Originally published on Saturday, June 30, 2012
Tires hit the sand, headlights hit the Gulf, and the foam, much like an ice cold IBC rootbeer, laps over the first bar.
The sun has a half-hour of sleep before it wakes, but flipping mullet and menhaden are forced to arise from their slumber unexpectedly by schools of lavender-backed speckled trout wanting breakfast on the incoming tide.
One of the fondest memories of my youth was throwing Jumpin' Minnows in the High Island surf way before sunrise and feeling, without seeing, the energy of 3-5 pound speck heading south with the plug.
It doesn't happen often that everything just lines up right for a banner days in the surf like yesteryear, but after the first wade, I had that feeling.
One fish here, one fish there, but not nonstop water-thrashing that prompts the everyday man to drop everything he is doing and head to the surf. Emerald waters held all the signs, but was not ready to give up the bounty to an seasoned plugger, yet.
I had been here before - watching live-baiters set the hook on a diving cork before it ever hit the water. I imagined that large school of trout ganged up like teenagers trying to catch pop flies in the outfield.
"Here comes another one boys. I got it!"
That's exactly what was occurring to the east and west of me. I watched a pair on each side of me cross eyes with violent hook sets and bubbling banter like giddy adolescents. Seldom did a cast go unnoticed from a variety of Gulf species.
Additional factors weigh in determining if and when a spotted sea trout will eat a fake plastic mullet or a soft plastic shad.
Fish are a lot like us. When shrimp, lobster, filet mignon and tenderloin is readily available, our palate is finicky - we want the good stuff. However, when we have been on a boat for a day and are longing to satisfy a growling stomach, a rusted can of Vienna sausages tastes pretty good.
An ardent tide and rising moon for specks is like 6-7 p.m. for me - it is time to eat - anything.
While those armed with bait buckets and aerators full of live shrimp and croakers were leaving the beach to a hero's welcome at home, currents were ushering in a new crop of mullet, menhaden and shrimp that had been staging in deeper water.
The first sign was a slurp and miss on my pink-headed Super Spook Jr. Well, that at least tells me there are still some fish left. I kept casting as far as my level-wind would allow, unwearyingly walking the plug back and forth.
About to call it a day from a mid-morning sun already pumping 95 degrees, the load of a four-pound trout resonated through the braided line. I'll give it another 15 minutes as I dipped my shoulders below the water line to cool off.
The next cast was met with a blow of the same magnitude as my wrist showed 11 a.m. Then another, another, another and another and then it was catch and release until noon.
Thank the Lord for patience, not to mention a turquoise surf crowded with ambitious speckled trout.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).