Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fishing adventures

I originally had a trip to Corpus Christi planned this week which got canceled. I was planning on taking my 13-year old son with me. Although today was a rainy and drizzly day, I decided it would still be fine to take the boy out on the river to test out his new waders.

Finding a pair of decent waders for my son was a challenge. Youth waders are just too small for his size 9 1/2 feet. Men's waders had the right size for his feet but the chest was too big. We eventually found a pair of Magellan waders sold at Academy in a men's small that were close enough to work. At some point when he stop growing so quickly, we'll invest in a good pair of Simms waders.

So, we got to the river and right away noticed something odd along the shoreline. It looked much more bare than I recall. Some time ago this year we had a lot of rain and flooding. Apparently, the river flooded heavily as well. A lot of the trees were broken and stripped by the flood water. We could see large trunks with roots 10 to 15 feet up in the branches of other trees.

We paddled upriver and the water was quite clear and certain parts of the river had changed once again. The large pool where I took my son had a long gravel bar now dividing it. While we could see catfish, gar, bass and carp in the deep clear water, we could not get them to bite.

We fished below some rapids as well as above but got absolutely no bites. My son was wading across different parts of the river getting used to the waders. He said it felt weird when the water compressed the waders around his legs.

Eventually we paddled back to the low water crossing and headed home where I made him some hot chocolate and we prepared for dinner with family at a sushi restaurant. I would have liked him to have caught fish but I know that being out with his dad paddling along the river and wading in the cold water with his new waders was an adventure for him. After all, fishing trips big or small are adventures which is why I even write about them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving turkey

Not fishing this week as we are planning to have Thanksgiving with my wife's parents who were not able to make it up to our place this year. Therefore I am working on the turkey today that we will take to them tomorrow.

For the past 14 years or so, I have been roasting a turkey on our smoker grill outside. I use a combination of mesquite wood and charcoal. Charcoal to help keep some consistent heat and the mesquite for the wood flavor. Originally, I tried smoking a turkey at the lower temperatures but that took forever. I usually had to start past midnight to ensure it was done for dinner in the evening. I now just roast it at a higher temperature simply for convenience and due to the fact that I brine the turkey for around 12 hours, it does not affect the juiciness of the meat.

As I mentioned, the brine has been the key to maintaining a moist turkey. I basically use the following (for a 12 to 14 pound turkey):
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup kosher or non iodized salt
  • 1/2 cup dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup dried rosmary
I stir that all together in a pot big enough to hold the turkey fully submerged in the brine and chill it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. I add the thawed turkey in the brine and then refrigerate once more for 8 to 12 hours.

The morning I prepare the fire, I remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it off and put in an aluminum pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. I then roast it for whatever length of time it needs for the size and towards the last two or three hours, I remove the foil to brown the turkey. If you don't use foil, due to the wood smoke, the turkey will come out almost black and the mesquite flavor will be a bit too strong.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Paddle, fish, eat, sleep

Thursday afternoon I drove down to Corpus Christi to get in some fishing before the cold front arrived early Saturday morning. My cousin had planned for us to fish a few spots in the Laguna Madre from our kayaks. It would turn out to be a long day.

We got started around 8am fishing along the JFK bridge that spans over to North Padre Island. I picked up one keeper trout and the occasional "dinker". We paddled for almost 3 miles around the bridge and just not finding any decent fish. We were also dodging showers and towards the end of the morning I could see a whiteout on the opposite side of the bridge so we anchored underneath the bridge just as a small squall passed through with some heavy showers and rain. We decided to load up and drive to a different spot once it cleared.

This other location had some deeper holes as well as lots of oyster shell and looked much more promising plus no rain in sight anywhere. No sooner than we got there, we picked up a few undersized redfish. Moving along to shallower water, I later picked up a 21" redfish, lost another and then before leaving caught a 23" redfish. I thought I was going to lose that last one as it made a run under my kayak, the line wrapper around my paddle. As I struggled to undo that lifting the paddle with one hand while still fighting the fish with the other, I got it free and then the line got wrapped up with the stringer I had the first redfish tied to. Luckily the second redfish reversed direction and somehow got untangled and I directed him to the starboard side of the kayak where I finally netted him. Victory! One interesting feature of this redfish was the spot on the tail looked sort of like a heart shape which you can see in the photo. BTW, the rechargeable batteries in my digital camera no longer hold a charge worth a darn so I had to take these photos with my camera phone.

