I was on halibut charter fishing out of Homer Alaska. I was a client on a custom aluminum 30-foot boat built by Silver Streak Boats from Vancouver Island.
It was going to be a rough day, and the three other clients did not have their sea legs. At least that was my impression before we boarded the boat.
Fed by weather in the Gulf of Alaska, Katchemak Bay where we were fishing was indeed rough with four to six foot waves. Within 30 minutes the boat captain had his hands full with all three of the other clients hurling their guts out down below deck.
He (the captain) seemed seasoned and experienced but at this point was a bit harried. He didn’t have help this day as his first mate tied one on the night before and couldn’t make the trip (he was hung over).
He quickly noticed I seemed to be quite comfortable and appeared to know my way around a boat and fishing gear. “So you’ve fished these waters before?” he asked.
“No,” I replied, “I am a fishing guide in Texas.”
“Fresh water or salt water?”
“Salt” I replied.
“So you have credentials?”
“Yes, I have a Coast Guard license” I responded.
“How would you like to work for me today?” he pleaded. “I need a first mate, your charter is free and I will pay you. I could really use the help,” he said, pointing to the sick clients below.
“What do you need me to do?”
“Take care of the fishing end, and I will pilot the boat.”
“OK,” I said. It wasn’t rocket science — heavy rods, lots of weight and large circle hooks baited with salmon, herring, and octopus.
“Let the line out ’til it hits the bottom and wait for a bite.”
I used octopus as it seemed tougher to get off the hook than the herring or the salmon, and in the rough conditions this equaled less work. I set the lines/reels out and tried to get the clients focused on fishing, but to little avail.
All three appeared to be down for the count (sea sickness has a tendency to do that). To add insult to injury the fish weren’t biting.
The Capt. came to me, “Anything?” he asked.
“No bites” I replied.
“Look” he said, “if you get a bite catch the fish and put it in the box. You might have to catch their fish for them too.”
“Will do” I said, “but we need to find the fish first!” I quipped.
“No sh…” he mumbled.
Forty-five minutes later, still no fish. The captain came and sat down next to me and began talking more to him than me. “The fish have been on this shelf in deep water 12 days in a row,” he said quietly. “I have close to 20 thousand dollars in electronics, which say they should be here, but nada! It’s hard to know what to do. “Ever been there?”
“Yes sir” I respectfully replied. “ Get a cup of coffee, relax and see what your instincts tell you.” In sizing him up I could tell this was far from his first day on the water. He was a seasoned veteran probably in his sixties and had forgotten more about halibut fishing than I would ever know.
Twenty minutes later he appeared and told me to reel ‘em up. I had boxed one chicken (a small halibut).
“There is no reason for the fish to be in the inland waters,” he said. “None at all, the water temp is wrong there, the bait is not there, and the depth is just plain wrong to get a good bite going, but I think that’s exactly where they are today”
We were under way and after about 10 miles went from 200 feet of water to 30 feet. The inland waters were protected from the waves, so not only did the fish bite but two of the clients actually caught their own limit.
What prompted this halibut captain to change his game plan? Instinct? ESP? Desperation? A sixth sense?
I was in Carlos Bay with clients. We were drift fishing for trout taking advantage of a light south wind, and after repeated drifts we had a pretty nice box of the speckled wonders.
I was focused on re-positioning the boat when a feeling came over me that something wasn’t quite right. I quickly checked the mechanics of the boat and all the gear, but all was good. Still, the feeling persisted.
The feeling was so strong I no longer could hear my clients talking to me. What the heck was going on? I scanned the waters around us, and I saw something was out of place far to the east.
My client said “WOW…. that’s a big wave!”
“Reel up!” I hollered “and sit down!”
I fired the Mercury up. Luckily we were not on anchor. A pile of waves was coming at us about 3/4 of a mile out on Mesquite Bay. Straight-line winds pushed by a squall line thunderstorm had dipped down out of the upper atmosphere and were roaring toward us. The winds were in excess of 70 mph and were pushing waves in excess of four to six feet.
Luckily we made the west side of Dunham Island when the wind hit and were able to get ashore while the wind and storm tore items from the island and blew them over our heads.
So what cued me to this storm? Instinct? ESP? A sixth sense?
How about this one: The croaker bite had been incredible with quick limits in just a few hours. This had been going for almost a month. I was readying my boat in the wee hours of the morning and a feeling came over me to leave the croaker rigs at home and throw soft plastics.
“This is truly insane,” I said to myself as I drove to the boat ramp. “I must just be lazy and not want to make the drive for bait today.” Yet I knew it was more than that.
Whatever IT WAS, my common sense was being overruled. The first cast set the stage for an incredible day of fishing. I looked like a hero back at the dock as the croaker fishermen had all but zeroed out. What was it that prompted me to make such a decision? Instinct? ESP? A sixth sense? Laziness?
And yet another: A fellow guide had booked trips 15 days in a row, and he thanked God because he needed the money. After two of the fifteen days, while pulling his boat out of the water, he got this uncomfortable feeling he should not go out the next day.
At home that evening he kept having the feeling and even told his wife about it. She said, “Listen to your inner voice, and maybe there’s a reason.”
“Aw,” he huffed “I’m tired.”
The next afternoon he didn’t show up at the dock from his trip. After a long night and most of the next day he and his clients were found dehydrated and worn out from exposure but otherwise okay.
When I talked to him later he simply said, “Something told me not to go out. I knew something was wrong or missing.” He forgot to put oil in his two-stroke engine, and his alarm had not gone off. His motor burned up, causing him and his clients to spend almost 40 hours in the elements out on the water.
