The Last Click

When you read the title you’d think that I’d gotten my line stripped by a big fish, since this is a fishing story (kinda’), but read on and you’ll be surprised.

After, as it turned out, a very eventful trip off shore with Bobby Baldwin, his brother and father-in-law, I was to meet Bobby and one of his friends from Beaumont at their boat shed on Bolivar peninsula and head back out with them for another go at some kingfish. To top it all off, my ex-wife and I were to spend the weekend at their family’s beach house, long since dispatched by Hurricane Ike!

When I arrived at the boat shed, no Bobby. His friend, Joe, was waiting for me and said, “Bobby was purty sick, but he told me to tell you to take the boat on out and catch some fish.” What a surprise to me because I’d never taken a boat out anywhere, let alone, offshore. Well, there has to be a first time for everything!

Joe and I cranked it up, it started and purred as we backed out of the shed and putted out into the Intercoastal Waterway. Trying to remember everything Tom had said coming in from my last trip with them, I opened up the big engine and we cruised on out into Galveston Channel and around the South Jetty. We agreed that we’d stop at the special place and try for some speckled trout. Fiddling around there for an hour, we caught two, two pounders, then pulled up the anchor and headed south, out toward the twelve mile, oil rig.

Really being ciceros and having no experience with a big boat or offshore fishing, just as we left the spot on the jetty, we put out two lines for trolling, one with a green feather jig and another with a blue. Unknown to me at the time, there’s a small hump on the Gulf’s bottom, probably an old wreck or some other type of structure, six miles of the end of the jetty. Trolling over the hump, both lines were hit and two kings took off. We did our best and finally gaffed both fish. We had caught two, by our estimate, fifteen pound, kingfish.

Not even knowing to turn around and troll back across the hump, that we didn’t even know was there, we doggedly kept trolling south, toward the rig, now visible just over the horizon. We trolled around the rig for an hour with no luck and since it was past lunch time, I told Joe that we were heading back in.

We must have trolled back across the hump, because one of lines was smashed by something big! Putting the engine in neutral, I grabbed the rod, this big fish took line out like there was no drag on the reel! The fish continued the battle, but stayed deep, taking more line. Finally I started gaining on it, and as it wallowed on the surface, we both gawked at the biggest red snapper we’d ever seen! Gaffing it, hauling it aboard, it was huge and we guessed it weighed at least twenty pounds.

We iced the snapper in our cooler and headed in, past the end of the South Jetty, up the Galveston Channel and turned into the Intercoastal Waterway. The engine had been running for almost six hours and, when we left this morning, we’d never thought to fill the gas tank. Luckily for us we didn’t run out! But misfortune reared its ugly head as I was putting the boat into the slip, I turned off the engine and our drift, that I thought would take us on into the slip, stopped cold. The tide was going out. I didn’t even know about tides then!

Trying to start the engine, all I got was one click. The engine that had been running for almost six hours wouldn’t start. The starter chose this time to quit working. Luckily, a man outside of the shed threw us a line and we tugged the big twenty-three foot boat back into the stall. What if we’d gotten the click when we were offshore? I didn’t even know how to use the ship to shore radio!

On meat market scales the snapper weighed twenty-two pounds!