A Reader Trip 5/6/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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(Sorry for no reports this week, the Boss and I have been in New Mexico for a few days.  We love that place and as usual had a great trip.  I even fished a minute.  I am getting at that report next, but I wanted to share a report from Jay, one of my long time readers.  I hope you enjoy it, I did.  We all love hearing a great fishing story.)

Doug,

My old Army Brother Ted called me a couple months ago about a fishing trip on Calcasieu (Big Lake as the cajuns call it) a few months ago. We were both at White Sands Missile Range (our 1st duty assignment) as Privates back in the early ’90s where we did a lot of CRAZY stuff together. WAY over trained at that stage of our careers! We kind of met up at a lot of the same places here and there over the years; Germany, Korea, Iraq, Ft. Bliss just to name a few.

His plan was a guide trip with Jeremy Waltrip from Waltrips Saltwater Guide Service and some general hanging out together as we had already covered all the debauchery over the last 25+ years!

Pre-trip I decided to take my old Lund but had to do some work, My throttle remote bound up, disassembly revealed a broken wave/spring washer which resulted in a 3-4 county drive locating one in a boat junkyard. Wheel bearing R&R which revealed one a little more noisy than I would have liked, but cleaned, repacked and as they say “patted on the butt” & hoping for on down the road. I forget to caliper the spindle for a spare hub, so held my breath for 1200 mile round trip. Got lucky……

I arrived on a Saturday to DeRidder, Louisiana. Wanted cajun groceries so we headed out for that, Catfish Oppolousas for me, can’t remember what him and his missus had as I was too busy shoveling what is one of my favorite dishes the world over. They later attended a comedy show, I relaxed.

Sunday is his range day. It’d been 5+ years since I’ve spent any quality range time, VERY BAD IDEA. He had entertainment, my skills were UGLY! A perishable skill and I knew that. Since return here to the farm there’s a new firing lane built and in use. THAT will NOT happen again!

We were lazy Monday or rather ran around to gun shops as he wanted one I have. Had to order.

Looks like you all had a couple of bites!

Tuesday was a oh dark thirty wakeup as we Army call it. Drive to Calcasieu for a day of fishing. It was tough. We tried a reef, even though Big lake is only about 7-9′ deep. Ended up chasing birds most of the day for trout, 38 keepers in the boat. Way too many hardhead catfish. I landed a 6lb red. And broke off one over 40″. Got it to the boat 3 times and on the last run I got impatient, palmed the spool and yuup, you guessed it, broke off. I just sat down.  Wind ended up blowing 25-30. We were fishing 1/8th oz jig heads with mirrorlure little johns in copper w/chartreuse tail and watermelon. Jeremy Waltrip is an exceptional guide, we were moving every 15-20 minutes to different spots when no bites. He was a huge pleasure to fish with and has been fishing Big Lake since his youth. I highly recommend Waltrips Saltwater Guide Service if anyone is headed that way. He books thru FB. But said he doesn’t guide July 3&4, Memorial or Labor day as it’s just too crazy.

A great red!

We went to catfish Lake Vernon on Wednesday. I had done research, loaded Navionics. Everything I read said underfished, boat lanes horribly marked and full of stumps. We spent most of the time breaking off of snags. My 998csi hd showed a veritable forest in all depths. After sliding the boat off several tree trunks they call stumps in the boat lane at 20-30 FOW we gave it up. Water temp at 76* told me catfish were more than likely in the spawn. Plan was to fish Toledo Bend Thursday. An early rise revealed Ted had been up all night scratching his hide off as office boy was beyond lobstered. So we hung out and caught up on years past as what had happened over the years to most of our 21 man team from a quarter century before. I have to say I’m extremely blessed as most are still working the grind while I’m retired doing as I like fishing, cattling, gardening, throwing hay bales  and able to travel at my own pace.

Were planning a Lake Ponchartrain trip in a few months. Looking forward to that.

So, back to the farm, grass needs cut, shooting lane built and operational, going easy on the catfishing as water temp is in mid 70s which 72-80* is prime for spawn.

Appreciate your interest in others trips and reports! And always enjoy reading your stuff!!

A few pictures enclosed.

Always enjoy your blog!

Jay

If you go to Lake Vernon Louisiana that boat lane on Navionics is non existent! Supposed to be phenomenal bass fishing too!! Better idle around though!

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I really appreciate you taking the time to send me your great trip!  And I love that you fished multi-species, my favorite.  But the best – to get to spend time with a buddy, what could be better than that.  So I love reading it and seeing your pictures, and you are welcome to comment any time.  Fishing is fishing, successful or not, but spending time with a good buddy like this as they say in the commercials, priceless!  And who doesn’t ,ike to take a little time and blow some stuff up at the range.  And you may not hear it often enough, thanks to you and your buddy for your service and keeping us safe!  Always good to hear from you.

Now I am going to sit down and finish the report on my trip to New Mexico.  It should be up soon.  I can not thank all of you enough for sticking with me.  We hit 6 years soon, and for the half a million of you who have visited, I am humbled.  And I so love it when folks like Jay take a minute out of their life to send us a report.  The rest of you – comment anytime, we love it.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek Monday 5/1/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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This is what time you are supposed to be there.

As I had a short day, have to get ready for a couple of days of Rainbow Trout fishing on Wednesday and Thursday, Coleto Monday was the obvious choice.  So I got up real early and was on the water as it was just cracking daylight.  First up it was a main lake cove close to the ramp and not a bite.

The next pocket was full of them.  They were eating the buzzbait reeled at a moderate speed and I had lots of bites.  No big ones, but they were mostly nice keepers.

                                      2 of the 4 on buzzbait out of the second cove.

I caught 4 and missed several, so I made another pass with the Bang O Lure and caught one and missed one, and then 1 more on a white swim jig.  One thing is becoming clear, they are still in the covers early, and fish the deeper side.  If it has grass, wood, or stick ups and it is on the deeper side, there are usually a couple there anyway.  And I have noticed that the best coves not only have cover but the tilapia spawned in them big time, may be a baby tilapia buffet.  So after that cove I hit a couple of more places without a bite on the buzzbait when I remembered a deeper bank with lots of cover in a cove near the plant so I headed there.

She thumped a pitched beaver plastic.  If I caught her a couple of months ago she would have been a freak.

I caught a nice one there the other day pitching the watermelon red beaver style plastic so time to do it again.  A couple of small ones cooperated when I had one just thump it and the fight was on.  It was a big fish, minus the weight she lost spawning.  They are definitely back up on the chew trying to recover, and they want it slow to medium with the buzzbait.  It would probably be a little better just pitching plastics, but when they are eating the buzzbait I am going to stick with it.

                             This size kept after the buzzbait until noon.

After leaving the plant arm I headed all the way up the other arm.  I kept with the buzzbait, and they kept cooperating.  I actually lost 2 big fish today, a little more than usual, but I was getting the hook in them.  Notice in the pics above and below that I have taken the skirt off the buzzbait and replaced it with a white plastic toad with the paddle legs.  At a medium speed it raises quite a ruckus.  Most came right on the bank but the one below smacked it over half way back.

Not sure why she was bleeding she was hooked in the jaw, but either way she was a nice fish.

With a ton of things to do to get ready to travel I called it a day at 1:30.  They really stopped biting at about noon, but I soldiered on for a while but the better fish called it a morning.  Before it was over it was probably 12 – 15, I really did lose count, but it was not fast by any means.  But when one would hit the buzzbait it was a good one.

