Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Alligator gar washes up on beach

My cousin and his better half went driving down to Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi to do some beach combing and they spotted a four foot alligator on the shore. Interesting since alligator gar normally reside in freshwater lakes, bayous, canals and rivers.

I have heard of folks running into some in brackish or salt water. It is possible that when there is a good amount of rain (as was had recently in the area) that they may move out into the ocean and bays when the salinity levels drop. However, they can't survive there very long.

My cousin indicated the gar was freshly dead. On a side note, for those that haven't eaten gar before, the flesh is white and firm and when fried tastes a lot like chicken breast. The hard part is cutting through the armor plating hide. By the way, my cousin left the fish on the beach.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I think I need to get my son a fly rod

This afternoon I took my son to the pond for an hour of fishing before dinner. I took my 4wt and he took his spinning rod and worms.

We both started catching brim soon after getting there though I caught a few more while he re-baited his hooks with worms. After a while, he asked me for a fly. At first, I told him to stick to the worms. He asked me again so I took out my fly box and let him choose a fly. He chose a white #8 Cypert's mylar minnow. I tied it on and adjusted his float a bit higher. I figured in a few minutes we would be back to the worm hook and worms.

To my surprise, a short time later he hooked a sunfish! This went on several times and some of the brim he caught were pretty good sized! I kept wondering just how he did this. It seemed that his casts were near the fountain in the center of the pond that circulates the water. Near it you get some wave action so apparently the minnow under the float would jig up and down and possibly looked like an injured or dying fish and the big brim couldn't stand it!

Well, after a while we had to leave but I am now seriously considering a fly rod for this boy. If he's willing to try a fly on a spinning rod, I might as well replace the spinning rod with a fly rod and complete the package. I may have to research some fly rods for him and possibly take a trip to Cabela's and see what fly rod combo kits they have in a 5wt.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Passed my CHL test

No fishing today on such as beautiful day because I spent the entire day in a concealed carry handgun course. It was quite interesting. Most of the information came right out of the law book as well as additional information from very well known authors on the subject. Our instructor was a lady and the 14 people were all men but I'm pretty sure this lady could outshoot most of the men. She did a good job with the instruction.

I was a bit nervous about the shooting part of the exam but it went pretty well. A perfect score is 250 and I scored 243 which was about average. There were some 245 and 248 scores but no perfect scores. Everyone shot autos. One guy did have to leave in the middle of his test since he didn't bring sufficient ammo (you needed 50 rounds for the test). I, as well as the teacher and the other students, were dumbfounded. The instructions clearly say what you need to bring and this guy was renewing his license! Other than this, it was somewhat uneventful. They brought in some BBQ from a local restaurant and it was OK though I think I offended my instructor since she thought it was great.

Now I just have to go to the Texas DPS office to get my fingerprints and turn in all the paperwork, pay the application fee and then wait. I hope to get that done before the end of the month.

My cousin the fishing guide

I talked to my cousin that lives in Corpus Christi this evening. He recently earned his captain's license and started his own shallow water guide service called Double - G Charters & Fishing Guide Service as a full time guide.

He was telling me about his day wadefishing the shallow lakes near Shamrock Bay. He basically indicated that it was a pretty good day with a lot of trout and flounder caught. He did find a school of reds that were tailing but a group of rude or possibly novice kayak fisherman moved in front of him and scared them off.

He did end the day though with a high note as he caught and landed a very nice 27 3/4" speckled trout that weighed in at 8lbs. That is the one in the photo though you have to realize my cousin is a fairly large man so the trout is much bigger than it looks.

I have to find some time in my schedule to go out there one weekend and he indicated that there are a lot of fish to be caught. I just hope that now that he is a full time guide, it will be on a weekend he doesn't have a client to take out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My son caught a bass!

This weekend I took my kids to the pond a couple of afternoons. My son continues to outfish me with his spinning tackle.

I did manage to catch a few bass on Friday afternoon that were all pretty small along with some nice brim. However, my son definitely caught more brim.

On Sunday afternoon we went back and continued to catch more brim and a few small bass.

I decided to move across the pond and leave my son in his favorite spot. Then I heard him call me and I noticed his rod was bent over deeply. He caught a bass! It made one splash and then made a run for some heavy vegetation and snapped the 6lb line on my son's reel. Even though he didn't land it, he was really excited and so was I. I instructed him what to do if this happened again which was to try and steer the fish to shallow water without vegetation if he could without pulling too hard on the line. We estimate the bass was around 2 1/2 pounds. It was his first sizable largemouth.

