Saturday, February 21, 2009

"You Caught My Fish"

I've been accused of worse... Sometimes the guide shows up the student but I assure you it was not done on purpose.

Our local weather folks have been having fits trying to predict what is coming and it seems like each day brings something new. We had one day with winds from three directions and temps first high then low and some rain in between.

Our Friday night outing to PPRV#7 started out with a meal of silver turtles cooked on the new fire pit. They came out perfect and I was burning my mouth trying to get mine down ASAP so I could start fishing. Last week Tracy caught a skipjack herring and I brought the fly rod to see if I could snag one or two.

Instead of the SJH I was happy to connect with a keeper trout on the first cast or two with my hand-tied glow in the dark glass minnow. I had to pull Tracy away from the kitchen to get this picture.

I fished the fly for a while and switched over to the double shad rig on the spinning rod. After catching some small specks and sandies, I cast parallel along the shore and caught this little flattie.

Tracy joined me and soon began catching her share of fish including this pretty speck. We both had fish on the stringer by 9:15 PM and I stuck with it a little later and added a couple more before calling it a night.

These four lined up nice at the cleaning table and will be on ice soon enough.

The camera doesn't do these fish justice but they really earn the name "Pretty Ones".

Saturday morning was overcast with a front on the way. I had to take a cast or two before breakfast and even though there weren't any fish working the surface like last week, I put on a lure to see if I could find a fish to fool. I wish I had a nickle for every time I've told others to check their gear before fishing and even more I wish I had followed my own advice.

I use a quick connect to attach lures and put the red/white MirrOdine on in a hurry without checking my leader. We had been fishing for several hours the night before and there is usually some abrasion or deterioration in the 20lb leader after catching several fish. I worked the 'dine (a suspending hard bait) along the front of the rocks and was greeted with a solid strike, hookup, and drag peeling run. Whether it was a redfish or a big trout I'll never know as it made a clean break on the first submerged rock it came to. The line appeared to be fatigued at the breaking point and I was speechless when I came back to the trailer to retie my line. "Don't ask me now...I'll tell you later" and some squeaking noises was all I could get out when Tracy asked for the details.

Here is a picture from Saturday with our latest setup - fire pit, picnic table, storage building and deck. Ahh - home sweet home.

After the front came through, the sun was out. There was a stiff north breeze blowing but the afternoon looked promising.

We took a ride to the beach but the sand was way too fluffy to try to drive. We stopped here at the locks to see if anyone was fishing and saw the local buzzard flock sitting in a protected corner to get out of the wind. They usually cover up the communication tower nearby but today decided to hang out on the ground. This is less than a mile from Pelican Point. Maybe we should call this Buzzard Bay.

All the signs were pointing at better weather. Even the little shower after lunch produced this beautiful rainbow. We looked comical running in and out of the trailer trying to get a picture.

The fishing was slow and I caught a couple of sand trout on gulp swimming mullet and chartruese jerk shad. I kept trying different things and finally caught this little multi-spot red.

I had so much fun with the topwaters last Saturday I tried again. I tied on this chartreuse headed black Skitterwalk and zig-zagged it across the choppy surface. The wind was pretty strong and it was hard to work it properly but I finally hit pay dirt with this nice dark colored speck.

These guys are fun to catch on top no matter how big they are.

Tracy came out and fished with me near the end of the day. I was hoping for the wind to settle down near sunset and wanted to try the tops again. I tied a pink headed white spook jr. on Tracy's line and coached her on proper walk-the-dog technique. I tried a dark spook and a couple other topwater selections. I had several boils but no real takes.

Before long I heard a splash and Tracy informed me that she had a fish on! I grabbed for the net but just that fast the fish came off. It appeared to be a nice trout so we kept fishing. The light was fading fast and if it was going to happen it had better hurry up.

I moved down the bank from Tracy and cast near the spot she had hooked her fish. You probably know what happened next... I caught her fish. I had switched to a bone spook jr. and the 20" speck inhaled the 3" lure. Tracy did a great job of getting me the net and before long we had her in the fish bag.

We kept at it and even though Tracy was flirting with repetitive motion syndrome, her efforts finally paid off. She heard a fish hitting bait on top and cast nearby. The 18" trout grabbed the pink lure and the fight was on. Way to go Tracy!

Time flies when you are having fun (and catching fish). Tracy fixed a light supper while I was at the cleaning table and before we knew it we were headed home to Needville. It was a nice quiet trip and one that we will both remember for a long time. Fish on!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Trout

There were still some things to do at PPRV #7 and while we had the use of the New Caney Special (Paul's utility trailer), Tracy and I loaded up some tools and supplies and headed south on Friday afternoon. We had decided not to splurge on gifts this year and our plan was to spend some time together and catch a meal at Spoonbills on Saturday.

The weather had been unsettled all day Friday and there was intermittent rain predicted for the whole weekend. When we got to Matagorda there was just enough daylight left to throw the cast net and I was able to snag a few shad and some finger mullet at the McNab Bridge.

I set out the light and started our first fire in the fire pit. There has been a burn ban on in most of the coastal counties due to the lack of rain but everything was damp and the pit was considered a containment area so we were OK.

After a quick supper of LQ lasagna, I rigged up some glow 1/16 oz H&H split tailed beetle speck rigs and headed out to the light. I caught a 13" fat speckled trout on the first cast and brought it to the trailer to show Tracy. She was still finishing up the dishes but quickly joined me at the river.

We were soon both catching specks and Tracy surprised us both by catching what we thought was a baby tarpon. This guy was a jumper and put up a good fight.

I posted up to my TKF buddies for confirmation and found out that this was most likely a skipjack herring. I may need to bring the fly rod down and target these in the near future...

