Friday, August 29, 2008

She catches all the Big Fish

Up at 4:30AM to see Matt & Carly off...

As long as we're up we might as well go fishing!

We had loaded the boats the night before and headed to Jensen Point on Turtle Bay near Palacios for an early morning paddle. Tracy posted some nice sunrise shots we got as I was preparing the boats for the launch.

The sky was pretty as we fished our way down this line of old posts looking for a flounder.

After an hour or so, I managed to trick a small redfish on a topwater and we beat it back to the launch as the sun quickly began to heat up the day.

This lone egret stayed behind to continue his watchful vigil.

We moved over to Matagorda and rode down to Three Mile Lake. Tracy soon began to catch fish and hers all seemed to be bigger than mine. Now I've said a lot about how size is not the important thing but I have to say, my competitive side began to show after a while.

Here is a nice black drum caught by Tracy.

This is the largest croaker I've ever seen. Tracy handled it with ease.

She caught the biggest hardhead and this big sting ray. Even though we didn't catch any keepers it was fun to burn through some bait and enjoy the afternoon together.

After eating our picnic supper we headed back to Palacios for a little pier fishing and guess what Tracy caught? Not only was this the biggest trout we caught, it seemed to be the biggest one caught on the pier. That long walk to the car carying a big trout on a stringer will get you the respect of all the night time fishers!

She is getting pretty good with the MirrOdine.

I think I know what we are having for lunch tomorrow!

Be sure to bring your pliers when handling this predator.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Matagorda Mindset

When you visit the beach in Matagorda, Texas there are a few things you must get straight in your mind. First you have to get your eyes to look up once in a while to see the grand sky scenery.

Next you have to slow down long enough to see the beauty that is all around you. Sometimes it is in front of you and sometimes it is behind, but beauty is always a glance away.

Bring a friend or two along to enjoy the day.

Handy driftwood can be used to establish a pecking order.

See I told you there was beauty all around!

When you get the notion, string up a rod and cast into the surf. You never know what you might catch and each type and species is unique and special.

Ladyfish may not be one of the Texas Slam but the "Poor Man's Tarpon" will test your skills.

On a blue-water day, Matagorda can seem like it should be thronged with people but today we had it all to ourselves.

Take time to do a few coconut presses just to keep in shape.

Gather some pumice rocks and natural sandstone coasters. Look for some sea beans and other beach treasures.

But when collecting shells on a beach that is home to several head of cattle, be mindful of where you pick.

Above all, enjoy the majesty and glory that God has provided.

Just be careful that the Matagorda Mindset doesn't set in too deep!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lazy Afternoon

After our pier fishing on Friday night and the prospect of a continued lower than normal tide, Tracy and I changed our original plan of an early morning trip to the salt to an afternoon ride for lunch in Matagorda and a short ride down the beach to check out Three Mile Lake.

We had found that the recent rains had freshened up the McNab launch to the point that we spotted three gators within the first two hundred yards and decided not to tempt fate. The Three Mile area had produced fish in the recent past and provided both a flat level spot to set up the umbrella and some chairs and a cooler breeze coming in from the gulf.

We bought some fresh dead shrimp from Buddies and soon started catching some black drum. These feisty fighters made for some enjoyable fishing throughout the afternoon and six of them made it to the insulated bag.

We caught some other small fish as is the case when fishing natural bait. It seems everything that swims loves shrimp - including this pretty little redfish.

We caught several ladyfish aka "poor man's tarpon". This one finally held still for a picture. I caught some finger mullet in the cast net and though I didn't catch anything on the live version, the ladyfish, hardheads, croaker, and drum all went for some cut pieces of fresh mullet.

You can see from this picture that this area is relatively small and lies between the surf and the bay. There are several fingers of water that make up the Three Mile area and we were fishing near a fork and a channel.

Summer is coming to a close as evidenced by this cane going to seed.

We were fishing near a wade fisherman and one kayaker who traveled down the cut to shown in the upper right of the above picture. As you can see, the wader is almost up to his armpits. He fished for hours without a strike and finally caught a nice 18" trout.

