subscribe


A Message From The Author:

Welcome! I hope you enjoy the content. I try to keep it up-to-date with my latest stories. If you like what you read, I encourage you to leave a comment. You can do so by clicking the numeric link beside each blog entry title. I typically make several posts each week, so if you would like to keep up, you can subscribe to my feed by clicking on the orange icon just under the banner image on the right. If you have a suggestion for a new topic, or a link to a pertinent web site, please leave a comment describing the details. You are welcome to use my content for commercial and non-commercial purposes, as long as you quote the original content unaltered, give me credit, and provide a link back to the source. If you use my content, I would appreciate being notified about the way it is being used, and where it can be viewed.

Best Regards,

Scott Gaspard

Hackberry Hustle part deux



I left straight from work to go to Houston, last Wednesday afternoon. I wanted to get out of Austin before evening rush-hour. My bags and my gear was packed in the truck, and ready to go. I had to drive the entire distance in business clothes, but visions of a great weekend ahead drove my heel.

I made it to Houston in record time (I did not speed, officer -- honest!). Actually I left at about 3:15, and arrived in the Woodlands at about 6:00. Two hours and forty-five minutes -- not too shabby. Somehow, the rush hour traffic in Magnolia was very light for a change. I thought I was on a lucky streak! (Little was I to know about how the weekend would shape up).

I arrived at Will's house to find him in the garage, sorting out his gear. I unloaded my bags, and went inside.

Will had about 8 huge AC plugs (big balsa plugs, jointed in the middle). They looked like something you would tow behind a boat to catch a Marlin! I figured that if we ran into a big school of red-fish feeding at the surface like last time, it might actually work. I helped Will pick out a few - trying to match a mullet on a clear and cloudy day, so that he could be prepared for either condition.

I brought some jig-heads, and a few packages of Saltwater Assassins, in various colors. I also brought some extra line; fluorocarbon for use as leader material. This would prove to be useful for other purposes as well.

We cleaned and oiled the reels, checked the line, and got all of our stuff together so that we could pack up and go in the morning.

The next morning, Will was upset to find out that a few more people bailed out of the trip. This put us in a bind, because we had already reserved 4 boats, with the latest round of dropouts, it meant that two boats would only have two people -- this makes the cost per person go up considerably.

We finally left the house at about 11:30, and went to pick up Ronnie. Afterward, we went straight to Woofies (the local tavern) to meet up with Bill and Kendall. Kendall and I would leave our vehicles under the security camera in the parking lot at Woofies, and we would take Bill's suburban land-yacht.

We were happy to find that it was Bikini-Day at Woofies, and Christine (one of the bar tenders) was looking hot. Will had some fun with the video camera, while we had a few beers, and waited for Bill. Bill was supposed to show up at 12:30, but he was late as usual. He arrived at about 1:15, ate a burger, and had a beer. By this time, we had been drinking for about two hours, so I'm glad Bill was driving.

Finally, we loaded everything up into Bills truck, and hit the road. Bill had a great shortcut (we all remember last year's shortcut, which ended us up in Jasper, Texas. Not the kind of place you want to get lost in, but that's another story...). We would drive North to Conroe, then take highway 105 to Beaumont to avoid Houston all-together. Of course, as soon as we got onto IH45, the traffic was at a stand-still.

Once we got to Conroe, and off of IH45, the traffic lightened up dramatically. To Bill's credit, we made record time. It only took a couple of hours to get to Hackberry, even after stopping about a half-dozen times for Ronnie to do his business.

We stopped off at a dock where there were some shrimp boats. Will bought a few pounds of shrimp, and some crab-claws for the gumbo. Will was wearing these goofy bright red sunglasses that he found at Ronnie's house. I caught a few funny looks from the locals at the dock, as they sized up Will wearing those sunglasses.

As we approached Hackberry, you could see lots of damaged buildings, and blue-tarps covering damaged roofs. We had all seen the news footage from Hackberry after Hurricane Rita blew through. All of us expected closed roads, and total devastation. Interestingly, the damage was sparse. One house would be almost destroyed, while the house next door looked untouched. Freddy would later tell me that there were lots of tornadoes spawned off by the hurricane; he climbed the levy next to the camp to survey the damage after the storm, and he said that you could see clear paths of destruction where tornadoes ripped through the area.

To our surprise, the roads were mostly clear. There were noticeably fewer trees, and piles of debris, but Hackberry was by no means a ghost town. When we pulled up to the camp, the scenery had definitely changed from last year. Freddy's house was gone; replaced by three FEMA trailers. The lodge was gone, but replaced by a new lodge that was finished being installed that very morning. There was a crew of people busy at work putting grass down around the new lodge.


