Saturday, March 29, 2008

Team Yak Attack

On Friday night, I participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event as part of Team Yak Attack.

My brother Paul is a three year colon cancer survivor and we teamed up with two other survivors to celebrate the success of their treatment, to actively continue the fight, and to remember those who have been touched by cancer.

It was quite an evening/night/morning and the theme of kayak fishing turned out to be of interest to many of the participants.

We shared some fun and food and throughout the night reflected on the value of life and the grace of God.

Paul has posted a more detailed account of the evening on his blog.

I leave you with this video of my impressions.



It was a memorable time to share with my brother. Thanks to the many family members, friends, co-workers, and especially to the travellers from Rosenberg that made the long journey to show their love and support.

I am thankful to God for his mercy and grace.

My prayer is that we will all make the most of the time that remains.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bull Dog and Bull Frog

This evening I went to Evans Lake to try our a new soft plastic rig.

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This DOA C.A.L series 3 inch Shad Tail in Silver Mullet on a bullet weighted worm hook proved to be a deadly combination. I caught several bass by working the worm-like through the weeds. I think this will be a good spring rig in the marsh when the fish are keying in on smaller bait.

While fishing this evening I got challenged by one of the lake owner's dogs. The owner was out of town and his wife and their new baby were at home so I guess Max felt a little more protective than usual. Max is a big white American Bulldog like the one in this picture:

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He is normally all bark and bluff but tonight he decided to push me away from his side of the pond. He came up close to me as usual but instead of stopping a few yards away like he normally did, he kept coming. I held my ground and thought he might just get a sniff but when he opened his mouth I almost experienced what kind of power resides in those jaws. I successfully backed away from his agressive posturing until the owners wife finally figured out what was going on and came out to rescue me.

She is about 5 ft nothing and it felt a little funny having her bring the big dog under control with just her voice but I'm glad she was there and came out when she did.

I'm afraid my 7ft graphite rod with cork handle might not have been enough to stop him if we had ended up in a tussle.

I think some pepper spray may be in my pocket from now on.

After six or eight fish, the mullet finally gave up the ghost so I switched to the BGW on the weighted worm hook. Mr. Evans came out and as we visited through the fading light I caught three more nice bass.

When I hit the road for home it was nearly full dark and on my way out the driveway, my headlights picked up FrogZilla.

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What is the biggest frog you have ever seen?

I thought I had seen some big bullfrogs before but tonight I saw the biggest frog ever. This guy even made some I've seen in the zoo look small.

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I wish I could have put something in the shot to give perspective.
These legs were each "quarter pounders". They were bigger than an average chicken leg.

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The frog was found in the driveway between the lake and some drainage ditches along the pasture. He was either hunting ground birds or baby calves.

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This picture is the best one to get some idea of the size. If you could get a saddle on him, you could get quite a ride.

Without embellishment he was easilly over a pound and could have eaten half of the fish I have caught in Evans Lake.

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I was a little nervous getting this close to his business end.

It would make a good shoulder mount...

The Internet sites I found say that the American Bullfrog is the largest frog in North America and grows to between 4 and 6 inches long and can weigh up to a pound or more. If I would have known this fact, I would have saved him for an official measurement for a state record.

I may trap a few of these in the future and carry them instead of pepper spray to scare off Max.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two Surprises

A short trip to Evans Lake this evening yielded two unusual events.

I was blessed with this beautiful sunfish in full breeding color display on the first cast of a shallow crankbait - a Mann's Tiny 1- Grey Ghost.


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No surprise here - I've caught several nice sunfish recently.

I also caught some healthy bass like these chunks:


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The first shocker came when I pulled in this healthy white crappie.

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I've fished this pond in every season and have photographed most every fish caught and according to my records the last time I caught a crappie was two years ago!

I had given up thinking that any crappie survived especially with the higher number of bass that I've seen this year. I guess you never know...

The second thing that caught my eye was right at dark I noticed something slipping over the concrete wall that defines the swimming area and seperates it from the main water body. At first I couldn't make out what it was. Fish? Frogs? Snakes? Turtles?

I continued to watch and finally got positioned so I could see. The mystery was solved when I saw a juvenile fish slide over the wall sideways. There was only about 1/2 inch of water moving over the wall and the smaller fish could make it in the normal orientation but the bigger ones had to lay on their side to get across.

I can only imagine that the predators get active after dark and the prey is escaping to the swimming area to escape becoming dinner. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen at the Lake.

Every outing is unique and special when you pay attention to the little details.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Evening Sun

The light from the evening sun is warm and mellow - just right for taking a shot of a fresh caught bass.

It's Monday and the sunny weather is still here. I made it home in time to catch a couple of LMB on the flyrod.

First order of business is the fly selection.

I chose a crawdad look-a-like for tonight's offering. The combination of green & brown body and the rubber legs should pique the interest of a hungry bass.


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I caught a few fish as the sun was dropping towards the horizon.

This was the best picture of the evening.

It may become my one of my all time favorite bass pictures.


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Each day brings blessings if you look for them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Drive

This time of year the Texas wildflowers begin making an appearance.

