This morning I ran the 7th SKIFF trip of the 2014 season, welcoming aboard three young people – Noah Golaboff, Erin Golaboff, and Carson Darling. In case you are not familiar with this program, 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.
Erin Golaboff, age 10, caught the first fish of her life today — a small green sunfish. She then built on success and landed even larger fish, including this foot-long channel catfish.
Carson Darling, age 6, wore out the sunfish with a little help from his “Poppy”.
The role of First Mate fell to Noah Golaboff, taking care of all the things for the younger kids that I didn’t have enough hands for. He caught his fair share of sunfish and white bass, too.
Noah and Erin are the oldest and youngest of the four children of Colonel Stan Golaboff and his wife, Michele. COL Golaboff is an ordnance officer serving full-time with the Texas National Guard. In his current duty position he travels often with much of his time spent at Camp Mabry in Austin. This particular week, his wife was also away from home at an educator’s conference, so, it was an ideal time to loan some structure to the week and give their kids an opportunity to experience the outdoors.
Carson, age 6, is the son of Staff Sergeant Anthony Lyons and his wife, Ashley Lyons. SSG Lyons is currently assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division and is participating in a multi-national training exercise in Germany for several weeks. Carson was chaperoned by his grandfather, Jim French, of Copperas Cove, TX.
We met at Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir at 6:45am, got lifejackets on and shoved off. We spent our first half-hour searching 3 separate areas for topwater action, but none was to be found. This tropical air mass we’ve had over us for quite some time now has prevented the unobscured sunrises that typically generate the sudden brightening that typically spurs topwater action on Stillhouse. We found no topwater action this morning.
We then headed shallow to target sunfish living in shallow hydrilla beds. With a six-year-old and a ten-year-old (who had never caught a fish before), I was sure this was going to be a hit … and it was! Once the kids all got the hang of setting the hook just right when the slipfloat slid underwater, they were unstoppable. We caught bluegill sunfish and green sunfish – 40 in all, to be exact. Erin landed the first fish of her lifetime, a four inch green sunfish.
When the sunfish wised up to our trickery, we agreed to head deep and target some larger fish by downrigging for white bass. Our tools of the trade this day were a pair of three-arm umbrella rigs allowing us to present six baits on two rods. The fish we found were down between 29 and 31 feet over a 33-36 foot bottom. The fish were not overly aggressive, but, over the next 90 minutes we managed 14 fish, including 4 sets of doubles. We brought in 12 white bass, 1 largemouth bass, and 1 channel catfish using this technique. This year I changed out my old manually operated Cannon Easi-Troll downriggers for a pair of electronic Digi-Troll 10’s. I’ve taken note how the kids love pushing the up, down, and auto-up buttons when it’s someone else’s turn to reel in a fish, so, that is yet another task I’ve turned over to my guests to engage them to the greatest extent I can.
We closed out the trip by fishing live baits for the last 25 minutes or so over some deeper hydrilla beds, targeting largemouth bass. This time of year this approach usually works best when fish are seen at least occasionally feeding on topwater. I knew our chances were slim since we saw no topwater action at all today, and, indeed, we caught no largemouth.
So, we ended our trip with 54 fish boated.
TALLY = 54 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:45am
End Time: 11:00am