Friday, January 25, 2019

The Recent Lunar Eclipse and Cold Water Fishing

Its been a busy week and we did manage to get outside, despite the cold and windy weather. Being a retired astronomy teacher, we had to watch the lunar eclipse and we both tried to take some images. We also went to the Gulf Coast Gem and Minerals rock shop and the wind abated enough to allow us to go kayaking for a few hours.
In the thirty years of teaching Earth Science and Astronomy, I was the host of many star parties. When a special event occurred, I trained our telescopes to the heavens, although for a lunar eclipse, one could best watch with binoculars.
So, while all the hype of a blood moon and super blood moon made me shake my head a little as this one neared. The color of the moon, during an eclipse depends on the dust in the atmosphere and can vary widely. Sometimes its slightly darkened, sometimes it is almost black, and sometimes it has a reddish or orange cast.
Here in Rockport, Texas the moon had a reddish cast on its upper hemisphere and a dark cast on the lower hemisphere. We tried taking images and of course the best shots we took were with the smallest diameter lenses. That means they were blurry as a large lens works better as it has more light gathering ability. We were able to see the curve of the Earth’s shadow which is one of the proofs that the earth is a sphere, (wake up all of you flat earth loonies).
With all the cold and windy weather, we did travel to the rock shop and sawed a piece of rough zoisite with rubies, and chit chat with the other members. The best works of the day were by a member who had several beautiful Kentucky agates and another who was patiently polishing a large agate slab.
Yesterday the wind went below ten miles per hour, our upper kayak limit and we headed out to one of our favorite places to cold weather fish. Many of the others in the park, all power boat owners told me that we wouldn’t catch anything as the fish wouldn’t eat because of the cold water.
It didn’t matter to us as any chance to kayak, enjoy any birds, and catching fish would simply be a bonus. The birds cooperated and Renita was able to take several images of rosette spoonbills, immature and mature white ibis.

We tried several spots before we reached our favorite hole.  On my second cast a fish hit, and it was a keeper black drum. As fast as I cast out, I caught fish and Renita finally joined the fun with both red drum and black drum hitting our dead shrimp. I even caught a small speckled trout.
It only took two hours before we ran out of bait! As usual Renita had caught the largest black drum. I did lose a fish from our floating live well and so we ended up catching nine keepers and taking home seven blacks, (In the above image you can see our friend Terry who joined us and caught four keeper blacks).
I guess the fish will hit if you can figure out where to fish! The question now is how to cook the fillets for dinner! Nothing like fresh fish!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Renita"s Biggest Black Drum!

Renita made a nice cast and her bobber, after settling down, drifted toward an old weathered post. It sat there for a brief time and then, against the wind, it started to swim away.  It picked up speed and she set the hook only to realize that she had a huge fish on her line. It made several turns before making a run for the middle of the bay and she chased it around the boat, moving to the stern.
As they continued to battle, she was forced to change her position several times. The fish made a run toward the motor, but she managed to turn its head and the fight became one in which the fish dogged down, staying away from the surface. Finally, the fish tired and I was able to net the fish head first, folding its body into the small net!
John and Nina had purchased a new boat, a twenty-foot Carolina Skiff, and they invited us out for a boat ride and a few hours fishing. After a quick ride across the bay we headed down to one of John’s spots, where we were greeted with the site of feeding dolphins and two whooping cranes!
Another boat was already fishing his spot and it was two more friends from our same rv park! They hadn’t had a bite and watched as Renita landed her large black drum. Shortly after they left Nina had the next bite and she also had her hands full as another large fish threatened to pull the pole out of her hands.
However, the fish made a turn and wrapped her line around a post, where the barnacles quickly cut the line. The fish swam away but it was trailing the bobber. It finally disappeared and we continued to fish. Nina caught another fish, this one a keeper black, and a little while later Renita pulled in a second keeper fish.
My turn was next, and I caught a nice nineteen inch black, which is a good eating size fish. The bite slowed and every once and a while we saw Nina’s bobber, still hooked to the fish, appear and disappear. I went up to the front of the boat and made a cast to the other side of the structure. I knew it was a stupid cast as any large fish would pull me into the posts and sure enough one did.
John moved his boat over to the post and was able to unwind the line from the snag. It didn’t break and the fish ran away from the shoreline. The fish was also trailing Nina’s bobber. It came off and fouled my line, but we were able to clear the line and I continued to fight the fish. At last John was able to head the fish and it was just a little a quarter of an inch shorter then Renita’s.
We never did catch any more fish although we had several light bites. The wind picked up a little and as it was time to head back, we wound in our poles and headed across the choppy bay. Their boat took the waves well and it made short work of the five-mile crossing.
The tally at the end of the day was Renita with two black drums, Nina with one and a third, John with a third as he had saved the fish with his adroit handling of the snagged line, and me with one and a third fish as I managed to bring the fish to the net.
It was a special day on the water!  Renita had landed her largest black drum ever, and we really enjoyed the fishing and wildlife watching! Thank you, John and Nina, for the great day!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Back to Texas, With a Fun Stop on Grand Isle

We left Florida with a last goodbye to Jen and Eric. Thank you Jen and Eric for the wonderful time!The first days’ drive was to Crestview, Florida, where we spent the night at a motel. Crestview was just west of the hurricane damaged area from Hurricane Michael and the hotels were all open.
The next day we made the drive to Grand Isle. Louisiana and this time Connie and Gary were there! They greeted us with a shrimp boil and as usual it was great! The wind blew, and it rained heavy for the first two days but that was fine, and we spent the time catching up, taking turns cooking and lots of fine food, especially the desserts!
The first two days were also cold and windy, but we still made it out to Elmer’s island and a beach walk. Renita found several nice shells and Gary and I found a set of deer tracks. The biologist said she thought they were feral hog tracks, but I showed her images from the internet and she agreed with our identification, (there are no deer on Grand Isle).
The weather cleared on Saturday and the waves calmed down so Gary offered to take us on a boat ride. Traveling to several different islands I made the mistake of stepping off the boat into a muddy spot and sank to my knees. Gary kindly gave me a hand and pulled me out!
We also stopped to look for glass and fossils and hit the bonanza, partially filling a bucket with pottery pieces, glass shards, and lots of fossil bones and teeth. I posted an image of our finds and of course a person asked where we found them. I made the mistake once before, of sharing a location of a find and will never make that mistake again!
The next day we left for Texas, stopping for a long lunch at our favorite Cajun restaurant in Layfette. It was packed, and it took us two hours to get served and eat, but it was well worth it.
We latter paid for time lost at lunch by arriving late for the Ferry to Galveston, and after a traffic jam at the loading pier, made our first crossing at night,(the above image is the Galveston Coast Guard Station and the lower one of a ferry).
As it was Sunday, we didn’t have any problems finding a cheap motel room and this one even had a balcony that looked out on the Gulf, (we almost never make reservations). It also looked out on a couple of fast food places, but we still had a nice Gulf view!
The final day was a short drive of only four hours to our winter home/rv, which is parked in Fulton, Texas Now we are busy with sales tax reports, and applying for this year’s summer shows in Wyoming. Our biggest shows of the year are in Cody and Alpine and we look forward to seeing the many friends we have made, along with new ones.  Clear skies