Here is the summary, so there is no need to read further:
1. 7 of us made the trip
2. We caught some fish
3. It rained
4. Travel was relatively easy
5. A good time was had by all
But if you must know the details:
John and Will met at my house and we spread all of our gear out, all over the front yard and driveway, and went over the checklist before actually loading. By the time we refilled our coffee and got on the road we found that Skip and Mary-Kay were already on the road, Eduardo was already at PINS, and that Scott was already rolling. Have the checklist worked well for us, and spreading stuff out let us see what we actually had on hand. The food was not truly an issue, but we did bring more than we really needed. I guess we all figured that we would share with the group. All the dry goods went into the “kitchen box” and what few cold things we ad between us went into the drink cooler.
On the road we were in touch with everybody but Eduardo, but by the time that we got to Malachite, about 1130, everybody showed up quickly.
A quick rigging of rods and back-up gear, along with moving a cooler to the front of the truck, and the Tundra was ready.
Skip and Mary Kay were the last to show at the parking area, but almost the first to be ready to roll. One lesson learned here: the grass is full of those little stickers, don’t sit down!
Eduardo was able to quickly load Scott’s gear, with the exception of his tent-cot, which joined the 2 on the Tundra.
Time to roll out, finally, around 1300. Our game plan was to look for fish and find a place to camp around mile 30. The weather was absolutely perfect for fly fishing all afternoon, but finding feeding fish turned out to be more of a challenge.
Eduardo, who has more experience than any of the rest of us took the lead in the hunt for feeding fish. After miles of cruising the beach, we stopped and wet a line, with only smallish ladyfish brought to hand, until Eduardo hooked into a nice 8 pound jack crevalle. Now our hopes were up! [insert picture here]
This is also the area that Skip decided to test his rusty swimming skills. He can still swim, if he has to, but it isn’t pretty.
The travelling on Friday was extremely easy. The sand was packed and there was very little debris. We were able to watch the water without having to be concerned about loose sand. We did see one truck that had an orange sticker on it that had gotten into trouble earlier.
Just past mile 30 Eduardo saw movement in the water, so we all bailed out of the vehicles to get into the feeding fish. These turned out to be those 18-24” ladyfish that fight so well. All of us got a few of these poor man’s tarpon to hand. It is hard to describe the feeling when you make a perfect 40 foot cast with a sinking line, and a heavy clouser, only to see the fish busting the bait in the water at the end of your rod. We kept trying to decode the trick to getting whatever else was travelling with them, but never did.
As the sun started slipping, and the bite died down, it was time to make camp. Of course we took the most expedient route, and just backed our vehicles up out of the road where were once fishing. The trick we’ve learned is to face the nose into the wind, as that helps block the wind the next morning when it is time to make coffee. [insert pictures]
While setting camp John and I were bombed by the passing gulls. Was this a portent for good luck or bad? Since it was only the 2 of us, I took it for good luck.
After setting up, Ed and Scott took off a little further down the beach to look for feeding fish until dark. The did not have a good report for that excursion.
Tents up, and chairs out, it was time to make the fire for the night. I had brought cheater logs, and Mary-Kay brought fire starter. As I struggled with the fire, John took over and quickly had a real campfire going with the local driftwood. [Pictures here]
Dinner Friday night was Hebrew Nation® hot dogs cooked over open flames on long steel forks. A little sand in the hotdog bun didn’t even slow down our enjoyment of these seared chunks of meat. Mustard, chips, mayonnaise, beer, and wine completed dinner. Desert was an old-time favorite, marshmallows scorched over the campfire. Swapping stories and recounting the fun of the day is how we ended the day.
In the middle of the night a tent pole gave up the ghost and Eduardo was left with a partial tent. Plenty of breeze kept the mosquitoes down.
Up before sunrise and starting slinging a fly brought nothing to hand. A half hour of this and caffeine cravings dictated the next event.
Instant humans, just add coffee. Everybody had their own ideas for breakfast. Cereal, dehydrated eggs, and ham, dehydrated breakfast skillet, granola bars, etc. were all consumed with brewed and instant coffee.
Lesson learned here is to start the coffee pot with warm water. It took forever to boil, but the tea kettle took almost half the time. Two coffee pots going would probably be even beter.
As we started cleaning up the breakfast stuff, and talking about the plan of the day, the sky opened up. The big debate was whether to wear rain jackets of not. The rain came down so quickly and hard, we just sat in the vehicles until it passed. Our tents were without rainflies. The weather was so nice before, and we only had a 20% chance forecast for rain. Everything we had out was soaked. and most of the stuff in the tents.
A break in the weather and we had a quick trash pick-up. John suggested, by example, to get all the trash in the area, not just ours.
We had 3 vehicles and only 2 VHF radios. And by breakfast one of the 2 was completely dead, with no hope of a recharge. Back to the old fashion communication method, stop on the side, wave to the folks behind you to pull up, roll down windows, and chat.
As we travelled down the beach we were stalled by yet another rain storm. I took advantage and napped [insert picture of rained out windshield]
Once again the hunt for feeding fish led us all of the way to the jetties, which took us past 2 points that were more than just a little dicey, and made us appreciate our 4 wheel drives. Once at the jetties we found a small city in place. There must have been 20+ campsites along the high beach wall. A lot of them were breaking down, as they were also soaked that morning. None of us realized that a 20% chance of rain meant that it would rain 50% of the day.
While Will was talking to the anglers at the jetties, he learned that a couple of fly anglers had actually jumped a tarpon earlier that day. Some of the other anglers had mediocre luck on other species, but none had the success that they had hoped for. [pictures of the jetty town]
We decided to start the northbound travelling while there was a break in the weather. We did stop at a couple of places on the route to fish and were startled to here thunder sound so close. The prospect of lightning while holding a graphite lightning rod is a daunting prospect. When lightning hits the ground at 100 feet away it is dam loud, even inside a truck. The triple rainbow was an unexpected sight [picture here]
I watched Will, one of the newest members of the club, cast into wind that I wouldn’t try to throw spinning gear. Just because he is new to the club doesn’t mean he is new to the sport. He definitely caught more fish than any of the rest of us. He is the only one of us to catch a few whiting. I should have told him that whiting would be a welcome addition to the dinner menu. I had to ask what he was slinging. A full sink line and a heavy white and chartreuse clouser seemed to be the key.
Because of the rain, and all of the wet gear, we made a joint decision to call the trip over at sundown. We would travel and fish if the opportunity arose, but we would not make camp. Just before sundown, and on the way north toward the gate we saw fish feeding. This is where John caught his nice jack [picture]
This is also where Mary-Kay got a hook into the meat of her thumb. First aid rendered and we were once again moving. We learned that ice is a decent numbing agent. Ziplock ® bags are a must.
At the malachite parking lot we reloaded most of our gear and disassembled the rods before the trip home. All of this was done in the dark under the parking lights.
The regular showers were closed by this time, so the brave ones of us decided to shower at the “other” showers. You know the ones with hot and cold running water. Hot in the summer time and cold in the winter. There was no shower head, only a blast of water that did a great job of blasting the sand and salt off. Add a little soap, and you could feel almost human.
On the road again at 2300, and started looking for a burger joint for dinner. Belly full, the long drive home began.
0100 in Wharton, Tx, we stopped for fuel and jerky, only to hear the starter of the Tundra spin with no catch. That “Whrrrrr” sound that far away from home is a stomach wrenching sound. Letting the blue beast sit for a few minutes seemed to let her catch her breath, and we were once again headed home.
0230, home, transload, shake hands, and promise “next time” we part ways.