Monthly Archives: January 2013

RAYathon – Epic Shark Bait Haul!

Date:  1/19/13

Report By:  Chris

Team Members:  Chris, Josh

Weather Conditions:  High 60 degrees, very light wind, sunny, very calm water, waves barely breaking, water muddy colored

Its that time of year when prime sharking season is approaching quickly.  This is when I usually start buying new gear, building new rods, making new leaders, and catching bait.  Saturday was forecasted to be a beautiful fishing day.  I talked to Josh and we decided to head down to the coast in search of catching some fresh bait for shark season.

This would be the first time that I got to wet a line since September.  With my wedding, deer season, and the holidays, there hasn’t been much time for anything else, so I was itching to get back in the salt water.

Earlier in the week we had gotten a really good tip on a great place to catch stingrays from a fellow sharker named Clint.  He had caught 24 rays in 4 hours at this spot last year around this time of the year.  He was feeling confident that the rays were, and that now was the time to go get them.  The plans were for Josh and I to meet Clint around 9am on the beach and fish until we had a good bait stock.  Josh and I ran into a little trouble when we ran out of gas on the way down to the beach.  After a long walk to the nearest gas station and back, we were back on the road headed down to the spot.

Fillin ‘er up after a long walk to the gas station

We were first to arrive and started getting our bait rods set up.  The standard rig for surf fishing for bait fish is usually a double drop rig.  It gives you to places to place hooks with the weight on the bottom.  For the last couple years we have ditched the double drop for heavy Sabiki Rigs.  Sometimes people look at us like we are crazy for fishing Sabiki Rigs because they aren’t very common on the beach, but we found that they out fish a normal double drop rig 3 to 1 at least!  We use the heavy rigs with 40lb mainline and 30 lb branches.  Eventually, I plan on doing a whole article on the pros and cons of Sabiki Rigs.

Beautiful day on the Texas Coast

While we were getting set up I talked to my buddy Ron, who was fishing a few miles down the beach from us.  He was running into a bunch of problems with sea weed down there, so he decided to come join us.

This guy rolled up and gladly let me take a picture with his jacked up jeep. I’m 5’11 and the top of my head didn’t even make it to the hood

Josh and I baited up 4 rods, each with a Sabiki Rig.  Within 3 minuted of the first cast, Josh was hooked into a good fish.  After a few short minutes he landed a pretty little black drum.  We took a few pictures and then let it go to grow a little bigger.  Black drum that size are great table fare and pretty good shark bait, but they weren’t what we were after that day.

Good rod bend picture

Josh, with the first fish of the day

Not soon after that,  Clint and Ron rolled up and began to get set up also.

I decided to try a new strategy.  I put my neoprene waders on, waded out until I was waist deep, cast my rods from there, walked them back to the beach, and stuck them in rod holders so that I could get the bait a little deeper.  This was the trick for the day!  We were having non stop hookups on the deeper rods.  There were times we were pulling in 3-4 rays at once.  Every fish for the next hour was a Southern Stingray.

Me (Chris) with my first ray of the day

Wading back in after going out for a deep cast.

We were so busy catching these rays that we barely got to say hello to the fellas that we were there to fish with.  They were pretty busy also.  Ron was catching some huge whiting and some good sized rays and Clint was catching tons of rays and some nice black drum.

After about 2 hours the cooler was filled.  We decided to stop fishing because we just couldn’t take any more rays if we wanted to.  Honestly, we could have doubled the number we caught if we wanted to.  When all was said and done, we finished the day with 26 Rays, 1 Black Drum, 2 Whiting, and 2 Croaker.

Chris with a good rod bend picture

Triple!

Cool close-up shot of a ray

26 for the day before we called it quits

What a day!  I’ve never caught stingrays like that in my life.  I’m very thankful that a Clint was so willing to share his spot with us, so that we could get a good bait haul.  Now that we got the bait its just a matter of time before we catch the monster shark of our dreams!  I’ve got a really good feeling about 2013!

