Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Somebody Stop Me

I need to go out of town so I can get some sleep.

It seems that my loving wife is right -

I don't often use good judgement when it comes to fishing.

We are about to head out for a work trip to South Carolina via Jacksonville FL for the rest of the week and guess what I thought would be a good idea?

The weather is mild, the wind promised to lay down after dark, and the time changed so it will get dark earlier - just what a night-fisherman loves to hear.

Come on here - I don't need any more encouragement!

On top of all that I now have a ready supply of Crazy Shad lures and my order from Cubby came in with a nice assortment of glow-in-the-dark grubs of various sizes.

I caught this beautiful shot on the way home from work:
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Most sane folks would enjoy the evening by relaxing at home in their favorite easy chair and get to bed early.

Only the Crazy Fishermen in the crowd would understand what I was contemplating.

I needed to deliver the dogs to their "sitter" so I loaded up the rods and my formitible arsenel of lures and soft plastics and headed to Palacios promising Tracy that I would return before it got too late.

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The new 1/8 oz BIG Mini-Mite Jig worked great!

I also tried the 1/16 oz along with my 1/16 oz double shad rig.

Both were hot as the fish were small and feeding on glass minnows.

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See why they call speckled trout "Yellow Mouth".

They ought to call them piranha.

Check out those teeth!

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This shot shows an undersized Speck (14")

See the light on the water in the top of the photo?

That's about 40 feet out from the pier.

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Another shot in more natural light.

I didn't stay out too late.

There were lots of sand trout and one guy was keeping them so I helped him fill up a 5-gallon bucket.

I was using the small stuff and the ultralight and caught about 20 fish in about an hour including several doubles.

It is a lot of fun just to catch these guys as they put up a pretty good fight on light tackle.

I had to be careful on the return home as it was after midnight and most of the roads I travel are rural farm roads. One spot near the San Bernard river is prone to deer crossings and tonight was no exception.

I hate to say this but I passed a small buck within four feet of my vehicle at 20mph and thought about Paul spending the weekend sitting in a tree stand waiting for a deer to come by.

Hey brother - how about a "cast & blast" adventure?

We could install a "deer on the pier" feature.

Watch this video:

Black Hog Down

and see what you think.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fisherman's Thoughts

Have you ever wondered what goes through a fisherman's mind?

See below for a sample:

"Hey it's Sunday afternoon. A beautiful sunny day and I have an idea".

"Let's go exploring!

I've heard about a place called Oyster Lake down near Palacios"

"You can enjoy the pretty day and maybe get some nice pictures"

Translation: "Maybe I'll get to wet a line."

"OK - so I don't have a map. I'll just run in this store and get one."

"OK - so they don't have a map.
I think I can find it from the directions a guy on the pier gave me."

"Why am I turning around?
I think that road we passed about a mile back was the one we were supposed to take."

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"OK - it's not Oyster Lake but the Tres Palacios River is pretty cool eh?"

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"I'll just make a cast or two so you can take my picture."

Translation: " I'll bet there is a big flounder in here."

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"Nice grassy bank....."

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"Maybe I need to vary the retrieve..."

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"I wonder what the tide is doing...."

"Yeah I'm almost ready too.

Don't you want to get me casting again?"

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"Wow! Did you see that mullet jump?
There must be some big trout in here..."

All in all it was a beautiful day...

We got some nice pictures (check this one out)

And I did get to wet a line!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Crazy Shad

Readers of this blog may recall in the previous post the mention of a bass plug being used by my new fishing buddy - "Smokin' Joe" Riviera.

After watching Joe catch four keeper-sized speckled trout in front of me and everyone else on the pier, and after trying every topwater hard bait I had (and that's saying something), to say my curiosity was piqued is an understatement.

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I had fished side by side with Joe all night and when the trout started hitting the suface he switched to his secret weapon stating that only the specks would hit it - not the sand trout. He had been using it earlier in the week and had taken home several keeper trout as a result.

I snuck a glance or two and could see the color and shape of this magic lure but it wasn't until we were all ready to leave that I got a good look at it. It was unremarkable except that I noticed a round lead weight between the body and the rear treble.

This must have been the ticket as it caused the lure to stand up straight when paused and to rock forward when twitched. Joe couldn't remember where he got it but it was the Confidence Bait this morning on the pier.

