First Fish of Her Life — 41 Fish, Belton SKIES Program Trip

This past Saturday afternoon, May 21st, I was joined by Mrs. Jennifer Katz, her daughter, Cayli Katz, and Cayli’s cousin, Matty Solorzano, for a Fort Hood SKIES program fishing trip on Lake Belton.  See the end of this summary for more info. on the SKIES program.


From left: Matty Solorzano, Cayli Katz, and Jennifer Katz with one of the several hybrid stripers Cayli and Matty landed in the 3.00 to 4.25 pound class.

The trip was focused on Cayli and her success with Matty and Jennifer along for the ride. Cali had never caught a fish before in her life, but, she was both eager and teachable, so I knew as soon as we met that we’d have a good time and that she would be successful.

Elton Lake is normally in a transition period by now, but, thanks to cooler than normal water temperatures, the patterns that have been in place for more than a month now have continued to hold up, and this evening was no exception.

In order to give Cayli as much exposure to various techniques and species as I could, I broke the trip up into 4 “segments”.  Segment one consisted of down rigging during our first hour on the water.  It did not produce.

Segment two consisted of fishing in deep, open water for hybrid striper.  We got on fish using sonar, and enjoyed an hour-long, very productive bite, putting 15 fish in the boat including 9 keepers of 18 inches or larger.  After battling 9 or 10 of these hard-pulling fish, Cayli’s hands were worn out.  She “donated” the rest of the fish that bit to cousin Matty.  Seeing this, I suggested we move on to Segment three.  So, we left these fish biting to pursue fish that were a bit more tame.

Segment three consisted of fishing for panfish with slip floats up shallow in the flooded terrestrial brush.  We caught 20 sunfish in about an hour’s time, including bluegills, green sunfish, and longear sunfish.  The kids both got up enough nerve toward the end of the sunfishing to hold their fish and remove the hooks.

Our grand finale took us to 35-40 feet of water from 7:45p to 8:20p.  Sonar revealed very aggressively feeding gamefish in the lower 2/3 of the water column.  This “low light” bite is typically very aggressive, but also short-lived.  I trained the kids up very quickly in the use of spinning gear, and they went right to work working their slabs aggressively in the same zone where the fish were.  Getting the right cadence down was a bit of a trick for these two rookies, but, when the got it down, they got results.  Both were able to land a number of white bass, short hybrid and keeper hybrid in the 25-30 minutes that this action lasted.  Then, when it was over, it was over.

For their efforts, the kids landed 41 fish, and Cayli 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 = 41 Fish, all caught and released

Wx Snapshot:




Start Time: 4:30p

End Time:  8:30p

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 81F

Water Surface Temp:  75.2

Wind Speed & Direction:  ESE13 at trips start, tapering down to E7

Sky Conditions:  85% grey cloud cover with occasional breaks

Water Level: 601.83 and falling with 594.0 being full pool.  Water being released at 3,561 cubic feet per second.  Lake fell 0.04 feet in the past 24 hours

Other: GT= 0



**Area 1277, solid hybrid bite on live shad from 5:15 to 6:30p

**Area 1583 shallow panfishing 6:30p to 7:45p

**Area 1728-153 mixed bag fishing for whites and hybrids of all sizes on a frenzy hitting smoked slabs in lower 2/3 of water column

Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)




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