THEY WERE CLIENTS WHO had fished with me for more than 20 years. It was a father-son thing for them, passionate anglers, plain good folks who knew my style of fishing.
Aside from getting bait occasionally, they did most everything else. (If I let someone get bait from my live well, you can bet I know them well!) Occasionally they would turn to me and say “Do we get a tip for all this work?
The father was a true master angler. He and I shared secrets learned from years of experience. I often thought he purposely reeled in VERY slowly just to enjoy the feel of the fish at the end of the line.
“Never get in a hurry reeling in a fish,” he said., “First because it scares other fish, second, it might be the last fish you catch that day so make it last.” They even liked tying their own knots, BUT I made sure they noted which rod it was on. If the knot failed, they couldn’t blame the guide. As the years passed the trips became more enjoyable because we all loved to fish.
This year when the son called he said, “There is something I need to discuss with you. Father’s been diagnosed with dementia. He may not know who you are. He may require help baiting, casting and netting. I doubt he will remember how to do any of the things you are used to seeing him do. I completely understand if you elect not to take the trip.”
“Is he a threat to himself or others?” I asked. “No, but there are days he doesn’t know who I am,” his son said as his voice cracked.
“Well, then tell your Dad he’s going fishing and he will meet a new friend.”
There are times we are called upon to do what we believe to be extraordinary things. This was one of those times.
The day dawning, I saw them pull into the parking lot. The father sprang from the car. “Capt. Mac,” he said, “it’s good to see you’re on this side of the green grass, but you have gotten uglier!” he laughed.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. His son ran over to make sure all was okay and said, “I forgot ice.” “Forget the ice,” he said, “Capt. Mac always has extra ice for us; you’d think you’d remember that after all these years!”
As we made our way, the father was recounting past trips: big reds, the 28-inch trout he caught that he and I argued about, so we could release it. On my first cast he laughed, “If that’s the best you can do, you might want to take up basket weaving!”
He reeled it in and threw just about all the line off my reel. His son was in a daze and I must admit, I was thinking they set me up, then quickly discounted that idea. A reel screamed, and the father expertly played a 28-inch black drum.
He grabbed the net, rod still in hand, and landed the fish. His son just looked at me astonished, shrugged, and started fishing. The father headed for the live bait well upon which I hollered, “Hey, don’t put your…”
“I don’t have anything on my hands (i.e. sunscreen) and I washed them in saltwater. My Lord, you’d think this was my first rodeo,” the father said. The whole day was a reunion of memories for the father and son, with me again relegated to inactive status with the duo baiting, casting, netting and giving me the devil for doing nothing except driving the boat. Whatever connections were broken in this gentleman’s brain ,the fishing part was alive and well and hitting on all cylinders.
As we finished the day with a nice bag of filets, the father handed me a tip and told me it was the same amount as always. The son hugged me and thanked me for a great day with his father to which I said, “I did very little; was more of a spectator.”
“Dad,” he said, “we need to get home, Mom will be worried.” “We have a Mom?” the father said. “What’s her name?”
About a year later the son called and said his father had passed away from complications due to his condition. He said he forgot most everything in the end.
“Perhaps he still remembered the important things,” I said.
The son chuckled. “I think maybe you are right.”
S PRING IS UPON US, meaning more live bait; if you can get it, use it.
Copano Bay: Turtle Pen is good for reds using finger mullet free-lined or topwaters in bone and white, electric blue and silver shine. Lap Reef holds some keeper trout. Shrimp under a rattle cork works well.
St Charles Bay: The mouth of Big Devils Bayou is a good spot to slow soak for reds using cut mullet or menhaden on a medium/heavy Carolina rig. Trout can be found at the reefs of Bartel Island, using free-lined live shrimp. Imitation shrimp works well under an aggressive rattle cork.
Aransas Bay: The potholes on the north side of Mud Island are a good spot for reds using free-lined finger mullet. Cast into the potholes. The new spoil area at the mouth of Dunham Bay is a good spot for black drums and sheepshead using cut squid or peeled fresh shrimp under a silent cork.
Carlos Bay: Spalding Reef is a good spot for trout using mud minnows or live shrimp free-lined.
Mesquite Bay: The shoreline on the west side of the bay is a good wade for reds using Berkley jerk shad in new penny and pearl watermelon. The northeast shoreline is a good spot for black drums using peeled shrimp on a light Carolina rig.
Ayers Bay: The southeast shoreline has several finger reefs holding black drums and reds. Use peeled shrimp for the black drums and mud minnows for the reds on a light Carolina rig.
THE AIRPORT SHORELINE on Copano Bay is a good wade for reds using soft plastics in nuclear chicken and morning glory colors.
Email Capt. Mac Gable at [email protected]