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Thursday, May 23. 2013
In early May of 1968, my dad and I took off work early one afternoon and towed the boat down to Galveston Island, bought a quart of shrimp for $4.00, launched it and headed out into west bay on the east side of the causeway. Our objective for the day was to find a school of birds, sea gulls, working over shrimp that the speckled trout were driving towards the surface. Today weâ€™d be using live shrimp and our tackle was 6-1/2 foot popping rods, Dad had a red reel and I had a direct drive model, both spooled with 15, pound line, popping corks, a 2 to 3 foot leader with small treble hooks.
We headed out to the Intercoastal Waterway where the channels split, turned right along the Pelican Island channel, cut the motor down and started looking. Not 400 yards ahead, there was a big bird school and with no other boats in sight, weâ€™d have this one to ourselves. Positioning our boat down wind from the birds, we drifted up and at 40 yards, made our first casts. Dad sailed his cast right in front of the birds and before he could turn the reel handle had a big strike and me, trying to hard to make a long cast, had a wonderful backlash!
While I picked at the backlash, Dad was in a big fight with the spec that later proved just under 5 pounds, but soon he wore it down and as I slid the net under it, Dad unhooked it and put it in the cooler, rebaited and cast back out. Finally proving victorious over the backlash, I cast out and we both had big strikes, good fish that circled us around the boat, wallowed on top and we finally tired out both specs and netted the almost 5 pounders. Having only one net on board, I netted my dadâ€™s fish, then he netted mine and, while we were wasting precious fishing time with this school of big trout, it fell to me to untangle the mess.
Untangling us, we baited up and cast out, had simultaneous strikes, 2 more nice fish, but mine slipped the hook and Dad brought his spec in, I netted it and added another to the box. Baiting up and casting out, Dad was immediately into another nice spec, while I had the Mother of all backlashes. This one shut down my fishing for the afternoon, Dad added 2 more almost 5 pounders giving us a total of 6, almost 30 pounds of speckled trout!
The birds finally dissipated, Dad cast out several times with no strikes, so we drifted for almost 15 minutes hoping the specs would gather back up, they didnâ€™t, so we headed back in, filleted the fish and drove back to our southwest Houston homes, all the while me thinking, Iâ€™ll have to get me one of those smooth casting, red reels.
The next day I stopped by Oshmanâ€™s and picked me up a brand spankinâ€™ new red reel!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, April 18. 2013
My barber, Joe Riley, kept telling me about this great fishing place where he always caught (according to him) a bunch of fish. A trip was set up and we met at his Sugar Land, Texas home, we drove on down to the San Barnard River, actually where the Barnard crosses the Intercoastal Waterway. We were going to fish in a new spot for me, a place Joe called The Tripod, he said it was a good spot and we wouldnâ€™t be troubled with other folks fishing there.
From the bait camp we bought live shrimp, ice, drinks, snacks and launched my boat for the 2 mile run, west on the Intercoastal, there we would turn into a little cut, not 50 yards wide, that opened up in a small, shallow bay. In the middle of the bay, I found out a few minutes later, was a gas well with a tripod shaped sign, hence, The Tripod.
As we entered the cut, Joe guided me to the left where he quietly slipped the anchor into the shallow, barely 3 foot, water. The tide was coming in toward us, bringing in green, fishy looking, water and, just perfect, the wind was at out backs, making casting easy! Cast toward the left of the cut and, keeping the line tight, let the current drift our rigs back over the fishing area, a reef along the left side. Today weâ€™d be using standard popping gear, 6-1/2 foot rods, 15, pound line wrapped on red reels and a popping cork, but today was a little different, instead of using a 3 foot leaders under the corks, our leader was only 15 or 18 inches and no popping either.
Getting the feel of this new style of fishing, I cast out and began the drift with no results, but Joe, having cast out before me, was fast into a nice something that was stripping line from his reel. That something turned out to be a 3, pound redfish that I netted, Joe took out the hook and boxed it, remarking, â€œI didnâ€™t tell you the secret. When your cork stops and acts hung up, set the hook because a fish has just picked up the shrimp.â€
The secret being out, my next cast scored, the cork stopped, I set the hook and was into something that was splashing at the surface, probably a trout that turned out to be barely a keeper, 14, inches then. Swinging the trout into the boat, I grabbed it, took out the hook and boxed it too. We kept catching small trout and Joe mentioned, â€œOver the years Iâ€™ve fished here a lot, but never have caught a trout over 2 pounds and often, Iâ€™ve wondered why?â€ Having fished the same spot for almost 5 years, we never caught a big trout there either!
