Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last fish of 2009

I've been on vacation for just over a week and a half now. Time seems to have gone by pretty quickly with family visiting through Christmas and right before the new year. The wife said I should get out and do some fishing so I did.

Since I had not fished around my favorite section of Lake Travis in some time, I headed to Arkansas Bend to see how things looked. When I got there I noticed the boat ramp was still closed and even though we are finishing December with a 2" surplus of rain, the lake still looks awfully low. I drove down along the shoreline which is typically several feet underwater and launched my kayak.

The coves I usually fish felt much smaller as I paddled around. I fished a few points, large coves and finger coves for a while with not much luck. I spotted what looked like a carp rooting but then noticed it swimming rapidly into deeper water while still on top and proceeded to follow it.

Normally, if you get close to a carp and it spots you, it will high tail it out of there but this carp must have been sick or injured because I was able to paddle right next to it and it didn't submerge or try to evade me.

I should have known better than to down some coffee before heading off to paddle around and fish as I had to find a suitable beach to land on that had no homes around to relieve myself as I was about to burst! Whew!

After I paddled off again, I saw a splash that gave away the location of a bass and that turned out to be the only fish I was able to catch. It also turned out to be the last fish I caught for 2009. It was a spunky little bass though.

I hope 2010 brings more fishing time and better catches and I hope it does as well for anyone else reading this. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pier fishing across South Padre Island

Last week, just before Christmas I went to visit family in deep South Texas. I had a couple of hours to spare so I took my son to the Pirates Landing fishing pier in Port Isabel just before the bridge that spans over to beautiful South Padre Island. We would of course try and do some inshore saltwater fishing.

Driving through Port Isabel we looked at the landmark lighthouse and my son asked me about it. I remember as a kid climbing up the spiraling staircase during a school trip. It is really narrow inside but kind of cool. Some other time we'll come with the rest of the family and take our own tour of it. Today we were going to fish.

The pier has a restaurant and bar next to it and it has the biggest rod and reel I have ever seen there. Interestingly enough, it is a fly rod. Here is a photo of it.

Is that a 200 weight you got there?

It was a bit cold out so of course not many locals were on the pier and we had our choice of where to fish. According to the guys working the counter, sheepshead was the species most likely to be caught.

I haven't seen a sheepshead in quite a while. It is wide bodied fish with silvery white color and large convict black stripes across the body. It's a good fighter and quite tasty.

Sometimes you see them in Chinese or Vietnamese restaurants at the buffet, broiled whole. If you look at the skeleton you can see why they are called a sheephead. Their mouth and teeth look a lot like that of sheep and other grazers. They are mostly mollusk feeders so I expect they use those teeth for scraping off barnacles and such.

In the distance my son noticed a barge along the channel heading towards the bridge. As we were watching it slowly passing through the center of the bridge, I mentioned to him a tragic accident that occurred right there back in 2001. A barge struck a couple of columns late one evening which later caused an 80 foot section of the highest point in the bridge to collapse leading to the deaths of four people that drove off the missing section into the water below. This was just a week after Septemeber 11 when folks were still dealing with that tragedy. When they repaired the two sections of the bridge above, they look to have reinforced it with steel, I supposed to help avoid a similar issue in the future.

We rigged up a Carolina rig and cast it out tipped with shrimp. However after an hour and a half we didn't catch a single fish. It was also dark now and getting colder so we left. I was quite disappointment not to have been able to have my son get into any fish. In the past, we had fished at this same spot and had fish on almost every cast so that is what we were hoping for but it wasn't to be. The sunset was beautiful though.