I had the best Saturday ever and it did not include wine, women or song. I went to bed at a ridiculously early hour Friday night and woke up at an equally ridiculously early hour Saturday morning.
I was wandering around my apartment wondering what to do with myself. Then it hit me: “Go to the beach dummy”. So without checking the weather or tide information I gathered a some extra clothes, a few apples (wonderful on the beach), my fishing gear and just took off. Alone. Gabby was staying at a friend’s house.
I was estimating my arrival at Surfside beach to be about 2:00. Hell, I was there by 12:30. I stopped at the usual Buckee’s for some squid, shrimp, a couple of burritos and a fishing license.
This is the coolest store I’ve ever known. There are many and growing but to me this is the original. I’ve always associated them with the beach but they are springing up everywhere. They are known for their immaculately clean restrooms. It’s true. I’d actually eat one of those burritos I bought in there. Of course, I’d probably be asked to leave. This place is completely jam-packed on the weekends with super long lines but I happened to catch a newly opened register. Another thing: This store’s registers are manned by seriously cute girls. Every single one. It’s like the Hooters of large convenience stores. When I told the girl I need a fishing license she and the girl at the next register both tell me that I don’t need one. They reminded me that the first Saturday of June is a freebie compliments of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (game wardens). I never knew that or maybe forgot about it. I’ve just always made a point to be current after a 1980’s quail hunting incident where my friend went to jail for unpaid tickets and I was fined $200.00 for not having a license.
When I rolled onto the beach I was taken down a bit. The water was like chocolate milk. I wasn’t too down about it. It was my very first day out there this summer and I was actually just happy to be there. I baited my hooks and waded out into the surf. I stood out there, and stood out there, and stood out there without so much as a bump on my line. At this point I actually got a little discouraged. I went back to my truck and just sat on the tailgate looking out at the water. About this time I was surrounded by two carloads of people. One on the left and one on the right. This upset me because I go out there to get away from people. I’m not anti-social, I just like my beach time to be private.
I threw all my gear back into the truck and left. I found a spot about a half mile or so down the beach that was better. This is where I stopped. This is an acceptable comfort zone for me.
I baited my line again and went back out into the surf. This time I swam out to the second sandbar with my rod and reel above my head. When I was finally able to touch bottom again I cast my line out. I don’t think it even hit the bottom before something took off with it. I now had a fight ahead of me.
Getting back to the beach with something that big on the line and trying to do so without the power of one arm when you can’t even touch bottom is quite a struggle. But it’s exciting. And tiring. When I got back to the first sandbar I started working on reeling in whatever this was. It was an exhausting give and take. It stripped yards of line and I reeled back what I could. Back and forth. With something like this it’s all about tiring it out without it snapping your line.
When I got my feet back on sand, still chest deep in the surf, my reel self destructed. A critical knob came loose and fell into the water. I thought I was screwed and would never know what I had on my line.
Guess what? Not so. With my reel completely useless, I held my thumb on the spool and carefully walked back to shore. Once I got back to the beach started winding my fishing line by hand around the float at the end of my stringer. It took forever to get this damned fish in like that. I was like Santiago of “The Old Man and the Sea”. My hands are cut to shreds and I’m sore as shit.
Fortunately I had my camera with me and took some pictures. This Redfish was 3 feet and 4 inches. That’s 12 inches over the legal limit. Sorry TPWD. I set aside half of it for my parents and divided the other half into thirds for Gabby and I. Tonight I’m frying part of it.