M y mom told me one day that, even as a youngster, I preferred the company of older folks. I suppose for me they were just more interesting and they very seldom led me astray.
An old German couple whom I dearly loved (Uncle Hugo and Tante Vinni) often baby sat me. They both mostly spoke German so naturally I picked up some German lingo. God forbid if they told me to do something and I didn’t do it, for they tolerated neither nonsense nor disobedience.
Uncle Hugo loved to fish, and he and my Dad often fished together. I recall they had a small boat chained to a tree on Lake Travis near Lago Vista they cat-fished from. During the drought period, back in early 1960, Uncle Hugo called to my Dad across our fence in an alarmed voice “Viel regen kommt!” (Much rain coming!).
He claimed his purple martins indicated this by staying perched on the elevated birdhouse he made. They should, he explained later, be soaring high above his pecan trees, so foul weather was close. They should retrieve the boat chained to the tree “so fort!” (immediately!).
My Dad, not one for reading tea leaves or being superstitious, said “we can get it in the morning, Hugo”. Hurricane Carla’s remnants hit Austin that night. By the time Dad and Uncle Hugo got to the lake the next morning, the boat and the tree it was chained to were 10 feet underwater. They never recovered the old aluminum boat.
Uncle Hugo and Tante Vinni had a fish pond that I spent most of my time playing around. It was mostly just a tiled hole in the ground, but it held much mystery for me, and it had the biggest goldfish I had ever seen.
On special occasions, they would tell me to catch a big one for them to eat. That was like saying “Sic ‘em!” to a bull dog.
I would grab my hand line, dig a big red wiggler from their worm beds (they sold fishing worms) and to my great joy would fish into the mysterious lily pad pond for a golden whopper.
I spent many days learning German folklore and remember a saying Uncle Hugo would repeat over and over “Nicht, dass alte Mann einlassen.” (Don’t Let The Old Man In.)
I would often look at the gate or door and wonder who he was talking about, but the only/oldest man I saw was him. Their life was one of self-reliance and sustainability. They raised their own vegetables, rabbits, chickens and goldfish. Tante Vinni made all their bread and any other items they needed, from buttermilk to knackwurst and the best coffee cake I ever tasted—all from a single house lot in the city limits of Austin, Texas.
Years later I asked him about the saying and if he was the old man. “Nicht” (No), he replied “I can never be, for that will be the day I give up and begin dying. However, the saying is for ME— to remind me to keep the old man at bay. You see, boy age is ….”Alter des Geistes” (of the mind).”
As I near my 61st birthday I must admit I feel the Old Man at times trying to convince me it’s time to embrace him, and I say to myself “Don’t Let The Old Man In.”
I still fish at times by myself, and I often hunt by myself simply because I can. However, there are a few things for those of us who are, shall we say, raging against that old man that can definitely help us as we continue our life journey.
First, get moving and fish or hunt if that’s your thing. Don’t sit at home and convince yourself it’s not worth the effort. Effort is what will keep you not just alive, but adds quality to your life. Its benefits far outpace any medicine you can take by as much as 50 percent. That’s right, studies have shown effort—be it exercise, fishing, hunting or any activity that keeps you moving for a sustained amount of time, improves blood chemistry, acting as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Studies say this wonderful defense reduces your risk of heart disease (before and after) as well as some cancers by 50 percent, Alzheimer’s by 40 percent. Nothing, nothing in modern medicine even comes close!
Second, have a purpose. Reach out to other fishermen. Most of us like fishing alone, but love fishing with a buddy.
Third, be consistent, for consistency trumps intensity. A support group of like-minded friends is invaluable. If you must do your activities alone, let someone know where you’re gonna be, especially when on the water or in the woods.
Set some check-in times. Just do it! With today’s technology check-in can be as simple as a single letter in the alphabet. Texting, for example, a simple “K” can mean all is well whereas an “N” means “No, I need help.”
Set some time limits with grace periods and stick to them. I’ve found fishing another hour after say, six hours of fishing, very seldom loads the boat with fish. Besides, there is always tomorrow.
You say you’re a bit sore after an active day? Great! Soreness is your body repairing itself, and pain is often weakness leaving the body. A day sight-casting or a good mile hike to a favorite stand can be the activity medicine that adds quality to your life.
It has been proved that when you die is 80 percent genetics, but how well you live is 80 percent up to you. Stop being so staid and predictable, it’s boring and can be a major happiness drain.
