Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fishing the Fishing Bridge, Copano Bay

The weather here has been very un-Texas like. The cold and wind have kept us off the water and huddled up inside but it warmed the other day and when John asked me if I would like to go fishing I of course jumped at the chance.
Before long Dave, John, and I were heading out to fish the bridges for sheephead. Using overhead hooks we safely anchored John’s boat and before too long Dave and I each had landed a nice sheephead. The bite stopped and moving to another spot, John added his own before the little fish moved in.
Bite after bite and the only ones we caught were about ten inches long, (the fish must be fifteen inches to keep here). Moving to another spot didn’t bring any better results and the only bite was an undersized flounder. Still at least it was a fish and while Dave complained about the size John and I both wished we could catch one ourselves.
Moving further brought no results and finally moving to Dave’s secret spot, we didn’t fare any better. The tide started moving but the wind picked up and a wave broke over the bow. It was time to head in and call it a day but at least we had put three nice keepers in the boat. The forecast for the next two days was for high wind and rain, more time to make jewelry.

The forecast here is for a warming trend to start on Monday and it can’t come soon enough! At least we aren’t getting any of the snow and ice north of here! Clear skies

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Day Exploring New Water, Carlos Bay

Having kayaks, Renita and I are limited to what we can safely paddle in a day. Part of that safety is knowing our limits and of course watching the weather and wind forecasts, both speed and direction. So we don’t venture very far as a three mile paddle is a lot, especially when you have to fight back against a headwind.
So when John invited Dale and I to spend a day exploring the waters of Carlos Bay we both jumped at the chance. Some others friends here in the rv park have been catching lots of black drum there and had kindly pointed out the spot on John’s area fishing map.
Launching at Copano Bay, we were soon speeding across the open waters of Aransas Bay. The waters here are treacherous, with numerous oyster bars and there were four boats dredging oysters at Scotch Toms Reef and Half Moon Reef.
Safely navigating the shallow waters of Grass Islands Reef, two feet deep, let us scoot across the water along the mouth of St Charles Bay. The next target was to find the marker near Deadman’s Island, letting us enter the Intracoastal Waterway.
From there John headed southeast and drove cautiously between Poverty Reef and Pelican Reef. As we neared Carlos Bay we passed a rookery, already filling up with Great Blue Herons, and the unmistakable odor of fish greeted our noses.
The channel narrowed and slowing way down, we entered the Fingers, before exploring Cape Carlos Dugout. We were looking for the telltale swirls of feeding fish tails from black drum and redfish. Dolphins were everywhere and while some detest their presence, (yes they will take a fish from your line), seeing them means bait and larger fish are nearby.
One dolphin swam alongside the boat and it was apparent it was using our boat to scare fish and shrimp into its path. Easily out swimming the boat, I saw it turn sideways and gobble a trapped mullet.
We decided to turn further into the dugout and anchored to fish but the only bites were two stingray.
Moving into more shallows we watched for, but didn’t see any mud swirls, still we stopped and cast some baits, all to no avail. Unfortunately we had to head back early, as John had promised to attend a birthday party for a fellow church member, but it didn’t matter as Dale, John, and I had had a great day of exploring water I could never reach with our kayaks.

The day was a classic example of a dues day of exploration, and it was water new to all of us. Now Dunham Island, Carlos Bay, and the other side of the Black Jack Peninsula all have meaning to us. Heck it doesn’t really matter if you catch fish, cornbread makes a filling meal all by itself!  Thank you John, for taking Dale and I along on a day of discovery! Clear skies

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine’s Day 2015, Time for Whooping Around

Our friends Mark and Shirley had invited us to join them for a Valentine’s Day of birding at The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and of course we accepted. What else do you want to do on Valentine’s Day but to do something you love with each other and with friends?
It seemed like it took no time at all to reach the refuge, (Our friend Mark goes by the nickname AJ, after a famous race car driver, and Mark really did race cars at one time in his life). Upon our quick arrival at the refuge, we were somewhat shocked at how dry it was. Jones Lake had disappeared with only a field of weeds outlining the once full basin.
Hoping to get some bird images with our new camera we next went to the two viewing towers and were rewarded with four whooping cranes feeding on the land and in the water. It was a beautiful seventy degree day with light winds and so we took our time enjoying the bird’s eye view from the upper platform.
A turkey vulture flew overhead and I was quite happy with the image I was able to take, (this was with the 75-300 mm zoom). Moving to the lower tower brought us closer to the birds and we got some pretty good images even though we were quite a ways away.
After stopping for lunch AJ drove us to one of our favorite birding spots, the Heron Flats Trial.
Shirley explained her love for alligators, (not), and of course we were greeted with a nice eight footer sunning in the first pond. A pied bill grebe fed carefully near the lazing gator, keeping a wary eye out for any sudden movements.
Heading down the trail we passed pond after pond, all empty of the lazy reptiles. The only birds we saw were a few more grebes. The mosquitos swarmed down upon us and we decided we didn’t want to go into the forest canopy. Instead we retreated to the car along with the swarming dengue infected bloodsuckers.
Heading back to Lamar, I mentioned the whoopers having taken over several fields there. Happily upon arrival we were greeted with four whoopers feeding near the deer feeders, along with several dozen sand hill cranes. A flock of sand hill cranes took off, heading for another feeder and they were soon followed by two of the whooping cranes. Trying for another flying shot got great results, with good resolution for the two moving birds.

