Posts Tagged With: lost boys

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.

//

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

Fire and Fauna

Date:  February 16-17, 2013

Report By:  Tommy

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

Weather Conditions:  Clear and cool

I stepped off of one of the longest helicopter flights I’d ever been on, on Thursday around 2 pm.  The rest of the day was a blur, from getting off of the rig to my wife picking me up at the airport. I was filled with anticipation for the upcoming weekend trip to the deer camp to celebrate Craig’s birthday.  Friday could not have been any different; the work day dragged on while all I could think about was getting up to camp and hanging out with my best friends.  Josh swung by the house around 5:30 pm to pick me up.  I kissed Brit and Baby Reagan goodbye and loaded the truck.  The long drive to camp was full of Josh and I pumping each other up, preparing ourselves for how much fun this weekend would be.

As soon as we arrived, we hopped out of the truck, greeted Chris and Craig, and each took a draw on the bottle of “Crown Maple” that Chris offered-up.  Craig had the fire raging, and we all had our spots around the campfire discussing the fate of the world and life’s bigger problems (like what color sharks are most attracted too).  We got straight to work spreading corn, sugar, and Hog Wild underneath the feeders that we planned on hunting, all the while keeping a keen eye out for hogs and rabbits.  After an hour or so of driving around the woods, with no luck, we decided to retire to the campfire again.

Inside our “cabin”

Chris and Justin fixin supper

As the night went on, Craig got the fire burning even larger and hotter.  We were all beginning to feel the effects of too much whiskey and wine.  Josh dragged a large piece of plywood out from the side of the bunk-house and set us up a beer-pong table.  Craig dragged another piece of plywood out from the side of the bunk-house and threw it on the fire.  We joked around and played beer-pong through the night and into morning until about 3 am, when Craig tried to play “flaming beer pong” by lighting the ping-pong balls on fire.  With two hours until we were supposed to wake up for the morning hunt we packed it in and called it a night.

Flaming Beer Pong

Tommy and Justin in Deep conversation…

I woke up groggy, and slightly disoriented.  I stumbled outside to relieve myself and heard the rest of the guys stirring around inside the bunk-house.  It was way too late for the morning hunt, we had missed it, so we agreed to go into town and gorge on some jalapeno boudin for breakfast.  As it turns out, we slept in so late that the donut shop was closed and we had to go eat at the local café.  In case you don’t know about the local café, it accounts for one third of the restaurants in town and serves food that can be bought at your local grocery store freezer section.  The nasty, greasy, garbage food from the café is exactly what we needed to get us back on our feet for the day.

We killed some time in the afternoon setting some anthills on fire

Back at the camp we decided to follow the guidance of some wives and friends and get crazy with a “Harlem Shake” video.  We knew that Justin and Tom would be joining us later in the day and thought that this would be the best way to kill some time before their arrival.  While filming one of the videos Justin was incessantly calling us telling us that we needed to head out to the stands, and that critters were stirring all over Trinity.  We were just having way too much fun acting like kids to heed his advice.  After we reviewed the footage and laughed at each other for a good spell, Justin had finally arrived.

We suited-up in camo and talked about who would hunt which stand.  I would be hunting with Justin, and was excited because I had never hunted with Justin before.  We started down the road to the stand in Justin’s truck and realized he needed his jacket, so Justin used his expert driving skills to reverse all the way back to camp and grab a jacket.  Off we went, again, when we realized that we should bring a video camera in case we encounter any action, so Justin put his driving skills to test one more time and reversed back to camp one more time.  No camera was at the camp so we set-off, finally, to go play in the woods.

We parked deep in the pines and began our trek through the muddy trails towards the stand.  Justin and I were being so careless; I forget what we were talking about, but was probably something about how insulated coveralls make the back of your knees sweaty when you walk, pretty insignificant, un-muted, conversation.  Justin was looking back towards me when I froze and smacked his arm.  We were just inside the tree-line, walking towards the pipeline clearing when I spotted a few hogs rooting around the clearing.

We both, instantly, went silent and hunter instincts took over.  Justin laid out his jacket and crouched down.  I got into prone position and trained the rifle on a hog that appeared to be about 60 lbs.  Justin was spotting others and told me that there were about 5 hogs, one of which was massive.  The hog that I had in the crosshairs must’ve been only 20 yards away.  They were very active and moving quickly.  I felt rushed.  Justin was whispering quietly, “take it, take the shot”, so I took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger as I exhaled.  I couldn’t believe it, but I had shot just under the belly of that hog.  They ran off into the woods and left the both of us with a bit of a care-free feeling, the feeling that we may have ruined the rest of the hunt.

