Some activities on the Texas coast have no limitations when it comes to weather. For instance, duck hunters seldom question whether a hunt is going to be cancelled due to rain, cold, misery, and the likes. You can go ahead and add Texas Alligator hunters and even fishermen to that list! Hurricane Karl spun off a Tropical Low that has been stalled over us since mid-day Friday. Rain, rain, and more rain have taken us to a whole new level of inland flooding. With a wide range of activities on the schedule from fishing, to Teal hunting, Dove hunting, and Alligator hunting, logistics took on a whole new meaning.
Enter the Dragon
On Friday, the lodge welcomed Maxwell Realty for a two day team building trip and we managed to get on the water for a productive outing catching Redfish throughout the slot. Capt. Doug and I had a great time introducing some of the novices to the best of the outdoors, drag burning Redfish, and Texas saltwater fishing. John G. from N. Texas managed to find his 9' Alligator with Capt. Jake. All these trips wrapped up around mid-day with weather building. Around 10:30am, the weather really started to come apart when numerous and awesome looking rain bands started feeding inland. The best news about the weather, no lightning, but plenty of the wet stuff. Mid-day, we welcomed Stephen from a Houston based energy company along with guests from Deutsche Bank Houston for a two day Alligator hunting trip. The boys were going big, hunting lizards in the 10 to 12' range. Capt. Cory led the 5 guests afield with horizontal rain, wind, and flooding making for a challenging hunt. Against the odds, Capt. Cory and the guests managed to take some nice size alligators to 10.5' while dialing in on productive areas for Day 2. It was a wrap with lots of smiling faces among our guests.
The Calm on the Surface
Saturday would find us welcoming guests for cast and blast Teal/fish combinations from as far away as Ft. Worth; Day 2 of the Maxwell Realty team building trip including a very special 6 year old nephew of the owner; and alligator hunters from Victoria. Constantly wet locations in the area that are typically productive areas had been coming up blank through the week. Teal prospects weren't looking good. Capt. Jake called Friday afternoon to let me know "I found the Teal but we could use a little more rain on it. They're hung up in a shredded Milo field and there are at least 10,000 birds". Flying the radar Friday afternoon, I told him "that's not going to be a problem". I've got to hand it to Jake for not only tracking the birds down and locating them; arranging access with the property owner; cutting brush for three sets of blinds; and, negotiating logistics including ingress and egress on the impromptu location. It's one thing to find the birds, an entirely different thing to deliver 13 guests to the heart of them in flooded, muddy conditions without killing the client.
Sometimes I Hate Being Right
Saturday morning it was as expected, horizontal rain and streaming bands of red n yeller killa-feller on radar. Early departure fishing trips were placed on hold looking for a break in the weather. Jake delivered the Teal hunters via 4 wheeler/trailer to the best locations. Sure enough, the partially flooded field had turned into a new lake feature. Communication with Jake during the hunt was impossible with the weather. Around mid morning, I get the phone call. "Whew, we got it done but I'm not sure half of these guys will ever hunt waterfowl again"! "The group of 9 hunting with Jake and Jack managed to kill 26 birds but I think the rain and conditions have just about licked them". Rick B. and his wife were new to the sport. Hunting with Kevin, Jake said "I don't think they managed to kill a bird despite some shooting". As Rick and his wife got back to the lodge, I asked them "well, what did you think about duck hunting and will you ever do it again"? It was a resounding "we had a great time and we will absolutely be hunting ducks again"! Rick said he and his wife had some shots but evidently they were a little sporty with the wind and rain. Jake mentioned that the whole area turned into a gigantic lake and that caused some problems with the setup.....as one would expect.
Old School Bad Boyz
I discussed fishing logistics with Capt. Terry, the team lead for Capt. Ricky and Capt. Neil that were awaiting the group of 9 Teal hunters with the Steve C. party. We touched base around 8am and discussed options for rescheduling the afternoon fishing to Sunday just in case the rain didn't break. With non-stop rain, we revisited around 10am and Terry said "we are in the water waiting on these guys". I said "Terry, are you guys good with fishing in the rain"? Terry said "heck, the fish are already wet so we're not too worried about it"! As the Steve C. group got back to town I discussed their desire to fish in the rain. They said "we need 10 minutes to turn around from the Teal hunt and we'll be there"! It's one thing to fish in the rain and something entirely different to catch some fish in the rain. With the true heart of a waterfowler, the guests hopped on board and the 3 boat crew pushed off with only a marginal lessening of weather in sight.
