Monday, January 23, 2012

Whoopers Night Herons, and Black Drum, A nice Day on the Water

Our friend George had caught his limit of black drum and red fish , while wade fishing, and of course we had to try fishing his area from the canoe! So we headed to Big Tree, launched the canoe and quickly drifted to one of George 's spots. Anchoring to an old post we cast our lines and waited patiently hoping the fish would be there.
The wind picked up, rocking the canoe and a fish actually took off, thrashing my pole against the gunnel. I fought the fish but finally lost it. Deciding the wind was becoming too strong we headed for shallow water, struggling as the wind blew us sideways.
By using the oar as a push pole we struggled to gain control, and finally did. Waves broke against and over the side of the canoe, but it was shallow and we gained the upper edge. It was a long, hard, and slow battle but we finally reached a cut where we could escape the wind and actually enjoy a bite of lunch.
Entering the cove we flushed four night herons and cast our poles into the back of the cut.
Renita handed out the sandwiches and had no sooner started to eat when a fish tried to pull her pole into the water.
Dropping her lunch she fought the fish and finally got the upper hand as she guided it into the net, a nice seventeen inch black drum. Casting  into the same spot, we went back to eating and a pair of whoopers flew right over our canoe. Renita grabbed the camera and snapped a few images hoping to catch them in flight.
Just after she put the camera away her pole jerked violently and she was onto another fish. This black drum was a little larger and as she fought it it actually pulled us away from the shore and towed us for a bit before I beached the canoe and netted her fish. Did I mention  it was her fish again?
As we continued to eat another pair of whoopers flew by and then Renita had another fish on. Now we had enough for dinner. My pole was getting bites too but my fish were little bait stealer's and that was ok as we are a team and the fish all go into the same deep fryer.
Finally finishing our lunch, the fish stopped biting and it was time to head back to the truck. Leaving the shelter of the cove we stayed shallow and reached our take out point. We were both tired from the exertion but we had had a full day of whoopers, black drum, and night herons. Who could ask for more? Clear skies.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Down In Del Rio, Broke Down That Is!

We had just finished a three hundred mile leg of our trip to Quartzite. There we were planning to meet friends and have a good time sharing stories with our fellow Escapees,(An rv club not a gang of hardened crinimals). As I was setting up Renita walked over and said, "What's that hanging down?"
See she was just as charged and tired as I was as she had driven part of the drive. I glanced behind the rear wheel and then glanced again as I saw the metal bar hanging down. Now there hadn't been anything hanging down as I had checked before we left Fulton. Laying on my back I crawled under the fifth wheel and oh my it was half of a broken spring! I mean it was gone along with the other three leafs. The support brackets were also broken along with the spring on the other side.
Looking further I realized how lucky we were. The tires had been wearing on the frame and there were only two support members left, keeping the axles attached to our fifth wheel. Yeah, I said attached. We had been driving and we could have easily have lost our axles!
So I walked over to the rv park manager and asked him if he knew a good repair shop, after telling him about our troubles. He recommended the welding place down the road and even called the place for me. He went on to say that he had seen a lot of rvs with broken suspensions. He said that a few years ago the rv manufacturers had gone to a cheaper Chinese steel. Hmmm, imagine that.
The next day we drove the house to the welding shop. It was only half a mile away. There Corey came out and crawled under our fifth wheel, where he exclaimed, "Oh my!" He keep pointing and looking and pointing and looking before telling us he could rebuild the entire suspension, and rebuild it better then before.
So he ordered the parts and as you can see the springs are a heck of a lot heavier then the old ones, five leafs instead of four. Furthermore the brackets are massive instead of the thin metal brackets of the original Lippert components. The new suspension also raised the whole fifth wheel up one and a half inches.
Looking back we both realized how lucky we had been. Part of traveling full time is having break downs but this could have been a stopper. We could have lost the whole house. Having spent our Quartzite money on repairs,($757 for the new suspension and $600 for new tires), we needed to go back to Fulton. There we have some shows and classes to teach where we hope to recoup some of the costs. At least we now have a heavier duty suspension for our summer trip to Alaska. Clear skies.

ps If you have a fifth wheel be sure to add, checking the suspension to your pre trip checklist. I know I will be adding it on mine and not just a casual glance.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Black Drum , Fishing in the Sailboat Channel in Aransas Pass

