I f you are inclined to think this article is about how to get yourself (unlost), then think again. There are no navigation tips here or special NAV apps for one’s cell phone
Instead, this is an article about personal direction.
I pulled up to the dock with a friend one day. We had been fishing reds in a special hole of his and had much success, and we were back at the dock plenty early.
I noticed two other boats were back early as well and couldn’t help but notice they too had a great catching day. As is not unusual for me these days, the two boats belonged to two new guides I did not know and had just begun cleaning their client’s fish.
They appeared to have an abundant box of trout. “Nice day” I said, “and it looks like you guys had a good day.”
“Yes, we caught our limit and got an added bonus,” remarked one of the clients.
“Ahh, you found some black drum” I quipped.
“Not exactly.” He smiled and nodded to the guide. “Let’s just say we were well taken care of,” and laughed.
Luckily for me my buddy was doing the cleaning of our reds as I had a sore shoulder from too many honey dooooes the day before (but I could reel in fish). I was getting the rods and boat ready for the road back home and was in a good position to observe.
One of the boats had three clients and cleaned 20 trout the other had two clients and cleaned 15 trout from my count. Not being one to avoid a hornet’s nest, I decided to see whether they had been schooled in the new math being taught these days, or perhaps had used a dysfunctional calculator to multiply with. Then I remembered my sore shoulder and knew sticking my nose into another guide’s business especially with clients around, was akin to threatening their first born child.
I reluctantly just gave all the evil eye and decided to wait for a better opportunity to understand how these numbers might add up. As luck would have it, the two guides were gone faster than a toupee in a hurricane. Their clients were left holding the, ummm, evidence, so my opportunity had indeed arrived.
“Say” I said, “you guys looked parched and we have a lot of cold water here. Would you like a cold drink?”
“Wow,” two of the clients said, “we sure would!” Conversation ensued, and we got around to how the fishing day was with me in the lead.
“Reds were hammering the mullet we had, but I couldn’t get any help catching them,” I said, jabbing my buddy as he continued to clean our fish.
“He’s full of [email protected]#$%^ !” he said. “He can’t hardly raise his shoulder. It’s so sore and look who is cleaning the fish. Nuff’ said” he boomed with a smile.
“Well, you guys did well,” I said. “Seems like a lot of fish there for two fellows,” I hinted.
“Yeah,” he said, “we’ve been out before with these guides, and the fishing has been slow, but today we got into the fish and quickly had our limit and decided to make up for the other no-fish trips we had with them. The guides were nice enough to let us keep their limit, that’s why it seems like we have so much, or maybe too much fish. I mean heck whose gonna miss the 10 more trout we kept? Besides, the guides told us it was mostly legal and if asked by anyone we were all just friends.”
“Who’s gonna miss ‘em? Mostly legal? Just friends?” I said as I looked both of them in the eye not wavering. “Sir, you seem like a nice enough guy and I hope open to suggestion if not criticism. What you did was break the law. What you and they did was not mostly legal it was 110% illegal and ‘just friends’ sounds like something a cheating spouse would say to a faithful better half!
“As for not missing, just say 10 trout,” I continued. “There are on any given day more than a hundred guide boats that leave the dock with paying clients on our middle to lower coast. If say 50 percent of those took 10 fish a day above the limit that’s 500 fish daily that would otherwise be healthy spawning and provide a sporting chance for other anglers.”
“I think it’s a gray area that has to be proved,” he said, “and I am a law abiding citizen every day of my life, so me stepping up on the fence, so to speak, once or twice a year shouldn’t hurt anything.”
“Oh indeed it does” I argued. “I think you can see if everyone who comes down here has this attitude the impact it would have on our fishing resources. I hope, if nothing else, a seed was planted for future thought and action.”
The limit of any species is always met with heated debate, which usually falls into two camps—those who are fishing for a given species, and those who are trying to manage or protect the same. I have sat in these meetings and seldom if ever have the two sides agreed.
