Community News
Go Back

Woods, Waters and Wildlife

By John Jefferson

Photo by John Jefferson
Fishing in the bays off the Texas coast is mostly back to normal after the hurricane, although floating or submerged debris can pose a hazard to navigation.

By John Jefferson
Outdoor writer and photographer
Man! Did they! You already know how powerful and devastating it was. Now it’s time to pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, and rebuild the shattered lives and livings that still must be made. It’s an uphill hike carrying a heavy load.
Many have helped, and are still helping. My wife, for one, spent half her weekend in Houston replacing, taping and floating sheetrock. I’ve already acknowledged the many boat owners from Texas and Louisiana – including the “Cajun Navy.” But enough can’t be said about all these guys and that girl in the chartreuse raincoat that took command and dispatched the patchwork armada of Dunkirk-like citizen-sailors who motored to flooded neighborhoods and rescued marooned residents who had no other way out. They’re all saints in my book.
As recovery begins, people have asked, “How’s the fishing?” That’s one of the few bright spots, and the answer is practically unanimous. It didn’t take long for it to start improving. As reported earlier, the influx of fresh water may have caused the trout to seek deeper water since the fresh water stays on top of the salt water, temporarily. I talked to Capt. Frankie Eicholz in Port Aransas, the town that has for years used the slogan, “Where the fish bite every day.” Those small signs along the roadside drove me crazy as a kid since I figured any place where fish bit every day must be Paradise. Capt. Frankie was on the water with clients Friday, his first day guiding since the storm, and he sounded downright jubilant.
“Fish have to eat,” he pointed out. And to eat, they have to bite. He said people south of Port A. were fishing the next week after the storm. “It may have slowed the fish down for a day or two,” he added, “but as soon as the storm passed, they were probably biting again.” His clients on Friday managed to boat 12 redfish and a trout.
The problem is many support services are unavailable, he said. Some accommodations and restaurants are out of business, at least for now. Motels -- those still renting rooms -- have been taken over by utility companies repairing service. Some of the shrimp boats are working, but bait may be limited. Groceries are available, as is gasoline. Jim Friebele, a guide in Rockport, couldn’t praise H-E-B enough for their haste in resuming business. They even cooked BBQ in the parking lot for folks. Friebele said the Lighthouse Inn is currently closed.
One guide and outdoor writer, Lefty Ray Chapa, pointed out that since the storm struck just before Labor Day weekend, no fishing boats left port, and most fish are still in the water. Chapa also said duck hunting suffered since most duck blinds are gone. The South Bay Hunting Club is said to have lost 28, and is scrambling to rebuild before the season opens Nov. 4.
All open businesses could use a hand … and customers.