//

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Categories: fishing, Land Based Shark Fishing, outdoors, road trip, Shark Fishing Reports, Surf Fishing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Weekend at Deer Camp

Date:  January 11-13, 2013

Report By:  Chris

Team Members:  Chris, Craig, Justin, Josh, Chad, Tommy

Weather Conditions:  Started out warm and humid in the high 70’s,  Strong cold front came through and dropped the temperature to the 40’s with a crazy thunderstorm.

We had been looking forward to this weekend for months!  It has been a long time since all the Lost Boys were able to get together at once.  The plans for the weekend were to head out to the woods of Trinity County, Texas to do some hunting and relaxing at deer camp.  Come five o’clock, the boys jumped in our trucks and set up without looking back.

The lease that we hunt on is an MLD management property.  MLD is a Texas program standing for Managed Land Deer.  The program pairs hunters up with a biologist who surveys the land and will assign a yearly bag limit.  The program focuses on managing a healthier heard and keeping the animal resources in balance.  One of the great benefits is that we get to hunt deer a few months longer than normal Texas deer season!

Craig, Chad and I were the first to arrive for the evening.  We got first dibs on bunks, and I made sure to get far away from the bad snorers.  Justin, Tommy, and Josh rolled up a few minutes later, while we were setting up camp and getting a fire ready.  We spent the evening sitting around the camp fire, telling stories, sippin on beers and whiskey, and hoping on a deer that the next morning may bring.  Things got a little crazy too, with random wrestling matches breaking out, and other foolish displays of masculinity.

Chad and Craig…Country as they wanna be

Justin’s New Head Lamp. It even made Dinosaur noises.

Whiskey fueled wrestling match

5 AM came way too fast.  Especially after not going to sleep until 3 hours prior.  Nevertheless, we were driven by adrenalin and excitement as we all suited up in camo, wished each other luck, jumped in the trucks and headed to the deer blinds!  The plans were for me and Chad to hunt together, Craig and Tommy, and Justin and Josh.  This is where the problems started!

Justin and Josh ran into the first set of problems.  When they arrived at the stand they were planning on hunting, they found that they had been locked out.  The blind wasn’t supposed to be locked and since they didn’t have the key, they had to try a backup blind.  At this time it started raining!  They had to walk through the woods, in complete darkness, with nothing but headlamps, while its raining, looking for the backup stand.  They finally arrive at the backup stand.  As they began to crawl in, they quickly found out that it was infested with Black Widow Spiders.  Since both Josh and Justin are like little girls and afraid of spiders, they decided to head back to camp and sit this hunt out.

Chad and I experienced problems of our own.  In Texas, it is a common practice to hunt over a feeder that is set to dispense a certain amount of corn each day to keep animals coming to the area regularly.   (We’ll address the debate about hunting over bait in a future article.)   The timer for our feeder was set to go off a few minutes before sunrise.  When the time came along we didn’t hear the click-clacking of corn being launched out of the spin feeder, but instead just the whir of the motor.  I knew this wasn’t a good sign and meant that the feeder was empty.  After an hour or so we left the stand and confirmed the the feeder had been empty for quite some time.  Oh well, it was back to camp for us to come up with plans for the rest of the day.

We got back to camp and met up with Josh and Justin.   Soon after Craig and Tommy showed up.  They had a moderately successful hunt.  They saw a few different deer, but were only targeting wild boar or a buck named Rufio that Craig has been chasing all season.  We decided our best bet for the evening was to go into town and buy some corn and jello mix to make some bait piles for the blinds where the feeders weren’t working.  That way would we have a chance to see some animals.

Pretty typical East Texas deer camp. No power or running water. Just a roof over our heads and a fire pit!

We spent the rest of the morning heading into town to get corn and groceries, setting up bait piles, and cooking some jalapeno sausage for breakfast.  We had some downtime before the evening hunt that we spent having fun with some throwing knives and axes that Craig had brought.  We made an Osama Bin Laden target and made use of our time ridding East Texas of this terrorist threat… Seal Team 6 style.  Justin, Chad and Josh also found a new hobby of whittling.  They made some pretty neat stuff with some oak branches that were lying around camp.

