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Tuesday, August 20. 2013
Going out this morning in August of 1968, we knew that weâ€™d be sweaty when we came in. Hoping weâ€™d be sweaty from catching speckled trout, but August is probably the hottest month along the upper Texas coast with the water in the shallow bays, East and West Galveston Bay and Christmas Bay, heating up to the mid eighties this caused the big trout to seek cooler water.
The cooler water we were heading out to this morning was along the Houston Ship Channel. The channel was begun in 1875 and not really completed until 1914. In the late 1990â€™s and early 2000â€™s it was widened to over 500 feet, with a depth of 45. The weather forecast was a good one, light winds, tides coming in, with scattered thunder storms, in the afternoon. Our plan was to finish up by lunch, so we didnâ€™t anticipate any bad weather or problems.
We, my dad and uncle, Alvin Pyland, better known as Unkie, launched at the bait camp at San Leon and made the short run out to the ship channel. We were in my 17, foot deep vee, a really good big bay boat. Crossing over the Ship Channel we went about two hundred feet past it, then started our drift.
Our tackle was 6-1/2 foot popping rods, red, reels filled with 15 pound, mono line. We used a popping cork with a three-foot, leader, enough weight to keep the cork upright and a small treble hook. Our bait was live shrimp. Weâ€™d cast out, pop the cork, reel up the slack, repeat the process until we either had a strike or we retrieved the rig back to the boat, then, if no hit, cast back out and repeated the process.
Unkie and Dad cast out and hadnâ€™t made one or two â€œpopsâ€ when they had big strikes, both fish were good ones, taking line and circling the boat, a sure sign of a big trout! Netting Unkies fish first, a real nice 5 pounder, my dadâ€™s fish put on a show around the boat for us and we could see that is was a little bigger than Unkies.
Finally I cast out, popped the cork once and â€œbamâ€ had a big strike. A twenty-yard, first run, highlighted this fight, along with two circles of the boat, with a lot of wallows on top before Dad slipped the net under the speck, a twin of his.
We were probably fifteen miles up from the Galveston Jetties, the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel and in the distance, south of us the morningâ€™s first big tanker was heading our way. My dad said, â€œBoy, youâ€™ve never seen the wake these big ships throw up, have you?â€ â€œWhat wakes?â€ was my answer. Unkie chimed in, â€œSix or seven footers, thatâ€™s what and weâ€™d better get everything in the boat squared away!â€ This got my attention quick. We quit fishing and knowing that if youâ€™re in heavy seas, you head into them and donâ€™t get caught broad side, I started the engine and here the came the wake.
Looking at the wake, it came toward us, obliquely, in a long line, soon it was only fifty feet from us then, here it was! The deep vee in my boatâ€™s hull cut smoothly through the 7, foot wake, then rode up and down it. It would have swamped us if weâ€™d been broadside to it!
Going back to catching specks, before the tide changed we put a dozen more 5 to 6 pounders into the cooler. We experienced three more big wakes, but got back to the launch ramp before noon and missed the forecasted thunderstorms.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 14:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, August 29. 2011
During the summer of 1954, speckled trout fishing had been excellent along the broad sand flats from Galvestonâ€™s East Beach Lagoon around to the base of the South Jetties, a curving distance of approximately two miles that was protected from any wind except north or northeast. This area, at the far eastern tip of Galveston Island and the western side of Bolivar Channel, between the Island and Bolivar Peninsula, is also the mouth of the Galveston and Houston Ship Channels. It was good fishing and just plain fun to go down there and watch the ships and the girls.
The week before this dayâ€™s events, my cousin and fishing buddy, George Pyland, and I had made a killinâ€™ on school trout on the north side of the flats. The fish were everywhere, plugs or live shrimp, even a bare hook. We spread the news among our fishing group and everyone eagerly awaited a break in the weather.
