Monday, January 29, 2018

Back to the Sailboat Channel

Sometimes they bite and sometimes, well nothing is happening, ( I did catch a stingray, always fun to take off your hook when you are sitting in a kayak). This was one of those days. We had gone kayaking to the sailboat channel last Sunday and we had a blast. Our first spot didn’t produce anything, but the second spot was as hot as it gets.
Renita had found the fish and she caught one on every cast. They were under size reds and blacks but talk about fun. We were moored together, and she kindly moved over so we both could catch fish. The fish moved so close that you could see them tailing, (feeding nose down on the bottom with their tails sticking partially out of the water), just ten feet away from her kayak.
To top the day off, a rosette spoonbill landed next to Renita, and she was able to get a great shot with our small waterproof camera. It put on a show, moving its paddle shaped bill back and forth feeding on crustaceans, before finally flying to another feeding spot.
So, a few days later we decided to head back and hopefully find some bigger fish. Launching at the usual put in spot, we paddled to our first spot and nothing, and I mean nothing! It was a very high tide and the fish must have been in the black mangroves.
Moving to the other spot didn’t help as the only bites were blue crabs stealing our bait. There were quite a few boats up the smaller channel that led to a gas well and paddling up to them, we watched as they caught a few small speckled trout.
They were casting jigs and lures and of course I hadn’t brought any along, only dead shrimp and a few mullet. We ate lunch before moving into a small opening in the mangroves. The tide was so high that we were able to paddle through to the next accessible area.
Backtracking, we had noticed that the high walls had eroded from Hurricane Harvey. Shells were all over the place and while we didn’t care about the shells we decided to try to find a path through and look for other fossils.
Finding a narrow opening I beached my kayak and after a few muddy steps reached dry land. We had heard that the islands often contain rattlesnakes and so I gingerly walked along looking for Pleistocene bones or teeth.

Not finding any fossil or rattlesnakes, I decide to climb the man-made berm and see what was inside the triangle shaped area. Someone had left an easy chair alongside the narrow l-shaped pond. A duck flew away and I snapped a few images with my phone, before returning to the kayak.
We tried a few more spots but never did find the fish. Renita mentioned that it had been fun exploring a new place and I had to agree. Sometimes the fishing, or lack of catching takes second place to the days fun. Clear skies

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Birding at Port Aransas, After the Hurricane

The news reports said that over four hundred whooping cranes, (a record number with sixty-five young), arrived at Texas this year, and that they are expanding their territory. So, when we read that two were now feeding in the marshes at Port Aransas, on Mustang Island, we knew we needed to take a birding trip.
The hurricane had devastated the Port, but we were pleased to see how much had been restored. Crossing the ferry, we turned into the access to Charlies Pasture only to find that the road was closed. There wasn’t any parking so turning around, we headed to another of our favorites, the Leona Turnbill Birding area.
The boardwalk had been destroyed but a group, (flock), of other birders crowded the one small piece that still remained’ Two had set up their spotting scopes and invited us to look at a black necked stilt and an immature white ibis. Meanwhile a beautiful green heron stood nearby, and a nutria chewed on marsh grass.
Common yellowthroats were everywhere, and a yellow romped warbler posed in the brush, letting us take a brief image.

An osprey was perching on one of the remaining post and it took off hunting for a fresh meal.
It made several dives and finally catching a large mullet. It was a huge fish, and the osprey labored to fly back to its feeding spot.
An alligator’s nose peered out from the reeds looking to see if one of the birders were close enough for a meal, but we all remained safely on the walkway.
An adult bittern hunted for a lizard, and the usually reticent bird put on quite a show (you can see the birds eye swiveled forward in the first image and the second image shows a lizard impaled on its beak, blurry).
Northern shoveler’s, great blue herons, snowy egrets, and a common gallinule rounded out the birding.
We never did see the whoopers, even after two different people gave us directions. Still the bittern had made our day, it wasn’t a new bird, but it still had posed in such an open place!
Later we drove to one of our favorite restaurants, Virginia's, and as usual had excellent meal of fish and shrimp. From there it was a short drive to the south Jetty. There wasn’t much being caught but a huge flock of black skimmers rested in and next to a shallow pond.

