WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Thursday evening, April 29th, I conducted the second SKIFF trip of the 2021 season.

SKIFF is an acronym for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun. It is a program now in its 12th year, sponsored by the Austin Fly Fishers, and supported by individuals and entities, all of whom desire that kids separated from a parent by that parent’s military duty, be given an opportunity to experience the outdoors through fishing during that time of separation, free of charge.  The program offers a time of respite for the home-front parents who made need a short break from single-parenting.

On this SKIFF adventure, I welcomed aboard Mrs. Ashley Patton and her two daughters, Willow and Athena Tripp.

The girls’ father, U.S. Army Sergeant Brian Tripp is currently away from Fort Hood attending short-term training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.  Tripp, who has served for nine years, serves soldiers by providing communications connectivity to remote locations.

Patton is herself a veteran, having served as a U.S. Army combat medic.  She and Tripp met while on active duty.

Patton heard of the SKIFF program through a posting on the Fort Hood Area Events Facebook page.


PHOTO CAPTION:   From left: Athena Tripp, Ashley Patton, and Willow Tripp with a few of the 38 white bass the girls landed from over 30 feet of water using MAL Lures as a wet cold front moved into Central Texas on Thursday afternoon.

PHOTO CAPTION:  We started off simply by fishing with pole and float for sunfish at the trip’s start, and got more technical as the afternoon moved along.  Here is Willow Tripp with her largest bluegill sunfish.

PHOTO CAPTION:  Athena Tripp didn’t let a little cool drizzle ruin her after-school fishing trip.  This was one of the first sunfish she landed from shallow water.


WHEN WE FISHED: Thursday (PM), 29 April 2021


As a mild, wet cold front made its way into Central Texas, Patton arrived at Lake Belton around 4:30 p.m. after picking her girls up from school.

As the primary guide for the SKIFF program, I was present to welcome the family, provide them with a safety briefing, adjust the equipment to the girls’ statures, and help them be successful.

We began the trip fishing for sunfish with poles to which fixed lengths of fishing line were attached.  We targeted small fish in shallow water with this simple approach, and then layered in more complexity as the trip continued on.

By the end of the girls’ afternoon on the water, they were reading sonar, using custom-made MAL Lures to fish vertically for white bass in water well over thirty feet deep, and they did an amazing job at luring, hooking, and landing fish after fish.

In just over three hours’ time the sisters landed sixty-two fish, including twenty-four sunfish, and thirty-eight white bass.

We fished only two areas for this entire time.  Thanks to the incoming cold front, and despite the uncomfortable conditions above the water line, the fish really turned on as the winds shifted to the north and began to pick up speed.  The white bass we encountered stayed up well into the lower half of the water column the entire time we fished for them in about 32 feet of water.

As is often the case as we watch the fish we are fishing for on Garmin LiveScope, those fish highest in the water column tended to be the most eager to chased down and bite the MAL Lure.

Hazy Eye Slabs, MAL Lures, and Stinger Hooks are found here:

TALLY: 62 fish caught and released



Start Time:  4:30P

End Time: 8:00P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 67F

Elevation:  0.86 feet low, +0.04 24-hour change, 26 CFS flow

Water Surface Temp: 67.2F

Wind Speed & Direction: Calm for first 30 minutes, then ENE under 6 for balance of trip

Sky Condition: 100% grey cloud cover all morning

Moon Phase: Two days past full moon

GT = 100




**Area  504 for shallow sunfish

**Area  1362 for white bass spurred on by incoming coldfront in 32′


Bob Maindelle

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) Website:




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