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.


Bill said...

Sounds like a good time, nice write up

JDP said...

Sounds like a great trip. Nice looking redfish.


Krafty said...

You really do live in a different world to good old Blighty - that's Britain to you Texas Rangers ;-) I'm pretty sure if you found a shotgun here, however rusty, you'd have reported the find to the police. What with our gun laws and all, a find like that would be significant!