Thursday, July 8, 2010


This isn't a current picture from Port A, rather, I found it at and it shows what the beach looks like with lots of seaweed. Unfortunately, there's a ton more seaweed there now in Port A than is depicted above, but it helps you get the idea.

Whote lotta seaweed goin' on.

If you like prolific out of control seaweed washed up on the shore, then Port A is the place for you right now. I went about a month ago as well, fishing both in the surf and at the jetties. The seaweed was thick on the beach, say a 10' barrier where the high tide had last washed up, but there was a lot of beach left and just spotty seaweed in the water. A heavy amount of seaweed for normal times, I've seen it happen before. I forget what exactly makes these seaweed "blooms" but every 5 or 10 or 15 years it happens. Likewise, when you have what old timers I've known on the Texas Coast called "Jellyfish blooms", meaning they were all over the place.

The good news is, saw no oil. I did catch a small piece of tar on one water shoe, but didn't discover it until back at the beach abode. Saw it on the floor and it was a smear on the bottom of my shoe. Tar is not unusual at Port A, particularly in the summers, again every 5 or 10 or 15 years, there is a tar bloom. It's just everywhere, and "TAR OFF" pads and sprays are everywhere for folks to get the stuff off of them. It's highly nasty, the TAR OFF I mean, and between it and the oil residue that just takes days to get rid of, it also stinks.

At night in certain parts of the upper East Galveston Bay systems, I remember times in the late 70's when the moon was full and the sky was clear, when jellyfish surrounded our boat by the thousands, as far as the eye could see. About every 3 to 5 feet in every direction, there was a huge jellyfish. If memory serves, they were commonly and locally called "cabbageheads". In certain types of full moonlight, it seems they would glow a bit, or perhaps it was just a strong reflection of the full moon off their translucent and white body. It was eerie and cool all at the same time.

I've also seen Portugese Man-O-War blooms at Padre in the early 80's. We drove up a good bit down into the National Seashore there, and it was miles and miles and miles of nothing but Man-O-Wars in the water and washed up on the beach. When I was a kid, I remember a drive down Galveston beaches and seeing small sharks, say 1 to 2 feet long, stranded. Both hammerheads and another kind of shark. The low tide had beached them, apparently. There was a number of folks who were walking down the beach with large poles and nets pushing the sharks back into the deeper water.

I remember we got out and looked at the sharks. They were still alive. Despite their small size, they already had teeth that could do some damage. There were hundreds of them.

Every now and then, Mother Nature throws a curve ball. Perhaps there is a purpose we don't yet understand to these anomalies or that we are not meant to understand by the Lord above.

So we could hardly complain about a quick trip to the beach. It had a hugely relaxing effect upon us, a remarkable effect normally only achieved by a several week playcation. So that's cool.

The big tip I have to impart is this: Whatever you do at the beach right now in Port A and other areas affected by the seaweed bloom, do it on a low or falling tide.

Trust me on this.

The low and falling tide leaves first of all a relatively seaweed free beachfront area of about 10 feet to play on. Real sand, not 8" of slowly rotting and very odius seaweed. Also, all the micro critters that dwell in the seaweed and feed off of it begin to smell something awful, like a super bad dog sized shrimp might smell like, if such a creature existed.

On high and rising tides there were carpets of seaweed such that you were pretty much wading through 6" of seaweed, and we went out one morning and as far as the eye could see, it was seaweed city. Just a carpet of seaweed. No pleasure in wading through heaps of seaweed with all kinds of critters like crabs and worms and such inside the floating fast food joint of the sea.

Likewise, the rising tide had basically taken over the beachfront that existed at low tide, so it was nothing but stinking seaweed in the morning sun. The heat was baking the seaweed, both old and fresh, and the stench was as pungent as it was strong. Funny that during the evening hours at low tide it wasn't smelling too bad at all.

It was pointless to even attempt to cast a line at any location in Port A, be it surf or bay or pier. There was just seaweed everywhere I looked, even in the bay system. As we came across the ferry to Port A, I could see clumps of the stuff every few feet. Seaweed clumps are just magnetically attracted to fishing line, lures, hooks, weights and baits. It's like a law of the sea that during these seaweed blooms, any seaweed within 15 feet of your fishing rig has to foul your rig.
I fished last month on a trip to Port A with only moderate seaweed and I was getting fouled about one out of every five casts. I could stand that. But Wednesday morning, standing at the waterline, all I could see was 6" to 8" of seaweed floating on top of the water, which by the way was very clear and green. I could see out to about the second bar, and again, it was nothing but a carpet of seaweed. My line would have been fouled the moment it touched the surface of the water.

Looking from our mid-rise condo out to the Gulf, we could see large patchs of the brown seaweed, as big as a large ship, floating in the gulf.

We drove a good ways down Mustang Island from Port A. Seaweed all the way. And at high tide, it was just, as I said, seaweed city.

In the town limits of Port A, they were bulldozing and loading the stuff onto dumptrucks, but it barely made a dent in it. They were just clearing a small strip at the tide line for the beachgoers.

Oh, and I saw no surfing whatsoever, despite some solid evening waves (for Texas, anyways) and very little fishing. What little fishing I did see was in town off of bulkheads. Hardly anyone was out on the Horace Caldwell Pier in the Gulf, nor did the jetties appear to have much fishing going on.

And that is the report from this week in Port A. Dang, I wish we lived there, or at least had a tiny place there as an escape valve.

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