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!"


Paul Batchelder said...

What a great three fish! Looks like the little woman got the big fish!

Renna said...

Your teaser comment on Tracy's blog had me curious about the big fish. I was not disappointed. What a big beauty of a fish!

I don't speak "fisheze", so much of the dialogue was Greek to me, but it was entertaining Greek, nonetheless. ;-)

All the pictures were great, and I especially like the 8th one down. Those clouds look awesome!

You and Tracy sure make that romping around on the beach and in the water with poles look like fun. ;-)

Bawana said...

Who gets the credit for that old saying! Congratulations to all the lucky and skillful fishermen!