I took my son to Port Aransas for two days at the end of June. My goal was to have fun, catch some fish, but more importantly have some father - son talks about 1) drugs and 2) girls. He is 11 years old.
I searched around on this forum for some help. The help was okay, but for someone who hasn't fished saltwater much, it was lacking. I went a few years back and posted some questions but I didn't get many helpful answers. I know fishermen don't like sharing information
Our plan was to fish the big pier (keepers?) Thursday night, hit the north jetty Friday morning, and fish the next smaller paper on the channel (behind the restaurants) Friday night.
We went at the end of the main street to get some bait. I had an orange bucket and a yellow/black floating bait bucket. The bait guy, dude, not very good at customer service.
me: hi, what is biting, any ideas on where I should fish?
him: that is hard to say
me: what are the biting on?
him: bits come and go
me: I am thinking of keepers pier with my son tonight, how about some live shrimp and live mullet?
me: can you put them both in same yellow/black bucket? I will put them over the pier in the water.
him: you shouldn't mix them
me: why is that?
him: do what you want
me: thanks, later
We fished the pier. It was very windy and the wave crests looked to be every 10 feet wide. We were 3/4 of the way out on the pier. Note to self, when they say fish by the lights, this doesn't mean overhead lights, but lights under the pier.
I put on a chartreuse rubber lure and a spec of shrimp. BAM. My son caught a 3 foot hammerhead shark. He was excited. Everyone in the pier came around. Some person asked me if they could take a picture with my fish. That made me stare a bit, then they left. Then we caught a galf top. Several people were catching small trout, I think. They were silver / tank looking, shiny too. Sea trout? They were using a bottom weight, with two hooks above the weight, hanging straight down into the water. We were casting the traditional giant slip barrel weight as far as we could. I didn't snag, but our vision of reds, red fish and trout were only hallucinations.
We fished from 4 to 11pm. My son was happy. We grabbed a smoothie at some place in town, and got to sleep at 1 am in the morning, after clowning around. We did have the talk on drugs, smoking, dopers, and a waste of life they cause. He had many questions.
The next morning I woke up at 6am, saw my son in the same position as when he fell asleep, so I decided to skip the early morning Jetty. We later walked the beach, found some shells and dead starfish. We brought them home and the start fish rotted and stunk. I thought I could soak them in bleach and they would be ornamental. We saw some people fishing the south jetty, but nobody caught anything while we were there.
That night at 4pm we went to the next pier. It is T shaped and to the right looks down the pass to the Jetty. I don't know the name. We bought some live shrimp, and also had iced dead shrimp and mullet.
We had three poles: a heave freshwater with braid, a medium surf rod, and a big honking deep sea pole I got when I fished party boats in boca raton.
We had the same barrel weight and 2 foot wire leader on the medium rod. I used a similar rig with a 4 oz weight on the big road. I hooked up a variety of live shrimp, dead shrimp, and dead mullet. I think we had some small bites as the bait was chewed. The tide was a minor high tide heading out, but the water wasn't really moving yet. My son had the small pole, free spooling a dead mullet. SLAM. He caught a red snapper, about 14 inches long. I think the limit is 15 or 16 inches. It was cool. My iphone camera decided not to work, so I had to reboot the phone. We threw the fish back. That was a cool fish. We caught a few catfish. Again, others were catching these small trout looking things. Some caught a small whiting. When I say small, I am thinking 7 inches. Then we caught what was either a 4 inch croaker or pin fish, not sure. I remember someone saying they were good for bait. They are feisty fish. I hooked the fish on my deep sea pole and heaved it off the end. About 15 minutes later my son said the big pole had a fish. I could see the wave motion on the end of the rod and I was explaining it to him when : WHizzzz the pole bent in half and the line starting flying. We had a lunker. It went back and forth with very strong and constant pulls. I was shocked. I had my son take the pole and start pulling up and reeling down. He couldn't make any progress. I took over and after 5 minutes, SNAP. My bad. It was only until the next night that a friend told me to play large saltwater fish, and not bully them in like a largemouth. Everyone in the pier left their station to watch. It was fun.
Plan B started - catch those little fish. We got another, put it on the deep sea pole again, and chunked it out there. I pulled it in twice and recast due to the people around not not minding their lines. WHizzzzz. Fish on a 2nd time. This was different. It was a very deep steady pull. Then it stopped. I thought I was snagged, spooled out some line, and a big pull again. That happened several times. After another 5 minutes, SNAP again. Gads. I realized I am so out of practice, that I can't even recall what type of line I had on, what test it was, and when I installed it. Gads. A guy next to me, flapped his arms, indicating that he thought it was a giant stingray.
So we caught two more of those fish, put them on the medium and large poles. After 15 minutes, can you believe it, the large pole bent in half again and we had a fish on. This time I told me son wait, let me do this slower. I let him take some line when he needed and let him start to tire. I would say for 7 minutes or so. I was making some headway. Then two things happened. First, none of other fishermen reeled in their lines and my fish was crossing them down to the right. Second, WHizzz, we had a second fish on the medium pole. My deep sea pole had a large penn bait cast reel. The medium pole had a penn spinning reel. I gave the medium pole to my son to reel in. He was screaming with excitement 'We got giants daddy' I of course didn't want him to drop my rig with an actual perfect shape made in the USA penn spinning reel about 20 years old. Double trouble. Of course, my son is used to a fresh water bait casting reel, so when he picked up the spinning rig, he held the reel upwards and after several cranks said 'Daddy! the handle came off' HA HA, gads. I grabbed that reel, kept my reel, and put his handle back on. It was fun and chaotic. He started reeling, then I noticed out lines were crossed several times. It was dark by now and I could not see how to unwind them. He lost his fish. I kept playing my fish, his line was crossed right near the ends of our rods. My fish started pulling his rod too. The fish was maybe 50 feet from the pier. It was near the top of the water. I thought it was a largemouth coming up! Nobody moved their lines. 10 minutes - SNAP. WOW.
It was super exciting, but we had to give up as we ran out of metal leaders and heavy gear. The tide was moving and I only had 2 oz weights. Did I saw WOW. This is the most fun I have had not landing a fish. BTW, nobody else had any big hits.
We left again about 11pm, tired, but not giving up.
I asked him the next day, what in the world we thought the fish were. He said 'We will know when we get to heaven.' What a kid. I said that is something I am not sure will happen (the knowing the fish part).
And on the girl thing, I was given wise council and told to start by asking him what he knows about girls. I did that and he said 'what do you mean?' I said do you every look at girls. He said no way daddy, yuck. So this meant, we have to plan another fishing trip in a few weeks to continue the discussion.
It was great. I learned about getting a pier net, stocking some heavy gear, etc.
p.s. a friend of mine and his wife were fishing roll over pass, and caught 17 fish, reds, sheepshead and flounder. I need to check out his details.