Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blustery Day - Big Fish

Summer has arrived in full force in Southeast Texas and the weather patterns have switched to a familiar HOT & HUMID pattern. The wind is still with us and though we haven't had any significant rain lately, there is a chance of scattered T-storms every day.

A good friend from church recently enlisted in the "Plastic Navy" and he was itching for his first deployment to McNab Lake. I had provided him with directions and a map of the area but the possibility of encountering a gator gave him enough pause to wait until I could go with him. Tracy had some photography in mind for Matagorda so a plan was hatched. Steve and I would paddle in and fish from 8-11AM while Tracy did some exploring with the camera.

This time of year the temperature never gets below 80 degrees and by 8am it was climbing up to the 90s. The wind was at our backs for most of the trip in to McNab which was good until you realize that "what goes up must come down". The paddle out would be into the wind and that may present some challenges.

Steve learned the challenge of handling a rod & reel while trying to paddle and keep the boat facing in the right direction.

I connected with a couple of small reds including this 18 incher found at the opening to John's Pocket. There was a lot of bait - mostly shad - and there seemed to be something chasing them but I only heard two or three big swirls indicating the keeper reds we were seeking.

I was using gulp shrimp and Steve was throwing rattle traps, top waters, and soft plastics but the fish apparently had enough natural bait to satisfy them without needing to react to artificials.

The wind came up in earnest about 10AM and we decided to head back. On the way in I saw a big fish repeatedly chasing bait in the smaller lake off the main channel and decided to give him chase. The wind was blowing from the south which would cary me from the channel to the back of the lake where the fish was feeding in the shallows.

I let the wind push me back as I steered with the rudder. The big red showed himself when I got within casting range and I dropped the small, white gulp just ahead of him. He picked the shrimp up without hesitation and it was game on!

I had deployed the stakeout stick and left it in as the fish made several blistering runs and circled the boat twice. The 22" red slid down the stringer and we continued to the launch. I was able to contact Tracy by phone and asked her to stop and pick up some ice as I now had a reason!

When we got to one of the last corners before the launch where there is a nice big oyster reef, I threw the gulp a few times while waiting for Steve. To my surprise and delight I got a solid hookup on what proved to be a heavy 17" speckled trout. Bonus!

Coming in to the launch. They call this the "power stroke"!

Happy paddler.

It's a good feeling to return to the launch after a hard paddle.

Two hands of fish - Redfish and Speckled Trout.

Tracy and I were planning on continuing the day in Matagorda so we bid Steve adios and headed for some groceries. After lunch at Spoonbills (Edie spoiled us with homegrown tomatoes on our grilled chicken sandwiches) we headed for Buddy's baitshop and then began a quest for some quality bank fishing.

We tried the beach road and the Colorado River Locks but couldn't seem to find the fish. We caught a few croaker, drum, grunts, and hardheads but nothing to write home about. After Tracy got hung up in the rocks a couple of times and lost her rig we decided to head to the beach.

By now it was late enough in the afternoon that the thunderheads were beginning to form.

I caught several tiny hardheads, one small red and a nice whiting while Tracy looked for beach treasures. When the clouds got organized we rolled up and headed to Jetty park.

These coastal storms and squalls can be violent but are generally short lived. We drove to a parking spot along the river and ate our picnic supper while we rode out the storm.

Pretty fisherman under the rainbow.

Roseatte Spoonbills

When the sky cleared we once again pulled out the rods and hung some dead shrimp in the salt water with hopefulness that we would find some hungry fish.

The beach road fishing was beyond slow and another little storm chased us back into the Jeep so we headed to the Locks for one last try before dark.

I scored first on a little red and a few croakers. Tracy also caught some small fish. We were encouraged by the rainbows that were visible after each storm and thought that might be a good sign for happy fishing.

Then it happened... Tracy was reeling in and for a minute thought she was stuck on the bottom when "the bottom" began to pull back!

It was obvious from the start that this was no small fish and when he wanted line - he took it.

