Ft. Hood SKIES Program Trip Nets 49 Fish for Zoe and Zach Aviles

This past Saturday morning, August 27, I fished a multi-species trip on Belton Lake with Zach and Zoe Aviles. This trip was arranged through the Fort Hood SKIES program.


Zach with the first fish of his life, a nice Belton Lake white bass taken on a soft plastic bait and jighead.



Zoe with the first fish of her life, also taken on a soft plastic bait and jighead during a brief surface feeding blitz

After an evening of rough weather the night before, things stabilized overnight and we awoke to clear skies, calm winds, and hot and humid conditions.

I let the kids’ mom, Dina Aviles, an active duty service member in the U.S. Army, know right off the bat that I did not intend for this to be an endurance contest, so whenever she and the kids had caught enough fish and were ready to go, just to let me know, as I was quite concerned about the heat and humidity.

Although the fish did show up on the surface this morning during the lowlight period, it was not at very first light as it has been for the past several weeks.

Neither Zoe nor Zach had ever caught a fish in their lives before, so, at first light when no fish were showing, I went right to the downriggers – – essentially a summertime fishing insurance policy! No longer did we get the two- and three-armed umbrella rigs equipped with Pet Spoons down in the midst of the fish showing on sonar, than we began pulling fish with regularity right up until the fish began to show on the surface.

The topwater fishing was confined to a fairly small area, and did not last long at all, but enabled us to put 22 fish in the boat very quickly, and give Zach and Zoe a chance to cast, retrieve, set the hook, fight fish, and land fish all by themselves after I began by doing everything for them and then slowly transitioned them into doing everything for themselves.

When the top water fishing ended, we spent about 25 more minutes steadily pulling white bass on the downriggers, and then, with winds still near calm, the sun’s intensity increasing, and the heat rising, we left this open water fishery behind and headed up shallow to gun for panfish.

The sunfish cooperated well this morning.  While fishing a shoreline with mixed rock, wood, and green vegetative matter, we were able to boat bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, and green sunfish very steadily.

When the novelty of the sunfishing wore off, we headed back to open water to wrap up our trip fishing for catfish. I think the name “catfish”, and the fact that I told the kids early on that these fish would make noises, intrigued both of them. We set up in a hover using the Ulterra’s Spot Lock feature in 29 feet of water. I put out chum to get the nearby catfish active and draw more distant catfish in. We then baited our lines, suspended our presentations off bottom, and began enjoying the fruits of our labors. Each of the kids was able to land three blue catfish before mom and grandma had enough of the windless heat and decided to call it a day right at 10:15.

We concluded our trip with exactly 49 fish boated, and 2 young Texas anglers newly minted!

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 credit available to each child when their parent is deployed.


TALLY = 49 fish, all caught and released


Wx Snapshot




Start Time: 6:30a

End Time:  10:15a

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 74F

Water Surface Temp:  84.7F

Wind Speed & Direction:  SSE2

Sky Conditions: 20% cloud cover on a fair sky.

Water Level: ~2.69 feet high.  Lake is falling slowly at ~.11 feet per day

GT = 0



**Area 019-1788 downrigging and topwater for whites up shallow under low light

**Area 1583 sunfishing

**Area 814/085 catfishing


Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)



Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

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