Before the sun came up we were heading out between the Galveston Jetties and based on some reliable information from a bait camp operator, we took a hundred and fifty-five degree course out to find the shrimp boat fleet. Finding several shrimp boats tied up to each other and culling their nights catch, would be a “fisherman’s dream”.
Before going out and looking for the shrimp boats, we would always stop by this one, particular bait camp and ask the owner where they were anchoring. He was always right, too. This man happened to be of German origin and had a very unusual story circulating about him.
The story was that during WWII he served on a German U-Boat that, early in the war, made several cruises to the western, Gulf of Mexico. On one particular cruise, during a calm, dark, summer night, the Captain pulled the boat in close the Galveston shore, launched a rubber raft and sent several, English speaking crewmen into town to buy some fresh provisions. Uneventfully, the invasion successfully completed, the crewmen returned to the boat with the fresh food.
Supposedly, the bait camp operator was one of the crew that came ashore and after the war ended, came back to Texas as fast as he could. Once, in a book written by a U-Boat Captain, I read this very story. When we would ask the bait camp owner about this he would just smile and, in his heavy accent, would say, “Maybe so?”
On that particular trip, we found the shrimp boats, loaded up on the kings and, heading back in, even found a tide line loaded with sargassum sea weed, and caught over twenty chicken, dolphin (not Flipper). This trip was successful!
When I think about fishing off shore, this story always pops into my memory. During the war, the only store on the west end of the island was the Seven Seas Grocery, but the U-Boat Captain, or the bait camp owner, never mentioned the name of the unknown store.