For the next little bit they will stay on the buzzbait, but it is also time to get back to tossing the bluegill swim jig.  The perch and gills will be on the beds and the big fish will follow.  This is a little window that comes up in late spring on Coleto when that pattern will hold up for a while as long as there are shallow perch.  And if you see some beds be sure to remember where and fish them with the swim jig, some of the biggest bass I have caught on Coleto have been during this period.

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And thanks to several folks who pointed out my error.  And probably nobody was more surprised that Miles Davis was the first choice in the draft than any surviving family.  Obviously it was Miles Garret, and as one of you pointed out Mr. Davis has been dead a while.  Hope you got a laugh out of it, I sure did.

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It looks like I will get to fish for rainbows 2 days this week in the mountains.  Should be fun.  Today was great.  I really have a case of loving that buzzbait, and this is the time.  I am sure that pitching, swim jig, and topwater will work just as well right now, so it is a good time to be on the lake.  And the Gulf reports keep rolling in, and as soon as I whip some of those Rainbows I will turn my attention to the Speckled variety.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 4/2817.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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After 3 days of manual labor, no really, I did some, I was not sure whether I would be working Friday or fishing until my buddy Jeffish texted me and told me “He did not need my sorry ass.”  What kind of friend is that?  The kind that takes into account my fishing disease so I was free to have at it.

Weather

92/71.  Sunny and windy.  SSE 20 -30.  0% chance of rain.

Solunar Times

  • Best   1:14P – 3:14P
  • Good  6:59A – 8:59A  (Should have been out earlier.)

Lake Levels

Today   97.37 msl     18 days ago  97.56 msl

The wind was projected to blow 20 – 30mph today and it was every bit of that.  I got a late start and was fishing by 9:30.  It should be buzzbait time on Coleto so I pretty much committed to fishing it most of the 5 hours I was on the lake.  The thing that made it tough was it was one of those fish where you can and not always where you want days, especially with a buzzbait.  A chop is ok, but not white caps, at least in my experience.

The first place not a bite, but from there on it was one here and one there.  There are still a few stragglers in the back ends of some of the covers, but remember I could only fish in the ones without the wind blowing in.  I caught a couple when I went by a great piece of gnarly piece of wood and made 3 casts at it from different angles, and then a big girl pulled it under.

That is a freakin’ good one!

That said a lot about the way they were all biting it, just pulling it under and not blowing up on it.  That was probably a bi-product of them being post spawn, they wanted a slow easy meal.  When I quit counting bites I was 5 for 8.  Of course the most important factor today was cover.  Wood being first, and one or two came out of stumps just under the surface.  I did try the white swim jig and of course caught one on my second cast, and then only one more.

                          Definitely spawned out females trying to recover.

The water up lake is still off color but the rest of the lake is clearing fast.  It has obviously fallen some, and of the 11 I caught today, all were somehow related to at least some water depth.  It might have been a little bit better up lake but the wind was howling right down the pike, making it tough to fish properly.  But any time you can catch a big fish is a good trip.  So many of the better fish are looking pretty post spawn thin, but the good one today was solid and heavy, the biggest one I have caught in a while.

                                         Best I could do on the swim jig.

Now  I will be watching for that cloudy, rain, drizzle day, with light wind, and it will be a buzzbait extravaganza.  Coleto is a good buzzbait lake and now is the time.  I like to catch fish all ways, any fish, but having a big one eat a buzzbait is right up at the top of my list.  When it happens, and you see it like today, there is an instant where your mind goes, did I just see that?   Nothing more to say about that!

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

Congrats to Miles Davis from Texas A&M as the first pick in the NFL draft.  I hope it all goes well for him, he seems like a good guy, but he has a tough row to hoe.  Cleveland has toiled in less than mediocrity for decades, so good luck with  that.  Dallas took a defensive end, which was surprising and not quite what they need.  But after last years draft success we have to give them the benefit of the doubt and see how that works out.

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I actually participated in a little manual labor this week.  Hadn’t done much of that in while but it was good to help my buddy out, and will be doing so occasionally for the next little bit.  But it really drives home the old saying; “A bad day of fishing beats a good day at work!”

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Time to renew your CCA membership and Star Tournament.  Not only is it good for conservation of our coastal resources, but who knows, if you saltwater fish even a few times you need to send in your bucks.  I know a guy who a few years ago was the only guy in the boat without his membership and he caught a tagged red.  Nothing like knowing you could have won a boat and truck if you would have just taken care of it.  There are tagged redfish released in our area every year and you never know.

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So today was all good considering.  Having Coleto is a great fall back position if the wind really howls like it did today.  Hopefully we are about to get out of that pattern and into the summer, minus the heat.  When I went to put the boat on the trailer I had the truck parked in the shade, and it was 91 degrees.  So like it or not summer is on the way.  And hopefully some serious bay fishing.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Port O’Connor Texas 4/24/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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I am watching some guy in India catching a giant catfish called a gooch.  Cracks me up when they try to turn freshwater fish into man eaters, sorry but I ain’t buying it.  Tomorrow it is off to the bay.  The weather looks good, the tide is ok, and the active period is perfect, especially if you do not like getting up early.  I will still try to be there at daylight throwing that topwater.  Hopefully I will catch a couple of good redfish tomorrow.  So where I am starting is up in the air, it will just be across the bay and out on the island somewhere.  It is pretty apparent if I want to catch a good red I need to fish some new stuff.  It is looking good, can’t wait to see how it works out.  (After I got this done my buddy Jeffish called needing help tomorrow but I was able to weasel out for the day.)

Weather

78/71  Sunny.  Ne wind shifting to SE 10 – 15mph.  0% chance rain.

Tides  (Lots of water.)

High   5:53 AM     0.7
Low  11:37 AM      0.5
High   2:58 PM     0.6
Low  10:47 PM     0.4

Solunar Times

Best  9:30am – 11:30am   (Notice the relationship with the falling tide?)

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

The bay was completely flat when I stopped on a drain on the island and the water was super clear.  The tide was slowly going out, more of a subtle drop in the water level than moving water.  And the best thing was my buddy was needing help with his business and when he called last night wanting me to work Monday I whined and he agreed to start the project on Tuesday.  Unfortunately that takes away the last chance to fish Travis with SAJoe a day this week.  But back to the fishing.

This one went 4lbs+ on the boga, then a quick CPR.  A good fish.

I waded right to the drain and they were there.  I started with a Bagley Knocker B, and they were cooperating just fine.  I missed as many as I caught, but nothing beats trout knocking it a foot in the air, and then smoking it.  Nothing real big, but it was consistent for a couple of hours.

                             They were eating the Bagley Knocker B.

I caught an easy small limit on topwater and some shorts, so time to toss the Controlled Descent Lure.  Today I went with the Pink Limeaid jerk shad.  The did not seem to like it quite as much as the darker ones, but it was just like the other day, get a couple of bites on the topwater, then toss back in with the plastic and it was usually an instant bite.

                          Best I could manage as far as these guys went.

Basically I stayed with the topwater way to long, but hard to put it down when they are biting.  After fishing that area it slowed down so I moved farther down the island to an area we call Bikini Cut, nothing.   I made 1 more stop on the island, and just could not get it going.  The wind was still down, but the tide was dead low and the water wasn’t moving all that well.  Time for Barroom.

Once there the wind had the water with a slight chop, just perfect, but the water was definitely off color.  I threw the book at them, both in a foot and out to 4 foot on the Barroom shoreline, and other than the red above and another smaller rat, not another bite.  And both of them came after a long wade, right next to the boat.  Of course.

