Houston Ship Channel Redux

Encouraged by our recent success at catching over a dozen large speckled trout along the Houston Ship Channel, we, my dad, my uncle, G.A. Pyland, aka “Unkie”, decided to try our luck at the same approximate spot the following Monday.  Before sun up, we left Unkie’s house, near Hobby Airport, with a light wind blowing out of the southeast and the tide forecast was for it to be coming in all morning, maybe another “haul”?

By the time we drove down to San Leon and got the boat ready for launching, the wind had shifted to the south and was blowing near 15 MPH, not the light breeze that we woke up to!  Our memory of the ideal conditions of the past week faded as the bay was already showing scattered white caps as Unkie said, “Maybe it will smooth out before too long?”

The boat, my 17’, deep vee, handled the cross chop very well as we almost sped across the ship channel, slowed down and started to literally bounce across the waves. To slow our drift, I deployed a three-foot drag sleeve that smoothed us out a lot, making it possible for us to cast and keep our balance.

Baiting up we cast out and began our popping routine, pop the cork, reel up the slack, pop and repeat the process.  Our corks would get behind a wave and we’d loose sight of them and have to fish “by feel”, no problem if we kept our lines tight.  Several casts later, my dad had a good strike and as the fish took off he said, ”Whoa big fella’!  This is a good one and it’s not fighting like a spec!”  Good one it was, after two big runs against the light tackle and several wallows around the boat, I slipped the net under a nice redfish that weighed, on the bait camp scales, over eight pounds!

More casts, more popping and as Unkie’s cork slipped behind a wave he reared back, setting the hook in a good fish.  Not the fight of a big red, but a determined pull and soon the fish started circling the boat, a sure sign of a good spec.  Netting the trout, a six pounder, I looked up and coming up the ship channel was our first tanker of the morning, pushing out a big wake.

We got the drag sleeve taken in, getting wet in the process, cranked up the boat’s engine and headed towards the wake.  This one looked huge, but probably was another seven footer.  It seemed to be going faster that the one last week, soon it was on us and up and over, the boat handled it perfectly.  No other tankers in sight so we putted back to our approximate location, deployed the drag sleeve, baited up and started casting out again.

It was thirty minutes before I had my first strike, my dad and unkie, also strikeless, looked on as I set the hook on a nice fish.  A long run, then circling, surely a spec, another circle with me gaining line all of the time, then wallows around the boat and my dad netted the spec, just a tad smaller than Unkie’s.

No more strikes, but on the horizon, we could see three more tankers coming up the channel, probably heading up to the big refineries of Shell and Humble Oil.  (In 1972 Humble’s name was changed to Exon.)  We couldn’t beat the first one across the channel so we rode over its wake without a problem, safely getting to the west side of the channel.   The second one presented us a much different situation, we couldn’t beat it to the launch ramp so we had to turn around and head into it, slide over, then follow the wake up towards the ramp.

After filleting the fish, we stowed everything in the boat and my Dad remarked, “Not a bad day considering the heavy south wind.  You know, if every time we had a meat haul like last week, our sport would be called catching, instead of fishing!”