You may have noticed my previous post was about this past Tuesday evening’s fishing trip with Aaron Cherry. Well, this morning I had the pleasure of fishing with Aaron’s 12 year old sister, Rachel Cherry. Following Aaron’s trip, which fell under the banner of the Fort Hood SKIES program, Aaron’s mother, Charlotte, and I discussed the SKIFF program which is available to children separated from their military parent due to that parent’s duty commitments, and which is offered to the community at no charge, courtesy of the Austin Fly Fishers.
Rachel Cherry with a beautiful Lake Belton green sunfish taken on a slipfloat and live bait in the last hour of our trip.
Rachel poses with the largest of the 15 white bass she boated on a fairly slow morning trip.
At 6:35 AM I arrived at the Cherry’s residence in Nolanville, Texas, and Rachel was bright-eyed and bushytailed in anticipation about this morning’s trip. Since I rarely encounter kids so alert before the sun has risen, I asked where she got all her energy from. As it turns out, Rachel’s mom home-schools, and their home-schooling routine involves a 5:30am wakeup so that Rachel and her brother can have some undivided attention from mom to get lessons started before their 4-year-old sister rouses and requires attention. So, 6:35am was a breeze for this girl!
The conditions we faced this morning were much different, and much tougher, than her brother and I faced just three days ago. We had a glassy calm surface, and very bright sunshine thanks to very clear skies.
We fished for right at four hours, spending the first three hours in pursuit of white bass and hybrid striped bass, and devoting the final hour to panfishing for sunfish up in shallow water. All of nature was a bit sluggish this morning, and although we certainly found fish, they were definitely not aggressive, nor did they appear in great numbers in a feeding mode. We had to work for all 15 of the white bass we caught this morning,. These fish were all scattered and suspended in very small schools of just 3 to 6 fish per school, and they were generally between 27 and 32 feet deep over a slightly deeper bottom.
As we closed out the white bass chapter of our trip and changed our focus to sun fishing, Rachel was taken with the Lake Belton waterfall, so, we swung by there for a “photo op” and then headed up shallow to fish for sunfish. During this time, we put a variety of species in the boat, including smallmouth bass, bluegill sunfish, and green sunfish. Once Rachel got the hang of setting the hook, she did great.
Since Rachel’s brother had come out with me as a part of the Ft. Hood SKIES program, I asked Rachel if she had an opportunity to participate in any of the activities offered through that program, as I thought I’d heard Aaron mention that she took ballet. Rachel scoffed at this and informed me that she preferred doing things that are more hands-on, and that, “I’m just not into wearing tutus.” It was her younger sister who is the aspiring ballerina. When I asked if she had yet considered plans for the future, Rachel told me she wanted to be a horticulturist and shared with me the long list of plant species she is now tending to at her home.
We ended up our day with exactly 20 fish and one 12-year-old girl chomping at the bit to go fishing again!
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, organizations, and companies 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 youth in high school.
TALLY = 20 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:00a
End Time: 11:00a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 67F
Water Surface Temp: 80.0F
Wind Speed & Direction: Light and variable until 9:00am, then blowing suddenly from the NNW at 11-13mph
Sky Conditions: Clear and bluebird.
Note: Lake has dropped 0.05 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 592.59 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 133 weak low-light action on downriggers
**Area 1601 slower fishing on downriggers
**Area 1576/815 best white bass action on downriggers from before/during/just after passage of cloud bank & wind shift
**Area 492 panfishing
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)