Unusual sights and sounds of the Gulf
By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
We have been enjoying sunny days and mild nights. In order to enjoy those weather patterns we had to head to South Texas. Last year we experienced the reverse in weather conditions and several years ago our children back in northern Wisconsin informed us that the weather in Wisconsin was warmer than it was here in Port Aransas, Texas.
For many years we have been told that the oil industry is alive and well. As we watch the shipping channel there is a constant parade of barges and cargo ships traveling to and from countries all over the world up to or from the Port of Corpus Christi. In addition seven days a week and 24 hours a day there are usually eight to ten ships sitting out in the Gulf waiting to pass through the shipping channel.
On Friday we watched a very unusual looking structure as it was towed through the shipping channel up to the area where it was to be repaired. It was a type of drilling rig with very high towers. We were told it was between 300 and 400 feet high. On another day, while on a sightseeing trip on the shipping channel, we were able to see several enormous oil rigs in various stages of completion. Some of the jobs in this area of our country are quite different from those that are found in and around Wisconsin.
One of the big game fish being sought by anglers from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico this year seems to be the Black Drum. In order to keep a Black Drum it must fall into the slot which is between 14 and 30 inches long.
We have observed quite a few anglers catching Black Drum. The successful anglers have developed a rather unique method of fishing for them. They use a rig that I described as the Wolf River rig that we used to use to fish for walleyes on the Wolf River. The bait that is attached to this rig is probably the ugliest thing an angler could use. They are called sea lice. When putting them on the hook they try to bite the fingers of the angler. The sea lice are threaded on a bait keeper hook on a long piece of line with a heavy sinker. That combination rig is cast out as far as the lead will carry it. The rod is inserted into a rod holder along the edge of the channel and the angler simply sits in a lawn chair and watches the rod tip for movement. Some of the “Winter Texans” we have talked with return to the same spot along the channel many days in a row for many hours each day fishing for Black Drum. Not the most exciting type of fishing!
Once a Drum takes the bait the battle is on. We observed several Drum being caught that were in the 30 pound range. After they are netted and laid on their side a Drum that is not being kept must have a sharp object inserted behind the gill cover to release the pressure on the fish’s internal organs so that they will survive. Most of the Black Drum that we have seen caught have been released. The Drum most likely got its name from the noise that is emitted from the fish that sounds just like someone pounding on a drum.
After five years of fishing the Gulf of Mexico we have concluded that there is a lot that we do not know. It is not a secret that the weather plays a major part in fishing action no matter where you are fishing. Obviously there are many differences between fishing in the Gulf and fishing in fresh water.
This year the wind has at times made it extremely difficult to fish. There have been quite a few days that we have opted not to fish on the jetties because the waves were splashing over the top making walking or standing on the rocks slippery and therefore dangerous. The waves rolling in here are considerably larger than those that we experience on the inland lakes of northern Wisconsin!
If one thinks that the fishing regulations in Wisconsin get complicated a look at the Texas regulations makes ours seem quite simple. In Texas they not only have regulations for fishing in fresh water but also those for fishing in salt water.
Like all good experiences this trip, too, must come to an end and we’ll pack up all our gear and
head north. Each year as we head back to Rhinelander we begin to talk about how much snow there will be on the ground and of course whether there will still be enough ice for ice fishing.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.