Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Three Plus One

This week's fishing was a little unconventional. I was able to work out a mid-week day off so we headed to PPRV on Tuesday evening.

We didn't see many other fisherman but this little guy was sharing the shoreline of the Diversion Channel with us.

Tracy caught this multi spot red at our old spot near the nuclear plant.

I call this a six by six red. We fished up the river for a while but decided to head down the channel to look for some keeper fish.

That decision turned out to be a good one. Tracy caught two keeper reds and I caught a nice red and a 20" trout. We fished the cove and the redfish hole with live shrimp and were off the water by lunchtime.

My buddy at the cleaning table posed for this parting shot.

We got the trailer washed, took a conference call, washed the boat, and cleaned the fish - all in time to get home and on to our mid-week Bible Study. It was a busy day but well worth the effort!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

His and Her Flounder

After our successful paddle last weekend, Tracy and I were ready to take advantage of the nice weather and decided to head up river in the Second Honeymoon to see if we could find some trout.

The long cold winter has finally come to an end (we think) and since Spoonbills is back open things are almost back to normal.

We lit a fire in the pit on Friday night and cooked some tasty marshmallows. We also set the light up at the river and caught several trout but alas they were all too small for the stringer. The fog was thick and there was plenty of tiny bait in the river but no big fish.

We launched about an hour later than we had planned in the morning due to the fog but had a nice quart of lively shrimp and the anticipation of finding some hungry fish upriver.

The fog got thicker the further upriver we went until we had to stop and fire up the running lights just to be on the safe side.

The fishing was pretty slow (understatement) even though Tracy managed to catch this 19" redfish that only an inch too short.

We gave up on our first spot and ran down to the Diversion Channel below the ICW.

Tracy found a keeper flounder and after some small black drum and jumbo sheepshead I managed one as well. These turned out to be our only two keepers of the day but will make the perfect Monday night meal.

Paul Sr. and Jr. had driven through the fog to paddle the marsh but after getting blown around and not finding the fish were ready to give up. I've been trying to get them out in the boat so Tracy and I came in and I took the Pauls upriver to see some scenery. We saw several Osprey (Paul had his long lens and got some shots) and four whitetail bucks running together up on the bluff above the riverbank.

On the way back we encountered a fellow captain whose twin 150's were dead in the water (turned out he had a load of bad fuel) and he was adrift and heading downstream.

We were able to tie on with our bowline and give him a tow back upriver to his dock.

The Second Honeymoon thought it was the Little Engine that Could.

After rescuing the disabled craft and crew, we headed down to a spot below the ICW and tried to get the boys on some fish. I managed a small red but that was it for this spot.

We crossed over to the other side near The Cove and Paul Jr. picked up a couple small fish before finally Paul Sr. connected with his first red of the day.

Paul Jr. went on to catch his personal best trout - a beautiful 20" speck.

Brother Paul matched him with a keeper flounder so they both had a fish in the box. It was a short trip but a successful one.

Tracy and I returned to this spot and to the redfish hole after lunch but the wind was up and the big fish were gone. We managed to catch several more flounder up to 13.5" which was encouraging. We used up the rest of the shrimp and headed for the cleaning table.

I had some company at the cleaning table when I was scaling the flounder.

The light was not the best but this guy had quite an attitude.

God's beauty is on display throughout his marvelous creation. All you have to do is look - it is everywhere.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Winter Birds

Winter in Texas is a surprisingly good time to view and photograph birds. There are many migratory birds that either pass through the region or that reside here during the harsh winter months in their home range.

Tracy and I spent some time at Brazos Bend State Park recently and found some willing subjects.

It was a grey day but this pair of blue-winged teal seemed right at home in the in the overcast.

This Great Egret huddled against the chilly breeze on his perch among the leafless limbs.

This American White Ibis is a year round resident of this area and finds plenty of food in the park's waterways.

The Roseate Spoonbill explodes in a blur of pink.

Great Egrets hunt for small fish among the flooded lilies and other swamp vegetation.

For the past two weekends we have returned to Matagorda. The weather has been pretty cold and breezy which sometimes provides unique opportunities to approach birds as they are less prone to fly off when the weather is wintery.

This Osprey or fish hawk has secured his lunch and gives us a watchful eye as we approach.

I shot these action shots out the window of the Jeep and had some good luck and good light.

This majestic bird makes his home nearby and finds plenty of food in the river and wetlands.

Tracy captured these spoonbills out the window of the Jeep on the same day.

The unique shape of the bill is where this guy gets his name.

Spoonbills and Ibis feed together in the shallows.

While heading out on a fishing excursion this past Saturday I noticed a Belted Kingfisher hanging around near the launch. I always consider seeing this fisherman a harbinger of good things to come. If a Kingfisher is in the area, there are usually fish nearby too.

When I came in from fishing I found out why the slate blue bird may have been keeping such close proximity. This young bird - possibly a mate or an offspring - was injured and unable to fly.

