Tis The Season 12/19/14.

Fish Catching Travel

It is almost here, Christmas.  As I wrap up a couple of days visiting my mother and father, brother, and sister and her husband, I have a lot to be thankful for.  Our families made it through another year without any disasters or the loss of any loved one.  Today we head over to OK City for a couple of days to see our daughter and her husband, grandchild number 1 Miss Mia, and our newest grand baby, little Wren.  They are all doing well, minus a couple of cases of flu, but all in all have had a good year.  So it was so interesting and telling when I got the following comment from Mac, one of my loyal readers and most thoughtful commenters.  There is a story here, one that is touching and should lead you to pause and think about how good your life is, and how it can change for all of us in a moment.

Baa-Humbug–planned to go fishing  in the back bays around Cedar Bayou the next couple of days, but the rain and cold prediction may keep me by the fireplace.   A neighbor of  mine just returned today with some nice slot reds still in shallow water.

All were caught sight casting with a Mann’s Wobbler  near Fence Lake.  It seems the large schools of fall have dispersed. All were singles just snoozing in the warm sun yesterday.   Water condition were pristine.  This time of year I can head down and fish in water that resembles chocolate milk. One often finds it difficult to get ideal weather conditions 1n late fall and winter.   Wish I was in Costa Rica!!!!!! Thanks for your story on your whole time there.    Others enjoyed it also

Now a Christmas story—and it is how life can change in an instant.  25 years ago I met a professor, Dr. Jim Harwell from the University of Kansas. His wife had just died and he bought a Volkswagen van , and moved to Port Aransas.  For about 4 years he lived in his van and fished the South Jetty often.   He said he really missed his wife and fishing was his love since her life ended.  Often he and I would just sit on the rocks and just talk fishing and life itself.  I lost track of professor Harwell and thought I would never see him again.   In November,while walking around Town Lake , in Austin, I passed an elderly man, who looked down on his luck but somewhat familiar.  I went on by and heard a very weak “Mac”.   I continued on my way, but then I looked back and saw my old friend , the professor.   We embraced and told each of our lives.  My life has been blessed with family and friends while Dr. Jim’s went the opposite direction.   After teaching many years and fishing, Dr. Jim is now homeless. 

I gave him my phone number, but he tore it up and said that his life was near over and he did not want to burden my family by hanging around us.  He then said during good weather, we can find him at the same spot on Sundays.  I said goodbye and walked away troubled that I left him.  His words on my departure–”Mac , what you are now, I once was, and what I am now, someday you could be in my situation.    A month has passed and I have not seen him there.  Maybe  even though I may never see him again, he has taught me a valuable lesson.   “Always value and keep in touch with loved ones and friends.”    Doug. by your writing your friends are many,  Mac”

I really am touched by your story and your comments.  As we live our lives, consumed with our own problems and trials, we do forget what is important, old friends slip away, and we don’t say those things that should be said.  Though we have never met I truly appreciate your friendship.  Nothing is more satisfying to me than to hear it when someone says you helped me catch some fish, I read your blog regularly, or thanks for something I wrote.  This has gone from a simple diary with no destination, to a fishing first blog, to what I now hope is an ongoing story.  My greatest hope is that you all are along for the ride.  My goal is nothing more complicated than to share it with you.  So thanks Mac, your comment puts what is important into words.  Have a great Christmas with your family.

***********************

As melancholy as Mac’s comment is, the following comment from Al is as important for another completely different reason.  The fishing world has changed so much in the over 40 years I have been hitting it hard.  More folks, bigger boats, fancy stuff and big money have changed the face of fishing.  But those of us who have pursued our sport with a passion unrelated to metal flake and fancy shirts have some great memories, memories that should not be lost or forgotten.

My two brothers and I FISHED the back end of powderhorn back in the early 60,ies before horricane Carla.We fished out of Ed Bells fish camp @ the opening to Lavaca bay.A quart of shrimp live was .50 cents we would buy 2 quarts and as a general rule catch one or two trout on each bait.My brother Adam had a 14 ‘ yellowjacket hull with 25 johnson.Every time it failed to start or we sheered a pin guess who pulled the boat back to the dock,I was the youngest.I have not been back in powderhorn since Horricane Carla,have fun Al”

Love it Al,  I bet Adam thought he was the bomb with that fine boat.  A gallon of gas, $2 worth of bait, and you were living large.  Think about if folks, the boat breaks down and you just pull it back to the dock.  How things have changed.  It has come to adding a 2 to all those numbers.  Now it is $22 worth of bait, in a 24 foot boat with a 225hp on the back end.  Progress, yes.  Improvement?  Debatable.  It is what it is, and I don’t want to belabor “the good old days”, but fishing has changed dramatically.  It is so important to not lose sight of what drives those of us with the passion.  It is not the metal flake, it is the electricity that shoots up our arm when we feel that bite.  It is not the 60mph as we blast across the bay, it is the blood red sunrise coming up over the trees.  I love it when I get this kind of comment, it helps me remember why I pick up the rod.  So thanks Al, I really do appreciate it.

***********************

Come on the rest of you, I know you have some stories, some memories, things you share with family and friends as you get together over the holidays.  Your stories are important to all of us.  Doesn’t matter if it is happy or sad, or some complete BS fisherman tale, we all love to hear them as much as we love to tell them.  So send me some more, make all of our holidays fuller, and when we retell them your story will live forever.

*********************

I will be heading home in a couple of days and for me it is the fishing season.  As a former paramedic, and with a wife who was a paramedic for 25 years, and is now a PA in the ER, she has historically worked on most of the days around Christmas.  With only one grown child my wife has worked over Christmas so those with children can have the time off to be with their family.  We just take ours before and after, and it works for us.  So my Christmas present to myself has been to fish Christmas day, which I have probably done the last 20 years.  It really is a great day to fish.  I have it to myself, but not for the selfish reasons you might think, but for the solitude.  No motor sounds, no one at the ramp, just a day for myself enjoying the sport I love.

And of course there is a story, always a story.  As an attorney I am a notorious rule follower.  (I know attorney and rule follower in the same sentence is an oxymoron, but I really do follow rules.)  I can’t help it, I just follow rules.  One I never break is the No Wake rule, right?  So Christmas day several years ago I am headed up lake on Coleto when I get to the bridge where the No Wake buoy is and I think, what the heck, not a soul out here, so I buzz under the bridge without slowing down.  As I come out the other side I hear Whoop Whoop.  There, crossing the bridge at 8:00 on Christmas morning, with not another person out, is the Game Warden in his truck.  So I turn around and wave as I head up lake.  Lesson learned.  Who would’a thunk it?  And I promise Warden, it won’t happen again!

********************

Hope you holidays are going well and your friends and family are all doing well.  And maybe if you are lucky you will get to slip away a couple of hours and wet a line.  But remember there will be other days, but not other friends and family.  So enjoy your time with them, and don’t worry, I will handle the fishing part.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

 

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment

Part 2 Blast and Cast 12/17/14.

