Just before my wife and I took our annual fishing trip to Rockport, my friend, Greg Berlocher, sent me an email. Greg is always trying to get me to go wadefishing with him, which I never do because you have to actually get in the water to wade. There are sharks in the water.
But Greg always tells me the sharks won’t bite me. I asked him how he knows that, but he just said he knows. Which is about a bazillion miles short of good enough, so I’ve never gone wade fishing.
So Greg sent me an email entitled ’20 things that kill more people than sharks every year.’ His idea, I think, was to convince me that sharks aren’t dangerous. It didn’t work. Now, besides worrying about sharks, I have 20 more things to worry about even more.
But seriously, lots of stuff kills more people every year than sharks. Vending machines, for example. And hot dogs. And icicles. And hippos. Of course, none of those things are normally found in the bays near Rockport. Greg says neither are sharks, typically, so wade fishing may not actually be dangerous. Unless someone turns a hippo loose in the gulf. Or a vending machine.
Anyway, Jocelynn and I fished with Captain Tracy Hearne, of Performance Guide Service, this year, and had a great trip. Captain Tracy went out of his way to make things easy for us, but he had me worried when we met him and he asked if we wanted to wadefish. There are evidently a lot of people like Greg, who see nothing wrong with getting out of a perfectly good boat to walk around in the water, and Captain Tracy just wanted to see if we were similarly afflicted. We assured him we weren’t.
The same can’t be said for Bill Bragmann, who fished with us. Bill owns Yak Gear, which makes and sells a vast array of stuff you can’t do without if you own a kayak, even if you don’t know it’s available.
Outriggers, for example. If you have a kayak, it probably doesn’t have outriggers on it, which is an essential kayak item. Go check your yak right now, and see if it has outriggers. If it doesn’t, then that’s probably why, every time you stand up in your kayak to cast, you fall in the water. Unless it’s sitting on the ground when you stand up in it, which is kind of weird, like going fishing with a guide and then getting out of the boat to wadefish.
Bill grew up in Louisiana, where land sells by the gallon, so he’s used to being wet, I guess. Once we got where we were going to fish, Bill stepped out of the boat and attached several cords to himself, and walked about 20 feet away and started fishing. The cords kept his stuff from floating away, such as a bait bucket, and some kind of stringer, and some other things I was afraid to ask about. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from fishing around Rockport, it’s to never irritate a wadefisher.
I also wondered why Bill went to the trouble to get out of the boat, and then only went 20 feet away. He was casting pretty much right where we were, too. Maybe it’s a Louisiana thing. Or something.
I have to admit, though, that Bill caught the biggest redfish of the day. Which might have been because he was wadefishing, or may have been because he just got lucky.
The good news is that I caught my first flounder, ever. To catch flounder, you apparently have to let your bait sink to the bottom, and sit there a while, because flounder are slow eaters, or something.
So I managed to snarl my reel, which everyone else thought was accidental. Captain Tracy and I spent a few minutes untangling my line, and when I started reeling it in I had a flounder hooked. Which I told everyone was my plan all along, but nobody believed me.
They didn’t catch any flounder.Granted, we didn’t exactly fill the boat up to its scuppers (assuming it had scuppers, whatever those are) with fish. Most of the ones we caught were a little on the short side. But even reds too small to keep are a lot of fun to catch, and we were blessed with the prettiest day I’ve ever spent in Rockport. Besides, a day spent fishing, no matter what you catch, beats a day spent working by a long shot.
My only regret is that I forgot to take my Fish Rulz with me this time. Fish Rulz are plexiglass fish rulers made by SeaYZ Products, and they make measuring fish way easier than anything else I’ve ever used. They have a sort of bumper on one end, and you just put the fish’s nose against that, and look where his tail is to see if he’s legal. If you fish, you need a Fish Rulz ruler or two. Maybe even more than you need outriggers.
You can use Fish Rulz rulers to measure any fish you catch. Even flounder, which, by the way, I caught one of in Rockport. And no one else caught any. All day. So there . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who caught a flounder in Rockport, and no one else did. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Captain Tracy Hearne at 361.205.0258
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