This is the view from the fishing dock to the boat ramp. Its pretty quiet in the afternoon, but is bustling as soon as the sun starts coming up in the morning.


The boat dock looked like it was in good shape, and all of the boats were intact. So the basic elements were all there.

Freddy and his staff were there to greet us. They were all talking excitedly about the fish they were catching. All of them said that the fishing had been great since the hurricane, so we were all excited about what the morning would bring.

We unloaded our gear, and each of us claimed a bunk. We met up with the other members of the party as they arrived. We all settled in, talking, and waiting for the Gumbo to finish. Monica and her helpers were hard at work in the kitchen.



Here is Kendall, Ronnie, Me, and Will (from left to right). We are pumped up, and ready to catch some fish!



The new lodge was very comfortable. There was lots of room for everyone. The patio was too small (you should see 11 guys standing on a three foot by twenty foot patio deck). I'm pretty sure they are going to build a larger one; I was happy we had a lodge to stay in at all.

By the time dinner was ready, everyone was hungry. The gumbo was delicious! I mean it was perfect. There was potato salad to go with it, and an awesome crab dip as an appetizer. Will brought some tabasco peppers from his garden. He chopped some up, and put it in one container of crab dip. It really kicked it up a notch, so to speak -- but it actually tasted great. There was chocolate cake for desert, but not much room, because everyone had gone back for second helpings of seafood gumbo.



This is Monica and I, on the front porch of the new lodge. Monica is the best darned Cajun cook that I have ever known. She makes the best seafood gumbo I have ever had. Really. The absolute best.


After dinner, we all sat around the dock shooting the bull. I brought a couple of lawn chairs with me, which proved to be handy. They were by far the most comfortable chairs on the dock. Some of us cast a line around the dock, but gave up after about the fourth or fifth time getting hung up. There was lots of debris in the water. I dragged up a nasty old mop, and a rubber glove. Will caught a beer can. I lost about one hundred feet of line, and a favorite lure. At some point, one by one, we all slipped off to bed.

After the aftermath of Rita, there was lots of debris in the water around the dock. I caught a glove (there was no hand in it -- I checked), and an old mop. Will caught a beer can (there was no beer in it -- he checked).

I guess I stayed up later than most, because when I went to bed, Kindall was in my spot, snoring away. Kindall is a notorious snorer. He literally shakes the walls when he snores. The only empty bunk was the next one over. Luckily, Bill had the forethought to bring some extra ear-plugs. They provided about a 50% reduction in the decibel level, so eventually with the help of a pillow over my head, I was able to get to sleep. I couldn't help getting a few seconds of Kindall snoring on my video camera, before I went to sleep.

At about 5:00 in the morning, I awoke to the sound of people getting ready to go fishing. Kindall was snoring louder than ever, so I got a few more seconds of footage before I got up. After about 30 minutes, someone realized that the clock on the stove was an hour behind, so it was actually about 4:30 in the morning! Oh, well. We were already up, so there was no sense in going back to sleep. I poured myself a cup of strong coffee to shake of the cob-webs. They had some Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits, and some honey-buns. I had one of each, then went outside.

It was still dark outside, and the mosquitoes were beginning to feed. I could see a truck at the boat ramp on the other side of the bayou that was backing his trailer down into the water. This later turned out to be Phillip, one of the fishing guides. Along with the other guides, Phillip drove his boat up to the dock. Max, who was my guide, was using one of Freddie's boats, which was in the lift.

Will was busy filling the cooler up with beer. I checked to see if there was any water, and of course there wasn't, so I went off in search of some. I found about a dozen water bottles, so I put them in the cooler along with the beer.

Ronnie was supposed to be on the boat with Will and I, but with the number of people who didn't show up, Kindall would have been stuck by himself on a boat. Ronnie opted to go with Kindall, so the price went up for all of us. We had all of our gear on-board, and were ready to go. The boat was still up on straps in the boat lift, and Will had already popped his first top. He offered me one, but I said, "Let's wait until we get out over the water, OK?" Max, our guide said, "Well technically, you are over the water..." I decided that I would drink water instead.

So, we were off. The air felt nice, the temperature was fine. The problem was that the previous extra high tide, along with a South West wind that blew all night, had the lake muddy brown. This is not good for fishing. The plan was to go in search of birds, which tend to follow schools of fish picking up the left overs. After locating about five different groups of birds that were 'picking', casting all around them and coming up empty, we began to realize that there were no fish under these birds. The birds were chasing shrimp, but the fish were somewhere else.