Fish Catching Travel

After our morning duck hunt we got back to town around 11:30 and I immediately breasted the ducks, put the gun and hunting stuff up, hooked up the boat and headed to Coleto.  I was real interested in the water temperature and if the lake was dropping.

First the water.  Last time I was there, a week ago it was 67 degrees at the ramp, it is now in the 77 degrees range from the ramp most of the way up lake.  When you round the big bend up lake it does  drops to 71 degrees, and that is the coolest I found it.   It does make me wonder that with the water temperature rising in the bay that maybe that has drawn some of those bigger trout back out of the rivers and creeks.  It will be interesting to see on our next real cold front, and we will have one, if the fishing won’t really heat back up in the rivers.  Stay tuned for that one.

As far as the lake’s water level it seems to have come down just a little.  We need rain and the weather man is sorta promising several days over the next week.  You know being the weather man must be a difficult job.  It is your fault when things don’t go as expected, but you never get credit for the good stuff.

The fishing on the other hand remains exactly as I found it last trip.  I just keep throwing the Strike King Swimming Jig in the Sexy Shad with a pearl Caffine Shad paddle tail trailer and the Bagley Bang O Lure.

007

I just can’t put that Swim Jig down!

My whole plan for the afternoon, besides catching fish of course, was to head up lake and see if things had changed.  My last outing the water way up lake was 12 degree colder and they would not bite worth a crap.  But my first stop, I couldn’t resist, was a main lake bank that still has some green grass in that 3 – 6 foot range.  Those fish have been there for several months, and with the disappearing grass in the rest of the lake I don’t expect them to move, and from the one above you can see they haven’t,  As it has been, tip the grass with a steady retrieve, and the speed it up or hop it, and they will eat.  I am using a 1/4 ounce but am somewhat remiss for not throwing the 3/8th, it might just give that little additional depth and lead to some bigger fish.  Have to check that one out.

Now I know that conventional wisdom is that the Swim Jig is not a winter bait, and true enough, it is best in the spring with new emerging grass.  While that is true as I have learned the last couple of years, as long as you have bass in cover it will work.  I ended up putting 3 in the boat there on a quick pass, but not wanting to wear them out, I headed up lake.

Once I saw the 71 degrees I knew it would be good, and it was.  A couple of more fell to the Swim Jig but it was time for the topwater minnow.  And first cast one blasted it next to the boat, and over the rest of the afternoon another dozen plus fell for it.

010

Today some of them like this guy were really blowing up on it.

Just like the last few trips, and the winter and early spring on Coleto, they wanted it right on top, twitching it right along.  Often the eat it close, but the better ones seem to come off the bank some, so don’t give up on it.  And as it will be until we approach true pre-spawn, most were near points.  In fact right now point hopping would probably be the most efficient way to fish.  And if you would combine that with any deeper live grass beds, you could probably boat a ton of fish in a day.

012

While not real giants, I will take a limit of these all day long!  And not to worry, those big girls will be up soon.

I fished until about 5 but was starting to wear down a little.  So after having a successful duck hunt and a short fishing trip I headed to the ramp.  After I put the boat on the trailer I did some investigating.  You never know where you will find useful information, and one of those places on Coleto is the trash can at the cleaning table.  So I popped the lid and there was a nice string of crappie.  Aaron was there a couple of days ago and a couple of guys were cleaning a string of nice ones.  So if you like crappie they are out there to be caught and from what I hear they are not all that deep.

So our fishing remains good on many area of the coast.  Hunting season is in full swing and the weather is great.  So many options, so little time.  I love the not really knowing what is next, just that there will be a next.  Every day we can enjoy the outdoors is a gift that should never be taken for granted.  It is a bit beautiful world out there so get out enjoy your favorite activity with family and friends.  And last I want to thank several of you for sending me some great comments.  I will sit down and get them posted tomorrow.  And a particular thumbs up to Mac, I hope others love your comment as much as I did.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment

Blast and And then Cast 12/15/14.

Fish Catching Travel

I have always felt like they got it wrong, rarely do you cast and blast, it is almost always blast then cast.  And in my case it says it all about Monday.  Sunday night Chris texted me and asked if I wanted to hunt some ducks, and of course the answer was yes.  When it is this warm and we do not have to take a freezing boat ride I am all about duck hunting.  I actually wrote that comment about duck hunting yesterday, and one day later I am going hunting with a low of 68 degrees.  Crazy.

It was a 5:15 meet at his place, load up the stuff and Link, and off to the lease.  His lease has made some real progress this year with quite a few more ducks.  So I wasn’t to concerned we wouldn’t shoot any when we hit the blind.  The mosquitoes were out in full force and there was not a breath of wind.  It was about a half hour after shooting time before we shot the first one.  Then it was another half hour easy before we killed number 2.

003

Every once in while Link would look over at us like: “Where’s the ducks?

Finally about 8:30 or so it started clouding up and the wind started blowing, not much, but at least we had a ripple in the spread.  Around that time we saw several large bunches but they were not interested.  Finally they started coming in and before it was over we ended up killing 7.

005

Really nice to hunt with a dog, and Link will go get them.

This is Link’s first year and I am real impressed with his concentration, he watched it all and if he heard a safety click he was on high alert.  He sat on his platform and only got off when Chris sent him after a duck.  They should have a long and full career hunting ducks together.  I try to stay as excited about being in the outdoors as Link must be when it is up early and on with the hunting stuff.

So a little slow, but with my duck hunting luck 7 is a veritable haul.  I hope to get a couple of more days before the season is over, but the fishing remains good.  Choices, choices, so many choices.  So my choice was to go fishing as soon as we got back to the house.  I will get that posted in the next day or two.

********************

Speaking of fishing, I got this from Kevin.

“We fished the river on saturday ourselves, throwing Down South lures.  Almost the exact same results as y’all.  we had 7 keepers, 2 keeper flounder, zero reds though.  From what i could tell the fish were just spread out with that horrible tide we had but hey, fishin is fishin and we had a blast and just grinded it out.  Can’t wait till we get a little better tides and some colder weather, usually helps the fishing down there.  Tight Lines
–Kevin -”

I am telling you folks, the Down South plastics work.  We felt your pain with the tide, which did not help a thing Saturday.  And as far as the fish being spread out, the keepers sure were.  And I liked your description of the day as grinding it out, could not have said it any better.  Thanks for the report, we appreciate it.

It’s late and I have been going for a long time and it is time to call it a day.  Time to start thinking about the holidays.  And I will see my new grand baby in a couple of days, and drop off presents for the kids.  It sure does not seem like Christmas.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment

The Gulf Bite Continues 12/14/14.

Fish Catching Travel

The only thing I have noticed with the bite is the size of the trout are not quite as big as they have been.  But with that said, the fishing continues to be hot.  Who knows?  Maybe as we have this round of spring like weather some of the better fish are migrating from the deep holes and back into the open bay.  As I have not been in open water for a while I can not tell you whether the water temperature has risen significantly or not, but the fish are still biting.

