Date: July 21, 2012
Report By: Chris
Weather Conditions: 12 MPH southwest wind, dirty water with 2’ breaking waves, partially cloudy, temperate in the 90’s
After our success earlier in the week, I knew that I had to get down to the beach for the weekend! The reports were calling for relatively clean and flat surf, which makes for easy kayaking. We planned on fishing just south of San Louis Pass on the beach at our normal spot.
On our way out we stopped at Bayou Bait and Tackle in Galveston looking for some nice big shark baits. They had just gotten in some good sized southern stingrays, so we bought five of them. We had really good results with the stingray earlier in the week. We brought along a cast net and some bait rods also, so we could catch some fresh bait in the surf.
When we arrived we were greeted with a chocolate brown surf with a slightly greener color way out. Unfortunately, the clear calm water that had been around all week was nowhere to be found.
We did have one thing to be happy about! NO WEED! This was the first trip we have made since March that we have encountered absolutely no sargassum weed! The seaweed is a plague to long-line, beach fishermen. It floats through the surf in huge mats that will get tangled in your fishing line causing it to wash up on shore.
I quickly got my Penn Senator 9/0 rigged up with a whole stingray and my other Penn 9/0 with a whole mullet. I got in the kayak and started cruising through the breakers and out into open waters. I noticed that the current was really pulling. I had to try my best just to maintin a straight path. By the time I dropped the baits and got back to the beach, the current had pulled our lines out to a 45 degree angle from camp. Josh baited up a whole stingray and encountered the same problem.
We decided to sit back and spend some time catching some baits to see if the current would slow down as the tide began to trough. I took the cast net and began throwing it in the wade gut catching a bunch of really good sized mullet. This fresh bait would be perfect for some nice sized sharks.
I was standing in shin deep water and I saw the tell tale ripple of a bait fish just below the surface eight feet away from me. I launched a perfect throw of the cast net and immediately could tell that I had another good catch in the net. When I pulled it in, I noticed that I had another 3 good sized mullet, but there was something else in there that I had never seen in person. It was a very strange fish, but I knew what it was immediately and got very excited.
A Southern Stargazaer! One of the only electric fish in the Gulf of Mexico. I have always heard stories of them and seen pictures, but never have caught one. They have a spot on the top of their head that is supposed to produce the electrical shock. There is a fisherman’s prank that is to tell a buddy that it will bring you lots of good luck to kiss this fish on the head.
After catching plenty of bait, the current finally began to slow down around 6 PM. We knew that we needed to get some fresh baits out for night time. We had had a few small runs on some of the fresh mullet, so we decided to reel in those lines and rebait for the night. We hooked up a one of the 9/0s with a fresh mullet and the other with a fresh whiting.
At about this time the sun is now setting. We get glow sticks on all the fishing lines so that when it is dark out we can tell which one is getting hit. We get out the bug spray and hose each other down generously. We then sit in the folding chairs and talk about the big one that we have all been dreaming about. Josh and I take time to enjoy a couple of cigars and a few cold ones while we wait.
We sit and wait… and wait… and wait. We aren’t planning on camping tonight, so we set a time for ourselves to pack up. We decided that if nothing happened by 10:30 we would pack up and call it a night. Well as time passes we aren’t seeing any promising signs. We kept getting a few small runs where just 5-10 feet of line would get pulled. We knew that these for sure had to be pup sharks.
That all changed at 9:50. All of a sudden we hear the beautiful sound of a Penn Senator 9/0 screaming! We all look up and the glow stick clipped to the line is rocketing through the air straight towards the ocean! We had something good running with our whiting! I climbed up in the back of the truck and picked up the rod as Tom and Josh worked quickly to get me into the fighting belt and harness. Once they got me all strapped and clipped in, I slowly tightened the drag down and FISH ON!!!
I immediately knew that this fish was much bigger than anything I had ever fought before! Did we just hook into an 8+ foot shark? Is it a Tiger? Hammer? Monster Bull? As soon as the fish felt that he was hooked it took off, never wanting to look back. He was pulling drag off my reel while it was locked down like it was no problem. My reel was starting to get hot from all the friction of the drag burning off!
I fought the beast from the truck bed for a good 30 minutes. As soon as I gained some good distance on the fish it would take it right back. Finally, I got the fish to the 2nd sand bar. As soon as this fish realized it was being pulled into shallow water it planted itself down and wouldn’t budge. Hmm that’s weird. Sharks usually don’t plant down in one spot.
I’m trying to crank down on this fish with everything I’ve got, but it just isn’t moving. Every once in a while it would gain some strength back and pull a few more yards of line. I knew I had to do something, because the more that I let it sit there and rest, the more energy it was gaining. I jumped down out of the truck bed and continued my fight with the monster on the beach. I was able to muscle it over the sandbar by walking backwards slowly with the fish and reeling as I walked forward with it.
I was finally able to get the fish up and over the second sand bar, but ran into the same problem when it hit the first sandbar. I never even stopped to think that this could be anything but a shark, even though it was giving me all the tell tale signs that it was a completely different sea monster. I battled the mystery beast for another 15 minutes or so and was able to horse it over the first sand bar.
We finally see the leader coming out of the water. I hand off the rod to my lovely fiance while I run to grab the leader with Tom and Josh. We were so eager to finally see the beast that I had been battling for almost an hour. The three of us grabbed the 400lb mono and pulled. Usually at this time we will see a dorsal fin swimming back and forth, but this time we saw nothing. We only felt a lot of weight. I again thought how strange this was. Had I been battling a large plastic bag for the last hour?
We gave the leader another mighty tug and out of the wade gut emerged the most enormous Southern Stingray that I had ever seen. I have seen many big stingrays caught. I have also seen lots of pictures of peoples catches. This stingray made all of the other ones look tiny. This monster looked like something that should belong in Jurassic Park! When we gave the last tug the stingray rushed up on the sand and immediately started flapping its wings. It was making a loud slapping sound and throwing water 30 feet in every direction!
We quickly cut the barb, so that we can release the fish safely. A stingray will grow back its barb fairly quickly, but it would not be safe for us to try to unhook the fish and drag it back into the water with a venomous barb swinging around at us.
He was over 5 feet across and over a foot thick in the middle. There is no way I can give an accurate guess of how much the ray weighed, but I’d say over 100 lbs easy. Thank you to my fiance Kim who took all the pictures for us. Yes, I know that we need to get a better digital camera for night pictures.
We bid farewell to the monster as the three of us dragged it into deep enough water for it to swim away safely. We all celebrated and cheered as we watched the giant slowly fade away and sink back into the deep.
What a night. After that fight we were done for the night. I was sore from head to toe and now that the adrenaline was wearing off, I realized that all my muscles are burning. We packed up camp and started reeling in the last of our rods to find that pup sharks and crabs had taken most of our bait. We did have one bait ray get hit by a decent sized shark, but it missed the hook.
We finally arrived home at around 12:30 AM and all crashed for the night. The next morning I spent some time cleaning up the stingray’s barb to keep as a trophy of the fight that the epic monster had given us. I think I’ll get it framed in a shadow box.
We didn’t get the shark over 8 feet that we have been looking for, but we were lucky enough to battle with this sea creature. Stingrays really are amazing animals, and it was a pleasure to be able to do battle with and feel the power of this fish.