Tracy caught the first keeper speck which measured in at over 17".

We used a variety of offerings including the 1/16 oz glow, some double shad rigs, Gulp swimming minnows on a heavy jighead, and the live bait.

I caught this fat sand trout and thought I had a nice speck until I posed for the picture and realized there were no spots!

We took a break and cooked some marshmallows on the coals in the pit. There is no comparison between cooking over live coals vs charcoal. I love Kingsford but it can't out shine oak for roasting marshmallows!

In all we strung up eight keeper specks - with some up to nearly 20".

These will make a nice meal! They even look good at the cleaning table.

Saturday morning was foggy and damp but when I stuck my head out the door of the trailer I could hear trout popping up close to the shore. I quickly dressed, grabbed a rod and one box of top water lures to see if I could fool a fish or two before breakfast.

I tried a pink headed spook jr. at first and had a couple of hits but they wouldn't commit.

I then switched over to a Yo-Zuri clown banana boat topwater and it was on!

I was getting hits on nearly every cast at first. Tracy came out and took these shots.

Nothing like an early morning topwater bite to start the day off right.

This was Valentine's Day after all and my wife said the most romantic thing a fisherman husband could ever hear - "It's early and you already smell like fish".

The morning bite was soon over and after breakfast we spent the day dodging in and out of the rain but managed to get most of our planned chores done.

We enjoyed our dinner for two at Spoonbills and headed home to prepare for Bible study and worship on Sunday. Thank God for His blessings and for PPRV#7.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Oklahoma Knives

On our recent trip to Oklahoma, I recovered three knives from Mimi's house as well as several files and old lawnmower and edger blades that the knifemaker could make use of.

The knives were the old high carbon steel blades with wooden handles that were found in the kitchen. Two were commercial knives and one (in the middle) looked like a homemade version of a butcher knife most likely made from a saw blade.

The paring knife had this insignia stamped on the blade:

I let Paul have a go at them to see what he could do and he was able to clean them all up.

The smaller paring sized knife got a new handle from exotic wood and was given to Tracy for a utility/fishing knife.

The homemade knife got a good polishing and some work to the handle. The blade is 6-3/4" long and the handle is 4-1/2".

Paul was able to remove the rivets and existing handles to clean and polish the steel. These strips of hardwood were added to reinforce and fill in the gap that had resulted from lots of years of use. It also made for a thicker handle and a better grip.

This knife has a letter "A" on each side of the handle that I think could possibly stand for "Alfred" Taylor Thompson - Tracy's grandfather.

This knife is destined for Lafayette in the near future. Tracy's parents may know the history of this family treasure.

The commercial butcher knife was most likely an Old Hickory. It has a 6-3/4" blade and a 4" handle with the following stamped on the blade:

The handle and blade are in great shape. The spine of this knife is almost twice as thick as the homemade knife and it has a lot of life left in it. I'll have to decide if I want to bring it to PPRV #7 or leave it at home.

Many thanks to Paul for "hitting a lick" on these great old knives.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Back Rehab

My back has been giving me fits lately so we decided to take it easy this weekend and just hang out at the trailer.

I made a purchase of a monopod with my Walmart gift card (thanks Gran & Papa). I tried it out on my way back from work on Thursday and caught this nice sunset.

We had supper on the way down so I hooked up the light to see if there would be any trout in the river. The fishing was very slow but there were some new visitors.

Two raccoons made their way down the rocks and passed right in front of me as I fished. They could tell I was near but when they looked up all they could see was the light.

I tried to catch some mullet in the cast net on Saturday morning but had to settle for some dead shrimp. Here is a double hookup - Tracy's pinfish and my little red.

Before long, Tracy caught this pretty multi-spot red just to show me that she still can.

We decided to take a ride out to the beach and ended up at Three Mile. It has been very dry and we could see a large grass fire develop in the distance.

The sky was pretty and the weather was nice but we couldn't seem to find any fish.

The Three Mile Lake area has returned to normal after the hurricane.

On the way back out, I stopped to see if there was any bait in the marsh. This snowy egret posed so I took his picture. I think she likes yellow shoes...

I got another good bird shot while sitting out at the river in front of the trailer. This great egret was winging along at a pretty good clip.

We now have some new neighbors in the RV park. They seem like they know everyone in the county and are ready to invite anyone and everyone else (including us) to "party" with then. They built a patio and a fire pit in the common area next to us and we are a little skeptical about how it is going to work out. Time will tell...

PPRV #7 has already proved to be a nice spot for us to unwind and relax after a hectic week. We are both looking forward to spending a week or so and getting in some springtime fishing!

Bodacious BBQ

On a recent trip to Oklahoma to help recover some of the family treasures, we stopped in Mt. Pleasant, Texas for supper.

The local BBQ house had all the usual meats & fixin's you would expect - sliced brisket, chopped beef, ribs, links, chicken, and turkey along with pinto beans potato salad, slaw, and an assortment of onions, pickles, and jalepeno peppers.

Bodacious BBQ didn't make the Texas Monthly top 50 but it was pretty good none the less.

There isn't anything like Texas BBQ!

This establishment had some interesting items decorating the walls including a license plate collection and several old photos and posters. The best display was the wasp nests that hung over the area you stood in before ordering. Someone must have a real eye for these or else they must have a real problem with them in this area! I've never seen so many big nests in one place and I hope I never come across them like this in the wild.

You don't want to linger long over your choices when ordering here!

Anybody have a stick? I think these are pinatas....

Hey pretty lady - don't look up!

Even the fall oak leaves can't disguise this big nest.

This one took some work. It looks like there are many layers upon layers.

A perfect home for the hoard.

Where's the welcome mat?