Outdoor Notebook: Salt water fishing
Two weeks ago in this space we discussed the current conditions for spring fishing in southern Texas. The report was not very encouraging. The temperature had been quite low and as a result the fish had not been very active. We had talked with a lot of anglers and had heard of very few who had been catching many fish. To further complicate the situation the wind caused it to be uncomfortable and difficult to fish.
While in Texas we have been on Mustang Island in the community of Port Aransas. Access to the island is either by ferry, which is under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Transportation, or by the bridge on Highway 361 from Corpus Christi from the south. The area around Port Aransas is a bird watcher’s paradise.
During the first part of our stay in Texas we had very high winds. Also during that time we were in Texas we had difficulty getting live bait as a result of the low water temperatures. We did find a commercial fisherman who was selling bait shrimp but we were driving about 25 miles extra to get the bait.
It seems that all fish in the Gulf eat shrimp. The shrimp that is used for bait are smaller than the shrimp we use for the table. We purchase shrimp by the quart or the pint and keep it in a pail with an aerator running constantly while we are fishing.
One recent day after obtaining our bait we met Gary Taylor at the boat landing and headed out toward the jetties to fish. Gary is also from Rhinelander. His boat is rigged for fishing the rocky areas around the jetties.
We anchored the boat near the edge of the jetties and fished in water that varied from four feet deep to fifteen feet deep.
The fish of choice along the jetties is the sheepshead which has a 15-inch minimum size regulation with a bag limit of five fish per day. It seems at times that all the sheepshead in the area stop growing when they reach 14 1/2 inches. Our walleyes in the Rainbow flowage also seem to stop growing when they reach that size.
We experienced some excellent fishing for sheepshead. Fishing in the rocks caused us to lose a good amount of terminal tackle. The fight these fish provide is fantastic. When one is hooked it tries to escape by swimming from one end of the boat to the other. We firmly believe that salt water fish fight harder and longer than fresh water fish. The sheepshead have scales similar to armor. When one is caught there is quite a tussle with a pliers to get the hook out. They are extremely powerful for their size.
While fishing we often had dolphins surfacing around the boat. One dolphin startled us by spraying water as it momentarily surfaced.
One cool and windy day we drove to Kingsville to visit the King Ranch for their wildlife tour.The Ranch is a huge piece of real estate covering 825,000 acres, larger than the state of Rhode Island, and contains excellent wildlife habitat. Famed conservationist, Aldo Leopold, called King Ranch, “one of the best jobs of wildlife restoration on the continent.” We saw javelinas, wild pigs, deer, turkeys, alligators and a variety of birds. It was obvious that good habitat sustains wildlife.
The King Ranch, established in 1853, is world famous. It is the largest cattle ranch in the world. Many persons who visit the Ranch and Museum spend time learning about the historic implications of the Ranch. The United States Department of the Interior designated the King Ranch a National Landmark in 1961. The Ranch has produced two different breeds of cattle as well as famous quarter horses. Crops such as cotton, milo and corn are grown on the Ranch. We have visited the Ranch before and will most likely do it again.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.