Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Everything is bigger in Texas"

Fishing Time: Thursday through Tuesday
Weather: Windy, some rain and hot
Location: Lake Amistad and The Gulf in Texas
Who Went: Hunt and his family, Me

I can now attest that the title of this post is true. Everything from their southern accents and attitudes, to football and BBQ just seems larger than life. I must have passed a thousand different Barbecue joints as I traveled across Texas and not one of them shared the same name! I ate at three Texas BBQ Restaurants while being there and it was the best I’ve ever had! Hunt and his family picked me up from the San Antonio airport Thursday evening and we headed straight over to the famous riverwalk and dined on some good ole Texas BBQ. The riverwalk was alright, but I felt it was a little overrated. I pictured a large river like the Rio Grande running right through the city’s epicenter, but this is not the case. The river is manmade by concrete and fed by reclaimed water from the city’s sewer effluent. It does go right through downtown though, and the big trees that line the sidewalks did add some luster. The restaurant we ate at was called The County Line, and made up for my riverwalk disappointment. There is no shortage of meat in Texas and they aim to prove it to you! It was some good eats and a very enjoyable first night in Texas. This was my first time visiting the south and I must say I was shocked by a couple things. 1) I didn’t meet one person in Texas that didn’t bring up the name Barrack Obama on their own free will and then go on to tell me there discontent with him and the outlook of this country. 2) This was my first personal account that racism still lives. My vocabulary was educated with every slang word you could ever imagine to describe other races, and it was very sad! Once I got over the shock of these two things, I did notice there is such a thing as southern hospitality. Hunt’s dad Asa and his wife Donna treated me like I was there own. They offered their beautiful home, car, and they wouldn’t let me pay for a thing! Also staying with Hunt’s family was his Grandpa Ray who is 90 years old and has the health of a 70 year old. He came on our fishing trip and stayed step for step with us the whole time, it was amazing and he was an awesome guy with great stories. The Hunt family all made it a very enjoyable stay in San Antonio. The next morning Hunt’s Uncle John and Nephew Luke were at the house by 8:00 a.m. We ate a great breakfast made by Donna, while overlooking the lake (just flooded and thats why it's so brown) on the back of their house and then we took a drive up the road to check the other lakes around town to look at what the flooding had damaged. We also stopped at the bait shop to take a look at their live bait selection. Only in texas would you find this...

