Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Burning Question

Here are some benign photos of a thistle blossom gone to seed.


The following post contains graphic photos that may be disturbing to the casual reader, PETA activists, and other non fishermen. Reader beware.....

Ever since Jonah survived for three days in the belly of the great fish, there has been one question that causes fishermen to examine the stomach contents of their catch.

"What have they been eating?", they ask thinking that this information will help them unlock the secret to the current pattern.

Bass fishermen who prefer using plastic worms over natural bait sometimes lose the worm to an over zealous fish. That brings up some even more pressing questions.

Can the fish digest the plastic? Does it hurt the fish?

Most true fishermen are conservationists at heart and either eat what they catch or release them relatively unharmed to grow and fight another day. They don't intentionally harm the very thing that they enjoy.

Bass are voracious eaters and largemouth bass in particular can eat big prey. Frogs, mice, lizards, birds, crawfish, and other fish are easily swallowed and digested.

Redfish are the big eaters of the saltwater crowd and eat whole crabs as shown in this photo.

I've lost my share of BGWs in Evans Lake and often wondered what became of the wayward worms. Well wonder no more - the mystery has been solved.

The science of the senko. Salt impregnated and lifelike in form but apparently completely undigestible. The good news is that it passed through without any damage whatsoever to the fish. This bass was in great shape and was well on his way to clearing the worm on his own. I helped it along to make sure there was no hook on the other end and released Mr. LMB to grow and fight another day.

Just in case you were wondering...

Fishing with Troy

I took off a couple of days this week to spend some time with Matt & Carly as they arrived on Saturday after completing the spring semester at OC.

They had to make a trip to the dentist on Monday morning and had plans on doing a little geocaching in Sugar Land following that so I had some free time in the wee hours of the morning to pursue my favorite recreational activity.

I mentioned my idea to Troy that I was considering a Plastic Navy pre-dawn strike at McNab and suspected that he might also me thinking about some R&R after preaching two great sermons on Sunday. My suspicions proved correct and we made plans to launch at daylight.

The weather had changed significantly as a cool front had come through dropping the temps into the high 40's. The tide was in and we had no trouble on the way in to the lake.

Troy was using a Pelican 116 this trip which proved to be a better paddle than the tandem he had on the last trip. Josh let him borrow it "this time" but I suspect he will be angling to go himself in the future. Troy found out (like Tracy did) that scupper plugs are handy if you don't like a wet seat. The accumulation of water proved to be useful as the reader will see at the end of this post.

We fished the back corner with no luck but as Troy was about to paddle into a flooded area he heard a sound that convinced him to stay out. I couldn't record the sounds as it was too windy but if you click here you can get an idea of what it sounded like.

Gator mating season must be in full swing as we heard several in a relatively small area growling and bellowing. It was pretty cool to be nearby but not too near!

Troy connected with this rat red which proved tro be our only fish of the day.

I almost had a crab but he turned loose just shy of the net. Speaking of nets, I had to recover Troy's net as it got hung up on a low-hanging limb and he returned the favor when mine popped out and was heading for the bottom. We tried to paddle back to the next lake and made it pretty far but didn't find a passage through.

When we returned to the launch, Troy was unloading when he found this little guy in the puddle of water that had collected in his seat:

Talk about a livewell!

I had a great time even though I ended up fishless. Troy is a serious fisherman and we make a formitable team. Bring on the tournament!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fishing with Marcos

After a night of stormy weather and some much needed rain, I was ready to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Sitting for long periods is not good for the back rehab so a walk around Evans Lake would surely be welcome.

I found some willing bass like this big girl who took the BGW.

Before long I looked up and at first I thought Juan Valdez had arrived but upon closer inspection it turned out to be Senor "Marcos" Evans! He became the photographer for this shot of me and this nice Evans Lake largemouth.

Senor Evans was trying out a colorful crankbait.

I tied one on as well but the fish were not very active. We both switched back to the green senko worm and the before long started catching some fish. We fished the worm slowly at first then I got hit while cranking one in so we changed tactics and the fish responded. They wanted a swimming worm!

"Marcos" on the wall.

Click the Play button to watch the video below.

The magic of perspective. (same fish different shot)

Healthy LMB

One Happy Gringo.

It's hard to beat a sunny afternoon with a good friend and a lake full of bass.

Vaya con Dios mi amigo!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Aqua Therapy

I have been experiencing some back trouble this week.

After a visit to the doc and some pharmaceuticals, I began reading about the condition (sciatica). There is much published about recovering from an episode of muscle spasms and nerve irritation but I couldn't find anything about "soaking the affected area in warm saltwater". I am here to report that if the conditions are right that is just what the doctor (should have) ordered.

So you might be asking what are the right conditions? How about breezy, overcast, chance of rain, "Gulf of Mexico brown" water, and tons of seaweed.

Add to that some fresh dead shrimp and some willing bottom feeders and you have a recipe for healing.

Hardhead catfish aren't exactly a glamorous target species but just to feel that tug-tug on the end of your line makes the pursuit worthwhile.

The spines on the dorsal and pectoral fins of these saltwater catfish are sharp as needles with a razor edge and contain a venom-like poison that will make the affected area burn. Careful handling is necessary to deal with these demons of the deep.

