WHO I FISHED WITH: On this New Year’s Day 2022, I fished with siblings Jordynn (age 9), Jacob (age 8), and Jessica (age 7) on what was the 2022 season’s first SKIFF trip.
The children’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Ryan, is an aviator with 19 years in the U.S. Army. He is currently deployed to Europe as a battalion commander. The kids’ mom, Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay Ryan, also an Army aviator with 16 years in the military, arranged the trip for the kids after seeing a post about the opening on the Fort Hood Area Events Facebook page.
One of the girls told about getting a “Cake Pop Maker” for Christmas, baking cake pops (like a lollipop — but with a ball of cake on the stick instead of a ball of hard candy) in it, putting icing on, and packing them up to send to their dad in Germany. I don’t know what condition the cake pops will be in upon arrival, but, anything from home will be welcome, I’m sure!
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 may need a short break from single-parenting. Reservations for SKIFF trips may be made by phoning or texting 254.368.7411. Children must be 5 years of age or older.
Here is how the fishing went …
My next few openings will be on January 5th & 12th. Weekday mornings are always best.
PHOTO CAPTION: The Ryan family: (from left) Jessica, Jacob, Lindsay, and Jordynn landed 100 fish in just under 3 hours’ time as prefrontal weather put the fish in overdrive this morning in advance of a major cold front due in in the forthcoming overnight hours.
PHOTO CAPTION: Jacob landed our largest fish of the trip, this 19.25″, 3.5 pound hybrid striped bass which fell for a white 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slab.
PHOTO CAPTION: The birthday girl, Jessica Ryan, who turned 7 today, with a nice 15.5″ largemouth bass.
WHERE WE FISHED: Lake Belton
WHEN WE FISHED: Monday (AM), 01 January 2022
HOW WE FISHED:
This morning’s fishing was pretty straightforward. Thanks to a stiff southerly breeze and moderately thick, complete gray cloud cover, the fish started feeding at 7:46AM, drew attention from birds, and from that point until 10:30 it was just a matter of staying in the center of mass of the action in 32-34 feet of water.
Given that I had three elementary-aged kids with minimal prior experience, and given that we faced a pretty stiff breeze, I opted to rig up each of my rods with white, 5/8 oz. Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs. These have the same length as the smaller 3/8 oz. slabs, but are thicker and wider, so, they sink faster and provided more feel for the kids.
We simply allowed these slabs to sink to the bottom, and reeled them up with a “slow smoking“ approach and got hit routinely as our lures rose towards the surface, both by fish which pursued from off the bottom, as well as by suspended fish. The bird activity stayed strong all morning
We fished five areas this morning landing 24 at our first stop, 14 at our second stop, 16 at our third stop, and 24 at our fourth stop. Truth be known, the fish were so active that we could have stayed put at any one of these areas, but, with young kids, when they start getting “fidgety”, moving the boat if only 50 yards or so, provides a mental break and a transition which gets them re-engaged at the next stop and keeps them focused. By this fourth stop we’d tallied up 78 fish and it was once again time for a short move as the younger two kids were getting antsy.
I let the kids know that it was exactly 10AM. I told them that if each of them were to catch just 4 more fish (1 dozen total) we’d have a respectable catch of 90 fish. I let them know I’d give them 20 minutes to accomplish this task (as mom had suggested this as a wrap-up time).
Now, with a goal to reach, the kids redoubled their efforts and the fish starting coming in over the sides as each one focused and employed all of the fundamentals they’d learned over the course of the morning. We easily landed the 90th fish by 10:10. It was then that Jessica, the birthday girl, asked mom if (for her birthday), they could stay a bit longer and shoot for 100 fish.
By now the kids were all-in on meeting goals, so, slabs went back down and by 10:30 (still a half-hour shy of my normal 3.5 hour trip length for kids), we hit our 100 fish goal. Mom and I knew that would be a good stopping point, so, we packed in the gear, took some great photos, and headed back in.
When all was said and done, we landed exactly 100 fish, including 1 largemouth bass, 7 juvenile hybrid striped bass, 1 legal hybrid striped bass, and 91 white bass.
Bladed Hazy Eye Slabs and MAL Lures found here: https://whitebasstools.com/
TALLY: 100 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: The pre-frontal bite was on this morning. The very powerful, incoming front is due to drop the temperate of Texas’ entire atmosphere about 50 degrees in a short 10 hour span beginning around 8p this evening.
Start Time: 7:30A
End Time: 10:30A
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 72F
Elevation: 2.31 feet low, 0.03 fall, 34 CFS flow
Water Surface Temp: 62.1F
Wind Speed & Direction: S12 all morning.
Sky Condition: Grey skies just thin enough to cause “squinting” levels of light to come thru the entire morning.
Moon Phase: Waning crescent moon at 2% illumination.
GT = 60
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
Areas 2054, 1933, vic 812, 1805, and 133 all produced well with the last 4 providing very helpful, ample bird action to point the way to fish.
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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