An Igloo Full Of Keepers

In the spring of 1966, severe floods over the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers and the head waters of Buffalo Bayou had flushed out Galveston Bay. The bay water was fresh and muddy and almost all of the bait fish had left and taken up residence at the jetties and along the beach front, quickly followed by the Trout, Red Fish and Flounders. This presented a real opportunity to catch some fish.

Four of the Igloo full of Specs we caught.

This particular day, Wednesday, May 3, 1966, my Dad, being retired, and I, had decided to sneak off early in the morning, fish our South Jetty spot and be back in town by 10:00 AM so I could make some afternoon appointments.

We bought one quart of shrimp and put it in the internal bait well on the new, 16ft Falcon, then put the boat in at Bobby Wilson’s Bait Camp and sped at thirty-five miles per hour around the East Beach Flats, no more wading for us (only if it is too rough to get around the end of the South Jetty). No problem today since the wind was blowing lightly out of the north- east.

Just after sunrise we motored up and slipped up close to the Jetty, quietly dropping the anchor and letting out line. The anchor caught and we looked up and down the jetty, we were the only boat out. We ended up thirty-five or forty feet from the rocks, in ten feet of water. The depth dropped from zero to ten feet in forty feet! The tide was flowing to our left toward the beach. It is funny that when the tide is flowing out of the channel you get a reverse effect on the Gulf side of both jetties. Bait fish were crowded against the rocks. We knew the Trout were here.

Daddy had a new, red Ambassadeur 5000 reel with fifteen pound line, mounted on a six and a half foot fiberglass “popping” rod. Just the right tackle. I was armed with a Mitchell 300 spinning reel, ten pound line and a semi-stiff, six and a half foot spinning rod. Ok unless I pick up a big Red or Jackfish. We were free shrimping with a BB size split shot attached about ten inches above a small, treble hook. Trout poison! For the record we had two coolers, a foam one for food and drinks and a new forty-eight quart Igloo for the fish. Funny thing, at that time, Igloo was one of my customers.

We baited up and cast toward the rocks, dragging the shrimp slowly along the drop off and whamo, whamo, we are both into two very nice fish. We began the “Jetty Shuffle”, which is circling around the boat, passing rods under each other to prevent tangling, all while keeping pressure on the fish. We netted both fish in the same landing net, removed the hooks and placed them in the new forty-eight quart Igloo cooler. The fish were identical, twenty-six inches long with their tails curling up the side of the cooler. We shook hands, baited up and cast out and whamo, whamo, two more nice fish! We repeated this over and over until we had the new, forty-eight quart Igloo cooler full to the top with a minimum of ice left in it. Twenty-nine Specs’, all twenty-six or twenty-seven inches long, almost two hundred pounds of fish. All of this in less than two hours!

Looking up, I see Wes Thomas, another “jetty pro”, and one of my old college and baseball playing buddies, pulling up slowly outside of us. I yelled across the water, “Wes, our cooler is full so let me pull up the anchor and you all ease in here and you can catch some fish.”

I saw in the next days Houston Chronicle that Bob Brister, the OutdoorEditor, wrote that the “jetty pros” hammered the trout at the NORTH Jetty. Funny, I guess he really could keep a secret.

Just gutting the fish, we got back to Houston well before 10:00 AM and sold most of the fish for over $100. My afternoon appointments were no problem.

My “special” spot is still there and still a fish haven, less than a mile in from the end of the Gulf side of Galveston’s South Jetty. I have caught a whole lot of fish in my life from Florida, to the Gulf of California, to Hawaii, but no day equals the quantity and size, or the fast, furious action that Daddy and I had on May 3, 1966.