June 24, 2013

Houston warm up 2013 (Day 3)

This was my last full day in Houston. I really wanted to give the surf or jetty a try to find some small sharks. Ever since Michael and I lost two good shark bites in the Florida Keys, they have been haunting my dreams. Summer is pupping season for sharks, so there should be ample adults, sub-adults and juveniles in the area.

We decided to fish the jetty in the Surfside area. My cousin worked just nearby so he was familiar with the location. We stopped to pick up live shrimp, live mudminnow and some dead mullet for bait, seconds from the Dow Chemical plant where my cousin works.

Upon arrival at the jetty, it did not look great at all. The water was very muddy and it was very windy. Since we were already here, we decided to give it a go.

Most of the crowds were out toward the end of the jetty. We figured they must have found a bite so we headed out. A very long walked with a lot of gear later, we settled on a spot. A guy walked by with a bag full of sand trout. He said they were taking live shrimp. My cousin returned to the car to grab the rest of the gear while I began setting up my shark rods. At first, I was fishing two rods - a spinner with the Baitrunner and a conventional with the Saltist 40. However, the current was ripping and even 3oz of weight was not holding bottom. I had to reduce to one rod for ease of managing the lines.

While soaking a steak of mullet, I set up a lighter rod to fish live shrimp. Johnny finally made has way back and he was first to hook up with a sand trout. While I was still tying my rig, the people next to us landed a Cutlass. I really want to catch one of these but they school moved on quickly before I was even ready. When I finally pitched a live shrimp out, a few minutes of soaking resulted in a Gaffsailtop Catfish.

Johnny was getting lots of short taps and stolen bait until he hooked into a Hardhead Catfish. I also hooked into a Hardhead of my own. Finally, I had enough of the bait thief and I was curious what they may be, so I tied on a smaller hook and used chunks of shrimp. I soon found out there was a lot of Silver Perch and small Atlantic Croaker stealing bait. I also found a Pigfish while my cousin landed a baby Atlantic Sharpnose Shark.

As the tide changed, the bites went completely dead. Even the small bait thief had moved on. While I went back to the car to grab some gear I had left behind, I talked to one guy fishing much further inside and he was catching a good number of short Speckled Seatrout. He was done fishing and he had more live shrimp to offer, so I found a bag and got about 1/2 quart of free live shrimp!

Johnny and I decided to make a moving inside and see if we can have some fun with the Speckled Seatrout. By the time we arrived, the Speckled Seatrout had moved on. There was a scattered school of Bluefish and we caught a couple of them. One Bluefish gave me a false alarm when it ripped out some line on the Saltist. The clicker was screaming and I thought I had hooked into a small shark.

The fishing continued to be slow and baits continued to be stripped. If I leave the chunk of mullet sitting in the same spot for too long, the crabs would completely clean my hook. After putting on a new chunk of mullet, the rod must had sat for about 2 minutes when I got a rip-rip from the Saltist. I thought maybe another crab or bluefish were teasing me. I went to check my line anyways and found a little tug on the end.

I was surprised that this baby Atlantic Sharpnose Shark had some how taken the mullet steak and managed to get itself hooked with the 10/0 circle hook. But a new species is a new species...and I was happy to have caught a new shark species.

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae) - Species #331

The fishing was really slow with the muddy water and heavy current. We spent another 30 minutes before calling it a day at 2pm. It just wasn't worth sitting out in the heat and humidity on such a slow day.

We went back to the house to rinse down the gear before heading out for dinner. We had some great Texas BBQ and we were stuffed heading out of the restaurant. By the time we got back to the house, it was time for me to repack my luggage for the next destination. I'll be flying out early next morning so we went to bed pretty early. Johnny was pretty tired from all the driving and fishing the last 3 days. This was the most he had ever fished on consecutive days.

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