This past Saturday morning I welcomed aboard Mohamed and Ethan Barry, accompanied by their mom, Ty. This trip was booked through the Fort Hood SKIES program.
Mohamed Barry landed the largest fish of our trip, this plump 13″ white bass that fell for a Pet Spoon up shallow before the sun got up high in the sky.
Our first fish of the trip was landed by Ethan Barry, just prior to sunrise.
The very first thing that struck me as Ty and her kids made their way down from the parking lot to the floating courtesy dock where my boat was tied up, was how extremely skittish Ty was about the water. She had a white-knuckled death-grip on the handrail of the ramp going from the shore to the floating dock, and was very, very nervous about just standing on the slightly moving dock itself. Making the transition from the dock into my boat took all the courage she could muster, and, once she got in the boat, she sat on the floor as she felt more secure there than being up higher on the seats intended for passengers. Slowly, she got more confident and moved up into a seat, but never to the point of being wild about the whole idea. This lack of ease with the water and the fact that the boys had some lawn maintenance chores to tend to, led Ty to request that we only fish for 2 hours instead of the normally scheduled 4 hours.
So now the pressure was on. I had to get some fish in the boat in just half the time I normally have to accomplish that task.
The boys were a bit cautious about the water, too, but that faded quickly once we got down to the business of fishing. We began this morning right where I left off last night, up shallow in 15-20 feet of water, looking for white bass and hybrid striped bass there in pursuit of shad. Despite the nearly dead calm conditions, and the very cool overnight temperatures, there were indeed some fish up shallow, and we managed to bag 5 white bass before the sun climbed up high enough to kill that shallow water bite. Both boys landed the first fish of their lives right there and then.
Little Ethan’s excited laughter over being connected to a live fish on the end of his line was infectious. He kind of laughed, and kind of giggled, but it was a nervous kind of thing as it was all so new to him. When that fish, a 9.25″ white bass, came over the gunwale, he screamed excitedly and got me laughing so hard it made me realize how much I take for granted doing this for a living, and how used to it I’ve become.
Well, after that low-light shallow bite ended, and with about an hour to go, we headed up shallow and focused on panfish for the remainder of our time. When beginners come out with me that do not have regular access to a boat, I always try to incorporate some panfishing in if the conditions allow, as it is a tactic that can be used from the shoreline with success.
The boys landed 14 bluegill sunfish and a small largemouth bass using slipfloats and live bait. By 9:00am Ty’s “water-meter” had timed out and she was ready to return to terra firma . We took some photos of their catch and headed back across the now-glassy surface to the boat ramp to send them all packing back to Killeen.
In their short trip the boys still managed to catch 20 fish and they had a blast doing it.
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 = 20 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:00a
End Time: 9:00a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 58F
Water Surface Temp: 78F
Wind Speed & Direction: ENE2-3
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= 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1069-302 downrigging
**Area 1200 panfishing
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)