Y ou will probably never hear a fishing guide talk about or much less write about the subjects I am about to venture into. Most fishing guides are consummate professionals and are articulate about their fishing and the approach to the business of pursuing and catching fish.
Every so often, though, even the most anal retentive (no I’m not talking about someone’s behind here; anal retentive means someone extremely orderly and fussy) guide has something slip up or better yet slip through, their fingers. Over the years I have been proud that I have never, while on a guide trip, been left out on the water with clients due to mechanical problems. I am hopeful this article doesn’t jinx that!
It’s often said if you fish from a boat long enough, especially in the Rockport area, two things just go with territory: 1. You’re gonna break down and need a tow 2. You’re gonna run aground. Luckily I have dodged both of those bullets for close to 30 years and tried to stay humble for fear I will get paid back tenfold by the mechanical and reef gremlins. Enter 2016 and the fishing trips thereof….
The trip was with a long standing client and one that I truly enjoy fishing. We had an excellent forecast for the day and I was almost giddy wanting to help these guys catch some fish.
By noon we had a pretty good box of fish (mostly trout) and I set off to find some reds we could strain our arms and shoulders catching. We did catch many that were right on the line of 20 inches but no real “ole toes” — 30 inchers etc. “One more cast,” I told my clients “and let’s call it a day.” They were all good with that so we grabbed a drink and started making our way back to the dock, about 17 miles away.
My mind was already on my next trip and the items I needed to get done before my head hit my much looked forward to pillow. Life was good.
This day even the dock wasn’t busy so I powered on. I was about 100 yards from the dock and my motor sputtered, almost like I had run over something. It took off again and then sputtered and died not to be re-started. My first thought was “what did I run over and what’s wrapped around my prop?”. I tilted the motor up and all was good — no abandoned crab trap and no netting. My prop was clean as a spic and span floor.
Then gas came to mind and I said a few choice words to myself thinking that morning I had gotten a bad tank of gas from my favorite gas station. Water in the gas…. I knew that’s what it had to be especially with all the rain we had the previous week.
My clients thought I had shut down my motor and was coasting in, being careful as I approached the dock. Luckily for me the east wind blew me right into the dock as if I’d planned it and did that every day. After help from my clients getting my boat on the trailer and cleaning their fish the first order of business was to determine what the heck was wrong with my motor.
Stressed visions of a ruined motor and having to buy a new one were definitely on my mind. The strange thing was my motor offered no alarms or warnings, just sputtered then went dead. My fuel filter showed no sign of water so I asked forgiveness for the colorful metaphors I had used in my mind where my favorite gas station was concerned.
My concern then shifted to much bigger more expensive potentially broken items like fuel rails, electronics, and on board fuel compressors etc. Needless to say it was above my head.
An emergency trip to Chris’s Marine was in order, where thankfully my mechanic awaited to get me fixed and back on the water. After dropping my boat off I said a silent prayer. Within a few hours the mechanic called to say that all looked good! What???
The computer showed water pressure good, voltage good, oil injection good, all cylinders firing optimally. He said they did run a separate fuel line from the shop’s tank to the motor and she started right up.
Ah, I thought, a bad fuel line or trash in my tank. The mechanic said the primer bulb did need replacing but that wasn’t the problem it was just old but not leaking.
“Ummm” he said, “you ran out of gas.” [email protected]#$%^&*().
“Yeah, right. I put enough fuel in just this morning. I checked my smart gauge and replaced the fuel I used the day before and I always have 15 or 20 gallons remaining in the tank” I said with MUCH confidence.
“When did your fuel gauge stop working?” he asked.
“Years ago” I said, “they never work well anyway and so I replace fuel based on the on board computer consumption used from the day before and I have a buffer of 15 or 20 gallons.”
Then the proverbial ton of bricks landed on the hard rock I call a head and I realized what had happened. The gas station pump and my on board computer were not in sync. I had in fact been burning more fuel in my outboard / smart gauge than I was replacing at the gas station pump even though I always replaced the exact amount or a little more than my smart gauge/on board computer showed.