I have never been up close to this species and it is a real beauty. Unfortunately, this one did not make it but these photos will allow others to see one up close.

When I was paddling in I saw this Double Crested Cormorant fishing in the creek.

These voracious fish eaters can sometimes decimate a local fish population.

They are not the most athletic birds and must run along the surface of the water to gain flight.

Winter is almost over (for some of us).

Keep the camera handy and be ready to shoot your favorite feathered friend when the opportunity presents itself!

Red is the color of Valentines Day

Some folks look forward to red roses or heart-shaped cards for Valentine's Day.

We found a different kind of red for our Valentine's Day get away this year.

We headed down to PPRV #7 but found that the water had been shut off earlier in the week due to the hard freeze. We were already overdue for supper and the thought of eating and driving back home didn't appeal to either of us so we called the owners of Karankawa Village and secured a room at The Lodge.

The fish patterns on the teepee looked cool lit up at night.

We enjoyed the return of Edie & Maree from their month off and our meal at Spoonbills was everything we hoped it would be. Good food and conversation and the anticipation of receiving a gift of some sea beans collected on Fiji...stay tuned.

Despite the frosty morning (30 F) I loaded up the kayak and headed out for a paddle. The water level has been really low ever since the first of the year so I had no expectations of finding any fish on the way out to the lake. Boy was I wrong!

I fished at the first corner near the reefs with nary a bite and passed by the next corner without finding any hungry fish. I did spook one red that was resting in the 40ish degree water but didn't have any bites.

When I continued down to Trout Junction, I saw many big swirls ahead of me and thought they might be some big fat horse mullet. I started casting into the junction and before long I hooked and landed a nice upper slot red. Within one hour I had boated six big reds and lost a couple more - all from the same spot!

I took these three (my limit) back to the trailer and after a quick sandwich, we got Tracy's kayak loaded and headed back to the marsh for round 2.

We didn't mess around but headed straight for Trout Junction. I hooked up first with this red.

It is always nice to have a fishing partner with a camera and the skill to use it!

Here is afternoon red number 2. These were all big heavy fish in great condition. Before long Tracy got into the game and had her first big red on a string.

The sun had been up for a while and the sluggish fish were coming to life.

She fought hard and as I was taking pictures she got ready to put her fish in the net. The only problem was that the fish was too big!

I helped out and was able to get the fisherman and her fish in this picture.

Not long after Tracy hooked up again and this time she was in for a real battle. Note how she was staked out to keep from getting pulled into the hole and this big red was really pulling!

Once again I netted this big red and you can see the joy (relief) in Tracy's face. This was the biggest red either of us has ever caught at 30+ inches long.

I held her fish up for a parting shot before we let him go to fight another day.

This may not have been the romantic Valentine's getaway that everyone would appreciate but if you could have seen the smiles on our faces after boating 10 upper slot redfish and keeping our limit of six, you would have thought we had gone to Vegas or won the lottery instead of paddling around the Matagorda marsh!

We had to clean fish at the Harbor's public cleaning tables and our fish got some nice looks and comments by the locals. Looks like I'll be cooking fish on Monday.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Utah Trout Fishing

Some say that Utah has the greatest snow on earth. Skiiers flock to the mountains near Salt Lake City to strap on the boards and go zipping down the slopes.

They can have it - I'll take fishing any day.

On a recent work trip my trusty photographer and number one wife accompanied me. She asked me to pose for a shot on my way to the big swirly hole. "Hurry up already - there are fish waiting!"

This time of year presents the fisherman with some unique challenges. Not only is it cold, the vegetation is gone in and around the stream so you really have to sneak up to keep from spooking the pool.

Tracy says I look like I am praying for fish - not a bad idea any time you want to ask God for His blessings or to thank Him for the opportunity to fish.

I found one willing fish. You can tell Tracy is keeping her distance with the camera.

Before long I caught another. This is a nice healthy German Brown.

And here is a happy fisherman!

It doesn't get any better than this. I don't even feel the cold at this point.

I continued to catch some small browns.

I even found this nice Rainbow down below the trestle in the big riffle.

Here is a shot looking back at the small stretch of Snake Creek - one of my favorite spots.

I had another meeting last week and this time I was flying solo.

It was only in the teens and I only had a short time before sundown so I'd better get to it.

Have you ever seen a Brown trout trying to make a snow angel?

I was using a 1/8 oz Panther Martin in the Brook Trout pattern. This seems to be the ticket on Snake Creek in the winter.

The snow covered mountains are beautiful but I don't think I'm ready to move back to the cold country anytime soon.

My final fish of the trip was a nice fat rainbow caught in the big riffle.

You would think that I would someday tire of fishing this small creek and want to graduate up to the Provo River. It's just a hundred yards or so away and there are undoubtedly more and larger fish in the Blue Ribbon river but I like the familiarity and the predictability of Snake Creek. I think I'll stay with it as long as it remains open to public fishing.