WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Monday, 16 March, I conducted the 2020 season’s fourth SKIFF program trip, welcoming 13-year-old Gary Yoder III of Belton, Texas, aboard. The Belton Independent School District was one of many districts which extended spring break over concerns about the corona virus.
Gary is a member of a U.S. Army Gold Star family. In most of American life, a gold star is a good thing. In the Army, Gold Star status means you’ve lost a loved one while he/she was serving on active duty. Gary lost his father, Captain Gary Yoder II, while he was on active duty, stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Captain Yoder was 33 years old when he passed away, leaving his wife, Lisa, and two boys, Gary III and Levi, behind.
Retired Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden Major Jeff Gillenwaters learned of Gary’s situation through his mother, Lisa Yoder, and provided my contact information to her. She contacted me late last week and I got Gary on my schedule as quickly as possible.
As it turns out, Gary is considering becoming a game warden when he grows up, so, during our trip I pointed out various fish species, their length and bag limits, various kinds of fishing equipment we observed (trotlines and juglines), and coached Gary on operating my boat and using trim to enhance boat performance. Oh, yeah — we also caught plenty of fish!
ABOUT SKIFF: This fishing trip was provided to this military family at no charge. S.K.I.F.F. stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun. This program began in May of 2009. It is funded by the donations and fundraising efforts of the Austin Fly Fishers and other organizations they have partnered with. S.K.I.F.F. provides the children of military personnel separated from their families due to duty commitments with the opportunity to go fishing. SKIFF trips are also provided, free of charge, to Gold Star families who have lost their service member while he or she was on active duty. In mid-2019, SKIFF also began providing trips to dependents whose parents are bona fide disabled veterans. I coordinate and conduct these 3.5 to 4 hour adventures on Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, just outside the gates of Fort Hood in Bell County, TX, year ’round. Call or text 254.368.7411.
PHOTO CAPTION: Gary enjoyed some mixed-bag angling this morning. Our catch of 42 fish included 4 species — white bass, hybrid striped bass, freshwater drum, and blue catfish.
PHOTO CAPTION: This aggressive blue cat hit a bladebait late in the morning as we worked over a school of white bass as they livened up near midday with increasing light levels following a very murky, grey morning.
WHEN WE FISHED: 16 March, 2002, AM
HOW WE FISHED: We once again had a pretty challenging weather forecast to fish against this morning. When I headed to bed last night I was encouraged by the wind shift to the south at 10mph we were to experience overnite. I awoke to a very different forecast (and reality): we had a northeast breeze with a cool mist mixed in which was supposed to shift through the east then to ESE but remain low velocity all morning — pretty hard to get excited about.
Nonetheless, we got out there and used our “fish sense” and our sonar to observe and piece together clues, and we wound up making a pretty nice catch of 42 fish, including some mature white bass for a change.
Notable this morning was the shift of fish activity into shallow water. We did not land a single fish in over 22 feet of water, with some coming from under 10 feet of water. Even in deep water, the life (bait and gamefish) was suspended up high in the water column.
We used a combination of vertical jigging (easing with my 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slabs) and horizontal casting (with Cicada bladebaits) to put together our catch.
Gary, who enjoys football and history, stuck with the program and stayed focused, ignoring his cold hands and feet and breaking only now and then for a snack.
When all was said and done, we headed to Sol de Jalisco in Morgan’s Point for a quick bite of lunch (which I like because I can keep an eye on my boat as I eat), just before the Presidential request went out to avoid restaurants and bars. Gary wolfed down a bean and cheese burrito and a Sprite with no ice in record time!
TALLY: 42 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: A very definitive shift up into shallower water has taken place quite rapidly. We caught all 42 fish in under 22 feet of water, with some from less than 10 feet of water. Saw the first signs of bank-running shad this morning midway back in the B0049C Cove.
Start Time: 7:30A
End Time: 12:05P
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 59F
Elevation: 0.85′ low, -0.02 24-hour change, 17 CFS flow
Water Surface Temp: 59F
Wind Speed & Direction: E7-8 for 2 hours, then SE3-4 for 1 hour, then calm the remainder of the trip
Sky Conditions: Grey overcast the entire trip with light mist from 7:30 to 8:00A
GT = 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area vic 0142/0138 – sparse whites on slabs during low-light bite
**Area vic B0049C Cove mouth – whites and hybrid running shad into and out of cove. Used LiveScope to time presentation as fish passed beneath boat
**Area B0001G – mature white bass under birds for a short span on slabs
**Area 0188 – about an hour’s worth of action on gently sloping terrain throwing bladebaits with lift-drop tactic
Full-time, Professional Fishing Guide and Owner of Holding the Line Guide Service
Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide
254.368.7411 (call or text)
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