When he finally gave it up he stopped to offer his fish to us. It turned out to be "Shane from Bay City", a fellow Palacios pier fisherman who I had met and fished with over a year ago. He had two other trout on ice so our fish bag was now looking pretty good.

All in all it was a pretty enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. The area was very quiet with only the sounds of the birds and the surf in the background. We used up two pounds of shrimp and a half dozen mullet before the skeeters decided we seemed like just the right flavor. They were brutal by the time we reached the cleaning table at the Matagorda Harbor.

Tracy said that she thought that her presence at the fish cleaning table listening to the banter among guides and fishermen was comparable to me being at the yarn store listening to all the knitters twitter about yarn and such.

We were able to share some of the catch with our neighbors. Fresh fish is usually easy to transfer whether whole out of the ice chest or filleted and ready for the grill.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ladies Night

Friday turned out to be another work at home day. We've been doing some software demos that are done over the Internet and conference calls so I can save the drive in to work and be ready for an afternoon departure to Matagorda.

Tracy and I visited McNab and the tide was low again. There were a couple of gals fishing off the point near the intracoastal canal and we joined them for a short time to see if we caould find a flounder near local structure of piers, pilings, and reefs.

While we didn't find any flounder, Tracy tagged this nice trout on a 'Pounder. So far we have caught flounder, reds and now trout on this versatile plastic bait. It will remain a regular fixture in my box from now on.

I finally managed a rat red on a home rigged tube jig. I used the hardware off the flounder pounder that the redfish had destroyed last trip and a pumpkinseed tube from my bass fishing bag.

The only other fisherman that was having any success was this egret.

After eating our picnic supper we decided to make the run to Palacios for some evening pier fishing. The summer crowds were pretty much gone as school is about to crank up and we were nearly alone except for two ladies out for a little R&R.

We fished the shad rigs and mirrOdine and caught our share of sand trout and quite a few Ladyfish. These acrobatic jumpers are a blast to catch - especially when combined with a trout on the second hook.

The specks moved in about 10pm and we caught them on the 'dine and I tricked a few on various topwater offerings.

The best one was a Heddon Tiny Torpedo shown below.

This one is an example of one rigged with twin treble hooks.

The clear version below was the ticket for the night feeding specks under the pier lights.

We didn't put any fish on the stringer but a good time was had by all.

Fungus Amongus

The drought has broken. We received a blessing of rain in the form of several days of heavy showers and some long stretches of drizzle in between.

You know what that means... Shrooms!

One story with an attached garage.


Heavy Head


Fairy bath

Whatever you call them, mushrooms are cool. They spring up quickly and have unique and interesting shapes and colors.

Let the Mushroom Olympics commence... Let the Games begin!

I'm going for the gold....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

MirrOdine Update

While fishing in saltwater with artificial lures isn't exactly new, it is a relatively recent phenomenom for me. I cut my teeth on fishing the Texas bays using shrimp and cut bait.

The decision of what to use wasn't "natural or artificial" it was "live or dead".

Since the revival of my fishing obsession in the past couple of years, I have been introduced to the concept of trying to fool specks, reds, and flounder with a piece of plastic and some action imparted by the design of the lure or by the fisherman.

Regular readers of this blog have heard me talk about twin shad rigs, spoons, spinners, "Flounder Pounders", "Gulp Shrimp", "Redfish Magic", and a long list of other plastic and metal creations all designed to trick a fish into striking.

My latest "hot" lure is the MirrOdine. This flashy suspending twitchbait is appealing to the fisherman as well as the fish. And thankfully, it is made in several colors! The design includes a liquid filled shell that slows down it's sinking action and causes the minnow shaped lure to suspend between 1-2 ft.

I had an exceptional day of fishing recently where I caught every fish on a 'Dine. Following that trip I was putting together a few lures for some midweek fishing friends to use and found the lure leaking the oil that causes it to suspend.

I called the manufacturer and sent the lure to Florida. While I was waiting for their response, I tried to figure out if it was the fish that had damaged the lure or if I had contributed in some way to the failure.

