around us. I quickly got the kids switched over to bladebait rods that I had pre-rigged and gave them casting lessons with the spinning gear. In no time all three were casting and working their lures well and catching fish on every second or third cast. We stayed in these fish for about 50 minutes before the topwater action settled down. By now, we’d boated 46 fish. We finished out the trip by returning to the downriggers and putting a final 9 additional fish in the boat before calling it a day.
Aiyana, an eating machine, would have rather snacked than fish a majority of the time this morning. Fearing a bellyache, her mom limited her intake by giving her a goal to shoot for … catch a fish, and get a snack. Nancy recalled this is how her dad used to manage things on fishing trips when she was a girl, so, she decided to put that wisdom to work today. So, from this “technique” we coined the phrase “No fish — no Funyuns” (Funyons, if you don’t know, are a fried snack food made of onions and resembling pork rinds).
After the trip, Nancy planned to take the family to the Holiday Inn on Ft. Hood and stay overnight before including the kids in the upcoming “Good Grief” camp conducted on Fort Hood for children who have lost a parent.
Thank you, Austin Fly Fishers and all you other SKIFF supporters for providing opportunities like this for families that are in a tough spot!!
TALLY = 55 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:55a
End Time: 10:55a
Air Temp: 73F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 85.8F
Wind: Winds were from the NE at a steady 7-8 mph.
Skies: Fair and cloudless.
Holding the Line Guide Service