A Big Balloon

Having walked across the spillway, all the time worried that the big balloon that held the Texas’ Colorado River in check would break I finally reached the other side. The big balloon was around 300, foot in length, 20 feet in diameter, touching it and running my hand along it, it looked like a dirigible from WW II and actually held the river back. It was stretched across the river and was anchored on both sides by giant concrete pilings. Tidal water, from the Gulf of Mexico, 15 miles south, was to my front and behind me, behind the huge barrier, was the fresh water from the river that was used for irrigation of the many rice fields in the area.

Tying on an artificial shrimp tail lure, casting it into the brackish water, on one of my first casts, surprise, it was picked up by a nice fish and after quite a fight, 5 minutes later I was stringing the 8, pound channel cat. Several casts later, my rod bowed as a big fish hit the lure and headed down river for the Gulf. This wasn’t a cat and, because of the apparent head shaking, I identified it as a big red. My gear at the time, 6-1/2, foot fiberglass, popping rod, a big red reel loaded with 200 yards of 15 pound line, should be sufficient to stop this fellow’s run.

Hopping down off of the spillway and running along the bank, I was able to gain some line and soon the fish slowed and made another shorter run, but something was out of whack, this fish was fighting deeper than a red. Maybe it had swallowed the lure? Gaining line and easing the fish up out of the depths, I had my first glimpse of a big striped bass, probably 36 inches long.

Having caught some in South Carolina, but never in Texas waters, I wanted this one for, at least, a picture and as I bent over to “lip” the striper, all the while trying to keep my line tight, the single hook on the plug, pulled out. I could only watch, and I still have the mind picture, as this silver/greenish, striped beauty slowly finned down out of sight.

There is a small striped bass fishery in the Trinity River, below the Lake Livingston damn. Having fished Trinity Bay, around the mouth of the Trinity River, many times, I have caught reds and specs but never a striper, although I’ve heard tales of anglers regularly catching them. I’ve fished around the salt water, barrier on the San Bernard River and no stripers. I think there’s too much pollution around the Brazos/New River system for them and have never caught one around there.

All I can imagine is that this striped bass either came into the Colorado from the Gulf, or came down Trinity to Galveston Bay, then into the Gulf for, forty miles, then up the Colorado?

Whatever, it certainly did some traveling.