Later that evening with fished near Bird Island Basin and I was only able to pick up a couple of keeper trout. We were so tired that we were done by 10pm. Almost 14 hours fishing off and on that day.

On Saturday, the cold front came through as predicted bring rain, high winds and colder temperatures. In a way, I was glad because I don't think I could have paddled around and fished all day again. So, we had a good breakfast, cleaned the fish and as we got back to my cousin's home we saw this old 20s Ford at the end of the street. One of my cousin's neighbors restored old Ford's and he had a couple of beautiful ones in his garage that he was working on. I never knew that.

On Saturday evening after I had gotten back home, I went over to my brother-in-law's home and prepared the redfish on the half shell on the grill and we had that for dinner before watching the Manny Pacquiao / Antonio Margarito boxing match on pay-per-view. It was a great evening. Later in the week, we'll have some of the trout for dinner as well.

As always, I had a great time with my cousin and his wife and hope to see them again soon.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lake Travis on a cloudy day

I got up before 7am today which is late for me but it was my day off and I still had my kayak and gear in the truck from yesterday so no need to rush. This gave me time to have a muffin and coffee and contemplate on where on the Lake I would go today. Since I pretty much had not been to nearby Lake Travis in months, I decided to go to nearby Sandy Creek park and launch from there.

I was on the water by 8am and the sky was still very overcast with some sprinkles which was actually a good thing. I like fishing under these conditions. One thing though, it was starting to get a little windy. This I don't like as it tends to push my kayak around and my casts start to get worse than normal.

A minute after I got on the water, a gentlemen with a spin rod and fishing vest popped onto shore and asked me if I had any luck. I mentioned I had just gotten here. He said he could see some activity but hadn't had much luck and off he went. This was slightly disappointing as I know it is peak full moon time and sometimes that does affect the catching during the day. I was not going to be deterred and continued on.

One reason I decided on Lake Travis is that it is close to my house and this week's fishing report that I read last night said folks were catching bass in 5 to 8 feet of water with plastic worms and top waters. Those are fly rod accessible depths. I ended up leaving the Gurgler fly tied on that I used yesterday when I fished the Llano river.

To get out of the wind, I went around a cove and started pounding the banks. I came across one of those PVC pipes that people use to draw water out of the lake. In the past, I usually have had pretty good luck catching fish around them. For some reason they are attracted to this structure. My fly got some nibbles from some small brim. Suddenly, the fly disappeared and my line started moving and I set the hook. At first it felt like I had gotten it snagged on a log as my rod tip bent over. It was a fish! For a few seconds it ended up pulling my kayak along. Fortunately I had my small hand net and netted a nice largemouth bass that had the fly hook in the skin on the inside of its mouth. The bass measured just shy of 18" and seemed a little thin for its size but it had still put up a good fight. I was excited now as the fish was caught in about 3 feet of water so I was hoping more were close to the banks.

I ended up catching a couple of smaller fish at the end of the cove in the back of boat docks. I had to force one over one of the mooring lines so it didn't tangle me up. The wind started to pick up again and after it blew my hat into the water, I decided to call it a morning. I was only on the water for two hours but it was still great fun plus I caught a few bass. Better than working in the office y'all!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fishing on the Llano RIver

I have today and tomorrow off. Originally, I was planning to go down to the coast to fish the Laguna Madre but my cousin called and said we would have to postpone. So, since I still had the time off, I decided to fish a river that I have been wanting to for some time, the Llano. With some information from the Fly Fishing the Texas Hill Country book about the access points available. I picked a section along a low water crossing off CR-103 just west of the town of Llano.

It was a nice hour and a half drive out to Llano this morning and the access point was easy to find. Presumably the deeper water was upstream from the crossing so I put in there and fished to about 500 yards upstream.