Tracy needed to go to town this afternoon to do some shopping so I volunteered to go with her since I wanted to see if Academy or Gander Mountain might have something close to the secret lure.

I found a similar one at Academy made by Cotton Cordell called the Crazy Shad. It was the same shape and color as the lure Joe was using but instead of a weight in the rear it had a propeller mounted fore and aft on the nose and tail. The salesman I spoke to said he had seen a lure like I described once but not at Academy. He thought it might have been at Gander Mountain but wasn't sure.

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I picked up two and planned on making the necessary modifications once I got home.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention!

When we stopped at Gander Mountain I was surprised to find that they didn't have the Crazy Shad but that they had a ton of other topwater hard baits. I found their saltwater expert and discussed my situation with him. He was unfamiliar with the tail-weighted topwater and thought it must have been a homemade or modified rig.

I gave up my search and decided to dig through the bargain bin of discontinued lures while waiting for Tracy to finish looking around.

Imagine my delight when I found a Crazy Shad in the exact color and configuration Joe had been using!

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Apparently, this was the original form of the lure and was discontinued (according to an Ebay shopper in the Want it Now section of EBay.

I found a supply of the originals at the Vimage Ebay Store. They are sold in lots of three and are "Smokey Joe" colored (fitting name, don't you agree?)

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I have a reasonable stock for now and - yes - I did order some more off the EBay site.

How many you ask? - I'll never tell.

I may have the last supply on the planet!

Two Pounder Flounder

Reports from an unnamed high-ranking government official indicate that once again a crazy man had been seen on the 1st Street Pier in Palacios Texas.

Previous reports allege that this man has shown up in the heat of July with a fishing rod and a bag of dead shrimp, has stayed up all hours of the night catching sand trout, has driven from his home in Needville - 65 miles away - in the middle of the night to wet a line, and most recently and I might add most alarming, has been seen catching keeper sized speckled trout on a 1/32 oz crappie jig.

The latest report is almost unbelieveable. Bystanders attest that this lunatic hooked and landed a 2 1/2 pound flounder with an ultralight rod and was fishing with a naked, white, glow-in-the-dark worm that is designed to be fished on a tandem jig called "The Puzzler".

Who does this guy think he is anyway?
What about tradition - what about convention?

We have standards after all!

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Here is the fish in question alongside the famous telescopic rod.

Most logical fishermen will tell you that this story
is highly unlikely given the unique configuration of the flatfish:

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They are bottom dwellers after all and are ambush predators not worm eaters.

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And who believes that a #2 thin wire hook
could withstand this mouthful of teeth?

A co-conspirator Joe Riviera (AKA Cholo) was also seen
catching large specks on a bass plug and a light rod.

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Please be on the lookout for this guy at places like this:

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This rogue fisherman is influencing others! He must be stopped.

He is known to move about in the darkness and
generally sneaks off just about daylight.

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One passerby claims to have caught him in this photo
but we do not have independent confirmation.

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Be on the lookout - I'm sure he will be back!

Toadstool Tudor Estates

Welcome to Toadstool Tudor - home of the finest available mushroom villas on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Located mere minutes from downtown Palacios and the world renowned 1st Street Pier, these homes can be grown in a single night while you enjoy the fast action of Glow-In-The-Dark fishing.

Current listings and model homes:

For the smaller gnome, fairy, or single dwarf, we have the quaint but attractive one bedroom Cottage. Note the steep roofline and classic toadstool shape of this functional and practical "pad".

Complete with a one car garage this can be yours for a song.
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For the growing gnome family or dwarf commune, we have the Villa model. This spacious shroom comes complete with an attached garage and plenty of room to spread out.
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Our best selling model the Fungus Estate boasts a detached garage and a sprawliing front porch. This luxury domicile comes with a view of the bay and free access to the fish cleaning table.

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Units can be grown on your site or you can choose to purchase one in our master planned community.

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Call Today - Don't Delay and tell them Johnny sent you!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Anyone who lives along the Gulf Coast knows that after a healthy rain like we recently had (8-10 inches) a good crop of mosquitos will soon follow.

The flat terrain prevents complete runoff and the thick clay soil gets saturated and won't let the water soak in. The result is that lots of areas hold water and become breeding grounds for the skeeters.

