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Tuesday, May 22. 2007
In the spring of 1966, severe floods over the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers and the head waters of Buffalo Bayou had flushed out Galveston Bay. The bay water was fresh and muddy and almost all of the bait fish had left and taken up residence at the jetties and along the beach front, quickly followed by the Trout, Red Fish and Flounders. This presented a real opportunity to catch some fish.
Four of the Igloo full of Specs we caught.This particular day, Wednesday, May 3, 1966, my Dad, being retired, and I, had decided to sneak off early in the morning, fish our South Jetty spot and be back in town by 10:00 AM so I could make some afternoon appointments.
We bought one quart of shrimp and put it in the internal bait well on the new, 16ft Falcon, then put the boat in at Bobby Wilsonâ€™s Bait Camp and sped at thirty-five miles per hour around the East Beach Flats, no more wading for us (only if it is too rough to get around the end of the South Jetty). No problem today since the wind was blowing lightly out of the north- east.
Just after sunrise we motored up and slipped up close to the Jetty, quietly dropping the anchor and letting out line. The anchor caught and we looked up and down the jetty, we were the only boat out. We ended up thirty-five or forty feet from the rocks, in ten feet of water. The depth dropped from zero to ten feet in forty feet! The tide was flowing to our left toward the beach. It is funny that when the tide is flowing out of the channel you get a reverse effect on the Gulf side of both jetties. Bait fish were crowded against the rocks. We knew the Trout were here.
Daddy had a new, red Ambassadeur 5000 reel with fifteen pound line, mounted on a six and a half foot fiberglass â€œpoppingâ€ rod. Just the right tackle. I was armed with a Mitchell 300 spinning reel, ten pound line and a semi-stiff, six and a half foot spinning rod. Ok unless I pick up a big Red or Jackfish. We were free shrimping with a BB size split shot attached about ten inches above a small, treble hook. Trout poison! For the record we had two coolers, a foam one for food and drinks and a new forty-eight quart Igloo for the fish. Funny thing, at that time, Igloo was one of my customers.
We baited up and cast toward the rocks, dragging the shrimp slowly along the drop off and whamo, whamo, we are both into two very nice fish. We began the â€œJetty Shuffleâ€, which is circling around the boat, passing rods under each other to prevent tangling, all while keeping pressure on the fish. We netted both fish in the same landing net, removed the hooks and placed them in the new forty-eight quart Igloo cooler. The fish were identical, twenty-six inches long with their tails curling up the side of the cooler. We shook hands, baited up and cast out and whamo, whamo, two more nice fish! We repeated this over and over until we had the new, forty-eight quart Igloo cooler full to the top with a minimum of ice left in it. Twenty-nine Specsâ€™, all twenty-six or twenty-seven inches long, almost two hundred pounds of fish. All of this in less than two hours!
Looking up, I see Wes Thomas, another â€jetty proâ€, and one of my old college and baseball playing buddies, pulling up slowly outside of us. I yelled across the water, â€œWes, our cooler is full so let me pull up the anchor and you all ease in here and you can catch some fish.â€
I saw in the next days Houston Chronicle that Bob Brister, the OutdoorEditor, wrote that the â€œjetty prosâ€ hammered the trout at the NORTH Jetty. Funny, I guess he really could keep a secret.
Just gutting the fish, we got back to Houston well before 10:00 AM and sold most of the fish for over $100. My afternoon appointments were no problem.
My â€œspecialâ€ spot is still there and still a fish haven, less than a mile in from the end of the Gulf side of Galvestonâ€™s South Jetty. I have caught a whole lot of fish in my life from Florida, to the Gulf of California, to Hawaii, but no day equals the quantity and size, or the fast, furious action that Daddy and I had on May 3, 1966.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, May 4. 2007
â€œDave, Iâ€™m hung upâ€ I exclaimed. Dave Miller stopped the slow troll to try and recover the new white Bomber, deep running bass plug, which cost $1.49, from the bottom of Lake Houston. My Dad said, â€œDamn boy, are you fouled up already!â€
We, my Dad, Dave Miller, a close friend and one of our neighbors in West University, had just begun trolling for some of the â€œbigâ€ bass in the three year old Lake Houston. At the time, in the early spring of 1953, the lake was over twenty miles northeast of Houston. Now it is in the city limits surrounded by Kingwood on the north and Atascocita on the south.
As the boat coasted to a stop, something strange happened, the log I hooked up with sped to the surface and cleared the water revealing a beautiful, large bass. Being seventeen at the time, I began to receive serious coaching from Dave and my Dad, each offering suggestions as to the best way to get the â€œmonsterâ€ in the boat.
After several more jumps we netted the bass. Grabbing the bassâ€™s lip was unheard of then. Fumbling in his tackle box, my Dad found a hand held scale, one of the new Zebco models. Hooking the bassâ€™s lip we found it weighed four pounds and twelve ounces.