The water is very clear and it makes it hard to determine the depth of the water. Fish get easily spooked in clear water as well so I was going to have to be careful. I noticed a lot of baby frogs so I tied on a Gurgler top water fly. This fly would turn out to be pretty productive. I ended up catching about 8 or so small largemouth and Guadalupe bass along with several brim. A couple of bass really killed the Gurgler when I dropped it on the water. In one section, I paddled right over a hole that held a 2 pound bass. In retrospect, I should have fished it before paddling over it. Oh well.

This river has a lot of granite along it and unlike the San Gabriel, it tends to be wide in most parts. I also noticed that not a lot of trees line the river bank which is something I really like about the San Gabriel. Comparisons aside, I liked fishing this river and hope to do so again.

Later in the morning a southerly wind started to really pick up making it difficult to stay in one spot (in some wide open sections I was getting blown upstream) and cast well so I headed back to the low water bridge as I was getting hungry.

On the way back through Llano, I stopped at the famous Cooper's Old Time Pit BBQ restaurant. I got some sausage and brisket and a large cup of sweet iced tea. The place was packed! That was a great way to end the adventure this morning!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Land that time forgot?

I need a snack. Seen the FGFF guys around?

This weekend the family and I traveled north for a weekend of camping with three other families at Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose. This is the hometown of my casting instructor, Mr. Allen "Ol' Al" Crise, who passed away earlier this year. I was looking forward to fishing the same river, the Paluxy, that he did since it ran through the park.

The first morning I did some recon of some of the spots on the river and found most of them were clear and very shallow but running. Eventually we did find a pool called Blue Hole that seemed deep. There were also several dino tracks along the shoreline. This what the river looked like from the top of the canyon.

The river is well known for the various dinosaur tracks imprinted in the limestone riverbed that can be seen better when the water is really low though we did see quite a few. They were discovered in the early 1900s. They weren't as big as I thought. Supposedly some human like prints were found nearby as well which are thought to be fakes or those of smaller dinosaurs and they just happen to look like human prints. I wish there were some prehistoric size bass in the river. While looking into the head of the pool, we saw a couple of really nice bass over 16".

We then went back for our gear and found some spots to fish and started to fish the pool. The boys also did a little bit of exploring. We weren't there for very long when all of a sudden like 40 people started coming down the trail to the river edge making all sorts of a ruckus. And as they say, "that was that". The boys left the rod and did some more exploring. Eventually, we gave up as people kept pouring in a returned to camp. My son said there was a spot to wade in the shallows down river from the pool so I decided to return in the afternoon.

In the afternoon when I returned there were still quite a few people but not as many so I decided to give it a try once again. This time, a troop of about 50 boy scouts came down. However, I think they scared a small school of bass to my side of the river and I was able to catch one. People were swimming in the pool so I headed upstream to explore a bit. The water was cool, clear and not as deep. Unfortunately, after a mile or so I did not find another deep pool so I came back and headed back to camp.

The next morning the whole gang hiked down to another section of the river that I had not been to so we could look for more tracks. There were a few here and I walked down to a sandy bend that had a decent hole away from everyone. However, we had to return to camp to pack to leave. So even though I didn't get to fish it, the weekend was lots of fun hanging out with all the families at camp. We were already planning our next multi-family camping trip. I was hoping for something along the coast but most likely it will be one of the camps along the East Texas piney woods, hopefully with a lake or river near camp. Can't wait.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Fall is almost upon us

Early yesterday morning I headed to fish one of my favorite spots on the San Gabriel river. The morning air temperature was pleasant. A sign that autumn is almost here.

As I got out to unload my gear at the low water crossing, I could here gunfire all around. Another sign that fall is almost here. Dove season started on September 1 here in Texas and hunters were out in force this morning.

As I unloaded my kayak, there was also the unmistakable stench of something dead. Nearby in a ditch, there was a young dead pit bull puppy partially covered by a cloth. I am not sure if someone dumped him there or if he got run over. Regardless, I hate seeing that sort of thing.

As I paddled and waded two miles upriver to my destination, shotgun blasts continued all the way. Like I said, the hunters were out in force. About 5 or 6 years ago, I was fishing a small lake early in the morning that was near some property where some dove hunters were close by. So close in fact that as they shot up at the doves, the pellets rained down around me. No harm but just strange.