It wasn't much later than I also hooked a largemouth bass on my 4wt that I had to work out of the vegetation a couple of times but was able to land safely. I estimate it was a healthy 1 1/2 to 2lb fish. Snapped this photo and released it.

Again, my son outfished me both in numbers and with a larger bass. He asked me if there was a place we could go to catch big bass now that he had a taste of what it feels like catching one. I'll have to consider this question carefully.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A versatile tackle bag from Maxpedition

I've been fishing for years and had all sorts of ways of carrying my fishing lures and accessories. I've bought chest and shoulder packs from Orvis and waistpacks for wading from William Joseph. They either didn't carry enough stuff or they were uncomfortable or inconvenient to wear. Then after being on the Every Day Carry forums web site for a while and purchasing several of Maxpedition's excellent pouches, backpacks and other gear, I ran across a new Maxpedition Fatboy for very cheap on the *-bay and figured "why not?".

Well, the pack arrived and after adjusting the strap to my 6'1" frame, the location for the pack felt very convenient. Unlike my waistpack (a fishing version of a fanny pack), I didn't have to swing it around to take things in and out of it and the Fatboy was easy to access. The strap was also very comfortable.

I started loading up the pack with "stuff".

On the right side, I was able to put a Surefire 6p in the supplied holster without a problem.

On the left side, the pocket was perfect for my handheld GPS that contains waypoints to some favorite spots on some rivers, lakes and bays I go to. The outside MOLLE straps also were useful as a place to holster my clamps that I use to remove fly hooks. This pocket could also be useful to hold your polarized sunglasses.

The cellphone holster held my small slider style phone but I can see where some larger phones may have some issues.

The front flap has a small zippered pocket on the outside that would be useful to store hooks, swivels or anything small that can be kept relatively flat and would be useful to access without opening up the flap.

Under the front flap and front most pocket I placed some fly leaders, tippet, line clipper and in the front zippered compartment a medium size fly box along with a small LED headlamp (such as the Princeton Tec Aurora) for night fishing.

The main compartment can hold a large fly box or several bags of plastic lures or a small Plano box with crankbaits, etc. tucked into the mesh panels on the inside. I was also able to stow a set of compact binoculars in there as well.

Of course, if you are fishing in a really remote area filled with wild pigs, gators, or other predators or bandits and you are able to carry a small pistol, that of course will fit in the CCW pocket located at the rear of the pack accessible by the zipper on the top of the pack. If not for a CCW then this would be a good spot for a small first aid kit in a waterproof plastic baggie.

I also purchased a Maxpedition Three-by-Five pouch to attach to the pack to hold a small digital camera because of course nobody will believe how big that fish you caught and released was without photos, right? wink

It turned out that the velcro patch area located on the top of the pack had a useful purpose for me in that it was an ideal place for a foam fly patch to put flies to dry after use. It turns out that I have more than a couple of foam fly patches that have the velcro already attached from other packs from Orvis and William Joseph that worked perfectly but they can be obtained from just about any fly shop or you can obviously make your own.

If you use conventional tackle, you can also take a look at the TALS tackle tubes which have a very innovative set of products of which the tubes are the main one that attach to velcro surfaces. The tubes rotate open so that you can remove and safely store something like a crankbait and have it easily accessible on any surface with velcro. To the right is a closeup photo of a TALS tube that I could attach to the velcro patch of the Fatboy if I were so inclined.

Some folks may not like the color scheme I picked but I did say I got it cheap off the *-bay, didn't I?

I think I'm going to like this pack more than the ones I have had in the past that were specifically designed as fishing gear. It certainly seems more versatile.

Range practice

I went to the outdoor shooting range late Sunday afternoon to get some more practice with my XD-40. I signed up for a concealed carry class that takes place two weeks from now.

Really, the only reason I am attempting to get a CC permit was that on occasion when I take fishing trips to remote and secluded locations, I can legally carry a pistol on my person for protection. I don't plan to carry one very often though.

I still need more practice. I can hit a 8" diameter target most of the time but still tend to shoot low and to the left which means I am still jerking the trigger. I bought some targets that provide very good contrast with bright colors when you score a hit in the black.

Once I hopefully get through the class and eventually get my permit, I may trade in my Springfield Armory XD-40 service pistol for a sub-compact model that will be easier to conceal and take with me.

My brother-in-law recently renewed his CCL and he tells me that the shooting part of the test is fairly easy to pass and that I shouldn't worry since he's seen me shoot. He says that most people are able to rack sufficient points at the close up distances to pass. He also adds that the initial distance is so close that you can throw the bullets at the target and still hit it. We'll see. In the meantime, I'll keep on practicing.