Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Low Water at Evans Lake

It has been a few weeks since I have visited the lake on the Evans estate and decided after an unsuccessful round with "Joe the Plumber" to spend the last hour or so of daylight seeing if any bass were hungry.

The weather has been unusually dry during the later part of the summer and into fall as reflected in the low water level. Despite that, here were still some hungry LMBs like this one that fell for the crankbait.

With a mouth this big, I could have thrown a softball painted like a frog.

The wind was calm and the weather nice and cool. You can see how low the water is.

This guy was fooled by a multicolored Spook Jr. (spectrum) and picked up a few weeds along the way.

This chunky bass had some fun with the Booyah white Pond Magic buzzbait.

All good things must come to an end and before long I began to notice the sky turning colors. I managed to hook and land over a dozen bass and got in some stress relieving exercise.

Until the rains come again - sleep well my beauties!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

McNab is on Fire

I wish I could say that I was talking about the fishing.

We didn't get out until after lunch and the water was high and still rising. The incoming tide and ESE breeze made for easy paddling on the way in but the fish were all but non-existent.

We did a little beachcombing in the morning and noticed a lot of smoke in the direction of McNab and sure enough when we arrived the crabbers and locals were watching a pretty sizable brush fire adjacent to the area we intended to fish.

The prevailing breeze was taking the fire and smoke away from us so we decided to launch and give it a try. We weren't sure if the fire was intentional or not but surmised that they were letting it burn either way.

We saw two other kayakers from Waco who were coming in after taking the right hand fork at the Oyster Reef Fork and making the loop back to Trout Junction. They had only caught a couple of small fish and were thinking about changing locations.

After thoroughly fishing the Oyster Reef Fork all we had to show for it was this one undersized trout caught on the Gulp Jerk Shad in Neon Chartreuse Pepper.

We continued to The Corners and Trout Junction without as much as a nibble and finally ended up at Triple Junction.

Tracy fished the main channel at the confluence of Little Lake and the back entrance to The Trout Pond and I headed out for a tour of Little Lake.

After arriving at the back of the lake without a bite, I decided to troll back to join Tracy. I left my Gulp Jerk Shad out about 200 yards behind me and began paddling at a nice easy pace.

Before long I was rewarded with a rod bouncing in the holder and managed this little speck. Tracy had come into Little Lake to join me as she had yet to experience the first bite.

I continued to fish the Gulp and soon had another bite - this time from a keeper flounder. I'm pretty sure I lost flounder #2 in the main channel before we decided to continue on.

We paddled out to the main lake and fished the mouth and along the area to the left of the mouth I call Flounder Flats but couldn't scare up a fish for love or money.

We finally headed back to the Oyster Reef Fork paddling against the current and breeze the whole way. It was reminiscent of the first paddling experience only without the wet seat. We again fished the reefs without any luck and called it a day.

While we are thankful for an afternoon on the water and a nice 18" flounder for the grill, it's pretty tough fishing and paddling for 4 hours without a bite. Tracy enjoys kayak fishing but she also enjoys the catching part.

I'd better find the fish soon or we may need to try some other ways to spend time together. <'(((<<

Friday, October 24, 2008

Historical Significance

I spent the week in Virginia on business and even though we were busy with the matters at hand, a co-worker and I took the time to drive in to DC to see some of the sights at night. We parked near the Jefferson Memorial and walked across the mall to the Lincoln Memorial.

The Washington Monument is majestic at night even in this blury picture.

The Lincoln Memorial at dusk is a striking sight and stands as a symbol of freedom.

The walls are covered with Lincoln's words and each visitor is struck by a sense of awe.

We walked around and visited the Korean War Veterans Memorial. I wish I had tried to take a picture as it was one of the most striking scenes in the park at night.

The remainder of the week was spent in places like Manassas, Charlottesville, Wintergreen, Appomattox and other Virginia locals all of which provided the backdrop of history and beautiful fall foliage.

When I arrived back in Texas, I grabbed my bride and headed for Matagorda for a night in the historic Stanley Fisher House Bed & Breakfast. We have been trying to book a room here since Labor Day and finally got our schedule and theirs on the same page.

The place is rich with history and the owners, Rik and Peggy Stanley, were welcoming and gracious hosts.

We saw a small buck skipping across the front lawn as we were heading off to Spoonbills for dinner.

The furnishings and decor are all coordinated to compliment this grand old building.

For the history buff there are cases filled with military figurines.

The Civil War was a predominant theme throughout the house.

Upstairs there were several photos of the war generals.