When I got to my destination, I tied on a black and purple #4 cactus shrimp and cast it to a spot along the opposite bank that looked "bassy". On my second cast, the line started moving down river. Fish on! I then saw what looked like a 3lb bass shoot upriver and head to a broken piece of concrete pipe and he pulled hard and then he broke me off at the 10lb tippet! Dang!

I caught a few small bass here and there but never saw the 3lb bass again. I also had spotted gar taking swipes at my flies. One surprise was catching a nice Rio Grande Cichlid. I think this is the first I have caught this year. I've caught several in past years. I find the turquoise dots on their body to be a really nice color.

On my paddle back, I ran across a father and son in WS Tarpon 120 kayak. His 7 or so year old son had a small fishing pole with him. We exchanged hellos and asked how each did. Apparently, the boy did really well and had a limit of bass on a stringer. Pretty impressive and they likely had a tasty lunch. I thought that was such as great lesson being taught to another generation.

It was a great morning on the water. The river had a bit more algae and color to it than in the spring but all in all still running which was a blessing. I hope to get out fishing again soon.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The river changes yet stays the same

I haven't been to the San Gabriel river since the first week of January. I had a chance to go out there this morning so I packed up my flies and 5wt and got there at 8am.

Water felt really good on a warm, muggy morning. Rains from a week ago look to have washed away some gravel bars and reshaped the river, widening it somewhat.

I paddled up to the first pool and caught a small bass and a couple of brim. I saw a lot of spotted gar in the area so I tried to sight cast to them just for the challenge since they looked hungry. It was windy so several times, the wind would "feather" the surface making it very difficult to find the fish. I did get a couple of gar to chase my fly and take a swipe at it but no hook ups.

I continued upriver and passed a couple of guys dragging a small canoe downriver as we walked on the shallow flats. I got to deeper water and continued the paddle upriver to a favorite spot I call "The Narrows" because it is a section where the river narrows for a small length. Above it is a S shaped chute. This place usually hold a lot of fish (bass, brim, carp, catfish, and gar) because it is like a conveyor belt of prey for these guys. They just park and wait for something to sweep by.

At the narrows, I caught another small bass. After catching it, I looked down and saw what I thought was a carp at first but it turned out to be a huge river bass! It looked around 4 to 5 pounds. It then disappeared into the deeper, darker water along the opposite bank. All attempts to coax it back out failed. I walk up a little to the S chute to try my luck there.

I like this part because as the water comes down and turns, there is a pool on the opposite side of slow water. I like to cast my fly in there because there are usually predators there. I picked up couple of nice brim and then as I cast to the exposed roots of a tree, I got a really good hit and the fish swam into the current, putting a nice bend in my 5wt. I played the fish to the bank and lipped a nice healthy 1.5lber! It seems this bass and the brim liked the #4 chartreuse bucktail clouser minnow I was using.

After a mom and dad and couple of young kids all paddled by in their individual kayaks, I ended up making my way downstream to head home for lunch.

It was nice to get out again and nicer still actually catching some fish. I hope I get another chance soon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day weekend family camping trip

This past Saturday, the whole family went to a park along Lake Georgetown in nearby Georgetown, Texas for a Mother's Day weekend camping trip. We joined three other families we know to camp on three adjacent camping sites. This was our first time at this park and it was actually very nice. I brought along a ton of stuff which included some fishing tackle and our two fishing kayaks.

Weather conditions on Saturday were fairly nice with overcast skies and temperatures in the 70s to 80s. The days before we had started seeing temperatures with highs in the low 90s but a cool front came through late Friday evening. The one thing that wasn't particularly positive for kayaking was winds between 15 to 18 mph with gusts above 25 mph.

Lake Georgetown, like pretty much all the Texas lakes, is a man made lake caused by damming the North fork of my beloved San Gabriel river. It is a good size lake covering about 1,297 acres. Besides largemouth bass, crappie, white bass, catfish, and striped bass it supposedly also contains smallmouth bass which is a species I have yet to catch on the fly.

The kids all wanted to paddle the kayaks so we went down to the swimming area of the park and I let them paddle around. After they had their fill, I took one of the kayaks on a scouting paddle to go fishing on Sunday morning. The shoreline was mostly rocky with some vegetation but not a lot. Not a lot of ledges either that I could tell. The wind was pushing me quickly which meant I would have a hard paddle back so I didn't go far and came back to the beach.