I could go on and on about experiences like these, but more than likely you know what I’m talking about. Something — an inner voice, a sign, spiritual discernment, an irrepressible thought, or maybe a loved one or friend tells you “to do or not to do” something.
Fish here or fish there — don’t go out today — shrimp instead of mullet — monofilament instead of braid. The list goes on. What is the answer to these seemingly strange anecdotes?
Of course I will try to be balanced; so yes, there is a scientific explanation as well as a spiritual one. We have five physical senses which allow us to experience the world: smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing.
If you are a person of faith you believe and try to see life experiences from a spiritual sense. The hard-core religious community scoffs at PURE science and PURE science often doesn’t recognize the spiritual world but rather refers to it as the “subtle world,” (that which is outside the realm of the five senses).
Now consider the human brain and all its capabilities as well as its unknowns. We know the brain has the best storage capability of anything currently in existence. Even the so-called super computer of our day can’t compete.
The brain stores almost everything our five senses experience, even items we are not consciously aware of. The knowledge of our faith is stored there as well, that which we believe and that which we don’t.
Here’s the rub: we have the absolute best memory device known to date in our hard heads, but unlike a mechanical computer recalling data from storage, our memory is triggered in ways we still don’t fully understand.
We’ve learned we remember data from deeply felt experiences or events or even memorable geographic locations, but what about all that other data we’ve stored? Could it be this sixth sense phenomenon is twofold? Our wonderfully created brain’s ability to recall subconsciously stores data based on input from our five senses AND from input that comes from our subtle/spiritual side?
If I have lost you here let me explain. My ability to read the coming of the storm in the above scenario was partly because I had experienced straight-line winds much earlier in my life. My five senses were subconsciously storing and comparing that data to what was happening at the time.
BINGO! My conscious mind was alerted. How about the guide who was stranded with his clients on the water?
He told me he had set the jug of two stroke oil on his boat at the boat ramp the day before with full intention of filling his oil reservoir. But he had gotten distracted and drove off. After the event, he later recalled hearing the gallon of oil hitting the ground beside his boat as he drove off.
Furthermore, this was the second time he had burned a motor up due to lack of oil. My croaker/artificial event was similar. An eclipse was happening that day; and many years prior I had a similar experience with my daughters where soft plastic lures were irresistible to the trout.
The evening before the trip, I had scanned past a heading in the newspaper that an eclipse was to occur the next day — the day of my trip. Upon waking my instinct/ESP/sixth sense was invoked even though it made no logical sense to me at the time.
I have read articles, and even charts and graphs indicating one has to have some “spiritual percentage or level” before a level of six sense can be attained.
It’s important to say that if one sees this phenomenon around every corner, under every rock or with every breath taken, it can be dangerous, misleading and unhealthy.
I think as a person of faith, God or, if you will, a higher power, can and does use this gift, endowment, or capacity to help us in our lives.
Should you choose to go fishing with me, please don’t show with up a crystal ball in hand, as this will conjure up visions of the wicked witch of the east and flying monkeys from the land of OZ.
In that case this guide might just decide to stay at home, drink some coffee and eat pancakes (-;
April is a settling month here on the Texas coast. Bait is usually plentiful which brings schools of reds and trout into the far reaches of our bays. The croaker bite is just getting started, and even top water lures as well as soft plastics work well, giving many options to the dedicated angler. Fishing tide movement periods this time of year is key to success.
Copano Bay — Black drum is good just off of Hannibal Point using a silent cork and fresh dead shrimp. Peeling the shrimp is a good tactic here. Some keeper trout are on Lap Reef. Use free-lined croaker or Berkley gulp shrimp on a light jig head.
The mouth of Mission Bay is still a good spot for reds using free-lined finger mullet.
Aransas Bay — The new wave break on the west end of Goose Island is holding some nice sheepshead. Throw as close to the structure as you can. Use free-lined shrimp retrieving slowly and set the hook at the slightest tap.
Halfmoon Reef is good for trout using live shrimp or free-lined croaker. The deeper edges are best at mid-day. Some keeper reds and trout may be found on Long Reef using mud minnows or finger mullet on a light Carolina rig.
St. Charles Bay — Good numbers of small trout should be on the west shoreline, with some keepers mixed in the schools. Finger mullet work well here. It’s also a decent place for an occasional keeper red. Black drum action is still good in the back parts of Cavasso Creek. The key here is a silent approach and squid or shrimp on a light Carolina rig.
Carlos Bay — The shoreline of Ballou Island is a good wade for reds and some keeper trout using soft plastics in morning glory and pepper chartreuse colors. Berkley Jerk shad works well here. Schools of black drum are still frequenting the Cedar Point area. Good choices are peeled shrimp free-lined or on a Light Carolina.
Mesquite Bay — Belden Dugout is a good place for reds using mud minnows or finger mullet free-lined. Roddy Island is good for trout using free-lined croaker. Some flounders may be found at the mouth of Little Brundrett Lake using live shrimp free-lined or jig heads tipped with squid.
Ayers Bay — Some large black drum hang in this area with cracked crab on a light Carolina rig being a good choice of bait. The east shoreline is a good place for keeper reds using live shrimp under a silent cork.
Location: Little Bay is a place that is easily accessible. On high tide it’s a good place to fish finger mullet on a light Carolina rig. New structure has been added here just off the shoreline behind McDonald’s and will eventually hold fish. With a northwest wind, this is a good place to free-line LARGE live shrimp as well. Some nice trout and large reds have been caught here.
Email Capt. Mac Gable at [email protected]