Thursday, December 25, 2008

Woody Woodpecker Next Door

I'm always watching birds and am even more in tune with their calls. Recently while at Pelican Point, I heard the unmistakable call of a Pileated Woodpecker nearby. This guy is the largest woodpecker in North America and is a treat to see. They have a 2ft + wingspan and their hammer can be heard almost as far as their call.

The chips were flying as Woody Woodpecker went to town.

I was wondering if this may become a nest one day but after reading about the feeding habits of these big birds, I'm thinking this was just a feeding site where there might be some tasty grubs.

Mr. Squirrel was watching but was mostly unimpressed.

Here is a shot of old Woody. Be sure to click on the picture to get the full view.

The Nights Before Christmas

"Twas several nights before Christmas and all along the river, some crazy fishermen were fishing in between the shivers."

We headed to PPRV #7 on Sunday afternoon and got set up in time to attend evening services in Bay City. After church, grocery shopping, and dinner, I headed out to fish for trout in the river. It was cold enough for my wool hat and fishing scarf and I was expecting great things. I caught a 16" speck on the first cast and thought this was going to be one of those nights. It turned out to be a fun night with lots of fish but no more that were legal.

The light puts a mean spot in the water and it attracts the bait like a magnet.

I did catch this small red who was lurking near the rocks on a gulp shrimp.

This little speck took a nice picture for the blog.

The sand trout were small but plentiful.

We were joined by this heron on a few nights. He was a pretty good fisherman!

I got to paddle on Monday morning. McNab was the destination and redfish were the target. I found pretty good water and when I made it to the first fork I also found some redfish! They were undersized but hungry. I ended up paddling all the way to the lake and couldn't find the big ones but it was nice to be out and paddling anyway.

This guy had a short bottom jaw but could still suck in a gulp shrimp!

Sky shot.

Double spot.

This rosy cheek went for a gulp swimming mullet.

I went back out on Tuesday for a rematch. The wind had picked up and I paddled all over the lake before I finally connected with these two brutes.

The first one was a 26" hog that peeled drag like a freight train and made one blistering run after another. I was in a windy spot and he was trying to pull me against the waves. The results were some cold water coming on board but in the end I was happy to string him up.

By the time I had #1 secured, I was pushed up against the bank of the channel leading to the back lake. I heard a big sploosh behind me and flipped my gulp over my shoulder and soon had the 23 incher running for his life.

We had to cut our camping trip short due to the loss of a dear family member.

We will return for some fishing in the New Year. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lights on the River

I keep trying to get some vacation days in before the end of the year but it seems like there is always something hot that needs attention. I worked half a day on Friday and shortly after I got home we were on the way to Matagorda. The plans included setting the light out right at dark and seeing if any specks would show up before it got too late.

Some of these excellent pictures were taken by my favorite photographer (Tracy).

Saturday was supposed to be mild so we brought the kayaks intending on an afternoon paddle at McNab.
The spot we selected for the trailer has turned out to be a good one. We have a nice view of the river and enough extension cords to reach from our electrical service to the water's edge.

Bank fishing has it's advantges but I must admit I'm watching those boaters with a little envy!

The light we bought is made in Bay City and has four 200W - 30V bulbs. Not quite as bright as a football stadium but I can attest that if you look directly into it you won't be right for a while. If you angle it just right on the water you can reflect a beam strong enough on the far bank to coon hunt!

I put together the "silver turtles" before we left Needville so I got in a little fishing before dinner. The sand trout that had been easy to catch were gone and other than a few nibbles from some yellowtail it was pretty dead.

I had the light set up and turned on well before sundown and I even tremembered a couple of PVC rod holders this time. "Come on fish! We are ready!"

We fished early without much success and spent some time inside. About 9:30PM I went back out and quickly caught several sandy's and a couple of small specks. Tracy came out to join me and soon had me busy taking fish off her line.

She caught a nice 15 1/2" speck and on the stringer he went. The bite died out before long and she headed in to get ready for bed. I hung on long enough to add my own contribution to the string - a 16" speck.

These two will make a nice meal and were fun to catch along with their smaller but feisty buddies.

We enjoyed a beautiful moon and the mild temperatures made for a pleasant night.

We hit the beach on Saturday and were surprised to find some of the best shelling we've ever experienced. The wind came up pretty strong and to avoid a similar experience to what Paul Sr. & Jr. enjoyed, we bagged the McNab paddle until next trip. For now it's back to Needville and to work.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

December Fishing

Thanksgiving has come and gone and after a great visit with the kids it was time to go to Matagorda and log a night at the condo-on-wheels.

I had heard that the trout were in the river and since the temperature was predicted to be in the low 40's I was hoping to find some hungry specks looking for a free meal.