So time for old school.  For the first couple of years here most of my fishing was out of the boat using the trolling motor.  Into Big Bayou I went, which I have not fished in months, and I catch a small one on my second cast.  With the water barely moving I downsized to the 1/32 jig head and a small 3″ paddle tail in pearl/red flake.  Basically fishing the banks, the little deeper ones, the bite was not fast, but it was one or two here and there.

The afternoon bite out of the boat was slow but steady and some were good ones, including the one at the top of the blog.

I have no clue why the one above bleed so much.  It was hooked in the mouth and it swam away one happy fish.  If I were guessing, and I am, it was 7 or 8 on that small plastic and light jig head.  It has a place when the water is like that, clear and not really moving.  The fall rate is really slow, and today they wanted it jerked fairly quickly and stopped, most were there when I lifted up.  They seemed to be on the outside of any off color water, and most came out of 3 foot or more.

Once I started boat fishing there really wasn’t a rhyme or reason to where I caught them, it was just here and there.  Now normally I catch a red or two in there but not today.  So the day was a success.  I fished 7:30 to 3:30, and other than that one stretch around noon, it was good enough fishing for me.  And any time I catch one 4lbs is ok by me.  Before the day was over I caught them on 2 different small paddle tails, the Controlled Descent, and the Bagley Knocker B.  But I am still not “on them.”  Time to take a long day and head all the way down hitting Panther, Twin Lakes, Cottonwood, and Ayers.  Also time to take a look back at this month for the last 6 years, just might learn something.

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

Sorry things have been a little slow around here, but that is about to change.  I will be fishing more now that we are slowly getting out of our yearly stretch of wind.  From what I am seeing on the net right now, taking much of it with a grain of salt, there are some good trout being caught right now.  After catching that big one in December it has been a while.  So if anybody is due it is probably me.  But no matter what you can’t catch them sitting on the couch, unless you have one on the front end of the boat.

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And I want to thank donf for his suggestion after my bout of vertigo.  I fit the profile and it did happen when I jumped out of bed, apparently not uncommon.  I have saved the site but hope I won’t get the chance to try it.  And of course I will have the Boss read it and get her 2 cents.  Thanks for the suggestion and good to hear from you.

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I really enjoyed the day.  The weather was good, the wind was perfect, and it wasn’t to freakin’ hot.  And it helped the fish cooperated.  I need a few more days to start figuring it out a little better, and will try to get after that as soon as I am done helping my buddy.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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That Was Ugly. 4/22/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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It seems like the Gods did not want me to fish Friday, though the boat was hooked up to the truck and ready to go Friday morning.  Then I got a text from Jeffish and he had a guy quit his company and was wanting to know it I could help them out Friday.  So of course when your best friend asks for your help you respond, end of story.

So yesterday morning I hopped out of bed and almost fell on my face.  When I say I was dizzy that would be an understatement.  Now I was not feeling sick, but just so dizzy I could barely stand up.  One good thing about living with an emergency room is the Boss gave me the once over, and accept for the dizziness she said I would live and it was probably a case of vertigo.  I have seen folks in the ER in days past with vertigo, and it sucks.

So the Boss got me lined out, gave me some medicine and said this is how to get over it, get in bed and let the medicine work and sleep it off.  I have learned one thing over the years, she knows what she is doing, so back in bed I went.  5 hours later I woke up, and though I was feeling washed out, probably from the meds, the vertigo was gone.  She said there are several reasons it happens, and hopefully it was just a transient thing.  Being that dizzy sucked.  And not helping out Jeffish or fishing sucked even more.

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I got this comment from Kyle and I could not have said it better.

Love your reports, you , my friend are a “grinder”
Not sure how you don’t get burnt out .
Keep up the good work

Trust me, I do get burned out at times.  It takes a lot of effort, time, and money keeping this going.  Some days even if I am not feeling it I still head to the water.  Many a day I have thought about giving it up, then something spectacular happens that changes my whole perspective.  I might hear from a new sponsor, catch a big fish, share a good report, or meet a new friend, all of which motivates me to keep on blogging.  Plus, where else would I have the freedom to rant poetically?  And thanks for the compliment, I am a grinder.  As I love to say, the more I fish the luckier I get.  Glad to know you are out there and comment anytime the mood strikes you.

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Get Inhaled!

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I did want to say something about fishing the Controlled Descent Lures that I might not have made clear in yesterday’s post.  When I say it fishes differently, it does, it is different from other plastics.  You can still put a heavy jig head on it and bounce it on the bottom just like any other plastic, but then that is missing the whole point as far as I am concerned.

First there is a difference in fishing it in fresh and saltwater.  Saltwater is heavier and often the air contained in the foam pocket is almost enough to float it.  That is why I have been using the weighted swim bait hooks.  It allows me to adjust the weight based on everything from wind, tide, and whether it is mono, fluoro, or braid, to get it where it needs to be at the speed they want it.  And the thing that I like a lot is that with the swim bait style hook it suspends horizontally, something no other plastic does that I know about.  Using it requires some thought and then adapting to what the fish want.

Wednesday was a perfect example, they wanted it right below the surface and fairly fast, so I used a heavier hook, which kept it from coming to the top.  Come next winter it would be a lighter hook fished a lot slower.  Then you can adjust the foam and the weight to get it down and keep it down if fishing in deeper water, while still letting it suspend.  And this summer if fishing deeper reefs it will be a bigger weight and fished a lot faster.  And of course using a lighter weighted hook when fishing over shallow grass and potholes.

Because that is what is comfortable for me does not mean it may be the way you like to work it.  An un-weighted hook and inserting lead and foam in the body cavity accomplishes the same thing, and it reduces the number of different hooks you need to carry.  I know this may sound a little complicated, but it is simply a matter of experimentation.  I still feel like it is a big fish bait, and hopefully my turn is coming soon!

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I headed out with a honey do list Thursday morning with various stops on the way.  The Boss takes care of finances, (Not sure what I actually do around here.)  so there were a couple of checks for boat stuff.  First up it was TPWD to renew the LTS registration. That went fine but on my way to the clerk’s office to renew the LTS trailer plates it occurred to me that when I lost my plate quite a few months ago I thought I renewed the plates.  So when I got to the clerks they checked and they had not deleted the old plate.  Never assume something you get from the government is correct, they can not be trusted.  If I had not had them check who knows, I might have paid, and they would have taken my money, for a plate that does not exist.  Just wonder why they did not delete the old plate from their record the day I was there and told them it was lost and paid to replace it.

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And I wanted to share this comment from Jay.

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So that is it for a Saturday morning, sorry for no fresh reports, stuff happens.  I have several fishing things cooking this week, so it is time to make some decisions about where.  The fish are biting most everywhere in Texas, and just like travel, so many places so little time.  So I will recuperate a little today,  yesterday was tough.  It really does lend credence to the old saying;  “It is hell getting old!”  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff. There is more fishing to come – I promise!

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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POC 4/19/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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Time for some Saltwater Fishing

We just got back in town from a quick trip to Port Aransas.  We love staying at the Tarpon Inn, the history and pictures from the tarpon heyday are amazing.  But it is pretty easy to see why the tarpon just quit stopping there in mass for decades.  Most of the tarpon taken were an easy 100lbs plus, mature breeding fish.  They were taken by the thousands over the years and the effects were devastating, but fortunately they are now back every year on their migratation and becoming more prevalent.

