WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning I fished the 2018 season’s 10th SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) program trip provided free of charge to the Ruth family of Harker Heights. I welcomed aboard big brother Stephen (age 12) and his twin siblings, Sahara and Sterling (both age 9). Mrs. Bettina Ruth, the children’s mom, and I agreed the kids would do just fine without her, so, she got to enjoy some down time while the kids and I went to hunt for fish.
SURPRISE PHONE CALL: At exactly 8:29 a.m., after Stephen had just landed a “triple” with our 16th, 17th, and 18th fish of the trip, and as Sahara was in the midst of reeling in number 19, my phone rang. Despite having my hands pretty full, I went ahead and answered it, and was glad I did. It was the kids’ dad, U.S. Army Colonel Stephen Ruth calling all the way from Erbil in northern Iraq to see how his kids were doing on their trip. Each of the kids excitedly told him about their experience. COL Ruth has been deployed for over a year and looks forward to returning to the US next month.
FUNNY CLOSING LINE: As we returned to the boat ramp, Mrs. Ruth was there waiting on us. Immediately the kids started telling her all about their experiences on the boat. They asked if they could go again and their mom told them they all needed to think about doing a family trip once COL Ruth had made it home. Stephen spoke up and said, “Yeah, we could schedule a trip for the weekend he gets back!”. To which I replied, “Well, don’t you think he might need to sleep in that first weekend after being gone for a year and after the long flight back from Iraq?” Stephen didn’t miss a beat and said, “No, sleep is for the weak!” Mom and I just shook our heads.
ABOUT SKIFF: SKIFF serves to put the kids of soldiers on the water at times when duty pulls parents away from their families. Begun in 2009, SKIFF offers trips free of charge to any military family wherein kids are separated from their parent due to that parent’s military obligations from short-term commitments like gunnery or field time at Ft. Hood, to lengthy deployments, and anything in between. Simply call me, Bob Maindelle, at 254.368.7411 to reserve a date. SKIFF is funded by the donations and fundraising efforts of the Austin Fly Fishers and the allies they have gained along the way.
The Ruth kids, from the left: Sterling, Stephen, and Sahara landed 62 fish including a dozen sunfish, 49 white bass, and 1 largemouth bass.
Sterling landed our largest fish, which also happened to be the first taken via downrigging this morning. This largemouth bass went just a shade under 2 pounds and came out of 42 feet of water.
WHAT WE FISHED FOR: This was a multi-species trip focused on sunfish & white bass.
WHERE WE FISHED: Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir
WHEN WE FISHED: Wednesday morning, 22 August 2018
HOW WE FISHED: This morning we started off by fishing for sunfish just long enough to allow the sun to brighten the sky and to give the wind a chance to start blowing after yesterday’s post-frontal calm. We landed a dozen sunfish on bream poles and bait and then headed to deep, clear water to see what our eyes could take in and what sonar would reveal. We found one small congregation of fish holding adjacent to the river channel and suspended at 30 feet over a 40 foot bottom. We worked tailspinners for these fish and picked up 8 white bass; these fish were not in an overly aggressive feeding mode, so, we moved on. We got in on the ground floor of a heavy feed in which both white bass and largemouth were chasing young-of-the-year shad throughout the lower third of the water column in 36 to 42 feet of water, and occasionally breaking away to the surface and causing a ruckus there, which helped us keep up with the action. We used a combination of downrigging and vertically working tailspinners to land another 41 white bass and 1 largemouth bass before the kids got too hot to press on, thanks to the clear skies, hot sun, and low wind velocity. We wrapped up with 62 fish landed.
OBSERVATIONS/NOTES: After a calm, bright day yesterday during which I avoided fishing and conducted an on-the-water sonar training, during which time I saw zero surface activity, today saw a return of light ESE winds and some high, thin haze. Surface action was observed in vic. 1246 where we caught most of our fish, as well as at Area 071, which we did not fish over.
TALLY: 80 fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:45a
End Time: 10:30a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 76F
Water Surface Temp: 86.2F
Wind Speed & Direction: Winds were calm at sunrise, slowly starting to move at up to ESE5 by 8:00a, then maintaining at that velocity for about 2 hours before tapering down to light and variable with brief periods of calm.
Sky Conditions: 0% cloud cover, just a high, thin haze
Water Level: 7.55 feet low and falling
GT = 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 201 for 12 sunfish
**Area SH0053C – a few fish suspended around 30′ over a 40′ bottom; caught 8 with tailspinners
**Area v1246 – downrigging and tailspinners for 42 fish over a 42′ bottom
Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)