After Bible study and Sunday morning worship services, Tracy and I took a road trip to Washington County to see some flowers. We stopped in Burton at the Brazos Belle for lunch and drove along the scenic byway north of Brenham to Independence, TX.

Most of the pictures below were taken at Old Baylor Park.



God has truely blessed His creation.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Final Four

After a morning of yard work, (live oak trees drop their leaves in the spring) and a quick lunch, Tracy and I packed up and headed to Matagorda.

I was bound for McNab to see if I could figure out where all the redfish were hiding and Tracy was going to forgo the paddle for a walk on the beach. Our mutual love for the area and the diversity of activities makes this a pretty good place to spend the afternoon for both of us.

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McNab Launch


I launched at about 1:30 pm and had three rods rigged up - one with a white Gulp shrimp, one with a bone Spook Jr., and one with a gold flake Salt Water Assassin with a chartreuse tail.

I saw a "Big Ugly" tailing near the first oyster reef but didn't spend too long fooling with trying to get him to eat a gulp.

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Navigating the Reef


It had been quite a while since I had had a productive day at McNab and I felt sure that today I would find the fish.

The tide was low but beginning to rise when I headed in and the light wind at my back gave me time to do some casting at some likely spots.

I saw lots of big mullet and some bait but no reds on the trip into the lake. By the time I got to the open water the wind had picked up significantly so I parked and tried fishing the mouth of the main channel. As I was casting I spotted some birds that appeared to be diving on bait across the lake so off I went to see if they were telling the truth.

I set up a drift that took me right through the birds but there didn't seem to be any fish below the birds - they were just hitting some small, wind blown morsels.

I beached the yak at the little pier and got out to stretch my legs when I heard/saw what appeared to be a fish working the shoreline about 200 yards away.

I verified this with my new Bushnell binoculars I had picked up at Cabelas in Buda on our trip to the Hill Country earlier in the week.

I eased over and staked out such that the wind held me in position to cast. My first cast went wide but on my next one something BIG took the white gulp shrimp and began moving away from the shoreline. I held off as long as I could and finally set the hook only to hear my drag begin to scream. The big red took line for at least 100 yards before stopping and promptly spitting the hook! Arguhhhhhhhhh

I cast again to the same wind blown point and after a few unsuccessful tries again got a hit on the gulp. This time the fish was heading towards me and as I was reeling in he also turned loose. The pit of my stomach was feeling kind of tight at this point and I was seriously doubting the screwlock jighead I was using.

I fished the point for a while then made my way around the shoreline to the corner where I had caught several fish in the past. The wind was blowing water right into the channel and I tried to set up on the outside but the waves were high enough that they were coming onboard. After getting a wet seat, I let the boat drift into the far shoreline and came to rest against a stand of cord grass. I decided to change out my leader and hook and even put on a fresh new penny gulp.

I was taking a short break and having a nutrigrain bar when a feeding redfish made his appearance right in front of me. I quickly sprang into action and dropped the gulp right in his kitchen and in seconds it was game on! This was a nice slot redfish and I had him in close and was putting the pressure on him hard. Maybe a little too hard it seems as he popped my 15lb fluorocarbon leader like a 7X tippet!

Not again! This was beginning to seem like a bad dream...

I fished the corner a while then as time was getting away decided to work my way up the shoreline. When I got to John's Pocket I staked out once more and landed a perfect cast right at the mouth of the pocket. There was a willing participant waiting for an easy meal and that gulp fit the bill. I had this bad boy on for a good 5 minutes and got pulled around like I was on a dogsled in the Iditerod before - you guessed it - he came loose.

That's four keeper reds that I hooked and lost in the course of one short afternoon. And I might add that I worked pretty hard in the process of doing so. Let's see you top that one!

I finally ended up catching a flounder so the freezer will not be empty.

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Stringer in Tow

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Game Face

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Flounder Fever


God's blessings come in ways you least expect. I wasn't expecting to catch a flounder after all.

The four reds had their way with me this time but I feel a re-match coming on.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Texas Trout Fishing

There is only one River in Texas that supports year round trout fishing.

While the Texas Parks and Wildlife has a robust program of winter rainbow trout stocking that includes city ponds, lakes, and rivers, all the trout are either caught, eaten by predators, or die when the summer sun heats up the water beyond what they can stand.

The Guadalupe River tailwater below Canyon Lake in New Braunfels is the exception. Here stocked trout can winter over and may possibly even spawn forming the only trout fishery in the state.

Paul Sr., Paul Jr. & I had a date with the Guad on Friday. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm, and the persistent winds that had been blowing continuously for over a week had subsided. Paul had located a guide on TKF that had posted some pictures of some nice recent catches and he assured us that everything seemed to be right for a great day of fishing.

He was right about the fishing.. the catching left a little to be desired but according to the message boards the high barometric pressure seemed to have most fish in the state with a case of lock jaw.

Be that as it may the "Fishermen Three" met up Thursday evening in New Braunfels for dinner and a visit to Cabela's before turning in for the night. Paul convinced our guide that an early morning start would be best - he preferred a slightly later departure but conceded the point after some urging and good natured arm twisting.

The following video tells the tale - all's well that ends well and this was one for the memory bank.

