Getting Ready to Fish
M ost people don’t catch my attention as I find most are running hard at the speed of light and their brains are at the outer limits of what we call sanity—all trying to keep up with this thing we call life.
I’m sure I’m not noticed much either, as I guess on the average I am pretty boring when compared to my peers. I do have an eye, I’ve been told, for noticing unique things and people.
The status quo doesn’t interest me much for I’ve found as a species we, or at least most of us, tend to gravitate toward the same things. We are a social species yet we like to be left alone—except when we don’t want to be left alone. We like to be recognized but only in a favorable way and steer clear of calamitous and disadvantageous detection.
Still there are those who just seem to have a different way about them. They don’t seem to care or better yet have no recollection nor acknowledge what others think. They seem to go about their way in a quiet but purposeful way—these are the people who catch my attention.
Take for example the guy who launched his boat from the top of his truck—no trailer, no tags, no wheels just a few strategically placed rollers, pulleys and cables. When I asked him where the idea came from he said “I was having trouble getting my old trailer registered so I asked myself ‘Why does a boat need a trailer?’” It was a sight to behold, but although it took longer to launch, it worked.
How about the guy who sealed up his small fiberglass Casita travel trailer watertight and added a trolling motor because he couldn’t afford a boat?
“I will,” he theorized, “be able to enjoy my hot coffee, cook meals, and not have to run back to the dock when the sun goes down, but rather enjoy the comforts of my own bed right on the water.”
On her maiden voyage/launch, the little trailer floated like a cork, drifted slightly away from the dock and capsized. After a quizzical look the guy burst out laughing and then matter-of-factly said “Guess she’s a little top heavy but ballast will fix that.”
One I just can’t forget was while at HEB (grocery store). I immediately noticed a young man in line at the checkout with 20 or so tubes of Preparation H. he didn’t seem to be the least bit hesitant or timid about his selection, but seemed to have that look of purpose.
“That’s a lot of personalized grease!” I more asked than said to him.
He looked at me with a questionable stare, not knowing what I was talking about.
“Collecting medical supplies for folks I asked?”
“Oh no sir, it’s for my fishing” he said.
He had my attention.
“I use it as bait; well, I put in ON my bait.”
“Really?” I questioned.
“Yes sir,” he told me. “I didn’t have the money a while back for bait so grandpa told me I could use his tackle box, and I might find something in the box to fish with. It was in the tackle box.
“Nothing was biting so I took some Vienna sausages I had for lunch and remembered grandpa told me he used it to grease THINGS, and it helped him when he fished. So I squirted some of it on the sausage, and man did it work!!!
“If you read about it, it has shark oil in it. Anyway they don’t have it at bait stands or tackle stores, but there is always plenty of it here. It doesn’t wash off, and it greases my reel good too. Mom and dad use it at home as well.”
You can’t make something like this up. I dare you to try!
There is one elderly lady I had seen many times at almost all of the boat ramps in our area, she seemed to have that very THING about her that just set her apart. You know, like she had a secret that she was privately enjoying.
Over time I began to pay close attention to her as she launched her boat. She was always alone. Having been around boat ramps much of my life I can tell pretty quickly those who have the art of launching and loading mastered, and she did.
She always had a dog with her, didn’t have a live well on the boat from what I could see, and every so often I would catch a glimpse of a fishing rod. She wasn’t talkative, but was cordial and gracefully polite. She didn’t seem to need the usual banter that exists at our boat ramps, but went about her quiet way and never tarried.
I would see her out on the water, usually set up where there was little or no fish to my knowledge. Many times I never saw a fishing rod, but I was sure there had to be one. I made a mental note to introduce myself, but she wasn’t the kind of person who was easy to approach—always on the move, purposeful and yet in a peaceful way.
Her pace was one that you just didn’t want to interrupt. Her winch strap broke trying to load her boat on one blustery day, so I hastened to help. After tying her boat strap off I introduced myself and asked how the fishing was, she said it was great.
“Well, you’ll have a good supper tonight” I mused.