I set out our new fishing light - four 200W bulbs mounted in a sheet metal enclosure purchased in Bay City from a fellow Colorado River fisherman - and hopefully waited for the bait to find the light. I fished until about 9:30PM with one keeper trout to show for my efforts.

I took a snooze until about 1:30AM and went out to check and the game was on!

I fished until about 4AM and caught several nice trout, four of which ended up on the stringer.

Trout on the Rocks

Party of Five

After the action cooled off in the sphere of my light, I headed to the fish cleaning table. There was another fishing fool up late and I stopped and fished with him a while. The trout were plentiful but just under sized. He caught one nice keeper and as I was continuing on my way to the cleaning table he offered me his one fish.

Six fat trout makes for some nice fillets and Tracy and I had someone in mind for a nice early Christmas present. Everyone seems to like fresh fish!

I had plans on a morning run to McNab to see if the reds were still in the marsh. We had the kayaks but it was still pretty cool when I headed out so Tracy took a pass on this trip. She opted for a cup of coffee and some knitting at the trailer.

The recent west and north winds had blown lots of water out of East Matagorda Bay and the launch at McNab was as low as I had ever seen it. I found enough water for the paddle in but didn't see any signs of fish activity.

I paddled all around the lake from end to end twice and jumped a couple of big fish but couldn't get a bite to save my life. I finally set up a rod with a double Gulp shrimp rig and slowly trolled through the north end of the lake. I was pleasantly surprised when finally at 10:30AM I got a hookup with a nice 23-1/2" redfish.

Low water means exposed oyster reefs.

Marsh Mare
Ditch Donkey
Mud Mule

Whatever you call it this guy gave me quite a ride.

Mug Shot

Sky Writing

These Sandhill cranes seemed to be trying to send me a message.
They were circling far above me as I was kayaking around McNab Lake.

Parallel Lines

Chinese Symbology

The Flag Formation

Crane Profile

We fished in the river after lunch (no luck) and took a drive to the beach for some shell picking before supper. I fired up the grill and we had fresh trout served with taters & onions and grilled corn. We topped off the meal with some toasted marshmallows and headed the Jeep back to Needville.

Thank God for the simple pleasures of life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Home at Last

Have you ever felt like you had a home-away-from-home?

Sometimes when you visit a place you get a sense that you belong and fit in. Even though I know this life is temporary and that one day we will all be faced with an eternal home, there are places on this earth where I feel more at home than others.

Tracy and I have come to feel that way about Texas. We have lived in several states and to us there is simply no place like Texas. We have both lived in several Texas towns and have seen much of the state but lately Matagorda County has captured our hearts like no other place. We have spent a considerable amount of time during the past year exploring and at last our dream of establishing a footprint in Matagorda has become a reality.

Our number came up on the waiting list at Pelican Point RV & Boat Slips and we moved the Prowler into space number seven.

This spot is on the end and has a clear view of the Colorado River. It is not technically a river side spot which we like as those are more expensive!

We are about 125 ft from the water and are on a bend in the river.

Not long after getting the power, water, & sewer hooked up, I had to see if there were any hungry fish. This nice sized sand trout answered my question.

Tracy came out to join me and soon had a double hookup on the Gulp Swimming Mullet.

We caught several over the next couple of days despite the cooler temps. Some of them were more than respectable as evidenced by this fat 15 - incher.

Lord willing, this will be the first of many sunsets we will see out the window of PP #7.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

One of those days...

Picture a beautiful fall morning - low 40's at daybreak and warming up to the high 70's by afternoon. The sky was as clear as a crystal and the wind was calm.

We got up at a respectable 5:30AM and saw the sun rise on the way to Matagorda. There was enough sun and warmth when we arrived at the McNab launch to awaken the hoard of mosquitoes but we quickly left them behind as we started our paddle to the lake.

We fished all the likely spots on the way in without any success but I did see a flounder up on top chasing bait - pretty cool!

When we hit the lake it was as calm as glass - a fairly rare site - and I started working to the right along the shoreline. I was casting a red and white MirroDine and saw lots of mullet but no redfish.

About half way down the shoreline, I spotted some big bubbles near the outlet of a small duckpond into the main lake. As I drifted by, I saw the source of the bubbles as a decent red created a big fuss in his attempt at crushing the fleeing bait. I made my cast and was immediately rewarded with a solid hookup.

Fish on!

This 25" - 6lb red put up a fight and took me for a ride like I haven't experienced in a while.

While I was having fun with the red Tracy was fighting some equipment problems across the lake. To add insult to injury, a crab stole one of her Sugar Spice Glow Gulp shrimp! Of course "the guide" had all the replacements in my boat so Tracy got in some exercise as she paddled across. I cut the tangle out of her line and re-rigged her bait and we headed down towards the corner.

