Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Sheep Head Run at the Fina Dock; 2017

The reports were that the sheepshead had moved in from the Gulf. That mean that the Fina dock bite was in full swing. So, when Captain John invited us for a day of catching one of the tastiest fish around we quickly accepted!
Launching the boat at the Port Aransas Harbor, dolphins entertained us as we headed out. It’s a very quick run to the Fina Dock and you can see it from the ferry. Crossing the channel, we saw many boats had taken almost all the spots. Still John noticed that one of the garages,( open places under the main dock), was empty and he expertly steered the boat into the space.
There was a strong incoming tide and we had some difficulty getting set up. However, it didn’t take long before we were fishing and had out first legal fish on the cooler. Other boats were catching fish but it was a slow bite for this time of year.
Then we all started to catch fish and three hours later we had filled our limit. Roy also added a mangrove snapper to the cooler. While they are a smaller fish they are a very tasty! The tides strength had increased and we had some difficulty extracting ourselves from the dock.
Once out,
it was an easy ride to the Harbor, and after loading up the boat we got in line for the ferry. The ferry line can be an ordeal as this is the second week of spring break. It wasn’t a long wait and crossing the channel we were on our way home. Clear skies

ps Roy and I have also been busy paddling the kayaks and we have been catching a few keeper redfish.

Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 The Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Society: A Vendor's Perspective

One of the highlights of our show schedule is the Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral show, held each year in Robstown, Texas. It’s always a well-orchestrated show, drawing people knowledgeable about rocks, mineral and fossils, and a show where we get to meet new friends and catch up with past ones.
Volunteering for the setup, Renita and I arrived early Friday at the storage site. This year the club had decided to rent an enclosed trailer and the loading of the show supplies went easier then it ever has, at least in the eight years we have helped.
Arriving at the fairgrounds, we were greeted with quite a few other volunteers who unloaded the casework and put everything together in a very short time. After I helped with the display cases I could drive our truck inside and Renita and I unloaded our shop onto the four tables we had rented.
We bought new blue fitted sheets for our tables and it was obvious dark blue was a popular color for many of the vendor's. In fact, the club had also purchased the same exact sheets! Quickly setting up our displays we covered them with new off white sheets and we were done.
The next day we arrived a couple of hours early. This allowed us to finish our set up and gave us some time to walk around and purchase anything needed from the other vendor's. I found some beautiful blue lace agate, we can never get enough of it, and Renita located several items she just had to have.
The crowd seemed larger than last year, it was raining outside, and as the day wore on we had steady sales, about the same as last year. We didn’t sell any jade as it takes a sophisticated buyer, one who understands the rarity of our highest quality Wyoming nephrite jade.
Tired we returned home where Pam and Roy had already purchased dinner. Takeout pizza is always a treat for us as the nearest takeout place, where we live in Wyoming, is about twenty miles away, (so we usually don’t have pizza during the summer). Pam and Roy are also rock hounds and we shared stories of the day’s events.
Sunday morning usually starts slow and this year was no exception. Still it gave us time to purchase more items from other vendor's. This show is not just about selling as it provides us with the opportunity to purchase rock rough and tools without having to pay shipping charges.
Sales were slow until two of our best fans showed up! I had made an order for a Tiffany stone ring and had lost the lady’s address. Having finished the ring, I showed it to her and it was a perfect fit! Purchasing it and other pieces made our day.
As the afternoon wore on three jade buyers showed up and after demonstrating and discussing the history and quality of our jade they purchased two of our highest quality pieces. (In the Olympics, held in China the Chinese government decided to showcase nephrite jade, now over nine hundred tons of British Columbia jade are imported each year).