“I don’t eat fish” she said.
“Well they are fun to catch” I continued.
“Truthfully I don’t catch many.”
“You are on the water more than most guides I know,” I quipped, “so I’d say your sand bagging me a little here.”
She laughed “Me? A sand bagger? Not hardly.”
“You must be an artificial angler,” I said, “because I never see any bait on your boat.”
Again she laughed. “I don’t know the first thing about artificial fishing. I use whatever bait I can freeze and keep in my ice chest.”
“Well ma’am” (she then told me her name) “I can tell you some good spots to fish fresh dead or frozen bait.”
“No fun in that” she said. “You see I don’t have to catch fish to enjoy the day.”
“Ahhh…then you are a boater more than a lady angler.”
“Not at all. Boating has no real purpose, but now fishing, well, fishing has a purpose now doesn’t it.”
I knew I was about to learn something.
“My husband passed away, and my children have their own lives. I feel very much in the way when I spend too much time with them, even though I probably am not.
“I believe one needs a purpose, and I like the purpose of fishing. Truthfully I like getting ready to go fishing. It takes a lot of time as I’m sure you know. The ‘readying ritual’ I go through keeps me busy, and I find much joy in it. It keeps me vital and whole and I sleep better at night after getting ready for and spending the day fishing.
“Not to sound like a cliché, but it’s not about catching a fish so much anymore as it is the journey. Preparing and being ready to catch a fish works for me. You see we spend so very little time in that moment when we achieve our actual purpose, so for me enjoying the trek is the key to a happier life.”
“Wow” I said admiringly, “I think you just took me to school.”
She smiled. “Truth is you’ll understand it more as you get older—enjoy the day. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!”
• • •
Wading the cold: I like wade fishing this time of year for two reasons.
1. It’s soft plastics heaven and one can arm themselves with an arsenal of great lures
2. The water is usually clear and sight casting to fish is a lot of fun. Think slow retrieves and move very slowly, casting more than just one time in the same spot.
Copano Bay: Black drum tend to congregate at the mouth of Mission Bay, and that angler who has a few days to fish has a good chance of hooking up with some of these good-tasting, hard fighters. A light Carolina rig is a great option with peeled shrimp being a great bait choice. The deeper edges of Egery Island is a good place for trout using new penny colored Jerk Shad or free lined live shrimp.
Aransas Bay: The mouth of Allyn’s Bight is a good place for reds and trout using free-lined finger mullet and/or free-lined live shrimp. The deep edges of Ninemile Point (six to nine feet) is a good bet for trout using sand eels in chartreuse and silver mud colors. Mack Reef is a good spot for trout using a silent cork and live shrimp.
St Charles Bay: The cut between Aransas Bay and St. Charles Bay is a wade worth making this time of year. Work the shallow edges of the shell on warmer days and the deeper water of the cut on colder days. Deep runners like a Rapala Shad Rap and Rattle Traps in blue and gold are good choices.
Carlos Bay: Drifts across Carlos Lake are good for trout and a few reds using soft plastics in morning glory and electric chicken colors. Slow retrieves and many casts to the same spot is the key to success. Cape Carlos Dugout is a good spot for bottom fishing cut mullet or menhaden on a medium to heavy Carolina rig..
Mesquite Bay: The mouth of Cedar Bayou is a good place for reds using finger mullet or mud minnows free—lined. Beldons Dugout is a good place for reds using cut menhaden on a fish finder rig..
Ayers Bay: Some black drum may be found on Ayers Reef using peeled shrimp and a light Carolina rig. Some sheepshead on the north shoreline with small kahle hooks and cut squid is the ticket. Free-lined is best or a very light split shot about 18 inches up from the hook
THE BANK BITE
Location: The LBJ causeway fishing pier is a good place to set up for some medium to large black drum. The large drums bite well on cracked crabs and the smaller to medium drums bite well on cut squid or peeled shrimp. Patience is the key here.
Email Capt. Mac Gable at firstname.lastname@example.org