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.
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.