Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Boat Fever

I was on a slow burn.

You know - the kind of obsession that creeps into your mind and won't let go.

I had been thinking about all the fishing I had been enjoying at the Palacios Sea Wall and off the piers and started wondering about how it would be in a small paddle craft.

Paul had two kayaks and we have been in them several times chasing white bass in the East Fork of the San Jacinto and black bass in Lake Texana. We discussed the possibility of putting them in the salt water and trying to chase redfish, drum, trout & flounder in them but I somehow got to thinking about a sit-on-top kayak that was rigged up for shallow water fishing.

I found a cool website called Texas Kayak Fisherman and started reading the forum and looking at rigged kayaks. I also found other forums and kayak sites and soon had the coals stoked.

One afternoon I casually dropped a comment to brother paul that I was considering a fishing kayak and little did I know that I had just infected him with the dreaded "Boat Fever". If I had a mild case, Paul ended up with a full blown acute breakout. In the course of two days he had eclipsed my few posts on the TKF forum, visited every kayak retailer in the greater Houston area and announced that he was ready to purchase an Ocean "Speck" which was his boat of choice.

I had looked at the considerable field of available boats and had picked out a boat with different features. My #1 pick was a 14' Heritage Redfish. It wasn't long before Paul found through the TKF site that a guy in his neck of the woods had a Redfish and a place to launch and he invited Paul to come and give it a try.

That trip convinced Paul to abandon the Speck and he found that Wilderness Systems (the conpany that made his existing sit inside boats)made a SOT very similar to the Redfish called the Tarpon 140.

To make a long story short - we found a gentleman who was selling two boats on the TKF classiieds - one Redfish and one Tarpon 140. The rest, as they say, is history.

Paul put some nice pics out on his BLOG

I'll post some of mine when I can get Photobucket working.

I'm going to call my boat "Spot".

Frosty Morning

I'm a little late with this post but need to get caught up.

I had an unexpected trip to Ballinger Texas south of Abilene to attend a funeral.

Tracy & I swung through Fredericksburg on the return leg of the trip to spend the night and to visit the cemetery.

We spruced things up with some new flowers & flags and had some time to reflect on the blessings of good parents. I was surprised to see one of Mom's long time friends, the former owner of the Rock Shop working the grounds. He came over and visited for a while and said he had given up the shop and was working full time for St. Mary's.

Early the next morning, I decided to take the fly rod and see if I could tempt any bass with a bug at Lady Bird Park.

I got up early enough.

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It was a little frosty but I was OK with that.

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The pickup said what I had already figured out - COLD!

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I had the right amunition - a dark mini-muddler

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The fish were dug in pretty well but it was a beautiful morning just the same.

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No catching but a great time fishing!
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It was nice to see the sun come up after all the rain we've been having.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Before the Storm

The weather is about to change.

There is a major cold snap on the way and it may contain freezing rain, sleet, or both.

Matt called on Friday and said they were closing down the University and that he was taking refuge with some friends in Stillwater. OKC was expecting major power outages and classes were canceled. The governor declared a state of emergency on Saturday. What should we do?

I know - let's go fishing! By the way, that seems to be my standard answer for everything these days.

Our weather was still mild but it was obvious as I headed for Evans Lake after lunch that things were unsettled at best.

The local livestock were busy filling up the tank.

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Cattle Diversity

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Pose for the Camera

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Good Confirmation

The geese were flying overhead, I jumped a covey of Bobwhite quail, and there were plenty of hawks around like this one.

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I decided to break out the fly rod and brush up on my casting skills. The wind was fairly calm and other than the ocasional drizzle it was pretty pleasant - cloudy and 60 degrees.

I tied on a mini-muddler and began casting along the shore of the cove.

My first fish didn't set any records but confirmed the health of the pond.

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It's always a good sign to see juvenile fish. It won't be long untill this guy is bending the rod.

I worked my way around into the shallow end closest to the house and spooked a bass that was all but crawling up on the shore. These guys like to hang out on the very edge of the pond trying to ambush minnows.

