Gross And Ungentlemanly

The spring had been unseasonably warm, Gulf currents had arrived early and raised the water temperatures to over 72 degrees and with the warm water came the pelagic species of fish—kingfish, Spanish mackerel and cobia (Ling). Since the past season I had been promising Suzanne, my daughter, and Mike, my son-in-law, an offshore fishing trip. Mike brought along one of his, and our, friends, Dick Reilley. The timing was good for all of us, so we picked a Friday in early April to try and get out and catch some big kings. Just out from the beachfront the big ones come in first to spawn in the shallow water and they were our targets for the day.

After last night’s big storm, heavy clouds hung low over the water, but 7 miles out there was no wind blowing as we rounded the end of the south jetty and headed for my favorite spot on the Gulf side of the rocks. Since the tide was going out, the water on the Gulf side was moving toward the beach and as we anchored, I noticed small fish hanging close to the rocks, a real good sign!

Our tackle for the day was 7, foot popping rods, black Ambassaduer reels loaded with 15, pound line and because of the kings and smaller mackerel, a 2, foot fine, wire leader with a circle hook, weighted with a “OO” buckshot. Our bait for the day was live shrimp and baiting up we cast our rigs out toward the rocks to drift with the current. Right away Dick got hung on a rock and had to break off and while he was re-rigging Mike had a big strike and was fast into a nice red fish. If the conditions are right this spot will always pay off!

The action was fast and furious, no kings, but specs and reds, along with several Spanish mackerel, very good eating when filleted with the blood line cut out and 2, big sheesphead, 4 pounders that are top table fare, when I heard a “Hmmpf” from Suzanne and saw her rod nearly bent double. Maybe this was the big king? The big fish moved down the rocks to our right, then out to sea, as Suz held her rod tip high and hung on. Stopping its run, she regained most of the line and as the fish wallowed around the boat, we identified it as a big red and soon we boated a very nice 28, incher that she had battled perfectly. For a day that was “iffy”, we now had nice mess of fish and our big cooler was close to one 1/2 full, so as the tide changed, we headed back to the yacht basin, 4 grubby, stinky, fisher persons with a box of fish to clean!

This particular day, we were the only boat that had gone out, so as we loaded the boat on to the trailer, we drew a nice crowd of onlookers who, when we got the cooler down and opened it, appropriately “oohed and aaahd” over our catch. Mike, Dick and I were kidding around, chewing tobacco and spitting, and cleaning the fish when a well to do appearing lady came up to Suz and asked her, “Did you catch some of these fish?” and Suz replied, “Yes Mam, I caught the big red.” The lady replied “Good for you!”

We finished cleaning the fish, iced them down, then as Dick and I were lifting the big cooler up to Mike, he leaned over to grab it and, by accident (?) belched. We paid no attention and just kept loading the heavy cooler. The well to do lady turned to Suz and asked her, “Young lady, just who are those men?” Suzanne replied, “The big guy over there with gray hair is my dad and the big guy in the boat is my brother-in-law and the other big guy is Dick, a friend.” “Well, they’re gross and ungentlemanly,” the well to do lady said as she turned and hurried off!

Suzanne has been fishing with me since she was eleven years old. She can bait her own hook, cast the bait out, land the fish with a net and take the hook out, all of this even though she is a former student at Texas A & M University.