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About the Book
The End of the Line is more than a collection of fishing stories. Famous people turn up unexpectedly, times change, equipment changes, techniques change, smugglers are captured and arrested, and the reader is subjected to some of the worst and most dangerous weather boaters can encounter, but two constants remain throughout the stories: one, the author’s tongue-in-cheek humor, and two, his love for the great outdoors.About the Author
Jon is a fifth-generation Texan, he graduated from the University of Houston, and he spent his business career in the computer industry. He is a staff writer for Water and Woods, an online magazine; he had articles published in the local newspaper, The Goldthwaite Eagle, and Buckmasters’ website and magazine.
Jon is very active in his church; his Grand Children’s athletics; his blog; hunting and fishing; and Senior Softball, winning National Championships in 2002, 2003, and 2008. Jon is a member of the Texas Senior Softball Hall of Fame and the Softball Players Association Hall of Fame.
Jon and his wife, Layla, live on their ranch in the Texas hill country.Purchase Options
The book is available in softcover and ebook format through the publisher, Rosedog Books. Click here for more info or to purchase your own copy.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing on Friday, January 22. 2010 14:06 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Defined tags for this entry: fishing
Sunday, August 25. 2013
Encouraged by our recent success at catching over a dozen large speckled trout along the Channel, we decided to try our luck at the same approximate spot the following Monday. Before sun up, with a light wind blowing out of the southeast, the tide forecast was for it to be coming in all morning, we left Unkie’s house, near Hobby Airport, maybe another “haul”? By the time we drove down to San Leon and got the boat ready for launching, the wind had shifted to the south and was blowing near 15 MPH, not the light breeze that we woke up to! Our memory of the ideal conditions of the past week faded as the bay was already showing scattered white caps as Unkie, the eternal optimist, said, “Maybe it will smooth out before too long?”
The boat handled the cross chop very well as we sped across the ship channel, slowed down and started to literally bounce across the waves. To slow our drift, I deployed a 3, foot drag sleeve that smoothed us out a lot and made it possible for us to cast and keep our balance. We were using our standard trout gear, 6-1/2 foot popping rods, red reels, 15 pound line, 3 foot leaders and live shrimp. Baiting up we cast out and began our popping routine, pop the cork, reel up the slack, pop and repeat the process. Our corks would get behind a wave and we’d loose sight of them and have to fish by feel, no problem if we kept our lines tight.
Several casts later, Dad had a good strike and as the fish took off he said, ”Whoa big fella!", he exclaimed. "This is a good one and it’s not fighting like a spec!” Good one it was, after 2 big runs against the light tackle and several wallows around the boat, I slipped the net under a nice redfish that weighed, on the bait camp scales, over 8 pounds!
More casts, more popping and as Unkie’s cork slipped behind a wave he reared back, setting the hook in a good fish. Not the fight of a big red, but a determined pull and soon the fish started circling the boat, a sure sign of a good spec. Netting the trout, a 6 pounder, I looked up and coming up the ship channel was our first tanker of the morning, pushing out a big wake.
We got the drag sleeve in, getting wet in the process, cranked up the boat’s engine and headed towards the wake. This one looked huge, but probably was another 7 footer. It seemed to be going faster that the one last week soon it was on us and up and over the boat handled it perfectly. No other tankers were in sight so we putted back to our approximate location, deployed the drag sleeve, baited up and started casting out again.
Adding another 5 pounder, I looked up and on the horizon, could see 3 more tankers coming up the channel, probably heading up to the big refineries of Shell and Humble Oil, (in 1972 Humble’s name was changed to Exon.) We couldn’t beat the first one across the channel so we rode over its wake without a problem, safely getting to the west side of the channel. The second one presented us a much different situation we couldn’t beat it to the launch ramp so we had to turn around and head into it, slide over, then follow the wake up towards the ramp.
After filleting the fish, as we stowed everything in the boat and my dad remarked, “Not a bad day considering the heavy south wind. You know, if every time we had a meat haul like last week, this would be called catching, instead of fishing!”
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, August 20. 2013
Going out this morning in August of 1968, we knew that we’d be sweaty when we came in. Hoping we’d be sweaty from catching speckled trout, but August is probably the hottest month along the upper Texas coast with the water in the shallow bays, East and West Galveston Bay and Christmas Bay, heating up to the mid eighties this caused the big trout to seek cooler water.