By mid-morning, we had driven all around the Southern part of the lake, and only managed to catch a couple of small fish. It was shaping up to be a long day. At some point, Max (our guide) decided to try something different. The tide was peaking, and getting close to changing directions. This would draw clean water back into the lake, and start clearing out the muddy water. Max figured that if we could get as far upstream as possible, we might find some good water. We took a gamble, and drove 30 minutes to the north west side of the lake, on the way to 'Black Lake'.


We had to go under this draw bridge. After driving the boat about 30 minutes to get to this spot, the guide was worried that we wouldn't fit under it. He forgot that he wasn't driving his own boat! Captain Freddie's boat (that we were on) has a high windscreen, and a handrail that goes over it. We actually cleared the bridge by about 6 inches!


When we were about two minutes away, the guide started looking worried. When I asked him what was the problem, he said that he had forgotten that he was driving Freddie's boat, which has a high windscreen and handrail around the center console. Max was afraid that there would not be enough clearance under the drawbridge.

Right before the drawbridge was a dock with some shrimp boats. Will needed more ice for his beer, so we made a stop. The guide made a fancy maneuver with the boat, that had me quite impressed. There was two shrimp boats moored to the dock, with about 40 feet of clearance between them. The front boat was idling its engine, so it was pushing a pretty strong current behind the boat. On top of this, the wind was blowing and the tide was shifting. Max nosed the front of the boat in close to the dock just behind the front boat, then used reverse to draw the rear of the boat in to the dock, pretty as you please. Great job parallel parking the boat!

After we picked up some ice, we continued down the bayou to pass under the bridge. Luckily, we cleared the bridge by about six inches! We anchored at a bend in the bayou, hoping to catch fish as they moved from Black Lake back into the main lake.

Unfortunately, all we caught was catfish. Salt water catfish taste terrible, and they are covered with nasty spunky goo. This is where the guides make there money -- taking nasty catfish off the hook. Believe me, it doesn't take more than a few of these before the guide is ready to move on. So, move on we did. Before we left the area, a couple of fisherman passed by on the way out to the main lake. They said the fishing in Black Lake was no good -- nothing was biting. So, we decided to fish a grassy bank that we passed for flounder.


Here is a real fishy looking spot. We were trying for Flounder, but ended up catching a few small 'Rat-Reds'.


I caught a couple of "Rat-Reds", or baby red-fish by casting my lure past a grassy point. They are small, but fun to catch and release. Will caught a small croaker, but no flounder. By this time, the tide started flowing back out, so we left the area in search of better water.

We ended up at an area called 'The Washout', which is where the ICW and the Western shore of Lake Calcasieu meet. The guide caught a couple of nice trout in this area, but I think it was luck more than skill. There just weren't that many fish feeding.

The last spot we checked was an area called 'Old Jetties', which is a line of rocks that break the surface over open water. Someone caught a 40lb black drum here earlier in the day, but all we managed to catch was a few large catfish.

So we called it a day, and went in.

When everyone got back to the dock I got my camera out to take some pictures. I got a good picture of Phillip with a net full of red-fish. One group did pretty good, and got into a school of keeper size reds.

Most everyone else came up light; the fishing was really bad. Oh, well -- maybe tomorrow, right?

Everyone decided to donate their first-days catch to the fish fry, for dinner. Even though the fishing was tough, there was plenty of food to go around. We probably could have fed the entire neighborhood!

Phill fried the fish and hush-puppies outside, in a wok filled with peanut-oil. This is a great method of frying fish. He's got this aluminum wind-shield that wraps partially around the burner, to keep the flame concentrated. You can fry a lot of fish this way, very quickly.



Phillip was frying the fish that were caught on the first day. Since Hurricane Rita, Captain Freddy and the rest of his staff were living in FEMA trailers, so they only had small refrigerators. They did not have any fish to fry. Anticipating a big day of fishing, we decided to have Gumbo on our first night, and have a fish fry with our first day's catch. The fishing was really slow on the first day, so Will was worried that we would not have enough fish to feed everyone in the camp. After everyone pitched in their fish, we had enough food to feed the entire neighborhood!



to be continued...





Kendall and I fished together on the second day. Here is Kendall trying to catch a trout.










There were lots of ship-wrecks, including these two that drifted out of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway), and ended up on land. What a flood!








This is a Liquefied Natural Gas tanker that passed by the camp on the ICW, named Methane Princess. On the front of the bridge, there is a huge NO SMOKING sign, painted in bright red, for good reason! This ship was on its way back out to the gulf. You can tell that it is mostly empty, because it is riding very high in the water.