Justin and I marched over to the stand, climbed in, and got settled.  It was a bit different than usual because we knew we had just made a ruckus taking a shot at that hog.  The best thing about missing that hog was that I was with Justin.  You may remember the post “Redemption is a Dish Best Served Cold” when Justin had missed a shot at a deer they called Thud-Butt and was able to harvest Thud-Butt the next day.  Justin’s experience on his hunt for Thud-Butt was invaluable to me at this time.  As the dust settled in my head, and my nerves calmed down, Justin finally turned this hunt around by saying, “I’m just glad it wasn’t me that missed this time”.  We laughed and joked for the next 3 hours, talking about dream exotic hunts, our travel experiences, and crazy ex-flames (Justin has got some serious crazies after him).  We were being so loud, but having so much fun it didn’t matter.

I think we were just about to call the hunt quits when Justin spotted a group of doe off in the distance to the west.  They must have been over 500 yards away.  The two of us got serious about the hunt.  We shut-up and concentrated our focus on the doe, as if we could bring them closer with our thoughts.  After about 45 minutes, Justin asked if I wanted to sit and wait for them to work their way towards us or if I wanted to try and get closer.  There was no way I could go back to camp after missing that hog, so I told Justin that I wanted to get closer.

Fate is a curious thing, because Justin had just finished telling me that one of his dream hunts would be a “spot & stalk”.  We got out of the stand as quietly as possible and crept out of the brush, onto the edge of the pipeline, to gauge how far we would have to go and what path we would take.  We would have to choose between sneaking down the edge of the pipeline risking being seen, or taking cover in the woods and risk being heard.  We both agreed that we would walk the first 200 yards on the edge of the pipeline and reassess the situation.

Map of the hunting area

In a low crouch, we slowly stepped closer to the doe.  My excitement grew with each step.  When we reached our way-point we took a look at the terrain and saw that the ground cover in the woods was a bit damp, which would soften our noise, and the wind-blown grass would crunch under our steps on the edge of the pipeline.  We cut back into the woods and made our way downhill towards a small creek bed.  We were able to use the soft sand and elevated sides to shield our scent and noise.  Justin and I were closing in on the doe.  We peeked over the creek bank and saw that the doe were about 175 yards away.  I crawled on my belly the rest of the way to the elevated edge of a second, larger, creek.  The doe were about 75 to 100 yards past the second creek.  My heart was pounding so hard that I couldn’t hear my movement.  Every time I stuck my head up to see if the doe had moved I would see a flicker of the white tails.  Justin was hanging back, so as not to double our noise, but in a position where he could see both the doe and me.  I had to cut back to the south and aim northwest so that I could be certain that I wasn’t shooting towards any other stands in the area.  I situated myself on the up-sloping creek bank and trained my rifle on the doe.  She was completely oblivious to my existence.  I looked back one last time at Justin, as if to say “we did it, buddy”, turned back, took a deep breath, and with a slow exhale I squeezed the trigger.

The doe was down!  Before I could take a second look Justin was charging me with one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen.  We performed a high-five/tackle/hug, in jubilation, as Justin was exclaiming that I had dropped her and it was awesome!  I was speechless.  I couldn’t believe that we had actually pulled off a spot & stalk in an area with some of the most skittish whitetail.  Justin called the rest of The Lost Boys and gave them the good news, while we hiked back to the stand to collect our belongings.

Tommy and Justin sporting some big grins

Obligatory shirtless picture

We walked back towards the doe and were met by a caravan of trucks coming from the opposite direction.  After we took a good look at the doe in the dusk light we loaded her up and brought her back to camp for dressing and celebration.  The rest of the night was spent talking about our hunts that evening, drinking, planning a type of prank known as “the long-con”, and sitting around the fire with my best friends in the world.

Happy Birthday Craig!

At the end of the day, it is quite apparent that it wasn’t the fact that we harvested a doe that made the hunt a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  To me, getting to hunt with Justin, using a unique hunting style, and sharing the experience with my best friends that inspire perseverance, allow me to be myself, and build confidence are the things that I will remember.

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

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