Aaron and his buddy Ed planned on meeting at the ramp at daylight for one last day on the river.  Initially my plan was for Shoalwater but Ed has never really been saltwater fishing and has never caught a redfish.  So wanting to be sure to put some fish in the box for him we changed plans.

001

Aaron and Ed thrashing the water to a froth.

We started off throwing the Down South watermelon red with the Chartreuse tail and kept with that basically all day.  There was a little Redfish Magic and Corky thrown in, but it was definitely a Down South day.  One little word on their plastics, if we did not lose them or break them off you can catch a bunch of trout on one body.  We were in lots and lots of small trout and never had one tear up where we had to change it.  A good tip to help any plastic stay on the hook longer – If it is painted, and has a collar to hold the plastic on, just take a pair of cutters and remove the paint from the keeper.  It will not be near so slick and holds the plastic on much longer.

The keeper trout as usual were scattered here and there, again some on flatter banks and some on deeper stuff.  The tide was barely moving, there was no wind, and it was flat out beautiful.  As Ed had to be back by 2 we only fished until 1 but again caught fish all morning.

005

We caught 5 or 6 flounders but only 2 kept.

The flounder have been located on the flatter muddy banks.  Though we have not fished for them intentionally, they come here and there on the Down South.  We also put 5 or 6 redfish in the boat, but only one made the grade, and then the one Ed landed.

003

Nice first redfish Ed.  To bad she was an inch+ to long.

The tide was moving out slowly so we hit a point leading out of a small pond.  When the water is falling never pass up a point that sits at the mouth of a pond or bay.  Bait is pulling out and the fish, trout, reds, and flounder, all gang up there waiting for the bait to come by.  Aaron tossed his Down South out and knew it was a good red so he handed the rod to Ed and the fight was on.  After a good struggle we netted her and she was a little bigger than we thought, a nice 29″+.  So Ed got his red.

A little while later Aaron thought he had a big fish on, and here is the result.

006

The plastic off a 24 case of water bottles.

Just in the last few fishing trips we have removed a Blue Heron from a limb line, got mono in the prop twice, caught some plastic, and picked up 75 yards of braid with a bait on the end.  And that is just what I can think of off the top of my head.  Please folks be careful and get back anything you can.  Not only can it ruin your day, it is just plain ugly to have all this stuff in the water that will last for years.  There is only so much water so be as nice as you can to it.  Makes all our days on the water better.

The trout were mostly small, though we boxed 8.  One thing we have continued to do is when you are getting bites and having trouble hooking them we just reel it fast 5 or 6 cranks and let it fall.  It prompts them to eat.  So if you feel them nipping at it reel and let it fall, it works.

So after a morning where we boated a bunch of fish it was back to the ramp so Ed could go on call in the oilfields.  It took him a little while to get the hang of the finicky trout, but he got it soon enough and managed to boat some trout, a red, and a flounder.  Good start to his saltwater fishing experience.  Of course Aaron did his usual thing and I held up my end.  For the morning it was 8 trout, 2 flounders, and one slot red for the box.

008

The box has been getting a workout lately.

As those of you who read my stuff know I do not keep lots of fish, just a few every once in while.  For me it is fresh from the Gulf to my mouth.  But it is nice to fish with folks who do not get to keep these kinds of fish all that often, it feels good to know they will be smacking their lips at home with our great saltwater fish.  Sometimes the eating is as much fun as the catching.

*********************

Our weather has been crazy this fall.  Below freezing, and then a run of spring weather.  That can only prolong our current fishing production whether you fish the salt or fresh.  But we sorely need rain.  We are down around 12″ now, and while we have been forecast to have rain here or there it just has not materialized.  Aaron lives in Longview and Shoedog in College Station and they have had plenty.  Their ponds and lakes are either full or on the way up.  The only bad side effect if we could get a frog strangler is it would dump lots of fresh in the rivers and creeks and might push the trout back out.  But that would be just fine, we really need to break out of this drought.

**********************

I can not imagine the duck and goose hunters are not still having a good shooting season.  Area marshes are loaded with waterfowl if my observations on the water the last few weeks are anything to go by.  What effect the warm weather has on ducks I do not know.  But the affect on me is wonderful, sure is nicer to be hunting at daylight when it is 50 degrees and not 25.

************************

I saw a real interesting way to catch redfish on TV today and thought I would pass it on to you.  They were using a gold spoon on a popping cork.  Now that is pretty simple but the key was they do not use a swivel on the end of the popping cork, or the spoon.  You would think you would get a lot of line twist, and guess what?  That is the whole point.  As you pop it along it gets twist in it, and when you let it sit it starts to unwind and the spoon spins.  Cool idea.  They were catching bull reds but I think it may have some application for trout.  Use a smaller spoon and there is no reason they won’t hit it.  I hope I take the time to use it some, it could be killer, especially when they are feeding on baitfish like they are right now.

********************

How about sending me a few more reports.  I love to hear from you all and I read each and every comment I get.  Unfortunately I do not give out my email, keeps those spam a&&holes from swamping my email.  So if you have something to say just drop a comment, the link is at the bottom of each post.  I know you all have something to say and we learn from all of you.  And once I get a comment your email address is included and is how I can get back to you.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment

This and That 12/12/14.

Fish Catching Travel

Hard to believe we are already to the 12th of December.  The month is ripping by and our weather sure has settled down into the perfect zone.  Love those 70 degree days and 50 degree nights, not to cold when you hit the water first thing in the morning.

********************

I am so happy to announce that Strike King is back with a small sponsorship again this year.  Long before I ever thought about doing a blog, or even imagined I would end up in Texas, I was using their baits.  Remember the old Spence Scout, the Buzz King, or the Bill Dance Dancing Shad?  And their’s was the first frog I ever threw.  As the years have gone on they have developed the most comprehensive line of baits in the world, and they continue to refine and improve their baits.  And who can even compare with the line up of fishermen on their pro staff.  So yea, sure I will promote the heck out of them, but they have earned it.  From the Redfish Magic (My favorite lure of all time.), to the Swimming Jig, the 1.5 and 2.5 to the Rage Shrimp, I love and use them all the time.  And as you know if you read my stuff, I will not blow smoke just to promote something, if it works, it works, simple enough.  And Strike King makes baits that work.  Thanks to Terry, Aaron. and Strike King.

**********************

I have had a thing or two I wanted to share with you that have been laying around while I was gone.  Aaron, a reader from Austin, was going to be down a couple of days staying at relatives on Coleto over the holiday.  Of course that was when I was gone but he wanted to know where he might catch a trout.  Looks like he got that done.

