Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Close but no cigar

On Sunday night I arrived in Corpus Christi to spend a day or two fishing with my cousin before the year ended. The plan was to fish the Laguna Madre Monday from his boat since we would be joined by his wife's cousin from San Antonio.

On Monday we woke up around 5am, had some coffee and loaded up the gear in the boat. The temperature was right at 50F with a 5 to 15mph wind coming from the North. I layered up my clothing though for some folks this in itself is not cold but moving at 40mph across the water with an occasional spray of water on you can give you quite a chill. Frankly, I don't know how folks way up north do it.

Can you see me smiling for the camera?

After picking up the last of the live shrimp from a bait stand and launching the boat, we headed to our first destination where we found a few birds working the area. The first fish was caught by me on the first cast though it ended up being a two foot long ribbon fish. Impressive silvery sides and fangs on this guy but not edible.

Very soon we started catching small speckled trout though most were just shy of the legal minimum length of 15". However, they were fat little guys and some with beautiful spots all along their backs. We released them of course and kept drifting. We tried other spots all the way to Baffin Bay to the south which was about a 45 minute (cold) boat ride from where we launched and it wasn't too productive. We kept catching lots of small trout but nothing we could keep.

At one of the spots we tried, our other fishing partner hooked into and successfully landed a nice slot redfish. He would also catch the only two keeper trout that day before we headed back to the boat ramp at 2pm.

All we needed were just a few more like this one!

Conditions were tough and after cleaning all the gear and the boat, our fishing partner returned to San Antonio and my cousin and I rested up for the next day's outing.

On Tuesday we had a big breakfast and prepared the kayaks to fish around Oso bay which is a shallow, muddy bay. The weather was a bit warmer than the previous day. It was also cloudier and less windy. Much better kayaking weather. Also, the hope was that the dark mud would retain heat thus attracting the fish to the area. That was the hope. We spent about three hours paddling the bay and I hooked into an undersized redfish and my cousin caught a nice keeper flounder. Other than that, fishing was tough so we packed it up and left.

While I didn't come back with a cooler full of fillets, I did have a lot of fun and had new adventures. It's not always about the fish. I consider that a bonus though.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Padawan Fly Fisher

Yesterday, Christmas day, my 11 year old son received his first fly rod. It was a combo I put together from an Albright 5wt rod and reel I purchased back in October when they were on sale. He was very pleased with it. Today we started the first casting lesson.

Of course, as luck would have it, the wind today is gusting to 29 mph so it was an added challenge among all the other challenges of learning to cast with a fly rod. We started with the basics such as starting with the tip low to pickup the line, making a short speedup and a hard stop to load the rod, getting the line moving and making the forward cast then making a hard stop and as the line shoots forward and the loop begins to unroll, dropping the tip a bit. Easier said than done.

I myself am a visual learner. I have to see how it is done to get a good grasp of the concept so I demonstrated the cast to him while highlighting what all is going on. I also held his arm so he could feel what I meant by a short speedup followed by a hard stop. I then placed my hand behind him at the point where his should stop so he hit it and would know not to over travel.

Teaching someone to cast, particularly a child, is not as easy as it seems. We spent maybe 20 or 30 minutes practicing before stopping. I didn't want to overdo it as the lessons will continue over time. I expect he will pick it up soon enough but the lessons are also helping me in concentrating on places where I have gotten lazy in my own casting.

Maybe one day when he is older and masters the fly casting arts, he will take on his own apprentice. In the meantime, I will resist the urge to talk like Yoda as I continue his education.