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Thursday, September 18. 2014
On a fall morning, just at first light, I lowered the 22 footer into the canal behind our Bayou Vista home, headed down it and chugged, speed limit 5 MPH in the canals, into Highlands Bayou. Opening up the big, outboard I skimmed the back way into the Intercoastal Waterway. This was the same track Randy and I took several years earlier when he collided with a live, oyster reef and I did a flip.
Having a 11:00 AM meeting with customers, it would be a short trip this morning, but hopefully a productive one. My destination, with the tide coming in and a light southeast wind, was the sand flats and reefs that ran from Green’s Cut up to South Deer Island. The target was to find sea gulls (birds) working over feeding specks, the specks driving shrimp toward the surface and the birds gobbling up the shrimp the fish missed. Classic food chain stuff!
Armed with a 7-1/2 foot, popping, rod, 12 pound line spooled on a green reel, rigged with a popping cork over a live shrimp hooked through its horn with a small, treble hook, I was ready for action. The action wasn’t long in coming. Of all things, I noticed several shrimp hopping out of the water and casting right in front of them, bam a big strike.
The fish took off peeling line from the reel, not the circling fight of a 3 or 4 pound trout, not the weight of a big red, then the fish, a skipjack or ladyfish, (Bodianus rufus) cleared the water. They’re real hard fighters, jump a lot, but aren’t good table fare. Many times they will be feeding on shrimp, driving them to the surface where the ever hungry, birds will congregate over them. Landing the skipjack, I released it and continued my scouting for birds.
Two hundred yards away, several birds were sitting on the water, this is a likely sign of a school of fish that has that has cleaned up the shrimp in one area, or of one or two big fish randomly feeding. Pulling up to within 50 yards of the birds, the light wind and incoming tide soon pushed me within casting distance. Letting fly, when the cork and shrimp hit the water, it was one of those rare times when the cork kept going down, almost jerking the rod out of my hand. This was a good one!
Several trips around the boat, I slid the net under a 4 pound speck! Thinking to myself, I’ll keep this one for Layla’s and my supper tonight, then my 11:00 AM meeting flashed into my mind and by the time I motored back, cleaned the fish, hosed out the boat, showered and drove the 45 minutes to my meeting, I’d better be scooting.
My salesman and I made the meeting on time and closed a big deal. Mixing business and pleasure was neat and these quick fishing trips were a big advantage of living right on the water!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, May 18. 2014
On a spring morning, just at first light, I lowered the 22 footer into the canal behind our Bayou Vista home, headed down the canal and chugged, speed limit 5 MPH in the canals, into Highlands Bayou. Cranking up the big, outboard I finally skimmed the back way into the Intercoastal Waterway.
Having a 11:00 AM meeting with customers, this would be a short trip, but hopefully a productive one. My destination, with the tide coming in all morning, was the sand flats that ran from Green’s Cut up to South Deer Island. The target was to find sea gulls working over feeding specs, the specs driving shrimp toward the surface and the birds gobbling up the shrimp the fish missed. Classic food chain stuff!
Armed with a 7-1/2 foot, popping, rod, 12 pound line spooled on a green reel, rigged with a popping cork over a live shrimp hooked through its horn with a small, treble hook, I was ready for action. The action wasn’t long in coming. Of all things, I noticed several shrimp hopping out of the water and casting right in front of them, bam, a big strike.
The fish took off peeling line from the reel, not the circling fight of a 3 or 4 pound trout, not the head shaking, weight of a big red, then the fish, a skipjack or ladyfish, (Bodianus rufus) cleared the water. They’re real hard fighters, jump a lot, but aren’t good table fare. Many times they will be feeding on shrimp, driving them to the surface where the ever hungry, birds will congregate over them. No birds this time, so I landed the skipjack, guessing its weight at 3 pounds and tossed it back into the bay.