Coffee was served outside our room as a great breakfast was being prepared downstairs.

The porch was comfortable and the patio outside is made from bricks from the original chimney.

The sunroom or "inside porch" was also inviting and cool.

I thought the Confederate soldier's cap was a great accent.

This is one corner of our room. Blue is my favorite color!

The composite picture on the left was made using several portraits - even before Photoshop.

After dinner we made a trip to Palacios to fish on the pier. The fishing was slow and even though we caught a few sand trout, our enthusiasm quickly waned.

Tracy caught this ribbon eel on the MirrOdine.

This toothy guy looks like he is made of chrome and makes great bait for offshore fishing.

Kevin and his neighbor joined us after catching a bite at Baytown Seafood. They weren't having any better luck until Kevin caught this monster Yellowtail on the 'Dine.

Who's eating Who?

As we said goodbye to the folks at SF B&B,
I got a shot at this hawk on our way to the beach.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

High Pressure

I think I'm beginning to understand a few things about this Fishing Guide thing.

First thing is that there are some days when the weather is nice for the fishermen but that may not make for a good fishing (catching) day. Those days are tough on the guide as well as on the customer. There is a lot of pressure to get on the fish.

I would like to blame our slow day of fishing on the barometric pressure being too high, but as some have written, that may not be the only factor in our lack of success. Sometimes you paddle and cast, paddle and cast, but don't ever seem to find the magic combination.

We showed up at the launch at precisly the right time of day. The sun was just peeking up over the horizon as I unloaded the boats. Tracy was a good sport but she is far from convinced that the fish bite any better earlier than at any other time of day. She has proven this to herself (and me) on the last few outings.

The morning started out beautifully cool and calm. There was a slight north breeze blowing and the water level was well over the tops of the reefs.

We saw several birds just off the launch in the early morning sunlight. I got this Great Egret and Tracy got up close and personal with a Spoonbill. The video below will give you some sense of the early part of the day.

We paddled and fished through The Corners, to Triple Junction, and on to McNab Lake. There were two other fishermen in the lake fishing together and one turned out to be the guy who first told me about McNab.

We fished the mouth and let the wind push us to the left. As we drifted down the shoreline, I cast some Gulp Jerk Shad into the spot where I had caught a nice flounder. I got a hit, but rushed my hookset and ended up missing my chance at a repeat. I just know that was another flounder! I parked and fished that spot for 30 minutes as Tracy worked the mouth of the flat and went inside to fish the flat but we both came up empty.

On the way out we took the right fork near little lake and followed it to the back entrance to The Trout Pond. We couldn't seem to scare up a fish and though Tracy had a few fish (and crabs) messing with her bait, nothing took it such that she could get a hook in their mouth.

I found a few small reds including this pretty "rubbermouth".

I caught this two-spot red on a shallow running crankbait.

The signature single spot and blue tail and look nice in the sunlight.

This guy was caught at The Corners on the way out.

There were a lot of dragonflies in the marsh and on one cast I unintentionally knocked one into the water near the kayak. The colors are stunning and the details of the wings really show up if you click on the picture and look at it full-sized.

Last week, I lost a crankbait to a fish on an oyster reef near the the launch. I kept looking for the fish responsible and finally found this one. He looks guilty - no? He was a couple of inches short but notice the size of his tail. This was a powerful fish for his size and will one day provide some kayak fisherman a real Texas Sleighride.

After lunch, we picked up some shrimp and headed to Three Mile Lake. We started fishing off the bank and Tracy caught this pretty baby black drum. She didn't get skunked after all! We put the boats in and paddled for a couple more hours but couldn't find the fish to save our lives.

We ended the day doing a little beachcombing. The water was pretty churned up when we arrived but was beginning to clear by the time we headed home. You can get an update by visiting Beach Beans - my new blog.

While the high barometric pressure may have made for a slow day of fishing, and as the guide, I felt the pressure of not being able to produce a high catch rate, it was still a great day to spend together enjoying God's creation under a beautiful blue sky.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Was Wrong...

We all know how admiting our failures is liberating. It is good for the soul.

I was wrong when I thought I had caught the big fish in the pool on Tuesday.

I was wrong when I told Tracy that there was enough daylight left. (we all know there is never enough daylight for those struck with OCF)

I was wrong to give Paul grief for not having a net when he lost a flounder at the boat.

I was wrong when I thought I wouldn't need to bring a net to Utah.

And mostly I was wrong when I thought I would just bend down and scoop the big fish up onto the bank.

