Good Hands

The spring of 1969 was one of the best ever, light winds and rising water temperatures had caused the pelagic species of fish, among them king and Spanish mackerel, cobia, or ling and dolphin, or dorado, to move in early and by the end of April were in abundance. The light winds and calm seas had lured us down to the Galveston Jetties, my favorite spot at the south jetty in particular, for this Saturday mornings go at some of our finny friends.

As the sun peeked over the eastern horizon, Brad, just turned 8, Dub Middleton, a close friend and I were cutting around the end of the jetty on our way to our spot. We pulled up and anchored and congratulated ourselves for beating the Saturday crowd. Getting a shrimp out to bait Brad’s line, I noticed a boat that pulled up within 75 feet of us and it was a friend, Wayne Thomas, guiding today and had 2 clients with him. Waving to him while Brad cast toward the jetty, before the bait could sink, a spec nailed it right on the surface.

Landing Brad’s fish, Dub let me know he was into a nice one too and soon I netted a 3, pound, trout for him. Baiting up Brad, he cast out toward the rocks and had another savage strike, this one not coming in easy and proved to be a nice red fish, another 3 pounder. Wayne yelled over from his boat, “Jon, you’d better get to fishing or that boy is going to catch all of the fish.”

Heeding his instructions, my cast looped out to almost the rocks and as soon as the shrimp hit the water, something good size hit it and took off for Mexico! A long run down the jetty, a couple of jumps and several swirls around the boat showed that this was a keeper ling. We didn’t think the net would be big enough, but we finally man handled the ling into the boat, whacked it on the head and put it in the cooler, probably a 36 incher, then I turned my attention back to Brad.

After I baited him up for his 3rd cast, I turned around to get me another shrimp when I heard him exclaim, “Dad!” As I turned, I saw his rod and reel leaving his hands and come bouncing back towards me in the back of the boat. My natural reaction was to quickly move 2 steps to my right, scoop up the rod and reel and hand it back to Brad, all the while his fish, a flounder, was still pulling and fighting. Dub was laughing, Wayne and his clients were laughing, as he yelled over, “Nice stop! I see you still have good hands!” Not thinking this was too funny, I landed Brads flounder, a 2 pounder and we all went back to fishing, ending the day with the nice ling, 16 specs and reds and 1 flounder.