Summer on the Road Part I

by Jeremy Chavez December 10, 2013

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Ever since I was a little boy I had an innate appetite to see the world. As much as I enjoy fishing my home waters of the Upper Texas Coast I often grow tired fishing familiar venues. Periodically, I feel the urge to get away even if that entails stepping outside my zone of comfort.

There is a cardinal rule in fishing that states never leave fish to find fish. As my mother can attest, I have never been the type to abide by the rules. Instead, I chose to adhere to my own decree best encapsulated by the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” For what reasons I can’t explain I’m drawn to the unknown. I revel in fishing places I’ve never fished and chasing fish I know nothing about.

As evidenced by my lack of posting activity I spent a majority of my time away from home over the summer. My time was split between several culturally distinct locales: Middle/Lower Texas Coast, Louisiana and South Florida. Early in the summer I spent much of my time on the Lower and Middle Texas Coast with friends chasing pelagic and inshore fish species in unfamiliar places.

Austin Orr (Salt 396) firing away at boiling Spanish Mackerel as Brandon and Don view the action from above.
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Austin taking a quick mugshot of his victim before releasing it back into the wild.
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Late night garage tying session with Austin Knight and Brandon.
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Poon on the brain.
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Mickey had a few days off and had recently purchased a new 10wt. He wanted to catch his first jack and put his new rod to the test. No inshore species here in Texas fights harder pound for pound than a Jack Crevalle. I had been finding jacks schooled up consistently, so I obliged. I figured it wouldn’t take long then we could concentrate on more important matters like tarpon if conditions allowed.

As soon as we arrived jacks were busting the surface all around us. He hooked up on his first cast. About 15 minutes into the fight with the jack showing no sign of slowing down Mickey started to wonder what he had gotten himself into. Half an hour later he finally brought the fish to the boat and unfortunately a big bull shark decided it wanted a piece of the action.

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My buddy, Robby, and his friend from a California hooked up on a big shark.
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Conditions deteriorated so I took Mickey to a marsh I hadn’t fished in several years. We were greeted with bronze submarines everywhere we looked.
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One of many fish Mickey landed on fly that day.
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Mickey can nap with the best of them.
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One of my goals for the year was to figure out the tarpon fishery here in Texas. I devoted much of the summer to chasing the ever-elusive Silver King armed with only fly rods. Some of my most frustrating days on the water this year were spent watching rolling silver that wanted nothing to do with any of the flies I threw at them.

I saw good numbers of tarpon both inshore and offshore on the Lower, Middle and Upper Coast. A promising sign that Tarpon are making a strong comeback here in Texas. I learned a lot about their demeanor and migration patterns this year. I’m looking forward to when they arrive again next summer.

More poon were put in the air than landed, but a few tarpon made it to hand.
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A poon in the hand is worth…
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…two in the sea.
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By-catch while searching for tarpon…
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Hooked up with the sun (felt like it anyway).
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More by-catch while tarpon hunting.
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Each year I make a few trips to the Lower Laguna to target snook. This year I only managed to fit one trip to the Lower Coast into my busy schedule. We missed a few opportunities, but John was able to land the only snook of the trip.
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Tailing sheepshead were everywhere. Too bad we couldn’t convince them to eat our flies.
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Over the summer I also fished the NuStar Casting for a Cause Charity Fishing Tournament. The tournament is a fundraiser for Heroes on the Water (HOW) and the National MS Society. HOW takes wounded veterans on kayak fishing trips to help them decompress from the stresses and rigors associated with combat and rehabilitation. The National MS Society helps people affected with multiple sclerosis by funding cutting-edge research and providing programs and services that help people with multiple sclerosis move forward in their lives.

This is one of the few tournaments I put on the calendar every year because it supports two great causes and the tournament has a fun, friendly vibe. Everyone is there to have a good time and support two worthy causes. This year I talked a few more buddies into fishing the event. Brandon and I placed second and our friends Mickey and Austin Knight took first.

Always good to see your friends standing beside you onstage. (Photo by Joe Adame)
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Austin Orr with a redfish he caught out of a huge school of bull reds that surfaced just before dark on a trip we made offshore looking for pelagics.
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Austin Knight hooked up.
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Austin Knight’s first Spanish Mackerel on fly.
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Austin commemorating his catch.
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Over the summer I also got the opportunity to fish with my good friend Sam. We haven’t had the opportunity to fish together much since he moved to Dallas and started grad school. The last time we fished together was almost a year prior when we rented a beach house in Galveston for the weekend for his bachelor party.

He and his wife were in town visiting Sam’s family. I offered to take the two of them on my skiff for a day of fishing. I took them to one of my favorite spots on the Upper Coast. We found a ton of big, lit-up reds. We had good sun so the fish were easy to see. It was a great day on the water. We caught quite a few fish that day.

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No saturation added. These fish looked like goldfish in the water.
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Prior to graduating college and entering the workforce I spent two summers as instructor for Outdoor Texas Camps. I really enjoy working with kids. I found the work to be challenging and rewarding. As an instructor I had the opportunity to introduce kids to various types of fishing and teach them the fundamentals. From knot tying to fly casting I taught them a little of everything.

I had more freedom this summer after being laid-off from job earlier this year, so I decided to get involved with the camps again. I stayed in contact with the camp director over the years and we eventually became good friends. He’d ask me every summer to work his fishing camps since the last time I worked as an instructor, but I declined because of work obligations.

I think he was pleasantly surprised to hear I had decided to change careers and become a self-employed fishing guide. That also meant I would be available to work his camps. I spent three weeks as a camp instructor in Port Aransas, Texas over the summer.

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Kayaking class.
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Knot tying class.
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The biggest redfish ever landed on my skiff (at this point in the summer) caught by one of the smallest campers.
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The camp visited the redfish hatchery in Corpus Christi, Texas. Campers received a tour of the facilities and were allowed to fish a couple of the hatchery’s stocked redfish ponds.
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The camp director also asked me to spend a week in Louisiana for one additional camp. The Louisiana marsh is one of his favorite places. He has always wanted to host a camp in Louisiana to show kids what Louisiana has to offer. This year he experimented with his first camp in Louisiana. It was a huge success. He plans to offer a few camps in Louisiana in 2014.

Fish cleaning class.
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Lots of nice fish were caught over the week.
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Marine biologists from Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department (LWF) also came to camp and informed the kids about the cooperative fish tagging program put on by LWF and the CCA Louisiana. Each kid received a tagging kit to participate in the program.
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Bass aren’t the only fish that love frogs.
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Instructors day off.
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(To be continued…)








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