One of the (my) reasons for going was to stop at Roy’s Bait and Tackle, one of my favorite tackle stores.  But guess what?  They were closed.  Must have been on vacation.  Fortunately the store on Port Aransas was open and I was happy to find the new Rapala Skitter V walking the dog bait.  The shape has a keel/v like a boat, and according to the package will switch directions on a dime and then glide much further than a regular Spook or Skitterwalk.  So we shall see what all the hype is about.  (Report:  It caught fish just fine.  It walked the dog basically like every other bait of that style.  So no complaints but unless you just want one save your money.  I did not find anything special or different about it.)  After a big absence from the salt I will get a chance to use it in the morning when I am waist deep in the bay.

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

Get Inhaled!

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Weather

78/71  Partly cloudy in the a.m. with possible scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon.  Chance of rain 40%  Wind out of the SE 10 – 20.  (An easy 20 most of the day.)

Tides

Low   5:58 am  +0.3     High  4:53  +0.9

Solunar Times

Best   5:40 – 7:40 am      Good   11:29 am – 1:29 pm  (Yep)

It All Worked Together

Sometimes things work out, and today it did.  Not by the number or size of the fish but how it went.  A topwater, a Controlled Descent, my Wade Right Wading belt, and a pair of Cocoons.  All were equally important today and it actually made for an interesting day of wading.

I got to one of my favorite cuts on the island and jumped over the side.  The wind was coming over the island, and it was windy most of the day.  The water was clear and as I worked my way to the cut I could not buy a bite.  The water was a big up-low, and it was trying to work it’s way into the cut, and the wind was blowing it out the other way.

Wanting to try the new Rapala Skitter V I kept after it and finally caught one.  The fish were right in the middle of the cut, and were cooperating.

                 The Controlled Descent put them on the Boga today.

Here is the punch line and why it all was necessary.  First the Wade Right wading belt let me carry 2 rods, one for plastics and one for topwater for the bait and switch.  The topwater was getting bites, but only a couple in a place and then nothing.  So time for the Controlled Descent Lure.  A black/goldlimetruese rigged on a 4/o hook with a 1/8th belling weight on the hook.  I was fishing it just like I have been for bass, just jerking it right along.

The best of the day smoked that topwater.

So having the extra rod, with a topwater and the Controlled Descent, I was able to double up on them.  As they moved around in the cut, probably chasing bait, I would catch a couple on topwater, maybe miss one, and they would quit.  By following with the jerk shad I was able to put it right in their face and catch one or two more.  The Cocoons were critical because I was making long casts and it was hard to see the jerk shad, but you could see the trout materialize out of nowhere from 5 foot of water and eat it.

                     Nothing real big but they were willing for a while.

They were hard to hook and I confess I missed more than a few.  But I tricked some and as soon as they would quit I would move 20 feet and do it again.  They bit from the time I got there at 9:00 until I moved at 1:00.  I could have stayed catching them in the cut but the outside flat in front of the cut is one of my favorite flats, with a great mix of grass and sand.  There are usually some great reds there, but I have just not hooked up on any the last couple of trips.

                                            It all worked together today.

So after I finished a wade around the outside grass and potholes without a bite, I noticed the wind had laid some, and then I made a bad decision.  I headed to Barroom thinking there would be a light wind on it and I could catch some reds, but no, by time I got there the wind was back up and it was white capping.  I was hoping to catch a red, and I did give it a go, but not a bite on top or on the jerk shad.  So one last stop was in order.

It was a cut in Big Bayou where I caught a bunch of trout last trip, whenever the hell that was.  It only produced one small trout and 3 small reds, all on plastics.  So at 3:30 I called it a day.  The wind was blowing hard enough that I just did not feel like driving back out to the island.

It really did all have to work together today.  Giving them a one two punch worked great, reminded me of throwing back in with something different when you miss one bass fishing.  It really was cool to see them roll over on the jerk shad, and I should have caught some more, but it is just part of the learning curve with the Controlled Descent Lure.  It really is something different for me in the plastic line.  It fishes different, and one thing I have really learned is having a variety of weighted hooks with screw locks is really important.  Wind, tide, depth, water color all play a part of fishing it visually, which is the way I like to get em!

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

Over the years I have commented that I believe that guides should pay more for the privilege of making a living with a public resource.  If you have not read me before understand one thing, I guided for almost 20 years, been there done that one.  When I started I was getting $45 a day when I provided the boat and $30 when guiding for a trout dock.  Basically I was barely scraping by.  So it would have been tough to pay more, I understand that.  I just felt, and still feel, that it is fair for guides to pay more. It always struck me as unfair that I was only paying for my guide license and the state was providing me with a free resource to make a buck.  If you reduce it to its base, making money as a guide involves taking a pubic resource that we have all paid to bring back and manage and selling it to customers.   I am not anti-guide, hell I occasionally get the itch, good thing I am old enough to know better.  But to go along with that, to bad we can not trust our government to use any increase in license fees or other taxing methods and place it back on the resource, that would be way to much to ask.  So here is why I brought this up right now.

The April 14th issue of the Lonestar Outdoors News has an article on the front page entitled Taxing Guides.  First, if you are a guide you need to pick up a copy immediately.  Calhoun County will start taxing the value of the goods you use in your guiding business, rods, reels, boat, etc.  And that applies to any guide, full or part time, that operate in Calhoun County.  As an example if you were operating in POC or Seadrift on January 1 this year no matter where you live you should have assessed with the county by April 15th.  If you are guiding you will be taxed just like any other business, so get ready.  And according to the article they are cross referencing those people who bought a Texas Parks and Wildlife guiding license.  I feel your pain but it is coming whether you stick your head in the sand and try to slide by, or you suck it up and do the right thing.  I represented lots of clients over the years who thought if they just did nothing, nothing would happen.   Thanks to Lonestar Outdoors News, pick up a copy today, always a great read.

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

And speaking of Port A, we always hit Roy’s and then drive on the island over to Port A.  On the way, just outside of town on the right, there is one of the fancy golf resorts with the ridiculously priced houses.  In fact, it is where the golf cart bridge crosses over the road.  At the resort, Palmilla Beach Golf Club, is The Black Marlin Bar & Grill.  Passing by it many times I wanted to stop but thought it might be a little high falutin for my tastes.  Well I could not have been more wrong.  Happy hour was 3 – 7 with delicious apps half off and drinks were reasonable.  The food was great and with 2 drinks was well within my comfort zone.  And the help was great.  So if you are looking for a place to eat on the island give them a go, it was good.

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I really had a good time today.  They moved, I moved.  They missed, and I tricked them.  It was way cool to see them roll up, I love that.  There was lots of bits and the action was consistent.  So there will be lots more salt in my future, starting to get my mojo back.  As our winds start to subside the topwater bite could last all day with the right clouds.  It will be watch the weather, then go.  There are lots of other places that should be loaded right now.  And I am still waiting for a couple of days on the Laguna.  And I appreciate all of you who take time out of your life to read my stuff.  Keep stopping in.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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This and That 4/15/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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I was working on the trailer lights when Jeffish and his son Korbin stopped by.  He came up with a solution to the problem, at least most of it.  Of course he had ulterior motives, Korbin wanted to go bass fishing.  So since we were legal how could I resist.

Bass fishing with lures is not the best thing for fishing with small kids, and while Korbin had a go at it, he is just not quite old enough.  He loves catching fish, the operative word, catching.  But hey we gave it a go.