It is a balancing act I dare say I would not want to mediate. The law is not ambiguous. It is pretty clear. It states “Each licensed or exempt angler in the boat is entitled to keep one daily bag limit, except on guided trips fishing trips, where the boat limit is equal to the daily bag limit multiplied by the number of licensed / exempt anglers on board, minus the guide and any deck hands employed by the guide”. Unfortunately this puts the onus on the game warden (whose job is hard enough), trying to enforce fish and wildlife laws as well as boating and trapping laws all the while protecting our natural resources. There are so many variables to this scenario it can melt your brain.
My mother and father tried to teach me in these matters. It’s so very easy for one to lose his or her way. It is very subtle in the first offense and leads, we believe, to little harm, but then there is always the next time.
Well, that red is only a 1/16th-inch undersized so we’ll just step on him and make him longer or how about dropping that red on its nose? After all it’s just ¼-inch oversized, and I’ve already used my tag.
Or, having one’s limit in the box, then catching a bigger fish and simply throwing the smaller ones already on ice back in the water. This method is known as culling, but it’s okay the “back at the dock” limit was never exceeded.
Or, fishing in closed / private areas. If no one knows, where’s the harm? These small currents we drift into can lead us into an ocean of these kinds of actions. Isn’t that what we all complain about in our current Government?
The cracks in our laws (our armor) are filled with those seeking only to fill their own selfish wishes. These seemingly ever so small unscrupulous currents multiply, and the going gets easier as one descends until we are truly adrift with no bearings.”
I wish I could say I’ve never broken the law or stepped up on the fence, but it would be a lie. What I have learned is it’s much easier to just refuse the selfish tendencies that seem to govern the majority of our daily lives than trying to navigate back home after finding we are indeed lost.
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So it’s hot, so you sweat, so you might be kinda odorous, when you come back from fishing the fishing can outweigh these little hindrances. The croaker bite is on, and piggys work well this time of year. For those up early the best times I’ve found, are from sunrise to about 9:30 a.m. For evening anglers, just as the sun hits the horizon is best. Be aware it gets dark in a hurry after the sun kisses the west skyline.
Copano Bay — Free-lined croaker on Lap Reef is good for keeper trout. This same reef early morning can produce some nice reds as well. Mission Bay is a good place for reds on the north shoreline as long as you know how to navigate it.
I recommend shallow draft boats here especially on low tide. Cut mullet works well either free-lined or on a light Carolina rig. The deeper edges just off Newcomb Point are good for trout mid-day using live shrimp under a rattle cork.
Aransas Bay — Paul’s Mott Reef is a good place for red and trout using a croaker on a light Carolina rig. The mouth of Turtle Bayou is a good place to drift across for trout using a free-lined croaker. Traylor Island is holding some trout with new penny-colored soft plastics a good choice. Work this area with a good drift wind or a trolling motor for best results.
St. Charles Bay — Still a few black drum may be found close in Cavasso Creek, with peeled shrimp on a very light Carolina rig the bait of choice. Cut mullet on a fish finder rig at the mouth of Little Devil’s Bayou is a good place in early morning for reds. Cut menhaden on a Carolina rig works well for some keeper reds in East Pocket on high tide.
Carlos Bay — Cedar Reef is still a good choice for reds using fresh cut mullet free lined or on a very light Carolina rig. Carlos Dugout has some trout in the deeper water with croaker free lined as the best bait choice.
Mesquite Bay — The North shoreline of Brays Cove is good for a few flounders and reds using free-lined live shrimp. The mouth of Cedar Bayou is good for trout using a croaker on a light Carolina rig. The area just off Roddy Island is a good place for gafftops using squid or frozen shrimp. A light fish finder rig works well here.
Ayers Bay — The shoreline of Rattlesnake Island is good for sheepshead and some black drum using frozen shrimp or cut squid on a light Carolina rig. Second Chain has some keeper reds using finger mullet free-lined.
Location:The airport shoreline off Copano Bay is a good wade with croakers for trout and reds. The key to this area is to wade far enough out that you can fish 360 degrees. For those bank-bound, long casts with a medium heavy Carolina rig using cut mullet or menhaden work well.
Contact Capt. Mac Gable at
Mac Attack Guide Service,
Email Capt. Mac Gable at [email protected]