The cooler water we were heading out to this morning was along the Houston Ship Channel. The channel was begun in 1875 and not really completed until 1914. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s it was widened to over 500 feet, with a depth of 45. The weather forecast was a good one, light winds, tides coming in, with scattered thunder storms, in the afternoon. Our plan was to finish up by lunch, so we didn’t anticipate any bad weather or problems.
We, my dad and uncle, Alvin Pyland, better known as Unkie, launched at the bait camp at San Leon and made the short run out to the ship channel. We were in my 17, foot deep vee, a really good big bay boat. Crossing over the Ship Channel we went about two hundred feet past it, then started our drift.
Our tackle was 6-1/2 foot popping rods, red, reels filled with 15 pound, mono line. We used a popping cork with a three-foot, leader, enough weight to keep the cork upright and a small treble hook. Our bait was live shrimp. We’d cast out, pop the cork, reel up the slack, repeat the process until we either had a strike or we retrieved the rig back to the boat, then, if no hit, cast back out and repeated the process.
Unkie and Dad cast out and hadn’t made one or two “pops” when they had big strikes, both fish were good ones, taking line and circling the boat, a sure sign of a big trout! Netting Unkies fish first, a real nice 5 pounder, my dad’s fish put on a show around the boat for us and we could see that is was a little bigger than Unkies.
Finally I cast out, popped the cork once and “bam” had a big strike. A twenty-yard, first run, highlighted this fight, along with two circles of the boat, with a lot of wallows on top before Dad slipped the net under the speck, a twin of his.
We were probably fifteen miles up from the Galveston Jetties, the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel and in the distance, south of us the morning’s first big tanker was heading our way. My dad said, “Boy, you’ve never seen the wake these big ships throw up, have you?” “What wakes?” was my answer. Unkie chimed in, “Six or seven footers, that’s what and we’d better get everything in the boat squared away!” This got my attention quick. We quit fishing and knowing that if you’re in heavy seas, you head into them and don’t get caught broad side, I started the engine and here the came the wake.
Looking at the wake, it came toward us, obliquely, in a long line, soon it was only fifty feet from us then, here it was! The deep vee in my boat’s hull cut smoothly through the 7, foot wake, then rode up and down it. It would have swamped us if we’d been broadside to it!
Going back to catching specks, before the tide changed we put a dozen more 5 to 6 pounders into the cooler. We experienced three more big wakes, but got back to the launch ramp before noon and missed the forecasted thunderstorms.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 14:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, July 24. 2013
My summer job for Uncle Shelly was to drive across the Brazos River, just above the falls, over the barely flowing river, to his ranch along Perry Creek, that was across the river, but still in Falls County and, at least, there was a concreted, low water crossing for my daily trips. Falls County is one of the few counties in Texas that spans a major, river, obviously a carryover from the Texas colonization days with Mexico. The good part was that taking this route eliminated a 20, mile drive through Marlin to the Perry Creek Ranch.
The trips were for checking the several hundred cattle on the ranch for screwworms, a blight on the cattle industry, and certain death if the grown animals weren’t treated within 5 to 7 days and a calf in 2 to 3! Screwworms were a terrible pestilence that hounded our State’s cattle industry until a cure was found.
The cure, developed at Texas A&M during the 1960’s, was the releasing of millions of sterile, male, screwworm flies. This procedure saved our cattle industry and spawned the terrific deer herds that we now have across Texas! Treatment was begun in 1962 and by 1966 screwworms were eradicated. Texas hasn’t had a recorded case of infestation since August 1, 1992.
Most days I’d pull a horse trailer and a saddled horse, spending my day in and out of the saddle, but behind the seat in the truck I always carried my fishing tackle because there were 2 stock tanks on the Perry Creek place that were full of bass. And even back then, I’d rather fish than eat! By late afternoon, after making my rounds and checking the cows for any evidence of screwworms, I’d stop by my favorite stock tank, get out my rod and reel, with my favorite plug, a Piggy Boat spinner bait, and make a few casts.
