Too Hot To Fish, (Almost)

In 1986, the “dog days” of summer came early and by the end of July it was almost too hot and humid to plan an offshore fishing trip. Dewey Stringer and I had a bad case of cabin fever and decided that we’d brave the heat and humidity just to have a go at some kingfish. Picking a Friday, because it was too hot to work (ha-ha), we conned another of our king chasers, Max Weber, to go along. We decided that we would leave early, before the sun came up, find some shrimpers culling their nights catch, then, load up on the kings and be back before 9:30 AM.

Max spent the night with Dewey on Tiki Island and I stayed at my Bayou Vista home and all of us were up way before the sun, loaded up Dewey’s boat, a twenty-three footer with a two hundred horse outboard, and headed for the Intercoastal Waterway. Hand held spotlights blazing, we planned out his boat and sped under the bridges of the Galveston Causeway, under Pelican Island Bridge, through Galveston Harbor then turned right between the jetties and on out into the gulf.

The night before we’d gone by our friendly, German bait camp operator, the same one that was the star of “[Invasion]” on one of my earlier posts, picked up bait and ice, and found out from him just where the shrimp boats were anchoring up and culling. We picked a beautiful morning for our jaunt offshore, very light wind out of the southeast, slick seas with virtually no swells and at first light, sure enough, twenty miles out, we found three of them tied together, culling their nights catch!

We pulled up beside the three and made the almost, obligatory trade of beer for shrimp, packed the fresh shrimp in the big cooler, then set to catching some kings. Max was first in the water and his line had barely settled when a hungry fish gobbled it up and took off. The long run against the lightweight tackle, assured us that it was probably a king, it was and after a lively tussle was gaffed and into the cooler it went.

Dewey had a big hit and off the fish took, but wasn’t fighting like a king. Shorter runs and a grudging, not give an inch pull on his line. It was a jackfish, jack crevelle, not edible, but what fighters! Dewey was struggling with the jack, on the light tackle, he struggled for over twenty minutes, for just after sun up with no wind, he was working up a sweat. Max said, “I’ll fix that” and with one swoop of a handy, bucket, filled it and deposited the contents over Dewey’s head and shoulders. The eighty-four degree water was cooling and after that, as we were fighting fish, one of us would anoint the other. Believe it or not, it was cooling and refreshing.

By 9:30 we had filled the big, cooler with kings, but before we started in, we anointed each other one more time and took off. The big, two hundred had us skimming over the flat seas at a record pace, we retraced our way in and were back unloading the boat by 11:00 AM. A little late, but it was a great trip, even with the heat!