Wednesday, April 27, 2005

No Mames!

No mames, y'all. I'll be back posting after the May elections in the Republic of South Padre Island are over. That's less than two weeks. Until then, no mames, amigos y amigas! Hasta la vista,

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Surfing South Padre

OK, I sound a little fake about talking honestly about politics and serious social stuff. I give up. The real reason why I'm moving to Padre is because of the surf, plain and simple. Every day I want to surf, swim, run, and walk on the beach. Sorry if we're being selfish here.

The Associated Press ran a story today that folks in the 50's age group are hitting the waves again. One gal was quoted as saying something like "every day is a different canvas, with different waves." How true.

I'm just a body surfer, though, and make no claims about surfing with a big surfboard thingy in the least. I won't claim to be a very strong body surfer, either, since I've seen folks from South America do the swan dive on huge monster waves I wouldn't even consider. Awesome.

Nope, I'm just dedicated. I want to be in the "zone." This means long smooth waves but you don't get that every day. Heck, if there's no waves we swim parallel to the beach just because we love the beach. If it's too rough, we get boogie boards (professional sponges) and swim fins. But we don't surf like on a long board or short board and hang ten.

Nope, there are very few times when the surf is actually better for surfing than what we do. A day after a tropical depression or storms comes by, the surfer's waves get huge around the Mansfield Jetties, Brazos Santiagos Pass (the jetties near SPI), or Boca Chica, the wild part to the south of the SPI jetties. You'd have to be out of your mind to body surf there. Seriously, it is very dangerous even for the so-called experts.

Nope, we like to be in the comfort zone and surf in waves two to five feet tall as they break on the second or third sandbar off the beach. That's the juice. It is a matter of timing more than effort; a matter of a powerful wave versus a tall one. I simply can't imagine a better cardio workout for anybody as long as you know how to swim. I respect those big-board surfers, but 80% of the time we're talking being in the body zone, if ya know what I mean.

See you at the beach!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

How to Mooch

I started off talking about blogs but really wanted to talk fishing again. I'll get there.

Don't blogs suck sometimes? The problem with blogs is just because they're blogs. First, I started noticing that when the Internet was really slow, you could double-post stuff real easy. One time I had to delete seven copies of the same hash. What's the deal here? Then you learn that some big computer somewhere basically has a whole bunch of your very personal data and you innermost feelings, too, because of how their software works. That couldn't be all that darn good. And then you want my personal feeling and inner-most thoughts? Man, you must be crazy.

Last I checked, I didn't have an editorial staff and a legal-eagle lawyer and a PR advertising and distribution company to make sure I wasn't doing stupid things. I have a big girl iguana right behind me and the computer; that's about it.

So let's change the subject to mooching. And why not? Blogging is a form of mooching if you think about it. The people who comment on blogs are mooching. The authors are mooching too, trying to find out what YOU think. We're all sitting here mooching on each other, electronically, and this is very troublesome.

Mooching is actually a fairly advanced form of fishing. This is WAY more interesting than talking about the various vagaries and disappointments of Blogosphere. Simply stated, a mooching rig had a weight followed by about five feet of 30# line, where double-hooks are tied at the end. The double-snelled hooks make it the most distinctive rig, and is one used a lot in West Coast salmon fishing, the two hooks are one-after-the-other on the same line. The bigger hook is one top and a size smaller hook is behind it. Fish always seem to be hooked on the second, smaller hook, for some reason. There are moochers that are fly fishermen (and ladies) and there are commercial moochers.

See, there is trolling, which technically is called "trolling," and mooching, were you stay in one place or drift. For some reason you cannot mooch and troll at the same time. However, "motor mooching" is perfectly acceptable to maintain position (like near a jetty without hitting it) or to let some line out, like for Lake Buchanan stripers where there is no current. But the idea is very similar to a downrigger, where you let down bait to a desired level or on the bottom, and are basically not moving too much. The long leader to the mooch itself takes some getting used to.

It is definitely different from the "Texas cannonball" rigs usually used on charter boats. These rigs have a big weight on the bottom and two hooks above that, separated about a foot apart. So the whole rig is less than three feet long. The mooch is about six feet long. You can add flashers to your mooch if you have some good current. A flasher is not what you think; it it a bright shiny plastic wobbly thing that spins fast and attracts big fish because they think another fish is eating the bait. Hey, they're jealous critters. Flashing is especially productive when motor-mooching.

And, to set the record straight, I never streaked and flashed and ran nekked around the University of Connecticut in 1975. That was a dude named "Osky" and the future state attorney general.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sabiki Time!

Sakibi is a Japanese word meaning something like "little bait fish rig" or "to catch little bait fish." There is a multi-million dollar industry in Sabiki fishing. It is catching on all over the US. Basically, you catch little bait fish and then use them for catching bigger fish. Some folks are so rabid about Sabiki fishing that they don't even bother with the big fish and just catch bait - they even have tournaments just for the Sabiki. I'll have to admit it is a blast after you get used to how it works, since the Sabiki has up to eight surgically sharp bait hooks that can grab you pretty bad if you're not attentive. No hook ever invented is this sharp. A pack costs about four dollars but you have to buy them online ... you will never see the Sabiki for sale on South Padre Island.