Wow! Into the metal ice chest it went. This was several years before Igloo coolers were developed. We continued fishing, for another hour catching several small, keeper, bass, and into the cooler they went too.
Leaving Lake Houston, it was over an hourâ€™s drive to our home in West University in southwest Houston. Arriving home neighbors and friends were called and invited over to see â€œthe catchâ€, a new family record. I was pleased, excited and, to say the least, hooked on fishing for life. Pictures were taken, congratulations given and accepted and the fish was then scaled, gutted and cut up for dinner the next night.
Remember, all of this was before the time we lipped the bass to bring him in the boat. Before the time we released any bass caught; before the time of Florida strain bass in Texas, before the time we had learned to fillet a fish, before the time of digital cameras to record the catch, before the time of Freeways in Houston, before the time of cell phones to alert everyone of the return of the fishermen. So many changes, to numerous to mention, but the thrill of catching â€œthe big bassâ€ still remains!
However, even with all the freeways, Lake Houston to West University is still over an hours drive.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:15 | Comment (1) | 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)
Wednesday, February 14. 2007
The summer of 1957 found the fishing still good for small to medium trout around Galveston Islandâ€™s East Beach Flats and it also found me boatless, still in college and awaiting a six week stint at ROTC Camp at Ft. Hood. We had been hearing stories about the great fishing behind Earl Galceranâ€™s camp and the old Coast Guard Station at the far west end of Galveston Island. How do we get to it?
Earlâ€™s camp was really several thousand acres leased for Dove, Quail and Duck hunting, plus it had access to some of the best Trout water in the state. No bait used here, only Dixie Jet silver spoons with a yellow buck tail attached. Like the Rockport and Port Oâ€™Conner area today, grass grew in abundance and the pot-holes in the grass reminded me of holes in the moss in fresh water lakes. How do we get to it?One of my ROTC buddies, a newly commissioned Second Lieutenant in the United States Army, Ralph Foster, an avid, avid fisherman, had the idea that since we couldnâ€™t sneak into the area, why didnâ€™t he and I go ask Earl Galceran, already a fishing legend, if we could fish behind his place. We could sight our lack of funds, honesty and Ralphâ€™s newly commissioned status as reasons we could be trusted not to do any damage to his property or equipment. Or, we could just go down there and act like members and wave and smile and just wade out and start fishing. We choose the latter approach, correctly thinking, â€œAlways beg for forgiveness and never ask for permission.â€ We would plead ignorance of the private property and say we were just following the road to West Galveston Bay.
Arriving at the open gate to Earl Galceranâ€™s we drove to a parking area, parked, grabbed our rods, and stringers and headed for the bay. Out came Earl Galceran, we smiled and waved, he smiled and waved and went back into his trailer. Whew! We must have looked like members.
Reaching the edge of the bay, a light Southeast wind blowing at our backs, as we looked out over Trout paradise, a slight ripple on green, clear water with grass growing and swirling right up to the surface. No hesitation now, in I go and find a hard sand/shell bottom and I canâ€™t believe the grass. On my first cast, the spoon lands silently past a three foot hole in the moss and I begin a rapid retrieve and whamo, a three pound Trout nails the spoon and the fight is on! When a big trout hits, you know it, a jarring, pounding, rod bending hit, not the sideways, slow hit of a big Red picking up a shrimp. Landing the Trout bare handed, getting a firm grip behind its gills, I slid him on the stringer and looked over at Ralph who was in the middle of a fight with a nice fish also.
â€œThis is some place,â€ I exclaimed, sailing another cast past a likely looking hole in the grass, and getting another whamo! The hook pulled out, no fish. What I didnâ€™t know then, but have since learned, the Trout lurk in the grass beside the holes and ambush baitfish as they swim through the open area. Another cast, another jarring hit, and this oneâ€™s hooked solid and Iâ€™m soon stringing another three pounder. Several casts catch grass and before you know it, whamo, another fine fish soon to be on my stringer.
Thirty minutes of fishing, wonderful conditions, bait in the water, trout all around and three solid three pounders on the stringer. What a day this will be!
Wait a minute, my stringer is caught on something. That something hits my leg. That something is a shark! â€œShark,â€ I yell, stepping back and looking down at my stringer, which is tied, not looped, onto a belt loop of my jeans. Another lesson learned, â€œNever tie, always loop.â€ Two bites and the shark, a four foot plus Black Tip, clips off the last two Trout on my stringer, swirls around me, brushing my leg again, and comes up to the surface and grabs the last Trout, all of this right by my right hand which is futilely trying to pull the fish away from the shark.
I hear Ralph laughing. I donâ€™t think this is funny at all. Iâ€™m left with three trout heads on my stringer, heart racing and heâ€™s laughing. I guess Earl Galceran kept these sharks around as pets to feed on his â€œguestâ€™sâ€ fish. I quickly got out of the water and sat on the bank for thirty or forty minutes cooling off and by that time Ralph, still laughing, came out of the water with five nice trout on his stringer. He said â€œYou ready to call it a day.â€ I didnâ€™t reply, just turned around and started back to the car.