“Doug, it looks like the trip to CR has all you can handle!  I wanted to circle back to you after my trip over Thanksgiving.  I ended up landing about 50 fish in half a day on the water.  Every bit as good as you promised!  Seemed that the larger fish were running 18-19”.  It was a cold morning (high 30’s) and the fish never seemed to move into the shallows on the shoreline but they were ready to bite out in the deeper water.  Aside from the good fishing, it’s also a really beautiful place. 

Thanks again for the tip on such a nice place that’s so suitable for kayak fishing.  I hope to give it another try during Christmas.  I also hit Coleto before dark one evening.  They were stacked up on the private lake side.  Landed 6 up to 19” in a quick hour of fishing.

Aaron”

Glad you enjoyed it, nothing like winter trout fishing.  And when Coleto is on, it is on, and it looks like you added a few bass to your trout fishing success.  Thanks for the report and let me know when you are down in this area again, maybe we can make it to the lake.

*********************

My buddy Faye and her husband Steve were down for a couple of days a few weeks ago and she sent me this report.

“Good morning,

We’re enjoying following your adventures down south.

We headed to POC on Sat, 11-22.  We fished Sunday just up from the barge dock on the island (Army Hole) and had a great day!    Thanks for the info!!  We quit counting but it was surely 50-60 undersided reds and trout.  Sunday night blew in a cold front and we decided to head back to DFW early Monday morning.

Well……. we worked Tuesday and headed back to POC on Wednesday morning.  (yes, we’re a little nutty)  We headed to the back side of Matagorda Island on Thanksgiving morning about 9:30 am.  It was a beautiful morning but tide and the bite were slow.  We hit several spots and would catch one here and there.  At about 2 we pulled up on a drain area off Saluria where a boat house sits and the tide was finally moving.  It drains off a mud flat into Saluria.  Well, we caught 40-50 keeper sized sheepshead.  LOL, Steve just finally quit and spent his time taking my fish off.  We don’t keep them because it seems a shame to kill such a unique fish for so little meat and they are hard to clean.

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner of pan fried steak, coleslaw, baked potato, Marie Calendar’s Peach cobbler and Blue Bell ice cream.  It tasted almost as good as our Thanksgiving striper dinner on Beaver Lake about 10 years ago.

 Friday we headed out about 9am and got almost to the island again when I looked around realizing that something didn’t look right.  We had left all our poles in the storage locker at the room.  At least it was a smooth boat ride.  The tide was about nonexistent, no wind and the fish weren’t happy.  We fished all day and many many locations.  One small here and there.  At about 1:45, we headed in to Big Bayou to the last grassy area on the left.  We anchored back from the point in the eddy area.  The tide was now moving and we tore the slot sized reds up!!  We had to let the smaller trout eat a lot of our shrimp to get them but they were feeding on that drain from the open flats area.  We caught 3 keeper sized trout and 5 slot reds, 24-1/2″ to 27-3/4″ ( we actually thought we had limited out on reds but realized when we were taking them out of the cooler that we are big dummies who can’t count LOL ).  Sorry but it’s a dead fish photo.  We try to keep our phones put away any chance we can.  We had to quit about 5pm so we could get the boat cleaned & stored, fish cleaned & packaged and pack up our room.  We headed home Saturday morning at about 6am and missed all the traffic.  It was one of our most fun trips of all time!!!

faye1

That is one nice trout.

We were using 1/6″ oz jig heads with live shrimp.  We would pitch it out and let the tide carry it.  We would lightly lift up as well as extremely slow reel it back.

faye2

Going for a car ride to be the guest of honor at a fish fry in DFW.

Thank you for taking the time with your blog. We have learned a lot and it’s fun to put it in to practice!

Steve and Faye”

First let me say something about perseverance, drive home to DFW, work a day, and then drive back.  That is a serious case of the “want to.”  And it goes right to the heart of the matter, time on the water.  The old saying the more I fish the luckier I get is so true.  Way to pull it out and catch a nice sack.  And way to use the tide to your advantage.  The tide, and what it means, is probably the thing I struggle with the most.   It just takes time and experience, and looks like you are getting it down.

And funny thing you mentioned Beaver Lake.  That was my closest lake while I was practicing law in Fayetteville.   An ok bass lake, it is one of the great lakes for white and striped bass, and the next report is from the Shoedog on Norfork Lake, one of the lakes that are part of the White River chain along with Beaver.   So thanks for the report.  You guys have had a couple of pretty successful trips lately and I appreciate you sharing them with us.

*********************

The Shoedog made a trip to Arkansas to fish with our old buddy Clyde and they managed to get the job done on day 2.  Probably the one thing I miss most about fishing those highland lakes in the winter is the deep jigging in the fall and early winter.  When you find them they are stacked up.

“I was planning on heading home from a trip to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving, but the weather was nice so I headed back east from Fayetteville to Mountain Home Arkansas where I spent many days fishing with redfishlaw in the 1970′s to 1990′s.  

The plan was to follow up what Clyde and I had done the previous weekend and try to catch some more bass and walleye on jerk baits and spinner baits. We started out night fishing in the Cranfield arm on Friday night and caught only 3 fish- one on a jerk bait, one on a jig/pig and one on a single spin- and what did you catch, Clyde?  

Saturday morning we headed back up to the Red Bank area where we had caught some walleye, bass and crappie the weekend before. It was tough- we fished from 7:30 until 2pm and only caught a few samll bass and maybe one walleye. We couldn’t find them at all- not near as many fish on the locator.  

So- Sunday morn we thought we would try a different spot- go to Buzzards Roost- a place dear to my heart. it was here in 1976(?) that I caught my first big bass- one 6 pounder on a cold, cold February day. I was fishing with a friend of redfishlaw’s- Dick Lane- a good feller- and we were fishing green grubs on the chunk rock bank just out on the left from the boat dock at Buzzards Roost. There was ice in our guides and I couldn’t feel my hands! I caught the big bass and on the next pass on the same bank I had another on but I lost it cause I could hardly reel it was so darn cold!  

Anyway- we thought we would try to find some bass and maybe try to jig/spoon up some white bass, stripers or hybrids. We had tried some jigging in the Cranfield area the weekend before and never had any luck, but people were jigging there and in the Hwy. 101 bridge area as well, so we thought it was worth a try.  

So- before we had even gotten past the docks, Clyde is throwing a swim bait and catches a nice striper!  Maybe we should have stayed right there, but-we started out bass fishing and had NO luck for several hours- finally caught one or two after 11am  and kept at it until almost 1pm. Then we said- let’s do something different- so we went out into 40-40 feet and started marking fish- a lot at 35 feet and big schools of bait.  

c1

Nothing like a striper to start off a good bite.

c4

A nice hybrid.  Look at the striper above and this wiper (Striper/White Bass cross) as many call them.  Can you tell the difference?

After a minute we got into an area of consistent 48-52 feet of water and Clyde caught a nice bass- and it was on! For the next hour and a half or so we caught fish- and I mean we caught fish! At least four doubles and a lot of good, solid fish. Mostly black bass, but several whites and a nice Hybrid, too.  The bass were FAT! They were having a shad fest- fattening up for the coming winter in cold water.  

c2

Clyde with a nice Kentucky, or as we call them, a Spot.

c3

The Shoedog gets in on the act.

