Surf Fishing

It Might Be Nice If I Could See Some Sharks

Date:  March 23 & 24, 2013

Report ByChris

Team MembersChris, Craig, Justin, Chad, Tommy

Weather Conditions:

  • General – light, misting rain Saturday in the AM, overcast entire day Saturday, thick fog rolled in Saturday early evening and stayed around until after sunset.  Cold front came through late Saturday night.  Sunday was sunny and clear, but cold and windy.
  • Air Temperature – Highs in the mid 70s lows in the low 60s
  • Wind – 5 MPH South East Pre-frontal wind after the front moved though wind picked up to 30 MPH North West wind.
  • Water temperature – 69 degrees
  • Waves – 2-4 breakers with 1-2 foot swells past the breakers,
  • Water Color – muddy and then cleared up to a nice green color with 2’ visibility.

The time had finally come for our first shark fishing trip of the year.   I had spent the last few months preparing gear, developing new tactics, and studying as much as I could to make this season our best one yet.  I still don’t know how I made it through the work week knowing that come Saturday morning I would be back at home on the sand.

The weather was going to be the main challenge we would face over the weekend.  A strong front was going to roll in Saturday night that would bring strong winds and cold weather.  It was going to be overcast and rainy all during the day Saturday, but nothing short of a hurricane was going to keep us off the beach.

Saturday morning finally arrived.  Justin and I left the house at 7:30 AM and headed over to pick up Big Red, our shark fishing trailer, from the welder, who had been performing some maintenance and upgrades.  He did a really great job and I couldn’t be more impressed with the work.  He fixed a bunch of the welds that we were having problems with and devised a new system to make our rails fold up and down and to be pinned into place.  After we got Big Red hooked up, we headed over to Craig’s to load her back up and head to the beach.

We were on the road by 9:15 AM with an hour and a half trip ahead of us.  The excitement was killing us.  I had read a report on Extreme Coast from the weekend prior in the same area that we were planning on fishing where the angler had caught 20 sandbar sharks in 2 days.  The average size of his sharks was about 6.5’.  That report kept me up every night that week!  We spent the hour and a half drive talking about what our weekend might bring and that if we were to have half the luck that guy did then we would have a heck of a trip.

Finally, we arrived at a new spot that I had scouted in the off season at 10:45 AM.  We immediately began catching bait, setting up shark rods with leaders and weights, and getting the kayaks ready to deploy our first baits.  Big whiting, black drum, and sheepshead were plentiful in the surf.  Our plan was to try a variety of baits and tackle setup to see what would work best.  Our first baits went out right around noon; a huge meaty whiting, a nice sized black drum, and a bloody plate sized stingray were on the menu.

Two new reels and the new rod I finished building just in time for the trip

New Reel on the rod I finished building just days before the trip

Whiting rigged up ready to go

Within the next 45 minutes our biggest fears came to life.  We watched our lines slowly start to bow and drift into the current.  The seaweed had found its way onto our lines and was weighing them down and wiping them out one by one.  We had even made special 2 lb. weights with stainless steel legs for this trip that didn’t stand a chance to the 50 lb. clumps that built up on the line.

Pre-deployment meeting as Tommy’s daughter watches on

At 2 PM we made a group decision to pack up camp and head to another spot that we had caught many sharks at in the past.  The new spot was on the other side of a pass that leads to the bay system.  We thought the pass could make a difference on the weed and conditions.

We couldn’t have been more right.  As soon as we got to the new spot we were greeted with beautiful, much calmer, green, clear water.  There were pelicans and seagulls diving in the surf.  The best part was the seaweed was very scarce here.  After being discouraged for the last few hours, this new spot gave us a second wind like a jolt of lightning.

Justin relaxing at the new spot

Justin getting ready to kayak in the cold water as Chad and Tommy help him suit up

Rushing to get baits out, we deployed 5 rods back to back.  We again had a spread of baits that consisted of jack crevalle, stingray, whiting, sheepshead, and black drum.  As I cross the 3rd sandbar, kayaking the 4th bait, I hear my brother on the two-way radio call to me and say, “Chris, you better drop it there and turn around.  I can’t see you any more”.  I turned around and realized that I could barely see the shore.  A thick blanket of fog had overcome us at a tremendous speed.  I kayaked about 50 more yards, dropped the bait, and headed back to shore.

