Heart and Soul of a Fisherman

Everett Johnson
Roaming from bay to bay has always been a favorite pastime. I sometimes feel that I'm falling into a rut hitting the same old places in my home waters and getting out is always fun. Such was the case this past weekend when we headed up to Matagorda to fish with friends and try our luck in East Matty. Reports from that area had me primed to scratch my big trout itch.

The first real front of the season had been forecast to interrupt our fishing plans but, what the heck, there was certain to be a domino game and good food so we went anyway.

Well the weatherman was true to word and we had to flee the south shoreline at 10:30 Friday morning to avoid the forty mile per hour jaws of a fast moving front. Dominoes and feasting accomplished, we hit the road back to Seadrift. Just for the heck of it, again, Pam said she'd like to check out the state park boat ramp at Olivia. Launching at Port O'Connor to reach Keller Bay often means a rough boat ride so we turned south on TX 172 just to have a look and maybe discover a good option.

To my surprise, in chilly norther-driven drizzle, we found a young man fishing from the break wall. Clad in camo jacket with hood up, blue jeans and flip-flops, this twelve year old strode toward a heavy rod and reel he had wedged in the rocks and proceeded to check his bait. His casting ability really grabbed my attention as he reared back to sling a slab of something.

Wedging the rod back into the rocks, he walked to the end of the bulkhead and began hauling a hand-line attached to a baited crab basket. No crabs, he tossed it back and continued his vigil of the big rod. Mind you, it is raining and it is cold, and this kid is apparently still loving it.

Curiosity haven gotten the better of me, I sidled over to meet this young chap. Introductions and handshakes led to questions and I just had to know what he was hoping to catch.

"Sharks," he proclaimed without hesitation.

Now I have fished Keller often enough to have been surprised by several sizeable blacktips and a bull once, but this kid was serious on a day when supposed serious anglers opted for dominoes and gumbo.

In the conversation I learned that he catches sharks often from that break wall but his three hours of effort so far that day had yet to yield a bite. He catches redfish too, a brute that he could not hoist up the wall without breaking his line recently.

"Probably forty inches or better," he offered with a toothy grin and hands held appropriately apart.

I come to find out he lives at Olivia and his grandmother accompanies him to the seawall. "She fishes sometimes but she's in the car reading her book today," he explained.

Another bait check and another perfect cast arcing sixty yards was followed by another look at the crab basket, me in tow. Atop his ice chest lay several chunks of cut bait and a fillet knife. A soda came from a jacket pocket and went promptly back. He never took his eye off the big rod unless speaking to me. His speech was filled with sirs. What a kid!

He has the heart and soul of a fisherman and it did the heart of this fisherman good to meet him.