This morning I fished a SKIFF trip with the Reynnells family of Harker Heights, TX. This was the 22nd 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.
(L to R) Emily Reynnells presses the camera’s “RECORD” button, assisting U.S. Army Sergeant Jason Luong, Broadcast Specialist with Ft. Hood Radio, as they record Josh Reynnell’s account of the action on Stillhouse this morning.
Josh and Emily Reynnells show off two of the 30 fish they worked to put over the side of the boat this morning while we gave mom some down time.
I was joined this morning by Josh and Emily Reynnells, the children of U.S. Army Major Stephen Reynnells and his wife, Mrs. Johanna Reynnells. MAJ Reynnells is currently in the midst of a lengthy temporary duty (TDY) assignment to Fort Belvoir, VA, where he is learning to operate an Army simulation center where “war game” scenarios are played out and complicated matters like inter-service cooperation and communication (between Army, Navy, Air Force, & Marines) can be worked out before entering into a high-stakes situation. After a short break back home following this training, MAJ Reynnells will leave once again for Fort Polk, LA. For the sake of family stability, MAJ and Mrs. Reynnells thought it wise to keep the kids based near Fort Hood (especially with the oldest daughter now attending Dallas Baptist University).
We had a very special guest on board today, in addition to our two Army kids. Sergeant Jason Luong, a U.S. Army broadcast specialist of Fort Hood Radio, came along to capture video and audio for a presentation he desires to weave together for Ft. Hood Radio about the SKIFF program. Jason has already been a great help to SKIFF by allowing me to record two interviews about the trips we offer to children and the respite we offer to the non-military parent. Jason is no stranger to the rod and reel, and several times acted as the extra eyes, ears, and hands I needed to keep the fish coming over the side.
As I picked Emily and Josh up at their home on the way to the boat ramp, we had a light rain falling, which continued about 30 minutes after launching. The thick cloud cover that accompanied the rain pushed the start of the bite back a bit this morning, but, one the clouds thinned and the winds began to move the water a bit, the bite turned on.
We caught all of our fish from just 2 locations this morning. The first location allow for downrigging only, as the fish were suspended high up in the water column (typical under dark conditions) and they were on the move. The second location which we fished under much brighter and clearing conditions, allowed for successful vertical jigging on bottom, followed by downrigging after the bite peaked and began to fall off.
We caught 27 white bass and 3 small largemouth bass for our efforts this morning.
Josh, a Kindergartener, stayed interested for about 3 of the 4 hours, and Emily stayed engaged the entire time. On our way back to the boat ramp I gave each of the kids a chance to steer the boat, and over the course of the day we took in all kinds of sights including spotting a pair of bald eagles (that’s 3 days in a row they’ve been on Stillhouse), a number of cormorants, jumping fish, and more.
Just when we thought all the fun was over, we got back to the boat ramp and a friend and local bowfishing guide, Marty McIntyre, owner of Garguest Adventures, had pulled up with a 100+ pound alligator gar he’d shot overnight in the Brazos River. So, while I got the truck and trailer and cleaned up from the trip, Jason and the kids ooh’ed and aah’ed at the big gar. By noon, the kids were safe and sound back at their home in Harker Heights having enjoyed a morning in the Great Outdoors, while their mom had enjoyed 4+ kidless hours to herself in the Great Indoors.
Thank you, Austin Fly Fishers and all you SKIFF supporters, near and far, for allowing this morning to take place.
TALLY = 30 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:15a
End Time: 11:15a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 74F
Water Surface Temp: 80.1F
Wind Speed & Direction: NE7-9
Sky Conditions: 80% cloudy
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1245 through 862 — all downrigging for ~90 minutes after a slow first hour prior to that
**Area 1337 through 1448 — vertical jigging for initial success with 2 short hops, then mop-up with downriggers to close out the trip
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)