Almost Whoppers

Nearing noon on a hot, late July, day, we, Doug Small, a neighbor, and I were ready to call it quits and head in from a less than productive trip of trying to find and catch some speckled trout east of the Galveston Causeway. The tide had started out and us having been at it since sun up, were hot, tired, sun burned and casted out, when we noticed five, fishing boats pulled close to the small islets that separated Swan Lake from the bay. They were northeast of the mouth of Campbell’s Bayou and just below the first of a series of small cuts that ran out of the upper end of Swan Lake.

Closer inspection showed that these were five, guide boats, sans clients, just guides. Having know some of these fellows, they signaled for us to pull in behind the last boat and one hollered out, “Not too close to the bank, there’s a school of reds just below the little cut.”

Just then, one had a big strike and set to battling the red. It was some fight, but finally the pressure from the rod and the reel’s drag slowed the fish, it was boated and the happy guide held up a nice redfish, probably thirty inches long. Another guide had a hit and let out a yell as the fish, another big one, peeled off line. Soon it was boated, another thirty incher, just like the first.

We hurriedly cast out toward the shore and began working our shrimp back toward the boat, popping the corks and keeping the slack out of our lines. We both had solid strikes, hoping for two big reds, but after short fights we boated two, three pound, specs, nice fish, but not the hoped for reds. Casting out again with no luck, we could only sit and watch as the guides decimated this school of fine redfish, catching between twelve and fifteen of the battlers! Obviously, our two specs had been hanging below the reds, hoping to clean up the scraps!

We caught no more specs, they cleaned up on the reds and over a year later, at the Houston Boat and Travel Show, I saw one of the lucky guides and he told me that it was a, “Once in a lifetime deal and if another of the guides hadn’t spotted the fish in close and radioed the others, probably you and your friend would have gotten into them first!”

For years, I always checked out this spot on an opening, outgoing tide, but never had the luck that we almost had and, just think, we could only watch!