I made a new purchase that proved to be just the ticket for keeping my bait shrimp fresh and handy. This insulated thermos has a strap and a stainless steel liner. I put some ice in with my shrimp and they stayed cool, plump, and fresh throughout the 2 hours of fishing.

Last year I used a small ice chest which worked OK but when the ice would melt and I bent over the cold shrimp juice would leak out and run down my leg.


I think the thermos will be a much better solution.

There's nothing like innovation!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Kids on the Palacios Pier

Great weather on Friday evening provided a chance to enjoy some spring pier fishing.

In addition to the usual die-hards and locals, I was blessed to be able to share the time with some youngsters and observe how much fun fishing is supposed to be.

I arrived before sundown and set up on the 1st Street Pier in time to catch these pictures.



I caught several Yellow Tail and this gafftop-sail catfish on shrimp.


Paul H. arrived with his "two main men" and Matthew and Nathan proved to be up to the task at hand.

Paul caught this speck on his first cast!

Matthew was not far behind with his first catch of the night.


Nathan kept up a running commentary and was having lots of fun when at last he hooked and landed his first fish on the pier.



Before long Steve H. showed up with his fishing buddies Randy and Natalie.

Randy told me that he was a little out of practice since he hadn't been fishing in a while. I'd say by the looks of this rare and much sought after "Oyster Fish" he is getting back into the game in a hurry.


Natalie caught this huge lunker under a popping cork.


Things were fast and furious for a while as evidenced by this shot from the harried photographer.


Does this youngster look like she's having fun to you?


The trout were somewhat small but fun to catch - especially at night.


If you have any doubt about whether fishing at night off the Palacios Pier is any fun, check out this short video:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Frog Eggs

I think I found out why the bullfrog was headed for Evans Lake.

This big girl had a job to do and I came across the results while fishing along the north shoreline. Click on this picture to get a life sized view of this jumbo frog.

I first saw what looked like a large concentration of slimy foam.

Closer examination showed that this was actually thousands of tiny eggs.

The protective slime also serves to conserve moisture for the growing eggs.

Before long there will be hundreds of polliwogs or tadpoles for the fish to feast upon.

The frogs that survive will be sure to provide a night time chorus for the Evans!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Springtime Beachcombing

The wind was strong enough to keep us out of the kayaks, but since it was blowing from the north there was one other possibility to get out and enjoy the cooler dryer air.

An afternoon trip to Matagorda beach started out with another wildlife sighting. Just before arriving at the entrance to the beach I spotted a large snake that looked like it had been run over but not killed.

Be sure to click on these pictures to get the full effect of how long this snake is.

This Westerm Coachwhip was between 5-6 feet long. These are considered "harmless" but one report by a biologist said they will turn on you if you are trying to catch them. I gave this one plenty of room...

This is the second coachwhip that has made its appearance on this blog. We spotted an Eastern Coachwhip on a trip to Florida a couple of years ago.

It was a good day to be on the beach. The dunes protected us from the north wind and the Gulf was stirred up but beautiful.

We walked about a mile looking at shells and other items like this coconut.

I always like the driftwood. There are three large rivers that empty into the Gulf within 25 miles. The Brazos, San Bernard, and Colorado rivers bring lots of wood debris to the surf and by the time they get to the beach they are polished and bleached. The ever changing beach soon works its magic and some are buried, some pusded back up to the dunes and some are burned in bonfires.

Spoonbill's Restaurant continues to be a favorite. It is really nice to have a spot that has great food and service so near the beach. Edie Pruitt keeps coming up with new offerings and I tried the new dish called Sunshine Fish. The fresh baked black drum with a yellow bell pepper coulis sauce and braised bok choy was great and I added the black beans and rice with mango salsa to finish it out. The fresh out of the oven pineapple cornbread muffin and some boiled shrimp complimented the meal and the fresh salad and home made dressings are always a welcome way to start the meal.

If you aren't hungry yet, you will be!

Morning at McNab

I was pretty excited about the weather forcast for Saturday, high 70's and clear until I read the fine print. In addition to the high pressure there was predicted a 20-30 mph wind along the coast.

That put the kabash on Plan A - which was to be a paddle day with Tracy from three mile cut to East Matagorda Bay. Plan B (my usual fall back) was an early morning venture out to McNab.

We figured the wind might not come up until later in the morning and if I went early I might be able to get in a few hours of casting before joining Tracy for lunch.

I loaded the boat and gear before catching some shut-eye and was on the road early enough to be at the launch by 5:45am.

The paddle out to the lake was mostly uneventful except the mild start I got when I drifted across the back of the big black drum in the dark. I don't know who was more surprised him or me!

The tide was way up and dropping and the wind wasn't too bad for a while.

I hooked a couple, landed one undersized red, and was happy to not get skunked.

Nearly slot sized

After fishing the back channel, I began paddling back to the inlet when I spotted several kayakers heading for John's Pocket. As I approached I recognized them as a family from church, Mom, Dad, & kids in several yaks armed with some dead shrimp.

I gave them my best advice and somehow failed to take their picture!

By 9:00AM the wind was howling and I started out.

With so much water in the marsh, the fish had lots of new areas to explore.

I saw the first alligator of the summer sunning himself on the bank. He slipped into the water as I approached and popped up where I could locate him. I paddled on through unmolested.

No fish for the freezer but you gotta love those reds - even the little ones.