Rick and his wife elected to reschedule their afternoon fishing trip; the Maxwell Realty group elected to do the same; and Capt. Cory welcomed Rachel W. in from Victoria for her alligator hunt.
Rain Makes For Great Roses
Around 3pm, Capt. Terry called to inform me that everyone managed to limit out on Redfish on his boat and Capt. Neil's boat with Capt. Ricky managing just over half limits. Everyone was all smiles and I take my hat off to this collection of Seadrift's finest hardcore redfishermen. Shortly after that, Capt. Cory called to let me know that we got Rachel's 9 footer! We had to reschedule Rachel from the previous Sunday due to flooding and an inability to have much in the way of prospects for her success.
Anticipation, Weather or Not!
Stuart with Maxwell Realty was not only hosting a team building event here at The Lodge but he had welcomed his 6 year old nephew Cash down for his first real "big time" fishing trip. On Saturday, I mentioned that what we need was to get him prepared in the event of rain on Sunday. Stuart entertained his guests with an impromptu trip to the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus since fishing wasn't in the cards for the guests. They doubled back and got some rain gear for the little guy and come hell or high water, we were going to get the little guy on some fish Sunday.
As luck would have it, the rain let up early and we hopped on a window of opportunity with Capt. Doug taking some of the other Maxwell guests. I had the pleasure of taking Cash and his mom and dad for their first saltwater adventure. On the first stop, Cash's dad stuck a solid 26" redfish that took him around the boat a couple of times. We drew a blank after that and had to make a few moves. Fourth stop, Cash went to work on a solid 24" Redfish. Everyone was scrambling to help the little guy and I had to "hold them back". A six year old has a pretty tough time with a level wind let alone an 8' Castaway rod. Now, add a hacked off mid-slot redfish to the equation and the fight was on. With only a little help on rod posturing, the youngster fought the fish from one end of the boat to the other and his first Texas redfish came to hand. It was high fives and a lot of grins from ear to ear. Linda, Cash's mom was next to bow up on her first redfish. We managed four solid Redfish and the weather that had blessed us with a break early started building and we beat feet for the ramp. Doug managed four nice redfish for the effort and had just pulled up in the middle of them when the guests said "let's run for it". Nice job Doug, my hats off to you.
A Little "Gator McCluskey" In All of Us
Sunday was Day 2 for the Stephen G. group hunting alligators with us. They managed to take some nice ones on Friday then fished a tournament in Port O'Connor Saturday. Sunday would find them in the thick of the rain and weather looking for some solid trophies. Capt. Cory said "we've got one of their 12' alligators and Capt. Jake's got a near 12 footer at a different location. While at it, the guests elected to take some smaller gators rounding out a nice collection of Texas Wild Alligators.
Talking with Stephen this morning via e-mail he had this to say: "Good morning Kris. My party and I sure enjoyed alligator hunting with Cory over the weekend. It was a "first" for all of us and I feel certain we will be back next year
. Again, thank you so much for all of your help with this and I'll be talking to you a little later today".
Texans Win, The Texans Win!
Sunday evening found us welcoming Trent P. and his dad in from Austin. Trent is fresh "in country" from Iraq and looking to "cut it up" with some Texas Alligator hunting and saltwater fishing. Capt. Jake said "prospects are good" for Trent and we are definitely seeing some real trophies out here. We'll catch up on the rest of this story later. I'd like to thank everyone for their patience with us and the weather over the weekend. We so enjoy all of our guests and want to express our thanks for your business, friendship, and generosity. I can't thank all of our guides enough for all of the hard work in and around weather issues of late. One thing is certain, you can find the best of the best at Castaway Lodge. I'd like to also thank my wife and lodge manager Wendi for buckling everyone's knees at the dinner table; keeping everyone fed afield with great lunches; and her deeply Southern hospitality to all of our guests and guides.
On The Horizon
We will be looking for more really hot redfish action including some great adventures into the deep marsh airboat redfishing. Next week we will be welcoming the newest addition to the Pursuit Channel, Killin N Grillin outdoors show with host Randal Reeder and celebrity guest comedian John Reep from "Last Comic Standing
Capt. Kris Kelley
Castaway Lodge, Inc.