Sunday, February 24, 2008

Operation Nighthawk

I spent Friday and Saturday in Corpus Christi on a mission to harvest a few fish from the bays that my family and I could enjoy for Fridays during the Lenten season.

My cousin and I loaded up the boat with supplies, launched and arrived at our destination around 10:30am on Friday. Our destination was Nighthawk Bay. We moored the boat next to a duck blind just 10 feet from the drop off. It took almost two hours to unload the boat and set up camp.

We had a small strip of shoreline to set up the tent and the sand was a bit soggy. We picked up dry sea grass and created a mat of it to place the tent over which worked out very well.

Since the sand was so wet, the stakes we originally had were getting pulled out by the wind so I went down the shoreline scavenging for something that would work and found the remains of a folding chair and used the lengthy rusted metal legs to drive into the sand and that was perfect.

While scavenging the shoreline I noticed a gun case. Out of curiosity we opened it up and it contained a really rusted shotgun inside! It could have been left behind accidentally by some duck hunters or possibly fallen off the boat and floated to shore. Regardless, the shotgun was too far gone with rust and salt to be reconditioned so we left it.

Once camp was set up, we went wade fishing for a while and found no fish so we rested for a while.

Just about an hour and a half before sunset, I went back out to the edge of the drop off and started casting a minnow lure with my baitcaster. I didn't bring a fly rod for this trip as the water past the drop off was about 4 feet deep and not conducive to sight casting and I needed something that could cover a lot of water. Within minutes, I got a hit but lost the first fish.

After a cast I would use a quick enough retrieve to keep the minnow lure moving just below the water surface. All of a sudden there appeared a large wake behind my lure and then I felt pressure and had what felt like a redfish on the end of my line! Unfortunately, after several seconds, it came off. I repeated my cast and retrieve and was again rewarded with a strike and hookup and this time it was on!

I could tell this was a decent redfish as it took line and my drag zinged every once in a while. By this time, my cousin took notice of my rod bent over and headed towards me. I landed the first fish which was a beautiful 25" redfish. For the next two hours we had pretty consistent action though after the redfish action died down the trout action heated up. At least once we had a double hookup on trout.

Almost as soon as it appeared, the bite stopped after it got dark. By 11pm we had the last bite and then ate dinner and turned in for the night. At that point we had five redfish ranging from 24" to 27" and ten trout ranging from 16" to 22" in the cooler.

The night was a very humid and everything we left outside was wet and within the tent we had condensation and the outside of our sleeping bags were damp. During the night we could hear coyotes, raccoons, and hogs coming around the camp and in the distance you could someone shooting a semi-auto rifle at 2:30am. Well, my cousin recounted what he heard to me since I was out like a light until 5:30am.

In the morning we had some coffee and a light breakfast and packed everything up and left by 8am. We took the boat back out of the water at 9:30am and by the time we unloaded everything at the house, cleaned everything and the fish it was past 1pm. It was easy to tell at the boat ramp cleaning table that we did much better than most and it took about an hour to clean all the fish.

After this we had a late lunch, cleaned up and napped for a couple hours. After that we headed to Bird Island Basin in the evening to try our luck again. To make a long story short, we stayed there a couple of hours and only caught one hardhead catfish so we went back home to turn in.

This trip exceeded my expectations for this time of the year. It was also a fun adventure. I hope that when I run out of fish from the freezer I can get a chance to get out there again in late March or April. Tonight, I am still reminded how tasty the grilled redfish on the half-shell was. Real tasty.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The next generation fisherman

This afternoon, I asked my kids if they wanted to go fishing. The youngest two said "Yes!". Last weekend I took them briefly to the YMCA lake without any luck but this time we were going to a neighborhood park and we were going to give meal worms under a float a try.

Before we left, I had stopped by the local pet shop for a cup of meal worms but all they had were the "super" worms. They were a bit big but since that is all they had and sunset was going to be approaching soon, I got them anyways.

I rigged up a small spinning rod for my son and the pink Barbie pole for my daughter and we headed to the park.

The day had turned out to be a pleasant day with temperatures in the 60s. We walked around the pond looking for fish. I decided to every once in a while throw a meal worm in the water and see what happened. In one spot, soon after the meal worm would hit the water, you would see a swirl appear and the meal worm would get sucked into the vortex. I told my son to cast into the vortex and we waited.

Not long afterwards, the float went below the water surface and start taking off. It was a nice sunfish! I had my son bring in the fish and we snapped a photo of this nice 8 1/2" to 9" Green Sunfish and then released it.

My daughter, however, seemed to be more interested in exploring the park and had abandoned her Barbie pole. My son was intent on catching more fish though the "super" meal worms were fascinating him.

We moved to a different spot and found fish but given the size of the worms, the smaller sunfish would grab the tail but not the hook and so we had a lot of false strikes.

As the sun started setting and we were out of worms, I told the kids we were heading home. My son was disappointed as he wanted to continue fishing. While in the truck he asked me about building his own spinning rod which is something we discussed last weekend. He was still interested in doing that. I am still looking for an inexpensive kit for an ultralight spinning rod.

Just before bedtime tonight, my son asked me if we could go fishing tomorrow. I told him that tomorrow is a school day and he answered, "What about after school?". I responded, "We'll see".

I am getting the impression that my son is now coming into his own passion as I did about fishing. So it looks like this year I will be devoting much more time to fueling this passion by taking him with me more often. It also seems like I have some work to do with my daughter. ;-)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Warm bed or fish at night?

I got up at 2am this morning to go fishing on nearby Lake Travis. Of particular interest for this trip was to look to see if the white bass are staging before the spawn later this month or next month.

I was in the water by 3am. The wind was blowing about 10mph from the south and so the air temperature was comfortable in the high 60s. I paddled to a boat slip that I have fished for white bass before that is in about 10 feet of water on the edge of a much deeper channel.

Unfortunately, the main lamp that lights up the water was malfunctioning and would turn on then turn off a few seconds later then after a long period of time would randomly do it again. I did fish it for a few minutes but didn't get a single bite.

I found an underwater green light near a floating houseboat. I saw one fish hanging around the lights but had trouble anchoring in 40 feet of water as that is about the length of my anchor rope and the wind would push me towards the lights.

After a while I decided the fish just weren't here in numbers yet and left the water by 4am at which time the wind settled down to about 5mph.

When I got home to get back into bed my wife asked, "Huh, you still here?".