Saturday, July 29, 2006

Surfside Jetty

I love to fish.

If you are a reader of this blog and haven't figured that out yet I thought I'd let you know.

Today is Saturday and after Matt & I finished mowing the lawn, I went to town to get a haircut and to run by the Home Depot for a few things. As the afternoon rolled on I began to think about taking a drive to Freeport and trying my luck off the jetties.

I had been there once before several years ago but not lately and not to fish.

There are two options when you get to Freeport - Bryan Beach or Surfside Beach.

Tracy wasn't too excited about going to watch me fish but she came along anyway. I was hoping that there would be some action so she wouldn't be too bored.

Now there is a "beach" there - but not one I would recommend. Gulf Coast beaches are not the best and when they are crowded and trashy the appeal is diminished even more.

There are several ways to fish in the area but with limited time and knowledge I chose the jetty. The Surfside jetty extends out several thousand feet into the surf.

I stayed in close to the parking area because I needed to get a line in the water pronto if I expected to have a chance of catching a fish.

We found out the hard way that jetty fishing has its own challenges.
Aside from the people there are other critters to contend with.

I never thought I would have to guard my bait shrimp from rats.


I only had about an hour and a half of daylight left to fish
but I was determined to give it my best.

I normally use dead shrimp on the bottom but also tried fishing one below a popping cork in near the rocks. I had the 10' rod with a double rigged leader out as far as I could cast it while I worked the other rod in close.

Even with the cork you have to be careful not to get hung in the rocks.

My efforts paid off and I brought this little speckled trout to hand.

Next up was a small redfish. A passerby called it a "rat red".
I wonder if that is a jetty fisherman term......

God's handiwork is beautiful even against the refineries.

Always remember to give thanks for another day -

especially if it includes fishing.

Photos by Tracy

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Twilight Bass

This time of year you have to be resourceful if you expect to catch a bass in Lake Evans. It's been so hot and the water level is low I know the fish are hiding out most of the day.

There is a window of opportunity just before dark when there seems to be some feeding activity and that's what I was looking for this evening.

After a delicious dinner at Pier 36, I headed out to see if I could scare up a fish or two.

Two is just what I got

This big guy took the Bunker Wild Eye Shad

The BGW was the ticket for this healthy bass.

As you can tell from the photo, this one was taken almost at dark.

I was using my phone to take the pictures since I forgot to bring my normal camera.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Too Hot to Fish

What to do on Saturday afternoon when the Texas heat is getting you down?

I know! Lets take a drive to Palacios and do some exploring. I'll load the bikes and when it cools off (?) we can go for a ride along the bay.

Just in case I'll also pack the rods and my saltwater tackle box...

Palacios is known by some as "The Coastal Bend's Best Kept Secret".

Here is an excerpt from the website linked above:

Palacios, known as the "City by the Sea," is actually bordered on the east and south by Tres Palacios Bay, which opens into Matagorda Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Tres Palacios is Spanish for "three palaces "and legend has it that both the town and the bay were named after a mirage seen by Spanish sailors over 300 years ago. They thought they saw three palaces on shore but these disappeared as they sailed closer. It's a much more colorful story than the real one: that the bay was named after Jose Felix Trespalacios, Mexican governor of the area when Stephen F. Austin established his colony. Eventually the town became known as Palacios and the pronunciation was Americanized to" Puh-LASH-uhs" rather than the proper Spanish Pa-las-ee-ohs.

We have been to Palacios several times in the past attending one-act play competitions and have always said we should come back.

We spent some time exploring and I visited with the owner of the Bayside RV Park. We are getting the camping bug and Palacios is close to home. We may have to come down for a weekend this fall.

There are several options for bringing the trailer to Palacios but I liked this one best. Matagorda is referred to as an "Undiscovered Gem of the Texas Gulf Coast".

