I had already broken off eight rigs at two different places, typical for jetty fishing, when the red fish picked up my cut mullet. I saw the tapping on the pole and picked it up just as the red took off on a run! It ran like a nice fish and I knew it was big but not giant. Two fisherman stopped their walk out to watch and one got out his net to help. Please don't get in the rocks, I thought, as the fish swam along the edge of the water! Since my first trip to the jetty, with Pete, I had wanted to go back and fish for reds. So Saturday I threw my cast net and caught some nice finger mullet and I headed out early Sunday morning, to avoid the crowds. The wind was blowing fairly strong from the southeast and I knew the waves would be pretty big at the jetty. Arriving I was surprised that there were only two others out on the rocks. The waves were pretty big but maybe, just maybe I could safely fish the end. Walking out, I set up in the same place where the family had caught their six reds the other day, but the conditions were a lot worse. I broke off two rigs in as many casts, and then two more. The waves grew larger and one broke near the top of the jetty. Not wanting to get stranded out at the end I reeled in and carefully walked back over the wet rocks. Passing the low spot I reached the next area of sheltered rocks and fished "Petes" rock. Its just a rock that my Watersedge friend Pete loves to fish and its the same spot where I caught a 38 inch red last year. The tide was still going out and I really thought that this was it but all I got were snags on three successive casts. Somewhat discouraged I headed further in, when I passed an excited fisherman who was dying to tell someone about his big red! He told me that this was his favorite spot for big reds and that he had broke off on a monster red and landed this smaller one. He lifted the stringer and I was impressed, oh my! He told me what he was doing and I thanked him some more and continued on, asking other fisherman how their luck had been. I passed a family, where the father told me he had just lost a big red, also broken off, and I decided I needed to fish some more so I found an empty spot and cast out some cut mullet. I put out a second pole, using shrimp and a slip bobber and caught a weird fish,(I think it is a juvenile atlantic spadefish), that I couldn't identify. Casting out again, the bobber floated into my other line just as the red fish hit. Go figure. The red fish finally came in and the man with the net tried to net it tail first. His friend yelled at him to net it head first and he turned the net and in it went! He handed the net to an onlooker and the fish and net were quickly hoisted up to where I was standing. Thanking them I asked if they would take my picture as I was going to release the fish. It was way over the slot size and I hate to kill a big fish when someone else could catch it again. Tossing it back into the water the fish had difficulty as its air bladder was extended and it couldn't get back down. Another onlooker asked if I knew how to fizz the fish but I am not convinced that the fizzed fish survive. I think they just swim to the bottom and die as its quite a shock to the fish. We watched the fish for quite a while and finally it gained its strength and dove down. I felt good as I never intended to keep the fish as once you put the fish on a stringer its a goner. Don't get me wrong, I love reds on a halfshell, barbecued redfish, but the big ones well they are big ones and deserve to live and spawn. Rentia was impressed with the picture and I could tell she looks forward to catching a big red herself. It was a great day and a great return to the jetty. The redfish I have dreamed about, for the past year, are still there! Clear skies.
ps Texas Game and Fish should be commended for their two tag limits on big reds. If you do want to keep a trophy you can, and thats fine, but as far as eating one, I have yet to talk to anyone who says the big ones taste good. The smaller ones are another matter!