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Friday, July 25. 2014
Being in college, this was way before the time we even thought about owning a boat, in fact, fishing boats back then, were few and far between. Our choices were wading, renting a skiff, but we didn’t even have an outboard motor, or rock hopping on the Galveston Jetties. The following is a story about one of the rock hopping days.
It was a beautiful summer day on the beach in Galveston, the girls out in force with their 1950’s, “skimpy” bathing suits, nothing like now a days Bikinis, light wind from the southeast and no waves crashing on or over Galveston’s South Jetty. However, this trip, Bobby Baldwin and I didn’t have eyes for the girls, but we had walked out the concrete walkway then, holding on to our rod and reels and carrying our live shrimp in a bait bucket along with one tackle box, literally climbed out on the slick, rocks of the jetty, ending up a hundred yards past the topping.
This was to be our fishing spot and our target for the morning would be speckled trout. Both of us were armed with six foot, popping rods, direct drive reels spooled with fifteen pound braided line, both reels having the luxury of a star drag system and later in the morning, mine would be tested severely! We were both using popping corks with a two to three foot, leader, the bait of choice was live shrimp. We’d cast along the rocks and slowly reel in while popping the corks, the pop simulating the sound a trout makes while feeding on the surface, hopefully attracting other fish to the shrimp.
Casting our baits out, it was no time until both corks went under, setting the hooks, mine came back hookless, but Bobby was fast into a Spanish mackerel and obviously, my leader was cut by another’s sharp teeth! Swinging his mackerel up on to the rocks, in our haste to get to fishing, we both remembered we’d left the net in the car, so for the morning we practiced swing and catch the fish. This proved much easier said then done, since a three, pound trout doesn’t swing very good, let alone they’re slimy and hard to hold on to!
Threading the mackerel on to the stringer, it dawned on us there was no place to tie it off, our choices being a cleft between two of the massive stones used to construct the jetty, or loop it around the tackle box that was wedged in securely, we chose the tackle box. Wouldn’t you know it, after I rehooked and cast out, I had a big strike, with the fish wallowing and splashing on the surface, quickly identifying it as a big trout, I tried my best to land it, but as I swung it up out of the water, it didn’t swing very good, the hook dislodged and, plop, back into the deep with it. Smaller trout, along with the occasional mackerel, were no problem, but how do you tell a big fish not to eat your shrimp?
We’d caught maybe a dozen trout and two mackerel, when I cast out and had a huge strike, really a pole bender! All I could do was hold on as the reel’s star drag was zinging as the unknown fish took out line. Zzzz, zzzz, zzzz, the star drag was singing as the fish headed down the jetty for parts unknown. Finally the end of my line was reached, pop, it gave way, leaving me with an empty reel and unbowed rod. That was some fish!
With me with no line and since I drove, I called it a day and Bobby followed suit. The fishing and catching was fun, the rock hopping proved to be dangerous because a friend, not two weeks later, slipped and fell, cut his leg, that required ten stitches to close. This one event brought our rock hopping to an early end!
Years later, I finally figured out what kind of fish was probably on the end of my line. After catching many kingfish on light tackle, I bet it was a fifteen pounder that stripped me. It was too fast for a shark, they fight more doggedly; not a tarpon, no jumps; not a big redfish, no head shaking and not a king size speckled trout, no wallowing; had to be a king!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, May 8. 2007
My dad and I had planned to fish around the Boilers, a wrecked shrimp boat on the beachfront, half way between the mouth of the Brazos River and San Luis Pass, a remote, fun, destination. Some say this wreck was really a small Russian submarine. Loading the car that morning we noticed an almost strong wind blowing out of the southeast. That wind would make the waves too high to comfortably wade along the beachfront. As we drove down Telephone Road, Highway 35, I-45 was only finished out to Ellington Field, we decided to head for Galveston and the East Beach Flats.
My Dad, John H. Bryan was a mid level manager with Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., owned by AT&T. Today what was Southwestern Bell now is, and owns, what was AT&T. Daddy, as I called him, was a former Sergeant (E-5) in the Marine Corps and in the 20â€™s was the Marine Fleet, middleweight boxing champion. My Dad also had combat experience in Latin America during one of the last â€œBanana Warsâ€.
He tried to enlist with the Marines on December 8, 1941, but was told, even with his past record, that he was forty years old and too old to serve in the Corps. He was a great Dad, a good man and very supportive of me, but he did have a problem with his language â€“ cursing. And, that weakness would show itself in full glory during this fishing trip.
As an interesting sidelight to my story, I remember that in the fall 1942 the movie â€œWake Islandâ€ was released and shown at the Metropolitan Theatre in Houston. We went to see it on the premier night because Daddy wanted to see one of his old COâ€™s from the Corps. I met the CO, now a Colonel, Chesty Puller, who ended up being the most famous Marine of WW II. He was on a war bond drive and temporarily back from Guadalcanal. My Dad would have joined back up that night also.
We got to Bobby Wilsonâ€™s Bait Camp and, sure enough, the wind was blowing a good fifteen knots out of the southeast. Our choice of the East Beach Flats was a good one. We fished hard all morning catching several nice Specs and numerous small ones. Mid morning the tide changed and started going out (towards the Gulf which was behind us.) and the current pushed our bait box behind me and to my right. I would turn around, pull the box towards me and get a shrimp, while my Dad would have to shuffle behind me, get a shrimp and shuffle off to make his cast.
