Matagorda Bay in Port Lavaca has a well deserved reputation for producing BEHEMOTH sized Black Drum. And, although Black Drum are one of my favorite species to chase with the long rod, the big ones that are 20 pounds and up are mostly (in Texas at least) bottom dwellers of the deep, that are usually only catchable with some sort of live or dead bait. My good buddy Chris Niemietz is my go to guy for advice on this type of fishing. Chris has taken Black Drum up to 60 pounds using heavy conventional tackle, and large blue crabs for bait. So last year when Jackson showed an interest in wanting to catch one of these monsters, I relied on Chris to set me down the right path regarding tackle and techniques.
After Jackson and I wrapped up a stellar morning fishing the flats of Powderhorn for Redfish, Flounder and Speckled Trout, we decided it was time to see if we had what it took to wrestle with the big boys. A quick trip down to the local bait shop produced a bag of 12 large blue crabs for $12.00 USD....dead but advertised as "fresh". Sounded like a good deal to me, a dollar a crab and we freeze what we don't use for the next trip to the octagon to fight the giants. We found a spot that looked good, rigged up this spinning rod that if were spec'd out using the AFTMA fly line rating system would rate out at about an 81wt. and got down to business.
I opened up the ziplock bag that contained the "bait", and God Almighty, I knew right then this was going to be rough. I have never in my life smelled anything so wrank. It wreaked of a combination of dead and decaying nondescript seafood, South Texas roadkill, and rotten taco meat. But hey....anything for my son right?
Here in Texas, land-based big game fisherman have a method of delivering baits WAY out into open water utilizing kayaks. It works great, is economical, and quite honestly a lot of fun. As I paddled the bait out into the depths of Matagorda Bay I knew this was just the beginning of my battle with this aroma. By the time I made it back to shore it was all over my hands, my shirt, my pants, and my kayak. It was so bad Jackson even refused to pick up the empty ziplock bag that formerly contained this poor crab to throw it in the trash.
We sat there in the blazing sun for the better part of an hour waiting, hoping, praying for something to happen that would make dealing with this stench worthwhile. Big Black Drum, Bull Redfish, Tarpon, Stingray....anything. All the while this rancid cocktail I have been doused in is baking and boiling into my skin in the Texas heat. Needless to say, nothing ever happened fish wise, so we wrapped it up and hit the road to find some place to eat lunch.
Upon entering the local Taqueria, I made a bee-line for the restroom to cleanse my skin, and more importantly my soul of this rancid glaze and hopefully get to feeling like some semblance of a human being again. I kid you not 6 HAND WASHINGS LATER MY HANDS STILL STANK. And to boot, every time I ate a tostada chip dipped in homemade salsa, all I could smell was dead, rotten crab.
I called Chris on the way home in hopes for some sage advice from an expert, and all I got was "huh...they must have been dead a good while before you got a hold of them". I've known Chris for almost 13 years, when he pops off with remarks like this...and he does quite often, I'm still not sure whether he's joking or not.
After sharing the cab of the truck for three more hours with the stench, I was pretty much over it...nose blind as they say. When I got home, I did finally find something that removed it permanently, DAWN DISHWASHING LIQUID. When I text messaged Chris to tell him what finally resolved it, he replied; "Good to know, keep some in your tackle box". Again, is this a joke?
As intrigued as I am at the thought of doing battle with one of these giants, I am going back to chucking fur and feathers at something a little more civilized for now...no Dawn Dishwashing liquid required.
As for the remaining 11 crabs, let's just say that there is a convenience store employee in Goliad Texas that is going to be using copious amounts of profanity when they empty the trash can on the outside of the building tonight.
Hope you all have a great week,