Palacios is also known as the "Shrimp Capital of Texas" and is home to the largest fleet of commercial fishing boats in the state. The town boasts seven miles of shoreline so recreational fishing is big here, as are sailing, kayaking and canoeing. The waters of Tres Palacios Bay offer prime fishing for the angling enthusiast. Drift and wade fishers will find plenty of redfish and speckled trout. Deep sea fishers in the Gulf of Mexico can catch grouper, red snapper, amberjack, wahoo, black drum and more.

We stopped at the Pier Drive Inn to check out some local offerings and I was given some fishing tips on where to try. I bought a pound of frozen shrimp and a map and armed with this new information was ready to cast a line.

I was reminded by my loving wife that it was still early and still HOT so we kept exploring. We stopped at an antique shop and purchased a couple of cookbooks and a local craftman's shop where we checked out his creations of tall cabinets and folk instruments.

I was itching to try some of the spots we had scribbled on the map so off we went to the bay. Tracy found a covered pavilion and I grabbed my rods, tackle, and bait and headed for some small jetties that had been constructed for fishing nuts like me.

I was casting far out looking for a deep hole that was supposed to hold big black drum but all I found were some hardheads. I had three rods and decided to rig one up with a soft plastic and try casting near the jetty. I had seen a sheepshead working around the shallows and thought there might be some action in close.

After a few casts I was suprised by a flounder that hit the white jig almost at the end of the retrieve. The white worm I was using had a big red dot and was attached to a lead head jig hook with a stinger treble in the tail.

I kept at it and was soon rewarded with another strike. This time I was ready and hooked a nice keeper flounder.

Photos by Tracy

I lost one more flounder and caught some small croaker.

When I finally ran out of bait and was thinking about a bike ride, Tracy pointed out to me that it was getting late (7:00PM) and we should probably think about eating supper before taking a bike ride. Where does the time go when you are fishing anyway?

We stopped in at our favorite eatery in Palacios - The Outrigger - for some grilled fish and boiled shrimp. They were pretty busy and by the time we finished there was only 30 minutes of daylight left. I was still game to ride until we saw lightning nearby and decided we should just head for home and get a good night's rest for services tomorrow.

It was a good day even if it was hot. I need to watch the time better so we can get in our ride. I may have to go on fishing probation .....

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Back To Basics

Its good to travel and to try new things.

The trip to Iowa was refreshing and interesting but the bass in Lake Evans have been neglected for too long.

I've been busy since we returned and even tonight I finally got to mow the lawn after replacing the blade on the mower. You know it's amazing what a new blade can do. It's a good thing too since the grass was so tall I thought I might need to borrow a combine from one of the local farmers to harvest it.

Lake Evans was quiet and serene when I arrived after supper and I tried a new soft plastic crawfish near the brushpile where I usually have the best luck. I cast for 15 minutes without a tickle and changed to the BGW.

As brother Paul always reminds me,

"It's best not to fool with success"

or maybe it was,

"It's a fool to think he will be successful by trying something new"...

or something like that. Whatever

I was disappointed when after another 15 minutes I had not found one fish.

I had also brought a 2" Bunker colored Wild-Eyed Shad and tried it for a while as I began to circle the lake.


This little guy took the shad on a pause.
It's hard not to keep these moving through the weeds
but a good pause generally triggers a strike if a fish is following.

I fished the WES for a while then switched back to the BGW
as the sky was turning pink.

This guy was not too happy when I set the hook.

He jumped three times!

The best fish of the evening came at dusk.

He has some shoulders and gave me a good fight on the UL with 6lb test line.

I kept at it until the skeeters got so loud I couldn't hear myself think
and was rewarded with a final "catch of the day"

Four for Four - I love it when a plan comes together.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lake MacBride State Park

Our trip to Iowa continued...

We attended services on Sunday at the Center Point Road Church of Christ near Toddville, Iowa just north of Cedar Rapids and were greeted by a friendly group of Christians. It's nice to be able to worship God on the Lord's day no matter where you are.

