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Thursday, March 17. 2011
Catching a break in the usually rambunctious March weather, light wind and favorable seas, Norman Shelter and I launched my 18, foot, tri hull out of the marina in Freeport, Texas, made the short run out of the jetties and up the coast to our fishing spot. This was an unusual spot, less than 10 miles out in the Gulf, where remains of an old coral, or shell, reef still harbored fishable quantities of red snapper.
A friend had passed the location of this reef to me, but this was way before Loran and GPS, and weâ€™d have to â€œdead reckonâ€ our way to it. The reef was in less than 25 feet of water and our landmarks were, two oil rigs farther out in the Gulf and a big tower on shore. Of course, to specifically locate the reef, we had greased up a trusty window sash with 50 foot of line. When we arrived at the approximate location of the reef, we dropped the window sash down to the bottom and when we hauled it back up, if it came in with a mix of sand and shell on it, we could be reasonably sure that we were on the right spot.
Scrupulously following the directions, our first try for the reef was a success, the window sash came back with sand and shell on it so we anchored up. Our rigs were medium weight boat rods, light offshore reels spooled with 30 pound, line and double drop, bottom rigs, with a small weight. We baited up with dead shrimp, cast out our rigs and it wasnâ€™t long before I felt the angry grab of a fish!
The fish was overmatched against my tackle, but fought gamely until Norman netted it and I deposited the 18, inch, gulf trout into the cooler. These are good table fish with firm flesh, unlike the sand trout that can get mushy if not cleaned quickly. By the time I had rebaited, Norman was fast into an unknown fish that turned out to be another 18, inch gulf trout. Snapper had been on our menu, but weâ€™d take a mess of gulf trout too.
We boxed 4 more of the metallic looking, gulf trout, then we let out 25 more feet of anchor line, let our window sash down and were rewarded with more sand and shell, we were still on the structure. Casting out, before the bait had reached the bottom, Norman and I both had solid strikes and reeled in 2, 12 inch, red snapper. Into the cooler with them, we baited up, cast out and were rewarded with 2 more strikes and boxed 2 more snapper. We kept this up for 15 minutes and had boxed at least 20 snapper, when I had a big strike and the fish took off for Mexico!
This wasnâ€™t a small snapper, but something with a lot of pull that turned out to be a good sized kingfish. Sorry to say when Norman tried to gaff it, he knocked the king off the hook and we didnâ€™t land it. This was a very early kingfish, the bigger ones come in early to spawn and then move farther out into the Gulf.
We caught 2 more snapper and Norman had a nice fish on when, whoosh, up came a 4 foot, shark and robbed the fish off his line. My rod was bent with another fish, when the line went slack and I reeled in a snapper head, sans body, a victim of another shark. We rebaited, cast out and had 2 more strikes, good snapper that were cut off by the sharks and I said to Norman, â€œTime for us to go back in!â€
We upped the anchor and headed back. This wasnâ€™t a bad day, a box full of good eatinâ€™ fish, we lost another nice one, but then the sharks showed up! Maybe we should have tried to catch one of them? Back then we wouldnâ€™t eat a shark, but now, if properly prepared, bull and black tip sharks are quite tasty.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, May 4. 2009
One hundred miles out, after a fast, less than three hour run, over a glassy Gulf of Mexico, we, Bob Baugh and his ex-wife and Layla and I, pulled up to acres of floating Sargassum sea weed and my first cast produced a strike by a chicken dolphin (small dolphin weighing less than five pounds) and the fun started.Â We boated over a hundred that morning, despite losing many to the numerous sharks.
Around noon, I had a big hit and immediately knew it wasnâ€™t another small dolphin.Â The fish was a great match for my medium weight tackle and after it made a long run with no jumps, we couldnâ€™t even guess what kind of fish it was.Â It was too far offshore for a kingfish, maybe it was a wahoo, maybe a â€œbullâ€ dolphin, but they will usually jump like crazy?
After a real â€˜rasslin match I got the fish closer to the boat we saw that it was a good size, albacore tuna, twelve to fifteen pounds, but it was being closely followed by a large, at least, six, foot, bull shark.Â As the shark clipped off the tunaâ€™s body right behind the head, Bob grabbed for his .357 magnum pistol.Â The shark happily lolled on the surface just long enough for Bob to shoot it right in the middle of its head.Â And, the last we saw of it, it was slowly sinking.
The next morning, after a stop at some close in oil rigs and several spirited bouts with some bruiser, forty to fifty pound red fish, we headed back over a glassy Gulf, out to our weed island, a hundred miles out.Â Fishing around the weed patch, we caught more chicken dolphin and lost more to the sharks.Â Layla had a nice dolphin on and, right beside the boat, up came a big bull shark and ate the dolphin.Â The shark lolled on the surface and Bob grabbed his .357 and reboomed it.Â As it slowly sank, we noticed a second hole in its head where Bob had shot it yesterday. Â
I guess both shots missed any vitals, if any happened to be up there?
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | 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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