I met Paul this afternoon to transfer ownership of an aquarium (one less responsibility) and to give him a belated birthday gift. Happy birthday Bro!

Fortunately we met at a nearby Academy Sports & Outdoors store and got to look for some fresh pickings for my next night fishing adventure. I'm somehow convinced that if I find and buy every tiny glo-in-the-dark soft plastic bait that I will be able to maintain my reputation as the "King of the Pier".

Maybe one day I'll be called the "Sultan of Shad" or "MG (micro grub)Hammer". Maybe I'll go for "Mr. T" - trout that is. Ok now - enough of that.

I was able to escape the city before getting caught in too much traffic and had an early supper which left enough time for a quick trip to Evans Lake before the baseball game started.

As this picture shows, EL is prime time mosquito country and any normal fisherman with any sense would have packed it up and called it a day.

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I had been inside all day thinking about how nice it was outside and I did not want to let a few bugs ruin my fishing so I pulled out the secret weapon.

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Old Woodsman Fly Dope

If you have never heard of Old Woodsman, it is one of those products that you remember from your childhood but haven't seen in years. I found it on this website and ordered some to see if it was the same thing. One whiff and I knew it was genuine.

This stuff stinks but it works!

I was able to fish until nearly dark and was followed by a literal cloud of bugs but sustained only a couple of bites.

Oh and I did manage to catch one bass.

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Bigmouth & the BGW

He was a healthy fish and took the BGW in the cove. I had one more strike on a fast retrieve but missed the hookset. I was hoping for more and decided to give this guy a good talking to before letting him go.

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"Go tell your friends that I want more than a one-fish trip!"

I guess I showed him who's boss....

I got a nice picture of this reflection.

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Time to head for home.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Micro Mania

I was out of town most of the week (imagine that) in a place where fishing was out of the question.

When thoughts of the weekend began to sneak into the edges of my mind I was finding it hard to nail down a time slot to get in a little fishing. Our area had recently received over 8 inches of rain and I was pretty sure that Evans Lake would be slow going. I thought about Brazos Bend State park - I haven't been out there in some time but they close the park down to the public this time of year and conduct "wildlife management" activities.

My thoughts kept drifting south to the coastal bays and pier fishing under the lights. The Saltwater Siren Song kept up all the way home and I decided that if I woke up early, I would head to Palacios for a few hours of aquatic sampling before tackling the lawn, picking up the dogs, preparing for my Bible class, catching up on e-mail, drafting up my monthly report (due Monday), and whatever else I could squeeze into the weekend.

The key idea was if I woke up early. I had been in training classes and meetings for three days and traveling from Atlanta to Birmingham to Houston and finally to Needville was sure to set me up for a good long sleep-in morning. Fortunately, I slept on the plane most of the way from Birmingham to Houston. Once my mind gets to thinking about the possibility of fishing I can get pretty focused. I did promise Tracy that I wouldn't set the alarm and for her not to be concerned if she woke up and I was gone.

We got in around 10 PM and after a few hours of sleep I was awake and heading for Palacios. I was hopeful and excited about the possibility of catching it right. The last time I went out like this it was windy and the fishing was off. I hit some light showers on the way through Bay City and began to wonder if this was going to be a bust again.

When I arrived I got a nice surprise. Joe Riviera, another pier fisherman pulled up at the same time I did. I met him last time I was down and enjoyed his company. He is from El Campo and reminds me of Cholo from the movie Lonesome Dove.

Remember this verbal exchange between Cholo and Clara:

Clara Allen: Sometimes it seems like grave digging is all we do around here, don't it Cholo? What do you think happens when we die?

Cholo: Not much. You are just dead.

Clara Allen: Maybe it's not as big a change as we think. Maybe you just go back to where you lived or near your family, or wherever you were the happiest. Only you're just a spirit now... and you don't have the troubles the living have.

I think Cholo and Clara need to come to Bible class.

There were some fishermen (and women) on the 1st Street Pier but many of them were heading in having been out all night. Some reported catching several sand trout and a couple had some keeper specs.

I had played this game before and was ready for just this situation. The bay was dead calm and the lights on this pier are pretty powerful. The water wasn't perfectly clear but it was clear enough and I could hear the trout popping the surface all around the pier. Joe had parked himself at the first light and aready had a line in the water by the time I got my act together. He was using a soft plastic shrimp tail and told me that they were hitting all around his offering but that he had no strikes yet.