We got to the lake at about noon, and it was already hopping.  The parking lot was filling up, as was the camp ground.  Jet skiers, skiers, and pleasure boats were already out in force.  The weather was perfect for enjoying the lake.

Fish number 1.  Beautiful day.

We started on a main lake bank and I thought the best bait for Korbin would be a topwater, a Pop-R type bait, no problem detecting a bite and easy to fish.  Jeffish started with a Texas rigged craw, and I kept with the Controlled Descent pearl jerk shad.  I put a couple in the boat in the first area, and on our second place Korbin had one smoke the topwater, but it came off.  I caught another 1 there then we decided to head up lake to our old stomping grounds.

This guy was a freakin’ cannibal!  That is Korbin’s thumb next to the baby bass this guy puked up.

By this time Korbin was losing interest, he gave it the old college try but it was just not enough action to keep him entertained.  Meanwhile Jeffish put on a swim jig and got a couple of bites so I put one on and we started having a little action.  He was throwing the crawdad look and I threw the white.  They were close to the bank and most of them just smacked it.  Jeffish did get bambozzled by one that swam 15 feet towards him and he just kept reeling wondering what was wrong with his bait.

                                           Jeffish got it going on the swim jig.

Before it was over we caught 9, nothing big, but an ok result for 4 hours in the middle of the day.  Korbin did not catch one, and that is all about the attention span of a 6 year old.   Shortly after he wanted to go home we hit the road, the last thing you want to do is make them stay.  But he is a little tough guy and we will keep taking him occasionally, and he will get the hang of it.   Fun to get out with them as they keep busy and we don’t get to fish together as much as we like to.

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

We got back in one cove today and it was just literally overflowing with tilapia.  Jeffish likes to shoot them so he and Korbin went out for a little this morning and here is a quick report.

The tilapia spot from yesterday had wind blowing in it and chocolate colored. They weren’t coming up to the top so we found a spot out of the wind. Beds everywhere but being out of practice I only brought 4 in. The one here is the smallest of them.

Nice job boys!

The tilapia are everywhere right now.  So if you like to bow fish now is the time.  Just ease back into the back end of any cove and watch, they are in most of them.  Plus some good eating can be the result.

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And just a reminder, that law enforcement will be out in force this weekend.  Time to take stock of the important stuff.  Trailer bearings ok, life jackets, registration and paperwork in order, fire extinguisher and flares, there is tons of stuff to take a look at this weekend.  Game and Fish was out on Coleto yesterday so be advised no matter where you are, get your stuff together.  I just had the head to toe check at POC last month, it happens.  So take some time to look it all over, then spend a little money to get up to snuff, or you can just hand it over on a ticket.  Your choice.  Plus, it would really suck if you had to get off the water because of it.

And to go along with that, it is a “be nice” weekend.  Everybody and his brother are out there, our weather is just fantastic right now.  So be the bigger guy at the ramp and on the water.  Lots of folks on their first trip to the water this spring so be patient.  And watch for folks having boat trouble, a common occurrence this time of year.  Stop and help if you can, it will come back to you in spades.

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

Get Inhaled!

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Makes a grandpa proud!

My grandbaby Mia.  She loves her fishing and we will be fishing together on Lake Travis in a little more than a month.

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

One of the things I really enjoy about watching MLF fishing is seeing how they dissect a body of water and try to catch as many fish as possible.  If I had to describe my style of fishing that would be it.  Keep your bait in the water and keep the faith.  I find my myself often fishing what I know will work, sometimes to my deterement as far as big fish go.  My wife describes that place, both in life and fishing, as your warm and fuzzy spot.  It is hard to get out of that spot at times but it goes back to the old adage that is applicable to fishing;  “A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.”  Hard to get off what is working sometimes.

Another thing I like even more than that about the show, which we can all take away from watching that format, is that “guess what?” – There may be 6 or 8 of the best bass fishermen on the planet, and usually one or two will have a tough day.  All fishermen should find some comfort in that.  We may not be the best fishermen in the world, but the pros have their tough days too, it is still fishing.

And last, I see guys post on Facebook some really nice big fish, and some of them are really good fish.  But I never see their “We went today and it didn’t work out.” post.  Easy to just put the big ones up, but unfortunately that is not how every day goes.  And I notice one other thing that is common with that kind of big fish post, notice how they never tell you where or what they caught it on?  That is one thing I take pride in with this blog, I can not catch them with the best of them and tell you about how with my superior skill I managed to screw it up.  We can learn just as much from a not so successful trips as we can from a successful trip.

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

That is all for today.  I am still having a little vacation blues.  Hard to get motivated from all that, but some serious fishing should help.  I spent the morning detailing the boat, it needed it.  I will leave it to everyone else to enjoy the water today.  It looks like a perfect weekend to be on the water or in the outdoors doing whatever floats your boat.  I on the other hand will get up the Sydney post, watch some fishing and MMA, and get ready to get back at it as soon as the weekend traffic clears out.  I hear those speckled trout and reds calling me.  Have a safer and fun weekend and keep stopping in.  Thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 4/12/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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Day 3

It was supposed to be cloudy all day and finally clearing, and that is exactly what the weather did.  The end of 2 days of rain and clouds with clearing does not bode all that well for the day.  I took it easy this morning, the bite has been in the afternoon, and it played out just like it has the last couple of days when I fished the lake.

I started way up lake, and other than one small one pitching, and a couple of small ones on spinnerbait, it was a bust.  The water is quite off-color and it is hard to guess whether that had something to do with the lack of bites up lake, or it is just an afternoon bite.  So after not doing all the much I went back to the Controlled Descent pearl jerk shad and stuck with it the rest of the afternoon.  It was 3 here, 4 there, 1 on this point, 3 in the back end, it was a consistent bite even if they ran smaller today.

               They bit the Controlled Descent pearl jerk shad all afternoon.

The bite really started about 1:00 after I headed down lake to a little clearer water and they were biting when I called it a day at 4:00.  Of course they wanted it differently today.  It was a steady jerk/pause working it sub- surface like you would walk the dog with a Spook.  Remember it is critical that you make sure the jerk shad is on there as straight as possible so it glides and not spin.  I have been using a hook with a keeper and a 1/16oz weight on the shank and it is important to let it sink just a second before working it.  The belly weight on the hook will keep it up right and walking nicely.  It takes a minute to get a good cadence, and it is all about having it on there straight.  Not a one took a pass at it when  I stopped it, they just wanted a nice regular cadence.

                                  I missed the only big fish bite I got all day.

Now using it that way I definitely missed more fish when moving it along today.  Several materialized out of nowhere half way back and just did not get it, or at least I missed them.  Unfortunately I made a big mistake, the kind that drives a tournament fishermen crazy.  A really big fish, the only one I saw in 3 days, came out of an isolated  bush and rolled on the Controlled Descent and did not hook up.  I was ready and tossed a watermelon red senko back on her and she ate, and I did not get a hook in her.  No excuses, should have been a slam dunk.

The lake is definitely clearing and holding steady.  A lot of the water temps over the lake are in the high 70’s.   I have learned a couple of things that are applicable to the lake right now.  First, though I did not pitch much today, that is really the way to go as it has been for me the last couple of summers.  There are multiple banks on the lakes with deep water and heavy cover, the place to be right now.  Second, there are still fish in the coves, but they are getting smaller by the day as the lake heads into a summer pattern.  We are a month early this year and it shows.

