The Sunken Shrimp Boat

During the spring of 1981, by accident, Dana Sawyer and I “found” a boat, probably a shrimper, that was sunk right off of the Galveston Ship Channel in fifteen feet of water, two hundred yards north of the old concrete ship. For some reason, whenever we caught the tide coming in and the wind and currents not too strong, we consistently caught fish, Speckled Trout and Red Fish, at this spot.

We had been drifting the flats north of the old Quarantine Station, on the west side of the ship Channel, with the depth recorder on, and noticed we had drifted out too far toward the Ship Channel and into deep water, when a “hump” appeared on our chart paper. This got our interest so we criss-crossed the hump several times and determined it was a wrecked boat about the size of a shrimp boat. This was before the days of GPS’, and Dana didn’t have a Loran, so we had no way of marking the spot other than triangulating on the old concrete ship, a channel marker and an oil rig.

We anchored over the wreck, baited up and let our rigs down to the bottom. Dana was right into a nice fish, but I was hung up on something. I had caught the wreck and in loosening up my hook brought up a small piece of wood. I netted Dana’s fish, a nice Red, got my rig baited up and preceded to land a two pound trout.

We were on to something and for the next two years “The Wreck” was a fish producer for us and only a twenty minute boat ride from Dana’s Camp! One memorable trip to “The Wreck” was during the summer of 1982. Alvin Pyland, my Uncle Gus, Dave Miller, a close friend, and I had spent the morning fishing the Gulf side of the South Jetty. As usual we had an enjoyable trip and a large Igloo Cooler over half full of fish.

The tide had been going out pushing baitfish around the end of the jetty and back toward the beachfront and we had caught Trout, Reds, Spanish Mackerel and even a Cobia. When the tide changed and started going in I suggested we try “The Wreck”. Neither of my companions had ever fished it and didn’t even know it was there. They had good success during the fall fishing for Reds almost directly across from “The Wreck” in ten feet of water on a shelf on the east side of the Ship Channel.

We pulled up my twenty foot Cobia, deep vee, in the vicinity of “The Wreck”, and with the depth finder began our triangulating. Soon we were anchored over it and had our baits in the water, when “Wham”, Uncle Gus has a big hit from, obviously, a Red, a real nice one judging from the bend in his rod, and another, “Wham” Dave has a big strike on his spinning outfit, and “Whamo” I have a big hit from something. Wham, Wham, Wham, three almost simultaneous heavy strikes!

The fight is on! My fish, a three pound Trout, comes to the boat first, and Uncle Gus nets it while still fighting his. Dave is locked in a line loosing struggle with something big and asks me “Jon, start us up and get our anchor up. I can’t stop this thing.”

I have a dilemma, Dave’s fish shows no signs of tiring and is heading north with the tide and Uncle Gus’s fish is heading east toward the deep water of the ship channel. I split the difference and head at a forty-five degree angle between the fish.

Soon Uncle Gus’s fish, an over thirty inch Red is alongside the boat and we net it, get the hook out and release it. Reds now had a twenty to twenty-eight inch slot and this one was too big. Dave is still struggling with his fish, which he thinks is either a record Red or maybe a large, Black Drum. I follow the fish and get the boat up beside it and we see it is a large, over twenty pound, Jackfish. “Record Red, huh, haw, haw, haw,” we both laugh as I get the net ready. One more short run and the Jack is ours.

We get the hook out and release it. Jackfish are great fighters, more like sluggers, but have no food value. We find ourselves over three hundred yards from “The Wreck” and both of my guests say “Why don’t we go back and anchor up?” I comply.

Fishing “The Wreck” was a nice interlude, but a short one. Hurricane Alicia hit Galveston Island during the summer of 1983, the strong currents washing our favorite spot away forever!