This morning I fished with 16-year-old Colton Cude of Killeen, Texas on the 9th SKIFF trip of the 2014 season. 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.
Colton with 2 three-pound class hybrid striped bass taken on live bait on Belton this morning during a “break” from the more productive topwater bite that produced great numbers of smaller fish.
I first got to know Colton and his family through church about 6 years ago when Colton was 10 and his family was stationed at Fort Hood. They “PCS’ed” (Army acronym for Permanent Change of Station) to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and now have returned to Fort Hood.
Colton’s mom stayed behind at Fort Campbell to complete her nursing education, but looked me up soon after she rejoined the family here in Texas to see if I could spend some “guy time” with Colton. When Colton’s dad, Staff Sergeant Elbert Cude came down for ’round-the-clock duty taking him away from home, we decided to put a date on the calendar and make this trip happen.
Colton is now going through some of the same things that I went through as the son of a soldier when I was his age – being uprooted during the high school years, missing friends, discontinuity in school work and athletics, being pulled away from a girlfriend, experiencing how long-distance relationships work, wondering why you couldn’t be in a non-military family, and more. And that’s all in addition to the usual teenage challenges of questioning authority, figuring out what you are going to be in life, etc. So, we got to talk about all those things and more in between being interrupted by more fish than we could shake a stick at.
The topwater bite remained in high gear today with ample bait present, a new moon, manageable winds, and abundant grey cloud cover. We threw “Cork Rigs” fitted with hand-tied flies designed to imitate the size of the bait I’ve been encountering and they have worked like a charm. Although the fish are typically smallish, an occasional “ringer” spiced things up now and then. The fish fed for a full four hours today. We fished topwater for the first hour and the last two hours, and devoted one hour in between to fishing live bait specifically for hybrid striper. We put a quick limit of 5 “keeper” (18+ inch) fish in the boat during this time and then went right back to topwater.
We ended the trip right at 10:30 (as that is the time mom’s taxi was due to arrive) with 103 fish landed, consisting entirely of white bass and hybrid stripers.
TALLY = 103 Fish
Start Time: 6:30am
End Time: 10:30am
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 75F
Water Surface Temp: 80.2F
Wind Speed & Direction: SSE12-13
Sky Conditions: 100% Greyed over the entire trip
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 845 topwater at first light
**Area 1400 hybrid on live bait fished at 25-32 feet over a 45′ sloping bottom
**Vicinity of Area 103 – ample topwater action by white bass and juvenile hybrid
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)