I had purchased a few more (read "several") MirrOdines in different colors and a new plastic box in which to arrange and house them when I noticed that the front treble hook could rotate back and one hook point could rest right in the spot where the lure had leaked. It was concievable that if stored incorrectly, this could cause a failure.

Before I could contact the manufaturer to report that this was likely my fault, I received a package in the mail. Not only did the good folks at L&S Bait Company replace my MirrOdine in the hard-to-find color but they also included a new release - the MirrOdine XL.

Many thanks to Jennifer and the L&S staff for excellent customer service!

L&S Bait Company, Inc.
1415 East Bay Drive
Largo, Florida 33771
Tel 727.584.7691 • Fax 727.587.0784

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Flounder Pounder

After catching a keeper flounder at McNab and enjoying the incomparable flavor of a fresh caught grilled whole flatty, I began to do a little research to determine how I could target the next one and intentionally catch it instead of stumbling along hoping for success.

There are lots of resources available that give good advice on how to locate and catch flounder. I have Chester Moore's book Flounder Fever, and an account on several forums including TKF that provide lots of local information.

I recently bought some lures called Flounder Pounders and went to the manufacturers website for a little more info.

This innovative bait combines a heavy jig, a cheater hook and a unique tube design. The website also has some good information on how to target flounder.

I finished the workday at 4PM after working from home and Tracy and I headed to Matagorda for supper and an evening paddle.

The tide was out and the water level so low that the oyster reefs were exposed. This usually means no fish especially near the front of the channel but with some low expectations we launched to take advantage of the remaining daylight.

Most of the heat was out of the sun and the evening rays made for some great light in which to shoot my favorite paddler. Notice the new addition to the Magic - a rod holder!

I had two rods rigged. One had the MirrOminnow a slim version of the MirrOdine. This lure is a shallow suspending hard bait that runs in 12"-18" of water - perfect for this type of environment. The second rod was rigged with a Flounder Pounder and as you can see above, it found what I was looking for. This flatty will have to grow up a little more but it showed me that the lure is effective if fished correctly.

We eventually made it down to the famous corner where we had been successful once before and after no success with the MirrOminnow, I went back to the 'pounder. This bait is fished right on the bottom so I was getting frequent snags on the submerged oyster reefs. On one retrieve, I thought I had snagged the bottom again when the "bottom" started pulling back! I couldn't tell if I was hung up and the fish plucked the bait off the reef or if I just hooked a tough fish that didn't want to move at first. The 19" red above was hugging the bottom and while it was making some short runs, I was thinking I had a huge flounder until I finally got his head up.

Hey - I've got dreams too! I've been visualizing catching flounder all week and after all I was using a specific flounder bait right?

We fished until just before dark. I managed to pick up one more red on the Flounder Pounder and this one was long enough to make it to the ice chest.

Thanks once again to Tracy for the great photography. These pictures are much better than the arm's length versions I was used to taking.

You may be feeling bad for Tracy as I haven't mentioned her catch yet. The paddle at McNab was a little disappointing. I had rigged her up with a 2" white gulp shrimp under a popping cork and all she managed was one silver perch (aka yellowtail). I think the "low and slow" advice that Paul had given us last Saturday proved out as all the fish I caught were on the 'pounder fished tight to the bottom.

Not to be deterred, Tracy earlier had suggested that we make the short drive to Palacios to see what was happening on the pier. We were able to listen to the Braves game on the way and the wind seemed to be dying down too.

There were several sand trout popping bait on the surface of Tres Palacios Bay when we arrived and we caught our share with the double shad rigs.

Later in the evening, I tied on the MirrOdine and Tracy and I caught some nice specks. None were quite big enough to string up but they were fun to catch and gave us some confidence in the 'Dine.

Here is the happy fisher-girl with a 14" speck and the MirrOdine.

The yellow mouth and snaggle tooth are unique to the saltwater trout. They have big appetites and will take a large bait as well as the tiny glass minnows we see them eating at night.

Fishing at night is an experience that everyone should try at least once - especially when daytime temps get up over 95 degrees! We enjoyed the cooler breeze coming in off the water and the great fishing action until X o'clock.

I'd better not say what time we came in... We might get in trouble with the kids.