It’s always a confirmation of our work when we sell our rarest one of a kind cabochons and jewelry. This show was no exception and we look forward to returning to Wyoming for our summer show schedule. There we also concentrate on juried shows as they draw people searching for the best, not cheap imported and mass produced items. Clear skies

ps the display cases  pictured were made by other club members

Monday, March 6, 2017

Spanish Mackerel, Take Two

Renita’s sister and brother in law, (Pam and Roy), arrived and I couldn’t wait to take Roy fishing. I knew he had never caught a Spanish mackerel and so we bought a quart of shrimp and headed to the south jetty.
Arriving at the Port Aransas jetty people were already lined up along the Gulf side. Finding an empty space, we baited up our rigs and cast out into the feeding fish. The swells were large and we both broke off several rigs before I finally saw my bobber disappear! I set the hook as a mackerel ran with the bait and fighting it, I managed to land it. Next it was Roy’s turn.
I looked over to watch him fight his fish, as another hit mine. We had a double! The fishing changed as the fish seemed to become even more active and then I got bit off,(I had forgotten to bring my steel leaders). Finding several leaders in my tackle box, I caught two more before a fish hit the shiny new sinker and bit through my twenty-pound test fire line.
Running out of bait I put on a jig tipped with a coccoho plastic body and got slammed as a fish hit on the first cast. Now I had added two spit shot on and those also drew the fish’s attention. As I fought in another fish, one bit through my line right between the two split shot! Good grief!
I never did land anymore fish but what a blast as fish after fish ripped the plastic jigs apart! The fish were in a feeding frenzy and it reminded me of the wild time I had fishing on Grand Isle. That time my brother in law Gary had taken me red fishing and we had caught thirty-four inch average reds on every cast( one of the best fishing trips of my life).
We ended up landing seven Spanish mackerel. Our friends down the way had landed an additional thirteen, before they ran out of bait. It had been a blast, fishing the Spanish mackerel frenzy and I look forward to fishing it again. Next time I will bring more steel leaders!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Day at the Beach and the South Jetty, Spanish Mackerel

Our happy hour group decided to go to the beach for a day of fishing, beach combing, a barbecue, and just plain relaxation. The group wanted to go to the Mustang Island Beach instead of the usual day at the Padre Island National Seashore.
We left at eight and crossed on the Port Aransas ferry. Turning onto the beach access road we headed down the beach until we spotted John’s truck. He had already picked out a spot that was relatively weed free. Spreading out the fisher people among us cast out our poles and almost as quickly we had bites. Unfortunately, the fish were bait stealers and Dave was the only one to catch one.
The day was beautiful and any day on the beach is good so we rebaited the poles and cast out again. Dale did catch several whitefish, one of which was really nice.  Terry caught another, but that was it. Still the hot dogs tasted good and we successfully enjoyed our beach lunch.
On the way back home, Renita and I decided to drive the beach. Not much was happening, fish wise, but the beach was lined with cars as it seemed like everyone had decided to have a nice beach day. We arrived at the South Jetty just as a lady was landing a small stingray.
Renita suggested that I should walk down the jetty and check out the fishing, and I was glad she did! People were catching Spanish mackerel! I watched awhile and took some images so I could find the spot myself.

The next day John, Dave, and I arrived early. Our buckets were full of live shrimp and I hoped the fish would still be there. The waves had built and it was tough to fish the mackerel side. Another mackerel fisherman walked out and cast out several times before stating that it was going to be a bad mackerel day as the waves were too large.
After he left two more mackerel fishermen arrived and one caught a Spanish mackerel! We moved further out and Dave had a strike, yelling for the net. I arrived with the net about the time he hoisted the fish over the rocks.
Before too long John caught a nice Spanish mackerel and I tried to will one to bite on my pole. One did bite and as it ran the hook didn’t set properly. A hour passed and no more fish, or even bites. Suddenly my bobber disappeared and the line tightened as a fish made a run!
I had changed to a larger circle hook and it worked as the fish hooked itself, I had my first Texas Spanish Mackerel and then two more before John set the hook on his second fish. The waves continued to build but we did end up with eight mackerel!
Back at the rv park I told some other fishermen that we had caught Spanish mackerel and most turned up their noses. People here seem to think that the only fish worth eating is redfish. Several told me that they had tried to deep fry them and that they had tasted terrible.
Spanish mackerel are an oily fish, like salmon. They need to be grilled and I had a great recipe! First I fired up the grill and let it get really hot. Putting the fish in a fish grilling basket, I seasoned them with Cajun seasoning, olive oil,  and a dab of butter.
Letting them grill for five minutes I squeezed lemon juice on the fish and turned them once. Testing them with a fork they flaked and we sat down to a delicious meal of grilled Spanish mackerel, grape salad, garlic toast, and risotto.
Anyone who doesn’t like Spanish mackerel learns to do two things. First get them on ice as soon as possible and second throw away the deep fryer. The limit is fifteen a day, that tells you that the fish are sustainable and seldom harvested.

