I’m sitting here watching the leavings of Hurricane Emily and am now thoroughly bored. So I’m not going to write about storms, but about the hilarious boat trip my brother and I took a few days ago, when he was down from Louisiana. I’ll tell you what, right off the bat, those fishes know to stay away from Matt’s boat or they’re dead meat. That plus the impending hurricane are our main excuses, although we did give it the ole college try: the fish simply went deep and weren’t hungry.
We set out on a nice, sunny, South Padre Island day. We push off from the dilapidated dock and head out to sea in a 24-foot muscle boat. Lots of prelims like getting the CD player on, getting beers, lighting cigars, futzing around, not paying any attention to where you’re going. This is important, to appear nonchalant and unconcerned. “Oops, we’d better not take out Louie’s, Matt,” I helpfully offer. So he let me drive the boat out the jetties because he was looking for the Intracoastal Waterway on his GPS, thoroughly baffled, while I simply headed out like the charter boys do.
Along the way he nailed the boat, I mean hit the throttle and went like over 45 MPH. Scientifically, this is called the “bibbety-bibbety effect.” The beer blows sideways out of your can. Your kidneys want to migrate somewhere in the Deep South. Your brain bounces. Now, this is part of the male ritual, too, like if you can’t handle it you’re supposed to fuss and complain. So I hung on for dear life, and wondered where the life jackets were. Fortunately, he slowed the boat off the jetties when he took over. That was because there were eight-foot waves coming from all different directions going up and down like monkeys.
That’s when it’s time to “rig up,” which is a gentlemanly way of saying to select a lure or bait, tie some strange knots – and try not to get hooked in an embarrassing place. Somehow I passed the test, after being admonished for grabbing the frozen bait and selecting a particularly dangerous looking artificial lure which was pink. Some brother. In fact, this guy has suitcases of lures, maybe a bazillion bucks a bag, having everything except for dynamite – which we wished we had. Crank up the CD, put the engine into slow forward, and troll. Man, we grazed those jetties up and down, with no luck.
So, my brother decides it’s time to head out to sea, like blue water and 80 feet deep, maybe 10 miles. I tried to explain the Gulf was basically a desert and we had to find a canyon or reef. Heck, he just headed out to the northeast. Fortunately, there were a few shrimp boats anchored out there and I wisely suggested fishing off their sterns. So we picked one and circled it several times, with a good hit on my ballyhoo bait. We got real close (the crew appeared to be asleep) and we saw some ling or shark under the stern so I chunked the pink lure – and caught the shrimp boat. Circle again, and this time I got the 20# test line caught in the propeller, which was a neat way of really catching a shrimp boat. Matt frowned, but I pulled and the bait popped into the boat and the out of the propeller at the same time. I was grinning ear to ear.
But then I looked up and a huge thunderstorm had blown up from little fluffy clouds in no time. “We’d better head back in, Matt.” So he steers for Florida, using his little GPS. “No Matt, Padre is that way.” After a few more circles I gave him a nice pink cloud to steer for and we were on our way in … into a freaking hailstorm. “I think that could be hail,” says Matt. “It is,” I respond, shaking with the cold ice. One thing I found was that sunglasses are great at keeping the hail out of your eye holes. So we got out of the storm and warmed up and then Matt started looking for “dirty water” near the breakwater. We trolled, chunked, jigged, and did everything right. Nothing. “I think we’re beating a dead horse,” as Matt fires up all 225 horsepower.
Matt did good on the way in, just like the charter boys do. We even slowed for the No Wake zones. But I had to pee and Matt got to working on the several radios, GPS, and CD loaders again, a big mistake on both our parts. We sort of ended up in 4 inches of water and three feet of mud. “Shit, I let her get away for one minute,” Matt says. So he raises the outboard and gives her a good blast. “No kidding, that’s some serious shit, bro!” The entire back end of the boat and most of us are now brown with mud. After a few more strategic bursts we were clear, having learned a lesson about South Padre at dead low tide.
So managed to get back into the right slip, after a few feeble tries elsewhere, and began the ritual of cleaning the boat, which was yellow and white but looked a tad poopy shade by now. So I’m offloading a case of empty beer cans and this Mexican dude walks up and said something like “Basura,” flashing his hand three times to indicate it would cost $15. Matt and I didn’t know what in heaven he was talking about, thinking maybe he wanted to have sex with our boat for 15 bucks. We nodded neutrally, a little worried he might be fetching a donkey or something, being so close to old Mexico and all. He shows up with a scrub brush, some cleaner, and some serious sponges. “Oh, no, amigo, no basura today” I offer, finally figuring out we weren’t going to get a Boys Town show today.
But as I was talking I not only hosed Matt but all those bazillion-dollar fishing bags, which were conveniently open. I wasn’t going to quibble about details, since HE put the brown shit all over them, anyway. So I lay out what must have been hundreds of dollars of fishing equipment on the dock, having to swim for some because of the darned high wind that blew packages into the drink. By golly, we hosed that boat and all that gear back to their proper colors in something like an hour. No fish, but it sure was a heck of an adventure!