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Monday, May 14. 2007
For years, on my way to fish the Galveston Jetties, the beachfront or West Galveston Bay, I would pass Jones Lake, by car or boat, never realizing the excellent fishing opportunities this small body of water possessed.
Jones Lake is situated west of Texas City and south of Hitchcock, Texas and is bordered on the east by marsh and Interstate 45, on the south by Tiki Island and the Intercoastal Canal and on the west and north by marsh. The western portion of the lake is littered with refuse left over from the dredging of canals in Meacomâ€™s ill fated Flamingo Island community, which was one of the first EPA closures â€“ spoilage of estuaries. More government BS! Other than the northwest shore, this area is dangerous for outboard motor lower units and except for a couple of channels, is avoided by fishermen.
In the early summer of 1979, my Uncle, George Alvin Pyland, Uncle Gus or Unkie, Dub Middleton, a friend, both now deceased and me, in my new seventeen foot Lamar, deep vee, with a eighty five horsepower outboard motor, were heading in after a morning of fishing around Swan Lake, east of the Galveston Causeway. We headed under the big bridges of the Galveston Causeway and I was preparing to turn east into the channel to the Pleasure Island Bait camp, when Dub said, â€œLook at those new channel markers going toward Tiki Island and Jones Lake.â€ We turned west into the new channel and began a little exploring. Unkie said he had fished Jones Lake once and remembered it being shallow. Dub said it was new to him, so we followed the new channel markers; bamboo poles with flags on them, stuck into the sandy bottom and cruised under the Tiki Island Bridge. Tiki Island, at the time, was a new bay home development, and has since grown into a large, up scale community.
Entering lower Jones Lake, we cut the motor down and slowly proceeded toward some low laying islands and reefs which run southeast to northwest and bisect the main section of the lake. Two of these islands had small, crude, fishing shacks built up on pilings, very basic accommodation, that would late be blown away in 1983, by Hurricane Alicia. The lake is not big, probably five square miles, not deep, probably five feet at its deepest, but the bottom, in 1979, was studded with live oyster reefs and clumps of grass. Now, most of the grass is gone but some live reefs still remain.
We headed toward the second island/reef, just about in the middle of the lake, and I said, â€œWeâ€™ve got some dead shrimp, letâ€™s try a few casts.â€ We started drifting in almost four feet of water, and my first cast would change my fishing tactics for the next twenty-six years. My popping cork hit the water and within a minute, the cork started moving to my right, against the tide, which was coming in and Unkie said, â€œItâ€™s a red, give him a second to get the bait in his mouth good. Now hit him hard.â€ Which I did, getting a good set on the small hook, and the red took off, almost spooling my Ambassadeur 5000C full of fifteen pound line. Dub started the boat and the chase was on. What a fight, long runs, swirls at the top of the water, head shaking, which was really the red trying to rub the hook out of its jaw on the bottom, and finally we got it to the side of the boat and it was too big for the landing net, so Unkie got a good hold behind its gills and heaved it aboard.
The redfish was 33 inches long and we estimated it weighed 15 pounds. That day we caught one more red 29 inches long and a couple of 22 inchers. This was all before a twenty to twenty-eight inch slot limit was set for reds.
The next afternoon found me again in Jones Lake, in my new boat, with a new, bigger landing net, and a new fishing companion, Jim Buck. We caught a nice mess of reds and trout and these first two trips insured that I was hooked on Jones Lake and that I had found a new, hot spot!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, February 18. 2007
During lunch hour one day in June of 1987, Dana Sawyer, R. E.â€œBubbaâ€ Broussard, and I, went â€œshoppingâ€ at Sporting Goods, Inc., which in 1987, was the best hunting and fishing store in the area. During this specific trip, I bought a new fishing rod for $19.95
The reader has met Dana before in "The Sunken Shrimp Boat". Bubba was a computer contractor and was the first customer I had met with when I returned to Houston in 1979. Layla was the second. On my first meeting with him, I happened to have a picture of the twelve-pound bass I caught in March of that year, which I promptly showed him. He responded by pulling out a picture of a six hundred pound Blue Marlin he had just caught. Our friendship was sealed and lasts till this day.The rod in question was inexpensive. So inexpensive that it didnâ€™t even have a name. But, its shaft extended all the way through to the end of the handle, it had a strong reel seat and trigger grip made of chromed steel, had a good reverse bend to it, had stainless steel eyes and it felt good to hold. It was six and a half foot long, with a medium to heavy action and I knew it would be just the right fit for my Ambassadeur 6500C, wide spool, reel, loaded with twenty-pound line. History would show that I had made a good buy.
I got to try the new rod out the next week, when Layla and I and Bubba and his wife went to Grand Isle, Louisiana, attempting to catch a Stripped Marlin. We caught everything but a Marlin. A hundred miles, yes a hundred miles out in a twenty-three foot, Formula with two, 455 cubic inch, engines and MercCruiser out-drives. A fifty-five MPH boat. We did have company, Jay Prudhome and his wife in Jayâ€™s new twenty-seven foot Proline, with two, two hundred horsepower sea drives. The seas were calm with no wind. We went fast!
After a less than three hour run, one hundred miles out, we pulled up to acres of floating Sargassum sea weed and with my first cast with my new rod, I had a strike from a Chicken Dolphin (small Dolphin weighing less than five pounds) and the fun started. We boated over one hundred that morning. The new rod was fine. I filleted all of those fish before supper that night. During our fishing we lost many fish to sharks! They were a nuisance.
Around noon, I had a big hit and immediately knew it wasnâ€™t a small dolphin. The fish was a great match for my new rod making a long run, it was too far offshore for a Kingfish, maybe a Wahoo, maybe a â€œbullâ€ Dolphin, but no jumps, getting it alongside the boat we saw it was a eight to ten pound Albacore Tuna being followed by a large, six foot, Bull Shark. Bubba grabbed for his .357 Magnum as the shark clipped off the Tunaâ€™s body right behind the head. The shark happily lolled on the surface long enough for Bubba to shoot it right in the middle of its head and, the last we saw of it, it was sinking. Revenge!
We slept in the next morning, and around 10:00 AM we headed out to some rigs to try and catch some really big Red Fish, thirty pounds and up. We randomly picked a rig, tied up to it, baited up and my new rod was bent double by a savage strike and a long, head shaking run â€“ a big, big â€“ Red! Fifteen minutes later we netted a thirty-five pound Red. He worked me, and my new rod out, but back into the water for him.
Not ten minutes later another savage strike, these fish mean business, and, after what seems like two hours, we boat and release a forty pound Red. My new rod did just fine. Mid morning in the middle of July, no breeze and the fish have really worked me and my new rod out, and, splash, cold, cold, splash, my lovely wife and my best friend have unceremoniously dumped an Igloo water cooler full of ice and cold, cold, water on my head to cool me off.
Layla now laughs about this, saying, â€œThis is the only time I ever saw you loose your temper.â€ Which I did. Being a lady, Layla doesnâ€™t approve of swearing, anyway I copied a page out of my Dadâ€™s cussing book and the â€œBlue Streakersâ€ started, and me trying to choke them both at once, and both of them laughing so hard, my temper cooled. They have never tried that again. Meeting Jay and his wife, we headed back out, one hundred miles, to our weed patch.
Fishing around our weed patch, we catch more chicken Dolphin and loose some fish to the sharks. We have a nice Dolphin on and up come a big Bull Shark and eats the Dolphin, lolls on the surface and we see the hole in its head where Bubba shot him yesterday. Incredible, the same shark and not dead! I guess he missed any vitals, if any happened to be up there.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 15:46 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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