evening I fished the third “SKIFF” trip of this 2014 season, but it had a little twist to it — soldier and father U.S. Army Corporal Daniel Leonard actually got to participate with his children on this outing!! Daniel just redeployed from his third overseas tour (2 deployments to Iraq, and this most recent deployment to Afghanistan) as a combat medic with Delta Company, 1-5 Cavalry. The family sent mom, who has essentially been a single mom for the last nine months, off to Colorado to visit friends, so, with beautiful weather at hand, I tried to provide Daniel an opportunity to decompress and the kids a bit of time to reconnect with their father. Joining Daniel were his 4 children, 13-year-old Zachary, 8-year-old Zoe, 5-year-old Zaylee (who was born while Daniel was away on duty), and 3-year-old Zebadiah.
L to R: Zoe, Zaylee, Daniel, Zebadiah, and Zachary.
Daniel helps Zaylee bring in a small crappie that struck a crankbait.
Zoe and Daniel with her best fish of the trip caught just minutes before we wrapped up after sunset.
SKIFF stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved
in Fishing Fun. Under the SKIFF program, any military child separated
from his or her parent due to that parent’s military duty qualifies for a
free, 4 hour fishing trip by boat. Such duty can be something as
extensive as a deployment or unaccompanied tour, to something more
short-term like a trip to NTC, JRTC, or gunnery.
As Daniel and the kids made their way from their vehicle down the boatramp to meet me, I met them half way, and let them know that this was intended to be an “easy-going, kick back and relax kind of deal” and that if we needed to change plans from fishing to nature-walking or to make multiple bathroom breaks or have frequent snack times, that would all be just fine.
As a guide, whenever young kids are on board, you always hope you can provide instant gratification to get the kids’ interest right off the bat, and then hope for steady action to keep that interest up. We came pretty darn close to that today, despite fairly heavy boat traffic thanks to postcard-perfect wind and weather.
For simplicity’s sake, due to the multiple kids and their ages, and because of where I’ve been finding fish lately, I planned to use a combination of flatline trolling and downrigging to catch our fish today. As is typical on evening trips in stable weather conditions, things started off a bit slowly and gained momentum, with the last 35 minutes or so providing the best action of the whole trip.
We boated a total of 33 fish this evening, including 1 largemouth bass, 1 drum, 3 crappie, and 28 white bass, of which 25 were of legal size (10+ inches).
Along the way we got to talk about what the Army next has in store for Daniel, the newest “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” movie, yesterday’s big hail storm, the finer points of Oscar Mayer “Lunchables”, and how mom’s flight arrived safely in Colorado.
Zebadiah caught the first fish of his lifetime on this outing, thus qualifying him for a Texas Parks and Wildlife “First Fish Award”.
Start Time: 4:00p
End Time: 8:00p
Air Temp: 72F at trip’s start..
Water Surface Temp: 61F
Skies: Fair with some high thin clouds in the western sky
Other Notes: GT0
Areas Fished with success:
** 684 and NW to 405, and SE to 744 – trolling/downrigging for 17 white bass & 2 crappie
** 540-701 on 4 flatlined shallow crankbaits last hour of light for 1 largemouth, 1 drum, 1 crappie, and 11 white bass