I did not fish all that well today.  Got a little to hung up on places that are just done for the spring, at least as far as the big fish go.  And since I only had one bite from a really big fish, obviously I need a change of tactics.  It is apparent that being gone I probably missed the best fishing with the Controlled Descent Lure, a great bait for shallow bass, it sure did put them in the boat the last couple of days.  Funny how when you catch 20+ in a short day and am not really happy with the results.  All in all I could have fished better.

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

Get Inhaled!

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

Thanks to a couple of Jims, and few others, for your welcome back.  It is good to be back on the old stomping grounds, but I am still feeling like some fish catching travel.  I have a couple of things in the works and we will just have to see how the timing works out with everything else going on around here.

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

As soon as I hit publish it is out to the boat and see just why in the hell I have running lights but no brake or turn signals on the Mako trailer.  When I changed both boats over to LEDs a couple of years ago I have not had any problems.  If I were guessing it is either a ground issue or a plug issue.   First I will just back up and hook on to the Carolina Skiff and make sure they work, probably the quickest way to ascertain whether it is a plug problem, ground problem, or a problem with the Mako trailer.  And while I am at it check and grease the hubs and make sure nothing in the compartments is wet from being in the rain a couple of days.   Owning boats is a never ending process that takes time and money.  I really should not complain, when you fish over 150 days a year stuff is going to fail, it always has and always will.

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Not sure what or where is next, but time for some wading.  Our wind has stayed up, it often just turns into putting on your big boy pants and just go.  Occasionally being able to pick your days is a good thing, and other times it is easy to let time pass and then  you wonder why you haven’t been.  The wind usually is just a hassle on the ride, but once in the water can be managed.  Plus, I want to get in some topwater fishing, this is usually the best time of year for it other than late fall.  So off to get some stuff done so it can be back on the water.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 4/10-11/2017.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Brought to you by  waderight2-50

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It is Sunday night as I get some of this ready.  I have not been in the boat in 3 weeks so am excited about hitting the lake.  There has been some fish caught and there was a big tournament this weekend and Colby won it with 22lbs, a good string.  The boy can catch fish in fresh and salt and would be a great guide if you were needing one out of POC

The weather looks windy, but with clouds and a possibility of rain it is my kind of bass fishing day.  This whole week is free so there will be quite a bit more fishing to come.

Weather

80/67  Scattered thunderstorms in am.  Cloudy rest of day.  40% chance  15 -25 SSE

Lake Level

Today  97.56 msl    Last Trip – 3 weeks ago 98.03

Solunar Periods

Best  10:42 am – 12:42 pm   Good  4:52 pm – 6:52 pm

Monday

Today I started off having a tough time.  Not being on the lake for a while it was trying to figure out a pattern.  The lake was down just a hair, and it has color to it in most places.  I wanted to start with the Whooper Plooper, and after over an hour with one bite I knew that was not going to cut it.  That one fooled me, and I stuck with it a little longer than I should have.

I noticed a few shad flipping by the bank so I tossed the crawdad swim jig for a while without a bite.  It finally soaked in to my little pea brain and a switch to white was in order, and that saved the day.

Once I figured it out it was a good afternoon.

They were not interested in much of anything till I started throwing the white swim jig with a craw trailer.  They wanted it differently and it took a minute to figure it out.  They wanted it faster than usual, occasionally jerking it pretty hard a couple of times, and they would smack it.  By time I figured that out I had fished for 3 hours without much success.

As it is so often is on Coleto the afternoon fishing was the best.

It was cloudy all day, and it surprised me they would not hit other stuff.  And with the water color it was interesting how they wanted it fast and jerked.  They were tight to cover on the bank and it had to be moving when it hit the water.

                                 And the rain did not hurt anything.

I caught fish here and there, uplake and down.  They really want the cover, I just have not quite got it down yet.  Funny how not fishing for a while is like starting over.  There are shallow fish, I just  need another way, or maybe location, and it could be awesome.  Not a bad day considering, and it is always fun to catch them a different way, and as fast as they wanted it was different.

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

Get Inhaled!

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

Tuesday – I did!

I try to cut the weatherman as much slack as possible, but sorry about that.  He could not have been anymore wrong if he said it was going to snow.  I just got back from the lake, and when it blew in around 3:30 it was exciting.  Rain, high cold north wind, thunder, big rollers, it had it all.  The weatherman said this would be out of here by mid morning, and it would be sunny.  This thing must be barely moving, because he got it wrong big time.  There was a weather alert for the coast, and the way it came through here it was probably ugly.

He may not be a man eater but I would not give this guy a chance.

I decided to fish the plant arm today, as the wind was not near as bad as yesterday.  I just knew that the white swim jig was the ticket, and a couple of hours later I was beginning to wonder.  Starting in a creek, I worked back in and out, and if memory serves me correct the only fish I boated was a tilapia.  It was a good one and will be tasty tonight.  Next up a wooded point, and one small one jumped on the swim jig, but it did not seem to be happening.

Finally put a few in the boat pitching.

So after that not working out I decided to do a little pitching.  Out came old reliable, a 3/16th weight, pegged, with a 5″ stick worm in watermelon red.  If there is cover that combo will catch fish anywhere.  They want a little deeper heavy cover, and the better one was a tussle dragging him in over all that trash.  From there I headed back to the main lake area, but the banks were just not right for pitching, and for the life of me I could not get the swim jig working.  I caught fish a fish or two on topwater, pitching, swim jig, and then I made a good decision.

The pearl Controlled Descent Lure got the job done.

As I rounded a point there was a little flat with cover on it, right on the main lake.  So out came the pearl jerk shad and it was game on in the bushes.  The ones above came in literally 8 casts.  From there on I caught a bunch of fish but just could not boat a big one.  But it was fun.  They wanted it right below the surface in a walking the dog pattern, and they would eat when you stopped it occasionally.  They would roll up and eat it, or you could see them below it and you just had to keep it coming.  I used a small split shot in it to give it just enough weight to stay up, you had to see it to catch them.  2 thumbs up to the yellow lens Cocoons, with the cloud cover the pearl bait stuck out like a sore thumb.

I have caught several of these this year.  Supper.

Once I started throwing the Controlled Descent I had bites the rest of the afternoon until the storm blew in.  I think my problem right now is I am just not quite on the right bank.  The fish are up and biting, and there is nothing wrong with the weight of my best 5 both days, but it feels like there is more out there.

Not sure what is next, but it will be totally wind controlled.  I will probably hit the lake one more day tomorrow.  It just feels right.  But I am itching to get back to the salt.  And if we can get 2 days with low winds Baffin is still in my future.  It is good to be back, nothing like familiar haunts.  I appreciate you all sticking with me while I was gone.  Let the fishing begin.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Fishing Port Douglas Australia

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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Fishing Port Douglas

Dawn is breaking, time to go fishing.

Port Douglas is situated on the northern edge of the Great Barrier Reef.  The reef goes for over 2000 miles along the coast and extends out to the area of 30 – 40 miles off.  It is actually a series of reefs dotted all along the coast.  From small to big, many are named.  We fished Chinaman, Three Sisters, and many more that were unnamed.

