I have known buggy whip for over 20 years, but we never had the opportunity to fish together. Nevertheless, here we were sitting behind the console of his trusty Shallow Sport hull, motoring our way across Aransas Bay.
Jerry Loring, AKA Buggy Whip, longtime member of the Texas Flyfishers, acquired his nickname from his fly fishing friends several decades ago, and it stuck. Our boat mates that day were the famous fly-fishing Chapas—Lefty Ray and his lovely wife, Isabel.
We were all attending Spring Fling, an event for outdoor writers and photographers that is hosted by The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce. Rockport is a jewel on the Texas coast that welcomes sportsmen with open arms—anglers and hunters, both.
Upon arrival, our first official duty was dinner at The Boiling Pot in Fulton. Writers, photographers, fishing guides, and staff from the chamber carried on like the big family reunion that it was.
Old acquaintances were renewed and new friendships were forged, over huge piles of boiled crawfish, shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn. Before the night was over, writers and guides were matched up and game plans for the coming morning were agreed upon.
Buggy Whip already had his boat in the water when my Tahoe rolled to a stop at the launching ramp at Cove Harbor. Lefty Ray and Isabel were right behind, and we were soon motoring eastward towards St Joseph’s Island. Lefty Ray and Isabel were going to wade skinny water while I was going to fish a promising looking drop-off from the boat. Buggy Whip announced that he was going to fish the shoreline and go the opposite direction that Lefty Ray and Isabel were fishing.
Just before he hopped overboard, Buggy Whip reached way up under the console and pulled out a crumpled up gallon milk jug that had seen better days.
“What’s that?” I queried.
“It’s a Cajun bait bucket,” Buggy Whip replied causally.
Thinking I was being set up for a prank, I mused at his comment for a moment before replying, but then he submerged the winkled and dented plastic jug, filling it halfway with water.
Reaching for the five-gallon bucket that held the bait, he fed 20 shrimp through the mouth of the jug, then screwed the cap back on. A dangling cord tied to the handle of the milk jug was quickly tied to his belt and off Buggy Whip went, rod in hand and milk jug in tow behind him.
Regardless whether he is casting flies, lures, or bait, I have spent enough time with Buggy Whip to know that he is a skilled angler. When he returned to the boat, the floating fish net he was towing yielded three large redfish. He had caught five reds on twenty casts. Not a bad efficiency rating.
Buggy Whip ties his own flies, and as it turns out, makes his own terminal tackle too. His spinning rod was equipped with a clear plastic bubble with a short length of leader and hook dangling underneath.It was nothing really new, but a closer inspection revealed an interesting modification. Buggy Whip had run a section of heavy fluorocarbon leader through the center of the bubble’s “stick, allowing the bubble to slide back and forth. He threaded several plastic beads onto each end of the leader and then knotted on barrel swivels. The rig was about four-inches in length, from one swivel to the other.
The sly Loring admitted that he was sight casting to cruising and loitering reds. “The clear plastic bubble doesn’t spook fish like a regular cork does when it lands, “ he explained. “The fish sense the bubble’s presence, but they don’t see it. All I have to do is pop the beads one time. The click gets their attention and they come over to inspect. It’s like ringing a dinner bell.”
Loring typically releases most of what he catches and avoids handling fish if he can avoid it. When landing a fish, he simply grabs the bubble and lifts the fish out of the water.
A closer inspection of the Cajun bait bucket revealed a series of slits (likely made with a filet knife) in the top-half of the jug. A six-inch lag bolt was threaded into the handle of the milk jug, providing just enough ballast so the handle would ride face down in the water. A six-foot section of cord was tied to the milk jugs handle.
“It’s cheap, effective, great when you forget your bait bucket at home,” Loring noted, “and you definitely don’t get upset if you lose it.”
A goodbye dinner was held at Charlotte Plumber’s that evening after everyone got off the water. Lots of fishing stories were shared. Some of them were actually true.
Another successful Spring Fling was in the books; the communities of Rockport and Fulton showcased why the Coastal Bend is such a great place. As for Lefty Ray, Isabel, and Buggy Whip, more on-the-water excursions are planned in the near future.
Sight casting with bait is an effective, but little used strategy on the Texas coast. When the fish give your favorite plug the cold shoulder, give it a try.
Email Greg Berlocher at [email protected]