Here is the purple-martin house that stands in front of the lodge. There are 24 apartments in it, and every one had two or three chicks. The momma and poppa birds were working hard keeping all of those hungry little mouths fed.








These are shrimping barges. They drop their nets when the tide is moving, and passively catch shrimp as they swim by. According to the guides, the shrimping industry on Lake Calcasieu is close to an all-time high. The lake is chock-full of shrimp!








This is what we woke up to on the second day of fishing. The wind was howling out of due-south, at about 20 mph! This put a damper on our fishing luck, big time.








Here is a picture of the 'Night-Hawk', which makes night-fishing runs for trout. The Night-Hawk rode out the storm, thanks to some fancy line work by the fishing guides. They had it tied to the dock, so that it would ride up and down with the storm surge. Although the rest of the camp was wiped out, the Nigh-Hawk was completely undamaged. I believe Captain Freddy slept here for a while after the storm passed.




Gearing up for Hackberry


I took down my redfish rod today, and started getting ready for my next trip. I cleaned and oiled my Shimano Calais reel, and spooled on some fresh line. I'm torn between bringing my Quantum 7:1 bait-cast reel, my old Ambassador bait-cast, or my Shimano spin-cast. They all have their pluses and minuses.

The Quantum is really geared too fast for this type of fishing. Although I can cast a mile with it. If I hook a big redfish, its going to be tough to reel it in. And, I only have one true redfish rod -- my only other bait-cast rod that might work is my Carolina rigging rod, but its really too heavy. I think I will leave my Quantum behind, because its going to wear me out one way or another.

I used to think of the Shakespeare Ambassador as a decent reel. Although, since I bought my Shimano Calais its spent most of its time on the shelf. It holds a lot of line, but the bulky roundness of the reel wears my hands out by the end of the day. Also, the reel handle is a little small for my taste, and it certainly isn't a smoothly geared real, at least by Calais standards. And, once again my rod choice is somewhat limited.

Lastly, I could bring my Shimano spin-cast reel. I much prefer a bait-cast over a spin cast, but I do have a nice Fenwick 7' medium weight rod, that has a similar action to my redfish rod. Its not quite as long, but it is as long as my other bait cast rods, and not so heavy. Its got plenty of 'give' in the tip, which keeps me from jerking the bait out of the fishes mouth when I revert to bass fishing tactics (as I always do), and try to set the hook. I think I have made up my mind. I will bring the spin-cast combo. I'll clean it, oil it, and spool on some fresh line tonight.

I have a couple of packages of salt-water assassins, and some jig hooks to bring. I'm going to go through my tackle box, to see if there is anything else I might try out, too. I think I will keep it as simple as possible; there's no use fumbling around with too much tackle when you have 4 people on board. I'll bring some shorts with lots of pockets, so I can keep most of my gear on my person, for easy access.

I'll be leaving on Wednesday right after work, or right after lunch -- whatever I can get away with. I'll drive down to Houston, and stay at my brother's house. We will leave in the morning on Thursday, and make it to Hackberry by Thursday mid-afternoon. This will put us there early enough to claim the best bunks.

I checked my video camera today, and made sure my batteries were charged, and I had plenty of blank cassettes. I'm going to try to capture as much as possible on film, so that I can have some good footage for my blog.

My next post should be a great story, so stay tuned.

Grilled Snapper On the 'Half-Shell'


I grilled up a couple of Red Snapper filets this evening. They tasted great. I'm glad I brought my vacuum-sealer on my last fishing trip (see Holy Mackerel!). I had sealed up two filets (both sides of one fish) in each of four bags. I put them in the freezer when I got home from my trip. Tonight I thawed out one package. When I opened the package, I noticed that there was no fishy smell at all. I had to scale the fish, though -- which was a little upsetting. I paid a guy at the dock twenty bucks to clean our fish; I assumed he had scaled them first. Next time I will make sure. He prepared them 'On the half-shell', in other words with the skin on. After scaling the fish, I put the filets on ice until I was ready to cook.

My grill has three three burners, and three grates. I wrapped foil around two of the grates, with the shiny side facing in. I heated up the grill, keeping the flame on medium low under the two foiled grates, and on high under the third grate. I brushed olive oil onto the foil, and let the grill heat up nice and hot.