Two hundred yards away there was another good sign, several birds were sitting on the water, probably marking one or more good sized, fish, maybe even a school that was just getting together! Lowering the trolling motor, I slipped silently to within 40 yards of the birds, quickly baited up and let fly a cast toward the center of the area among the birds. The splash of the bait and cork hitting the water caused the birds to take flight just as my cork disappeared and I felt a big tug! Another run, more jumps, finally the rod and drag beat the fish, another skipjack, identical to the first that I landed, I unhooked it and tossed back in. Thinking to myself, This spot is full of skipjacks so I’ll just move down about a mile and try my luck.
Moving the mile down toward South Deer Island, just ahead, several birds, one hovering over the water, looked very interested toward the depths, cutting the motor I drifted up and let fly a cast beside the bird. When casting with the wind a little slack will undoubtedly get in your line and the gull took this slack line opportunity to quickly grab my shrimp. As it grabbed the shrimp, it immediately took off, wrapping the line around one wing and unceremoniously plopping back into the water. Reeling in the squawking sea gull, before lifting it into the boat, I grabbed a towel, swung the bird into the boat and, in almost 1 motion, covered its head and eyes.
Thank goodness, the gull wasn’t hooked just squawking, so I unwrapped the line from its wing, uncovered its head and flipped it back over the side, where it caught the wind and sped away. Looking at my watch, 8:30 so I’d better get back in.
No luck today, no fish to clean, just some throwbacks, but some good memories!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, April 6. 2011
Taking the 2, plus hour drive from southwest Houston down to the coast, we, my dad and Dub Middleton, met my uncle, G.A. â€œUnkieâ€ Pyland and his son George at the specified bait camp in Port Oâ€™Conner, Texas. It was still dark and weâ€™d have a 20, minute boat ride to our destination, a place Unkie called the fish trap.
With the tide coming in all morning, we cranked up our boats and headed down Matagorda Bay towards Pass Cavallo, the fish trap was located just north of the pass, with a small channel leading into a hundred acre lake, the trap. Arriving, we anchored the boats, jumped into the water and started casting, our lures of choice were silver spoons with a treble hook, with a pink attractor attached to the hook. Each of us was using a black, Ambassaduer reel, with a 7, foot, popping rod.
Bump, bump, â€œFish onâ€, I yelled out, as the rod bent with the strike, soon, not using a net, I grabbed the small red, not big enough to keep, behind the gills, unhooked and released it. First fish of the day, but soon we were all catching small reds and if weâ€™d kept them all, weâ€™d had a good mess! The small reds finally quit hitting and we remarked that funny, no big reds and no specs either.
After almost 2 hours of this fun, Dad, Dub and I told Unkie and George that we were going to try our hand in Espiritu Santo Bay and see if any birds were working, knowing that early April was a little bit soon for bird action. We pulled the anchor, and since Unkie and George were still fishing, we crept out of the fish trap and once in Matagorda Bay, headed north. Rather then going all the way back to Port Oâ€™Conner, we took a short cut into Espiritu Santo, a small pass that led into the east end of the bay.
Not 2 miles into the bay, we saw a bunch of birds hovering over the water, a sign that something had driven the shrimp to the surface. After changing to do nothing, slow sinking lures, we coasted up to within casting distance of the birds and Dub was the first to let fly and he immediately had a hard hit. What was it, spec, gafftop cat or lady fish, but circling the boat the fish soon identified itself as a nice trout and when we netted it, a 3 pounder.
Dad and I cast out below the birds and both had hard strikes that proved to be identical fish to Dubs. The birds would break up and 5 minutes later, here came the shrimp back up to the top, we could see them hopping about evading the specs below, but the birds would converge on the hapless shrimp and what the specs missed, the birds would get.
We stayed with this school of fish for almost 30 minutes and boxed a dozen then they quit. For a while we stayed around, but we noticed the tide had changed and was going out, probably the reasons for the fishâ€™s lockjaw. No more bird schools that day and we headed home around noon. It was a fun trip and we caught 12 nice specs, along with a lot of small reds.
The fish trap is no more because several years later a hurricane rearranged the coastal area around Pass Cavallo!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 07:54 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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