Robert (gurdonark) wrote,


Yes, Virginia, there is a Portland in Oregon. But there is one in Texas, too. Midway between Corpus Christi and Aransas Pass, it hugs the coast like a couple reunited. It's a small town, whose small brochure lists its many small parks, each a monument to small activities on the big ocean.

Indian Point Park abuts and abets Highway 35, and is, like to many worthy things in life, such as easy access that one might overlook it or take it for granted. We took the offramp to enjoy it.

The park had small pools on which a few seabirds played. It also had a long wooden fishing pier.
I baited a hook, and cast my squid-shaped bread upon the waters.

Almost as soon as my line hit the bottom, I began getting furious small strikes. The tip of my 20 dollar vacation rod showed those telltale pulls of a fish nibbling at the other end. The nibbles were not tentative, but exuberant. Yet no fish ever attached itself to the hook.

This part of Texas features untold hordes of "winter Texans"--Minnesotans, Iowans, Michiganders and Canadians who spend three of their retirements months wintering. Like waterfowl, they descend in droves, and people love them. Unlike some tourist areas, the people in coastal Texas never become jaded with the visitors, but treat them with hospitality.

Two retiree-age women among this estimable winter visitor throng strolled by us, replete with a
scooter-type wheelchair and a little gear-perambulator. They stopped to chat on their way by, explaining they were from Canada,but rented a place for 300 a month at a local trailer park. One had a one-day-a-week job greeting guests at the park--a job she got by volunteering to be the good will ambassador, and doing it so well that so many people complimented her to the management, resulting in an offer to pay her to continue.

I asked them if they knew what was striking (but not biting) my line so vociferously. They advised that they could not tell me, but they could show me. They illustrated their catch, a small horde of perch-sized fish I was later able to identify as pinfish.

Pinfish are very small, and, experienced freshwater bluegill fisherman that I am, I knew instantly that my chances for success were slim. I had hooks of the large size that sea trout might bite, while pinfish are made of sturdy but much smaller stuff.

My afternoon soon devolved into watching pinfish strip my bait time after time after time. Squid is used as a bait for two reasons--it is aromatic, attracting fish, and it is nearly impossible to strip from the hook. Pinfish proved that the impossible is possible.

You might imagine, not being me, that I would find it incredibly frustrating to feel the continual strikes and pole-jarring of the pinfish, without having the success of catching any.
But I actually had a very good time at this. I dislike situations in which the line sits, unnoticed, in the water. I had had a good dose of those in the morning hours, along with a dose of chill that had fortunately dissipated by the time we reached Indian Point Park, in the afternoon warmth. Give me the rod-jangle of near-success over the rod stupor of no-success any time. I wished I had some size 12 hooks, tiny enough for pinfish, but I still had a very good afternoon.

I like to think that I can learn from pinfish. Strike aggressively. Clean the bait from around the hook. Avoid the barbs. Pull the line exuberantly. Never get hooked. Watch for squid. Dine freely but sensibly. Enjoy a warm New Year's Eve day.

We dined on restaurant flounder, while the pinfish swim free.

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