We had a great time. It was a blast- I hadn’t seen old Clyde so excited in years!  Good fishing with the best of old friends- what a way to spend the last of a holiday weekend. I have been lucky to fish the Twin Lakes of Arkansas and the White River area 3 times in less than a year and I couldn’t be more appreciative to Clyde and his lovely wife Maria and their family- especially that Saints fan Jarvis- WHO DAT?- ( The Bears are out to get you this week!).  

c5

Headed for a fish fry at the Burchard house.  Those folks can eat a lot of fish!

I am busy with construction here at home while redfishlaw is fishing and has been to Costa Rica- hope to get back out there soon! Good fishing to all!”

Nice report and good job of pulling it out.  All I can say is I can not wait to get back there and fish this spring.  Love those Bull Shoals smallmouth and maybe we can add a couple of stripers night fishing.  So thanks for letting us know how your trip went.  And it just seems weird now to think of you catching fish 20 foot deeper than Coleto’s deepest point.  Time to start thinking about our Baffin trip coming soon.

********************

I had one other report that I was sworn to secrecy about where, and as I have told you all in the past, if you want me to keep your secret I will.  I just enjoy the reports and we can all take something from each one.  These guys were fishing a small river I was not familiar with, and they absolutely killed them.  Trout, reds, and flounder were all in the same place, deeper water.  That pattern may hold for a while so get it while the getting is good.  This pattern has been consistent all over the coast this fall, and it is as good as it has been for several years.

********************

I also heard from Jim regarding my vacation stories.

Thanks soooooo much for sharing your trip information.”

Thanks Jim for continuing to read my stuff.  I pondered whether to put up pictures not associated with the fishing but in this case the trip was just to interesting.  I figured you all would like the wildlife and rain forest.  So thanks for bearing with me.

*********************

That almost catches me up.  Saturday morning it will be trout fishing with Aaron and his buddy Ed.   Hopefully the fishing will remain as good as it has and we can show his buddy Ed what a redfish is all about.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment

Quepos Costa Rica 11/14.

Fish Catching Travel

Quepos Fishing Adventures

Quepos Costa Rica

073

World Class Fishing at it’s finest!

There are few places on this earth with as good a fishing as Quepos, Costa Rica.  And headquartered there is one of the best bangs for your buck in offshore fishing.  How good?  As folks say – Google it.  The cost of offshore fishing has sky rocketed the last few years, with prices rising to well over $3500 a day in some places.  Well guess what?  I found a gem, a place where for the same money you can buy your airline ticket, pay for your motel, and fish for 3 days.  It almost sounded to good to be true, but it wasn’t.

005

The Stress Reliever – Quepos Fishing Adventures

A true hardcore fishing machine – and the crew to go with it.

Quepos Fishing Adventures is owned by John, an expat living in Quepos, born of all places in Victoria, Texas.  He now has a 3 boat fleet offering assorted packages with both inshore and offshore options.  Sailfish, Marlin, huge Mahi Mahi, Roosterfish, and tons of reef fish are all available.  But it is the sailfish that brings most of the fisherman to Quepos.  They are world class and the potential to break 120lbs is out there at any second.

093

If this does not make your heart thump you are not a fisherman!

My wife and I were fortunate to fish 2 days offshore with Capt. John and his first mate Alex.  Alex will forever be known as Alex Reel Reel, because that is what you will hear from him all day, reel – reel!  And reel reel I did.  On the second day it was 10 Mahi Mahi without a break.  You want to catch fish, this is the place and these are the guys.  If you want air conditioning, a salon, and to be pampered (They feed you and put you on fish, which is the real pamering.), this is not the boat for you.  If you want to catch fish – This is the crew!

013

After 10 of these in a row you will sure have had your monies worth.

I can not say enough about Capt. John of the Stress  Reliever.  An American expat his story is one that is dear to my heart.  Knowing it was time for a change in his life he left Colorado towing an 16′ Lund aluminum boat and over 6 months fished from Mexico to Quepos.  Now that is my kind of guy!  He has been a full time captain now for 11 years, and is one of the top producers of big sailfish on the Pacific Coast.  His instructions, nobody get hurt and lets have a fun day.  He definitely produced in a big way.

Alex “Reel Reel” is a native Costa Rican who started working the long line boats at 16 and has spent his last 11 years on the water.  His ability to handle multiple rods, multiple fish, and multiple fishermen, is amazing.  A day spent with these guys is one of the great fishing days any fisherman could have.  Capable, competent, and they really care about making your fishing day a memory that will live forever.  And you will learn a lot no matter how experienced you are.

007

Alex rigs fresh ballyhoo.  No fear of a fresh bait shortage.

The fishing itself is basically high speed trolling with a basic bait and switch technique.  On our trip 3 teasers were employed with 4 flat lines trolling chin rigged ballyhoo.  While the sails and Mahi did hit the flatlines, often it was  sails in the spread and you could see them tracking the teaser.  The captain would jerk the teaser away, Alex would take the closest flatline, reel to the fish, and then drop the bait, and with any luck, which was often, the fish would eat.

097

A beautiful thing!

It is an awesome sight to see a wolfpack of sailfish in the spread, slashing teasers, as the Captain and Mate did their thing so professionally.  We were lucky enough to experience a couple of doubles to go along with a quad on Mahi that continued until we had hooked an easy dozen.  It was a real pleasure to see a professional crew do their thing.  I can not imagine any better crew on the coast.

When To Go

One of the great things about Quepos is if the question is when should I go – the answer is easy, anytime!  Of course some times are somewhat better for different fish, but sailfish and marlin are available year round.    As an example Capt. John said they averaged 15 sailfish a day in January 2013.  He did mention some specific times that are better than others.

Dorado and Marlin- November and December,  Sailfish – January and February.

As to how far out you have to fish he catches them as close as 6 miles off, and as far off as 40 miles.  Now 40 may seem like a long way off, but the boat is fast and the sea is usually calm.  In fact, Capt. John has only had to return to port one time due to sea conditions.  It is one of the few places you can schedule your trip far in advance with little fear that weather will ruin your trip.  Keep in mind to expect rain, so bring your rainsuit, but it is always warm so it is no big deal.

Getting There

There are direct flights from many major US airports, it is only 4 hours from Houston.  You will land in San Jose and from there you can take a shuttle to Quepos.  If you schedule it right you can fly in in the morning and be at your motel in time for supper and fishing the next morning.  Same on the return, a morning shuttle ride then an afternoon flight.  Often you can arrange the in country travel through the hotel, or than can steer you to the provider.  Good planning can have you in one day, fishing 3, and home the next day.  The cost of this trip makes it a real value for the bucks.

