Outdoor Notebook: Heading south Looking for more fish, warmer temperatures
When the daily weather forecast is predicting that the temperatures will not get above zero for quite awhile it is time to take some drastic moves. For us that drastic action involved a trip to the Gulf Coast of Texas.
My fishing partner, Tom Twesme, “the Osseo Jinx”, his wife, Rosemary, my wife, Judy, and I piled a mountain of gear into Tom’s pick-up and headed south. It is a long ride from Rhinelander to the Gulf Coast of Texas! We divide the travel distance into three days and two nights.
At least this year the storms moving across the country were not in our path and we seemed to run out of snow on the ground south of La Crosse. That was what we were looking for. Just before we left home I had plowed several inches of snow and tried to forget about the thermometer that read minus 5 degrees. The weather reports on our trip down reported that a huge cold front was movIng down across the mid-section of the country even into the middle of Texas.
We were hopeful that the temperature would get warmer and the winds relatively calm. During past trips we have experienced extremely high winds along the coastline of Texas that have sometimes prevented us from fishing.
After arriving in the resort it was time to unload a very well packed pick-up. Our condo is on the third floor which provided us with some good exercise.
Our first attempt at fishing was to use ghost shrimp for bait and work the shrimp along the rocks on the Jetty. We had been disappointed to find that none of the bait shops had any live bait shrimp. Tom and Rosemary decided they would head out early one morning to harvest some ghost shrimp to use as bait.
The process by which one gets ghost shrimp is interesting. Tom has a PVC device called a shrimp sucker that he uses to catch the shrimp during low tide. Fishermen walk on the beach where one looks for small, pencil size holes. The shrimp sucker is pushed down into the sand over that small hole and then pulled up. A plug of mud is pushed out on the sand. If a shrimp is in that mud and you work fast enough you can beat a seagull that has been hovering around to grab the shrimp.
The ghost shrimp is extremely soft and are difficult to keep on the hook. These are not the same shrimp as table shrimp.
The first day of fishing on the south jetty produced two fish in three hours. We fed many more fish than that. The second day we found a supply of live bait shrimp and went to the north jetty to try our luck.
A jetty is a long deposit of huge rocks that was built along the edge of the shipping channel that leads to Corpus Christi.
The fish we are catching are called sheepshead, which are very different from the fresh water sheepshead we catch in Wisconsin. The saltwater sheepshead are good eating which is not especially true of the fresh water variety.
Fishing on the north jetty requires that anglers pay a fee to be transported to that jetty on a small ferry called the Jetty Boat.
Fewer fishermen choose to take the ferry which cuts down on the fishermen therefore giving us more room to fish.
We caught a lot of sheepshead along the north jetty but most were a bit shy of the minimum of 16 inches in length. These fish could be described by saying they resemble a crappie on steroids and they have teeth that look like those found in the mouth of a sheep. They put up a great fight and when hooked are a real challenge to bring in.
It goes without saying that fishing along the rocks of the jettys takes a toll on our tackle.
We will continue fishing and report on our experiences and success or lack of in future columns.
P.S. The weather here is colder than normal (in the low 60’s) but not as cold as it is in Wisconsin!
Longtime Northwoods outdoors enthusiast Roget Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.