Black Drum rigged with double J hooks

It was now about 6 PM.   Justin headed out for what would be our last bait deployment of the day.  The fact was that the fog was just too thick.  We couldn’t see anything past the 1st sandbar.  Honestly, we probably shouldn’t have let Justin take that last bait out (A key to staying safe during this process is maintaining visual contact.  If something happens to one of us we have a rescue kayak ready to spring into action).  When he got back we all had a discussion and decided that it wasn’t safe to go out in the kayak any more, even though we had 2 other rods ready to go, tons of fresh bait, and a decent amount of daylight left.

Fog so thick you can’t see the dunes

Way too thick to kayak

Having deployed all the baits we could for the evening we decided to rinse off, throw on some fresh clothes and sit around the camp fire.  I got undressed, rinsed off, wrapped up in a towel, and headed for my clean clothes in the truck as Justin went to take his turn rinsing off.   Right when Justin starts rinsing off the 9/0 with a chunck of sheepshead starts a slow roll.  I realize that we are the only 2 near the rod and we are both wearing nothing but towels.  I climbed the ladder to the platform as quickly as I could ready to do battle in my birthday suit when the fish dropped the bait and decided not to come back.  Thank God because that could have made for some of the most embarrassing blackmail pictures.  Imagine a 230 lb white boy fighting a shark in nothing but a fighting belt.  It’s enough to make a blind man scream.

Camp set up for night fishing

Things remained pretty quiet until right as the sun went down.  Almost every rod got picked up.  We had 6 runs in 45 minutes without a fish ever committing to a bait.  My guess is they were all small sharks because they only took about 10 feet of line each run and dropped it.  We all sat around the fire as our adrenaline rushes slowly subsided after the frenzy of runs slowed and then stopped.  We spent the rest of the evening talking about women, fishing, and the good old days and eating a beach dinner.  Around 11 PM we all decided to settle in to our tents and call it a night.  We still had 5 rods out at this point and we were pretty sure that 3 of them still had bait.

Sleeping on the beach is one of my favorite things to do.  There is nothing like falling asleep under the stars with a nice gulf breeze carrying through your tent and listening to the sound of the waves rolling in the background, hoping to be awoken by the chaos of a reel screaming as a shark picks up a bait.  That peacefulness ended around 3 AM, but not by the sweet sound of a screaming drag, but instead by the predicted cold front.  Poseidon decided to let us feel his wrath.  The winds were upwards in the mid 30 MPH range.  Justin and Tommy’s tent collapsed.  Craig’s tent pretty much collapsed.  I thought that my tent cot was going to get tipped over.  Chad was surprisingly comfortable.  Fortunately, we all made it through the night, some with a little more sleep than others.

Craig is sleeping somewhere in that pile!

We awoke to clear, sunny skies and a furious wind.  When we brought in our baits, my suspicion of small sharks toying with our baits was solidified.  The jack crevalle roast was gone, the jack crevalle head was fully intact, the 2 rods with sheepsheads had the bait taken, and the rod with the big ray had a bunch of small 3-4” diameter bite marks taken out of it.  With the 30 MPH wind sandblasting us and blowing directly into the gulf, we decided it wasn’t safe to try to kayak any more that morning.

What we woke up to

We spent the next hour or so packing up and reflecting on our trip.  We left the beach slightly disappointed yet fulfilled at the same time.  We had our first skunking since July of 2011, but I feel that we couldn’t have fished any harder.  We left nothing on the table.  Luck just wasn’t on our side this weekend, but we still had a great time and were able to be back on the Texas Gulf Coast doing the activity I love most in life, fishing for sharks.  It’s early in the year and we have a long season ahead of us.  We’ll get ‘em next time.

//

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Categories: camping, fishing, Land Based Shark Fishing, outdoors, shark, Shark Fishing Reports, Surf Fishing, texas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

//

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

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