Jetty Pros

In the spring of 1966, severe flooding over the headwaters of the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers and Buffalo Bayou had flushed out Galveston Bay.  The bay was fresh and muddy and almost all of the baitfish had departed and taken up residence along the beachfront and the Galveston Jetties.  The trout and reds quickly followed presenting a real opportunity to catch some fish and try out my new boat, a 16foot, semi-v, with a internal bait well (this was a real big deal back then), pushed by a 75 horse outboard.  This boat was a great step forward from my last, a 14, footer.

So that I could make my afternoon appointments, this particular day in early May, 1966, my dad and I had decided to sneak off early in the morning, fish our South Jetty spot and be back in town by 10:00 AM.  Dad was retired, never missed a chance to go fishing and, unlike me, had no schedules pressing on him.

We bought a quart of shrimp, put it in the internal bait well, then launched at Bobby Wilson’s Bait Camp and sped at 35, miles per hour around the east beach flats, not there anymore since a hurricane rearranged the landscape around the end of Galveston Island.  With one exception, now that I owned a jetty worthy boat there would be no more wading for us, the exception being only if it was too rough to get around the end of the South Jetty, we would wade.  No problem today since the wind was blowing lightly out of the northeast.

Just after sunrise we motored up and slipped close to the jetty, quietly dropping the anchor, letting out some line until the anchor caught.  Looking up and down the jetty, we were the only boat out.  We ended up 35 or 40, feet from the rocks, in 10 feet of water.  The depth dropped from 0 to 10, feet in 40, feet!  The tide was flowing to our left toward the beach and it’s funny that when the tide is flowing out of the channel, you get a reverse effect on the gulf side of both jetties.  We could see the baitfish crowded against the rocks and we knew the trout were here!

Dad had a new, red reel with 15, pound line, mounted on a 6-1/2, foot, fiberglass, popping rod, just the right tackle.  Using a spinning reel, 10, pound line with a semi-stiff, 6-1/2, foot, spinning rod, I would be Ok unless I picked up a big red or a jackfish.  We were free shrimping with a BB size split shot attached about 10 inches above a small, treble hook.  Trout poison!  For the record we had 2 coolers, foam for food and drinks and a new 48, quart Igloo for the fish.  Funny thing, at that time, Igloo was one of my computer customers and my afternoon appointment was with them.

We baited up, cast toward the rocks, drug the shrimp slowly along the drop off and whamo, whamo, we were both into 2 very nice fish.  We began the “West Bay Shuffle”, circling around the boat, passing rods under each other to prevent tangling, all while keeping pressure on the fish and these were good ‘uns!  We netted both fish in the same landing net, removed the hooks, placed them in the new 48, quart cooler and the fish were identical, 26, long, 5 pounders, with their tails curling up the side if the cooler.

We shook hands, baited up and cast out and whamo, whamo, 2 more nice fish and this was repeated over and over until we had the cooler full to the top with a minimum of ice sprinkled on the fish!   Our total was 29 specs, 25 to 27, inches long, almost 200, pounds of trout and all of this in less than 2 hours!

We sold 25 of the trout, keeping 4 for us to eat and here’s my dad with the 4.

Looking up, I saw Wayne Thomas, a real jetty pro, and one of my old college and baseball playing buddies, pulling up slowly outside of us.  Yelling across the water, “Wayne, let me pull up the anchor then you ease in here.  There’s still plenty of specs around and you all can catch some fish.”

In the next day’s Houston Chronicle, Bob Brister, the Outdoor Editor, wrote that the jetty pros hammered the trout at the NORTH Jetty, looks like I made the team!  Funny, I guess he really could keep a secret?