Shallowed ground

I took a long weekend fishing trip to coastal Texas last week, which explains the brief posting hiatus. It was in almost all respects the very opposite of the fishing trip to Canada I took earlier this year — except that we were still catching large fish, thankfully.


This time, instead of a maniacal Indian guide who used his free time hunting moose with an axe, we had Larry, a weathered good ol’ boy with enough life experience stories to have our rapt attention during the lulls between finding fish. Larry was a native of Aransas Pass, Texas, a small nearby town whose economy, like most of coastal Texas, ebbs and flows with the fortunes of the energy sector and the abundance of catchable wildlife that swim in or fly over the intercoastal waterway. Tip: when talking to a guy about his experience working on a deep sea oil rig don’t make the mistake of jokingly asking him if he still has all his digits. To my mortification, he raised a hand and showed me that, in fact, he didn’t. Ha ha, bad joke. But he took it in stride and proceeded to tell us a horrifying story of being trapped in a cage elevator that had stuck under the drilling platform. Perfectly describing the universal fear of climbing partially out of an elevator only to have it begin moving again Larry told us matter-of-factly how the unstuck cage sliced off his finger as he grasped the ledge. Comes with the territory, I guess. He actually seemed more irritated at having been hooked in the nose by a huge spoon lure from a novice client’s cast on his guide boat. (This client, unbelievably, tipped Larry $5 and said he should get himself a beer after he removed the barbed tip from his face and continued to guide them the entire day!)

Of course, even with Larry, Mother Nature rules. Some houses on the coast were still boarded up from Rita, which thankfully missed to the north. The intercoastal waterway itself is an ever-changing expanse of extremely shallow water whose sub-surface topography is a constant challenge to boaters. The waterway with its dredged shipping channel for barges is more like a series of rivers that flow together and apart — except that the “land” between the rivers is water too. I’m glad I was drinking beer in the passenger seat. Navigation is the real reason to have a guide. Lifelong natives of the area can flit around the waterway at high speed deftly reading slight changes in the surface to know when three feet of water suddenly changes to six inches. The ability is uncanny and more than once our tag-along boat without Larry grounded itself suddenly, embedding its prop into the mud and spewing a halo of muck far into the air. (Incidentally Larry hates tag-along boats. He says it is “like dating a fat girl.”)

You too can experience the stories and marine life expertise by visiting Larry’s website. Be sure to check out the Blast and Cast special (hunting ducks in the morning, fishing in the afternoon). I don’t hunt, but I like the sound of it.

One response to “Shallowed ground”

  1. Bryce says :

    Urk — that ill-considered ‘digits’ crack stings a bit. Reminds me of the time a classmate in college was late to a meeting. She apologized, and said that she’d just eaten and her roommates made her wait twenty minutes before coming to class. I flippantly responded ‘Why? Did you swim over?’ only to be told, sheepishly, ‘Because I’m bulimic.’ Mouth, meet foot.
    My heart goes out to you, John.