I was in a pretty good position and started casting toward the spot where I last saw the fish and was rewarded with a twitch. I counted to ten and lifted the rod tip to feel the weight of a fish and set the hook. I was in for a nice ride as I had a 17" largemouth on a 5-weight rod. YeeeeHAwww

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Don't let up!

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The mini-muddler got a good bite

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Healthy Fish

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I fished around the remainder of the shoreline with the fly rod until I broke off the mini-muddler on some submurged branches and decided to switch tactics.

Armed with a spinning rod, 6lb mono, and a BGW on an Eagle Claw snelled hook, I once again began to circle the pond.

I was rewarded with some nice fish all in the 1-2 lb range.

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BGW to the Rescue

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Safety Check before Release

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Off You Go

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Fat Boy

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Hand Full of Fish

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Let My People Go!

Not a bad way to spend the afternoon. We have a Chili & Stew fellowship after evening services tonight. Maybe I'll have to break out a recipe for fish chowder!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fish Stories

I'm being unfairly accused of telling fish stories.

Friday finally came and everything looked promising for a great evening of fishing at the Palacios sea wall. Paul was planning on joining me and as was my Safety Sidekick, Ron.

I've been talking about all the fun I've been having catching trout under the lights with Ron and others at the office and I was pumped that he was going to come down and catch some Texas Trout.

Best laid plans......

The weather man said that the wind was supposed to be blowing out of the South but when Paul arrived ahead of us he reported that it was blowing out of the East (little did we know but that was bad).

We fished "The Wall", "The Corner", "The Light", the 1st Street Pier, the Pavilion Pier and the mini-jetties. I finally caught one small croaker on a glow grub dangled off the Pavilion Pier T-head.

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Two Fishermen

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Night Hunter

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The haunted tree

I know the fish were somewhere. They just happened to be somewhere else.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Tough Week

I usually don't get to Palacios twice in the same weekend much less twice in the same week.

After my last successful trip, I was sure I had the formula figured out. While attending services on Sunday, I found out that My friend Troy had taken two college students down to fish on Thursday. They had a little success but nothing like I had experienced on Friday.

Danny & Jared were eager to go back and after talking it over the four of us decided to head down after evening services.

The conditions had changed and the fish were somewhere else.

I managed to catch one trout and Troy caught a few but by Midnight things were looking pretty bleak.

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We tried to catch a huge redfish that showed up right as I was preparing to leave but he was having none of our dead shrimp.

I guess that's why they call it fishing and not catching.

Better luck next time!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

To Be or Not To Be

You've heard it all before:

Git While the Gittin's Good

Know when to Hold Em'

Strike While the Iron's Hot

When applied to fishing that usually translates into getting home later than you expected. There are also corresponding adages like these:

Enough is Enough

Know when to Let Go

Leave Some For the Rest of Us

Returning to work after a week off for the holidays was as busy as expected. In addition to lots of traffic, meetings, and e-mail to catch up on, I had a late elder's meeting on Tuesday and Bible study on Wednesday.

Just for fun I worked late on Thursday to boot!

I was watching the weather to see what was going to happen on Friday night as I was looking for some stress relief. The last few fishing outings had been less than productive and I was thinking it was time to hit a good night.

A nasty little storm system was due to hit our area mid-week and promised to drop up to 3 inches of rain on Thursday. The good news was that by Friday the air would clear out, the temps would rise to the mid 70's and the wind would switch to the Southwest.

Exactly what that would mean to the fishing was anybodies guess. I have read that an influx of fresh water can drive the bait deep. I have seen less activity when the North wind has been blowing strong and long enough to push the water out of the bay so the prediction of an incoming breeze was a positive and hopeful sign.

The prediction was that another front was headed in on Saturday so this all may mean that the fishing will be good - or not. There is only one way to find out....

I arrived at Palacios at 8:30PM and it was foggy and by the looks of the puddles they received the full measure of rain and then some.

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This picture shows how foggy it was.
The flash picked up the fog as I was trying to get a shot of the "lake" sized puddle.

I got my rod strung up and started casting off the 1st Street Pier. There were several folks out fishing and they reported catching a few small specks but no keepers. I caught three specks on the pier, all about 13", and headed to the seawall.

