It’s March 19th. At this point, I am more than sure anyone that reads this will have already heard about the Corona Virus 2019, better known as Covid-19. Our household has been practicing social distancing for four days now. Surprisingly, a lot of good things have come from this. We’re cooking more at home, spending missed quality time with our kids, and catching up with hobbies. It really hasn’t been all that bad.
I have also learned some pretty interesting things along the way. I have learned that being slightly inebriated gets the juices flowing in regards to what it is I want to write about. I can see now why writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald never shied away from a good drink. Writing is a lot like breaking the ice when you meet someone new. Except in this case the new person is a blank screen and the talking is done via typing on a key board. If you know me personally you know how difficult it can be for me to break the ice when I meet new people. Don’t get me wrong, I am a socially skilled introvert, I can talk your ear off, but I would say that it is usually after a few stiff drinks that I generally get in a comfort zone and really get rolling.
I find it similar with writing. I have been searching for that knack. That little push to really get the mind flowing where I decide that this is probably a good time to get the words on paper or in this case the screen. Sure, I know that resorting to an outside influence such as alcohol isn’t the greatest thing, but with control it has become quite obvious that it can be utilized as a strong tool to further my journey in this new found hobby. I legitimately am enjoying finding my style in regards to writing. I also look forward to bringing more content to you guys about fishing and other things that may interest me. With that being said I want to share a few things that we have dealt with the past few days that are not fishig related.
You see my wife and I are always on the go. I love her for this very reason. I know that she pulls more than her fair share of the weight when it comes to our family and our finances. I have also been blessed with being able to run my own business and building the best team a guy could ask for as well. That has taken a load off my shoulders during this whole isolation situation. What we have learned are a few things that I am sure a lot of us struggle with. Things like home cooking all week long and not relying on fast food. I hate to say it, but we are guilty as charged when it comes to this subject. Another being that we are now just spending good quality time with our kids. Don’t get me wrong, we spend time with our kids and they are our number one priority in life, but I have learned a few things about my youngest after spending an extended period of time isolated with her.
What I am getting at is I feel that we have missed out good quality time with our kids over the years. The isolation has allowed us to resdiscover ourselves and our family. I have danced to country music with my daughter a few nights in a row now. We even played in the driveway with a water hose just enjoying the warm weather that we have here in South Texas. Something I used to do as a kid and it honestly it reminded me a lot about my childhood growing up. I have taken her around the block riding her bike, social distancing of course, and even done some home workouts for myself. My wife and I have cooked amazing meals for each other, and laughed about the internet memes that have been rolling out during these trying times.
Sure, we have had our boredom and our little arguments, but it really isn’t that bad. I am comfortable in knowing the grocery stores still have supplies and if they didn’t I am comfortable with living on what we do have for some time and my skillsets from a my past life should we need to hunt and forage. I willsay life has been pretty good. Yeah we miss going to work, but we are taking this day by day and it has been more postive than negative so far.
So if you end up like us where you’re asked to socially isolate for a few days, try to look at the up side of things. You an catch up on passion projects, spend time in the kitchen learning new cooking techniques, or using the time to be a writer. I fought in two theaters of war and I have lived through some grime times. If I can leave you with any advice it is that with time all things come to pass. So just relax and enjoy the ride. I hope you were able to separate yourself from the news for a few minutes and are now able to look at the bright side of things should you find yourself in our shoes. I promise the next article will be about fishing.
The choice of a fishing guide should never be taken lightly. After all you are paying someone a fair amount of money to hopefully get you on fish. If you’re lucky you even learn some tips and tricks from someone that is a professional on the water, but for the most part you’re really out there just to enjoy a hobby. For this reason I always put an enormous amount of effort into researching a potential guide before chartering them for their service. Rewind to a few months ago while on a social media binge to find local fly guides I stumbled on to Marcus Harrelson and his business Doc’s Fishing Clinic & Guide Service.
Marcus and the guide service he provides aren’t just a one stop shop. He does more than just guide. As a former Navy Corpsman he comes loaded with a ton of of information about fishing and safety, has a great sense of humor, and he has a personality that can put a smile on even the hardiest of outdoorsman that may use him for a guide service. If you follow him on social media you will notice that he will post weekly tips about fly fishing and he also hosts monthly fly tying events in and around the Corpus Christi area. He is an all around great guy with a fun personality that can make a tough trip on the water be as enjoyable as a day when you limit out of red fish in an hour. This brings me to my next subject which is a tough day on the water.
You see my beautiful wife set this trip up for me months ago as an anniversary gift. I will admit I am a lucky man to have a wife that doesn’t mind that I get out on the water as much as I want. I had hinted to her that I had done some research on Marcus and his business Doc’s Fishing Clinic & Guide Services. I didn’t know anyone that had used his service personally, but he has a strong social media following so I figured I could take a gamble. For an anniversary gift I figured I would let her know that this was a a guide I was interested in. I also wanted to try new waters. I typically use personal references as method to identify good guides, but he puts enough information out that I felt comfortable booking him for a trip.