The break in the weather came the following Saturday morning when another fishing buddy, Bobby Baldwin, called saying, â€œFishing look good around the flats this afternoonâ€. My reply, totally unacceptable to him was, â€œI canâ€™t go fishing this afternoon because I have a dateâ€. His girl friend, out of town for the weekend, didnâ€™t like fishing anyway, so he was free all day and tonight. However, my girl friend was game for anything, she wasnâ€™t a fisherman (back then gender wasnâ€™t a problem), but liked to wade out and watch us fish. After tempting me with, â€œIâ€™ll buy the gasâ€, all of $.18 a gallon, I called my girl and told her of the change in plans and she reluctantly agreed to go with us.
The tide was running in and the wind was light as we bought shrimp at Bobby Wilsonâ€™s East Beach Bait Camp and headed for the flats. Bobby, to my right, and I were about 30 feet apart and girl friend was behind me, my stringer floating off to my left with the breeze and incoming tide as we waded out about 75 yards into waist deep water. The fish were there and we started catching some nice specs, up to two pounds, that we strung on my stringer, still floating away from us.
With 7 or 8 specs already caught, my cork went under and as I set the hook I remarked, â€œHey, this is a real nice fish probably a big redâ€. My companions watched intently as I struggled to keep the line tight as the fish bored towards me. Ten feet in front of me a beautiful five foot long, black tip shark cleared the water, mouth open, the teeth getting my attention and hit the water, splashing some on me. My question was, what do you do when a big shark hits your speckled trout outfit, then runs 15 yards towards you, and all the while I was thinking that it was a big red, until it jumped out of the water in front of me and then stripped off all of my line?
The shark headed off to my right towards where I thought Bobby was located, but my valiant fishing partner and girl friend had already halved the distance to shore, leaving me alone to battle this denizen. Not much of a battle, 15 pound braided line on a Shakespeare Direct Drive reel and a fiber glass popping rod, all being no match for an 80 pound shark. The line was tied on the spool of the reel and popped as the shark stripped it, then I headed straight for the shore where my stalwart friends were awaiting me.
That area, the East Beach Flats including Bobby Wilsonâ€™s Bait Camp no longer exists. Natural erosion assisted by a small hurricane that came up the channel in the mid 70â€™s, complete with north and northwest winds, changed the landscape, eliminating one good fishing spot.
At least the shark didnâ€™t get the fish on my stringer, but my girl friend never went wade fishing with me again.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, June 19. 2011
Back when I was in college, between studying and work, my fishing time and trips were limited, but this particular Saturday in mid June, my dad, Dub Middleton and I were cruising along the Houston Ship Channel, out in the middle of Galveston Bay, hoping to spot a flock of sea gulls hovering and splashing down into the water, a sure sign of speckled trout feeding on shrimp. The specs push the shrimp toward the surface, the birds spot the shrimp dimpling the water and sweep in to pick up an easy meal and us fishermen, then cast into the feeding frenzy and tie into some monster specs. Easy fishing if you can find the birds!
All of us saw this cabin cruiser wallowing along the ship channel, we hadnâ€™t found any birds so far that morning, but we saw what looked like a flock hitting the water behind the far off boat. Full speed ahead, we rushed toward the birds, and to our surprise, they were working right behind the cruiser and the occupants were thrashing the water with cane poles. Funniest thing we ever saw, but we assumed they were fishing?
We didnâ€™t see them catching any fish, so casting among the birds we tied into three nice ones. After several waltzes around Dubâ€™s boat, we iced them down, at least two pounders. The folks fishing on the big boat never said a word to us, if itâ€™d been me, I wouldâ€™ve tried to run us off! Casting back out, more strikes, until we boated eighteen, nice specs, almost filling our cooler!
This old picture shows the dayâ€™s catch of specs and is one of the first ever taken of fish we had caught.
With a good mess of fish, we moved on, the cruiser people were still thrashing away, fishing I guessed, but I never saw them catch a fish!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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