I didn't catch any casting in the dark but when I reached the light past the big curve I hit the Honey Hole. I found a spot just outside the light where the fish were stacking up and if I could hit the spot, I got a hit.

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Lil' Speck Killer

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Puzzler Worm

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One More

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Two for One

Within an hour, I had landed 10 fish. By 11:30PM I was up to 80. This is when the dilemma comes in. Do you just quit and call it a night? The fish were still active and hungry! I had caught a couple that were just 15" but the rest were just under legal size.

I heard from one local guy, Tony, that his neighbor had caught a limit of keepers off the seawall between the 1st Street Pier and the Pavilion Pier and took a stroll down there to see if I could find the bigger fish. I didn't find them but I did pick up a couple more schoolies off the short jetties.

In addition to the specks and the fun I had with them, there were a couple of dolphins working the area. They were both interesting and frustrating at the same time. They figured out where dinner was and would cruise along through the shallows and when they got to the Honey Hole they would swim in a circle "corralling" the fish and would catch one and chase the rest away. Shortly after the dolphin would leave, the trout would return and I would begin catching them again but by that time, "Flipper" had completed his circuit and was returning for another round.

It ended up that all the other fishermen were gone and it was just me and Flipper duking it out.

"One for Flipper - Two for Me".

I won't say how late I stayed out or what the total number of fish I landed.

I quit counting. Lets just say that if I would have been in Louisiana, where the daily bag limit is 25 and minimum length is 12", I could have counted more than 4 limits!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

What better way to bring in the New Year.

An opportunity to fish with your brother should never be overlooked - or underestimated.

Paul & I made a plan to meet in Palacios and do some wading on our last day off before returning to the work a day world.

I woke up early (imagine that) and decided to test the waters before Paul was to arrive later in the morning.

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Moon over Palacios Bay

It was still dark when I arrived and I immediately got into some small specks.

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I ended up catching 10 in all including this double.

They quit biting as the predawn light began to show along the eastern horizon.

I still had a couple hours before Paul was to join me so I made my way over to the Bulkhead to see if I could find any action.

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Several locals showed up right at daylight and everyone seemed expectant but not one fish was caught. After everyone left except me and my old buddy Shane from Bay City we decided to wade out and see if we could locate the fish. It was chilly and breezy and we waded for about 30 minutes before we were both chilled.

My compadre was able to reach about 20 yards further with his baitcaster than I was using my spincaster and he caught two 12" specks. We were both using Norton Sand Eel Jrs in Root Beer and chartreuse tail.

We finally gave up and I decided to go warm up with a cup of coffee. Shane had talked about fishing in Oyster Lake and I thought I might use the remaing time to do a little scouting.

Tracy and I had made an attempt at finding our way to Oyster Lake one Sunday afternoon but we found out that without a map or directions it wasn't an easy place to find.

This time I had a map and directions from Shane and I headed out. Oyster Lake is a pretty good sized inland lake off the west end of Matagorda Island. It is a pretty good drive including 10 miles of gravel road but worth the drive.

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Shell Beach

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Palacios Bayou Bridge

I cast a few times but this is a place that needs to be wade fished at daylight or in a kayak. I'll definetly be back!

An added bonus to the trip was that all along the way I saw birds of prey - hawks, falcons, osprey, and kestrel. I must have seen 50 birds and many of them were close to the road. I took a few pictures of them and of the local color.

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On the Wing

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The Sentinel

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Mexican Falcon (Cara Cara)

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This final sequence is of a hawk that had a roadside meal. I could tell as I drove by that he would not be easily frightened and decided to stop and try to get closer.

He was protective and even tried to hide what he was eating from me as I approached.

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"I ain't Skeered"

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Protecting the Prey

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Red Tail

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The Cover-up

And what was the tasty meal he was so reluctant to leave?

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Racoon Parfait

I did finally rendevous with Paul Sr. Paul Jr. and Scott but not in Palacios.

We met at Evans lake and tried a bit of bass fishing but nobody hooked up.

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Big Daddy

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Paul on the Wall

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Scott - Showing us how it's done

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"Yo - Pop"

Paul Jr. would love for me to expound on his "one that got away" but I have enough trouble keeping my own fishing stories straight!