The plan was to drive as close to the jetty as possible before making camp on Friday night.
Ed led the pack by leaving the Houston area at O-dark-thirty. He was on the beach long before the rest of the group even thought about leaving home. Skip and Mary Kay left next. Nilo and I were right behind them. Scott and Matt would travel together and follow the GPS SPOT messages to make it to camp after dark.
Skip and Mary-Kay were waiting at the Malaquite visitor’s center for Nilo and Puck at about 1300. Then a quick transload of fuel and the pair of vehicles went down the beach looking for Ed, and birds.
We stopped a few times in what we thought were “fishy” spots. The wind was almost nonexistent, and the waves were just about knee-high. The beach was a low tide and the travel was easy. There were patches of soft sand on the high road, but none of it was deep. I sent SPOT messages to Matt and Scott, letting them know of any potential trouble spots.
A few small ladyfish, and we moved on to another spot. About 1500 we caught up with Ed. He had found a spot where he was catching ladyfish and whiting on every cast, but left it looking for larger prey.
By the time we made camp Friday, we still had not found any major activity. We made camp past the 40 mile maker at about mile 42.5 fairly early, about 1700. We sat around the campfire, drinking wine, swapping stories, and eating sandwiches while admiring the clear skies before calling it a night.
When we got out of the tents, before sunrise, we found that Matt and Scott, thanks to Scott’s nighttime driving skills, had made it sometime in the night, and had camped in the spot that Mary-Kay had insisted that Skip leave for them.
Coffee and a leisurely breakfast under our belt, we made it to the jetties, only to be disappointed with the lack of fish activity. There were some fish working under the occasional bird hundreds of yards off the shore, but nothing that we could reach.
Driving north on the beach, back towards where we started that day, we never did see any bird activity. We stopped and threw hardware when we reached the Nicaragua, the old sunken ship. There was no activity to be seen be we did manage to hook a couple of Spanish mackerel, before the water once again just died. We stopped a couple of more times, with similar results.
We made camp early again, and tried flies, hardware, and even bait, but nothing wanted to play. The weather was beautiful, the beach was drivable, the surf wasn’t overly rough, but the fish just weren’t here.
Skip and Mary-Kay broke out the generator, and the microwave, to heat the meat up for dinner. Beef brisket heated up in a microwave on a deserted island has its own flavor. Nothing says ”roughing it” like a microwave while you are camping.
When we got the fire going, the wind had shifted and Ed’s tent was now directly downwind of the flames. That wouldn’t have been a problem if all we were burning was wood. We had decided to also burn any cardboard we had with us as fuel to get it going. This caused the embers to drift dangerously close to the tent. By the time the fire was going well, the embers were no longer a threat, and people started turning in. This was at 2030 hrs. I guess it had been a long, fishless, day.
When we got up, Ed’s tent had given up the ghost after all. One of the support poles had broken in the middle of the night.
While coffee was brewing, and breakfasts being eaten, we were watching the waves.
“Was that a jack?”
“Was that a drum?”
“Look at all the mullet in the waves!”
“What just made them scatter?”
Considering our luck the day before, we were reluctant to get our hopes up. If we thought Saturday morning was a “lazy start,” Sunday was even slower. Packing up after breakfast took forever. And then the birds showed up. Not the wild crazy flocks that we were hoping to see, but enough to show us that there were indeed some fish feeding. Ladyfish and baby jacks were everywhere for a while. We wanted something just a bit larger, so we decided to leapfrog as we continued to travel north.
Within 5 miles of travel we ran into a “real” batch of birds feeding over fish. This was about mile marker 35, almost half-way back to the start point. Lady fish and baby jack again, all just the other side of the second sandbar, in the gut. Some of us were a little more challenged getting across to the second bar. Fly rods brought a lot of ladyfish, and baby jacks to hand, but getting anything larger to bite was being even more of a challenge. Even throwing hardware again left us essentially fishless. We continued to leapfrog to feeding birds the rest of the morning. This went on until about 1300 before we decided that it was time to travel home.
It was great trip, but the fish just weren’t biting this time. Next year……