This morning I conducted the fifth SKIFF trip of the 2015 season, treating Parker Smith, age 12, a soon-to-be 7th grader, to a free fishing trip on Stillhouse Hollow while his dad, U.S. Army Major Jeff Smith, is deployed to Afghanistan. Also joining us this morning for a “Kids Fish, Too!” program trip was Kaden Lehrman, the most skilled elementary-aged angler I’ve ever had the pleasure of fishing with on my boat.
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From left: Kaden Lehrman and Parker Smith with a pair of white bass taken on Pet Spoons fished on umbrella rigs with Cannon downriggers down about 24 feet over a 40+ foot bottom.
Kaden’s mom, Michelle Mikeska, arrived first, allowing us to catch up a bit since the last time I fished with Kaden back on 22 Dec. 2014. For the past few years Kaden has gone to summertime fishing camps in Texas and Louisiana, focusing on both fresh and saltwater fishing. This year, he’s expanding his horizons even further, heading to the East Coast near Boston to fish for lobster, cod, and tuna, and do some whale watching beginning this weekend.
Parker’s mom, Jennifer, arrived shortly thereafter. Her husband is the commander of the 555th Forward Surgical Team currently stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He been deployed about a year now, but will return to Ft. Hood soon, after which the family is looking at a permanent change of station (PCS) move to another post.
Fishing has been tough lately thanks to the recent flooding that occurred, bringing much needed water to central Texas, but also bringing a great amount of environmental change very suddenly. Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir rose a total of 16 feet to over 3 feet above full pool level, then, as the Corps of Engineers began to lower the lake back to full pool, we saw a discharge rate of 2,400 to 2,700 cubic feet per second of water going through the dam, thus lowering the lake 0.2 to 0.3 feet per day for the past several days. The flood water was initially turbid with debris, but is now clearing (yet another change!). As I observed the fishing situation for trends, there seems to be none right now, and other local anglers I’ve spoke with report the same thing for species other than the white bass I am targeting. Eventually we’ll settle into a summer pattern – most likely beginning when the floodgates shut in a few more days.
We worked today, using a variety of tactics to boat the 28 fish we caught. We used poles with slipfloats to catch smaller fish up shallow (Areas 239 & 1098), we used downriggers to catch scattered, suspended white bass (Areas 1265 and 866 – 1253), and we tried unsuccessfully to bag a few largemouth off of deep hydrilla beds towards the end of our trip.
The two boys got along wonderfully and helped each other out the entire time.
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.
TALLY = 28 FISH, all caught and released
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Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 10:40a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 72F
Water Surface Temp: 82-83F
Wind Speed & Direction: WSW4-7
Sky Conditions: 10% cloud cover.
Note: Lake has dropped 0.29 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 622.85 above sea level, with 622.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 15
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
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254.368.7411 (call or text)