Seining the Ocean

On April 26th, we woke up and got rolling. We packed up our things and headed up to Aransas Pass. We met up with our guide Dean, who owned Slowride Guide Services. He does Eco-tours and also guided fishing trips with kayaks for redfish, trout, and whatever else there is to catch. We met him at his business and then headed to where we would get out and get in. By that I mean, out of the vans and into the kayaks.

We started off a little slow, the wind wasn’t terrible but it was making things difficult and the waves were the big problem. I didn’t know what to expect, and from the initial “leg of our journey”, I wasn’t too excited. I just thought this would be some lame tour where all we do is paddle in our kayaks for 4 hours. Eventually we pulled off on this island and my opinion changed.

Dean talked about all sorts of things from conservation, sea grass, fisherman, plants, birds, fish, and everything in-between. He was an educated man and very passionate about preservation and conservation. When we paddled back to the landing we were allowed to explore and sort of take our own time and look at different things like crabs (Picture 1), birds, fish, and the different plants. It was definitely worth going out and doing.

Hermit Crab we found while on our eco-tour

After we departed with Dean we headed back down to Port Aransas. Before we crossed over on the ferry we made a well needed pit stop at one of the estuaries. Here we met up with Casey’s friend Dusty, who works for Texas Parks and Wildlife. At this spot we got to fish for four or five hours, which was awesome too. A few people caught a few smaller fish, but nothing too exciting. Then Drew caught a speckled trout, which we cut up and grilled, along with a wide variety of food like hotdogs and hamburgers.

I didn’t have any luck catching anything, except in my cast net where I caught a small mullet and a tongue fish. All I got was a few nibbles and some stolen bait. Casey told me to walk out as far as I could into the estuary and cast out into the channel, which you could see because the water changed from a light blue to a dark blue. My first cast out my bait got smoked by something big, but I was unsuccessful in hooking the beast, most likely it was a great white (Picture 2). We continued this for a couple hours and throughout this we saw dolphins (Picture 3), which I didn’t expect to see, a giant fifteen foot tall bird (Picture 4), and a lot of crabs and mullet jumping out of the water.

Morgan and I trying to hook into some monster fish.

Dolphins we saw strolling through the water.

Giant 22 foot tall bird we saw while fishing.

Finally we got called back to do something just as fun, seining (Picture 5). We had three groups of people seining and I was lucky enough to tag along with Dusty who used to work as a saltwater fisheries biologist. He was very handy to have around, and also a very nice guy. He helped identify a lot of the fish we got in our seines like anchovies, pinfish, flounders, pipefish, and others I can’t remember. He also helped us with our crab identification skills and showed us how to tell a blue crab from a lesser blue crab.

Dusty showing us the ways of saltwater fish identification.

After we got done at that spot we headed back over to Port Aransas and seined the open ocean. It was pretty difficult to do, but I enjoyed it. We didn’t get a wide variety of species here but we caught ladyfish and a species of jacks that I don’t remember.

After that we went back to camp to gather up our fishing supplies and headed back out on the jetty. No one was successful in catching anything but a few of us got hooked into quite a few fish, but couldn’t quite keep them on to get them up onto the rocks. It was fun just being out. Later that night a few of us decided to go get some supper, which was a pain, because almost everything was closed. We finally found a place with a goofy name and decent food. After getting back from camp a few of the other students on the trip decided to go out crabbing one more time, which I planned on doing as well, but I was too tired and decided to call it a night.

I enjoyed every single part of the trip, except for the wrong turns and long car rides. Each day was very educational and eye opening. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I hope to return to Port Aransas one day when the fishing is more promising, or when it isn’t so hot.

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