Sherpas of Fishing
AS I STOOD at the starting line of my first triathlon, I looked around, most of the athletes were young not 62 years old like yours truly.
They were slim and fit, built for distance, not chunky and square like yours truly, which suggests power, not endurance. Yeah, this was a good idea, I thought (NOT!).
Well, it was on my bucket list, and after some prompting from my Ironman daughter Michelle, I figured it was now or never. All the proceeds from the race would be donated to help the rebuilding of Rockport, even more reason to sign up.
The training regimen was hard and all time-consuming, the swim/bike/run distance daunting. What the hell was I thinking? Anything worth doing is seldom easy, I kept telling myself as I paced my way through two triathlons in a week’s time, the last one being here in Rockport.
In both events I had the enormous joy of sharing the racecourse with my daughter. How special! How cool is that! After the race my daughter kept using a term that I felt was—well—out of place.
I kept saying “I could not have done this without my wife Lisa’s support.”
She said, “Yes, Cody (my daughter’s husband) is my Sherpa as well.”
“There are no mountains within 250 miles of here except for the piles of sand one sees being transported on the barges in the ICW, and we’re not climbing mountains here anyway,” I responded, correcting my daughter.
“Dad,” she quickly replied, “the term Sherpa has been adopted by other activities, one of which is triathlons. Sherpas are highly regarded, and it is the ultimate compliment to give a person who is your Help Meet.
“They do most of the work, get none of the accolades or glory, and no climber would ever make it to the top of the highest mountain without them. They carry the heavy loads, they cheer you on to the finish line, they are the voice you hear when you want to quit, but their unselfish support allows you to keep going.
“Theirs is a thankless, glamorless unending task that is to the climber, the athlete, or activist a selfless act of love and devotion.”
I can tell you I am seldom speechless these days, but this hit home to me in my most private heart of hearts. I have seen these incredible people on a daily basis, or at the very least, seen the fruits of their love and labor.
For an angler it’s that wife or husband, maybe a son or daughter or grandchild or a good friend, who is up at 4:30 a.m. to send the starry-eyed fisherman/woman on their way with a cup of coffee, a breakfast snack, a packed ice chest or grocery bag of goodies for the day.
Oh yes, they have their own tasks to attend to that day, but yours comes first. They are who you file your float plan/fishing plan with and they worry when the sun starts setting on the horizon, and you’re not home yet. They send text messages reminding you they are there for you.
You know if something goes wrong, they will move heaven and earth to ensure you’re okay. Once the tired angler is home after a day on the water, theirs is the face you see first to help with the catch, to console if the catch is not there and offer encouragement for another day.
They help with the boat, clean the stinky clothes. They’re not just helpers, they know how you want things done (most anglers are anal/particular, and they care that all tasks are completed just that way).
They doctor your cuts and scratches. Even though you didn’t ask, they probably have a meal ready so you can eat while counseling you that you didn’t eat enough while out on the water.
Most will spend the evening alone because after the angler eats, he/she falls into a deep and restful sleep knowing their wife. Their husband, son, daughter, grandchild or friend has it all under control.
You see these Sherpas of the angling world, much like the mountain Sherpas, ensure you get off the water unharmed and alive, and that you are ready to fish another day.
They never get paid, seldom get thanked, but when you think it through they are just as important to us as any Help Meet/ Sherpa on Mount Everest.
• • •
NOT A YEAR GOES BY that I don’t warn about the month of October. Yet, almost every year someone gets themselves in a bad way here. The culprit is not a leaky boat or motor ailments, it’s the cold fronts that usually show up during the mid to latter part of this season-changing month.
For the last 15 years, NOAA and others have seldom got the detail forecast right about the first Northers that blow their cold winds across our bays. These fronts often collide with moisture and can be so much more ominous than just blowing wind. Seventy-plus knot winds, hail and sleet have greeted me on these rapid weather-changing days. Most anglers who come here are used to the prevailing south/southeast winds that blow 90 percent of the time. But bring a 40-knot north wind, and things change NOT in a good way for boaters and kayakers.
Visual navigation changes as waves of varying heights are now moving hell-bent from north to south, and that reef you could always see is now invisible. I have seen kayakers trapped against south shore lines with no hope of making it back to their launch point against these hard-blowing north winds.
In October keep your eyes ever watchful on the north horizon. If there are days to fish close to your launch point, a predicted cold front day is one such day.
Copano Bay: This is one mean bay with a stiff north wind. Lap Reef is holding some trout. Croaker or piggy perch work well here free-lined. Italian Bend shoreline is a good wade for reds and trout using a popping cork and live shrimp. Berkley Gulp shrimp will work here as well. The grass lines just off Newcomb Point is a good spot for trout using Berkley Jerk Shad in watermelon red glitter color.
St Charles Bay: The Boy Scout hole area is a good place for reds using finger mullet or cut menhaden on a Carolina rig. Floats across the mouth of Cavasso Creek using free-lined shrimp is a good place for trout.
Aransas Bay: Jay Bird Reef is still holding trout with free-lined croaker the best choice. Big Island Point is good for reds using fresh cut mullet on a medium Carolina rig. Nine Mile Point usually has flounders this time of year. A slowly fished live shrimp is the best approach. The key is to keep the bait on the bottom with a slow retrieve.
Carlos Bay: If the temperatures drop more than 20 degrees, Cape Carlos Dugout is a good spot for reds and trout using Croaker free-lined. The current can be fast here; just let the croaker free swim here.
Mesquite Bay: The spoil area just off Roddy Island is holding some black drum. Frozen shrimp on a very light Carolina rig works well here. Belden Dugout is a good spot for reds using free-lined finger mullet.
Ayers Bay: The shoreline just off Rattlesnake Island is a good wade for black drum and reds using a silent cork and live shrimp. This area is known for rattlesnakes, so going inland is not advised. Second Chain Islands is still holding some keeper reds using cut mullet on a light Carolina rig.
THE BANK BITE
Location: Wade Fishing from the LBJ Causeway to Newcomb Point is good for trout and black drum using a popping cork and live shrimp. Hitting the grass edges farther out is the key here for this time of year.
Email Capt. Mac Gable at firstname.lastname@example.org