October 25, 2016
COASTAL FOCUS: Upper Mid Coast
October 25, 2016

Fly Fishing

I have clients who travel  from out of state each year to join me for a day of fishing. I try to appreciate all of my clients but it just says something about a person if they are willing to take the time and the money to travel great distances to fish.

If I am honest, these folks hold a special place in my heart, even though it brings a certain amount of pressure to make sure all is ready for them after such a long trip. My stress level ratchets up a notch because after being in this business for all these years, things can just go wrong that are outside of my control.

It seems I find more things just before these trips than at any other time. Luckily though, I can’t remember a single trip that I HAD to cancel because of my neglect.

Some of my out of state clients bring their own rods and reels and some of their special artificial lures. I had never given this much thought until recently my wife and I traveled to an upstate New York family reunion. Probably by now you’ve heard about or read about the Baltimore flood, well guess where our midway stop was—yeppers the Baltimore Airport.

To say they were having an unusual high tide that day doesn’t come close to describing the amount of fresh water these poor folks had to deal with. We were stranded along with thousands of other travelers, and each had issues none of which the airline could adequately deal with.

Admittedly my wife flies a lot more than I, so she knows how to navigate airports. She is especially good at playing flight hop scotch to get her where she needs to go. She takes airline things in stride; a skill I have yet to acquire.

I probably shouldn’t, but I am going to tell you things have changed markedly since I had last flown. I was pretty much lost most of the time even though I tried to look like I knew exactly what I was doing, and I was exactly where I needed to be—none of which was the truth.

A saltwater guide in a Houston/Dallas/Tampa airport—yeah, I guess you could say I stuck out. Terms I never needed to know 15 years ago were absolutely a necessity these days—kiosk check in, pre-check, TSA, GOES, magnetic scanning, 60 linear inches, 23 kilograms, 100 milliliter bottles, one-quart plastic bags, random screening, airplane mode, paying for checked baggage, not getting an assigned seat (you have to fight it out with other fliers once on the plane), paying extra for boarding the plane early or late (I forget which).

I learned quickly where the flight board was. If you are ever in an airport, and all the little letters and numbers are in red you’re gonna have a LONG day. Luckily there were some coffee places but at more than $5 a cup, (unless you’re rich) you’re not going to caffeinate your way through this helter-skelter environment. 

At the Homeland Security line my wife elected NOT to be scanned and rather be searched. Me, wanting to fit in, decided emptying my pockets was okay, but then the guy tells me he’s gonna pat me down and feel around on me where nobody is allowed to.

“No sir, you’re NOT gonna do that” I told him.

“Well, it’s either that or get back in line and get scanned.”

The line was long and full of grumpy people.

“I’ve already stood in line,” I said.

“Not in the scan line” he remarked.

“Listen, I paid over 500 dollars to fly on an airplane, then I had to pay for my baggage, throw away a lot of my snacks, then I’m herded like a herd of cattle, treated like I’m a criminal (do I look like a terrorist to you?), and now you want to feel me up or radiate me in that Star Trek-looking beam me up chamber?”

At this point to say I’m getting some attention is not accurate.

“I’ve got on nylon shorts, a baseball cap, and a tee shirt, do you think I’ve got an M16 hiding somewhere!!??”

“You might!” he said. “Or it could be in your carry on.”

[email protected]#$ You made me throw away all my carry on!” I hollered.

“Sir, what planet have you been on the last 20 years?” the security guy asked.

Then they discovered I had pre check (something my wife finagled), I was put in an express line and all was forgiven!!!???

“All this and I still have to fight for my seat once on the plane!” I LOUDLY stated.

Okay, sorry, but airports and me are like a match and an open can of gas, we just don’t mix without an explosion. After arriving at the gate (oh, and no meal on the plane!!!) I was in need of something that looked familiar, so my wife bought me a solid gold cup of coffee (had to have gold in it for what it cost).

Lo and behold, I see a fellow flyer with a PVC pipe with glued ends. I surmised it had to be a rod holder, so feeling a little lonely for some familiarity I eased over and struck up a conversation.

“Going fishing?” I asked.

 “Probably not,” he replied in a tense manner. “See this rod holder I made?” he said. “Don’t EVER do this and try to fly. “My thought was I would carry this on the plane to protect the very expensive rod I have inside,” he continued. “They all but tackled and hand-cuffed me at the entrance, and sir I was no longer an innocent American with my prized rod, I was a guilty terrorist with a pipe bomb or a weapon of mass destruction. I was escorted away, interrogated, patted down, and all but my bodily orifices were thoroughly examined. It didn’t help that I had some of my favorite lures inside either, all of which I was told could be used as a weapon. If I wanted to proceed, they would not be allowed in the cabin of the plane. Glad I didn’t bring my favorite stink bait or I might have been accused of carrying genocide weapons!”