OK here goes:

I left the city a full thirty minutes later than I had on Tuesday thinking I had enough time to drive to Snake Creek in time for an hour or so of fishing. The clear weather had faded into a cold overcast evening with a chance of rain threatening. I made good time on the trip up and the sun was behind the mountain which, on a clear day, wouldn't be a big problem.

I still thought I had enough time to hit the big swirley pool and maybe even scoot down below the trestle for a shot at a big brown or two. I did remember to tie on a mono leader and slipped into my hip boots before heading to the pool. I tied on the standard 1/8th oz WRT and ducked down in the tall grass as I approached the pool from the downstream end.

There were no fish rising as I began to cast. I didn't get the immediate strike I had anticipated and when I did finally get a fish to move it was a small one and he didn't totally commit to the spinner but turned away just short of a strike.

I swapped out the 1/8th oz for the little 1/16th oz version that had saved my bacon on Tuesday and began working the eddy currents. I had two solid strikes but was unable to get a hookset. I couldn't believe that a fish could hit a moving spinner that hard and not make contact with the treble hook!

After several casts I was about to resign myself to getting skunked when after a long cast, I got tangled up in the weeds and stopped reeling long enough to free my line. When I resumed reeling I was met with some serious pressure and I set the hook.

What happened next was by far the best fight I have ever experienced in the big swirley pool. The fish was strong and took me end to end and side to side at will. I had the drag set light to protect the tiny leader and he made two full body leaps over the pool. This was surely the big fish I had seen on Tuesday and he was full of it.

He was a wiley bugger and took full advantage of the currents, grass, eddys, and shallows in his attempts to escape. No matter where he turned it seemed I was able to block him or slow his charge just enough to make him change his mind about where to go for safety.

I was more than impressed by the stamina and strength of this fish when I finally realized that I had hooked him square in the dorsal fin! No wonder I was unable to turn or guide this big brown.

I basically hung on until the fury subsided and slowly guided the bruiser to the shallow water near the bank. I stepped into the water and as I bent down to cup my hand under him to cradle him to the bank I lifted up on the rod to bring him to the surface. It pains me to tell what happened next.

I had to put some extra pressure on the fish to overcome the current and grass at the tail end of the pool where he had ended up after the great battle. My hand was inches away from the fish when the hook pulled loose and he disappeared into the inky water before my eyes.

I won't attempt to try to put a measurement on this fine fish but sufice it to say that he made the 18 incher I caught earlier in the week look like bait.

I will always have the memory of the fight and the sight of the early C&R and I'm sure that this story will improve with the telling.

I will always be thankful for the beautiful creatures that God has provided and the time to pursue them.

And, I will hopefully learn to apply the wise words of M. H. B.:


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Saving Face

After a busy morning it was off to the airport and a flight to Salt Lake City.

I haven't visited Snake Creek in several weeks and I was curious to see the condition of one of my favorite fishing spots. Each time I come to Utah I notice that development continues to creep closer and closer to this area that has brought me so much pleasure and has produced so many beautiful fish. I fear that one day I'll see a "Sold for Development" sign where the "Fisherman's Rules" sign now hangs.

I met two of my co-workers at the airport and convinced them that the best way to spend the evening was to drive up and over the mountain to the Heber Valley. They didn't have any fishing equipment or licenses but were willing to go along for the ride.

We had a nice trip without too much traffic. I was surprised that the fall colors had not really begun to show but the cooler weather indicated that summer was definitely over.

When we arrived at the parking spot, the sun had already disappeared behind the mountain and we hustled down the lane to the big swirley hole. I showed the two newbies how to stay hidden from the fish and they held back as I snuck up to within casting distance.

In my haste to get to the water I had not tied on a fluorocarbon or mono leader to my Crystal (white) Berkley Fireline. I tied the 1/8 oz white roostertail directly to the fireline and cast first to the tail of the pool. The first two throws did not yield any sign of fish so I moved my cast up to the middle of the pool. The main current splits into two backwards flowing eddy currents and as the silver spinner did it's magic we all saw a huge boil just behind the wake of the lure. My skeptical observers turned into interested participants in this dance between fish and fisherman.

I had several refusals on the next few casts with not one fish able to overcome the fact that the white and silver spinning lure looked good but was tied to a white string.

I next began to try different lures in my small box. I tried a similar roostertail spinner with a red tip and a banded tail, a white grub on a chartreuse 1/16 oz jighead, a Mepps squirrel tail Ajila, and all came up empty. The closest I got was one fish that grabbed the tail of the grub but just as quickly let go.