That evening I made burgers, hotdogs and sausage for 17 of us and we ate really well. I was stuffed! We made smores and toasted marshmellows, played some games and told some stories around the campfire. I turned in around 10pm.

I got up just before 6am and loaded up the kayak in my truck and headed down to the shore. It wasn't as windy as the day before but as soon as the sun started coming up, so did the wind. I fished the shoreline for about an hour and got just one bite. My stomach was grumbling so I came back in and headed back to camp.

At camp, I started up a grill to heat up an iron pan to make pancakes while someone else made omelettes. Once again, I ate way too much! Sometime later we all went down to the shore to fish for a little bit before returning for lunch and then packing everything up to leave before 2pm. Needless to say we didn't catch anything.

Regardless of the fishing, the rest of the weekend was a lot of fun and I hope my kids had fun, too. We plan to do this again in the fall when the weather is cooler.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Kayak anglers in Corpus Christi are shot at

Read this story a couple of days ago and my cousin in Corpus saw it on the news as well. Pretty scary night for those two kayak anglers. Thank God for the game warden and that the two kayakers came out OK.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The new pocket fisherman?

Recently, I received a Emmrod kayak king compact fishing rod combo as a birthday gift from a family member. Obviously, it is because I fish out of a kayak. It took us a while to figure out how to assemble the stainless steel coil tip. I appreciate all gifts given to me but I don't think this one will replace my Sage XPs anytime soon but I thought we should keep an open mind, be appreciative and maybe be surprised by trying to fish with it.

So, anyone remember the famous Popeil Pocket Fisherman? My dad had one when I was a kid back in the 70s. I remember trying to fish with it and the biggest problem with it was casting since the tip really didn't load or flex much. The Emmrod sort of reminds me of it except it has a coil in it that I suspect is meant to help in casting. My son was particularly excited about trying it out and he had watched the video on how to do a slingshot cast with it so we picked up some worms and headed to a nearby pond for a trial.

Personally, I couldn't see just how this rod can cast as far as a 6' fishing rod or have the same leverage if you actually caught a fish with it. I was able to cast as far as with my daughter's first Barbie pole which is to say it didn't cast too bad but with a light weight, less than 1/8 ounce, the coil tip wouldn't load and it cast fairly poorly. Obviously, this was meant to cast slightly heavier lures but we didn't have any at the pond we were at.

My son decided to fish with it anyways for a while. He eventually figured out how to cast it well enough but the fish were not biting though the red-ear turtles were going nuts and attacking the worms and were careful not to hook any of them. My son was sort of disappointed in the lack of fish and in the casting ability of the little rod though he wants to give it another test sometime. We may bring it along with us on a camping trip we have scheduled for Mother's Day weekend coming up.

Supposedly the rod weighs 8 ounces but I think it is probably a little more than that. This is a big difference in weight from my son's 8' 5wt Albright fly rod and reel that probably weighs less than half of that.

In looking at the website, I was astounded to find that besides a spincast and baitcaster version, they have a fly rod version of this! It doesn't really mention what the line weight to use should be. I have had fly fishing instructors that could cast and shoot plenty of line with just the tip section of a 4 piece fly rod but this seems weird.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cheap Trick at SXSW

I am a product of 80s music for the most part. While Hendrix is probably the only exception, I was a teen during the 80s so the music of that period is some of my favorite. During the 80s, I went to many Spring Break concerts on the beaches of South Padre Island. I saw Steve Ray Vaughn a couple of times as well as a lot of the popular bands of the day and one of my most memorable was the one with Cheap Trick. I thought Cheap Trick was such a cool band. I went out and bought the "At Budokan" live album and really liked it. I have a "best of" CD somewhere that I have played for the kids a few times. All my kids know "I Want You to Want Me" and "Surrender".

