Red Bull

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Could you imagine standing beside the freeway, and casting out to snag the bumper of a speeding truck as it passes by? That's about the only way I can adequately describe catching this torpedo! Its got lips bigger than Mick Jagger!

I caught this behemoth at the mouth of the Brazos in late September. The water was choked with large shad, weighing as much as a pound. The guide I was with threw his cast net one time, and could barely bring it up, it was so full of shad. He emptied about 5 of them into a bucket; this is what we used for bait.

The guide said that you don't want to use live shad when there is so much live bait in the water -- there is nothing to distinguish your bait from the billion or so other fish in the water. So we used freshly killed shad, hooked through the nose, and cut up the side. We were catching and releasing fish one after the next, while all the other boats looked and wondered what we were doing right, and what they were doing wrong. I was using light tackle -- a 7 foot redfish rod, with a Shimano Calais reel, 15 lb test monofilament line, a short 40 lb test leader, and a 1 ounce egg weight above the leader. I caught a lot more sharks than redfish, including a very nice 20 lb black-tip, which I kept. By lunch-time my arms felt like they would fall off!

When we first departed in the morning, I told the guide that I wanted to catch and release bull redfish. The guide had a plan to do just that. After buying a couple of bags of frozen mullet at the bait shop, the guide took me straight out the ship channel into the gulf, about 1 mile offshore. Keep in mind the boat was a shallow-water skiff with about a 12" freeboard. The water wasn't exactly rough, but 2 foot swells are enough to make you uncomfortable on a shallow water skiff. Once we arrived at the 'spot', the guide started cutting up the mullet, and chumming up the water. He said, 'We won't get a bite for about 30 minutes, and then you wont put your rod down for 3 hours!'. Skeptically, I said 'ok', and proceeded to bait my line and cast out. Sure enough, 30 minutes later, my rod was bent double, the line was singing out, and I was trying hard to wipe the grin off my face and get serious about landing whatever it was that was about to pull me overboard. Soon enough, I got the fish up next to the boat to find out it was a large bull shark. I promptly cut the line and started to re-bait when my other rod started singing out. Within another 30 minutes, I had hooked onto several large sharks. This is a harrowing experience, considering the rolling motion of the small boat, and the giant toothy fish that were trying to pull me in! The birds were working the mullet heads that floated on the water. I heard a large splash, and turned around to see a 10-foot shark jump out of the water and grab a gull! I turned to the guide and said, "maybe we'll have better luck inshore." I'm glad he couldn't see that I was about to pee my pants!

In addition to offshore, and the mouth of the Brazos, we also fished up the Brazos, and in a few locks along the ICW. During the day, I caught lots of sand trout, several speckled trout, a few large nasty catfish, and a very tasty 6 lb flounder. Catfish are the downside of this type of fishing. They excrete this foul, sticky spunk that gets all over your line and hands. Its best to release them with a pair of pliers while hanging over the side of the boat. If you let them flop around the bottom of your boat, you can easily create a very dangerous, slippery situation. Needless to say, you don't want to be worrying about slipping on catfish-crank when you have a fifty-pound shark on the line!

In my opinion there is nothing better than fighting a bull redfish for half an hour, then letting him go! I wish more people would catch and release these giants so that they can make more babies. A redfish tastes like crap once it gets bigger than legal size, anyways. I once used my redfish tag to keep a 42" redfish. I was amazed at the size of the fillets that I got from it. When I attempted to cook it though, I was sorely disappointed. I tried it blackened, fried, baked -- it tasted strong and rubbery no matter how I tried to cook it. The only thing that I could make that tasted halfway decent was a court-bouillon pronounced 'coo-bee-yon', which is a cajun, tomato-based fish stew. Lets face it, you can only eat so much fish stew, and I had over 20 lbs of meat! Let the big ones go! The small ones taste fine, but the beauty of redfish is the fight, not the taste. Think about it -- the reason they came up with blackened redfish (redfish covered with about 10 kinds of pepper and burned in butter), is because the fish alone doesn't taste very good!

About me

  • I'm Scott Gaspard
  • From Austin, Texas, United States
  • I really like to fish. I go every chance I can. You can pretty much bet that at any given moment, I'm using whatever spare cycles I have to plan my next trip.
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