After services we had a good-for-you lunch at Chili's in CR.

What to do on a Sunday afternoon in Iowa when it's in the high 90's?
I thought it would be a good idea to go try the fishing at Lake MacBride State Park while Tracy continued working for the little babies.

The park description sounded good,

"Lake Macbride is an angler's delight! Good catches of walleyes, channel catfish, crappies and bluegill await the angler in the 812-acre artificial lake. Walleyes, channel catfish and muskies are stocked annually. Lake Macbride may be the only lake in Iowa in which the prized Kentucky spotted bass can be caught. Good lake access is available for both shoreline and boat fishing."

The only problem was that every other person in the county had the same idea:
"Hey Honey - lets take the kids to the lake!"

Even this pair of Canada Geese had their young ones out for a swim.

I found a spot that looked promising - no people and lots of lily pads.

I didn't find any Kentucky Spotted Bass but I did tempt this green sunfish.

This sunfish also was fooled by the little brown worm.

After evening services we stopped at Ellis Park in Cedar Rapids. This city park has some water and I exercised the fly rod and caught some small sunnys but nothing photo worthy.

Later while filling up with gas I spotted this huge sulphur mayfly. I didn't see any of these at the park or on McLoud Run but I'll bet the fish would go crazy over some of these!

You never know where you might find a good bug picture.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Iowa's Urban Trout Stream

I'm currently settling in for the night at the Hampton Inn in Cedar Rapids Iowa.

I brought Tracy up for a Preemie Project work day and found this fishing hole in down town CR.

McLoud Run is a tiny stream in the middle of an urban city that is being managed as a trout habitat. It looked like just the kind of place that my 6'9" 4wt was made for.

Other than the fact that Iowa was in the middle of a heat wave (nearly 100 deg) and I only had the middle of the day to fish I'd say my outing was very enjoyable and a tremendous success.

I didn't encounter one other fisherman although I did see some mountain bikers and one couple with a dog that spoiled one pool.

I also saw a mother duck and her brood. They stayed ahead of me as I waded upstream from H Avenue.

I had some limited success with the green weenie.

I believe this to be a White Sucker. There were several schools of these along the stream and they were fun to catch even if they are not so glamorous.

I guess I'll tell about the one that got away.

Most of the trout I saw were rainbows and were seen hanging out under some "fish hides" which were concrete and rock structures installed along undercut banks to provide more habitat. They weren't rising so I was nymphing most of the day. I tied on a #18 caddis pupa and fooled one 10" bow into taking a bite. I hooked him and played him around my feet until I decided to get a picture of him in the water. Just as I was retrieving my camera, I performed the most elegant long distance catch & release maneuver you have ever seen. The fish swam lazily back to the hide and I was left with that bittersweet feeling of having the fish almost in hand but with no picture to prove it.

The flowers along the stream were really pretty - queen anne's lace, purple coneflowers, black eyed susans and bee balm.

Sure beats working!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Fishing in the Dark

Ever try to take a picture of yourself with a fish?
It ain't easy.

I read an article about bass fishing being good during the last light of the evening.

I guess they were right!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Skunked no More

I recently had a string of bad luck at Evans Lake.

Some discount my characterization as poor technique and others blame it on the weather but let's just say that I got skunked twice in a row. I tried everything in the tackle box from the BGW to the Wild Eyed Swim Shad but nothing produced so much as a tickle.

I did get impatient on the last cast and pulled the BGW away from a would-be strike.

Oh well - Sunshine has returned to the lake(or make that Sunset to be precise).

Here's a little guy I caught on July 4th.
Photo by Mark Evans

We have been in the "Rainy Season" for the past week.
The water level is coming up slowly in the lake.

This is a previously tagged fish.
Note the iritated spot on the mouth.
I have stopped the tagging program for now
until I can find a better way to tag them.

Big Baby
This beauty took a BGW just at sundown and gave me a good fight.

Take me to the River....

Sunset over Lake Evans