I had made arrangements with Dragon Lady Charters before I went.  I did the usual research and the reviews on Trip Advisor were great, basically the best reviewed thing to do in Port Douglas.  I booked through Fishing Port Douglas and Lynton coordinated everything.  It was very reasonably priced and the booking was handled professionally, so my thanks to Lynton.

http://www.fishingportdouglas.com.au/

The Dragon Lady is a 34ft offshore fishing boat based in Port Douglas.  I booked 2 days and left a couple open depending on how it went.  My main goal was just to spend some time trolling the reef and just experience being there.  This is light tackle season, basically the marlin and tuna are not there at this time.  For the big marlin it is fall: October, November, and December.  This is called the heavy tackle season when the big fish are there.  So I had no expectation of catching marlin, but did want to catch some of what they call Spanish Mackerel, which I have seen on tv.  Looking a lot like our kingfish, they get big but unlike our kingfish are good to eat.  Of course I was cool with whatever happened to jump on the line.  I just really like offshore trolling.

Can you say anticipation?

I met Capt. Steve the owner and Capt. Louie who would be the deck hand for the day.  We headed out and started trolling after about an hour trip.  Our spread was 2 big shallow running minnow baits on the center lines and one skirted bait and one regular trolling bait on the outriggers.  Our first bite was on a skirt/ballyhoo, which they call a garfish.  Unfortunately must have been a small nick in the line as it parted way above the swivel.  So we kept at it and finally had a bite on a crank bait.

Capt Louie and me.  We are having fun now!

If there was one thing that I thought I would not catch on this trip was a marlin.  A juvenile blue marlin whacked a minnow bait then jumped and went absolutely nuts all the way to the boat.  We boated him for a quick picture and back in he went.  It was the first marlin boated there this year that they knew about.  In fact we had a few other bumps on the minnow bait over the next couple of days, the boys said that marlin often hit it with their bill first and that is what those bites probably were.  Little did we know that it would happen again a couple of days later.

                A couple of Spanish Mackerel.  A great fight and a cool fish!

‘We continued trolling and finally got a couple of Spanish mackerel in the boat.  After the first bite everything that bit the rest of the day came on the big minnow baits.  If memory serves me well we trolled in the 5 – 6 mph range.  It was a great day on the water and topping it off with a marlin was just plain crazy.  He may have been small, but guess what?  I caught a marlin on the Great Barrier Reef.  Steve and Louie were great, the eats were good, and they are good guys to spend the day with.  I was really looking forward to the next day.

Day 2

The next morning we got started at 8:00.  One thing I wanted to try today was popper fishing for a Giant Trevally.  Louie was captain today and the first mate was Cam.  Louie has been fishing with Capt. Steve for 3 years.  Getting a guide license is not as easy as it is in the US.  But at 23 Louie got his license last year and in his first year of heavy tackle they wired a grander over a 1000.  For his first season it was unusual, and I predict if he keeps after it he will be one of the hot young captains on the reef.

We started on a reef that usually holds GTs, but did not raise a fish.  It was dead calm and hot and humid as heck today.  Bait was everywhere, with the occasional bust, but try as we might we could not raise a fish.  Interesting how it is done.  You make a cast from the corner then move to the other corner and the next guy casts, and keep alternating.  The popper itself is the size of a small car, and ripping and popping is nothing short of work.  With that not working, and being 90 degrees and humid as heck, we headed off to do some bottom fishing.

Using cut bait we did the drop straight down thing, and you never knew what you would catch next.  Our main quarry was a big nannygal, but unfortunately did not put one in the boat.  I had a great trout on, and on the way in felt a bump, then it went slack, then bump, and as I reeled in what was a good keeper, a fairly big shark was swimming along reducing him to nothing but a head.

We kept moving and dropping, catching fish wherever we fished, but nothing much in the size department.  A little later in the day I had a really big fish on when bump, bump, and then gone.  The leader was chaffed way up the line, another shark feeding on my nice fish.  Finally we set up for a troll back in.   We put a scaly mackerel in the boat and had a few other misses, but for the day it was slow.  Just like fresh water, no good tide, dead slick and mile high sky is just not the best fishing conditions no matter where you are.

Day 3

All that day’s fishing did for me was make me want more.  I really enjoyed those couple of days and wanting more booked another day.  The plan today was just trolling.  I did the bottom fishing just to do it, but I love the throb of the big diesels, watching the baits as they make a smoke trail, and seeing the occasional blow up.

Today it was almost noon before we got our first bite.  This time it was on the trolling lure.  We had a knock down on the outrigger but no taker.  Cam grabbed the rod and jerked the bait back and forth and felt one tap it.  The fight was on and after a good fight in the boat came my second marlin of the trip.  He only jumped a few times by the boat and Cam did a great job of billing it.  A quick pic and in he went, maybe to end up a grander one day.

This was so unusual that people in town were actually talking about the boat catching 2 marlin in 3 days.  That moment made my trip, again.  When you talk about expectations vs. reality, this was clearly the case.  In my wildest dreams I did not think we would catch a marlin, much less 2.  Now I can say I caught 2 marlin on the Great Barrier Reef.

My second blue marlin.  You always see my ugly mug so here is Capt. Louie and Cam, they were just as excited as I was.

We caught 6 or 7 fish today, and 3 of them were small bonita, which we caught  a few of both days of trolling.  2 were small, perfect skip baits for heavy tackle season so in the freezer nice and straight they went.  Who knows, maybe some one will catch a grander on one this fall.

My last fish, a scaly mackerel.  And a bonita headed for heavy tackle season.

The fishing was not fast by any means, but it was as good as I could have hoped for.  It has given me a bad case of wanting to go back for heavy tackle season.  Being on the reef is a real experience, and the thought of hours of trolling a skip bait waiting on the bite of a lifetime is driving me nuts right now.

The happy crew and customer.

I give props to the crew, they were competent and just plain fun to be around.  They have added a second boat to the fleet and are looking to replace the main boat in the future.  Capt. Louie is a good fisherman and the sky is the limit for him.  Putting granders on the end of the line is what it is all about and he is just the guy for the job.  I don’t know if I will ever get back there, so many places to fish on this earth, but if I do it will be with these guys.

Day 4  The Daintree

Headed in with Capt. Jamie.

Back to the reality vs. expectations.  We booked one day with Jamie Beitzel on the Daintree River.  The hope was to catch a barramundi, a bucket list fish for me, and see some saltwater crocs while we were at it.  Unfortunately neither of those things happened.  The lesson learned from that is I should have checked the tide tables before booking.

The river mouth and the ferry, the only way to cross the river and get into the tropical Daintree rain forest.

When we started in the morning the tide was just up and the water was barely moving, and it would not move the rest of the day.  So with the water way up in the creeks and mangroves we started with live bait on deep brush piles.  We caught a variety of fish, snappers, trevally, and small what looked to me like groupers but were juvenile cod.  We kept moving when my lovely wife had the bite of the trip.  (Of course not counting the marlin!)

One crazy fish and a hell of a tussle!

After a big tussle Jamie boated her shovelnose shark.  We caught a similar fish on PINS shark fishing, which was a guitar fish.  With so many different names for fish it was hard to tell if it was exactly the same fish, but it sure looked like it.  Nancy handled it like a pro and it goes down as one of the cool catches on my trips.

Next we went up an arm of the Daintree to the edge of an area that is no fishing.  They have several large areas on the river that are protected and it ensures the area will be great fishing for decades to come.  We anchored up in about 30 foot of water and he gave me a light spoon/jig which he said to cast out, let sink, then jerk back to the boat.  On my second cast one tapped it and the fight was on.  This thing went absolutely nuts, jumping like crazy, I thought it was a tarpon.

Tarpon have nothing on a Queenfish.  What a jumper!

