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Getting into big fights with big fish at Port Aransas

Monday, March 23, 2020

I recently caught a 12-pound carp in the Guadalupe River and about a 12-pound redfish in Redfish Bay near Aransas Pass. Which was the strongest fighter? Which is the best to eat? It was a toss-up on the fight. Carp are powerful fish but so is an oversized redfish. Concerning table fare, it’s a no-brainer. The best way to eat a carp is to tack it to a cedar plank, season it well and roast it in the fire. Then throw the carp away and eat the plank.

Starting in late January, I have made numerous trips up the Guadalupe River in pursuit of white bass and stripers. The annual spawning run has been weak thus far. On our earlier trips, we caught several nice stripers and a few white bass. Nothing super exciting. But three scenes do stand out.

Hooking the carp was one of the best events. I cast my little crappie jig against a  stone wall a little below the rapids. The bait stopped suddenly and I was sure I had hooked a rock. Then the rock began to swim. I knew I was hooked into a powerful fish. Maybe a big striper? But I saw a flash of yellow-gold. Had to be a big carp. It was a long fight before he came to the net. The hook was in his tail. I released him to fight again. Next time he needs to keep his butt end out of my way.

On one trip, my buddy and I were fishing directly below the rapids. Suddenly, a doe white-tailed deer came across the gravel bar, splashed across the shallow rapids and climbed a steep green bank on the opposite side of the river. It would have made a nice video.

The third exciting event happened on my last trip last week. My partner, George, and I were slow-trolling on the electric motor about 150 yards below the rapids. His lure snagged a rock so I turned the troll wide open and began to circle back to the lure. As the boat wheeled around, I realized that I was not going to quite clear a steep rock wall on the west side of the river. I reached out with my hand to push away just as the bow hit the wall. The boat came to an instant stop and I went overboard. Now all the weight was in the stern of the boat and with the troll on high speed, the boar began to circle. George, who had never fished before in a boat, knew nothing about the troll. How do you turn it off? Which way do you point it? Panic! Meanwhile, I’m swimming, fully clothed with shoes and a fishing rod in my hand. Finally, I was able to grab the gunwale on the port side of the boat, hand walk to the bow, and turn off the troll. People fishing from a gravel bar across from us are screaming, “Are you alright?”

At least it was a warm day. The water didn’t seem very cold. On some other trips this year, with the temp in the 30s, I would have been in trouble. Hypothermia can set up on you quickly, especially with a five-mile run down the river to the ramp. Building a first on the gravel bar would be the best option.

At least I got a free bath. Any coronavirus on me washed down the stream.

The following week my wife Beth and I made a trip to Aransas Pass. We needed to cut the grass at our fish camp and run the outboard motor.

My brother, Wayne, who lives in Aransas Pass, and I made a brief fishing trip on Monday morning. I didn’t expect much. I consider March the worst month to fish saltwater. The fish are no longer in the winter pattern but have not yet settled into a regular spring or summer mode.

But we got a surprise. I caught a nice trout on my first cast on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). We then moved to a small island in a shallow flat. At the back end of the island, redfish were really loaded in the sand holes. We caught 18 redfish in a short time. Several were in the 20-28 inch keeper slot. My best was a thick 26-inch fish.

Things had slowed down a bit when I cast to a big sand hole just off the ICW. I let the Gulp shrimp drop and then began to shake the bait. Wham! A powerful hit and I was hooked into a big fish. And it wasn’t a carp! Immediately, Wayne hooked another good fish. So we were both fighting big redfish out of opposite ends of the boat. Wayne’s fish was smaller than mine and he uses heavier tackle so he soon netted a 23-inch red. On my lite spinning tackle, spooled with 10-pound test monofilament line, my fish continued to circle the boat. But the circles became smaller.

“That’s bound to be an oversized red,” Wayne said.

And it was. We lifted 29 inches of bronze-red-colored fish into the boat. After we snapped a few pics I released her.

Most of the redfish we catch in our bays are juveniles. They leave the bays at about 30 inches to spawn in the gulf. So my 29-inch fish, hopefully, will soon make her way down the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, through the Port Aransas jetties and into the Gulf to live the remainder of her life making babies.

San Marcos Record

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