The two again were NOT exactly the same and in this case my outboard and onboard smart gauge was using more than the pump at the station was replacing, even though the gallons were the same. I calculated it took 12 years to slowly draw the 15 or 20 gallons of reserve down to the point I ran out of gas.
This particular day I burned 2 more gallons of gas than I had put in that morning, believing it was not a problem because I had a 15 or 20 gallon reserve
TILT!!!!! The word quickly spread and of course in our era of text messages ….. to say I got rubbed pretty hard is a GROSS understatement. Kinda like this: we all know you’re so cheap you squeak when you walk Capt. Mac but for going fishing with no gas in your boat, we’re getting up a gas fund benefit for you!
My response…. I think it is pretty dagum good anyone can catch fish with gas, I can catch fish with an empty tank. Or — You wanna think something Capt. Mac? Think some gas into your gas tank that will solve a lot of bad day issues. Or — just a few rules for a novice like you … boats don’t run on dry land, two strokes require two stroke oil, to catch fish one needs rods in the boat, if your boat is bogging down make sure you disconnected the trailer, and last but not least the gas pump at the station will shut off when your tank is full.
I could give you all the reasons why I don’t run a full tank of gas like less weight, shallower running, and turnover of gas in my tank (fresh gas), ethanol and its cumulative effect in a boats gas tank, or I wanted to see just how far my Haynie would go before it ran out of gas. But it would just look like I am making excuses. The morale of the story — for those who might be taking an electronic systematic approach to filling your boats gas tank — don’t trust your gauge. Don’t trust your computer and don’t trust the gas pump. They don’t talk to each other and paddling a 23 ft. bay boat makes for a long day. Here’s my/your sign.
Hot Hot Hot—Early morning and late afternoon is gonna be best for feeding reds. Fish deeper water for trout midday. Top water lures like super spooks and popping plugs in red and gold and bone and white work well this time of year.
Copano Bay — Newcomb Point is good for reds early morning using finger mullet or cut menhaden on a light Carolina rig. The mouth of Copano Creek is good for reds and black drum using live and peeled shrimp under a silent cork. Some keeper trout may be found on Copano Reef using free lined croaker. High tide is best here.
Aransas Bay — The area of Big Island is good for trout on a falling tide; live shrimp or croaker work well on a light Carolina rig. Scotch Tom Reef is good for trout using free lined croaker. The back side of Mud Island is good for reds and black drum using peeled shrimp for the black drum and cut mullet for the reds on either a very light Carolina rig or free lined.
St. Charles Bay — East Pocket still has some reds with cut mullet. A fish finder rig is the best choice. Big Devils Bayou is a good spot for reds and trout using soft plastics in new penny color and nuclear chicken colors. Some black drum lie at the mouth of Cavasso Creek. Use peeled shrimp free lined or a very light Carolina rig.
Carlos Bay — Pelican Reef is a good wade for reds using finger mullet or croaker free lined. Some trout are still holding in Cape Carlos Dugout with live shrimp or mud minnows the bait of choice. The current can be strong here so some weight is required.
Mesquite Bay — Third Chain Islands is a good place for reds using free lined mud minnows. The shoreline of Bludworth Island is a good spot for some flounder using white grubs tipped with shrimp or small pieces of cut squid; retrieve slowing bouncing the jig off the bottom. Mouth of Cedar Bayou is good for trout using free lined croaker.
Ayers Bay — Second Chain is a good place for reds using finger mullet free lined. Rattle Snake Island shoreline is a good place for black drum and sheep head using a silent cork and peeled shrimp.
Location:Wades from the LBJ causeway to Newcomb Point is good for trout and some keeper reds. New penny jerk shad and morning glory jerk shad work well here/ Be sure to take drinking water as it is a long wade.
Contact Capt. Mac Gable at
Mac Attack Guide Service,
Email Capt. Mac Gable at [email protected]