Friday, May 7, 2010


We're not going to the beach this weekend, but surely we will in the next few weeks. In early June at some point, fish will be returning to the Texas surf in droves, particularly big fish like Spanish and King Mackeral and other gamefish. Bait fish and shrimp and the like will be proliferating in large numbers as the waters warm, and the fish food chain will be right behind them.

I'm tempted to take a trip to Harlingen, or more exactly, the Arroyo City area. Fly fishing on the expansive flats of the Arroyo has been good lately, and I've heard tell that some large redfish and mangrove snappers have been caught in it's deeper waters lately. I have a good friend I need to visit in Port Isabel, only a stones throw away, and he's offered the use of the downstairs of his canal side home to us whenever we want to come for a visit.

He says speckled trout fishing can be quite good at times on the canal he lives on, and he has a boat hoisted above the water ready to be deployed for bay fishing action in the Laguna Madre. I know personally from many prior fishing trips to SPI and Port Isabel that fishing on the canals in Port Isabel can be quite good, having spent some long hours in my youth fishing the canals next to a marina that used to be adjacent to a trailer park in the middle of town off of the main drag.

Back in the 70's, our friends Joe and Lena lived and worked in Houston, but Joe ran a seafood business out of Port Isabel and regularly trucked fresh seafood to the high end restaurants in Houston. Joe kept a trailer and a boat in Port Isabel, and spent half of each week there fishing and working. I used to think that old Joe didn't have a very satisfying job, but after thirty years in the workplace I'm now convinced that old Joe had stuff figured out that I could only recently comprehend.

I know Joe made a lot of money, because he lived in a huge house in Champions, had nice cars and the like, and when he passed his child and wife wanted for nothing because they had also saved lots of money. I thought my father, as an attorney, must have a much more exciting life back then. And although I have no regrets about my life and how I've lived it, occupationally and otherwise, I also realize now that life ain't just about working.

Kind of like the fly fishing equipment advertisement I've read in various fishing magazines, which goes something like this: If it were your last day on earth, would you want to spend it at the office?

So Joe had some stuff figured out early on and it took me a long time to get to the same place, despite having him lead by example. I'd fish for hours at the piers or sitting on Joe's boat in the Marina next to the trailer he and his wife owned and kept in Port Aransas for their weekly visits. My folks would be visiting with Joe and Lena, leaving me time to cast net some shrimp and do some speck fishing on hot Texas summer nights.

I desperately want El Fisho Jr. to have some of the same experiences I had in my y0unger days. Then, I'd sit for hours on a summer evening down at the Lower Laguna Madre in one of the few condos that existed in South Padre Island in 1972. Back then, there were just a couple of hotels and a couple of very small condo complexes. There were just a very few places to eat. The large Bahia Mar complex had just opened, but that was back when there were stilt beach houses all over the island instead of mega-hotels and large high rise condos.

I'd catch all kind of fish, being at a lighted pier. I'd catch great game fish like redfish and speckled trout and lots of other interesting fish. I'd get distracted every now and then and get some huge crabs right below the pier, and use those for bait as well.

There are a few places like that left in Texas. They're in isolated bays and on the isolated beaches in places like Matagorda and the Padre Island National Seashore (PINS). Fish are plentiful and nature is as it has been for many years on the Gulf...wild. It's an ever changing landscape and full of critters that you might not think live in the dunes and swamps and coastal lands of both the bay and ocean side of islands and peninsulas.

So I want El Fisho Jr. to keep seeing places like that and to get to fish at wild places like we did in Matagorda a few weeks ago. He loves the outdoors, and it's so nice not to be in a "State Park" environment with rules and regulations and lots of people all around you.

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