This afternoon I met Terry and Natalie Burton and their two children, Christian and Abram, for a fishing trip on Lake Belton booked through the Fort Hood SKIES program.
Christian Burton with his best white bass of the trip. Christian stayed engaged and enthusiastic right down to his last cast of the night (on which he landed a fish!).
After the novelty of the several techniques we employed today wore off, Abram enjoyed the special assignments I came up with for him, such as aerator switch operator, livewell control officer, net-master, and drain plug technician.
The Burton’s live on Fort Hood where Terry serves as a senior non-commissioned officer providing sustainment support to III Corps. Natalie is a registered nurse by training, but not currently working in that field. The Burton’s have been an Army family for over 20 years.
As we met up right on time this afternoon, I first did a bit of an assessment to see what prior experience the boys had in fishing and in using the equipment I had on the boat, so I could know how much coaching would be required. After that, we talked safety, then, we got lines in the water and went fishing.
The first hour we enjoyed moderate success fishing 3-armed umbrella rigs behind downrigger balls and came up with singles and doubles on a regular basis. During this time, both boys caught their first fish, thus making them eligible for a TPWD “First Fish Award”.
Abram, who is 5 years old, began to show signs that the novelty of catching fish by way of the downriggers was wearing off. Sensing this, we transitioned to fishing for shallow water panfish using live bait. We hit two areas fairly close to one another and boated bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, and green sunfish over about a 50 minute span.
Next, it was off to Area 1601 which produced well beginning at around 5:30p yesterday. Although the bite was not as intense tonight, fish were in this area and willing to bite. We spent another hour working these fish over for slow but consistent action.
Within 40 minutes of sunset, we moved over to Area 1602 where the boys used a smoking technique to catch fish that were beginning to move both shallower and up higher in the water column in preparation for the day’s final feed. As it did last night, this transformed into a topwater bite, thus allowing the boys to see the fish pursuing forage and trapping it against the surface. The bite ended right at dark, by which time we amassed a catch of 57 fish including redear sunfish, bluegill sunfish, green sunfish, blue catfish, largemouth bass, white bass, and hybrid striped bass. Not bad for two boys who’d never landed a fish before!
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 = 57 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 3:45p
End Time: 7:45p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 90F
Water Surface Temp: 86.5F
Wind Speed & Direction: NNE7-8
Sky Conditions: ~15% cloud cover on a fair sky following a clear, dry morning sky.
Note: Lake has dropped 0.03 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 593.33 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area (vicinity) 687 downrigging for moderate results on smaller fish over first hour
**Area 166 slipfloats for panfish
**Area 1601 downrigging for deeper, scattered schools
**Area 1602 smoking for short hybrid beginning at 6:30p
**Area 811 last light topwater action
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)