Well, I rolled the dice and lost where the fish catching is concerned,
but still had a strong “Plan B”. I returned 3 happy and very worn out
kids to their mom who very much appreciated a 6+ hour break from being a
single mom 24/7 for 4 weeks while her husband is at the National
Training Center at Fort Irwin, CA.
(L to R) Zachary, Brock and Marissa C. spent their Presidents’ Day day off from school in the great outdoors, giving their mom a break while dad’s at NTC. When the fishing didn’t work out, we treasure hunted with great success. Shown here are 3 choice freshwater mussel shells!
Today’s trip was the first SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trip of the new year. The Ft. Hood SKIFF program serves military families by providing free 4 hour fishing trips to military kids separated from their parents by military duties.
I was hopeful back 3 weeks ago when I first discussed this trip with with the kids’ parents that our water would be warmer than it is, but, that was not to be. As we launched and searched about today we found 48.6 to 49.1 F surface temperatures. The fish are all but in suspended animation except for occasional, short feeding spurts.
I picked the kids up from their home in one of the Ft. Hood housing areas at 7:00am and we made our way back to Belton Lake where I’d been able to put a few hybrid and white bass in the boat for adult clients over the past two weekends. My hope was that we’d get a short window of feeding activity with gulls and terns showing the way to fish by their diving over top of the feeding fish, but, there was no bird activity to be found this morning. Typically, when there is no bird activity, the fishing is very slow and methodical and technical — just the opposite of what an 11, 7, and 5 year old are capable of doing for any length of time. Then, the winds kicked in strongly from the N and that pretty much put a lid on the fishing. I knew pretty early on that this was just not going to pan out so far as putting fish in the boat was concerned, yet, I still had 3 eager, excited kids to consider who had been looking forward to this for several weeks.
So, we took lemons and made lemonade by introducing the kids to a few different types of fishing methods while their interest in this new equipment was high. Next we had fun by going “fast” in the boat with the wind and against it, purposely taking on “spray” as we quartered into the wind to splash the kids as the waves broke on the bow. We then took turns bailing out the water we took on and gave the older two kids a chance to steer the boat a bit. Then, we took to the shore for treasure hunting. With the water down low there is all manner of natural and manmade treasures to be found. Larger freshwater mussel shells seemed to make the biggest hit.
The trick on tough days like this where kids are involved is engagement — gauging the kids’ enthusiasm level and making a change to a new activity when you notice the interest in the current activity is beginning to wane.
By trip’s end we’d had fun, worn the kids out to the point of needing an afternoon nap, and had given mom enough time to get caught up on laundry and do some shopping with a girlfriend from church.
Start Time: 7:40a
End Time: 12:00p
Air Temp: 63F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 48.6-49.0F
Wind: W9 at sunrise, turning and increasing to N17 by trip’s end
Skies: Fair skies with 15% cloud cover.