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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)
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)
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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