Mama needs a fish....

Well good reader, Mama caught her fish and then some. As I was watching some reds crushing bait in the back channel I call "Gator Cut", Tracy hooked up on her first red. She was fishing the Gulp and moving along the shoreline when she spotted a tail. After an unsuccessful cast, she realized that this was a pod of feeding reds. They got pretty close to her and she got the Gulp out in front and the fight was on!

Before I could get to her, Tracy had her net out and with a little long distance encouragement landed her own redfish. Now that might not seem like a big deal to some but believe me it takes some doing to tame a fighting fish and to maneuver it close enough to your yak to put it in a net!

After stringing up Tracy's red, I headed back to the Gator Cut. Tracy stayed in the area and tried to find the rest of the pod. As I approached the corner my cell phone began to go off and it was a work call. About half way through the call I hear these magical words behind me..."Fish on"..."BIG FISH ON!"

Of course I can't respond but I start paddling towards her with one hand while talking on the phone with the other. Tracy's red #2 is giving her a ride. When I finally got there to help, Tracy had the feisty fighter pretty well worn down.

I finally made it back to the Gator Cut but the reds had moved out. I fished the channel and was rewarded with a nice 19" - 3lb flounder. I was fishing the Gulp shrimp on one hook and a white Gulp crab on the other. The flounder hit the crab!

It was nearly 11AM and time to head for the launch. We had a stringer full of fish and a long paddle to make so it was goodbye McNab for now.

The reds were beautifully colored and went 25", 23", and 21".

This has been a good couple of days with lots of paddling and some great fish. We didn't catch a lot of fish but we didn't lose any and the fish were all quality catches.

This trio of reds in the fish bag are heading to the cleaning table.

After eating our sandwiches for lunch, we spent the afternoon on the beach. The water was beautiful and I searched the dunes for sea beans while Tracy spent some time picking up shells. These activities along with the sound of the surf really allow for some reflection and stress release. It is impossible for me to imagine how someone could not find peace on an undeveloped beach. God has truly blessed us with some beautiful places and this is definitely one of them

We took the fresh flounder fillets to Spoonbills and let Edie work her charm by baking them and serving them up with her black beans, aromatic rice, and mango salsa.

One of those days!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lady Luck

Some days are just meant for fishing. We had some cloudy weather on Thursday with a little rain as a weak cold front came through leaving behind a beautiful Friday. The temperature was mild in the 70's and though there was a little breeze the sun felt warm and inviting.

I got Tracy an early BD gift - a new stakeout pole. This one is longer and more slender than the PVC version she has been using and it proved to be better for poking into the bottom and holding the Magic in place.

We launched at McNab after lunch with high hopes of finding some fish at the Oyster Reef Fork.

There was a small boat trailer at the launch and we quickly figured out that it belonged to the crabmen. We saw them coming checking traps as we were heading out. Tracy wondered aloud if they were going to stir up the fish with their little motorboat.

The wind was pretty strong at times but every so often it would just lay down. Kayak fishing is a challenge in the wind especially when the current is moving as well. The tide was dropping so the current was flowing out and when the wind would blow it was in the opposite direction. Sometimes the boats would start to spin as the wind was affecting it from above and the current from below.

I had provided Tracy with some advice on flounder earlier in the day. "They hit with a definite THUMP. When you feel that, stop what you are doing and wait. After 10-20 seconds or so, come tight and if there seems to be resistance, set the hook. When you reel her in you may feel like it's just dead weight but be ready when the fish hits the surface.It's a good idea to have the net nearby as flounder often shake loose right at the boat."

I guess Tracy was listening cause soon after we arrived at the spot she was hooked up. Everything seemed to be just like I had described until the fish took off on a drag screaming run. She held on and fought her back to the boat as I quickly got in position to assist.

We had a few tense moments as the fish still had some fight in her but with me offering advice and Tracy expertly bringing her rod up we were able to net her another 20" flounder!

I was really excited as I had dreamed of catching another big flounder and was hoping they hadn't all headed out to sea. Of course in my dream, I was on the rod and but watching Tracy catch the big girl was almost as much fun as catching it myself.

We fished a while more without any bites and headed on to the Corners and then to Trout Junction. We took up our normal positions and after a few casts I heard Tracy say "I have another one". Sure enough she was on another big flattie and once again I made the assist.

The first one was an even 20" and 3.6 lbs and number 2 was 19" and 2.7 lbs.

We continued on to Triple Junction and I fished the Little Lake without getting a single bite. This day was all Tracy as she caught and landed the only two fish that bit either of our lines.

By the time we made our way out the autumn sun had slipped below the horizon and the last of the skeeters came out in force.

I'm glad one of us had some luck today - maybe tomorrow will be my turn!