My fans who were minutes ago cheering me on were now beginning to think that I really didn't know what I was doing. They were losing focus and their conversation began drifting away from the big fish they had seen to work issues and other mundane topics. I needed to get a hookup quickly or they would be lost forever.

I finally tied on a 1/16 oz roostertail with a silver body and a minimalist white tail. This was hard to cast to the spot where the fish had been earlier but I finally landed one near enough and got a solid strike. I set the hook and the 14" brown came up and out of the water shaking and twisting like a tarpon. As we all watched the beautiful fish reach the apex of his jump he gave a mighty lunge and the treble hook flew from his mouth and he disappeared beneath the swirling pool.

The moan that escaped from deep within my being could only be understood by a fellow fisherman. It's the same feeling as losing a big flounder right at the boat when you don't have a net....

I was in real trouble now. This had changed from a case of impressing your friends to a matter of honor. How could I ever hold my head up again if I gave in now? It was game on and the clock was running.

I stayed with the smaller RT and continued to cast to the spot. After several decent shots I began to get the idea that the fish had moved. I took a new position near the bank (on my hands and knees) and made the next cast further upstream. BINGO!

I found what I believe was the first fish that had produced the big boil. He took the lure like he meant it and I got a good solid hookset. He was a fury of glistening glory as he took drag and thrashed against the line. I kept the rod held as high as I could reach and applied every skill I had gained over the past few years pulling hefty trout up and out of the Snake Creek grass beds.

When I managed to skid the big brown up on the grassy bank, I felt a sense of relief. Not only did I have two witnesses - I had some ready made photographers to help me document the catch!

This fat 18" fish made a great picture thanks to David. Thanks also to Colin for driving and to both of them for hanging in there with me.

Once again Snake Creek of the Heber Valley has provided this fisherman with a great story worth telling. I hope, Lord willing, there are more such stories waiting to be told in the future.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Trout Pond

A Saturday rendevous was planned with Captain Paul & his first mate Paul Jr.from the New Caney fleet. Tracy and I arrived at the launch after the early birds headed back to the main lake.

We fished the corners with very little to show - I caught one rat red and Tracy caught a pretty trout but it turned out to be a half-inch shy of legal.

The red fell for a shallow running crankbait.

Tracy's trout was caught on the Gulp Shad fished as a double rig weedless and weightless as shown on the rod in the first picture.

We fished along and finally met up with P&P at the junction of Little Lake and the main channel.

Captain Paul had a sad story about the one(hatch-cover-sized flounder) that got away. He was sporting his new 12' Tarpon and had been battling the 15 mph wind long enough on the open lake.

Jr. was the only one with a fish on the stringer after 3+ hours of fishing, He too had a fish story about decent trout that experienced an early C&R at the boat.

We finally headed for the launch with thoughts of lunch and a break. P&P headed for home and Tracy and I took a drive to the beach after a chicken sandwich compliments of Edie and company. We saw plenty of yakers along the beach road and stopped at Rawlings to talk to a group of paddlers that were returning from a morning of fishing without much catching.

We ended up at the 3-mile area and tried some bank fishing with no success. The area sure looks different since the storm but the water levels are returning to normal so we were able to drive on the dirt tracks again.

We drove down the beach a ways and stopped for some shelling and beachcombing. I have a new appreciation for sea beans aka drift seeds and started a collection when Matt & Carly came down earlier in the summer. The recent storm pushed water through the dunes and I had an idea that the light, floating, seeds might find their way beyond the reach of the casual beach walker. Check out my new blog, Beach Beans where I'll be posting about the seeds I discover and collect while beachcombing on the Texas beaches.

As the afternoon was quickly transforming into evening, we decided to return to McNab and try our luck fishing the corners. We struck out at our usual spots and when we ended up at Trout Junction where I had tagged my big fish last week, I suggested that we follow the fork as far as we could.

This spot had been identified as a potential new place to explore the next time the water was up.

I connected with another undersized red on a flounder pounder in the channel.

We continued our exploration until we arrived at a small lake complete with grassy islands and some real fishy shorelines. We split up and got in position as the sun was sliding rapidly towards the horizon.

Just before sundown, Tracy struck silver.

Tracy's 18" speck caught in our new spot - "The Trout Pond".

It was a fitting end to a beautiful day. Just a few more casts later and we were headed out of the marsh and back to the launch.

This fish made the day. Sometimes fighting the wind in a kayak can be frustrating and can take the fun out of fishing. This trip ended on a high note and when we arrived at the Harbor's fish cleaning table, a Galveston guide offered us his one trout of the day to go with Tracy's keeper.

Looks like I'll be cooking supper Monday night!