Yesterday evening, I went with my wife and family downtown to Austin's Auditorium Shores for a free concert for the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival headlined by no other than Cheap Trick. Lots of freaky looking folks around but once Cheap Trick took the stage at 8pm, all was forgotten and we enjoyed the music until about 10pm. It was like 1986 all over again. Cool.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Milton Reimers Ranch Park

This morning my wife informed me that my son had a tennis lesson and my youngest daughter had a birthday party to go to and suggested I got fishing. I had taken vacation this week to get some things done along with doing things with the family such as when we went to the Star of Texas Rodeo yesterday. I decided to go to a place I haven't been to in years; Milton Reimer's Ranch Park near Dripping Springs.

Reimer's was acquired by Travis County in 2006 from the original owner as part of the county park system. It offers bike trails, hiking, rock climbing and of course fishing. During the early spring, it is a popular destination for the annual white bass run as the white bass enter the creeks and rivers from Lake Travis to spawn. That is, when there is water. This year, thanks to all the rain we've been having, the Pedernales river is running at peak capacity.

So, being unprepared, it took me some time to get all my gear together this morning and load up my kayak. Since white bass was the target, I took my 5wt with Teeny T-130 sinking line and a selection of Clouser minnow and Cypert minnow flies.

I arrived at the park around 11am and finally was in the water about 15 minutes later. There were several folks fishing by the time I got there. I found a spot I could wade and proceeded to fish.

While I was able to see fish in the water, I was only able to catch one keeper white bass in the almost hour I spent there so I started heading upstream. I paddled about a mile and a half to a set of rapids and there were about three guys fishing around them so I kept going but the next set of rapids were too fast and there wasn't enough sandy bottom there so I turned back.

As I passed the first rapids I noticed two of the guys had moved downstream so I beached just below the rapids. This spots looked ideal because there was slower water with seams meeting up to the faster water. Additionally the water had a little more color than where I was fishing the first time. And lastly, the bottom was sandy.

Within the first two casts, I caught my second keeper, a 11" male. In the next hour and 45 minutes, I caught around 20 white bass from 11" to 12" with one going 14" so they were mostly males.

The bite was really on for a while and all the fish were caught on an olive green and white translucent supreme hair clouser that I eventually snagged and lost. It also had a bit of peackcock flash on it plus brass dumbell eyes to keep it on the bottom.

That seemed to be the trick, keep the fly bouncing off the bottom so that basically required me to cast the sinking line and then stick the rod down towards the river bottom so there was no slack in the line. The bite was sometimes hard to detect and just the lightest of pressure.

The fish all fought hard for their size. I was thinking of staying until I got 20 on the stringer but my wife had mentioned she was going to go out with some of her friends so I started my way back to the put in.

Just as I was getting in sight of the primitive launch, I saw a couple of empty anchored kayaks start shaking and one flipped all on its own. Very weird sight. It shook violently and a couple of PFDs came off the kayaks. A boater nearby told me it was a small water spout that did it. Weirdest thing I've seen in a while.

Once I got home, I cleaned all 14 fish which took a while. I forgot how small the fillets are but it should be enough for dinner tomorrow. I am very grateful for these fish and the chance to get out on such a nice day. I hope to do it again soon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snowing in Central Texas

Got some of that weird white fluffy stuff today. Lake levels should be close to normal after it melts. Cool!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The passing of a great Texas fly fishing master

I was reading through Ken Morrow's blog today and saw the news that Allen Crise of Glen Rose, Texas passed away this week. I was really saddened by this news. Mr. Crise was one of the few Certified Master Casting Instructors in Texas. He was also my teacher for fly casting and fly tying when I took it up in 2004 and I imagine he probably taught a good number of my fellow Texas fly fisherman. He was a great gentlemen as well. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I'll really miss the man and never forget him.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A little mud on the boots

A couple of days ago I drove the four hours from my home near Austin to my cousin's house in Corpus Christi looking forward to a couple of nice days of fishing.

Right before 7:00am on Friday we got to Oso Bay and launched on a high tide. The water was brackish from quite a bit of water flowing in from Oso Creek due to recent rain. We almost got the truck stuck in the mud before we launched and later that day spent over $10 at the car wash trying to get most of that mud off the underside.

We paddled for a while and got to our destination and found a couple of wade fisherman there. One of them was doing well catching trout. I had a really difficult time catching anything. I hooked up once with something that put a deep bend in my rod and pulled drag only to do a long distance release of it. My cousin was doing quite well for himself with several trout on his stringer. I also caught a small multi-spotted redfish with a pink worm fly I was dragging on the bottom.

