Another Whopper

During the spring of 1970, drifting around Greens Cut in Galveston West bay, I caught, at the time, a personal record, 7-1/4 pound, Speckled Trout. In the late fall of 1991, I tied, or maybe surpassed this feat.

January of that year, our rancher at our Brady deer lease, let us know that he was hiring a foreman and that we would loose our spacious accommodations on his ranch. I understood his requirement for a ‘ramrod’ for his 2,000, acre, ranch, but it galled me that after 10 years we were being ‘evicted’. I’d show him. I’d just buy my own spread, which I did, but that’s a lot of ‘rest of the stories’. The end result of the rancher’s decision and my frustration was that on opening day of Quail season, I didn’t have a place to hunt. Solving the problem was easy, I’d just go fishing!

Just after sun up, the last weekend in October found my Son, Randy, his friend, Doug and I drifting toward a shell island in Jones Lake. There was a light wind blowing from the north and the tide, that just changed, was rushing in, and wouldn’t be high until well past mid morning. Spotting a shrimp hopping on the top of the water, Randy looped a cast, a shrimp under a weighted popping cork, and was rewarded with a solid strike, a nice Speck and the fight was on.

Many times, foraging fish will drive Shrimp to the surface, causing the Shrimp to hop around trying to escape the hungry predators. When Sea Gulls spot these tell tale dimples in the water they rush over to inhale the hapless Shrimp. A well placed, cast usually results in a savage strike from a Speck or Red.

Randy’s fish was netted and put in the cooler and Doug and I, both with fish on, soon boxed our own Specks. The action slowed and we moved out into the lake to start a new drift and about 200 yards ahead Randy spotted 3 Gulls circling what must be fish ‘on’ shrimp and a closer inspection showed 2 birds floating on the water, another sure sign of fish.

Cutting back the throttle, we eased toward the birds and randy and Doug let go with two long casts and started vigorously popping and retrieving their baits, and bam, bam, two hard hits. Under these birds there was a nice school of Specks and for the next few minutes we thinned their numbers. The fast and furious action ended and admiring our almost full cooler we decided we’d try one more spot and maybe try to pick up a couple of Reds.

Easing several hundred yards towards a channel marker, we started our drift over a hard shell bottom. If a Red and a Shrimp were around, the prey couldn’t burrow in the mud and would be inhaled by the Red.

Casting toward the channel marker, and only keeping my line tight, I let my rig sit for several minutes and didn’t pop it. Then one pop of the cork and it disappeared and I felt the weight of a very nice fish. The fish made a long run and I couldn’t tell if it was a Speck or Red,, until, a long way out from the boat, it started to circle us. This tactic is reserved for big Trout and after a long, spirited fight, Randy slipped the net under the monster Speck.

The Trout was shining, with the black spots seeming as big as dimes. It was a beauty laying in the net on the bottom of the boat, spent from its loosing fight and I noticed one egg had slipped out of the fish’s vent and right away, as I carefully measured her, I told Randy, “Slip the net and fish back into the water. We’re letting her go!”

It wasn’t long before I gently removed the fish from the net and it swam off. In our cooler we had enough for several ‘messes’ and we were happy that this big one, that measured over 28 inches and probably weighed well over seven pounds, would be free to spawn for the second time that year!