Just to be different, let’s talk about saltwater fishing. It is not something that is generally discussed in southeast Nebraska, especially since the closest salt water is about 900 miles away, but saltwater fishing is a blast. If you have an opportunity to do it sometime, do it! You never quite know what you may hook up with, or whether you’ll pull it into the boat or it will pull you out.
I grew up fishing saltwater environments. My dad, the Ol’ Marine, loved to head offshore…way off shore. We’d be out at least 12 to 15 hours, all beyond the sight of land. Nothing but sky, horizon and ocean for 360 degrees. Actually, I was 14 years old before I ever fished freshwater. I went on a smallmouth fishing trip into the central Texas hill country. I liked it….there was scenery to look at!
I recently made a run to south Texas and while I was there my brother, Roger, took me out in the Gulf of Mexico for a day of fishing. Like me, Roger grew up ocean fishing. He never moved inland, so he has geared his techniques and equipment to fit his passion. If you come from a freshwater fishing background, the first thing you’ll notice is that everything in saltwater fishing is bigger……rods, reels, boats and bait.
Roger picked me up just past dawn from my Dad’s house in Houston. “We’ll head over to LaPort and put in,” he said. “I can run out through Trinity Bay and be in Gulf faster than I can drive to Galveston.”
We picked up some bait (shrimp) at the boat ramp and headed south. Roger piloted his 24-foot Panga out into open water and throttled the big Suzuki outboard up. In seconds we were skimming across the waves.
“We’re going to head out near an island they are building,” Roger explained. “It will be a breakwater that hopefully will block some of the storm surge from big tropical storms or hurricanes.” The remnants of buildings and oil or gas platforms that had been damaged by the big storms we only see on TV are everywhere.
We pulled up along the rock jetty that bordered the man-made island. Roger tossed out the anchor. I rigged shrimp on our lines and we tossed them in. Almost immediately we began to pick up sand trout and Atlantic croaker. We caught fish there for about and hour, but nothing with any real size to it. Roger wanted to move. We hauled in the anchor and headed southeast. Roger’s GPS screen was lit up with waypoints that designated favored fishing spots. He set course for a natural gas platform.
After running for 30 minutes we eased up along side the platform. It was not a big structure, maybe the size of an average three bedroom house. I tied off to some deck grating and we let the wind push us back. We were in about 50 feet of water. It only took a few casts in and around the legs of the structure and we started catching fish.
Speckled trout, flounder and redfish began tugging on our lines. We weren’t catching any wall hangers, but the action was steady and fun. I tossed a couple nice size flounders in the live well. The Ol’ Marine really likes flounder.
I baited up my hook again and cast out to a portion of the platform that I had not yet fished. I don’t think the bait had settled to the bottom when I had a big strike. I set the hook and the rod doubled over. Whatever I had was the biggest fish of the day for me.
“Hang with it, Bro”, Roger called out. “I’ll get the net ready. The battle wore on. The fish pulled hard and for a short time, whatever line I managed to reel in the fish managed to pull back out again. The drag was getting a workout.
Finally, a black drum flashed just below the surface. When I got it on board it weighed 17 pounds, a nice size fish by Nebraska standards, but just a baby in the eyes of saltwater anglers. The Texas state record for black drum is 102 pounds.
Salt water fishing is a blast!