Friday, January 30, 2015

Kayaking the Sailboat Channel

You can always tell when someone is cleaning fish. The American white pelicans come gliding in and dominate the space below the fish cleaning station as the smaller brown pelicans take up room on the edge. Some even land next to you on the railing in the hopes of a piece of fish. Meanwhile gulls hover overhead waiting to grab a fillet carelessly left unguarded.
The weather finally warmed and with low winds Renita and I decided to kayak and fish a favorite spot along the sailboat channel. Last year we had a great day catching beautiful black and red drum. Renita had out fished me then, but it hadn’t been a big deal as it’s always great to watch her set the hook and fight in a nice one.
Launching nearby, it was a short paddle and soon after we anchored I had a nineteen inch redfish, (an undersized fish called a rat red), on my line. Two more casts and two more small reds, fun to catch but we were hoping for at least one keeper for dinner.
Other fisherman arrived, a little blue heron, a white heron, dolphins, and another boat. Everyone was catching fish and the other boat put on a seminar as they caught four keepers in as many casts. Watching closely I saw that they were peeling their shrimp and when we did likewise the fish returned to our lines.
Renita soon hooked and landed a nice black drum and now with dinner assured it was time to relax. More rat reds bit and we had fun, even though we released them all. Too many people here think that fishing is only good when you catch a limit of keepers, killing every fish. For us catching any size fish is fun.
Don’t get me wrong as there is nothing wrong with catching and keeping a legal limit. It’s really the same thing as the salmon harvest that goes on each year in Alaska. In the summer we release all of the cutthroats we catch but defiantly keep the kokenee salmon.

The fish moved on and so we paddled back to the truck. There’s nothing like a day of fishing, birding, dolphin watching, and of course time together, as every day is a blessing. It’s why we winter on the Gulf Coast instead of in the desert. Clear skies

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Day on the Beach at Padre Island National Seashore

The poles were all out and everyone waited patiently for a bite. Still nothing was happening and so Pete and then Dale got out their ghost shrimp sand pumps to use the time wisely by looking for their own bait. Betty brought hers over and while the fish were not cooperating, at least everyone was collecting some of their own sheep head bait for later use.
It had finally warmed up, it was almost seventy, and we were at Padre Island National Seashore., (PINS). Our happy hour group had been waiting for us to show up from Florida and lead the group to my secret spot, (as if I really had any).
Arriving at the seashore, there were thirty of us, we had planned on a day of fishing, soaking up some rays, and shelling. Greeted with an extremely low tide, the lowest I have seen there, the Gulf’s surface was almost calm with small one foot waves. Too small in fact and I couldn’t see any sign of a break, what I look for, a place where the wave sets were interrupted.
See I don’t really have a secret place but instead always look for a place where rip tides will form.
There any bait would be naturally washed out to a waiting big red or black drum. That was my theory anyway and it had worked before.
The water temperature was only forty five degrees and the water was as clear as I have seen it. A ranger had told us that eighty nine stunned sea turtles had been rescued from the cold conditions. Several people pointed out the lack of feeding birds, I guess you can see what I am doing, finding fishing excuses for no catching.
Still it was a nice day, some shells were collected and Pat found a live star fish, (she released it). A few fish were caught, although small, and Renita loved her new chest waders. Every day on the beach is a blessing. It will warm up and we will return again because PINS, is one of our favorite places. Clear skies

Monday, January 19, 2015

Fresh Fish, Sometimes the catching is as good as the fishing!

You all probably know the old saying, “The fishing was great but the catching was terrible”. Perhaps you also know about dues days, a saying that refers to anything in that you have to pay your dues before you have any success. Regardless, we have had a couple of days where the dues have finally paid off and we have learned where the fish are when the weather cools off.
Dave asked me if I wanted to go out in his boat. He had told me that before the cold front the fishing had been excellent with limits of sheepshead and lots of really nice black drum being caught, (not just Dave but all of our friends are catching lots of fish). Of course I jumped at the chance to try out an idea we both have had and see if the fish were in the back bays.
As we left the dock the water was cold and crystal clear. While there were finger mullet at first all signs and sights of fish disappeared as we headed out into the bay. Motoring past our usual fishing places we slowed and noticed that there were no signs of life, just clear and cold forty five degree water.
Heading into a shallow and muddy back bay we started to see fish, lots of them. They weren’t just mullet either as we both spotted keeper reds, with the spot near their tail easily visible. Anchoring we waited patiently for the clouds to clear, which would allow the shallow water to heat up rapidly.
As the water warmed the fish responded and we both were soon catching undersize black drum. Lots of fisherman here equate smaller fish with bad fishing but I am just happy to catch anything. You could tell the fish were cold as they fought their way in with little of the hard fighting that black drum usually show.
One of my poles went off and my pole bent over with a good fish, it was obviously a keeper and I fought in a nice twenty two inch red drum. Baiting the hook with another dead shrimp, I cast out into the same spot and was rewarded with another nice fish, (we both love grilled redfish on the half shell).
Meanwhile the black drum keep biting and we managed to catch one keeper to go along with the reds. The tide went slack and the fishing shut down so I glanced at the shore, surprised to see two whooping cranes had landed nearby and were busy feeding in the marshy grass. I took some images but having the smaller camera with me I knew the resolution would leave much to be desired.
The tide started to come back in and the fish suddenly started to bite and both of us had a hard time keeping our poles baited. Dave caught three nice keeper black drum before I finally caught another myself.
The sun went behind some thick clouds and the temperature started to drop, (in case you are curious the water temperature had warmed to fifty eight degrees). The fish quit biting and it was time for us to head in before the sun set.
Who could ask for more, a day where the catching actually was a good as the fishing?  Not to mention l fillet knife, and he sped through the fish as I slowly cleaned them with my nice Dextex Russell standard blade, (the new Rapala knife has three times the power as the older model and even makes sheepshead cleaning easy). Thank you Dave and of course clear skies.
Ps I never take advertising and so when I mention a product by name it has really impressed me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Birding around Lamar, Texas, Whoopers and More Whoopers Oh My!