Meanwhile, I cut in half some small red potatoes - enough for two people. I put them in the microwave for three minutes. This is a trick I have figured out through trial and error. By microwaving potatoes, you are essentially steaming them. Three minutes is enough to cook them through, so that they are soft on the inside. I had a big cast-iron skillet with some bacon fat, that I heated up nice and hot. After the potatoes finished in the microwave, I put them into the hot skillet. The bacon grease crisps up the outside of the potatoes, but the insides are soft from the microwave. It takes about 15 minutes to finish the potatoes, to where they are browned up nicely. So I put the potatoes in the pan, and attended to the fish.

I pat each filet dry with a paper towel, then brushed on some olive oil, on each side of the filet. I sprinkled lemon-pepper and kosher salt on each side of each filet. By now, the grill was good and hot. I placed each filet on the foil, skin side down, then closed the lid.

Back in the kitchen, I sliced a lemon and a lime very thin. I gave the potatoes a flip and a stir, then set back for about 8 minutes. I checked on the fish -- they were cooking up nicely. I squeezed a little lime juice on each, making sure not too squeeze too much and risk flaming up and catching the foil on fire. When foil burns, it puts out an acrid smoke that can ruin your meal. I flipped each filet, so that the skin side was up, then closed the lid.

I went back to the kitchen, and gave the potatoes a stir. You don't want them to cook too long on one side, because they might burn. After about 4 more minutes, the potatoes looked done. I put some paper towels in a glass dish, then spooned the potatoes into the dish, to soak up any extra bacon grease. This is the best time to season the potatoes. As Emeril Lugosi says, 'their vulnerable' at this stage. When you salt and pepper them in this state, they become 'happy'. I cut a couple of sprigs of rosemary from the garden, and blotted the potatoes. Fresh rosemary has such a pungent aroma, that there is no need to cut it up. Blotting the potatoes is enough to get a subtle flavor of rosemary, without becoming over-powering. Bam!

By this time, the fish had been cooking a total of 16 minutes. I used a wide spatula to get the fish off the grill - the olive oil kept the fish from sticking to the foil. I put the fish into a glass pan, then covered them with the lemon and lime slices.

I let the fish rest for a couple of minutes under the lemon and lime, then removed the slices before I served it with the potatoes. The fish was cooked to perfection. It was flaky and moist, and had a wonderful flavor. I think it would have tasted great with some chilled chardonnay. Next time I will add some greens to the mix, and find a nice bottle of wine.

Bon Appetit!

Video Clips from San Luis Pass




Holy Mackerel!



Here's Jim, fishing for breakfast.



This is what we caught.



Here we are at the dock after a long day of fishing.

News from Lake Bridgeport


I recieved some news from my friends at North Side Marina on Lake Bridgeport. They have opened a new store, added some additional cabins, and expanded their boat slip and boat rental business. Check out my recent article, Bridgeport Bonanza, to read about what a great time I had fishing on Lake Bridgeport. Here is the full text of their latest press release:


PRESS RELEASE

May 17, 2006

For immediate release:
North Side Marina and Resort announces the opening of its new Ship’s Store, new lakefront log and cedar cabin rentals, expanded boat slips and boat rentals. Located on the north end of Lake Bridgeport in the Blockers Camp, the Marina also features a 24 hour pay at the pump gas dock.

North Side Marina and Resort is the only place on Lake Bridgeport offering combination cabin and boat rentals for people who want to get away from it all and experience Lake Bridgeport. For those with their own boat, you may also keep your boat at the Marina during your cabin rental.

The Marina gives visitors the opportunity to boat, fish, paddle boat, and relax all in one place. All of the cabins feature a particular theme: The Lonestar sports a Texas theme, the Lakeview is a lake theme with an all glass front overlooking the lake, the Angler has a fishing theme with a large wooden deck and the Captain’s Quarters sports a boating theme. All cabins have access to one of several deck and patio areas. It’s not uncommon to find a group enjoying the view while grilling one of the Colorado steaks now available from the Ship’s Store.

According to Marina owner, Jay Graver, “The response to the Marina has been overwhelming; we are expanding our boat rentals, boat slips and cabin availability to accommodate the large number of requests we are receiving.”

North Side has also become a dealer for the Park Model cabins which are also installed as rental cabins at North Side. The cabins are perfect for a weekend getaway, a hunting lease or a guest cottage at your ranch or lake house. There are several interior and lake front lots close to the Marina that are for sale by private owners. These cabins would be a perfect fit for some of the available lots.

The North Side website has become very popular and includes photo albums of Lake Bridgeport and all of the cabins.

Jay and co-owners/operators Jeanne and Alan Kennedy want to thank the community for their support over the last few months while the Ship’s store was being rebuilt. The original store was destroyed in a fire the early part of March. The fire was caused by workers who were expanding the original store. A temporary store has been in operation since the fire.