There are several motels recommended on their site, or you can stay about 15 minutes away in the town of Manuel Antonio, which has a little more upscale accomadations.  We stayed at the Falls Resort and it was only a little more than $100 a night.  With breakfast provided, and lunch on the boat, you are only left buying supper, keeping the cost of the trip down.  The Falls has a good restaurant and there are plenty others within reasonable walking distance.  And taxis are cheap and you can take it to the marina and the hotels are happy to arrange it all for you.

This trip is well within the price of many of us, and if you split it with another person or two the cost of fishing goes down dramatically.  And with the sheer numbers of fish you will have plenty of shots on a three day trip.  My wife and I fished 2 days offshore and boated 9 sailfish and 11 mahi mahi, a successful trip by any standard.

So take a look at their site and start dreaming now.  It really can be a fishing dream come true.

114 (300x200)

http://queposfishadventure.com/

Good Luck and Tight Lines 

 

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment

Coleto Creek 12/11/14.

Fish Catching Travel

After a good day on the river it was time to check on Coleto.  We are coming to my favorite time of year on Coleto, topwater.  The last couple of years the topwater bite has started in December and stayed pretty consistent through April.  So with a good cloud cover and little wind I was excited to hit the lake.

The first thing I noticed when I got there is how far down the lake is.  If it continues like this it could get tough at the ramp.  The water is now down past the end of the loading docks so it is really down.  The first place I stopped was the small island where I had been catching a few last month before I went on vacation.  I tossed a Strike King Swimming Jig in Sexy Shad with a Caffine Shad paddle tail.  The reason for throwing that particular bait is the fish are definitely on a shad bite, you can see them popping here and there.

016

The Strike King Swimming Jig and the Bagley Balsa Minnow.  My current go to baits.

I missed one in the grass and that was it for that place.  On the way up the lake to a deep bank there was a bank with a little wind on it so I stopped and threw a spinnerbait, again without success.  So next it was a long deep channel bank with no wind on it so it was time for the topwater.

002

Fish number 4.

As soon as I started throwing the topwater they started hitting it and rolling on it.  After putting 3 in the boat I caught the one above, a nice Coleto fatty.  The next cast I caught this guy.  Not a big one, but a good representation of the average for the day.

014

Just a keeper.  I love the way they smoke that thing.

I am sure that many different topwater minnows will work, but I have been hooked on the Bagley Bang O Lure for almost 30 years.  Being balsa it is real light and buoyant, allowing you to give it the action the fish like.  For some reason the bass on Coleto like it moving faster than lots of places.  To work it properly throw it out and start lightly jerking it the minute it hits the water.  That old wives tail about letting it sit till all the rings go away is just that, an old wives tail.

Then you need to jerk, then reel the slack out, at a steady pace making the bait darts under the water about 3 inches and pops along with light jerks.  The foil on the balsa bait shimmers and flashes and looks so realistic.  And one word of caution, do not give up on it.  It can be real easy to start fishing to fast and then not working it close to the boat.  Do not do that.  Most of the good fish come streaking up out of nowhere and smoke it, usually off the bank.  If you have clear water they can see and hear it from a long way, so do not give up on it.  And Polaroids are mandatory.  You will often see them rolling on it but not getting it, so keep it coming.

After boating around 6 on top I stopped at a main lake bank close to the park to throw the Swim Jig on some deeper grass.  As the lake has fallen the grass has died, leaving less than I have seen in the last 4 years I have been fishing there.  But if you can find good green grass in the 4 – 8 foot range most of it is holding fish.

005

A nice fish on the Swim Jig.

They still want the Swim Jig tipping the top of the sunken grass.  When you are doing it just right you can feel the jig hitting the grass and once it does just increase the speed or give it a jerk, that is usually when they hit it.

006

Fish Number 2 on the Swim Jig.

Though I threw the Swim Jig in a couple of other places they were not wanting it like the topwater so it was time to finish out the morning with it.  Today it was points, though not all of them had fish on them.  So I just kept the trolling motor down and covered some territory just twitching that minnow along.  It was miss a couple then catch one, real random but definitely most came on points.

010

A nice Coleto Creek chunk.

The bite today was not fast by any means, but it was enough to keep it interesting.  Before it was over I boated 16, about half keepers, and a couple about the size of the bait.  I never made it way up lake and ended up fishing the lower end.  Other than points no place was any better than any other, it was a keep the bait in the water kinda day.  But I do love to see those fish charging up out of deeper water and just annihilating that topwater.  As long it doesn’t get to cold that style of fishing should continue on Coleto for the foreseeable future.  But if you are a deep water fisherman it should be really good right now.  With the falling water deep fishermen could really score if they find them, for me I just love watching them hit that topwater and will continue throwing it until they tell me to quit.

Coleto has also had some crappie caught lately, and not that deep.  So if that is your thing just fish the outside and isolated timber, just hop from one to another until you find some.  10 – 15 foot has been the range and they are really nice fish.  One other note on Coleto, it is time to drift for the big blue cats.  I have only done it twice but caught fish both times hanging cut bait right off the bottom in 20 – 30 foot of water.  The best bait is cut Tilapia which you should be able to cast net at the outflow in the Coleto arm.  There is your Coleto primer for the day.

I have no plan for tomorrow, but one more day on the water is in order.  Maybe it will be the bay to check on some redfish.  And with the trout ganging up in deeper water there are a couple of places I would like to drift.  Expect a cool announcement in the next couple of days, have to leave it at that for now.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment

Back to the River 12/10/14.

Fish Catching Travel

While there is always a little post vacation depression, nothing like hitting the river for a little fishing.  My friend Aaron was able to go today so we met about 7:30 and hit the road.  We got to the ramp, dropped it in the water, and were fishing by 8:30.  It turned out to be good fishing for numbers but the 20″+ escaped us today.  So here you go Rick, how about a little trout action.

I have only been back 2 days but have heard several reports from different areas, but one thing that is consistent is deep water.  We started on a little deeper bank and were just catching one here and there so we moved to a little shallower bank and boy were they there.  I am still throwing the Down South watermelon red with a Chartreuse tail, and boy do they like it.  It is hard to believe how long one lasts.  And other than a couple of snags and break offs, none got torn up by the fish.  Please, pick up a bag and try them, they work.

002

Here is the days take home.

There were a couple of interesting things today, and one was it can really help when there are 2 guys fishing, one might figure something out a little different.  Aaron started fishing that Down South faster and when we were really in to them it was let it hit bottom, then reel real fast about 5 times and let it fall.  You could feel them tugging at it and when you dropped it they would eat.  But keep in mind that was when we were in the little ones.  It seemed like when you were in the little ones not many of them were even close, and most of the keepers we caught were here and there not around any great concentration.  Everyday is a new day.

We also threw the Corky type bait, and though we caught 4 or 5 on it the plastic was clearly the bait of choice.  In fact we caught so many Aaron finally broke one off because he had not retired and he said I knew I should have retied, then I promptly did the same thing.  When you are catching the snot out of them take a second and retie, the next one you break off might be a hoss.  I also threw the popping cork a little later in the morning, but other than a couple of bites they were not interested in it at all today.

