Saturday, November 22, 2008

Home at Last

Have you ever felt like you had a home-away-from-home?

Sometimes when you visit a place you get a sense that you belong and fit in. Even though I know this life is temporary and that one day we will all be faced with an eternal home, there are places on this earth where I feel more at home than others.

Tracy and I have come to feel that way about Texas. We have lived in several states and to us there is simply no place like Texas. We have both lived in several Texas towns and have seen much of the state but lately Matagorda County has captured our hearts like no other place. We have spent a considerable amount of time during the past year exploring and at last our dream of establishing a footprint in Matagorda has become a reality.

Our number came up on the waiting list at Pelican Point RV & Boat Slips and we moved the Prowler into space number seven.

This spot is on the end and has a clear view of the Colorado River. It is not technically a river side spot which we like as those are more expensive!

We are about 125 ft from the water and are on a bend in the river.

Not long after getting the power, water, & sewer hooked up, I had to see if there were any hungry fish. This nice sized sand trout answered my question.

Tracy came out to join me and soon had a double hookup on the Gulp Swimming Mullet.

We caught several over the next couple of days despite the cooler temps. Some of them were more than respectable as evidenced by this fat 15 - incher.

Lord willing, this will be the first of many sunsets we will see out the window of PP #7.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

One of those days...

Picture a beautiful fall morning - low 40's at daybreak and warming up to the high 70's by afternoon. The sky was as clear as a crystal and the wind was calm.

We got up at a respectable 5:30AM and saw the sun rise on the way to Matagorda. There was enough sun and warmth when we arrived at the McNab launch to awaken the hoard of mosquitoes but we quickly left them behind as we started our paddle to the lake.

We fished all the likely spots on the way in without any success but I did see a flounder up on top chasing bait - pretty cool!

When we hit the lake it was as calm as glass - a fairly rare site - and I started working to the right along the shoreline. I was casting a red and white MirroDine and saw lots of mullet but no redfish.

About half way down the shoreline, I spotted some big bubbles near the outlet of a small duckpond into the main lake. As I drifted by, I saw the source of the bubbles as a decent red created a big fuss in his attempt at crushing the fleeing bait. I made my cast and was immediately rewarded with a solid hookup.

Fish on!

This 25" - 6lb red put up a fight and took me for a ride like I haven't experienced in a while.

While I was having fun with the red Tracy was fighting some equipment problems across the lake. To add insult to injury, a crab stole one of her Sugar Spice Glow Gulp shrimp! Of course "the guide" had all the replacements in my boat so Tracy got in some exercise as she paddled across. I cut the tangle out of her line and re-rigged her bait and we headed down towards the corner.

Mama needs a fish....

Well good reader, Mama caught her fish and then some. As I was watching some reds crushing bait in the back channel I call "Gator Cut", Tracy hooked up on her first red. She was fishing the Gulp and moving along the shoreline when she spotted a tail. After an unsuccessful cast, she realized that this was a pod of feeding reds. They got pretty close to her and she got the Gulp out in front and the fight was on!

Before I could get to her, Tracy had her net out and with a little long distance encouragement landed her own redfish. Now that might not seem like a big deal to some but believe me it takes some doing to tame a fighting fish and to maneuver it close enough to your yak to put it in a net!

After stringing up Tracy's red, I headed back to the Gator Cut. Tracy stayed in the area and tried to find the rest of the pod. As I approached the corner my cell phone began to go off and it was a work call. About half way through the call I hear these magical words behind me..."Fish on"..."BIG FISH ON!"

Of course I can't respond but I start paddling towards her with one hand while talking on the phone with the other. Tracy's red #2 is giving her a ride. When I finally got there to help, Tracy had the feisty fighter pretty well worn down.

I finally made it back to the Gator Cut but the reds had moved out. I fished the channel and was rewarded with a nice 19" - 3lb flounder. I was fishing the Gulp shrimp on one hook and a white Gulp crab on the other. The flounder hit the crab!

It was nearly 11AM and time to head for the launch. We had a stringer full of fish and a long paddle to make so it was goodbye McNab for now.

The reds were beautifully colored and went 25", 23", and 21".

This has been a good couple of days with lots of paddling and some great fish. We didn't catch a lot of fish but we didn't lose any and the fish were all quality catches.

This trio of reds in the fish bag are heading to the cleaning table.

After eating our sandwiches for lunch, we spent the afternoon on the beach. The water was beautiful and I searched the dunes for sea beans while Tracy spent some time picking up shells. These activities along with the sound of the surf really allow for some reflection and stress release. It is impossible for me to imagine how someone could not find peace on an undeveloped beach. God has truly blessed us with some beautiful places and this is definitely one of them

We took the fresh flounder fillets to Spoonbills and let Edie work her charm by baking them and serving them up with her black beans, aromatic rice, and mango salsa.

One of those days!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lady Luck

Some days are just meant for fishing. We had some cloudy weather on Thursday with a little rain as a weak cold front came through leaving behind a beautiful Friday. The temperature was mild in the 70's and though there was a little breeze the sun felt warm and inviting.

I got Tracy an early BD gift - a new stakeout pole. This one is longer and more slender than the PVC version she has been using and it proved to be better for poking into the bottom and holding the Magic in place.

We launched at McNab after lunch with high hopes of finding some fish at the Oyster Reef Fork.