The Marina’s Ship’s Store is open for business 10am-7pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays and 11am-6pm Monday through Thursday. Cabin and boat rental requests can be made via the website or by calling the Marina directly.

Marina address: 180 Private Road 1735 Chico, TX
Marina phone: 940-644-5475
Marina website: www.northsidemarina.net

For further information or inquiries, contact Jeanne Kennedy at 940-644-5475.

Comments Enabled


I just realized yesterday that my comments area was broken -- no wonder I haven't been getting any! This is now mostly fixed; if you would like to leave a comment, please do.

Holy Mackerel!


I packed my gear on Thursday night, knowing that I don't think clearly when I wake up at 4:30 in the morning. My plan was to leave early to beat the traffic, and to try to get some fishing in on Friday. I left the house at 5:00, but I ended up returning home after 15 minutes because I realized that I had forgotten my fishing license! I'm glad I remembered before I got too far down the road. I was supposed to pick up my friend Jim at 5:30, but when he called to complain about my being late, he realized that he forgot to pack his license too. So it all worked out. We left Jim's house by 6:00, and were on the road to San Luis Pass.

We arrived at the beach house by 10:00am, so we made pretty good time.
The house looked good -- the last time I was here, I had to evacuate because of hurricane Rita. The owner of Lands Innd at Texas Beach House Rentals told me that there was a 13 foot storm surge that washed out the foundation, and the stairs to the deck. The deck and stairs had been repaired, and the foundation was replaced.

We unloaded all of our gear, had a bite of lunch, then headed out to fish the shallows on the Galveston side of San Louis Pass. The toll bridge had been repaired since my last visit as well. It was $2 each way. I took my 4-wheel drive Toyota truck, which handled the sandy road from the bridge to the beach with ease. There were a lot of people fishing the shallows. We found a cut-through that brought us to a relatively empty spot. There were some wade-fishers about 200 yards off shore. I tied on a jig head with a salt-water assassin, then waded out into the water. I found a spot about 100 yards from the shore where the water was deeper, and a slight current was running through. There were noticeably more mullet in the deeper water, so I made a few casts. On about the 10th cast, something swiped my bait and cut my line. I later learned that it was probably a Spanish Mackerel. Someone told me that they were catching them recently. They had sharp teeth, and would likely cut your line if you didn't use a wire leader.

Foolishly, I didn't bring a spare lure, so I turned to start walking back to the truck. As I did so, I noticed that a truck and van pulled up directly beside my truck. I had left my truck unlocked, and I had an expensive rod and reel in the back of the truck. This looked like the perfect opportunity to snatch my gear, so I high-tailed it back to the truck. I was only being paranoid, because the guys in the truck and van were getting ready to go fishing, too.

Jim and I decided that the fishing was pretty slow, and we decided to drive around to where the bridge met the water. There was a great shady spot under the bridge, so I parked the truck. Jim had this little lure that looked a lot like a mullet, so I suggested that he try it out. I kept the same jig on my line, and we waded out under the bridge. I know the currents can be bad under the bridge at San Luis Pass, but it was pretty calm at this time of the day. After about an hour, Jim hooked and landed a nice Spanish mackerel. I did not catch anything.

A friendly local fellow who was giving up for the day gave me the rest of his live shrimp. I tied on a popping bobber about 2 feet above a small steel leader, where I hooked a shrimp through the tail. Everyone has a preferred method of hooking a shrimp. Some like to hook it just behind the heart, but I prefer to hook them through the point at the end of the tail. I find that the shrimp stays on the hook longer, lives longer, and has more action in the water. Despite my efforts, I got only one bite, but did not catch any fish.

Eventually we got the call that Alan had arrived at the beach
house. Alan was the third member of our party, who had arrived from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We decided to call it a day, and headed back across the bridge to the beach house. As we drove across the bridge, we saw a guy holding up what looked like a 40 pound Jack Crevalle on a boat below the bridge. It was huge! The boats were fishing the channel that was just outside of our casting reach from our position under the bridge. At this moment I was truly regretting that I did not bring my boat!

When we got back to the house, Alan was lounging on the deck with a beer in his hand. This was my first chance to meet Alan, and we all hit it off right away. Alan had some funny stories about Louisiana. By the time we had a few beers, Joey showed up. Joey is a friend of mine from work, and he had driven in from Austin. The whole party was assembled, and we were pumped up to catch the big ones!

I fired up the grill, and cooked some fajitas on the deck. We stayed up a little later than we should have, but the fishing guide told me that we would leave out at 7:30 in the morning. We all got a somewhat restless sleep, anticipating big action in the morning.