On the way to the other lake we noticed a sweet little Texas hunting vehicle that we couldn't resist getting a picture of. Imagine that there was empty Miller Lite cans all over in the back! The only damage we could find on any of the lakes was a few bent light poles and this dry docked pontoon boat. We all caravanned in Uncle John’s Chevy Suburban and I spent the whole 3 hour drive in the back seat with Luke who is 12 years old. I don’t think my ears ever got a rest as he talked to me about fishing the whole time. I’ve never met a 12 year old kid with so much enthusiasm about fishing and hunting, and I hope that my kids will share this same attitude towards the outdoors as Luke does. We arrived in the town of Del Rio three hours later and stayed in a rundown hotel right next to Lake Amistad. I took pictures of our room and the two dead scorpions that were on the bathroom floor. It made you think twice about using the restroom in the middle of the night. Before checking in to our room we went straight to the tackle shop that was next door to the hotel and I was amazed at the selection of bass fishing plastics they offer in Texas. Everything was 3 times the size of gear we use in Utah. This is when I realized there must be some big bass in this lake. I took a picture of a plastic worm that I use in Utah compared to the ones they use in Texas and it blew my mind! See for yourself…The next morning we were on the lake at sun up and met our guide for the day. Of course my bad weather luck followed me from Utah and the lake was socked in with rain clouds and wind. It’s a different kind of rain than what I’m used to in Utah, the rain was more of a mist and the temperature was still around 80 degrees, so it had no chance of keeping us from fishing. The guide was upfront and explained how this cold front would affect fishing, but we would just had to fight through it and find the fish! We started motoring out into the lake and the first thing that jumped out to me was how much cover was in this lake. There was grass everywhere and the whole lake was full of underwater bushes and trees. The only way to fish this lake is weedless and we started off fishing topwater poppers, but didn’t have any success. We then switched to a super fluke rigged weedless of course, but still could not put anything in the boat. We made our way back into a bay full of cover and tree lined shores where we rigged a monster senko worm like shown in the picture above and this is when Hunt showed that he was going to have the hot hand of the trip. He started putting small largemouth bass in the boat right away. I started my trip off by landing one of the smallest bass I have ever caught. Not exactly what I dreamed about fishing in Texas, but it was a start. We caught quite a few bass in this cove and we had a great time. Our guide had the strongest southern accent I have ever heard and loved to tell stories. When I could understand what he was saying the stories were pretty good, but I was mainly focusing on the fishing. Later in the day our guide took us to a place where our chances increased to land bigger bass and that’s exactly what happened. I had a hit that about pulled my pole into the water and I had thoughts of pulling an 8 pound largemouth to the boat. I was shocked when I pulled in the feistiest 2 pound bass I have ever caught. I will tell you that the bass in this lake fought with a vengeance and put Utah bass to shame. Then Hunt had a good hit and put a 5 pound largemouth right next to the boat before the bass graciously spit the hook back at him and went back down to the bottom of the lake. Our first day out was full of adventure and good times with quite a few bass caught, but no Texas monsters. At the end of the day we probed our guide for information about where to fish from shore later that evening and what to use. He gave us some good info and that night is what made our trip. We only landed one fish from his shoreline spot, but it was the biggest freshwater fish that Hunt has ever caught, excluding sturgeon. After a long drawn out fight and some close calls we were able to land Hunt’s 6 pound largemouth! Hunt was very excited and I was thinking to myself, this is what we came to Texas for! The next day on the water we had better weather and were in high spirits to catch something big. It didn’t end up happening, but we did put about 12 bass in the boat. We only fished for half a day and then we were off towards the coast in Galveston where Uncle John had a 26 foot waiting for us to fish the Gulf of Mexico. We dropped Hunt’s dad and Grandpa Ray off in San Antonio and rented a car to drive the rest of the 7 hour road trip to the coast. Hunt being single now, couldn’t resist spitting his charm with the girl at Enterprise so I took a picture of his game in action. He forgot to look at her left ring finger because it was decorated with a lovely diamond ring, so we left Christi at Enterprise and headed out on the open roads of the biggest state in the lower 48. The drive across Texas was very flat with bass ponds and BBQ joints every 100 yards. We drove through downtown Houston as I had never been there and then made our way on to Galveston and checked into our room. After checking in, Hunt drove me around the town of Galveston showing me all the torn up buildings that occurred from Hurricane Ike back in 2008. The town was not the quaint little coastal town that I had pictured in my mind. It had been hit hard by the hurricane and the buildings were in bad shape. It’s also a town known for oil and there were refineries everywhere which doesn’t do much for scenery, but the gulf was there and I was ready to fish. We met Uncle John and Luke down at the docks early the next morning with thoughts of running offshore up to 60 miles to get into some good ocean fishing, but my bad weather luck followed me as usual and the gulf had 5-8 foot swells making it impossible to go too far in a 26 foot boat. We did what we could, but only made it about 20 miles offshore to fish a few of the many oil rig platforms that sit off the coast of Galveston. This time it was my turn with the hot hand as I started landing 3 foot blacktip sharks on almost every cast. Hunt and Luke got in on the action with a couple sharks as well. Then I laid into what I could tell was a good fish. It took me about 15 minutes of fighting until we had a 5 foot shark next to the boat. Uncle John tried 5 times to get this thing in the boat, but the shark wasn’t having it. On the fifth try the shark bit right through my steel leader and swam off into the ocean. I didn’t get my picture with a 5 foot shark, but Luke did film me fighting it and Hunt snapped a few photos of the shark while it was on the side of the boat. We finally got bored catching shark and decided to go on a search for different species of fish, but it was a tough day on the water. It didn’t matter because I was happy as I landed the biggest fish I have ever caught! Once we got off the boat from ocean fishing I realized how hard on the body ocean fishing is. You’re constantly fighting to keep your balance in the rough seas, and the saltwater and hot sun takes it all out of you. We all took a quick shower back at our hotel and went to dinner at a nice seafood restaurant right on the beach, Uncle John’s treat! Hunt’s family was unbelievable and treated me to a trip that I will never forget. Hunt and I were so beat from the day that we didn’t even have the energy to go out on our last night of the trip and were in bed by 10:30. We woke up the next morning and made the 4 hour drive back to San Antonio Airport, but not before we stopped to eat barbecue one last time. It was one of the funnest trips I have ever been on and I can’t thank Hunt and his family enough. Hunt used his skymiles to get me there and his family took care of me every minute I was there. I spent 400 dollars on a trip that would have cost me a couple grand easy. I spent 4 days in Texas with two of those days being guided on one of the best bass fishing lakes Texas has to offer! Then I got to spend another day on the Gulf of Mexico fishing the ocean guided by Uncle John. It was a trip that can’t be beat, but hey, I will try! Hey Hunt where we going next year ha ha!

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