Saturday, July 26, 2008

Best Fishing Day Ever

After being out of town all week, I was more than ready for a trip to Matagorda. Hurricane Dolly had come ashore well to the south and while we got some much needed rain the weather had quickly returned to hot and humid with no chance of rain in the forecast.

We were overdue for a visit to McNab Lake and I convinced Tracy that we needed to get up early in order to have the best chance at a fish. I was a little concerned that I was overselling the whole kayak fishing thing as this would be the first time the "Lady Trion" would meet the "Native Magic". Fishing from a kayak requires controlling a lot of chaos and I didn't want it to be a bad experience. The weather was still and humid and I worked up a sweat just loading the boats at 5:15 AM. We made sure the bug dope was packed in case the recent rain had produced a crop of mosquitos. Paul and I experienced the joy of M&M (mosquitos in the marsh) when we paddled Oyster Lake last year. They can be relentless!

Upon arrival, we found the water level to be high (due to the effects of Dolly) and the tide going out. There was just enough breeze blowing in from the south to cool things down and keep the bugs at bay.

The outflow was pretty strong as shown in this shot near the launch. This was also a good sign as the moving water pulls the baitfish off the protection of the oyster reefs. The predators take full advantage of this and position themselves in the buffet line.

We got to enjoy some nice close ups of this Spoonbill and gulls on the way in.

I think this is the best shot of a spoonbill to date. I kept a sharp eye out for Mr. Alligator but he must have moved on to seek fresh water.

Our game plan included paddling to the reefs near the first split which last time had produced a nice trout. We could see bait showering into the air as we approached and I was getting pumped about the possibility of catching a good fish here. I rigged Tracy up with a 2" white gulp under a pink cork and before long she had a good fish on! It gave a good fight and ended up getting tangled up in the brush along the shoreline behind Tracy. With a few anxious moments and a lot of luck I was able to get my 14' boat up alongside the 12' Magic and work my net in among the brush to finally retrieve her fish.

Not Bad... Her first fish caught from the yak and it is a 20" redfish.

Not to be outdone, I threw a redfish magic spinner bait and hooked up as well.

"Yee Haw" My own contribution to the stringer, another 20" red.

I switched to the MiroDine and was rewarded with an 18" trout. This was turning out to be a good spot and it was only about 300 yards from the launch.

I was thinking we may never make it into McNab Lake at this rate. The bite calmed down and we were thinking about moving when Tracy hooked up again. She had seen this big guy chasing bait and placed her cast accordingly. This time she got to enjoy a Texas Sleigh Ride.

This 26" red weighed in at 7.3 lbs. This is a major league fish under any conditions but in a kayak it was a real fight and Tracy handled him like a pro. I was trying to give instructions but as you can imagine, I got a little tongue tied when I realized how big this red was. "Don't horse him!" was about the best I could come up with...

Big red and a happy fisherman!

Here is the bad boy on the stringer. We fished a while more and went down the the next corner where I caught two more trout but both were just a little shy of the legal limit of 15". The morning had been productive to say the least and the sun was getting hot, The bite had completely died out so we decided to bag the paddle in to the lake and head to Cattails for a cup of coffee.

This shot gives a little perspective. Six inches difference on a redfish makes a lot of difference.

We had a nice stringer for a couple of hours of fishing. After coffee and an early lunch at Spoonbills we headed to the beach. Edie and Marie had filled us in on the events of the past week and told us that the tide had come in all the way to the dunes and really cleaned off the beach. The water was beginning to settle out but was still stirred up so we took a left at Three Mile Cut to see what the back lakes looked like. We found a nice spot to park and tried casting lures off the bank. I hooked up on a couple of trout using a small squid on a jighead.

I continued to see nervous water and an occasional bait shower on the opposite bank and finally landed one close enough to this 22" red for him to do the "grab & go". It was a little surprising to catch this guy in the blazing sun with no real cover. There goes my argument for getting up early!

We moved down and I next connected with this nice black drum on a gold spoon. Again, a surprise as drum are not known to chase a lure - even if it is a Nemire Red Ripper!

Tracy was feeling left out until she connected with this small flounder. The fishing forum folks call this a "potato chip flounder".

These are spectacular creatures and are perfectly camouflaged to ambush unsuspecting bait (or in this case a white gulp shrimp).

Tracy and I continued to catch black drum after switching to fresh dead shrimp. We put three in the ice chest along with the four reds and the speck I had caught earlier in the channel at McNab. We took a break and rode down the beach a ways. I foul hooked a horse mullet and caught a few hardheads before we called it a day.

Here is the shot from the cleaning table. It was a nice "Meat Haul" and lots of fun to boot.

I have caught fish in several states - in the mountains and in some pretty rivers and lakes. I have had days when I caught more fish and have even caught bigger fish then we did this day.

Being out in the fresh air - paddling, fishing, and walking on the beach are all fun and relaxing activities. Watching your best friend catch her first (and second) fish from a kayak made this by far the best day of fishing ever.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

R and B

I love music. I've even been known to listen to a little Rhythm & Blues from time to time. My true passion though is fishing and when you talk R&B with a fisherman in Utah you usually mean Rainbows and Browns.

When I made my way down Daniels Canyon the sun was still too high to think that the Snake Creek fish would be active so I headed to the Provo River near the Charleston bridge. The area downstream of the Hwy 113 crossing was a big floodplain. It had dried out enough for me to hike out to the river through the tall grass and willows. I jumped a mule deer fawn and was too slow to get a picture but got a nice close up view of the little beauty.

When I made my way to the river I started blind casting and swinging the WRT through some pretty swift water.