As the cows used the water up, it had been getting lower and lower, until most of the moss was gone and now I know that most of the oxygen was too! That particular day, my first cast was met with a solid strike and after a couple of jumps I reached down and slipped my fingers between the bass’ jaws. However, something was wrong with the bass, it had lost most of its coloration, was a pasty, white color with very little green showing. Throwing that pound and a halfer back in the tank, I made another cast and my spinner bait was gobbled up just as the bait hit the water and this one, a nice 2 pound bass made several leaps before I lipped it and same results, a lack of colorization.
Pitching the bass back in, I thought I’d better let Uncle Shelly know that the bass weren’t doing very well, but before I started the drive back it dawned on me to go check the other stock tank. Same results as the first, moss dying, water getting lower almost as I watched, greedy hungry bass with a lack of color and now I believe that the lack of oxygen and food caused this feeding trauma with the bass. Over supper we discussed the strange color of the bass, but couldn’t come up with an answer or reason.
During the epic drought of the 50’s the stock tanks never went completely dry, but fishing in them never returned to the excellence of past years. By the time the drought had broken, I had gone into the Army and Uncle Shelly had sold the ranch across the river. At least for me no more hazardous river crossings, but Shelly did tell me of once that when the water was flowing over a foot over the concrete, he drove his pickup and horse trailer across, scaring him sufficiently, so he came back the long way through town.
Also, now I know that in 1845 or 46, to enlist as a Texas Ranger following a border incursion by the Mexicans into Texas, one of my relatives, a great uncle, Buck Barry, crossed the Brazos, at this same spot, over a hundred years before, on a trip from Sulphur Springs to the new capital of the State, Austin. Between the two towns, that were well over 100 miles apart, the one settler he had seen along the trace had located at the falls of the Brazos, the same spot where I was standing!
It turned out the settler was the only survivor after a Comanche Indian raid and when Buck arrived on the scene, just missing the Indians, the settler had lost everything, his slaves, cattle, horses and women. This was Buck’s initiation to the Comanche’s and by far, not his last one!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 16:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, July 18. 2013
At sunup, as we reached the end of the Galveston Jetties, we set our course to 150 on the compass. Earlier we had stopped by our friendly, ex German submariner’s, see my post "Invasion", to buy some cigar minnows and were told by him that the shrimp boats could be found about 20 miles out on a course of 150. The breeze created by Bob Baugh’s big, boat cruising along at 35, was refreshing to Brad and I and 18 miles out, sure enough, we sighted the first shrimp boat.
Pulling alongside of the shrimper, the mandatory swap beer for some chum, was made. Beer is the legal tender of choice out on the Gulf and can be a barter item for shrimp, chum and even ice. The trade made we baited up our medium weight rods, loaded with 20 pound line, a 3 foot, light wire leader and red reels, with cigar minnows purchased from our German friend, tossed out a couple of handfuls of chum, small fish culled from the boat’s night of shrimping and awaited the inevitable strikes!
The strikes weren’t long in coming. All 3 of us got almost simultaneous strikes, and the race was on, 3 kingfish, roaring away at full speed, the reels nearly smoking as the fish pulled out line. We gained a little line, then the kings took off again and two of the kings decided to battle it out on the top. Many splashes later we gaffed two, but kept one in the water because we only had 2 gaffs and gaffing the last one, we whacked all 3 with our “kingfish persuader”, admired the 3, 20 pounders and into the cooler with them.
We repeated this scenario two more times, long runs, splashes on top and grudging fights alongside the boat and added two more kings, 20 pounders like the first 3, to our cooler, then Bob said that a person could eat just so much kingfish and we should leave these fish alone. Because, this past week, he’d heard about a new rig, 50 miles out, in about 150 foot of water, that should have some amberjack around it.
Bob figured out our new course, this was using Loran way before GPS, and we headed out, the slick seas letting us make the 30, mile run in just under and hour. Soon we saw the rig on the horizon, Bob’s calculations were right on, so we pulled up to it and trolled around it a couple of times with no luck. Next, we pulled up to the rig and tied on, then let our cigar minnows out to drift in the current, then, not 5 minutes later, I had a savage strike, the fish heading south, then jumping several times.
