This morning I fished the eleventh SKIFF trip of the 2014 season with Tommie Clark and his two children, Tommy, 8, and Alyssa, 10. SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trips are provided free of charge to families whose children are separated from a parent due to that parent’s military service thanks to the Austin Fly Fishers and a network of supportive individuals from all over the U.S. All it takes is a phone call from a parent to me at 254-368-7411 to reserve a date.
Tommie’s wife, Takako, is deployed on a nine-month assignment. She is a U.S. Army specialist and currently serves as a combat medic in Kosovo. Tommie is a U.S. Air Force veteran, having served as an enlisted man in the USAF’s signal branch (radios, telephones, satellites, computers, etc.)
Near the end of the school year, Skipcha Elementary School in Harker Heights, hosted an end-of-year event by inviting all manner of kid-oriented businesses, programs and activities to the school to set up booths allowing the kids who attend there and their parents to peruse summer activities. My wife, Rebecca, and I set up such a booth to promote the SKIFF program. I met the Clark family at that event when the kids came by to try casting to the “Backyard Bass” casting targets to try to win a prize. I explained how SKIFF worked and Tommie chose a date for his kids on the spot.
As we got going this morning, the winds were already high, above 14 mph, before sunrise. This made spotting the top water feeding fish I was hoping to start the day with very difficult to find. We did spot one school and made a successful downrigging pass through them, picking up one hybrid striper. With the winds only increasing and whitecaps becoming more prevalent, making top water action even more difficult to spot, I decided to change plans.
We headed to a semi-protected area and fished specifically for hybrid striped bass using live baits. This produced eight large hybrid. When the hybrid bass bite slowed down we then went searching for some late-morning topwater action, again in a semi-protected area. As we arrived, several blue herons were feeding over open water on the surface feeding fish, thus giving us a clue as to where the fish were located. For about 30 minutes we were able to hover in one spot casting to white bass and small hybrid striper that were popping shad on the surface. After this bite settled down, we finished up the trip by downrigging for white bass and small hybrid striper using umbrella rigs. This produced numerous doubles and triples, allowing us to take our fish count up to a grand total of 51 for the day.
TALLY = 51 FISH
Start Time: 6:30am
End Time: 10:20am
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 75F
Water Surface Temp: 80.5F
Wind Speed & Direction: S15-17
Sky Conditions: 80% cloudy
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 967 topwater at first light
**Vicinity of Area 1400 – large hybrid stripers on live bait
**Vicinity of 847/1097 fish on top in schools, then in lower 1/3 of water column (downrigged)