From competitive angling at the middle school and high school levels, to after-school fishing clubs, to
free guided fishing trips for military kids separated from their parents, to reasonably priced pay-as-you-go fishing trips arranged through Fort Hood’s SKIESUnlimited program or the “Kids Fish, Too!” program, or simply going it on your own from one of the many accessible public shorelines, opportunities abound for youths to land fish without expending great amounts of time, money or effort.
Successful first-time youth anglers can even officially note their first catch through Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s “First Fish Award” program. Central Texas is simply a great place to be if you are an aspiring young angler.
CENTRAL TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL TOURNAMENT TRAIL
The Central Texas High School Tournament Trail is open to sixth- through 12th-grade anglers desiring to fish competitively.
Handled in much the same way other extracurricular activities are in our public schools, the parent organization for CTHSTT, the Student Angler Federation, provides curriculum and scholarship opportunities for those students involved.
Anglers fish in pairs with other youths they get to know through their fishing club, accompanied by an adult volunteer boat-owner/operator (referred to as a boat captain), to pursue the heaviest limit of black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, and/or Guadalupe) the team can catch within the time limit set for a given event on lakes all around this region.
This season’s first tournament, scheduled for today on Lake Waco, will see an estimated 50 two-angler teams from approximately 20 different high schools and fishing clubs come together to compete for prizes and scholarship money.
In a phone conversation with Killeen Independent School District’s Henry Niemiec, the Central Texas High School Tournament Trail tournament director, Niemiec excitedly spoke of this season’s seven-tournament schedule.
Niemeic was particularly proud of the arrangement struck by him and Marine Outlet owner Rick Smith to open the TuffMan tournament trail’s two-day championship round to be held Jan. 26-27 to the top 15 teams in the CTHSTT standings after the season’s first three tournaments on Waco, Stillhouse and Limestone lakes.
Parents or guardians with students interested in competitive angling at the middle or high school level may contact Niemiec at 254-368-0294.
FREE FISHING FOR MILITARY KIDS
Since May 2009 the Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun program has existed to serve military families by providing free 3-4-hour long guided fishing trips to youths separated from their parents due to military duty. Anything from short-term separations like temporary duty at another post, to mid-length separations like gunnery or a rotation at the National Training Center, to full-length deployments all qualify kids to participate in the SKIFF program.
Contact SKIFF at 254-368-7411 to learn more.
Falling under Fort Hood’s Child, Youth and Student Services umbrella of activities, the Fort Hood SKIESUnlimited program, managed by Brenda Brown offers, among other options, their “Fishing 101” course to military and Department of Defense dependent children.
Fishing 101 consists of an instructional, guided fishing trip geared for whatever age and experience level the involved youths possess.
On Sept. 8 Adan Tijerina, accompanied by his active-duty mother, Mandie Tijerina, took advantage of this program and fished by boat on Stillhouse Hollow for approximately four hours.
During this time, Adan was exposed to four different fishing techniques and landed multiple species of fish including sunfish, largemouth bass, channel catfish and white bass.
Adan, 7, learned to cast a spinning outfit during his trip and, by the time the trip concluded around 11 a.m., had landed 54 fish up to 2 pounds.
Although fees are involved, they are in line with other activities like dance, martial arts, etc.
Contact Brown by phone at 254-287-4592.
KIDS FISH, TOO!
Operated in the same manner as Fort Hood’s “Fishing 101” program, the local Kids Fish, Too! program is geared to introducing nonmilitary connected kids to the fundamentals of fishing.
Such instructional fishing trips are also conducted by boat on either Belton or Stillhouse Hollow lakes and take into consideration the involved youths’ ages and experience levels when determining what species will be pursued and what methods will be employed.
Although not offered free of charge, the fees are about half of the going price for an adult freshwater guided fishing trip, and the lengths of the excursions are tailored to the youths’ attention spans, not to a set amount of time as traditional trips typically are.
Call 254-3687411 for more information.
AND THE FIRST FISH AWARD GOES TO …
Over the past four weeks alone, seven local youths had the capture of their first fish noted and awarded through the TPWD’s First Fish Award program. By simply taking the time to photograph their catch and complete a simple application, anglers may obtain, by mail, a handsome 8.5-by-11-inch certificate suitable for framing adorned with the raised, gold Seal of the State of Texas affixed upon it.
On Aug. 20, the Cruz children of Fort Hood — Dakottah, Makenzie, Makayla and Gavin — all earned their First Fish certificates during a SKIFF trip on Stillhouse Hollow.
On Sept. 1, the Abshier children — Zephyr (age 7) and Tesla (age 5) — of Troy landed the first fish of their lives and were rewarded with First Fish certificates.
Then, earlier this week, 3½-year-old Zoey Haberer of Temple, accompanied by her mother, Emily Haberer, and maternal grandfather, Steve Niemeier, landed the first fish of her life during a 3½-hour trip on Stillhouse Hollow.
In my capacity as a professional fishing guide, I operate an official TPWD weigh station out of my business office on the south shore of Stillhouse Hollow, thus maintaining a set of certified scales for weighing record fish, and maintaining current forms to assist anglers in applying for First Fish awards and for lake records as well.
I may be reached at 254-368-7411 for assistance with such applications.