This year, 2011, Easter Sunday is very late falling on April 24th, but in 1978 Easter was very early, March 26th and that year my family and I took this opportunity to come back home to Houston for the holiday. Dub Middleton lived in West University across the street from my mother and I went over to see him, to see if I could talk him into a fishing trip on Saturday and after a lot of arm twisting, (haha), he finally agreed.

Our destination, in upper West Galveston Bay, was what we called the Triangle; Greens Cut on the north, South Deer Island on the east and The Wreck on the south. This area of the bay was studded with numerous oyster reefs, a hard sand bottom and was protected from the prevailing southeast wind. After buying a quart of live shrimp, we, Dub, Randy and I, launched the boat in Offats Bayou, sped out towards the bay, turned left towards Anderson Ways and, of all things, on the sand flats, a bird school was working over some, cornered shrimp, a sure sigh of speckled trout!

This was very surprising and very unusual, because the specs generally don’t start the birds working until mid May. Also, back in 1960, my first fishing trip taking the boat out by myself was to this very spot, where my cousin and I loaded the boat up with 2 to 3 pound specs, but since then, I’d never caught another fish in that spot.

Telling Dub to circle back around and come in on the tide side of the birds, we baited up our rigs. We were using standard popping rigs; 7 foot rods, black Ambassaduer reels loaded with 15 pound line, a popping cork trailed by a 3 foot leader, on to which was attached a small, number 8, treble hook.

This being the first bird school of the year, Dub came in a little close, breaking up the birds, but we cast out anyway. Rewarded with a big strike, I set the hook and the fight was on, then nothing, the hook pulled loose. We kept casting, with no results and 10 minutes later, started up the motor and headed on towards The Triangle. We sped past Anderson Ways, around Confederate Reef, over the old, Intercoastal Waterway and soon we saw The Wreck, cut the motor and cast out.

We couldn’t find the fish, or for some reason, the fish, specs and reds, weren’t biting, so we kept on drifting. After a while, my cork went under, I set the hook and was no longer in charge of the situation. A big fish, my first guess a bull red, was on the other end of the line heading for Greens Cut. The fish was running and taking out line at an alarming rate and I exclaimed, “Somebody start the motor and let’s chase this thing,” and the chase was on!

Down to a few turns on my reel, I could see the spool’s shaft and Dub finally started the engine, headed toward the fish, allowing me to reclaim some line. With the spool almost full, we neared the fish and my guess now was a big, shark, it took off again, but Dub almost kept up, keeping pressure on it. Now I was winning, the runs were shorter, the fish was avoiding a surface fight, staying around the bottom, changing my guess to a big ray, but frankly, I didn’t have any idea of what kind of fish I was fighting.

Everyone was excited to see what variety of denizen of the deep this was. The fish was heavy, but finally wrestling it to the surface, our question was answered, a huge jackfish, jack crevalle. Dub netted it, but we knew it was too big for our scale, a Fisherman’s Deliar, so we guessed at over 30 pounds, the biggest one I’d ever caught now or then. Removing the hook, we released the jack and as it swam away, voiced our surprise and raised some questions..

Having caught smaller ones along the Houston Ship Channel and the beachfront, what was a 30 pound jack doing way up in the bay, a good 15 miles from the deep water of the Gulf? Another surprise and question, what was this jack doing up in the bay in late March? Maybe this was why the specs and reds were off their feed?