Saturday, November 23, 2019

Fishing, Birding, and More Opal Work

Another busy week has passed by and I really have too much to write about, especially if I cram it into one post. Here is the crammed post! I have spent a lot of time fishing this week with our friends John, Dave, and Terry. Renita and I also spent a day birding in Port Aransas and we also traveled to the Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Society’s shop to grind on some opals.
The first fishing trip was unexpected as John invited me to go along with Jim D. We launched at Cove Harbor. In search of reds and black drum. We caught a lot of fish, small reds especially but as to the black drum we had to be content with watching our friends Alan and Roy as they put on a workshop of how to catch big fish. After they moved, we went to their spot and I actually had a huge black drum on, but it ran around a barnacle covered post and my thirty-pound leader didn’t hold up.
A day later Dave took me fishing and we spent the day in Copano bay. I did catch a big sheepshead and we caught lots of fish but they were all undersized and so we released them. Its always fun when you catch fish regardless of the size!
Yesterday Dave, Tarry, and I went to another of our favorite spots looking for speckled trout and sheepshead. They were in Dave’s boat and as I approached in my kayak, they invited me to fish the spot they had found.
However, I wanted to try for sheepshead first and it worked out for me! They caught two nice trout and I ended up with four keeper sheepshead. Both are quality tasting fish, but Renita likes sheepshead better, so tonight’s dinner is fresh sheepshead baked with a parmesan panko crust!
Renita and I also went to Port Aransas to check out the birding spots. The LeonaBelle Turnbill Birding Center had just reopened last Friday, and the new boardwalk and Tower provide and excellent bird viewing platform!
Volunteers were also working on the trails and while the trails were not yet open, they will allow birders to walk paths that connect the various birding spots on the island.
One of the alligators at the birding center was huge and the picture of it does not do justice to the monster. Suffice it to say we were glad we were on a raised boardwalk.
We did drive to a separate place named Paradise Pond and while it has undergone renovation from the Hurricane and new development the bird’s still visit the small freshwater pond. We think we spotted an immature painted bunting. It’s pretty drab but the bill looks correct and there is some color underneath the tail.
Finally, we traveled to Corpus Christi to work on some of our opals. The opals needed to be final shaped into cabs that can be set into rings and pendants. It was so nice to be back grinding rocks and I did manage to finish some of the Coober Pedy opals. I also managed to grind too much off the smaller pieces and so now I have some destroyed remnants. Its not the first time I have tuned good opals into opal dust! Clear skies

ps So, this week we are returning to the shop to finish more opals. I am not going fishing as I made a trip to the emergency room after I walked into one of our fifth wheel slides and cut open my head. Luckily it was small, no brains oozed out just lots of blood, and only required a few staples. Renita told the doctor that we had a stapler at home and that she could have done the same, without as much fuss. I was told to stay out of the bay till the staples are removed.

Monday, November 18, 2019

A Fun Week of Making a Kayak Trailer, Fishing, and Coober Pedy Opals

Its been too long since I last updated the blog. The reason I write it is so that Renita and I can keep track of what we have done since retirement, like a journal with pictures. One of my regrets is that I didn’t keep a journal before we headed out on the road.
The past week has been extremely busy. As the title suggests we have kept busy finishing some Coober Pedy Opals, modifying a utility trailer into a kayak carrier, and going fishing using our kayaks.
We purchased quite a bit of Coober Pedy Opals at the Houston Gem and Mineral Show. The pieces were slices that had already been attached to black backings that allowed the opal to show its color/fire. These were ready to finish, and I only had to add the protective cap to finish the triplets.
This saved me an inordinate amount of time as I normally have to prepare the black backing, epoxy the opal slice to the backing, and grind the opal to paper thickness. This takes a lot of time and time is the most valuable thing we all have. Now, all I had to do was to add a protective glass cover. The finished opal triplet not only highlights the colors but also magnifies the color.
Our next project entailed us going to a local store where we purchased a small utility trailer. After some modifications we now were able to easily load/unload our kayaks. You can see in the background, a picture of our Subaru Forester with the trailer attached.
Our first kayaking trip was to a place where we have had luck in previous years. Arriving we saw other kayaks and as we neared our favorite fishing area, we met a fisherman who had caught his limit of speckled trout. He held his stringer up showing his trout and a legal slot redfish, (redfish must be between 20-28 inches to keep).
We started fishing and the fish were not where we had expected. As our friend Dave says, “Fish swim”, meaning you usually have to find where they have moved. We tried another spot and caught trout, a small redfish, and sheepshead but the bite quickly stopped.
The water was calm, an unusual occurrence here on the Texas Coastal Bend, and so we moved and moved again. After lunch I moved back to our starting place and the fish were there! As fast as we threw out, we caught fish! Not all were keepers, but we did have a double of keeper size sheepshead.
Too soon it was time to go and so we paddled back to the car, loaded the kayaks and headed to our rv park where we have a fish cleaning station. As we hauled the bucket to the fish to the cleaning station we were quickly surrounded by white and brown pelicans, gulls flying over our heads, and snowy egrest. They all love fish handouts! All I can say is thank to my electric fillet knife the cleaning went quickly! As usual, Renita had caught her share of the fish and she aided me in the cleaning task.
We love fresh fish and on the rare occasion when we catch quite a few we use our vacuum sealer to keep the fish tasty. Its one of the best inventions!  Now we have several meals in the freezer! Should we fry them, saute them in a white cream and lemon sauce, or perhaps make them in the oven using a parmesan crust? Clear Skies

Friday, November 8, 2019

Allyns Bight, Rv Repairmen, and a Day of Wade Fishing.

