Throughout the pursuit of my formal education to complete my Master’s Degree, I’ve always been taught to never start any form of written communication with a direct quote. Fortunately this blog is neither academic and it is certainly not formal. So when “stop doubting and believe” was mentioned recently, I couldn’t help but embrace that concept, and apply its meaning to my fishing endeavors.
However, before I mention the author of the aforementioned quote and the context in which it was discussed, I’d like to give some insight as to why I believe it relates to the art of fishing.
On a recent trip down to the Lower Laguna Madre, I got a chance to reconnect with friend and Texas trout fishing legend Capt Mike McBride. In addition to me, I also had the opportunity to bring my close fishing friend and blog contributor, Kyle Perry, as well as my Dad, or in Mike’s case (Pee Paw or Paw Paw) depending on the mood he’s in. My Dad and I have been fortunate to fish with Mike and testify to the Big Trout magic sprinkled in the waters surrounding Port Mansfield. Kyle, on the other hand, has not. Since moving here in 2013, I’ve been fortunate to call the Laguna Madre my “home waters” and have been the recipient of increasing my personal best trout 3 times (more on that later). Beyond that, I’ve opened my aperture to fishing certain conditions, outside the regimen I’ve grown accustomed to since my childhood fishing trips in the Louisiana Delta. In short, since moving to Texas, I’ve learned the “Art” of fishing.
So as we pull into Capt Tricia’s driveway on Baffin Drive, we’re greeted with a warm embrace and 6 Styrofoam containers of comfort food intended for a Tapas style dining experience which included Blackened redfish and boiled crawfish. Like 2 years before, which was our last face to face meeting, the depth of conversation never skipped a beat. The stories shared by Capt Tricia and Capt Mike, leave you to ponder at how I became a privileged citizen to a front row seat of two Troutmasters – humbling to say the least. As a lifelong student of the sport, it was the class you’d never want to end, but fortunately you remind yourself that you are fishing with these 2 for the next 3 days. So walking into the deer laden streets back to the room wasn’t half bad.
As we wake up the next morning after a restless night, we stepped outside like we’ve done so many times and notice not a breath of air. It was completely calm and those that fish S. TX know that is a rare feat. It was so calm, you could hear the coffee percolating, which just so happened to be the perfect prescription to start our fun filled fishing addiction. On the idle out between fuel and cigarettes, you notice an unwelcomed buzz around the marina, especially for an early April Monday morning. However that negative thought of Googin’s plowing through the trout feeding grounds quickly diminishes to the inspiring work of a Heavenly produced sunrise, only possible by the Man upstairs. So as we reach the last camp on the canal, Mike does his infamous cattle call whistle and commands the 250 ponies pushing his Haynie into a full gallop.
At our first stop, Mike explains the situation – a handsome little drop off into about 5’ of water with sand/grass lumps rounding out the contour. So as we’re directed we line up and after about 10 minutes are awarded with a superb early morning bite with fish up to 27”s. After about an hour of catching trout after trout, we decide for greener pastures and go seek out the Lower Laguna Megatrout, except we never found her. Actually, for the next 3 days she eluded us, but we know she’s out there. Not only did we see her as we’re cruising the crystal clear flats, but Capt Tricia’s images of her 11.75lb’er she caught and released less than a week earlier validate our claim. So in a roundabout way, I’d like this to steer us back to my opening quote…”Stop doubting and believe.”
As Thomas did in the upper room, he didn’t have the heart to consciencally believe what he couldn’t physically see. It wasn’t until Jesus ordered him to touch his hands and side when he finally admitted to his short sidedness. The same applies to fishing. We know those giants are out there, we’ve seen them. One glance at social media, blogs or other fishing forums and you’ll know they exist. Beyond pictures, some have been even more fortunate to hold such a specimen. In short, they are out there, we just have to believe we can catch them. More importantly, we have to step out of the infamous “comfort zone,” shelf what we think we know and super-size our order of humility and hard work.
I’ll leave you with an example. Growing up, I was always taught that while fishing in SE LA, the water had to be clean or “trout green” to catch large numbers of trout. Although, it’s true to some extent because of the tannic waters that surround the delta, I’ve opened my aperture to how dirty is too dirty, particularly in other states or other fisheries. So when I moved to TX, dirty water was something I steered away from and focused more so on the sand/grass mix on the Upper Laguna, simply due to my fishing upbringing. Although I had moderate success in the beginning, the “Art” of fishing Texas eluded me. It wasn’t until I heard the same story from 2 years earlier by the same guide about how he believes that turbulence created by wind driven water presents the most ideal situation for Giant trout. “Don’t just fish dirty water on purpose Chris - fish dirty water with purpose.”
So as we slipped over the gunnels on our last wade, Dad and Kyle were incredibly skeptical. It wasn’t the clear/green pretty stuff we’d been wading for the last 3 days. It wasn’t the knee deep/bait flipping everywhere kind of water that had produced MegaTrout’s smaller kin or crazy Uncle Redfish that no one likes. This was the watered down YooHoo version, and Mike and I’s chalice of confidence was overflowing due to our success in water just like this. “This is where legends are born” Mike and I are thinking. As opposed to the 2 doubting Thomas’ next to us that can’t see their bait 3 inches down. Looking back though, you can’t blame them. A lifetime of instruction and failed attempts to produce in these waters will challenge even the most mentally tough.
Although this attempt ended like so many other attempts in “dirty” water with nothing to show for our efforts. I can’t help but encourage you to continue to explore new possibilities, whether that's off colored water, offshore reefs or wadefishing. As Mike says, “Fishing is cool, because everyone’s interpretation and purpose are different. Mine is certainly different from most, because I get no greater thrill in this world than watching a giant trout shake her head, or admiring a band of pelican’s working a school of bait. I love being out there. Whether its win, lose or draw its doing something we were programmed to do. So next time you back the boat in, I encourage you to take it all in. After all, “Blessed are those, who don’t see, yet still believe.”
Tight Lines and God Bless!