Thanks be to God for for a beautiful place and a great trip!



Saturday, March 15, 2008

Variety Day

I have been looking forward to Saturday all week.

The weather was finally going to cooperate for a kayak trip to Matagorda. Tracy's new boat needed to get wet!

Before heading south, I spent an hour in the morning trying out a new theory. Something about the bass in Evans Lake and a new 3/8 oz white roostertail I picked up while in Academy with Paul earlier in the week.

If you are wondering, YES, a 2lb LMB will hit a WRT!

I didn't take any pictures so you will either have to take my word for it or get out there and prove it to yourself.

We got the boats and the Liberty loaded with gear, water, and snacks (you've got to have snacks) and headed to Matagorda. First stop was Spoonbills for lunch. The owner and chef Edie Pruitt came out to greet us and to hand deliver the best grilled chicken sandwich in the world. We've been there enough times now that she recognizes us and takes time to say hello every time.

There's something to be said for small town hospitality!

The temperature was predicted to be in the 80's and it turned out to be true. We got to Rawlings Cut right after lunch and immediately noticed that there was enough wind to cause whitecaps on the river.
(Note to self - when there is enough wind to cause whitecaps on the river it may be best to seek another fishing spot.

The paddle out to the bay was into the wind and we saw tons of bait and horse mullet in the cut. When we came around the last bend with a 100 yards or so to go we were met with a powerboat full of sports casting live shrimp under popping corks. They must have been seeking shelter from the wind and we pulled up and let them fish a while before moving on through. It never hurts to practice the Golden Rule when fishing.

After they pulled out and motored back out to the bay we moved to the mouth of the cut. I had previously devised a plan to go left when we reached the bay and did so which put me right into the teeth of a 25 mph or so "breeze". Tracy was behind me as I made slow progress along the west shoreline. Before long I looked back to see her heading back to the cut. I followed and we decided it was too rough to continue.

I let the wind push me into the pocket to the right of the cut but even that area was all but unfishable due to the wind. The fishing trip was short lived as we headed back down the cut to the launch. The one bright spot was a large flock of white pelicans and roseatte spoonbills that came whirling up out of the marsh and eventually came right over us. We were both trying to manuver into a position where we could get them on film. My best attempt yielded this short and sad little piece of video. Maybe you can get the idea.




The rest of the afternoon we spent on the beach. This week is Spring Break for some high school and college kids so the beach was as crowded as we have ever seen it.

We drove a while but the sand was fluffy and rutted up by all the traffic so we parked and walked a ways. There were some big jellyfish called Cabbage Heads washing up so we took some pictures.


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They don't look too big until you see them in perspective:


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Jellyfish Art

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Slimy Crown

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Meltdown

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Victim of the road


There were some other critters appearing since the weather is warming up:


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Beach Armor

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Big Black Flying Ant

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Stick Bug

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Red Flying Ant

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Matagorda Beach Traffic Jam

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My Favorite Beachcomber

It was nice to be outdoors feeling the sun and getting a little taste of summer. There will surely be some cooler weather to come but before long the Texas heat will be upon us.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Fort Worth

This weekend we had the opportunity to visit James & Robyn in Fort Worth.



While the main reason for the trip was to attend a funeral, we were able to spend some time visiting, eating, and attending church together on Sunday before heading back to Needville.

We always have fun with the Bocks family and this time was no exception. I got to play the band version of "Guitar Hero" and although I was only hitting every third note or so our band "The YarnFish" rocked!

James on the other hand was tearing up the drum pads and is becoming quite an accomplished singer as well.

The girls talked of yarn and knitting and compared projects. Robyn has completed two socks (different patterns) both of which are very pretty but don't go together. She'd better get busy and finish a mate for one of them.

The highlight of the trip was dinner at the Edelweiss Restaurant. This local icon has been serving up good food and fun for over 40 years. I tried to capture our experience in the following video:

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Thanks Robyn & James for the special treat!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Camera

Enough is Enough.

I've been unhappy with the Olympus 820 since I bought it to replace my Pentax Optio last fall. The picture quality was not as good as advertised especially in lower light situations. The camera was hard to hold onto and the controls were located such that I would always hit buttons that I did not intend to.

Since this was a "work camera" I sent it it to try to get the sensor replaced under warranty and in the mean time decided to go ahead and bite the bullet. I found a Canon Powershot SD750 on sale. This compact point& shoot camera has 7.1 mega pixel resolution and many of the same features as the Optio.

I took it out for a test drive and am more than pleased with the results.

The camera fits in my hand for the now famous "arm's length" self portraits. The picture quality is great, and video quality much improved over the Olympus. I like the fast recovery time and the LCD is easy to see even in sunlight.

Take a look at this video and see if you agree:



Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bass Fishing at Evans Lake

After some disappointing fishing in Oklahoma this weekend, it was time to take advantage of the sunny sky and warmer weather. I spent most of the morning working from home and attending the funeral of a dear friend.

I had a couple of hours free before an evening elders meeting so I headed over to Evans Lake. My Olympus camera was acting up again so I had to use the sepia to compensate in this video.



Summer is coming soon!