While there is so much work to be done we were happy to see so many places open! The people of Port A, and all the surrounding areas still need help and one of the best way to help is to visit and spend  some money. The birding is certainly worth the trip!  Clear skies

ps That evening, next to the rv park, a flock of black bellied whistling ducks flew in to their nightly roost and I was able to catch them perching high up in an oak tree. Have you ever seen ducks in a tree?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Black Drum!

My pole doubled over, and I lifted my pole out of the holder and starting to fight the fish. As sometimes happens, my other pole went off as another black drum decided to join the party. Somehow, I managed to lose both fish, which is unusual as I was using circle hooks. It didn’t matter as I was soon fighting another fish.
We had returned from Florida to near freezing temperatures, rare for the Coastal Bend of South Texas. Combined with strong northern winds, it was just too nasty to go fishing. To make matters worse many of our friends were recovering from the flu
Thankfully, everyone recovered from the flu and so when the weather warmed up, John invited Dwayne and I to go fishing. His boat ran great as we headed to one of his favorite spots. Casting out dead shrimp, Dwayne caught and released several small rat reds, (under size red fish), before John and then I also caught one. John also caught an undersized black drum, so we decided to move to another one of his spots.
Our friend’s Dave and Terri, were also fishing near there and so we anchored some ways away, making sure we wouldn’t spook their fish. John cast out and before long hooked and landed a legal black drum! As the water warmed, the fish became more active and we were all catching black drum.
Now I think that black drum is one of the best eating salt water fish, but I say that about almost every fish that I catch, (except bluefish which are ok when cooked right). All of us were thinking of a fresh black drum fish fry, and as the day wore on we caught more fish!
We caught our limit of nice black drum, now all we had to do was fillet them. John rinsed his boat as Dwayne and I filleted the fish. The electricity is still out on our dock and, so we had to resort to using small Rapala fillet knives, (our truck was in the repair shop and my good Dexter Russell Fillet knife was under the back seat).

John returned to help us to finish filleting the fish, and we bagged the fillets into three bags, one for each of us. Later I fried the fish using a southern crispy fish recipe, and Renita and I enjoyed an all you can eat fish fry. A day doesn’t end much better!  Clear skies

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Quick Drive from Florida to Texas

It was time to say goodbyes and head back to Texas. So, we loaded up the truck and headed into the approaching cold front. We were able to make it through the cold front before an ice storm hit Lake City, Florida and so the drive was uneventful.
As we were not pulling our fifth wheel, we stayed in motels. We learned that using an online service to book a room resulted in higher priced rooms. The first night we paid one hundred and thirty dollars only to learn the cost of the room was only seventy, (plus a charge for the dog).
The cheapest way to book a room was to find the phone number of the motel and call it ourselves! That way we could be sure the motel was pet friendly. Not only did Renita find rooms for a fair price, the dog stayed free!

The weather was so cold that Mobile Bay was partially frozen, something we had never seen before. At least we never ran into any ice on bridges, or snow, and so the drive was bearable. Leaving after rush hour we were able to drive through Houston with a minimum of fuss/traffic, and reached Rockport during the afternoon of day three.
Our friends were at Happy Hour and we were greeted to the sight of Jane and a squirrel having a face off! Seems Jane had put up a bird feeder and the squirrel was emptying it every day. It had gotten so brazen that it ignored Jane and her broom!

Our plants had been taken care of by our friend Betty, and had thrived! Perhaps if we watered them and gave them fertilizer they would grow better for us. Now if it would hurry up and warm up we could get out the kayaks and go fishing!  Clear skies