Fish Cleaning

This was big time fun, we’d cast out, the cork would go under and we’d reel in a 12 inch speckled trout, this was repeated so many times that our arms were getting tired! Giving no thought to the fish cleaning that lay ahead, we kept on catching the trout, all the same size, 12 inchers.

We were using our standard trout gear, direct drive reels on 6 foot, split cane, rods (our dad’s of course), with 20 pound braided line. This was the summer of 1954 and I’d just graduated from high school and George Pyland, my cousin had just finished his first year at Texas A&M College (now the 7th largest university in the country). Our bait was live shrimp, fished under a popping cork, we’d cast out, pop the cork once and it would go under. Being youngsters we thought this fishing was the ultimate!

We had started our fishing trip at Bobby Wilson’s Bait camp, where we bought a quart of shrimp. We then drove around to what was then called East Beach, it is no more because a hurricane came right up the Galveston Ship Channel and washed away a fine fishing spot.

We waded out and began casting and right away we began to catch specs. We only had about a quart of shrimp, roughly around a hundred and within two hours they were used up. Then we had a bright idea, we’d tear off small bits from my tee shirt and use that for bait, but after a couple of fish, the fish still hit the small white patches, we ruled this out because I would be shirtless if we continued.

Our stringers were loaded with trout, over 50 on each so we decided to go back in and clean the fish. Why we didn’t use the cleaning table provided at Bobby Wilson’s I don’t know why, so we sat ourselves down on the pier and began the cleaning, cutting their heads off and scaling them. Soon I noticed that I was getting sun burned, my legs below my shorts, were red and getting redder, but we still had half a hundred to go.

By the time we finished, my upper legs were fried and it was over a week until I could wear anything but shorts, playing baseball then, I even went on the DL because of the sunburn. After that trip I always wore long pants when I waded!