This past Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of fishing with the Bravo family of Fort Hood on Lake Belton. This trip was booked through the Fort Hood SKIES program.
Angelina not only landed the first fish of her life tonight, she also landed the largest fish of the trip — this 2.25 pound smallmouth bass.
Andre landed this “triple” — three fish on the same rod at the same time!
The Bravo family, from left, Ricardo, Karen, Angelina, and Andre.
Accompanying me today were Ricardo Bravo, his wife, Karen Bravo, and their children, 14-year-old Andre and 9-year-old Angelina.
As Angelina had never landed a fish before, “first fish honors” went to her. Fortunately, the fish cooperated for the duration of this afternoon’s trip and there was scarcely a lull in the action. Within minutes of pushing away from the courtesy dock, Angelina was fast to the first fish of her lifetime (a small white bass). The kids took turns on the pair of downrigger rods I have set up for summer-time “above the thermocline” fishing. and, by 6:00pm, they’d landed 40 fish taken from two distinct areas. Most of the catch consisted of small white bass, but we had largmouth, smallmouth, and a white crappie show up in the catch, as well
For variety’s sake, we spent a few minutes up shallow using slipfloats and live bait for panfish from 6:00 to 6:30pm. The kids each put 4 more fish in the boat this way, including green sunfish, bluegill sunfish, and another largemouth bass.
Due to a low bank of clouds in the west, the sun would be obscured tonight prior to normal sunset, so, we positioned ourselves to enjoy a low-light bite by 6:30pm. No sooner did we arrive, than I began to see fish from 12 feet deep down to 25 feet deep over quite an expansive area. We set up downriggers with the balls staggered at different depths and caught fish steadily right up until dark. We boated a final 25 more fish here in the last 45 minutes of the trip. I had an opportunity to observe several other boats that were focusing on the very scant topwater action present, and very few fish were being taken with that approach. As often happens on a N, NNE, NE, or ENE wind, the vigor was taken out of the final, low-light feed, and that extra energy and lack of caution the fish display when feeding on the surface seemed to subside under such high pressure conditions.
Mr. and Mrs. Bravo both commented a number of times about how peaceful and relaxing just coming along for the ride was for them.
When all was said and done, the kids had boated exactly 73 fish between them, and Angelina had earned a TPWD First Fish Award.
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 = 73 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 4:00p
End Time: 7:45p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 88F
Water Surface Temp: 78-79F
Wind Speed & Direction: NNE3-4
Sky Conditions: Cloudless, fair skies with very dry conditions
Note: Lake has dropped 0.05 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 592.68 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 50
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1609-1291 downrigging
**Area 1613 downrigging leading to smoking
**Area 1200 panfishing
**Area 1602 – 027 low-light downrigging bite
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)