I hooked up my ultralight with a flourescent micro jig I had purchased for just this situation. When I fished here in the past, I used a tiny (1/16 oz) double shad "spec rig" made by The Texas Tackle Factory. I was catching two trout every third cast and I was convinced that going smaller was the ticket for these fish.

I took a page from the world of western brown trout fishing and some advice from big brother Mark who told me about using micro jigs for ice fishing and realized you can hook, hold, and land big fish with a small hook if you use light tackle and take your time.

This new 1/32 oz jig is called the Mini-Mite and is made by Cubby.

Another manufacturer, K&E, has a similar product called Whip’r Stoppers .

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The micro jigs are on the bottom right.
The 1/16 oz shad is just above them.
Also shown on the left are some micro grubs.

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This picture shows some other offerings in more standard sizes.

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I tried comparing the glow capabilities of these flourescent baits.

I had to add a split shot to provide enough weight to cast this tiny jig out but once in the fish it was very effective. I alternated between the shad rig and the micro jig and caught over 40 sand trout and several speckled trout including 4 keepers over 15" each. I broke off two additional ones attempting to lift them up on the pier. My next item to purchase is a long handled net!

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Much to the joy of Tracy I decided to practice "Catch & Filet".

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We had a nice grilled trout supper with enough left over for lunch!

Sometimes breaking the rules can lead to fun and success in the world of fishing. If I were to tell some coastal fishermen that I intended on using an ultralight rod with 6 pound test mono and no leader along with 1/32 oz micro jigs intended for perch and panfish I would likely get laughed off the pier. As it was, I shared some jigs with Joe and others and they are all heading to Walmart to buy light rods as we speak. Go figure....................

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Crop Dusting

I'm traveling too much lately and much of it has been by air.

I know that covering long distances is necessary and part of the job but it gets tiresome after a while.

That is ..... unless you are a crop duster.

This time of year we see a lot of yellow planes flying low among the cotton fields.
They spray a defoliant to kill off the leaves and prepare the cotton for picking.

I got to see this one while visiting my favorite fishing hole - Evans Lake.

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They weren't spraying close enough to bother the water.

I caught a few bass in between passes including this big one:

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I'm pretty sure this is "The Legend".

She was thin and gaunt and the first one I have ever caught that wasn't fat and sassy.

Not like this pudgy "greenfish"

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If I must say adios to "The Legend" let me say she was a formitable adversary
and a lot of fun to stalk and to catch.

Legend - I'll be looking for your replacement!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Across the Fence

The trip home took us from the islands of Lake Champlain through the middle of the state. We were flying out of Manchester, NH and made a couple of stops along the way.

Waterbury is a town where my mother was raised and where Aunt Becky still lives.

I took these shots just off the interstate.
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Early Color

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Church Building

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We also took a detour off the interstate near Sharon and saw this sheep and a nice little brook.

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Baa Ram Ewe!

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Looks Fishy!

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Foggy Foliage

After coming back to the highway near Woodstock we made one last stop at this place:
Scotland by the Yard

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Jacob's Sheep

We made it to Manchester on time and met an interesting gentleman on the flight to Chicago. Eighty-five year young Joseph W. Lovoi was sitting with us. He described getting shot down in Nazi Germany when he was in his early twenties and being a prisoner of war for six months. He has written a book about his experiences: Listen My Children And Stay Free. He has been speaking to young folks about his experience and impressing upon them the value of the freedoms we enjoy. They didn't come without cost.
I've ordered a copy of the book from Amazon.

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That's Mr. Lovoi next to the sleeping fisherman.
My typical flying posture.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Yellow Perch

After attending services in Milton on Sunday morning, Mark & I decided to brave the weather and wet a line.

It doesn't look that bad does it?

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OK I decided to fish and Mark came along to make sure I didn't get lost, fall in, and float away. He provided some excellent guide services and we sampled an area known to contain trout and salmon with the fly gear before heading to a draw bridge and pulling out the spinning rod and a few micro crank baits.

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The Thinker

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Draw Bridge Up

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The Yellow Perch

At last! the quarry of my dreams!