After sitting days of sitting inside and running both heaters we finally decided to venture out on a birding expedition. Not very far mind you, just a quick trip across Copano Bay to the small town of Lamar. So we loaded up the new gear after plying on several layers of clothing.
The images we are posting here were taken with our new camera and lenses, and when we first saw them we both agreed that it was money well spent. We will still use the waterproof camera for kayaking but for birding and wildlife and flowers oh my!
It will take us a while to learn how to use it and we definitely took a lot of images where we focused on the fence or a post or the shoreline, instead of the birds. Its so nice to snap away knowing that we don't have to wait to develop the film, and I used to do some of my own developing in something called a darkroom. I am definitely full of old arcane knowledge.
So we drove along the shoreline to Big Tree, before reversing ourselves and entering the Goose Island State Park. A cold north wind blew and but still we saw old friends, night herons, redheads, pintails and of course the whooping cranes. Any day is a good day when you are privileged to see whooping cranes! Clear skies and a little warmer please.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bypassing Houston, Adding an extra Hour

I really don't like driving through Houston. Last year I actually had another truck hit my mirror during a traffic jam. So after talking with Renita we decided to head south at Winnie and then west to the Galveston Ferry.
It was a really easy and pleasant drive top the ferry. Of course the ferry guards had me turn off the fifth wheels propane tanks and even had me connect the barbecue grill's tank to the grill as no unattached propane tanks are allowed. They also checked to make sure we didn't have any gas cans but I already knew about that and so we were allowed to load for the short trip across the harbor.
It took about fifteen minutes to cross and then we drove through Galveston. Stately old homes lined the way and much of the damage from the last hurricane has been repaired/rebuilt. The only problem with this route was all of the traffic lights which I managed to hit as they were turning red.
So we didn't save any time and in fact it added an hour to our journey trading the ferry and lights for the noon time traffic jam. At least it was easier then dealing with idiots. Maybe next year we will add a day and stay a night on the Bolivar Peninsula. Clear skies.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Betty's Folk Art, Getting Caught in Her Web

We were surprised and pleased when Betty emailed us suggesting we stop at her park. Crossing to southern Texas we hated to bother her with a stop of a few days but we finally figured it out and so we arrived to the usual warm hug.
If you haven't been to Betty's, her rv park is unique. Its all about making friends, enjoying and learning about Cajun culture, and food, and relaxing in a place from which you are always a little sad to leave.
So yes it was a joy to talk with Marvin, who was having a birthday, and to meet Jim and Cookie and Ann and Tom, to name a few of her guests. Betty did invite us to show our stones and wire wrapped jewelry and we did hold a little happy hour art show, (thank you Betty)!
We also made our yearly trip to Avery Island to stock up on our favorite hot sauces. Running low on fuel we found stations in New Iberia where the diesel was only $2.74 a gallon, which is the lowest price we have paid in years.
Another side of Betty's Park is her folk art adorning the happy hour locations. Its a series of unique objects which Betty has found and adding her twist. One area is dedicated to her Kritter Korner where she has found drift wood pieces all of which have suggested hidden animals. In those pieces she found bears and fish and owls, to name a few.
Its exactly what we try to do when we cut and shape rocks, always looking for hidden shapes and scenes, shes just using another medium. So this entry is really about her Cajun folk art. She doesn't sell it, but she could, and it would be popular. Its really about making her friends smile and see a little glimpse of her inner self, and that's what folk art should be.
If you haven't been to Betty's your really missing a special place! Clear skies

ps When your crossing Louisiana on Interstate 10 be sure to stop at the Atchafalaya Welcome Center, It a unique Cajun place with a talking raccoon!