This past Friday afternoon, August 19th, I fished the 13th SKIFF program trip of the year with Mrs. Tina Eaton and her 2 children, Cheyenne and Charlie, as well as the 2 children of U.S Army Specialist Ryan Mahin Sr. and his wife, Felicia.
We caught sunfish galore under grey, cool skies using bobbers, small hooks and worms. From left: Layla Mahin, Charlie Eaton, Cheyenne Eaton, and Ryan Mahin Jr.
And the white bass cooperated, too. From left: Ryan, Charlie, Layla, and Cheyenne.
As we began our trip we were blessed to have grey terns simply materialize out over open water with hungry white bass pushing young of the year shad to the surface beneath these birds. Given the ages of the kids, and the fact that there were four of them, I decided to go with 2 downrigger rods and fish just subsurface for these aggressively feeding fish with the balls set about 9 feet down.
As you might expect in the early afternoon, this action didn’t last long, but it did last long enough for each of the kids to catch two sets of doubles on the two– and three– armed umbrella rigs I was trailing behind the downrigger balls. Not only did this allow the kids to enjoy early success and keep their interest going, it also allowed Cheyenne and Charlie to land the first fish of their lives
After the terns lifted off the water and the whites settled down, we moved up into shallow water and introduced all four kids to sunfishing using a simple float, split shot, hook, and worm. We used just one rod and had the kids go in a four-way rotation to avoid tangles.
After the sunfishing and its novelty tapered off, the time was around 7 PM, which meant the white bass should have just about been ready to begin their final evening feed. I made my best estimate on where the fish should turn up, and this turned out to be a good estimate. We found fish beginning to congregate and rise off the bottom and move slowly shallower beginning in about 20 feet of water. We set our downrigger balls between 12 and 15 feet and began to catch fish on each pass through the area I had selected.
After each kid got to take two or three rounds on the downriggers, the fish finally broke the surface and allowed for sight casting from that point up until they quit right at around 8:30. Our grand total for tonight’s effort tallied exactly 70 fish … but that wasn’t all!
The Mahin kids were in for a huge surprise… as we approached the courtesy dock, their dad was standing on the dock to greet them after arriving home from a lengthy National Training Center (NTC) rotation in Fort Irwin, California. The kids were not expecting him until later in the weekend.
Thanks, Mrs. Eaton, for your hands-on help on this trip. I wouldn’t have gone near as smoothly without you!!
The Austin Fly Fishers make these trip possible with their generous donations, fundraising efforts, and partnerships with groups like the Sun City Hunting and Fishing Club, the Sun City Women Helping Other (WHO) organization, the McBride Foundation, and others. To schedule a trip for your child while your military spouse is away, just call 254.368.7411. With the school year now underway, SKIFF is offering after school and Saturday trips.
TALLY = 70 fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 4:450p
End Time: 8:45p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 83F
Water Surface Temp: 84.7
Wind Speed & Direction: SSE7-8
Sky Conditions: 100% grey clouds with rain between 4:40p and 5:40p
Water Level: ~2.71 feet high. Lake rose 0.35 feet in the past 24 hours with a flow of ~1570 cfs at the dam
GT = 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1604/1137 catfish on cutbait
**Area 501/689 schooling white bass under terns
**Area 009/1772 schooling white bass under terns
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)