It turned out to be a queenfish, which looked like a member of the jack family, but is not.  It was every bit as exciting to catch as a tarpon and was a great jumper.  His jumps were epic and once he got sideways was a load.  Then to really put a stamp on reality vs. expectation the next fish I hooked on the spoon was a tarpon.  Just like catching the marlin, a tarpon was clearly the last thing I thought I would catch.  Theirs do not get real big, and this one was maybe 6 – 8 pounds and flopped off at boat side.  We tried it in one other place without success, but there were quite a few small tarpon rolling in that arm of the river.   They catch them on a fly rod, and as an interesting side note to you long rod guys, not only can you boat a marlin on a trip, there are permit here.  Would make for a great multi species trip.

                  This, that, and the other.  They all liked live bait.

To finish off the afternoon he kept the boat off the bank and I threw the Controlled Descent plastics trying to boat a barra.  The tide was not moving, and other than one rolling on it, I never had a bite from a barra.  On the other hand I caught small jacks and a couple of small snappers on it.  Then I caught a couple of the most interesting fish I have ever caught, the Archer Fish.  I have seen them on TV, they are the ones that spot bugs and small stuff on limbs close to the water and spit them off.  It has a groove in the top of his mouth to make the kill shot by spitting.  A cool fish, who would have thought it would hit plastics.

You just never know what you will catch.  One of a couple of archer fish on the Controlled Descent Lures.  I am sure I am the only guy I know who has caught one of these crazy fish.

It was a really nice day, it rained on and off all day and really cooled off from what it was the first few days in Port Douglas.  Jamie was an interesting fellow.  His parents drove to the end of the road long before this area was known and spent their lives commercial fishing.  He was able to buy a place in what is now the Daintree park, and has a place that is off the grid, and he said, “I haven’t been anywhere”.  He is the quintessential Australian, hardy and self sufficient.  His history of the area was great and he was a very accommodating guide.  So no barra or big croc, but a big shovelnose shark, an acrobatic queenfish, and even a tarpon made it a special day.  Traveling to new places it really helps to temper your expectations, you just never know.

The mangroves.  Looking off to the Daintree forest.

So that is how the fishing went.  At no time was it fast by any means, but on the other hand there is just something magical about marlin.  Big or small, they are a beautiful fish and seeing them coming to the boat all lit up is one of the great sights in fishing.  This was really a great example of expectations vs. reality.  The Great Barrier Reef is all that and more, and the Daintree was the coolest river I have ever fished.  I hope I live long enough to make it back to Port Douglas.  It is a fisherman’s dream and I barely scratched the surface of the fishing, much less getting to snorkel and explore everything else there is to do there.  And you know what?  I am still that young kid with dreams of big black marlin, and this trip did nothing to dispel that dream.  Heavy tackle season has moved to the top of my bucket list.  And take my word for it, you can get a bigger boat or spend more money, but you will not have a better day on the Great Barrier Reef with anyone as good as the crew of Dragon Lady.

Only memories left.

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What’s for supper?  Chinese again?

 I am not sure when gold was discovered in this area, but it was the 1800’s sometime.  Along with Australian miners 10,000 Chinese landed and started mining gold.  According to a couple of stories we heard the aboriginal tribes in the area practiced cannibalism and before it was over there were only 1,000 of the original Chinese miners left.  Australia has a great and wild history, and on our next leg of the trip we learned much about the beginnings of the state.  Convicts and cannibals, no wonder they are such a hardy and interesting people.

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I want to take a minute to add a few general observations on Australia.

  1.  The Roads.  They are great and it is clear they spend money on keeping up the infrastructure.
  2. Bathrooms.  They are everywhere and clean.  Whether on the road, or wandering around any town, there are clean public restrooms everywhere.
  3. Safety.  I have never been in a large city, much less the smaller towns and felt so safe.
  4. Guns.  After a big mass shooting the government banned most guns.  There are no pistols, semi autos of any caliber, much less ARs.  About the only people that have them are landowners of a certain size, gun club members after extensive checks, and the cops.  I am a 2cnd Amendment guy so do not get your panties in a wad.  But it was interesting that there were no shootings, zero, while we were in country.  And not one 7-11 got held up by your friendly gang banger.
  5. Tax.  It is included in most prices, and is paid directly from the seller to the government.  Not saying it was less but it sure made buying stuff easier.
  6. Running a tab.  In the pubs, I confess I lurked in a few, they have an interesting and efficient way to keep track.  You give them your credit card and they put it in a book and give you one back with your number on it.  As you buy another beer or supper they just pick it up and swipe it.  Whether time to settle up, or just getting another drink, it is an easy and efficient way to keep track without having to grab your card or your name every time.
  7. Driving.  Don’t get me wrong, the other side of the road is freakin’ different, but the drivers in Australia are so polite.  No real horn honking or aggressive driving, the traffic laws are very strict.  DWI is 0.05, a little over half of what they are here, and is considered a major crime.  In fact, some taxis offer a ride home for you and they bring your car.  What a great idea.
  8. The People.  Traveling to some countries you realize that things get done when they get done.  Australia is similar.  “No worries Mate.” is a manta you hear quite often.  In this case it is more of a mind set that seems to be prevalent throughout the country.  Americans can learn a lot from that one, take a breath and relax, it will all work out.
  9. The Food.  Lots of seafood obviously, and they are big shrimp eaters, which are generically called prawns.  They have cool pies, which are a form of the pot pie, but are available in convenience stores and in small cafes.  They come in all types and are really good and reasonably priced.  I ate kangaroo loin among other things, and most of the food we ate was good.  It can be expensive, especially in the big city, but if traveling on a budget good cheap food is available everywhere.
  10. Cost.  Australia is not a cheap trip, but with the exchange rate we got $1 aud for every 0.78 US.  So while it seemed expensive you could take the 24% off the price for the exchange rate, and then the 25% that was government tax and basically the cost was the same as in the US.  Stay or eat at a fancy place and it was expensive, but there were plenty of low cost food and accommodations available.
  11. Guide licensing.  Unlike the US to get a captains license requires hundreds of document hours with a real captain, then an 8 weeks school.  They are proficient at navigation, maintenance, and first aid.  They are inspected by up to 3 agencies and have extensive documentation requirements.  Here you are guaranteed you get a real captain, not some weekend warrior.
  12. Tipping.  It is generally not done.  Part of that is the minimum wage is over $17.00 and the help in food service are paid a living wage.  Every where we went the service was great and they really did appreciate our business.
  13. Gambling.  They love their betting on sports and horses.  In fact the daily papers all include the racing form.  They have small casinos here and there with machines, called pokies.  We actually went to a big one in Sydney, and my home girl won enough to pay for the whole evening.
  14. One huge country.  Australia is massive and there is no way you can see it all, even if you live there.  We met one lady who traveled and camped in country for 2 years and did not see it all.  The Boss spent 6 months of research to decide what we wanted to see and do.  We wanted country side, big city, and the reef.  If you ever go spend the time to do your research, there is never enough time.

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It really was the fishing trip of a lifetime, and only left me wanting more.  I hope you get how much this trip impressed me, this is one fine country.  And the Port Douglas area should be a destination on any trip to Australia.  There is so much to do there, and we did not even scratch the surface of what the Great Barrier Reef has to offer, I could have stayed a month, or a lifetime.  I have one other post to do on our trip and that is on our last destination, Sydney.  One of  the great cities in the world it was all it was cracked up to be.  It is off to the lake in the morning, back to real life.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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