On Saturday morning, we grabbed a quick breakfast (I find that microwave Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits don't taste very good, but they fill you up enough without giving you an upset stomach), and headed out to the dock.

We departed from Bridge Bait, which is underneath the causeway bridge from Freeport to Surfside. I was familiar with the place, because it was the same spot I launched from on my Redfish trip in September.

Captain Michael Jennings from Cowboy Charters was there to meet us at the dock. The boat was gassed up and ready to go, so without much delay we were on our way. The boat was a 29 foot Pro-Cat, with a 10 foot beam. It was a center-console boat, with lots of room to fish. There was two 200-HP Yamaha motors, so we had lots of power to work with. The boat ride was smooth and stable, until we got out past the jetties.

The wind was blowing out of the South West at about 10-15 mph, with 20 mph gusts. The seas were 2 feet and 'snotty', which is a nautical term taught to me by Captain Mike. 'Snotty' means that the waves are sloppy and not consistent, so the boat had a definite pitch and roll. I find that as long as you keep your knees flexed, keep your eyes on the horizon, try to find some shade, and drink plenty of water you wont get sea-sick. Unfortunately, Alan did not follow this advice, so by the time we got to the 35 mile mark, he was chumming.

Poor Alan did not get any better for the rest of the day, but he held on like a trooper. When you are 35 miles from shore, you don't have much choice!

Along the way out to sea, as we passed some mats of floating
sea-grass, Captain Mike circled around slowly looking for Ling. Another name for Ling is Cobia. Cobia like to hang out in the shade under mats of grass, and they are very curious. If you circle around and peer into the water, you might see one looking back at you.

We met up with two other boats about 35 miles out. Capt. Mike said that we were looking for a pile of rocks on hard bottom. The water was definitely a different color than when we left the shore. The water color steadily changed the further we got out, going from brown to green, and finally to blue. You could see well into the water, but where we were it was 120 feet deep. Capt. Mike baited a ribbon fish on a drift-line, and let it drag out behind the boat as he baited the other lines with cut fish about 1 foot below a 1 oz egg sinker. Before any of the weighted lines hit the water, I had fish on! It was a nice keeper-size King Mackerel, and it put up a terrific fight.

After the first fish, we landed a few small red snappers, and one more decent King, but the fishing was rather slow. Joey hooked a small sharpnose shark that put up a nice fight.

According to the captain, there is a sparse line of rock piles that extends out about 10 miles from where we were fishing. On the radio, we heard that another party was catching 30-40 pound wahoo at the other end of the line. I wanted to go out further, but Alan was still really sick, so we decided to fish our way back toward land.

We stopped over the wrecked remains of a oil rig that had broken loose a few years ago, and fallen over. The rig had been towed away, but there was still a considerable amount of cover left behind. We dropped our weighted baits to where the sonar was marking fish, and instantly started catching large red snappers. We fished this way for the next couple of hours. As we drifted south of the wreck, the fish got smaller. After releasing about 10 fish in a row, the captain brought us back to the up-current side of the wreck, and we started catching large ones again.

We saw a Green Sea Turtle, which I understand is quite rare. In fact, they are on the endangered species list. I was busy with a large fish on the line, so I didn't give it much more than a glance. From what I could see, it was very beautiful. Eventually, we bagged the limit of snappers, and headed back to the dock.

Upon reaching the dock, I collected the money and paid the captain. The trip was $750 plus gas, and we used 80 gallons! So, it came out to about $990 plus tip. Split 4 ways, it was about $275 each. Not bad, for a great day of fishing. The weather was great, and the captain was very personable and helpful. I highly recommend Cowboy Charters -- we will most likely use them again in the fall.

Back at the beach house, I fired up the grill. Jim heated up the fry-daddy. When we caught the mackerel, I was tempted to release it, but the captain said that it tastes good grilled. After following his advice, I had to say that mackerel tastes awful. It smells about as good as it tastes. I will never keep a mackerel again. The snappers were delicious, though. We cubed them, lightly battered, and lightly fried. Ordinarily, I would grill or broil a snapper, but we were exhausted from the fishing trip, and took the path of least resistance. After dinner, we divided up the catch, and used a seal-o-meal to keep the fish fresh. I have several nice filets in my freezer; but I'm afraid they wont be there for long!

We tried to watch a basketball game, but all of us had crashed out by 10:00pm.

On Sunday morning, everyone slept a little bit late. We were all too sore to go fishing, so we cleaned up the beach house, packed up our stuff, and headed home. All-in-all, it was a great trip. We are already planning the next one, which will probably take place in late October when the big fish are more common.