“Sir, why didn’t you check the rod holder? I asked.”

“Well I have fear of flying (Now I have a fear of trying to get to fly), and the rod would be kinda of a relaxing item, or so I thought,” he said. “At check-in I got treated like I was a criminal, then at security it was even worse. Now I am so afraid of trying to get on my plane that my stomach is upset—not to mention I am getting the weirdest looks by everybody within sight. The fact that you’re talking to me might make you a potential BAD GUY as well so be careful!”

“Maybe it would help if, when you get to the gate, you open the holder up and show everybody it’s a fishing rod,” I suggested.

“Oh yeah, and as I unscrew the top I get shot or bludgeoned to death! I’m a hunter as well,” he said. “I have traveled with a gun case, and it was all pretty straight forward until I realized my money belt was inside the gun case. I made the mistake of trying to open my case after it was inspected inside the TSA perimeter. Within a nanosecond I had five TSA security officers on me. I’m pretty sure I was a hair’s width away from getting hurt for they all meant business, let me tell you!”

He went on to say in his NSHO (not so humble opinion) after a person buys a plane ticket,they forfeit all rights once they approach the check in counter.

After my experience on this very long flight, I have to say that while I understand the need for security and very much want it, ( I applaud my brothers and sisters in arms who do these thankless, glamorless, and dangerous jobs), I suggest a little compassion and understanding and maybe a friendly demeanor where we the customers are concerned.

It would help tense situations and be much appreciated. After this trip I have a much deeper appreciation for those clients and any sportsman/woman who choose the airlines as a means of transportation.

If you do decide to fly to destinations out of state or out of country, set your attitude to that akin to being herded like cattle—you’re going to be scanned, examined/groped, not fed anything worthwhile, cramped in a VERY small seat, and radiated while you fly.

The comforts once enjoyed with coach flight now come only with added expense—premium economy class, business class, first class. The cost difference can be staggering from 2x to 20x the price of coach. The cumbersome security check, however, is the same.

If flying abroad with hunting equipment, please make note of U.S. government form 4457. Have it filled out and stamped/approved by Customs ahead of time. If you don’t, it could cost you a lot of money in taxes returning from your destination.

If you can, get TSA pre-check or pay for GOES (global enrollment/entry system) certification for out of country travel. Pack snacks. Ideally, use a rod/gun local to your destination and avoid the added hassle. 

For the sportsman / woman who flies with his/her gear, it truly is a lesson in endurance – enduring attitudes, enduring patience, and time. Good Luck!




The first cold fronts have arrived, and the bite has changed. This is good cut bait time with menhaden and mullet on the top of the list. Sliced piggy perch work well too.

Copano Bay: On a dropping tide the mouth of Mission Bay is a good place for reds using free-lined cut mullet. Patience is key. The reds will be moving through the cuts that frequent this area into the protection of deeper water. The deeper edges of Copano Reef are a good place for trout using new penny-colored jerk shad and or live shrimp. Some black drum may be found just off the shoreline near Bayside. A light Carolina rig with peeled shrimp is the ticket.

Aransas Bay: Bartel Island is holding some black drum. Use live shrimp under a silent cork. Dunham Point is a good place for reds using finger mullet free lined or cut menhaden on a medium Carolina rig. Grass Island Reef still holds trout with live shrimp the best bait; free lined is best or under a rattle cork.

St Charles Bay: The mouth of Little Devils Bayou is a good place for reds using finger mullet free lined. Some trout frequent this area as well so free lined piggy perch is a good choice. Little Sharp Point has some black drum and some flounder with peeled shrimp fished free lined or on a very light Carolina rig. The grass off Egg Point is a good place for reds and trout using a weed-less rigged jerk shad in morning glory and chartreuse pepper glow colors.

Carlos Bay: On colder days the deep cuts such as Cedar Dugout are good for keeper trout using free-lined shrimp or shad assassins in salt and pepper color. The shoreline of Ballou Island is a good place to wade with top waters for trout and reds. The Rapala Chartreuse Floating minnow works well here.

Mesquite Bay: Drifts across Bays Cove is a good way to catch flounder with peeled shrimp on a very light jig head. Set the hook at the slightest tap. Some good sheepshead on the northeast shoreline using cut squid or frozen shrimp under a silent cork. Reds may be found here as well. Belden Dugout is a good place for reds using finger mullet on a medium heavy Carolina rig.

Ayers Bay: There are some black drum off Second Chain Island with peeled shrimp free-lined or on a fish finder rig. East shoreline is holding some trout. Work a jerk shad in new penny and morning glory colors for best action.


Location: The shoreline of Goose Island is a good place to set up for reds. Wading this area is best but fishing from the bank can produce some keeper reds as well as some big trout. Cut mullet is a good bait choice or mud minnows.



Email Capt. Mac Gable at [email protected] 

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