I think we caught 3 or 4 flounder and only one was a keeper, but we both lost a good fish during the day that felt like a flounder.  We also boated a couple of reds, but only one made the grade.  It was clearly a plastics day, and though we hit a couple of slow places, we caught then all the way until we, and they, seemed to quit.

It was 1:00 when we called it a day.  We would have easily limited if we had fished out the day.  But Aaron had some work to do, what’s up with that, the having to work thing?  I guess I forgot what that is all about, lucky me.  So when it was all said and done we boxed 6 trout, 1 red, and 1 flounder.  And we had to wade through about 50 to get that.  But if the only complaint is having to catch fish all day to get some to eat, you won’t hear me complaining.

I haven’t made up my mind yet as to what is on the plate tomorrow, but it will definitely be somewhere involving water.  It is good to be home.  There are a couple of other things I want to get posted and will add them to tomorrows report.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment

Home 12/8/14.

Fish Catching Travel

Earthquake, Dead People, Road Rage, and Hookers.

We are finally home after quite the adventure.  As this was our first real travel in Central America it was nothing short of a crazy experience.  Our only other experience in that part of the world was an island off Belize, so this was an eye opening experience.  I have some more pictures to post but first I want to cover our last day.

We were up at 6 to catch our first boat from Red Frog Resort on Bustamante Island to Bocas Del Torro Archipelago, which is another island.  The sea was calm and not raining so the ride was good, and boat number  2 was on time for the half hour ride to Almirante Panama on the mainland.  From there is was a 1 hour van ride to the border crossing from Panama to Costa Rica.  Then it was immigration and the cool walk across the bridge to Costa Rica.  From there Costa Rica immigration and another hour van ride back to Banana Azul in Puerto Viejo to pick up our other bags.

We had a 2 hour layover and while we were eating lunch all of a sudden everything got woozy and it took everyone a minute to realize that there was an earthquake.  It was only the second one I have ever felt and you could see the water in the pool flowing back and forth.  Quite an experience to add to the trip.

The van to take us back to San Jose for the plane the next day got there at 2 and off we went on what was supposed to be a 4 – 5 hour ride.  We headed out on the main road from the Caribbean side up the mountains to San Jose.  It is a mess with tons of trucks from the Port of Limon to San Jose.  As there is no railroad across the country it is all done with trucks on that one road. I can not over emphasis how absolutely crazy folks drive there.  Double yellow and blind corner means pass at least 5 cars.  Traffic backed up?  Pass on right or left, it is almost impossible to describe.

So when we got to within 60 km of San Jose traffic was backed up on the road for miles, it is only 2 lanes snaking through the mountain rain forest.  Our driver hopped out and the guy riding in the front seat translated, “Accident with dead people.”  Now as we all know that can back up traffic everywhere, but Costa Rica is another deal.  If there is an accident no one moves anything, moving after an accident means you are guilty.  And to top it off they wait for the police, ambulance, and get this, the insurance companies of all involved.  Are you kidding me!  Nothing like your local agent to help clear matters up.

So here we are only an hour from San Jose and we have to turn around and go back to take another route.  Unfortunately the only real route meant another 3 or 4 hours to get there.  Now that would have been great if it was daylight.  For those of you local, think about coming down the hill at Schulenburg, then multiply by 500.  We took a road through the mountains that was beyond winding, it was curve, after curve, after curve.  Being Saturday night people were walking along it everywhere, riding bikes, it was crazy.  Our driver was flat out awesome as we roared through the mountains.  It would have been a beautiful drive in the day time.  Costa Rica is a so pretty.

We came into the city the back way and went through several towns where of course the traffic was terrible, but in Costa Rica it is what it is.  Then we saw a car cut another one off and bump it, and the other driver rammed into the side of the other car.  Then he cut across multiple lanes of traffic and the medium and pulled a u turn on a 6 lane road, with his lights off.  We then learned our driver was a former cop as he called it in.  More on the cop thing later.

So finally after 13 hours we get to our hotel.  What a trip, as this whole thing has been.  We check in and head to the sports bar at the hotel, time for supper and a cold one.  One thing we noticed in our room along with the drinks and chips was there was room service condoms, which seemed strange, but we also saw that in Greece.  Then it dawned on us, prostitution is legal.  Coming in to the hotel it was a Saturday night and there was few ladies of the evening here and there.

At our hotel there were several American men staying there and guess what, they had a friend with them.  It was just different.  No one at the hotel thought a thing about it, there are lots of travelers to Costa Rica who come for that.  The sports bar attached to the hotel had a poker game going and occasionally someone would meet his date.  Just one of the quirky things about Costa Rica.  The next day it was to the airport and then home.  Of course when we went to get the car the battery was dead but it was quickly remedied and here we are.

A Few Random Thoughts on Costa Rica and Travel

Do not drive in Costa Rica, period.  People are nuts and it is just as cheap to take taxis and there is transport available everywhere for a reasonable price, definitely as cheap as a car and less life threatening.  Getting rid of the car the last week was the best decision we ever made.  If we had been driving the last day and encountered that accident we would have been sitting in line for hours without a clue what to do.  Lucky.

Costa Rica is not the safest place we have ever been, it may have been the worst though we had no problems.  But it was don’t walk at night, don’t leave anything in the car, don’t carry to much money, those kinds of warnings were everywhere.

San Jose at night would clearly not have been safe.  And if you ever think of going to Costs Rica and anyone tells you to go anywhere near Limon they are nuts.  Probably one of the worst cities ever, and Nancy has been to Nairobi and it compared to that.  Our driver was an ex cop from San Jose who quit to drive the transport because it was to dangerous – to be a cop!

Panama is a different vibe all together.  We will absolutely go back and enjoyed everything about our experience there.  It has everything Costa Rica has.

They tell you to leave your passport in your room and carry a copy, not a good idea.  We encountered several check points where that would not have worked.  And if you need money at a bank a copy does not cut it.

In both countries, unless you are in town with a bank, do not plan on always getting money out of an ATM.  Get cash, and then get some more.  It was nice in Panama as they use bucks and it simplified things.

Basic Spanish is almost necessary in Costa Rica.  Try dealing with a locksmith in a small town as it gets dark in not the safest place, that was interesting.

In spite of all those things above, the scenery, the people, the whole experience far out weighed the bad.  The wildlife, the fishing, the places we stayed, and the fellow travelers made it all worth while.

Do not let any of the above deter you from going fishing in Costa Rica, it is world class.  We were in lots of other places that had nothing to do with fishing.  I would, and hope to, go back fishing.  It is simple, a transport to the coast and hotel.  Taxi to the marina, plenty of restaurants in safe walking distance.  It is not as dangerous as it might seem, it just takes some common sense.