Later in the morning I cast out, drifted my shrimp above the reef, my cork stopped and I reared back, setting the hook and the fish took off, stripping line off the reel. After a grudging fight, Joe slipped the net under a big flounder that on my hand held scale was just over 4 pounds, a new record for flatfish for me! This was a real bonus, a big flounder that would be delicious baked. For me, this spot turned out to be a flounder haven where I boxed several that were over 8 pounds, whoppers! We ended the day with 32 fish in the cooler, flounder, reds and specs! Not bad for a new to me spot and I certainly would come back.
Over the years we had some excellent catches from The Tripod, but moving away and on our trips back I never had time to try it out, but after I returned to Houston, one afternoon, with the tide coming in Mac Windsor and I decided to check it out. Motoring west of the San Bernard River on the â€œIntercoastalâ€ we started looking to our left for the channel leading to The Tripod. Not there and no Tripod either. We came about and began searching back toward the river and it was still not there.
Motoring all the way to Karancuha Bay, 5 or 6 miles, still no channel. All we saw was a spot on the south side of the Intercoastal where it was extra wide. We came about again and motored to the bait camp where the river and Intercoastal crossed and asked the owner, â€œWhereâ€™s that little cut, that channel leading back to the gas rig, The Tripod?â€ â€œNot there,â€ he answered. â€œA while back, that gas well blew up and rearranged everything. We call it the Blow Out Hole now. Good fishing in the winter!â€
Now I found out why we never saw another boat there!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 09:41 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, May 15. 2011
Getting a fast start on the birdinâ€™ season on West Galveston Bay, in mid May, Dad and I arrived at the foot of the Galveston Causeway and drove on to Pleasure Island Bait Camp, bought us some live shrimp, launched the boat, sped over to around Virginia Point and started looking for birds. With a good tide coming in all morning, both of us knew, or so we thought, that the fish and shrimp schools would collide along the Intercoastal Waterway, between Pelican Island and the causeway.
Just what is birdinâ€™ season you may ask? Along the Texas coast, sometime during May, depending on the water temperature, brown shrimp migrate back into the bays. Game fish, namely speckled trout attack these schools of shrimp, the feeding activity pushes the shrimp to the surface and the ever vigilant, sea gulls, always looking for an easy meal, congregate in mass to gorge on the feast, hence birdinâ€™ season. Back in the â€˜60â€™s, the trout in these early schools would be anywhere from 2 to 6, pounds, a 6-1/2 is my personal best.
For this foray we armed ourselves with 6-1/2 foot, popping rods, with red reels, loaded with 15 pound line and under the popping cork had a 3/8 ounce weight, a 2-3 foot leader with a number 8, treble hook knotted on, real trout poison. We slowly, cruised the bay in a big circle for over 2 hours and were quickly loosing interest, we hadnâ€™t even baited up yet, then near a channel marker we spied a group of birds hovering over the water and no other fishing boats were in sight!
With the slight wind behind us, we carefully putted in position to drift close to the birds and when about 100 foot upwind, baited up and unleashed our casts that were met by 2 big strikes, nice fish! The fish circled the boat forcing us into â€œThe West Bay Shuffleâ€, around the boat once, the drag and rod pressure finally tired the specs, nice 4 pounders that we netted and slid into the cooler.
More casts into the milling horde of gulls, itâ€™s a wonder we didnâ€™t foul hook one and my dad was into another nice trout, but my cast was met with a big strike, never getting the hook set, I reeled in and helped him with his fish, a mirror image of the first 2. We stayed with this school of trout/shrimp/birds for 45 or more minutes, the birds broke up once, but 10 minutes later, got back on the fish/shrimp and the action picked up once again. We ended this trip with 17 nice, speckled trout, 2-4 pounds, a good haul!
For years, whenever I passed by this channel marker, I remembered my birdinâ€™ season kickoff and looked closely to see if any birds were hovering over the water, waiting for the shrimp to pop up!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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