Back to the Coast
Last month I had the opportunity to fish with a couple friends of mine down at the coast, Brian and Darren Broaddus. Their family and another family own a floating house barge down in the Christmas Bay area. Christmas Bay is located at the far west end of West Bay and is within sight of the San Luis Pass toll bridge. The three of us had planned a five day trip to the â€œbargeâ€ to begin on May twenty ninth. Planning, preparation,and anxiety always accompany this type of trip when I get the chance to make one. We arrived at Bastrop Marina at around noon on Monday. The boat loaded with our gear, food, and clothes for the week. Brian and Darren went through their boat launching routine while I went in and paid the launch fee. Before long we were headed down Bastrop Bayou to Christmas Bay. About half way there we passed by the mouth of Lost Lake and there was a swarm of birds made up and working over a small reef. Brian stopped the boat and said that the birds worked there frequently and that it was usually trout. We pulled up wind of the birds and tied on pumpkinseed/chartruese shad tails and drifted towards the action. The boat was loaded with all of our gear, working around it in a fishermanâ€™s frenzy we set up for the drift. We drifted within casting range and Daren was first to cast. An automatic hookup. I casted into the birds, fish on. Brian casted in, he too was hooked up. We all worked our fish to boat, we were on a school of small trout mostly fourteen to sixteen inches. The birds moved just in front of us downwind and we were able to stay with the school for about fifteen minutes. Every cast for a while was a hookup, not many keepers in the school but definitely some serious action. We eventually drifted around the school and were out of casting range. Rather than drifting the birds again we agreed to head to the barge and unload and then come back and fish. I offered to stay and wade but they insisted that I help unload the boat. We ran the intracoastal into a small back bay where the barge was. Pulled up and unloaded. A sportsmanâ€™s dream is one way to put it. The barge was truly a work of art designed by fishermen, it appealed to me in every way. The deck went all the way around the house with a fish cleaning station on one corner. Inside were two sets of bunk beds, a kitchen, and a table and chairs. Still in awe of the whole concept I sat on the deck and pondered a moment. Brian and Daren knew how impressed I was and just kept laughing as they too were glad to be there. Shortly after we boarded the eighteen foot â€œscooter boatâ€ and took off. The boat has no gunnels whatsoever, the deck ends and then there is water. My first time in a boat like this so I had to pay attention not to fall in. Landing fish was a cinch though, you would just get the fish to the boat and then just slide him up onto the deck. Only on a big fish would we get the net. We ran around to Lost Lake again and found the birds over what was probably the same school of trout. Drifting the birds again was the same scenario, fish after fish but not many keepers. We stayed with them for an hour or so and then just left them biting in pursuit of bigger trout. We drifted a few shallow reefs and picked up scattered fish for the rest of the afternoon and eventually headed to the barge for the night. We ate dinner and talked about our day and our strategy for the next. The next day we headed into West Bay looking for birds. Daren quickly spotted some birds in the distance and we headed towards them. Brian pulled up wind of the birds and set us up for a drift. We got into casting range and again it was automatic. Every cast was a small trout and occasionally a keeper. We left those birds to hit another bunch that had made up about a half mile away. Another school of trout mostly small with a few keepers. We worked birds the entire morning looking for a school of big trout. Back at the barge for lunch we decided to stay in the back bays for the afternoon and fish for reds. We layed down for a short nap before the afternoon of fishing but that did not last long. Right outside my window not twenty yards away four gulls were dive bombing and working like crazy! We ran outside and grabbed a rod off of the boat and threw a tail underneath them. Brian standing on the barge hooked up and I hooked up from the boat. We both caught trout just over the fifteen inch limit. This was too much, keeper trout from the barge. The nap was over and we headed back out. Flagging a shrimpboat motoring down the intracoastal we pulled alongside and bought a quart of live shrimp. We then went into a small bay and began drifting reefs and popping live shrimp over them in search of redfish. We fished for several hours hitting different spots that Brian and Darren had caught fish at in the past. A few trout and no redfish was the tally by about seven thirty. We were running out of daylight and starting to get hungry so Brian said we would hit one more spot before heading in. He pulled us up to a peppergrass shoreline with a small shell point sticking out. He got us on a drift and we worked the edge of the point, just as we passed the point Daren had a vicious strike and was hooked up. I popped my cork a couple times and it disappeared. I leaned hard on the fish as line ripped off of the spool. Freight train I thought. Daren had not even turned his fish and he just sat there with a bowed rod and a grin until he could finally put some pressure on the fish. We worked the fish for a couple of minutes and mine unwillingly came to the boat and Brian netted it. The fish measure twenty three inches, a solid red that weighed about four pounds. Darenâ€™s fish eventually tired out after a hard fought battle. We netted the fish, it measured twenty seven and a quarter inches. We made that drift several more times before dark catching reds every pass. We ended up with four keepers and had caught about fifteen other reds that were just undersized. The rest of the week was picture perfect like the beginning. We rode out a couple thunder squalls and listened to two Rocket games during the week. The birds continued to work in West Bay and we caught lots of trout and several close to five pounds. We also stayed on that school of reds throughout the week. It was hard to leave friday afternoon, I had really taken a liking to the barge. Brian and Darren knew that they would be back soon with their dad and I look forward to going back someday. What a trip!