I started talking to Marcus via text trying to determine when he had some availability. Being that I live two hours away from where he typically fishes I needed to have all my loose ends tied up in advance so I could dedicate a day away from home. Being that the trip was paid for in advance I decided to ask my good friend Brent Flowers from Bulverde, Texas if he wanted to come out and fish. Brent has become my go to buddy when it comes to fly fishing friends and well it doesn’t hurt that he is pretty dang good at fishing as well. We locked in a date for early March in late January and took the gamble that the weather would be good. Typically this time frame is sort of like early spring in South Texas. It turns out that as fate may have it the day ended up being pretty miserable for sight casting to fish on the fly.
Fast forward to March 7h and we finally meet Marcus in person at the boat ramp. He runs an Ankona skiff that resembles the suit of the Joker from the older Bat Man movies. He let’s us know that the bright purple and greens garner a lot of attention. Especially when he was new to guiding. Stories of other guides hounding him for the skiff colors were some of our first topics of conversation. Being a former Navy Corpsman that served in combat with the Marines he is no stranger to some good ribbing. He lets his performance on the water speak for itself and over time he says he earned respect at the boat ramp.
With that being said even the best guides have a bad day. When the water and air are cold, and the water is murky, it can humble even the most experienced of fly fishing guides. We departed from Billing’s Bait Stand and took a twenty minute ride across Corpus Christi Bay to some waters he felt we would have luck on despite the adverse weather. I was impressed by how well his little Ankona skiff performed over light chop on the way to our first destination. It was dry ride for the most part which was good considering we were dealing with an air temperature in the mid fifties when crossing the water. This may not seem like much to some you all in the north, but when you’re running a skiff at thirty miles per hour it comes to no surprise when you have a runny nose minutes into the ride across the bay. It is part of fishing in the late winter to early South Texas spring, so this wasn’t cause for much of a surpise to us. We buckled in for what what end up still being a great day of fishing.
I was surprised at the access that Corpus Christi Bay has on foot. We have a few spots that we can access on foot in the Lower Laguna Madre but for the most part our bay system is restricted to guys on boats and kayaks if you want to get to good areas. Our first poling location had a couple trucks and anglers along the shore line fishing the same waters that we were. Marcus made a decision to push around and away from these anglers in the hopes we would catch some red fish tailing while they grazed along the shore lines of small peninsulas and spoil islands. Visibility was extremely low with a dark overcast and the previous days winds and tidal movements had us looking into waters that resembled a darky brackish water that was full of dirt and mud. With no luck in the first hour of the day we moved on to another location that we would attempt to access as the tide began to fall out.
I was impressed by how quickly the tide dropped in this area. When I think of fishing in the flats I typically am in areas with gin clear water along spoil islands or in clear shallow salter water flats in the Lower Laguna Madre. This isn’t necessarily the case in Corpus Christi Bay. Yes, it is the same coast line but the water and land is different a few hours up the coast. We seemed to have poled some areas that had some clear waters but for the most part we found ourselves navigating areas that were etched into the memory of Marcus due to his years of experience fishing these areas. They were marshy and muddy. The overcast skies weren’t doing us any favors. Brent jumped up on the bow and scanned our surrounding areas and Marcus poled an scanned the areas around us. At this point it started to become clear this was going to be a tough cold day of fishing. Being an experienced guide Marcus gave us some options. We could stay in the area hoping the clouds would eventually burn off from the rising sun, or we could move across the bay closer to the ramp from which we launched. Marcus had dealt with high winds the day prior and well a small skiff with three grown men on it can make for a challenging boat ride in heavy chop across an open bay. Brent and I came to an agreement that with the rough weather it was probably best that we cross the back across the bay to some fishing areas that were closer to where we parked our vehicles should worse come to worse.
We made our way back across the bay to a location that Marcus was very familiar with. In years past he lived bay side on North Padre Island and he has some inlets and coves he felt would have a chance for producing fish even in the cold windy weather. Initially he anchored us into position to cast in a hole that has some good drops offs that typically produce some good schools of black drum. This isn’t his typical method of fly fishing, but he wanted us to have every opportunity of hooking up even if it was having to do a few blind cast in a known area for good fish. With no luck we decided to pole along a shore line on the small cove in which we were fishing. A few mud bubbles here and there and it was obvious the fish were in the area, albeit they were extremly skiddish. They were easily spooked or laying in dark murky water but we made our best efforts to locate them.
As we poled along I spotted a large fish feeding in a wash out area about fifty meters away. I called what I could see and Marcus began trying to swing us in to position for a cast. The wind was blowing and knowing that my double haul cast ins’t the greatest I elected to let us get closer to the fish before shooting a cast in its direction. I’m not sure if it was the weather or cold air but the fish this day were extra spooky. Almost as we called the fish out it began to to move in our direction quartering at the four o’clock position and a decent rate of speed. Marcus aggressively attempted to pole us into position, but what it came down to was a back cast shot to my two o’clock into the wind at about twenty five yards. My initial cast was behind the fish. I’ll be the first to admit that back casting into the wind isn’t necessarily my stongest tool in my fly fishing arsenal. I mean I am for the most part a novice fly fisherman. I do put my work in to cast, but by no means was this an easy shot. Almost immediately Marcus lets be know pick up my line and cast six feet to the right. I try but the strong winds send my fly barreling towards the water ending up in a hard slap that spooked the large drum even more causing it to race off into deeper waters. My shot was wasted.