The fish, later identified as a 25 pound barracuda, put up a savage fight all the way to the boat and, trying not to hurt the fish too much, we slid the gaff into the point of its chin and hefted it aboard, a nice catch, but no eating for this one. Barracuda in southern climes, many times carry a disease, ciguatera, that they contract from other fish that eat the shellfish on tropical reefs, so we’d take no chances with this one. No amberjack at this stop, so we caught several more toothy, barracudas, then with the seas still flat, we untied from the rig and headed back in.
As usual, not a mile from the end of the jetties, we picked up a race, with a sleek, 30 foot inboard with, obviously, 2 big diesel engines and built for speed. Full bore we were racing when we spied a crew boat heading our way.
Both little boats veered to the right, but both boats caught the edge of the crew boat’s wake, a 4, foot wave and both, slammed into it. It’s a wonder both boats weren’t destroyed, but Brad and I were tossed around the fishing area of Bob’s boat and going down, my watch, a Rolex, hit a sharp object cutting my wrist and breaking the watch band. Rolex bands aren’t cheap, even back then in the 80’s, and $200.00 later, with a new watch, band, I was ready for whatever the Gulf could bring my way, I thought.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, July 9. 2013
Having walked across the spillway, all the time worried that the big balloon that held the Texas’ Colorado River in check would break I finally reached the other side. The big balloon was around 300, foot in length, 20 feet in diameter, touching it and running my hand along it, it looked like a dirigible from WW II and actually held the river back. It was stretched across the river and was anchored on both sides by giant concrete pilings. Tidal water, from the Gulf of Mexico, 15 miles south, was to my front and behind me, behind the huge barrier, was the fresh water from the river that was used for irrigation of the many rice fields in the area.
Tying on an artificial shrimp tail lure, casting it into the brackish water, on one of my first casts, surprise, it was picked up by a nice fish and after quite a fight, 5 minutes later I was stringing the 8, pound channel cat. Several casts later, my rod bowed as a big fish hit the lure and headed down river for the Gulf. This wasn’t a cat and, because of the apparent head shaking, I identified it as a big red. My gear at the time, 6-1/2, foot fiberglass, popping rod, a big red reel loaded with 200 yards of 15 pound line, should be sufficient to stop this fellow’s run.
Hopping down off of the spillway and running along the bank, I was able to gain some line and soon the fish slowed and made another shorter run, but something was out of whack, this fish was fighting deeper than a red. Maybe it had swallowed the lure? Gaining line and easing the fish up out of the depths, I had my first glimpse of a big striped bass, probably 36 inches long.
Having caught some in South Carolina, but never in Texas waters, I wanted this one for, at least, a picture and as I bent over to “lip” the striper, all the while trying to keep my line tight, the single hook on the plug, pulled out. I could only watch, and I still have the mind picture, as this silver/greenish, striped beauty slowly finned down out of sight.
There is a small striped bass fishery in the Trinity River, below the Lake Livingston damn. Having fished Trinity Bay, around the mouth of the Trinity River, many times, I have caught reds and specs but never a striper, although I’ve heard tales of anglers regularly catching them. I’ve fished around the salt water, barrier on the San Bernard River and no stripers. I think there’s too much pollution around the Brazos/New River system for them and have never caught one around there.
All I can imagine is that this striped bass either came into the Colorado from the Gulf, or came down Trinity to Galveston Bay, then into the Gulf for, forty miles, then up the Colorado?
Whatever, it certainly did some traveling.
Saturday, June 29. 2013
It was a beautiful summer day on the beach in Galveston, the girls out in force with their 1950’s, “skimpy” bathing suits, nothing like now days Bikinis, light wind from the southeast and no waves crashing on or over Galveston’s South Jetty. However, this trip, Bobby Baldwin and I didn’t have eyes for the girls, but we had walked out the concrete walkway then, holding on to our rod and reels and carrying our live shrimp in a bait bucket along with one tackle box, literally climbed out on the slick, rocks of the jetty, ending up a hundred yards past the topping.
This was to be our fishing spot and our target for the morning would be speckled trout. Both of us were armed with 6 foot, popping rods, direct drive reels spooled with 15 pound braided line, both reels having the luxury of a star drag system and later in the morning, mine would be tested severely! We were both using popping corks with a 2 to 3 foot, leader, the bait of choice was live shrimp. We’d cast along the rocks and slowly reel in while popping the corks, the pop simulating the sound a trout makes while feeding on the surface, hopefully attracting other fish to the shrimp.
