Ft. Hood SKIES “Fishing 101” Trip with the Walker’s — 50 Fish, Stillhouse

This (very hot) August afternoon, I met Mrs. April Walker and her 6 year old son, Austin, at Stillhouse Hollow for an evening of fishing.

 Austin Walker overcame his fear of the unknown and landed 50 fish today with the encouragement of his mom, April.  This was his first time fishing, and his first time on a boat.


April, herself a veteran of the U.S. Navy, met her husband while he, too, was in the Navy along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  He later joined the U.S. Army where he now works with the Patriot Missile System.

Young Austin threw me a bit of a curveball when, at dockside he expressed fears about getting into and going out on a boat.

I did a bit of quick thinking and came up with  a way for us to still enjoy fishing without necessarily having to go very far by water.  Armed with bream poles, we targeted smaller fish using the abundant, flooded shoreline cover as hiding spots.  We found a variety of fish willing to take our presentation of worms suspended below a slip float, including bluegill sunfish, green sunfish, largemouth bass, and blacktail shiners.  Thanks in large part to his mom’s insistent nudging, he took rod in hand and did quite well at catching fish after putting his concerns about boating to the side.

Wanting to see her son overcome his fear of the boat and water, April again did some “insistent nudging” and presented Austin with some “limited options”.  Option 1:  Take a brief boat ride to overcome your fears and then go back home at a time of your choosing, or, Option 2: There was no second option.

So, Austin “chose” Option 1, overcame his fear of water, and remained very calm as we cruised at about 11 miles per hour from one boat ramp to the next closest boat ramp.  By this time, Austin had amassed a nice catch of 46 fish.  So, I challenged him to catch 4 more fish once we reached the other boat ramp so he could finish us off with an even 50 fish.  He took me up on that challenge, and quickly and easily boated 4 more fish with his new-found knowledge of angling, and then we were off on our return trip to the boat ramp from which we began our trip.

On our return trip, we went a bit faster and Austin seemed a bit less concerned about the situation than he did on the first leg of our journey.

True to her word, once we got back to the ramp, April let Austin decide what he’d like to do.  With the novelty of the one type of fishing that we did wearing off, the sun taking its toll, and the snack supply running low, Austin chose to conclude the trip at around the 2-hour mark (which is not out of the ordinary for 6-year olds).

As we walked up the hill to the parking lot together, I asked Austin if he liked fishing.  He said he did, just not from a boat.

 SKIES Unlimited stands for School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills.  SKIES Unlimited classes are open to children of active duty military personnel, retirees, Department of the Army civilians, and to Department of Defense contractors.

To enroll in SKIES Unlimited activities, children must be registered with CYSS at Building 121 on 761st Tank Destroyer Avenue (right across from the Chili’s restaurant). There is no charge for registration; parents must bring an ID that shows their affiliation with the military, the child’s shot records, and the report from a recent physical exam.  While the SKIES Unlimited programs are not free, many military families are eligible for sizeable credits toward SKIES Unlimited activities. There is a $300 “Army Strong” credit available to each child when their parent is deployed.


TALLY = 50 FISH, all caught and released






Start Time: 4:45p

End Time:  6:45p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start:  77F

Water Surface Temp:  88F

Wind Speed & Direction: NNW6-7

Sky Conditions:  High, clear, bright skies with some building clouds to the west

Note: Lake has dropped 0.19 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 621.81 above sea level, with 622.00 being full pool

Other: GT= 0




**Area 667 slipfloats for panfish

**Area 456 slipfloats for panfish


Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Salado, TX


A Day Full of Firsts — SKIFF Trip #10, Belton Lake, 63 Fish

This morning I met Mrs. Silvia Taylor and her two children, 10-year old Mariella, and 6-year old Adrian, for a morning fishing trip on Belton Lake.  Neither child had ever been on a boat nor fished before.

Mariella won the big fish contest by a landslide today with this 4+ pound hybrid striped bass which hit a shallow running bait not long after sunrise.

Adrian had all he could handle when this hybrid ripped his line out of the downrigger release clip and headed for deep water.


Mary and Adrian’s father, Sergeant First Class Randy Taylor, is currently on an unaccompanied tour to South Korea.  An “unaccompanied tour” means a soldier’s family is not permitted to be with him or her, and therefore must remain stateside for the duration of a soldier’s absence.  Randy and Silvia first met while Randy was stationed in the Bavarian region of Germany several years ago.

This morning we witnessed some strong, albeit short-lived, topwater action in which a mix of white bass and hybrid striped bass of all sizes forced baitfish to the surface and fed upon them very aggressively, thus creating enough commotion so as to be seen and heard.  We got right into the thick of it and the kids stayed hooked up to fish for as long as the action lasted.  Due to their inexperience, we downrigged through this action instead of spending a lot of time trying to learn to cast into the action.  In the long run, we landed more fish thanks to this decision.

After the strong topwater bite ended (at about the time a mild, dry front arrived from the NW), we moved on to panfishing in shallow water, catching several varieties of sunfish, small largemouth bass, and blacktail shiners from two separate locations.

When the novelty of panfishing wore off for Adrian, and as the temperature rapidly crept up, we finished out the trip by downrigging once again, which provided us with a nice bumper crop of white bass.

In all, the kids boated 63 fish this morning and both earned a Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. “First Fish Award”.

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. SKIFF is open to children in elementary and middle school, as well as teens in high school.
TALLY = 63 FISH, all caught and released

Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 10:30a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 76F

Water Surface Temp: 86-87F

Wind Speed & Direction: NW8-9 beginning around 7:40a

Sky Conditions: No cloud cover under the influence of a mild cool front moving into the area right around 7:45a

Note: Lake has dropped 0.03 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 594.35 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool

Other: GT= 0



**Area 813/133 topwater & downrigging early

**Area 492 panfishing

**Area 166 panfishing

**Area 687/1081 downrigging late



Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)

Salado, TX