Now if the weather would break and the waves calm down, we could go out there again! Clear skies

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sheepshead a Real Taste Treat!

We have had limited success fishing. Every time we go out the wind comes up, or the weeds wash in messing up our lines. Our fishing score was fish three and us zero. Fortunately, we went out a fourth time and did catch some sand and speckled trout, enough for a nice meal.
So, when John and Nina invited us to go fishing in their boat we jumped at the invitation. To top it all off the sheepshead were biting and sheepshead are some of the best eating, and hardest to clean, ocean fish that swim. If you have never caught them they fight like crappies on steroids!
Arriving at the first spot Nina quickly caught the first keeper. Then the fish seemed to have moved and we only caught one more keeper, (here in Texas they must be fifteen inches). John decided to move to another spot and soon after arriving Nina caught a four-pound fish.
Then it was my turn to land one that was also destined for the skillet. Soon we were all catching fish and in less than three hours we had our limit of twenty fish. Back at the rv park we stopped to clean the fish and I prepared myself by donning a steel glove.
The fish have razor sharp gill covers and awesome dorsal fins. They also have teeth that feed on oysters and can just as easily crush fingers. John showed me up with his cleaning skills cleaning two fish in the time it took me to clean one. Still I caught on and we soon had a nice pile of fillets.
I am trying to eat less deep fried fish and so we dusted the fillets in flour before sautéing them in a butter olive oil sauce. As they cook quickly I also added sliced tomatoes along with capers and lemon juice. Suffice it to say that it was an all you could eat fish dinner with plenty left over for future dining!

Tomorrow our group is heading to the beach as the weather is going to be in the eighties and the waves should be calm. Our goal is to catch some pompano and if you never have had pompano you are missing another great ocean treat! Clear skies

Monday, February 13, 2017

Blue Lagoons Art and Craft Show and Tell 2017

As usual Renita and I got there before everyone else. We take longer to set up as we have lots of stones and jewelry, requiring us to set up a light bank. It wasn’t long before everyone else showed up and we were pleased that the room was filled!
Jim not only brought his rosaries but also had three cases of wire wrapped stones, along with Mala prayer beads. These are used by people of Eastern religions during meditation and prayer.
Zita and Nancy proudly showed their quilts and other sewing projects.
 A new park resident, Evy filled a table and chairs with her beautiful watercolors!
Shirley demonstrated her kumihimo beading techniques! She has been taking quite a few classes at the local bead and craft store. Her wire kumihimo bracelets are superb!
Others, I am embarrassed that I didn’t get their names, shared their embroidery including many works in progress.

We did miss several artists from past years, they moved to Florida, and several commented that Pat’s classes on Chinese cooking were sorely missed. Still it was a very good show and we hope to see it expand even more in the coming years! Congratulations to all the new artists who proudly shared their work! Clear skies

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Sail Boat Channel

The fishing, for us anyway has been poor. Still we are optimists and so we loaded the kayaks and headed to the Sailboat Channel. There have been times in the past when we have done extremely well there, catching nice red fish and black drum.
Arriving at one of our favorite spots we had just anchored, baited up, and cast out when Renita had a bite. She missed the fish but when she cast out again she set the hook and landed a nice sand trout. My turn was next and I caught a fourteen-inch speckled trout, undersized, but still a fish!
For the next three hours, we had bites as fast as we cast out catching mostly sand trout. Deciding to keep some of the nicer ones we started to place them in the live bag. By the end of the day we ran out of bait and had twelve nice sand trout and the prospects of a fresh fish dinner!
Two days later the weather was calm enough for us to return to a previous spot. It didn’t last long however as the wind and waves picked up, but not before we both missed nice bites, in fact the hardest  bites we have had all year.

Driven in by the wind, another kayak landed at the same time and the fisherman proudly showed us his limit of nice reds! Now of course we couldn’t wait for the wind to die down and that was three days ago. At least we know where there are nice fish and fish we can reach with our kayaks!