It's Almost Hackberry Time Again


I can't believe it's almost been a year since I fished Lake Calcasieu. Well, I'm going again! It looks like this is turning into an anual event. My brother and I, plus all of his bar-buddies have filled the camp at Hackberry Cajun Guide Service; we will be the first group of fisherman since Hurricane Rita ruined my last planned trip in September, and wiped out the entire camp. I wasn't sure they were going to make it, but I'm really glad they did. I'm looking forward to some good Cajun cooking, and some great Cajun fishing. I promise I will take lots of pictures, and tell you all about it.

30 Miles Out


I can't wait until Friday! I've rented a house in San Luis Pass, and my buddies and I are going fishing offshore. I hope the weather cooperates. I told the guide from Reel Threel Charters that we wanted to catch big fish that put up a big fight. I'm hoping we go for tuna, or wahoo, or something like that. The guide said we would go about 30 miles offshore, leaving out of Freeport. I've never done this kind of fishing before, so I'm sure I will have lots to blog about. We've got the house until Monday, so we plan on fishing for redfish and trout as well. I'll let you know how it goes.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained




I caught this one right before sunrise this morning, on Lake LBJ. Its good to start the day off right. The sky was overcast, there was a light breeze out of the South-East -- almost perfect conditions. I say 'almost', because with all of the storms passing through this weekend, the lake looked like watered-down chocolate milk. I started out in the same place as I have for the last two trips. I used the same Lucky Craft lipless crankbait - the one I modified by painting a small black dot just behind the gills. I caught 8 bass within the first 30 minutes.

Interestingly, this spot was not as soupy as the rest of the lake. It wasn't exactly clear either, but as they say, "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King." I think the bass were hanging out deep on the backside of the rocky point, then slamming shad as they passed overhead. I was using my Quantum Burner 7:1 reel, and ripping the lure through the water. My strategy was to give them as much noise, flash, and vibration as possible. I guess the strategy worked.

Once I fished this area out, I proceeded up the shoreline where there were some lay-down logs. I pitched a chartreuse willow-leaf spinner, and slow rolled across the tops of the logs. I got one swipe, and caught one bass.

As I rounded the next point, the water was thrashing with white bass (sandies). There was hundreds of them. I literally caught a fish on every cast, and wore out 3 of the six hooks that was on my lure. I was still catching fish with two broken treble hooks! These were all small, but they were fun to catch.

As the sun came up over the horizon, the bite tapered off quickly. I tried to fish the weed beds with a soft plastic jerkbait, but the water was so cloudy that I could not locate the outside weed-line. I tried to fish a frog, but drew no strikes. I went back out to the main lake, and tried a few other spots that have panned out during my last couple of trips. I caught one or two here and there, but nothing spectacular. By 10:00, I had caught 15 black bass. Two of them were decent size, but most of them were on the small side.

I decided to check out a couple of places I had spotted on my map. These spots were either side of Beaver Island. I caught one small bass on a soft-plastic jerkbait, but that was it. I stayed up late last night working on a program for my blog, so I was worn out by 11:00 AM. Even though the wind was beginning to shift out of the North-East, which may have been the change needed to trigger more aggressive action, I decided to call it a day, and go home. At least now, I know a couple of new areas to avoid.

On A Mission


I've been thinking about where I would fish this weekend. The weather this week is a repeat of last week. I'm tempted to see if last weekend's fish patterns hold up. I think I will go to LBJ again tomorrow, to test that theory out. This time I will go alone, so I can be a little more adventurous. I've been studying the lake map, and I have noticed a few spots that look tempting. This time I will bring my digital camera, and see if I can get some more photos for my blog.

My guess is the lake will be turbid, with lots of debris. If I'm lucky, the sky will be overcast, and there will be a light South-East breeze. This time I'm going to start out fishing topwater near the weed-beds. Then I'll work my way out to the points. I'll try fishing crankbaits in the late morning, then switch to a Carolina-rigged worm over deeper water as the shadows get short.

Last weekend I picked up some offshore structure with my sonar. I think I will check that out, too.

I know I have been fishing LBJ a lot lately. I find that it is a good proving ground for my theories, because the relatively constant water level takes out a significant variable, and lets me concentrate on lure choice and presentation.

Tune back in tomorrow night. If all goes well, I should have another story, and some new photos to show off.

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.
  • My profile

Google
Web This Site


Site Map



Recent Stories


Archives



Gear



Pros


Guides


Boats


Organizations


Fishing Reports



Web Sites


Unrelated Blogs I Like



Previous Stories