The Uninitiated

During the time we lived in the Atlanta area, two of the summers we met the Schroder family, Jake, Peg and their three children, in Galveston and rented a very large beach house.  The house we rented in 1978 was in Jamaica Beach and sported seven bedrooms, four baths and a large communal area, a true mansion!  We had met the Schroders when we lived in Arizona and both families being from Texas had hit it off from the start, enjoying many great quail and dove hunting trips and fishing excursions.  A couple of stories of interest are my posts, “[The Kamikaze Dove]”, September 7, 2010, and “[A Meeting With Senior Mal-De-Mere]”, August 24, 2009.

This particular trip, during the peak of the speckled trout, birding season was memorable because of the unusual way we found the day’s last bird school.  We had been fishing almost all of the morning east of Karankawa Reef, driving back and forth across the bay and only finding two bird schools.  The first we found was full of small trout, below keeper size, but they were fun to catch.  But in the second, Jake and I relieved the school of three nice trout, two plus, pounders, more fun to catch!

We decided to refresh our shrimp so we threw out the leftovers we had bought in the morning, and since mid day was nearing, we motored over to the Pleasure Island Bait Camp and acquired a fresh quart.  We took this opportunity to stretch our legs and buy us a Coke and some cheese crackers.  After the break we talked it over and thought we’d try the area east of the causeway and, showing off, as we entered the channel and I put the boat up on plane, I took a sharp right, to the uninitiated this looked like a turn into real shallow water, but knowing the bottom, we had a minimum of four feet below the hull.

As we sped toward the first of the two causeways, Jake said, “Beech, I shore hope you know where you’re goin’?”  I knew, but might as well have some fun.  Barely slowing down we scooted under the third hump in the first causeway and headed for the causeway for trains, where I did slow the boat down as we crept under the third arch.  And there, not fifty feet out from the causeway was a huge school of birds working over the shrimp driven to the surface, the trout were even splashing as they chased the bait!

Cutting back the motor and turning the boat to the right I managed not to run through the birds that would have surely scattered them and dispersed the fish!  Baiting up and casting out to the front of the birds we both had heavy hits and right away began the “West Bay Shuffle” around the boat.  These two were big, unyielding trout that finally succumbed to the rods pressure and the black, reels drag.  Netting both fish simultaneously in my one net, we admired them, three and a half pounders, into the cooler with them, we baited up and cast back out.  Two more strikes, two more specs, not quite as big as the first two and into the cooler with them.

We stayed with this school of trout for twenty minutes and when they dispersed we had boxed twenty-two, all over two and a half pounds!  We hunted and hunted for the fish, but with the tide coming in strong they had probably moved on into West Bay.  Thinking back, the trout had cornered the shrimp in shallow water, three feet plus, up against the berm of the railroad track and were feasting on them, the seagulls spotted this top water action and the feed was on!

Just think, if I’d gone blasting through the third arch, we’d run right through the birds and the fish school.  But in all of my fishing and the many times I’d gone through this way into the bay east of the causeway, I never found a school of birds and speckled trout at this spot.