Golden croaker, pinfish, pigfish, minnows, ballyhoo, you name it, the Sabiki catches it, everything except for the vegetarian mullet. There are even deepwater Sabiki versions with larger hooks, and yes they also works freshwater lakes too. You don't catch big fish on dead shrimp or dead critters, my friends, you need a real live baitfish for trophies (I am really pulling your leg here but bear with me). No weight, no nothing you just take the fish caught by the Sabiki and put it on a bare hook on at least 10 pound test line and throw it out there. I suppose it is a "poor man's flycasting" but the method can be quite productive as opposed to throwing plastic and horsehair around your ears. Hey, if the bait fish aren't biting the Sabiki and the big fish aren't biting the caught bait fish, you're sight casting for reds by throwing stuff on their noses, a different art.

I buried the discussion of the sorry-ass state of public boat ramps on places like South Padre Island because it is a big deal, and to set the stage for what is a major recreation activity (although the Sabiki is relatively unknown to most rednecks down here). To my recollection, there are at least four or five major fishing tournaments a year that would involve launching a boat from a trailer. These folks bring in millions of dollars to the local economy but if you talk to them, it is a royal pain in the derriere.

Why? First, there are no facilities that can really handle the volume so folks have to launch from little dinky, dangerous, and antiquated one-hole outlets located on private lands or a few public facilities. The serious fishermen are confounded by fools who can't back up a trailer or try to have the woman get them out of the hole and screw it all up. There are plenty of accidents, which is why most municipal and private folks have gotten out of the business - the insurance for all these yahoos was just getting way too expensive. Then there is the issue of where to park the truck and trailer once the boat is launched. I don't blame the poor fishin' folks for just giving up and parking right in front of someone's house, since there simply is no place to go - we're talking about maybe 15 feet of truck and 15 feet of trailer, here. The first-timers, drunks, and fools ruin it for everyone, it seems. I've known many tournament fisher dudes to launch their boats in the middle of the night just to be rid of all that Mickey-Mouse.

I've been there. Backing up. It was very tense. Very tight. Maybe eight inches on each side. One bad move and kaboom.

If you want some help in designing a cool, new boat launching ramp you should study what the US Army Corps of Engineers does. They always put in at least two ramps twenty-foot wide and have at least two acres of parking with long slots for vehicle and trailer combinations (with a circle-out so nobody gets stuck there). True, there is no real great place to do this on South Padre Island but the concept should still be presented and options should be explored. I would gamble that people would love to pay some good money to have a secure place to launch their boats and park their vehicles. There are millions in revenue riding on this and to say that this is just a "minor inconvenience" is completely a crock. The situation with the boats launches is both dire and serious, beyond laughable.

Plus, it is time to stock up all the neat fishing gear like the Sabiki. Tight lines!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Fungus Among Us

So you thought this would be about politicians, right? Well, we need a break from all that and the controversy about urban planning (see next blog down). Nope, I'm talking mold, mildew, rust, smut, yeast, rot, gall, canker, mushroom, lichen, puff ball, and my favorite, slime, which has its own league. OK, I'm very convincing here, am I?

Seriously, it is such a vast part of the living thngs on the planet that scientists gave it its own Kingdom ... boy am I losing it here.

There are over 100,000 species of fungi, which is politically correct, some good (eat dead things to decompose them) and some bad (not waiting for things to die before putting on the food bag). So I think we all know from school that fungus are the most diverse and interesting things on the planet, the good ones showing up in bread, soda, booze, mushrooms, and medecine. The big money-makers. We tend blame the bad ones for allergies and skin rashes such as ringworm; there are no worms in ringworm but they look pretty darned wormy under the microscope, maybe a sort of squiggely-wormy. Some of the baddies include a neurotoxic black slime mold that for lack of its scientific name, is pronounced "Stakey-O-Boot-Us." This bad boy was single-handedly responsible for raising all the house insurance rates in Texas, leading to nice profit margins. It is currently most active in any new school built in Texas within the past five years.

Note that it would be a surprise to anyone, down in Mexico they actually eat smut. I don't think they're into viewing it, as in the US, as much as just eating it. It is called Huitlacoche, which was named after the occupying colonist French for always saying "Oui, la coochie!"


It is simply a corn soup or chowder that is currently the rage in the LA bistro scene. However, you have to get real corn smut, which is highly prized in Mexico but is against the law in the US. Yes, that's right, if US corn has any smut or aflotoxin, it cannot be sold for human consumption and often is donated to pig farms (lucky pigs) or sold as cheap deer feeder bait (poor deer). So anyhoo, Huitlacoche is based on a cream/milk base with chiles, smutty corn (hehe), chicken broth, and some secret ingredients that us silly Americans can only replicate by buying a big old bottle of Worchestershire sauce ... however you pronounce that. "Wooster-Shooster," maybe. The result is some pretty darn good mojo.

Mojo should not be confused with Mojito, which is pronounced "Moe Heat, Oh." If mojo has some magical hints of Aztec and Mayan chocolate and strange fermented spices, a mojito is simply a Cuban tequila martini, shaken and dry, another semi-illegal and fermented product. They both go wonderfully together! Both of these simple pleasures of life would not be possible without our friend, the humble fungus, to do the job.

And that, my friends, is the news, as Paul Harvey used to say.