So one cold day a few weeks ago while El Fisho Jr. and I were in Central Texas, we visited a State Park that had recently been stocked with rainbow trout.
We skunked out. El Fisho Jr. is beginning to learn that not every fishing trip is a bonanza. We've fished several places on many occasions where it was almost a "fish on" on every cast, but this was not one of those times. In fact, at age 3 or so, his first fish was an abnormally large and long channel catfish from a Brenham area pond that was actually taller than El Fisho Jr. at the time.
Nonetheless, although it was as cold and windy as it could be, we were well clothed for the weather and had a great time on an otherwise beautiful day. Not many folks were there, and we were both fishing a variety of proven spinners that have caught lots of rainbows in the past.
We fished for several hours, and I had two strong hits that didn't hook up and El Fisho Jr. had at least one strong hit. There was a weed situation because the recent high winds had blown weeds all over the accessible shorelines, and apparently weeds that had grown during the drought were ripped free by the recent high winds and currents.
So it wasn't ideal but it was very nice. Next time we'll take a canoe out there, but it was a spur of the moment deal where we had some other plans fall through and we just loaded up and took a father son road trip. We both had a blast, as we always seem to do.
We did see two fellows catch a couple of rainbows. They were using a proven method, which is fish deep with a nice saltwater rig with a long rod (don't forget to use a 10 lb light leader with the heavy saltwater line) and a spinning real. You can cast REAL far in a small State Park lake or the like with a cheap saltwater rig, and if you just use it for freshwater fishing, it'll last forever.
Sometimes, the cheap rigs don't last too long with salt water fishing, although I've got a long term rod and reel I got cheap in the mid-90's that is still going strong with near 0% maintenance. It's been doing so good for so long I'm afraid to open that reel up or tamper with it at all, other than to add new line ever few years.
But using such a rig for either lake or river fishing makes a lot of sense, particularly if you encounter large catfish (yeah) or carp (boo) or gar (boo hiss). A big fish needs a big rod to boat it. You can catch trot line sized cats on a salt water rig.
I first saw saltwater rigs used in freshwater in the 70's on the Trinity river by white bass ("gaspergoo", they called them). They used large Zebco saltwater reels or spinning reels on 8 foot long thick rods (A K-Mart rig, as we called it back in the day, when you could buy a decent ready made rod and reel rig for a decent cheap price) to hunk their crayfish on a bottom rig out to the bottom of the river channel, probably fifty or more yards away.
Since then, Billy Ray and I have been big proponents of the theory that HUGE BAITS and big salt water rigs are the way to go if you're hunting huge catfish. Lots of other folks I know have done this for years. Lots of small and medium sized rivers, creeks and streams can hold huge bass in deeper holes, as can even moderate sized farm ponds.
In any event, the fellows I saw catch one each were using big salt water spinning rigs and casting to the deepest part of the water. The trout had been recently stocked and had been biting sporadically for the last several days according to the park ranger. They were fishing kernel corn at two depths, about 15 feet down and on the bottom. They were catching about a fish an hour between them, and were about to limit out and return to their park cabin and have a fish fry.
New Year's Weekend, we got invited over to the ranch of some friends who live near La Grange on the Colorado River, or should I say on a huge hill well above the Colorado on a sprawling expanse of ranch. Lots of friends and relatives live nearby, and the land has been in the family for years. Just breath taking Texas beauty at it's finest.
This was El Fisho Jr's first shooting trip, and mama was along to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings. Our hosts are big shooters and both have carry permits, and they had quite a range set up at their place in a ravine that provided several levels of earthen hills and backstops to ensure no errant shots would go anywhere but into dirt.
They had silhouettes for shooting with .22's, and along with the guns I brought, our hosts had a dazzling array of guns of their own for us to shoot. El Fisho got started with the .22 rifles and pistols and it was evident that all of those times we've shot airsoft and bb guns have paid off in terms of accuracy and gun safety. We had no safety issues at all.
They had tables and bench rests and the like, so we were able to have our gear from our shooting bags lined out along with ammo and the unloaded not in use weapons.
El Fisho Jr. got to shoot a variety of big bore handguns, each loaded with only one cartridge. He was surprisingly accurate with a .45 auto and several .38 snubbies. He enjoyed shooting them. I shot my classic 30-30 lever action from the childhood, and I was astonished that it was still well sighted in despite lots of jostling and moving around over the last few years since I had shot it.
After that, this past weekend, we went to an indoor range and tried out a Sig 9mm pistol, the 239. El Fisho Jr. did so well with his share of the box of ammo that some of the folks in the range stopped their own shooting and were watching him.
Over the past few months, I've gotten to do quite a bit of shooting. I used to shoot quite regularly, sometimes weekly and sometimes monthly in various pistol leagues and competitions. The past few years, I've been substituting music playing for doing a lot of shooting, and I didn't realize how much I missed it.
So El Fisho Jr.'s introductions into shooting was, much to his mother's relief, a safe and fairly trauma free event (for mama). El Fisho Jr. and I have been working on gun safety and learning to shoot with BB guns and airsoft guns over the past two years, and he has been taking gun safety seriously. Even though he, like me, has no real desire to hunt, I think we'll take a hunter safety class just to get some more fundamentals into his head about gun safety and gun handling.
Now he's curious about shotguns, and he doesn't know that I have a fairly excellent single shot Harrington and Richardson .410 youth model that was mine as a child. I guess it's about 40 years old. I think we bought it for about $25 at K Mart in Houston at Beechnut and the Southwest Freeway. I'm going to have it checked over because I have not shot it in over 30 years, and make sure it is in great operating condition.