Spur of the moment decisions are the spice of life. My best fishing trips were last-minute decisions where I either had little or no time to fish, or little or no daylight to fish.
Fourth, get past yourself. Yes, you were at one time “the man with the plan,” “the number one selection”, “the reflection of perfection,” the CEO, the Mr. or Ms. wonderful, the beauty queen in every one’s dream.
Great, but now as you enter your mature years you don’t have to prove a damn thing to anyone. Just get busy doing and stop decaying. That’s right; our body in our mature years gets signals from our activity to grow or from lack of activity, to decay.
Oh—and this is the fun part—go ahead and screw up. It’s OK!
We’ve been conditioned through our lives that making mistakes is a bad thing, and there is no room for it .
Mistakes grow character, teach us and implore us to grow. Friends who don’t allow mistakes aren’t friends, they are naysayers. Leave them on their own island of pessimism and move on.
If fishing is your thing, use it to impact other people’s lives in positive ways.
Fifth, look in the mirror and take a full inventory. The person you’re looking at is the person you, for the most part, created. If the person you’re looking at pisses you off—Great! Recreate that person.
If you see that person as old and broken down or young and broken down, don’t let that ruin the rest of your life. Quality of life is a choice; a life that is a light to others. Rage against the dying of your light. Go fishing on your favorite waters or hunting in your favorite woods and …
Don’t Let The Old Man In!
Contact Capt. Mac Gable at
Mac Attack Guide Service,
The fishing from end of November into January has been unusually good. The trout bite, especially, has been consistent and predictable. This trend more than likely will continue into March if the warmer than average temperatures predicted come to fruition.
Live shrimp is a good bet if you can find it. If you can’t you are in luck because March is soft plastics heaven. Even black drum have been caught on soft plastics this time of year. This month also boasts a higher than average tow rate, meaning check your boat thoroughly after the long winter hiatus to avoid this misfortune.
Copano Bay: Cut mullet on a light Carolina rig works well at the mouth of Mission Bay. There are some keeper black drum here as well, with peeled shrimp or cut squid a good bait choice. The egress of Copano Creek is a good spot for reds using finger mullet free-lined with mud minnows. Soft plastics work well here. Berkley mantis shrimp in natural color is a good choice. Fish slow, bouncing the mantis off the bottom.
St Charles Bay: Cavasso Creek is a good spot for flounders and reds on warmer days using free-lined live shrimp. Work the salt grass edges. Small taps can be a flounder, so some finesse is required. The west shoreline close to Salt Creek is good for reds using mud minnows or cut mullet on a medium Carolina rig. Drifts across Meile Dietrich Point are good for some keeper trout using new penny and chartreuse jerk shad on a light jig head.
Aransas Bay: Little Cut is a good setup for reds using cut menhaden on a light Carolina rig. On high tide, this area can see some boat traffic so be respectful. Wades down Quarantine shoreline have been good for trout using free-lined live shrimp or Berkley gulp shrimp on a light jig head. Some black drum may be found off Traylor Island using peeled shrimp under a silent cork. Be patient.
Carlos Bay: Cedar Dugout is still holding trout on the colder days with live shrimp free-lined or on a very light Carolina rig, depending on the current. The reefs just west of Cape Carlos Dugout are a good spot for reds and trout using soft plastics in pearl white or chartreuse and nuclear chicken colors.
Mesquite Bay: The spoil area off Roddy Island is good for sheepshead using free-lined frozen shrimp or cut squid. The cut into the ICW between Bludworth Island and Roddy Island is a good setup for reds using finger mullet on a light to medium heavy Carolina rig. The area off Ballou Island is a good place for black drum using peeled shrimp on a light fish finder rig.
Ayers Bay: The area between Ayers Island and Rattlesnake Island is a good spot for some sheepshead and black drum. Fresh dead shrimp under a silent cork works well here. Second Chain Island is a good spot for reds using free-lined mud minnows. Some big black drums frequent this area and cracked crab on a wide-gapped Kahle hook is a good rig for that. Free-lined is best or a very light fish finder rig.
Location:The area behind the airport on Copano Bay is a good bet this time of year. Reds and trout like this area and often seek refuge from strong fronts here. Live bait such as mud minnows or finger mullet is a hard bait to beat. Work the shoreline slowly, moving every 30 minutes or so, until you find an established bite. Light Carolina rigs work well here.
Email Capt. Mac Gable at [email protected]