Sunday, July 01, 2007
Texas Trout Bum
My cousin in Corpus Christi quit his job not long ago at an IT company after having spent several years working for them as a network specialist. He was on call every other weekend and sometimes on holidays. He routinely worked 80 hour weeks and in my opinion was getting little respect from his company. After having worked an 80 hour week before the Memorial Day weekend and then asked to work 30 hours on the weekend without Memorial Day off was the last straw. He happens to be an former Marine that served in the first Gulf War so that sort of disrespect to a veteran was just too much. He quit a week later.
So after that I had several conversations with him about going fishing as he was now free to do so anytime. I made plans to stay and fish with him from June 27 to June 30. I anointed him a trout bum due to his unemployed status though of course I meant it of the Speckled Trout saltwater variety as opposed to the cold water variety.
Day 1 fishing with a Trout Bum (June 27)
I arrived in the afternoon and after having a great dinner we prepared for a night of fishing under the Portland causeway bridge which spans between Corpus Christi and the adjacent town of Portland. The causeway also separates Nueces Bay from Corpus Christi Bay. It is also an excellent place to take the kayaks to catch trout, redfish and flounder underneath the causeway lights.
This was two days before the full moon on Friday and the winds were blowing above 20 to 25 knots gusting to 30 knots so it was a bit rough but we managed to anchor and waited for the trout to show up under the lights from the causeway above.
I did bring my 6wt out but the wind and current just wouldn't allow me to use it. I had brought along my spinning rod and it ended up being the right tool for the situation. We found shrimp jumping around and this seemed to be what the trout were eating though we were also catching them on three inch minnow soft plastics.
In the dark section below the bridge where we anchored you occasionally saw green glowing lights as the lure or your anchor rope touched a jellyfish which seemed to be plentiful in the area so care had to be exercised when hoisting the anchor or the stringer for the trout so as not to get stung.
Most of the keeper trout caught were in the 16" to 17" length but we lost some larger trout to the concrete bridge supports. In fact, we probably lost two thirds of the fish to break offs which was frustrating but at least we were catching fish. We caught lots of undersized "schoolies" as well. At around 2am in the morning we called it a night.
Day 2 fishing with a Trout Bum (June 28)
After sleeping until 11am, we got up and had breakfast/lunch and cleaned the previous nights fish. We stopped at a couple of fishing stores to purchase more soft plastics and stock up on shrimp type lures for the night.
This night we decided to try a different spot. It was the JFK causeway bridge that spans the Flour Bluff section of Corpus Christi over to Mustang Island. The situation here was very different. While there wasn't as much wind, the channels here were too deep to anchor and so we had anchored away from the channel in the shallower water near the bridge lights. There was also a lot of floating grass at this location whereas Portland bridge was clear of grass (though it was loaded with jellyfish).
The shrimp were here just as they were at Portland bridge yet the water was full of ribbonfish that were eager to eat our plastic shrimp imitations. These ribbonfish have some mouths full of needle sharp teeth and so releasing them takes some delicacy. I did add another species to the list of fish caught on the fly as I was able to catch an 18" ribbonfish on an orange cactus shrimp fly. I also caught one 17" trout on a plastic shrimp. Unfortunately, the catching was very slow so about 11pm we decided to head once again to the other side of town to try our luck at Portland bridge.
Once at Portland bridge, we found a couple of kayakers in the spot we were in the night before and they indicated they had caught 6 keeper trout but that it had turned off and so they were leaving. They should have stayed because it seemed that the bite turned back on for us. I caught three 18" redfish that I released since the minimum legal length is 20" but they fought hard, particularly in the current.
Again, we lost quite a few good fish and we had to work for the few keeper fish we landed. Since we got a later start we ended up quiting about 3am and headed back and got to bed at 4am.
Day 3 fishing with a Trout Bum (June 29)
After getting up at noon, it was basically a repeat of the day before. Lots of preparation buying replacements for the lures that were working (mostly shrimp soft plastics). We did go for a couple of hours in the afternoon in my cousin's motorboat but didn't have any luck where we went in the Laguna Madre so we decided to save our strength to fish Portland bridge one more night.
We started fishing the bridge around 10pm and for the third night the shrimp were there and so were the trout. This night the moon was out in all its bright glory and I did better than the two nights before. None of the trout I kept were larger than 17" but they were all very fat and aggressive.
My cousin brushed a jellyfish and got stung while grabbing his anchor line but he missed most of it though I am sure it was still painful.
Sometime before 2am, the water level seemed to rise instantly by a foot and the current started really ripping as you could see eddies form behind the bridge supports. You had the wind blowing hard from one direction and the current really moving from the opposite direction that if you raised anchor, you didn't move. That was very strange and we took that as a sign to leave. The paddle back to shore was difficult due to the strong current but we managed to make it to shore, loaded the kayaks and gear and headed home.
Last Day (June 30)
Being it was my cousin's birthday party this day we didn't fish and instead prepared for a little party in the evening and finally to get a normal night's rest. We also cleaned the fish and I realized I hadn't taken any photos the previous three days so I wanted to take a photo of the limit of trout while they were stacked on the fillet table except there was so much humidity in the air that my lens was fogged up and all the photos were coming out foggy. By the time it cleared up, my cousin had filleted all but three trout of which I took a photo before they got cleaned as well and so that is why you see a trio of trout though there were more of his fat buddies that are now in my freezer (three bags of them actually).
At the birthday party we enjoyed some BBQ brisket that my cousin made along with his wife's delicious potato salad. We had a few beers and some conversation and then everyone left fairly early and I showered and was in bed by 9pm but fell asleep around 10pm.
The next morning, I wished my cousin a happy birthday, had some coffee with them, said my goodbyes and thank yous for an excellent stay and headed home to Austin.
I intend to go back possibly in September or October if I can and just hope it's at least as good a trip as the three days of being a trout bum with a fellow trout bum.