Casting our baits out, it was no time until both corks went under, setting the hooks, mine came back hookless, but Bobby was fast into a Spanish mackerel and obviously, my leader was cut by another’s sharp teeth! Swinging his mackerel up on to the rocks, in our haste to get to fishing, we both remembered we’d left the net in the car, so for the morning we practiced swing and catch the fish. This proved much easier said then done, since a 3, pound trout doesn’t swing very good, let alone they’re slimy and hard to hold on to!
Threading the mackerel on to the stringer, it dawned on us there was no place to tie it off, our choices being a cleft between two of the massive stones used to construct the jetty, or loop it around the tackle box that was wedged in securely, we chose the tackle box. Wouldn’t you know it, after I rehooked and cast out, I had a big strike, with the fish wallowing and splashing on the surface, quickly identifying it as a big trout, I tried my best to land it, but as I swung it up out of the water, it didn’t swing very good, the hook dislodged and, plop, back into the deep with it. Smaller trout, along with the occasional mackerel, were no problem, but how do you tell a big fish not to eat your shrimp?
We’d caught maybe a dozen trout and two mackerel, when I cast out and had a huge strike, really a pole bender! All I could do was hold on as the reel’s star drag was zinging as the unknown fish took out line. Zzzz, zzzz, zzzz the star drag was singing as the fish headed down the jetty for parts unknown. Finally the end of my line was reached, pop, it gave way, leaving me with an empty reel and unbowed rod. That was some fish!
With me with no line and since I drove, I called it a day and Bobby followed suit. The fishing and catching was fun, the rock hopping proved to be dangerous because a friend, not two weeks later, slipped and fell, cut his leg, that required ten stitches to close. This one event brought our rock hopping to an early end!
Years later, I finally figured out what kind of fish was probably on the end of my line. After catching many kingfish on light tackle, I bet it was a 15 pounder that stripped me. It was too fast for a shark, they fight more doggedly; not a tarpon, no jumps; not a big redfish, no head shaking and not a king size speckled trout, no wallowing; it had to be a king!
Another thing, we never looked at the girls in their skimpy bathing suits and besides we were goin’ fishin’ not girlin’!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, June 16. 2013
This was big time fun, we’d cast out, the cork would go under and we’d reel in a 12 inch speckled trout, this was repeated so many times that our arms were getting tired! Giving no thought to the fish cleaning that lay ahead, we kept on catching the trout, all the same size, 12 inchers.
We were using our standard trout gear, direct drive reels on 6 foot, split cane, rods (our dad’s of course), with 20 pound braided line. This was the summer of 1954 and I’d just graduated from high school and George Pyland, my cousin had just finished his first year at Texas A&M College (now the 7th largest university in the country). Our bait was live shrimp, fished under a popping cork, we’d cast out, pop the cork once and it would go under. Being youngsters we thought this fishing was the ultimate!
We had started our fishing trip at Bobby Wilson’s Bait camp, where we bought a quart of shrimp. We then drove around to what was then called East Beach, it is no more because a hurricane came right up the Galveston Ship Channel and washed away a fine fishing spot.
We waded out and began casting and right away we began to catch specs. We only had about a quart of shrimp, roughly around a hundred and within two hours they were used up. Then we had a bright idea, we’d tear off small bits from my tee shirt and use that for bait, but after a couple of fish, the fish still hit the small white patches, we ruled this out because I would be shirtless if we continued.
Our stringers were loaded with trout, over 50 on each so we decided to go back in and clean the fish. Why we didn’t use the cleaning table provided at Bobby Wilson’s I don’t know why, so we sat ourselves down on the pier and began the cleaning, cutting their heads off and scaling them. Soon I noticed that I was getting sun burned, my legs below my shorts, were red and getting redder, but we still had half a hundred to go.
By the time we finished, my upper legs were fried and it was over a week until I could wear anything but shorts, playing baseball then, I even went on the DL because of the sunburn. After that trip I always wore long pants when I waded!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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