After several casts with no luck I began to look for a likely fish holding spot. I spied a deadfall across the river on the opposite shoreline that had a nice calm area on the downstream side.

I had to switch to the 1/4oz WRT and began casting ahead of the snag and letting the big spinner swing. On the third cast I was met with some outstanding resistance - the kind that pulls back!

This fat rainbow inhaled the lure and took me and the telescopic ultralight for a ride.

This fish was at least 18" and very strong. I had to use the current to tire it out.

After the photo shoot he was returned to grow up some more.

When the sun finally slipped behind the mountains, it was time to head to Snake Creek and to see if the brown trout were ready to come out to play.

The creek was running low and slow and the weeds had all but choked out most of the channels.

I was able to hook and land one pretty 13" brown from the riffle below the trestle.

The setting sun reflected off the clouds making for quite a show.

Daniels Creek Blues

Well here I am back in Utah for the remainder of the week with enough time this evening to visit my favorite fishing holes in the Heber Valley.

Highway 40 winds out of Heber City and climbs Daniels canyon on the way to Vernal. A small creek parallels this state highway and I decided to head up to see if I could find a cutthroat or two.

Summer comes late at 7,000ft elevation and the wildflowers were everywhere.

The spot I wanted to visit should be familiar to regular readers of this blog. It is at Three Forks, where a nice pool usually holds a few eager fish.

I made some pretty casts with the WRT but couldn't seem to find a fish. The creek was low and the weather hot so I'm sure the fish had moved to the deeper holes and beaver ponds. I know where one nice spot is a little downstream but decided not to pursue that course in favor of a trip down the valley to Snake Creek.

As I made my way back to the rent car I was thankful to have been able to enjoy this trip up the canyon even if I didn't find any willing fish.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Green to the Beach

Since work will have me tied up for the remainder of the week, I took advantage of the fair weather on Monday to treat Tracy and me to a dinner out and a little fun in Matagorda County.

We had missed our weekend trip to Spoonbills so that was our target for dinner and we packed the rods and some lures "just in case" we had time to fish afterwards.

My buddy Tony caught a trout in Palacios on Friday on a shiny MirrOdine lure and I brought a couple along with some other hardbaits to try in the surf.

We arrived in town shortly before the restaurant opened and rode out to the beach. The surf was nearly flat and the water was green all the way to the beach! We had not seen such clear water in a while and I got pretty excited about the prospects of catching something off the jetty as the sun went down.

Dinner at Spoonbills was predictably delicious and we had a nice visit with Edie & Marie. After supper it was time to head to the water and try our luck in the evening surf.

We started with a TTF Weedless Flats Minnow along the jetty rocks.

There were several fishermen on the pier and a few wadefishermen but other than a few hardheads, small croaker, and sand trout, nobody was catching anything.

The scenery was great and even though the fish weren't cooperative it was great to be out enjoying the evening.

Tracy took a break after we tried the MirrOdine with no success.

Before the sun went all the way down I received a call from Kevin who was on his way to Palacios. "Road Trip!" We decided to change venues and join Kevin and his daughter for some pier fishing. The Braves were playing the Marlins and we could catch the game on the XM radio so the 30 minute trip to Palacios went by quickly.

Tracy nailed a nice 13" speck on the twin shad rig.

Big Daddy John with the largest fish of the night - 14-7/8" Speck.

We stayed out too late and even though we caught lots of small sand trout and a few specks the big ones never showed up in force. It was a beautiful evening to be out and with the possibility of summer storms (like Dolly) lurking out there it is wise to take advantage of fair weather when it comes our way.

Fishing takes attitude!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Night Heat

Summertime in Texas is hot. We are deep into the July weather pattern of hot humid days, afternoon thunderstorms, and steamy nights.

Reports from the coast were good (even though I was in Chicago for a couple of days) and as the work week came to a close a plan was hatched to visit the 1st Street Pier on Friday night.

I've been trying to get Jared back to the salt water for some time and things worked out for him to join us on this trip. We ate a quick supper at the house and headed south, arriving in Palacios well before dark. We made a pit stop at The Point and got some "fresh dead" at the Bait Shack and drove to the jetty to see whether we might want to start there.

This photo, demonstrates for all readers of the blog, that Tracy is indeed an excellent photographer. Nice Shot! After surveying the scene, we decided to head back to the familiar seawall near the pier instead of getting sprayed with saltwater and slipping on the slick granite.

The wind was blowing a little but I was optimistic that it would subside after dark.
Before long we were catching small drum, croaker, pinfish, and an occasional hardhead.

"Lady Redfish" continued her run by catching two reds. These guys are too small to keep but fight like the dickens.

Jared was pleased to catch the bigger of this double drum haul.

Tracy's double spot redfish. I spooled her up with some new line (14# Crystal Berkley Fireline) and a hand tied, carolina rigged, #8 VMC cone cut, super sharp, saltwater, treble hook with fresh - never frozen white gulf shrimp. Nothing but the best for these magnificent fish!

Here is a closeup of the Brute of the Bay, the Prince of Palacios, the Golden Glamour of the Gulf....

OK, back to the fishing.

We moved out to the pier after sundown and Jared began catching sand trout on shrimp.

Tracy and I switched to the old stand by - the tiny TTF glowing double shad rig and caught some of our own. The speckled trout were few and far between but we each caught lots of fish and everybody caught at least one speck.

We got to see a beautiful moonrise over the bay. Here is a picture and below is a video to try to give you the full effect. (I wish I would have had the bigger camera!)

"Red Moon in the day the fish are away
Red Moon at night will turn on the bite"

I made that up myself...I'm sure it will catch on and become a new classic!