As I prepared to cast, Daddy, shuffled behind me, looking down to get a shrimp, as my backward motion for the cast reached its apex and as the hook, shrimp, line and sinker began hurling forward, the hook, less the shrimp, was imbedded into his right cheek just behind the point of the bone, all the way past the barb in the hook. â€œDamn boy, you hooked meâ€ he shouted. Then a line of â€œblue streakersâ€, such as I had never heard before came out of his mouth. I was exasperated having hooked my Dad, but also for having a king sized backlash in my Shakespeare Direct Drive reel.
I stuck my rod butt into my jeans (no fancy rod holders yet), momentarily forgot about my backlash and cut the leader off at the hook in my Dadâ€™s face. His face was red, red, red and the â€œblue streakersâ€ were still coming out. We both decided that since I felt bad about hooking him and his cursing wouldnâ€™t do any good we should assess our situation. The imbedded hook caused no bleeding. After it stopped stinging there was no pain. The John Sealy Hospital Emergency Room was on our way home. The fish were biting and we had some good bait left. So we did what any red blooded guys would do, we kept fishing.
After about an hour we quit fishing and drove to the emergency room. He would get to try out this new thing The Telephone Company had â€“ Blue Cross Medical Insurance. My Mom and Dad were never sick and never went to the hospital for all of the years that I was around them. So the â€œblue streakersâ€ started again. He wasnâ€™t going to any blankety-blank emergency room and let those blankety-blank quacks cut on him. For the first time in my life I told my Dad what to do, â€œSettle down. We are going inside and they will get the hook out and we will go on home.â€
Removing the hook was nothing if the right tools were available. Push it through the skin, snip off the barb and pull the hook out. Then get a tetanus shot and go home. By the time we got home Daddy was red all over â€“ allergic to the horse serum used in the tetanus shot. Mother called our Doctor who lived fifteen minutes away from us, to come over and take care of John H. In those days Docs did house calls. We had antibiotics - sulfa and penicillin - but did not have antihistamines then. One Benadryl tablet would have cured him, but the treatment then was to take cool baths and â€œmopâ€ all over with Calamine lotion. He missed two days work before the reaction ebbed.
We went wade fishing again the next week and there was no mention of â€œthe hookingâ€, but Daddy never went to a hospital again for the rest of his life.
Another funny story about my Dad. John H. Bryan was his name. â€œWhatâ€™s the â€œHâ€ stand for Johnnyâ€, I heard his friends laughingly ask him many times? Well, when he joined the Marine Corps, the Recruiting Sgt. told him â€œSon, you have to have a middle initial to join my Corpsâ€. Puzzled my dad replied, â€œSgt. my only name is John, but if I need an initial make it H. H for hellion.â€
Continue reading "The Day I caught My Dad"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:10 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, March 27. 2007
By the summer of 1946, WW II had ended the previous August and gas rationing had gone away. We celebrated these events by taking a trip to visit my Aunt Lenora and Uncle Pete and their two kids in Temple, Texas. I was excited to see the family, but really excited because Uncle Pete told me that he was going to take me fishing in his boat. Never having fished from a real boat I was wound up tight for the visit.
At the time, Uncle Pete, A.J. Peters, had a Texaco Service Station in Temple and I remember he had a trophy in the station for having the number one Texaco Station in the country. How could a station in Temple be number one? Easy, Ft Hood, with about 50,000 troops stationed there, was about thirty miles away and anyone leaving the post heading east would stop at his station and gas up for around $.15 per gallon, get their tires checked and their windshield washed, all for no charge. Everyone smiled and spoke English then.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 12:25 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, February 10. 2007
In the summer of 1954 trout fishing had been very good 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 protected from any wind except north or northeast.
This area was at the far eastern tip of Galveston Island and the western side of Bolivar Channel, which cuts between the island and the Bolivar Peninsula. This 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. We always tried to plan our trips when the wind was light and the tide was coming in.
The week before todayâ€™s event my Cousin and fishing buddy, George Pyland, and I had made a â€œkillingâ€ 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 awaited a break in the weather.
I get a early morning call from one of my partners in crime, Bill Brown, saying â€œThings look good for the flats this afternoonâ€. My reply was â€œI canâ€™t. I have a dateâ€. This was totally unacceptable to Bill. His girl friend didnâ€™t like to go fishing and he was free today and tonight. My girl friend was game for anything. She didnâ€™t fish but liked to wade out and watch us fish. After saying, â€œHe would buy the gasâ€, all of $.18 per 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. Wading out about seventy-five yards to waist deep water, the fish were there and we started catching some nice â€˜Specs, up to two pounds. Bill, 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.
My cork goes under and as I set the hook I remark, â€œHey, this is a real nice fish probably a Redâ€. I struggle to keep the line tight as the fish bores toward me, my companions watching intently. Ten feet in front of me a beautiful five foot long Black Tip Shark clears the water, mouth open, the teeth getting my attention, hits the water splashing some on me, and heads off to my right towards where I thought Bill was located. My valiant fishing partner and girl friend had already halved the distance to shore leaving alone me to battle the denizen.
Not much of a battle, fifteen pound braided line on a Shakespeare Direct Drive reel and a fiber glass popping rod, all being no match for an eighty pound shark. The shark headed to my right and I headed straight for the shore where my stalwart friends were waiting for me. At least the shark didnâ€™t get the fish on our stringers!
This 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, completely changed the landscape, eliminating one good fishing spot.
Girl friend never went wade fishing with me again.
Continue reading "Close Encounter"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 16:08 | Comments (0) | Trackback (1)
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