I went back to this place by boat in 1970. A big chemical plant had been built in the mid â€˜60â€™s, on one of the feeder bayous that feeds into Lower West Galveston Bay above Earlâ€™s old place and the grass went away. Trout fishing changed in Lower West Bay to anchoring on reefs, fishing under the birds or drifting. Earl Galceran moved to a house boat set up in the Chandleur Islands off of the Louisiana/Mississippi coasts. From what I have heard, he took his sharks with him.
My buddy, Ralph Foster, went on active duty at Ft. Hood as a Platoon Leader in a basic training company. One of his recruits was Elvis Pressley.
Continue reading "A More Closer Encounter"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 14:53 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, January 30. 2007
During the spring of 1981, by accident, Dana Sawyer and I â€œfoundâ€ a boat, probably a shrimper, that was sunk right off of the Galveston Ship Channel in fifteen feet of water, two hundred yards north of the old concrete ship. For some reason, whenever we caught the tide coming in and the wind and currents not too strong, we consistently caught fish, Speckled Trout and Red Fish, at this spot.
We had been drifting the flats north of the old Quarantine Station, on the west side of the ship Channel, with the depth recorder on, and noticed we had drifted out too far toward the Ship Channel and into deep water, when a â€œhumpâ€ appeared on our chart paper. This got our interest so we criss-crossed the hump several times and determined it was a wrecked boat about the size of a shrimp boat. This was before the days of GPSâ€™, and Dana didn't have a Loran, so we had no way of marking the spot other than triangulating on the old concrete ship, a channel marker and an oil rig.
We anchored over the wreck, baited up and let our rigs down to the bottom. Dana was right into a nice fish, but I was hung up on something. I had caught the wreck and in loosening up my hook brought up a small piece of wood. I netted Danaâ€™s fish, a nice Red, got my rig baited up and preceded to land a two pound trout.
We were on to something and for the next two years â€œThe Wreckâ€ was a fish producer for us and only a twenty minute boat ride from Danaâ€™s Camp! One memorable trip to â€œThe Wreckâ€ was during the summer of 1982. Alvin Pyland, my Uncle Gus, Dave Miller, a close friend, and I had spent the morning fishing the Gulf side of the South Jetty. As usual we had an enjoyable trip and a large Igloo Cooler over half full of fish.
The tide had been going out pushing baitfish around the end of the jetty and back toward the beachfront and we had caught Trout, Reds, Spanish Mackerel and even a Cobia. When the tide changed and started going in I suggested we try â€œThe Wreckâ€. Neither of my companions had ever fished it and didnâ€™t even know it was there. They had good success during the fall fishing for Reds almost directly across from â€œThe Wreckâ€ in ten feet of water on a shelf on the east side of the Ship Channel.
We pulled up my twenty foot Cobia, deep vee, in the vicinity of â€œThe Wreckâ€, and with the depth finder began our triangulating. Soon we were anchored over it and had our baits in the water, when â€œWhamâ€, Uncle Gus has a big hit from, obviously, a Red, a real nice one judging from the bend in his rod, and another, â€œWhamâ€ Dave has a big strike on his spinning outfit, and â€œWhamoâ€ I have a big hit from something. Wham, Wham, Wham, three almost simultaneous heavy strikes!
The fight is on! My fish, a three pound Trout, comes to the boat first, and Uncle Gus netsÂ it while still fighting his. Dave is locked in a line loosing struggle with something big and asks me â€œJon, start us up and get our anchor up. I canâ€™t stop this thing.â€
I have a dilemma, Daveâ€™s fish shows no signs of tiring and is heading north with the tide and Uncle Gusâ€™s fish is heading east toward the deep water of the ship channel. I split the difference and head at a forty-five degree angle between the fish.
Soon Uncle Gusâ€™s fish, an over thirty inch Red is alongside the boat and we net it, get the hook out and release it. Reds now had a twenty to twenty-eight inch slot and this one was too big. Dave is still struggling with his fish, which he thinks is either a record Red or maybe a large, Black Drum. I follow the fish and get the boat up beside it and we see it is a large, over twenty pound, Jackfish. â€œRecord Red, huh, haw, haw, haw,â€ we both laugh as I get the net ready. One more short run and the Jack is ours.
We get the hook out and release it. Jackfish are great fighters, more like sluggers, but have no food value. We find ourselves over three hundred yards from â€œThe Wreckâ€ and both of my guests say â€œWhy donâ€™t we go back and anchor up?â€ I comply.
Fishing â€The Wreckâ€ was a nice interlude, but a short one. Hurricane Alicia hit Galveston Island during the summer of 1983, the strong currents washing our favorite spot away forever!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 14:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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