An hour into fishing, we heard some woots from the wade fisherman and turned to see them holding one of the largest trout I have ever seen! We went over to where they were to check it out. The boga grip read around 9 1/2 pounds! They measured it at around 31 1/2" long! It was a once in a lifetime speckled trout! The guys, visiting from Houston, were shaking from excitement and with one of their cameras I took a photo of the two holding the trout. I had left my camera in my dry bag in the kayak and kick myself for not having it with me so you could have seen this trout.

After a couple more hours of fishing, we headed back to the truck to get something to eat, clean the truck and prepare for some fishing that night.

That evening we went to Bird Island basin and between crossing the JFK bridge, the temperature dropped around 12 degrees. It was pretty cold that evening with the humid northeast wind. In addition, the mosquitoes were out with a vengeance. We were only to pick up one additional keeper black drum before we got back to the house around 11:30pm. A long, tiring day. I slept like a log that night.

Saturday's plan was to fish the same area in Oso Bay though we got a later start. I did manage a couple of trout. The tide this time around was pretty low so there was a lot of walking through a deep muddy bottom.

And folks in Europe pay big bucks for mud like this!

That afternoon when we got back and cleaned everything up, showered, changed and drove to Port Aransas to have dinner at a place called Moby Dick's. I ordered their fried shrimp plate and it was really good! It was a good way to end the trip, enjoying some good food and company of my cousin and his wife. This time I got to bring a few fillets back. I am looking forward to the next trip.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Maybe I should take up ice fishing

The last time I went fishing in below freezing conditions was early in the morning on a day in February 2003 (same day of the Columbia shuttle re-entry disaster). While I was doing OK catching some white bass that morning, I had problems with the tip top guide accumulating ice and then my monofilament line breaking off on casts as it absorbed a little water and then froze. I have an old fishing buddy who grew up in Minnesota and he mentioned fishing through the ice and I thought that was insane.

The past couple of days we have had record low temperatures due to the same bitter cold weather gripping a large portion of the country. Yesterday we had lows in the teens and barely got above freezing. This morning it was 13F! Needless to say I did not head out to the lake or the river to try and catch popsicle bass. I just hope that this cold weather doesn't cause any fish kills on the coast as in years past during long lasting, real cold weather caused the death of lots of speckled trout.

Anyways, I just dumped out the 2 1/2" to 3" thick solid piece of ice from the metal washing tub that serves as the water bowl for my dogs. Hope it thaws out tomorrow.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Waders required

I've had my kayak loaded in the back of my truck for a couple of days now itching to get some more fishing in. We had a cold front come in on the evening of New Year's eve and I got up late on New Year's day and had a few things to do so I didn't get out. I had a late start this afternoon but thought I would try the San Gabriel river once again.

Last time I was here the water level was high and the current was fast. The level went down just a bit and so did the current so that was good. The thing this time is the water was cold (probably in the 50s) and it was extremely clear like green glass. I haven't seen it this clear in a long time.

As I paddled upstream headed towards a favorite spot about 2 miles upstream, I could see some fish, mostly carp and spotted gar, every once in a while. I could see the bottom in spots that I know where around 6 feet deep.

The rapids were not too bad to get past but the shallower, fast water just upstream was a pain as I had to wade it since I couldn't get my paddle stroke deep enough in the water to make much headway that way.

Just before I got to the section I wanted I came across a deep pool that held several dozen spotted gar with some around 3 feet in length that looked like torpedoes. I've caught them only a couple of times when they have been feeding but I was really after bass this time so I kept going.

Once I arrived at my destination I realized that the river had changed here. It looked as if flooding from rain changed it somewhat. Since it took me about an hour just to get there and the sun was already getting low, I only had a few minutes to actually fish. I had to wade in the cold water since there was brush along the shoreline in my way.

No fish were caught and so I headed back to the low water crossing. Needless to say, the paddle downriver went way faster. I did get out once and misjudged the depth in the clear water as I went from shin deep water and stepped off into a drop-off where the water came up to my waist! Good thing I didn't fall!

I'm grateful that I was able to get out on the water again even if I haven't caught that first fish of the year. I will try again soon.