Osama Bin Laden… near lifelike representation by Craig

Justin was the first one to stick one. Couldn’t have been a better shot.

Chad and Justin Whittling

Once we had sufficiently worn out our throwing arms and whittling sticks, it was time to head out for the evening hunt.  We were hunting in the same teams, and Justin and Josh had found a new stand that was neither locked nor had any sort of infestation.

A couple hours into the sit, Craig and Tommy sent everyone a text message telling us about a very unique experience they had.  A bald eagle had landed in a tree nearby and they were able to watch it for close to 30 minutes.  Bald eagles are very rare in East Texas, and it is a definitely special to have the privilege to see the symbol of our great Nation in the wild.

Craig and Tommy were the only ones having any luck all evening.  They saw 6 different deer over the course of the evening.  No one else had seen anything.  darkness was creeping up, and we were running on 3 hours of sleep and a few breakfast sausages.  We were ready to call it a day.  I leaned over to Chad and told him that we should probably call it a day in 10 minutes.

A view from Chris and Chad’s stand

Just then, a big doe walked across the shooting lane.  By the time I got my Winchester 30.06 up she had just crossed into the treeline.  Dang!  Missed opportunity!  Just as I was about to lower my gun, another doe walks out following.  She was smaller than the leading deer, but would still be a great animal to fill the freezer with.  Since we had 5 does that we needed to take before the end of the season to according to the MLD program, I decided to take her.  She never stopped walking, so I steadied the cross hairs as well as possible just behind its shoulder, where the vitals lie.  I pulled the trigger and she dropped in her tracks.  It was a quick, efficient kill; the best kind.

Me (Chris) with my doe. I can taste the sausage already!

Chad and my excitement was overwhelming.  We were ready to give up and in about a 4 second period we had seen 2 deer and put one on the ground.  It all happened so quick that Chad barely had time to turn around and see the shot!  Upon inspection, I had hit the deer a little high and a little far back than my intended shot.  Luckily she still dropped in her tracks despite the poor shot placement.

The next hour was spent hauling the deer back to camp, filling out the proper MLD kill information, and cleaning and quartering the animal.  Once we had her cleaned and quartered we iced her down so we could take her to the butcher on the way home.  The whole deer is going to be made into Jalapeno Cheese Smoked Sausage…  Mmmmmmm Sausage!

We had something to celebrate.  Nights at camp are some of the best fun you can have with your clothes on.  Sitting around a campfire, sipping on a drink, and talking about life with my brothers and my best friends is an indescribably amazing feeling.  We spent the rest of the evening doing just that.  That is until the cold front decided to move in!

Tommy, Josh, Chad, Craig, and Me (Chris) enjoying the fire. I got my jeans pretty bloody so they went in the fire.

The whole weekend the temperature had been muggy and in the 70’s.  Literally, within a 10 minute period, the temperature dropped 10 degrees, and then another 20 degrees over the next 2 hours.  The rain was insane.  We had to move the group under the awning, but we still got to enjoy the evening.  The rain turned out to be kinda peaceful anyways, and it sure was nice to get rid of the humidity.

Chad, Justin, Tommy, and Josh

Craig, Justin, Tom, and Chad… Notice that the sleeveless shirts are gone and the jackets are on.

We finally called it a night and everyone except Tommy and Craig slept through what they describe as the loudest thunder that they had ever heard.  Craig said he could hear the lightning crackling before the thunder boomed.  Its hard to believe that we all slept through that!

We got our first ever all group picture before we left. Tommy, Justin, Craig, Josh, Chad, Chris

We packed up in the morning and reluctantly said goodbye to each other, the camp, and the woods.  Going back to work after a weekend hunting with the boys is one of the hardest things to do.  We had a great time and as usual made some great memories.  We’ll be back in the woods getting into some kind of trouble before too long.  Until next time we’ll be eating jalapeno deer sausage and day dreaming.

//

Categories: camping, deer hunting, Hunting, outdoors, road trip, texas, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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