Tracy gave a good effort keeping her line tight and pumping the mighty beast in close. Time after time he would strip off several yards of line with each subsequent run and it was touch and go as to who would cry "uncle" first.

When at last the monster was subdued, I the ever present guide, tried to ease the giant fish up onto the rocks. The 8lb test line had taken all it could and snapped like wisp of mermaid hair when the fish gave a might heave. Not willing to watch the moustached mega-slimer retreat to the depths, I pounced over the slippery rocks like a blue crab and seized the great fish by his slimy gill plate.

What a fish! The slippery salt cat measured 25" from snout to tail and weighed in at a mere whisker under 5lbs. This was the big fish of the day and it was caught on light tackle to boot!

Here is the happy fisherman keeping her hands well away from "slime city".

What's the old saying:

"Bring your wife along when you go fishing and she will be bored after a while.

Teach your wife to fish and she will generally catch the big one!"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Evening Bass on The Silver Spoon Buzzer

It has been a while since I visited Evans Lake and I was eager to get in some practice with the newest weapon in the tacklebox - the Nemire Silver Spoon Buzzer.

This innovative lure combines a classic silver spoon (wobble), an integrated rattle chamber (noise), a flashy flexible skirt (color), and a buzz blade mounted up front.

I really like this lure. It casts forever, quickly pops up on top, sputters, and flutters and really looks like it will draw a reaction strike.

My suspicions were right - Evans Lake Bass love the SSB.

The rain showers in the area provided a welcome sunset.

Another blessing from the Creator.

Back to business - the fish get real feisty after the sun's rays fade out.

Last fish of the evening. I'm ready to try the SSB out on some hungry reds and specks.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Does Lightning Strike Twice?

After a short weekend I returned to Utah to finish what was started the week before. I was still thrilled by the fish I had connected with last week. It is not often you catch such a fish as the pretty brown trout from Snake Creek.

Tracy remained at home this trip and I was traveling light with only one spinning rod and a couple of WRTs. I arrived late on Sunday evening and took a ride up Daniels Canyon to see if I could find any cutts in Daniels Creek.

I found the beaver pond where I had fished many times before but couldn't get to it without some big time wet wading and slogging through some deep bog. At over 7000 ft elevation and no cell phone service, this flat-lander decided to pass and look for a spot with easier access.

You may recognize this spot from earlier posts like this one in 2005

I arrived in the middle of a big time mayfly hatch.
(click on th picture below for a closer look)

Of course my fly rod and box of hand-tied flys was back in Needville but I made a valiant attempt with the UL & WRT.
The cutthroats were there and willing but I couldn't seem to hang on to them long enough to get a picture. After losing three nice 12"-14" fish without a single frame, I finally got a shot at this juvenile Cut-Bow.

As the sun dipped behind the mountain I headed for the Heber Valley below and to the big riffle in Snake Creek to see if my big Brown buddies were ready to come out and play.

I put the sneak on big time and after a few casts saw a pretty brown chase the WRT. It could easily have been the one I caught here last week - same size and color.

I continued to cast and swing the lure through the turbulent creek and was finally rewarded with another beautiful brown.

This fish was about the same length as the 20 incher but was heavier and more yellow in color.

Pretty Snake Creek Brown in the fading sun.

The Money Shot with the Trestle in the background.

I guess Lightning does strike twice after all!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fishing with Dylan

After more than a week away from home it was nice to sleep in our own bed for a change. We returned on Friday and after taking care of the yard and the pets it was time to head for the salt.

Tracy's sister Elizabeth and her nephew Dylan came to enjoy a day at the beach.

Dylan looks pretty tough in his Indiana Jones hat.
He was ready to tackle some fish!

After lunch we started out at the beach. Check out this cowboy surfer team!

While Tracy searched for shells and Elizabeth & Dylan did some "surfing", I kept guard on the Jeep and amused myself with some dead shrimp and a treble hook.