It’s been another crazy week, with two days of fishing, three days of waiting for the rv repairman, and who knows where the rest of the time went.. Our friend Dave arrived from Michigan, and after helping him to unpack we went to his storage and retrieved his boat and our kayaks.
The first day of fishing was wade fishing with our friend Terry. I had purchased new chest waders, and after donning them I waded out into waist high water where I discovered that the boots leaked like sieves. The boots also rubbed on my legs and when I took them off at home, I found I had two sores that have since kept me from going back into the water until they heal.
We did catch a lot of fish and actually ran out of bait, but none were keepers, so it was corn bread for dinner. I caught an alligator gar, my first one ever so that was pretty neat and let me tell you their teeth are really sharp!
We also went out in the boat with John and we crossed the bay and fished at Allyns Bight. There were lots of fish to catch, but our usual spots didn’t have any keepers. Later in the day we did find a new spot to fish and finally after, five small sheepsheads, John caught a legal fish. It really doesn’t matter if we catch keepers as it’s always fun to go fishing with friends and just plan catching fish.
Our water heater quit working, and of course I discovered this when I went to take a shower. At least here in south Texas, the cold water really isn’t cold, more lukewarm that anything else. The next day we called the repairman who said he would try to get to us that afternoon.
He didn’t show up until the next morning and after diagnosing the problem told us he didn’t have the parts with him and that he would be back the next morning. The next day he finally did arrive with the parts and fixed the water heater, so we now have hot water, (I fix a lot of stuff myself, but I do not work on anything that has to do with propane or 110-volt electricity)!
I am anxious to get fishing in the kayaks as we did really well last year. However, we do have to buy a kayak trailer as I am getting tired of lifting the kayaks on top of the car. That will have to wait because we are going to Houston for the Gem and Mineral show and hopefully, I will show some control and not buy too many rocks or fossils. Clear skies

Friday, November 1, 2019

A Fun Day of Fishing Cedar Bayou, Texas

We have never been to Cedar Bayou, (it’s an opening to the Gulf of Mexico now closed by Hurricane Harvey), so when John asked if we wanted to go fishing there with his wife Nina, we jumped at the chance, ( I said yes without first asking Renita which is always a dangerous move on my part).
The next day found us heading to Cedar Bayou after we launched at Goose Island State Park. It’s a long run, much of it along the Aransas National Wildlife refuge. Normally one would see whooping cranes but they have not yet arrived and so we had to content ourselves with the occasional dolphin.
John expertly navigated the shallow waters and we reached the bay side mouth of the bayou after and eighteen-mile run. As we started up the bayou, we noticed lots of bait fish activity along the shores, marked by an occasional swirl of larger fish.
Setting down his gps guided trolling motor John set it to the anchor position, and we were soon fishing without any cumbersome anchor. Almost immediately Nina hooked and lost a nice fish before she hooked another one. She fought the fish to the boat, and it was a nice red fish! It was undersize red and so it went back into the water.
On the next cast she caught another, and we were all a little jealous even though we had barely started to fish. John’s turn was next, and he also caught an undersized red fish, and then it was Renita's turn when she set the hook on a keeper black drum. She made another cast and caught a larger black drum and the possibility of fresh fish for dinner seemed doable.
Meanwhile I had missed several bites and as the others kept catching fish, I wondered what my problem was. Finally I managed to catch the smallest red of the day and it was a wonder how the fish had managed to get the hook in its mouth, (we all  use circle hooks so the fish are easy to release as the hook is almost always in the corner of the fish’s mouth)
The bite slowed a little, but Renita continued to get bites and she even landed a gulf flounder. It was also undersized, and the picture is of the bottom side of the fish as the top sided is brown and spotted. John decided we should move up the bayou and after fishing an island, (where we caught a piggy perch, a hardhead catfish and a stingray we moved again.
In the new spot Nina lost a nice fish and I caught a keeper speckled trout! It was John’s turn next and his fish jumped out of the water several times before I was able to net it. It was a nice lady fish, also called the poor man’s tarpon, and it was his first lady fish so of course we had to take a picture.
We caught several sand trout and another small speckled trout before John decided to see how close he could get us to the mouth. As we fished we had been hearing the roar of the surf but when we neared the closed mouth we grounded in about a little over a foot of water, (the mouth is closed just past the junction with Vinson channel),. There were other fisherman wade fishing not too far away and so we used the trolling motor to retreat to deeper water.
Not being done fishing yet and we next headed to an area we call the three fingers. The water has been extremely high and so while we couldn’t see them, we did manage to find an edge to fish. All of us caught small reds, (John caught quite a few), before we decided to call it a day and head back to the dock.
It had been a great day of fishing new water and we had caught eight different species of fish, including three keepers. Thanks again John and Nina for taking us out and sharing your day! Clear skies.

Ps apparently the Cedar Bayous mouth will be reopened in 2020, as part of the recovery from Hurricane Harvey.