There was a small boat trailer at the launch and we quickly figured out that it belonged to the crabmen. We saw them coming checking traps as we were heading out. Tracy wondered aloud if they were going to stir up the fish with their little motorboat.

The wind was pretty strong at times but every so often it would just lay down. Kayak fishing is a challenge in the wind especially when the current is moving as well. The tide was dropping so the current was flowing out and when the wind would blow it was in the opposite direction. Sometimes the boats would start to spin as the wind was affecting it from above and the current from below.

I had provided Tracy with some advice on flounder earlier in the day. "They hit with a definite THUMP. When you feel that, stop what you are doing and wait. After 10-20 seconds or so, come tight and if there seems to be resistance, set the hook. When you reel her in you may feel like it's just dead weight but be ready when the fish hits the surface.It's a good idea to have the net nearby as flounder often shake loose right at the boat."

I guess Tracy was listening cause soon after we arrived at the spot she was hooked up. Everything seemed to be just like I had described until the fish took off on a drag screaming run. She held on and fought her back to the boat as I quickly got in position to assist.

We had a few tense moments as the fish still had some fight in her but with me offering advice and Tracy expertly bringing her rod up we were able to net her another 20" flounder!

I was really excited as I had dreamed of catching another big flounder and was hoping they hadn't all headed out to sea. Of course in my dream, I was on the rod and but watching Tracy catch the big girl was almost as much fun as catching it myself.

We fished a while more without any bites and headed on to the Corners and then to Trout Junction. We took up our normal positions and after a few casts I heard Tracy say "I have another one". Sure enough she was on another big flattie and once again I made the assist.

The first one was an even 20" and 3.6 lbs and number 2 was 19" and 2.7 lbs.

We continued on to Triple Junction and I fished the Little Lake without getting a single bite. This day was all Tracy as she caught and landed the only two fish that bit either of our lines.

By the time we made our way out the autumn sun had slipped below the horizon and the last of the skeeters came out in force.

I'm glad one of us had some luck today - maybe tomorrow will be my turn!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Best Present

There is one principle which seems to be universal with everyone I know who loves to fish. Not only do you have fun catching fish yourself, but you derive just as much or even more enjoyment from watching others with whom you share the trip catch them as well.

I have been blessed to share the water this season with Tracy and have seen her catch some nice fish, but the last two trips have been tough and she was due for a good fishing and catching day.

Matagorda County is alive with birds this time of year.

These sandhill cranes were seen on the road to Oyster Lake across from Palacios.

Ibis and other shorebirds really stand out against the autumn colored grass.

We didn't try to beat the daylight this morning but instead got on the water after the early morning sun had burned off most of the fog. Our plan was simple and predictable. Fish the Oyster Reef Fork and The Corners thoroughly before moving in to McNab. With any success, we may not even make it to the lake before lunchtime.

Tracy was rigged up with a new secret weapons - a double load of three inch Sugar Spice Glow Gulp shrimp on her main rod and an H2O saltwater shallow running crankbait on her second rod. Yes reader - she is now using two rods and has rodholders and a net as well.

I had a topwater on one and a similar Gulp setup though one of my two baits was a four inch glow jerk shad and the other chartreuse neon pepper jerk shad.

We headed straight to the Fork and began casting. Tracy almost immediately reported a bite and on a subsequent cast hooked a little yellowtail (silver perch).

"Good bye skunk!"

We continued to work the reefs and I paddled down the right hand fork a ways to see if I could find a redfish. I didn't find any fish but I did get some nice closeups of this elusive rail.

After my unsuccessful side trip I returned to fish near Tracy. Before I got fully in position, she hooked and landed a nice 14" speckled trout. Bonus! Tracy caught a "pretty one" her pet name for specks.

After taking a position across the channel I began casting towards the corner.

Tracy was working her gulp along the side and toe of the middle reef when she thought her rig was hung up on an oyster shell. After pumping twice and feeling nothing but dead weight she was convinced that all she had was a clump of oysters when the "dead weight" came alive.

I deduced immediately that she had a flounder and began issuing orders like a drill Sargent. In my haste to come to her aid, I got my 14' boat crossways in the channel and lodged on the top of the reef. I was frantic to get off the reef and get over to net the fish and it surely would have made the top 10 America's Funniest Home Videos had we been able to capture it on video.

I finally got off the reef and positioned upstream of her as she heaved the mighty fish to the surface. Somehow I managed to net the beast without falling in or tipping us both over.

She had caught the biggest McNab flounder yet at 20" even and 3.7 lbs.

We continued to fish along to the next fork but didn't find any fish there.

I finally connected with a small tater chip flounder in Little Lake.

As midday was upon us we turned back and headed for the launch. There was time for a few casts around Oyster Reef Fork and low and behold I managed to catch one more flounder that was just big enough to keep.

Did you know that flounder have green eyes? Click on the picture for a close-up.

Watching the joy return to my fishing partner was the best present I could have asked for. Even though she likes to catch trout over flounder I was glad to relinquish the title of "Catcher of the Biggest Flounder" for now.

All I can say is watch out cuz I'm looking for next "saddle blanket".

After lunch we headed to the beach for some afternoon beachcombing. You can see the results of the sea bean search at my new blog - Beach Beans.

Tracy is searching the beach wrack after I discovered the red hamburger bean nearby.

More brush burning was occuring down the beach. Most likely the ranchers are getting ready for the cattle that will be grazing the peninsula this winter.

Until next time, Adios from Matagorda!