At this point we kind of knew how the rest of the day was going. The weather was just not cooperating. I switched places with Brent a few times and we gave ourselves a few blind cast into the murky waters in the hopes that we could bring something on the boat. Nothing happened and this is where Marcus showed us why he is an absolute professional at what he does. He probably knew the day wasn’t going to be good way before we did. He still gave every effort to find fish and was happy to do it the entire time. When he realized the time was running short he anchored us along the shore line and gave Brent and I an in depth lesson on back casting in the wind. If we weren’t going to leave the day with fish he wanted us to at least leave the day with knowledge.
For me that is the mark of true professional at what he does. Sometimes things don’t always work out in life and in fishing. Especially if you decide to fly fish. So many factors have to line up that some people have even asked my why it is I fly fish? I mean the water is best when its clear. The winds need to be low and the sun is best when its high around noon and to your face so your shadow doesn’t spook weary fish. Why go through all that effort in the hopes of catching a fish? I mean after all I could just blind cast with a plastic lure and have just as much fun when I am with the right company. For me though days like this day in particular are why I enjoy fishing on the fly. You see Marcus, Brent, and I are all combat veterans. While Brent and I served in the same unit we didn’t serve together. Neither of us knew Marcus, but the bond of brash humor and good sprits from war veterans more than made up for lack of fish due to unfortunate weather.
Marcus is a professional and will give every effort to put you on fish even when the fish gods aren’t in his favor. He does it all with a smile on his face while cracking jokes that aren’t necessarily safe for work. Flip Pallot said once “that more is said on a skiff between a client and his guide than in a confessional”. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t believe in bad days of fishing. Even the worst days on the water are better than a good day in an office. For this I can’t say enough about how good Doc’s Fishing Clinic and Guide Service is. He is a treasure on our coast and a dying breed. He will give you his undivided attention and hear you out even if the fishing ins’t going your way that day. I hope that if you read this and are looking for a guide in the Corpus Christi area that you reach out to him. I promise you Marcus is as good of a guide as they come. I placed a link down below where you can reach out to him on Facebook should you decide to use him as a guide,
I started this blog because I wanted to become a better writer. Fly fishing happens to be a subject I enjoy so I decided to use it as way to actually have something to talk about. A subject I could build off of over time. My end goal is to write my own book. I honestly just feel that currently I’m not a good enough writer to take on such a task. So, here we are. Admittedly, I have not kept up what so ever with this blog. Writing seems to be harder than I initially thought. You see, I am not an avid reader. I do read but not nearly at the level that many writers do. So what you read from the words that I type are kind of just ramblings that are manifest in my head and spit right out of my finger tips on to a key board. I don’t necessarily have enough experience with literature to use it as a way to mimic an amazing style of writing. What I type is what you get. So having finally jumped that obstacle in regards to a reason I didn’t keep up with this blog, I am remise to say that day to day life also makes this hobby seemingly all but impossible to keep up with. So here we are starting over. I look forward to writing for you on a more consistent basis this time. No more self imposed deadlines or even subjects. I do still plan on writing primarily about fly fishing, but I mean this is a hobby after all. Forgive the grammar mistakes. I typed this on my phone before going to bed. Next piece will about Fishing with Doc out of Corpus Christi, Texas. I’ll drop it when I finish it. Let’s just say that for now.
In a world of rapidly shrinking attention spans, I hope that my writings about fly fishing can hook readers the way a well-tied fly hooks fish. I decided to start this blog for multiple reasons. One being my recent interest and a developing passion for fly fishing, another being this is my way of not only showcasing my local fishery, but it is also my little way to promote conservation of one of our few remaining and local wild areas in South Texas. If I am to be upfront though, the most important reason is a bit selfish, as I am using this platform to hone my writing skills in the hopes to pursue another big project at a later date. What better way to discover my identity and writing style than to let the public be the judge of what I write and if it is worth reading.
In this blog, you will find post about reviews with local guide services I have used primarily for fly fishing, but I will also do my best to get on with traditional spin reel guides as well for you conventional anglers out there that may follow along. Another focus will be experiences and general posts about fishing not only the Lower Laguna Madre, but anywhere else the sport takes me. I will try and provide some gear reviews as well for novice and experienced anglers alike in the hopes you can make a more informed decision before dropping your hard-earned money on a particular piece of equipment. Lastly, I want to share my experiences about the joy and peace you can find enjoying the great outdoors.
I hope to keep up with this blog by posting no less than once a month. I have no sponsors or affiliations so all my writings are coming from me and only me and will be on my dime. If that ever changes, I’ll be sure to let you the reader know. So if this blog interest you, I hope you follow along. Go ahead and subscribe via email to get an update on when I post a new article. Also, you can find me on Facebook, where I will share my latest post when they go live.