We stopped for an early dinner at at Spoonbills and tried fishing afterwards along the beach road. There were plenty of crabs but the only fish we saw was a mud minnow caught by Mr. Dylan.

Aunt Elizabeth trying her hand with the telescopic ultralight.

We moved to the Colorado River Locks and began catching some pinfish and croaker. The sky was darkening with an approaching storm when Dylan connected with the biggest fish of the day.

Nice black drum Dylan!

The storm hit just after we rolled up the lines and headed for home. We drove through quite a lightning show and a little much needed rain.

While it was a short trip it was just what was needed after a trip away from home.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Looking for a Repeat

After my successful trip on Tuesday, I was eager to get Tracy on Snake Creek with a fishing rod in her hand. We headed "up the hill" after attending a retirement send off lunch for my boss.

The sun was still high in the sky after we got the Utah license but our plan was to fish early and eat a light dinner before heading back down to Salt Lake.

The Heber Valley is not too far away but we had been hitting it pretty hard for almost a week and the late nights and early mornings were beginning to take their toll. This time of year it was light by 5:30am and stayed light enough to fish until almost 10pm.

We didn't find any fish but saw some wildlife and got these photographic entries for the blog:

A pretty pair of Cinnamon Teal

The "upside down horseshoe cloud" was a harbinger of poor fishing.

Here comes the Heber Creeper!

The tourists on the train were impressed with the "real fisherman".

Fishless but happy.

Someone was watching as we took a walk down the
tracks to the Provo River crossing.

"Hey look at me - I'm pregnant!"

We hit the frozen yogurt shop on the way home.
You know, dairy makes you sleep better!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer on Snake Creek

After the fun weekend in Colorado it was time to head to Utah for some work. We made the trip on Monday and even though we stayed in the Salt Lake Valley we did make a trip to Sportsmans Warehouse after supper. On Tuesday, after fulfilling my office duties, Tracy and I headed to the Heber Valley for a quick supper at the Spin Cafe and a trip to Snake Creek.

The food was good but there were not as many low fat choices as we had hoped. I had the smoked trout spinach salad which got my "fishy side" in motion.

For the regular readers of this blog, a post about Snake Creek should generate some anticipation. I have posted many fine trips to this little spot and it is one of my all-time favorite fishing spots.

This is a familiar shot taken from the big swirly pool looking downstream towards the trestle.

I started fishing with the fly rod. The 4wt rod was a joy to handle but I couldn't seem to find a hungry trout. I tried dries, nymphs, wets, and streamers but nothing seemed to be the ticket.

Tracy decided not to fish so she became my documentarian. Thanks to her I got these action shots.

I fished down stream all the way to the lower end without a hookup. I finally switched to the Ultralight and the WRT and it was "game on" in short order.

The first few fish were small browns. They were feisty fighters and put on the typical Snake Creek aerobatic display. Brown trout are not generally known to be big jumpers - that designation is more familiar with rainbows - but somebody forgot to tell the Snake Creek browns.

As the daylight began to fade the bigger fish came out to feed.

I caught a few more 12-14" fish before I finally say a big fish chase the WRT and refuse it at the last minute. I repeated my cast and swing retrieve in a big riffle and saw another quality fish come after the lure and he did a "Flipper" move jumping over the lure instead of striking it.

My heart rate was increasing with each cast until I finally moved above the riffle and made a long cast up under the trestle and worked the spinner down through the grassy channels. I had a big fish grab the lure and swim downstream directly at me and by the time I took up the slack he turned loose!

The next cast was again under the trestle and this time I got a solid hookset on a big heavy fish. Tracy was quick with the camera and got these action shots as I raced up and down stream trying to keep the fish from burying itself in the underwater vegetation.

I finally steered him to the near bank and slid him up on dry land.

What a fish! This reminded me of the first big browns Paul caught in the pool.

The color on this fish, the fight, and getting to share the experience with my new fishing partner made this one I will always remember. After the photo shoot I made sure Mr. Brown was fully revived before I made a few more casts and we headed for the hotel.

I wonder how well I will sleep?