This afternoon I conducted an after-school Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun (SKIFF) trip for Isaiah and Landen Crofutt of Killeen, TX.
From left: Isaiah and Landen Crofutt with a sampling of the white bass they caught on both downriggers and slabs on their after-school SKIFF Program trip while their dad is away at Ft. Irwin, CA.
Isaiah and Landen are the eldest two of the Crofutt’s four children. Isaiah is 10, Landen is 7, Ashlyn is 5, and baby Alianna is just 6 months old. Originally from upstate New York, the Crofutt’s have been stationed in Louisiana, South Carolina, and now here at Fort Hood. Staff Sergeant David Crofutt is an Army truck driver, but is currently serving in the role of platoon sergeant and has been sent to the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, California, for about 5 weeks of intensive training before heading to South Korea. As you can imagine, Mrs. Amanda Crofutt has her work cut out for her with 4 kids under age 11.
My hope this afternoon was to treat the boys to something they would enjoy while at the same time giving Amanda a bit of a stress-break. Things really worked out well, as I kept the boys entertained for about 5 hours, and so, with Ashlyn’s cheer practice unexpectedly cancelled, Amanda and Ashyln got to enjoy some boy-free mommy/daughter time with baby along for the ride.
Amanda and I met in the parking lot of a local bank as she delivered the boys to me straight from school, and, after the trip, I took them back home so Amanda didn’t have to go through the get-the-kids-in-the-car-seats routine after dark to come pick them up.
The fishing was straightforward and productive today. We downrigged to find fish, and then vertically jigged with small silver slabs to take full advantage of what we uncovered while downrigging. The majority of our fish came from a fixed position as we held over top of the fish we’d found in 27-32 feet of water using the Spot-Lock feature on the Minn Kota. Although the breeze was gentle, it was also steady, so the boys’ lines stayed nearly perfectly vertical. I placed them on opposite sides of the boat so tangles were kept to a minimum and fish catching was maximized.
Towards dark, several minutes after sunset, a light topwater bite broke out, but we opted to downrig in the midst of these topwater-feeders simply because the topwater was well-spread enough to require some distance and accuracy in casting which neither boy was going to be able to conjure up.
By the time dark set in, we’d boated a grand total of 106 fish including a mix of short hybrid, short white bass, keeper white bass, and one short largemouth. We did not catch any keeper hybrid on tonight’s trip, nor did I see any topwater action that looked like larger hybrid pushing bait to the surface.
Landen caught the first fish of his life tonight, an 11.75 inch white bass, thus earning a TPWD “First Fish Award” for his accomplishment.
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 = 106 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 3;45p
End Time: 7:45p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 86F
Water Surface Temp: 83.6
Wind Speed & Direction: S5-7
Sky Conditions: Thin white, wispy cover on a fair sky at ~50%
Note: Lake has dropped 0.02 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 592.92 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1608 successful downrigging with multiple triples, paving the way to smoking success with slabs
**Area 812/1186 downrigging leading to smoking, then transitioning into topwater from here to shore right at and after sunset
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)