The sun was setting as Mark and Shirley dropped us off. It had been a great day, birding with friends and a special thank you to Mark and Shirley for inviting us along on their Valentines Days adventure! Clear skies and hope you had a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kayaking with Friends on St Charles Bay 2015

Renita’s bobber disappeared and immediately her pole doubled over. She was on a nice fish and she grabbed the pole before it went overboard. It was a big red fish and so I wound in my line so she could fight the fish without any worry of entanglement.
As I slipped the net under the legal redfish she mentioned how redfish tastes really good grilled and that she hoped I would catch one as she would feel guilty eating it while I was having only having cornbread. Meanwhile I caught small black drum and before long she had another keeper red, this one twenty two inches long.
It was a beautiful day and we were kayaking with another couple Arnie and Joyce. They are also from Wyoming and winter in the same park we do. I had invited them along for a day of kayaking, birding, and maybe even a little fishing and catching! The weather was perfect and as we paddled Joyce pointed out various birds. Rosette spoonbills, American White Pelicans, and snowy egrets were all just a few of the birds we saw.
A reddish egret perched on a post, turning its head this way and that. The wind caught his back head feathers and spread them into a crown. As we neared the spot we were going to fish an osprey flew and landed on an old weathered duck blind. Hoping it was a good sign, I pointed out the cut we were going to fish and the first cast produced small black drum.
Another kayak went by and the fisherman told us of the six foot alligator that had spooked from the nearby shore. I scanned the shallow water making sure that my redfish buffet on a stringer hadn’t attracted its attention.  Black drum hit on almost every cast, all too small to keep, and Arnie caught a small red as Joyce pointed out more birds.
The tide went slack and the fish stopped biting. Pulling up the anchors we headed back, fighting a head wind. Reaching a protective oyster bar we stopped to rest before turning south for the last leg of the paddle back.
It took over anchor before reaching the trucks and everyone was tired and a little sore from the long stretch. It had been a beautiful day of kayaking, birding, and fishing and it was especially nice to have Arnie and Joyce along to share the day. Clear skies

Ps (Renita shared her grilled fish with meJ).

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Valentines Show and Tell/Sell at Blue Lagoons 2015

Renita and I winter in a small park. Its spaces are relatively small but the reason we all come back is because of the people. So when we arrived I asked the office if we could set up a Valentines Show and Tell/Sell, allowing all the crafters and artists a chance to exhibit and meet each other, (although the quilters had already formed a nice group and have weekly sessions).
So the day arrived and I was a little nervous but soon others showed up and quickly filled the small recreation hall with examples of everyone’s work. Pat and Nancy held up some new material that Pat is going to use in a quilt and she stated that, “It’s a shame to cut such beautiful material,” (a question we always ask before cutting our new rocks and fossils).
Diane exhibited her jewelry and Doris showed her crocheted scarves. Renita has been quite busy with her kumihimo and so she has made quite a nice display of satin necklaces. Sharon has started quilting and even though she is a relatively new crafter she showed off her designs and beautiful work. It’s such an advantage to meet and share with other crafters and she mentioned that Pat has been  her mentor.
A newcomer to the park Chuck and His wife Deb, saw the notice of the show and brought a small sample of his photography and wood carvings. He talked about how he carves and then paints each fish before placing them in a natural display, (as most were trout we talked about fly fishing and I invited him to come out to Wyoming to fly fish the different cutthroat trout).
One of the new things in our display is that we have separated out the jewelry and rocks by state and I think it allows people to see some of the material available, especially in the West. The Montana Moss agate case, (it’s an extremely hard agate and takes a long time on the wheels to eliminate any scratches), for example is filled with cabochons we have ground from rocks that we collected along the Yellowstone River
As the afternoon passed more people arrived and the show became quite busy.  As there is very little extra parking here it was mostly people from the park, (the show is not advertised), but everyone agreed that they had had a nice day. The short show was over and still some people arrived to look at the examples of the parks crafter’s love. Thank you all for making a contribution to the show. Clear skies