I had another long week of traveling for work, but the upshot is that my last appointment took me to Corpus Christi yesterday afternoon. My understanding boss agreed that I should stay overnight on the company dime before driving back to the Hill Country, and even suggested that I get a little fishing in.
Well. I was way ahead of him.
Earlier in the week I bought a two piece saltwater spinning rod to keep in the trunk of my car, which was already loaded with my two piece freshwater spinning outfit and a few tackle boxes filled with fresh and saltwater lures. I'd hate to be presented with the opportunity to get a line wet without the proper gear.
Last time I was in Corpus I fished the Red Dot Pier and caught 4 or 5 undersized speckled trout, so this time I thought I'd give its next door neighbor a shot. After an early dinner I answered a few work emails and grabbed a short nap. At 10pm I pulled in to the Cos Way Pier parking lot and talked to the guy behind the counter about which bait to use.
I never fish with bait when I'm on freshwater. There's something about tricking a fish into eating an inedible object that is weirdly appealing to me. That said, I really wanted to increase my chances of bringing home a few speckled trout, and maybe a redfish or two, so I took the guy's advice and bought a dozen live "piggy perch."
I landed a few small specks but lost one that would have been a keeper because I set the hook too hard and yanked the bait right out of his gullet. An asian gentleman fishing next to me gave me a good piece of advice: "The big fish will hook themselves."
He seemed like he knew what he was talking about, as he landed a 17" speck a few minutes later.
By midnight I was out of piggy perch, and the bait shop was closed. A perfect opportunity to put my money where my mouth was as far as preferring to fish with lures. I tied on a trusty #2 Mepps Aglia and landed a 12" speck on the third cast. The legal minimum size is 15", so back in the Laguna Madre he went. I caught five or six more speckled trout on the Mepps, each one too small to put on the stringer.
The Mepps was a little too light for the rod I was using and I wasn't getting the desired distance or accuracy with each cast, so I played around with a couple of topwater lures, knowing full well that I tend to have better luck on topwater around sunrise and sunset. This night was no different. It was going on around 1:30 am and I wasn't ready to head back to the Best Western just yet, so I dug around in my tackle box and pulled out a couple of unopened packages of Berkley Gulps that had been sitting in the bottom of my box for almost a year. I put a chartreuse Gulp on a jig head, tied straight to the mono, and was able to cast it out a satisfying distance.
Now the bite was on! My new asian friend had just called it a night, leaving me with the pier all to myself. I easily landed another 20 speckled trout, 1 croaker, and 1 other fish that I think
may have been a juvenile Snook. I got him to pose for a grainy photo before releasing him.
I lost one more keeper sized trout by setting the hook too hard, and vowed to pay more attention to hook set in the future, but the late night was catching up to me. I knew I needed to head back to the motel, but I had come down with a bad case of "one-more-cast-itis" and roamed the entire pier, hoping to land a keeper.
After a few more undersized specks I landed one that I was sure would be coming home with me. Remember, the minimum size is 15". Here's what 14.25" of speckled trout looks like:
Now I had a decision to make. It was 5:30 in the morning, and I REALLY wanted to wait until sun-up so I could give my topwater lures a proper shot at the title, but a long week of traveling, 7 and 1/2 hours of fishing, and 56 years of wandering the planet all caught up with me at that precise moment.
So it was back to the Best Western for a shower, breakfast, and a 3 hour nap so I'd have my wits about me on the drive back to New Braunfels.
I'm already looking for an excuse to get back down to the coast.