Let’s Make A Deal

Norman Shelter had been after me to take him fishing to a new hotspot that my barber had shown me, the spot was called the tripod and was near where the San Barnard River and the Intercoastal Waterway, or Intercoastal, as we called it, crossed. The Brazos River flows into the Gulf at Freeport, while the San Barnard enters ten miles to the west. The tripod was a small cut off the Intercoastal, that led into an unnamed little bay with a gas well in the middle. The apparatus on the well was tripod shaped, hence the name.

Our fishing target was a reef on the west side of the cut leading into the little bay. The gas well wasn’t a problem, but once or twice a week an inspector came out and checked it and the fishing stopped for about a half hour until after he left. We would anchor in the middle of the cut, cast toward the mid point in the opposite bank and let our rigs drift to our left on the incoming tide. We fished about 18, inches deep and when your cork stopped drifting and appeared to be hung up, you set the hook and held on.

Saturdays and some afternoons when the tide was right, or we had been blown out of our regular bay or jetty spots, my Dad and I would head to the tripod and consistently caught fish. One trip I caught 2, flounder, both over 8 pounds, huge ones, and another trip we caught several 6 and 7 pound reds. The trout were never over 2 pounds and it’s funny, we never saw another boat at our spot. I often wondered why?

A beautiful spring morning found Norman, Tony Welsh, a neighbor of mine and I heading toward the tripod. We pulled up, anchored and cast our rigs out and, until the tide changed, enjoyed a morning of good fishing. We iced down over 20 flounder, 5 reds and 10 specs and the 88 quart, cooler was full when we loaded the boat on the trailer and began the, slightly over one hour, drive back to southwest Houston.

We were about to cross the railroad tracks at Post Oak and Highway 90A when I noticed the car was acting sluggish. Turning the corner, Norman glanced back toward the boat and trailer and told me, “Jon, looks like a bearing has gone out on the trailer!” Pulling over, sure enough, we had lost the trailer’s right wheel bearing. We were stuck!

Across the highway was a truck stop, so we “creeped” over and asked for the manager, (we had been well trained, always call at the top). Explaining our plight, I distinctly remember his reply, “What kind of fish are in the cooler?” “Flounder, specs and reds,” I replied. “How many flounder,” he asked? My reply of 20 sealed the deal. He told us “Boys, I’ll fix the bearing right now for the flounders.” Not a good deal for us, frankly highway robbery, but we got home OK and the following Monday saw me install bearing buddies on the trailer.

Several years later I made my last trip to the tripod and as we motored west on the Intercoastal, approximately 3 miles west of the San Bernard River, we started looking to our left for the channel leading to our old spot. Not there. We came about and began searching back toward the river and it still wasn’t there.

Motoring all the way to Carancuha Bay, five or six miles, still no channel. All we saw was an extra wide spot on the south side of the Intercoastal. We came about again and motored to the bait camp where the river and Intercoastal crossed. Asking the owner, “Where’s that little cut, that channel leading back to the gas rig, the tripod?” “Not there,” he answered. “A while back, that gas well blew up and rearranged everything. We call it the Blow Out Hole now. Good fishing in the winter”

Now I found out why we never saw another boat in our spot!