Monday, February 9, 2009

Aransas Pass, Jetty Redfish

As soon as I set the pole down it seemed to be acting funny. The bobber was moving in toward shore. It was a bobber setup that Russ had shared with me, a setup for redfish in which the bobber acted as a strike indicator,(It freely slides along the line above a sliding sinker setup).
I picked up the rod and started to wind when the fish took off for the Gulf of Mexico. Letting the fish go, like I had any choice, the drag buzzed as it pulled line. Could this be the red we had came for?
George had graciously invited me to go jetty fishing for redish. His friend Brian was flying in from New York . We had found some live shrimp, rare for Rockport this year, and left early the next morning for the jetty.
Now the jetty is one of the most frustrating places to fish that I have ever been to. Each cast is usually washed into the rocks and ends up on a snag, most of which result in the loss of some of your gear. I had armed myself with thirty pound braided line, which slightly alleviated the broken line part.
We walked out on the jetty and I stopped at a place I knew, while Brian and George continued on to the jetty's end. I cast out a line with split shot and a small live shrimp. only to have it quickly stole by a sheephead. Anther cast and another bite, but this time I set the hook and hoisted the small sheephead over the snags. It only measured 13.5 inches so back it went.
I decided to cast my bobber setup out before returning to sheephead fishing. Before I picked up the other pole a fish was on. He finally stopped the run to the gulf and I started to gain some ground. Another run but not quite as far. Taking it somewhat easy I fought the fish nearer and nearer almost getting it to a place where I could land it when the circle hook pulled free and the fish was gone.
Rebaitng, I cast out again, set the pole down and returned to my sheephead fishing. I could see George and Brian were catching small fish but I couldn't leave my spot to tell them to come here as there were three other fisherman waiting to take my spot. The bobber started to move funny again. Another bite but this one was on for only a little bit before the hook slid free. Taking off the circle hook, I put on a number two long shanked hooked and picked out the biggest shrimp in the bucket.
Again the bobber started to move as I set the pole into a natural pole holder. It was definitely a fish and when I picked up the pole the fish took off! The fish did its runs and I gained a crowd of fisherman, Two actually had long handled nets and one carefully climbed down to where I was at. The fish tried to run into the rocks and I had to try to force the fish free as the rocks, covered with barnacles, were sure death to my line.
Finally, I was able to guide the fish into a safe spot where the net was waiting. It took both of us to lift the fish above the rocks and carry it to a safe spot for pictures! I tried to measure the fish. It was way over the thirty inch mark on my rod. A young man took my pictures as I posed, wanting more pictures but worried about the fish. George arrived and measured the fish with his pole. His marks weren't long enough either and we estimated the fish at thirty six inches.
In Texas you are allowed one Red over thirty inches. You tag it and then return the tag to Game and Fish. They then provide you with another tag so you can keep two big reds a year. I didn't want to keep the red as it was a bull and was in great condition for a release. George and Brian had arrived by now, and watched me release the fish,(Several other fishermen had told me to tag it but I never intended to). The fish disappeared into the water, a good release!
The rest of the day was an anticlimax as we caught small whiting, croakers, mangrove snappers, and hardheads. I didn't care, the day was a success as I had finally caught a big red. Clear skies.

ps A friend in the park, and lifetime Texas fisherman Lannie, showed me the hook setup he uses. Its a number 6/0 kahle! He also put on the most incredible knot tying demonstration!
pps I had made a mark on the rod and when I measured the redfish at home it turned out to be a little over thirty seven inches long.