While I had never fished the spot, I had seen a boat catch a black drum there a year ago and I was getting desperate as daylight was burning. Casting to the edge of the drop I set my pole in the canoe. I hadn't had any luck in my other secret spots,(there are no secret spots in the sailboat channel).
Suddenly my pole doubled over and the fight was on. I knew at once it was a nice fish and visions of grilled black drum danced through my head, now if I could only land it. At last I slipped the net into the water and I had half of a dinner, a nice 19 inch black drum.
I had just finished putting the fish on a stringer when the other pole took off and I soon had that one secured in the net. Like clockwork the first pole doubled and I realized I had a really big one on this time. The drum made four runs, and as far as I am concerned black drum fight a heck of a lot harder then red fish.
The fish was just over the edge of a oyster bar and I worried that it would cut my line but I finally got it into the shallows and eventually I led the twenty five inch fish into the net. Some nice people in a small boat watched me catch the fish and then left in a great example of sportsmanship.
Then a guide boat came in with three clients. The guide proceeded to drop his anchor right on top of where I was fishing and then threw lines across mine. I yelled at him and he said sorry and then continued to be a jerk. He was proud of his boat and the name "All In" was adorned on the side. I felt sorry for the paying clients to have such a poor guide and so I stoically waited as we got tangled again and again.
I lost a red fish as it ran and became tangled in a line that one of the clients had cast across me. Didn't matter really as it was small and the guide finally pulled his anchors and moved off my spot. Soon I lost another drum and then caught and kept my fourth fish of the day.
Now I used to do the occasional guide thing in Wyoming, but I would never do what had been done to me. The old saying is is that many guides are people that have a boat and don't have a job and sadly I would have to put this guide in that category.
A Texas friend told me that it bothers him that guides make money off taking people out and catching and killing fish and that perhaps the state of Texas should regulate them better and charge them for harvesting any fish from public waters, ( a typical guide here charges about five hundred bucks a day for three clients and a guide can easily harvest several thousand fish in a year). Its an interesting point and one that does have some merit.  Clear skies

ps I grilled the black drum on the half shell and it was the best!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sarasota, Americas Best Beach, Not!

It seems like everywhere we go we see a sign proclaiming a spot as Americas best parks, best scenic highway, best food, or Americas best beach. While Sarasota has a beautiful beach it certainly isn't the best beach, In fact I would have to rate it unacceptable.
See it has all the perquisites for a beautiful beach, white sand, blue water, shells for the beach combers, but it also has limited parking and beach access areas with no restrooms or change areas. Yup you heard me right, no restrooms!
It took us about an hour to drive from Treasure Island to Sarasota. We arrived on one of the busiest days, New Years Eve. and there was absolutely no parking to be had. The one major parking area was smaller then the ones at Fort Desota and so we ended up paying fifteen dollars for a spot near one of the beach access areas.
Walking through the crammed and small beach access parking lot we were greeted by the site of a beautiful white beach with squeaky sand. See squeaky sand is the result of a beach composed of pure quartz sand and it literally squeaks when you walk on it.
Surprisingly we found an area to set up our lounge chairs and it didn't take long before we were off and wading in the surf. I passed two teenagers who had their hands full of large sand dollars and so of course  I started to look myself. It really didn't take very long before I found a really nice complete sand dollar and one that was huge and still alive. A little further I even found a beautiful mollusk, which still contained its inhabitant.
So showing Renita and Jenny my finds, Renita took some images and then I released the creatures back into the water. I gently tossed them past the point that a wader such as myself would be able to see them and collect them.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in growing agony as my bladder filled and yet we waited and waited, hopping to see a green flash. Lots of people left, but at sundown there was a rush to the beach by fellow sun worshippers. I heard the group next to us talk about the green flash but as the sun set we didn't see one.
As soon as the sun set we headed for the parking lot and a business with a public restroom. Most places had signs that said, paying customers only and so we ended up buying some candy bars. We had to wear out wet clothing back to Jenny's place and so it was a wet and uncomfortable drive home.
So all in all we had a fun day but I would have to rate Sarasotas beach as one of Americas worst. Anyplace that caters to tourists and their hard earned dollars needs to provide restrooms or at least ports potties. Its a health issue after all! Clear skies.

ps before I get junped by Sarasotas Chamber of Commerce, I would like to add that I walked a considerable distance in seach of public facilites, all to no avail or should I say no relief!