Heart Attack

Heart Attack

Andy Dear | Monday, 20 March 2023

March is ALWAYS a sketchy time of year to try and plan a fishing trip in Texas. Technically it's spring, but some days it feels just like winter, and other days it feels like the dog days of summer. Jackson and I decided to make a flying run down to Port Lavaca during the last couple of days of his spring break vacation to try and catch a few Redfish. Unfortunately for us, the weather gods had something else in mind.

  The weather forecast was very clear about the fact that a cold norther would blow through Thursday night, and may bring with it, intermittent rain. Against our better judgment, we decided to hook up the boat and make the run 3 hours south anyway. I had a couple of back-country tidal creeks in mind where one can get out of the wind with the proper boat, and usually bring a few fish to hand in less than ideal conditions. Friday afternoon we spent several hours in one of the aforementioned creeks that regularly holds a lot of medium-sized Redfish, as well as the occasional Black Drum and Sheepshead. We probed every nook and cranny of that creek over the course of 3 hours with no luck. The atmospheric effects of the cold front proved just too much for anything with fins to be remotely active.

  Saturday morning we woke to equally cold temps, but to add insult to injury we now had a light rain to contend with. The forecast showed the rain should pass through and be over at about noon. Rather than make ourselves miserable, we decided to go have breakfast and make a plan to hit the water once the rain passed.

  One particular spot I have been wanting to explore for a few years now is an area on the southwest corner of Lavaca Bay known as Six Mile. Through some Google Earth research the night before, the area around Six Mile looked like it should be pretty protected from the north wind. Additionally, it provided access to deeper water with a mud bottom that should hold heat during a cold front. Post breakfast we drove over to the launch at Six Mile Park to check the water conditions. And, although the rain persisted, the water looked calm and clear enough to take a chance.

  A quick glance over at the boat ramp proved that we weren't the only ones who were itching to get out and fish. There was one other individual just craxy enough to fight the rain and cold at the ramp trying to launch his small 14-foot jon boat. Jack and I drove over to offer some help, and subsequently, he engaged us in a short conversation. As an aside, one of the things I enjoy the most about fishing, is the unique diversity of anglers at the local, boat ramps, especially at the more off the beaten path locales. On any given day you might have a nuclear engineer running a carbon fiber skiff with a six-figure price tag parked right next to a redneck who hasn't bathed or shaved in over a month running a beat up old flat bottom, held together with baling wire, chewing gum and a few hail marys. This fellow fell SQUARELY into the latter category, and, as a fellow redneck AND jon boat owner myself, I immediately felt a tinge of kinship with this old salt. I politely asked if he needed any help, to which he expressed gratitude, but said he was all set to go. We replied that we were headed to pick up our boat and would be back out there in about 45 min. We wished each other luck, and as we drove off, he randomly yelled, "MY FISHING PARTNER JUST HAD A HEART ATTACK!" An oddly random thing to say to a total stranger whom you just met, and who has NO idea who your fishing partner is, but what do you say to something like that? Jack and I kinda looked at each other perplexed as to how to respond, so I stopped the truck, backed up a few feet, rolled down the window and replied "well go catch one for him!" He enthisiastically responded "I WILL!"

  On the drive back to the cabin to pick up the boat, we both expressed our confusion and amusement at this "gentleman's remark". It was a peculiar thing to say, but after much thought, if I were the one who had the heart attack, I'd wouldn't want my fishing partner cancelling a trip over something as trivial as a cardiac arrest. For goodness sake, there are fish that need catching. I'd want him to do EXACTLY what this fellow was doing...getting out there and catching one for me.

  We trailered the boat back to Six Mile, launched, and motored over to an area where a sizable tidal creek winds back into the mainland. Not 30 minutes into our drift across the flat, the whiney growl of an old 2 stroke outboard motor echoed across the bay. Since there were no other trailers at the ramp, we knew who it was. Not thinking about what I was saying, I looked at Jack and said "here comes heart attack"....we both giggled. "Heart attack", as he became affectionately known at that moment, was running that 14 foot Jon boat like a man being chased by a demon from hell. He obviously knew where he was going, because he traversed the invisible narrow channel into the mouth of that that creek at FULL WIDE OPEN THROTTLE. As he passed, he gave us an enthusiastic friendly wave as if we were old pals, then rounded the south point of the creek channel and disappeared into the misting rain. Jack and I just looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders while continuing our slow descent into the same channel with a trolling motor trying not to hit any sandbars or obstructions like the rank amateurs that we were at this new spot.

  We made our way into the creek, and wouldn't you know, there were actually a few fish lying in the shallows on the cordgrass shorelines! Spoiler alert, they were having none of it...wouldn't touch a fly if their life depended on it. Off in the distance, we could see heart attack's Jon boat beached on a small sand bar. Not wanting to disturb his fishing, and having had enough of the cold north wind and rain (which never stopped by the way) we drifted back out of the tidal creek and into the main bay and fired up the outboard to head back to the ramp. About 30 seconds later, we heard that familiar 2 stroke growl again, as heart attack's skiff rounded the tip of the creek mouth again,  at full, wide open throttle! He pulled into our wake about 50 yards behind us, and followed us all the way into the ramp.

  We loaded our boat at one ramp while he loaded his at the second ramp about 100 feet away. As we were strapping everything down, he pulled up in his truck, rolled down the window, and with a freshly lit cigarette dangling from his mouth, inquired if we had any luck. "Nope, we sure didn't, how about you". He just grinned, hopped out of his truck, and motioned us to come around the side of his boat. Now keep in mind it's still raining with a north wind running about 15-20kts, and temps hovering around 45f/7c, and he's wearing a pair of jeans that were COMPLETELY drenched from the rain and salt spray, with NO SHOES on mind you, just a pair of soaking wet socks that somehow apropriately, didnt match, and a very well worn camouflage parka with the hood still wrapped tightly his head and face...a model for a SIMMS clothing ad he was not!

  We followed him around to the side of his boat, and there lye an absolute stud of a 29" bull redfish along side of a thick 24" black drum. I was completely floored that anyone could catch anything in that weather, but he damn sure did. We discussed the details of his catch for a few minutes, and then wanting to get the heck out of the cold rain, exchanged goodbyes, jumped back in our respective vehicles and made our way out of the park.

  As we we turned onto the main road, I looked over at Jack and said "buddy...heart attack smoked us today", to which he replied, "yeah...he sure did". We both dyed laughing.


Hope you all are having a great week!