A Few Final Pictures

009

Ryan the bartender at Palmar in Panama

This is Ryan an expat from Oregon eating the rest of Nancy’s supper off her plate.  These guys were great.  A tent camp on the beach, it is owned by a couple of young Americans.  If you want it cool with some hilarious guys at a great place this is it!  http://www.palmartentlodge.com/

002

Red Frog Beach Panama.

011

The sloth I showed you the other day, he finally moved 2 days later.

024

Our resident friend on the deck of the villa.

001

Coming in to Bocas Del Toro.

004

Better than the water.

006

007

008

011

012

014Bocas Del Toro Town Panama.  We hope to make it back some day, cool place.

015

Taxi anyone?

021Almost running out of gas, don’t worry, no problem.

023025026The islands were a true water world and I loved it.

028

Nancy headed back across the bridge from Panama to Costa Rica.  Time to go home.

031

032

If you are a bird lover Costa Rica should be on your list.

001

004

005

007

The last picture of  the trip.  Sloths are just plain weird!

So there you have it.  One of the more interesting trips I have ever taken.  The fishing with Quepos Fishing Adventures was more than I could ever have imagined.  The river rafting was a hoot.  Walking across the bridge between countries in the rain forest was one of the highlights of any of our travels.  There really is not more to say than I already have, what a trip.  I have some video that I will add to future posts as soon as I get them edited.

Now it is back to real life.  The weather looks good and it will be back to the fishing.  I can’t wait to get back to the Gulf and see if the fishing has remained as good as it was when I left.  There are also a few reports and comments that I got while gone and I will get those up in the next couple of days.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment

Van Halen said it best…….12/4/14.

Fish Catching Travel

There hasn’t been any fishing but there sure has been some traveling.  As the Van Halen song said – Panama – aa-aa-Panama.  When we left Banana Azul to come to Panama things got weird, this trip is just getting crazier and crazier.  Puerto Veijo in Costa Rica was a gritty little coastal town full of expats, rasta dudes, backpackers, Costa Ricans, and a host of other interesting and marginal characters.  What we experienced next was a major culture shock.

We were picked up by the van and driven to the border crossing between Costa Rica and Panama.  Our destination was the famous Red Frog Beach and Red Frog Beach Resort.  But first the van stopped in the gritty little border town in the middle of the jungle where first we paid the lady $8 to leave Costa Rica – 7 for the state and 1 for her.  Then it was to immigration to get our passports stamped, and then the most unusual crossing ever – a bridge.  The 2 countries are separated by a bridge over a river on the coast – that can not take cars or trucks, so you walk and try not to trip and fall in!  Of course my travel monster wife had a guide meet us to take us through all that or we might still be there, crazy stuff!

008

Say goodbye to Costa Rica.

007

Heading on to the bridge.

009

Me and our guide truckin’ on into Panama.

010

This is the good part of the bridge!

I do want you to keep in mind it is raining, funny how that happens in the rain forest.  So we truck across the bridge, pay to get into Panama, prove we are leaving later, and get through immigration.  You want adventure, this border crossing was it.  Thank God for the guide.  We then hop on our van and head about an hour to a port city to take a ferry to Boca Del Toro, the island where we will get on another boat to Red Frog.  On the way we pass another immigration check point with mean looking soldiers but all is well

We are dropped off at BMT the company that ferries us to Boca.  So on a 24 foot panga with a Yamaha 200hp, with another 20 people, we tear ass across open ocean with 7 foot rollers in a down pour.  I was lucky enough to sit next to what I think was a hooker with a couple of nice fans.

001

The good ship Lollypop – Not!

002

Docking on the island of Boca Del Toro.

We arrive on the island where we head to the office of Red Frog to get our next boat to the island.  We drop off our stuff and head to the store to pick up a few things as there is no store on the island.  When we get back to the office the boat is just arriving.  On the boat is the manager of the resort.  Now this is no downstream resort, it does have a hostel, a lodge, and lots of huge villas.  Nancy has booked us into the lodge, which costs a little less than staying in a downtown hotel in Austin.  Here is where it gets weider than the day has already been, and getting here has been a real adventure.

He says welcome to the resort, I have to go get some folks at the airport but the boat will take you over to your villa.  Villa?  He says yea, a little construction so it might be busy so we upgraded you to a villa.  Huh?  So we hop on another panga with a captain wearing a garbage bag for a raincoat and we are again off tearing across the ocean in big swells to Red Frog.  We check in, the villa guy loads our stuff, gives us our golf cart for getting around the property, and off to the villa we go.  Holy f’n mackerel!  And here it is  – a $1000 a night in season, 3 bedroom villa, on the top of a mountain in the middle of a rain forest, overlooking the Caribbean, surrounded by monkeys, sloths, parrots, and God knows what else.

041

Front.

039 (800x533)

Side.

038 (800x533)

Living Room.

037 (800x533)

The deck on the mountain side.

036 (800x533)

The pool.

034 (800x533)

What a view.

032 (800x533)

Me acting like a rich guy.

031 (800x533)

The golf cart.  The only way to get around Red Frog.

030 (800x533)

The kitchen …….ok you get the point.

So here we are at Red Frog.  The resort covers thousands of acres on the island and buts up with a forest preserve.  It is truly a rain forest.  It has been raining the last couple of days, but it comes with the territory.  We took a hike today in the forest and I have not seen a monkey yet.  But we did come across a sloth today, what a weird animal.

019

Just hanging around.  You could hang around for a better picture, but who knows when they will move.

004 (800x533)

Not sure what these are but they have a cool yellow tail and an awesome call.

008 (800x533)

Waterfalls everywhere.

013 (800x533)

Some of the most beautiful plants in the world.

017 (800x533)

Red leaves and popcorn with a blueberry in the middle.

014 (800x533)

So many flowers.

011 (800x533)

One of the many famous Red Frog beaches,

023 (533x800)

The hummingbirds like these things.

025 (533x800)

These things are cool.

026 (800x533)

Trekking through the rainforest.

Last night it was lobster caught off the reef that prices Red Lobster couldn’t touch.  And eating it at the beach bar as the waves come in from the Caribbean makes it all that much better.  Tomorrow is our last full day here, and then it is home.  I thought I might fish but there is just to much to do, I have already had a great couple of days fishing so it is time to take advantage of the forest and the villa.  I can not tell you how awesome it is to sit on the porch overlooking the ocean in the middle of the forest.  What an experience.  We have had the usual good time, and with all foreign travel in the less developed countries a few hassles, but this upgrade to the villa has topped off a great experience.

In 2 days it will be 2 boat rides and 3 van rides, plus another border crossing, to get back to San Jose Costa Rica and the hotel for our last night here.  When you take this kind of trip it can be work.  But to get to the great places off the beaten path that is the price you pay.  And this is off the beaten path.   As usual my lovely wife has done a fabulous job planning this trip, the possible pitfalls are many, but she has done a superb job.  So keep stopping in and hopefully there will be another adventure right around the corner.  Thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

Posted in Fish Catching Travel | Leave a comment