This year, we were joined for the first two nights by Michael (mwatson), whose company we enjoyed immensely, and were impressed with his fishing skill and persistence.
All four days and nights we had the prevailing SE - no fronts made it this far south - highs in the low 80s, and lowest low was 65 - we had a choice subtropical vacation.
While we kayaked a bit during the day on Friday, the reason to be here is the night-time dock fishing under the lights. The drill is fish from sunset to 9 pm, take cat-nap breaks and get up again to sample the dock through the night.
Through the nights, we fished with dolphins, an alligator, a big gar which I sight-fished and wrestled a bit, pelicans, blue heron, night heron and egret.
The results varied with the bait and tide - the bait ranged from native poecilids, to finger mullet and balls of tiny glass minnows moved by the tide and wind currents.
In the apparent slaughter below, please note, every fish we filleted was a schoolie male, which travel 20 mi/day to chase bait.
Thursday sunset on the arroyo
Michael can vouch this isn't exactly fish in a barrel, but takes stealth and skill to find where in the water column of the deep barge channel, and exactly how, the fish are willing to feed.
We honored our calendar day bag limits - starting new at midnight every night, and sticking to the 5-fish bag before the next midnight.
Michael fished hard Thursday night into Friday's wee hours, and had to release 2- or 3-dozen nursery trout that live here.
I'm not sure if we put a fish on the stringer Thursday night - bait under the lights was pretty sparse.
The house is located where the barge channel and natural arroyo diverge to opposite ends of Peyton Bay on LLM.
Friday we launched kayaks - I turtled getting in, but it was easy enough to get back in pushing off the bulkhead.
We crossed the barge channel to fish the natural arroyo, found small specs on the first shelf, and Michael chased slashing redfish against the bank.
Otherwise, it was a great paddle.
I overheard Lou and Michael chasing a wayward popping cork charged with a catch. Michael said he spent more than a few casts trying to snag it.
When I drifted to it, snagged it with a double-treble plug on the 5th cast - but it turned out to be a hardhead.
Lou's wife Susie flew into Harlingen Friday night, and Friday night was going to make up for the previous 24 hours.
Michael warming up at sunset.
Susie and Lou added fish to Friday night's stringer, and I got up later to add four, but Michael's trip was made by this 21" male schoolie trout.
While I added those four specs, my evening was made by an 18" snook caught (and released) on my UL baitcaster.
This stringer became Saturday's fish fry - Susie is a phenomenal cook, and chases the rest of us out of the kitchen.
These were caught on a mix of live shrimp, 2" tandem, 2" UL plug, and this half-ounce 3" Tackle House Rolling Bait, which let me sample deep, and was my best lure for this trip.
Michael stayed for the fish fry, and a few more casts before heading home Saturday evening.
Everything came together Saturday night.
The bait was thick under our light - every time your line moved by the dock, 100 glass minnows jumped into the air.
Lou and I went into the evening with my single and his 3-fish remaining bag limits.
After I put my last on the stringer, I realized after casting out another shrimp, I should be done until midnight. Saturday was also my mom's birthday, and yes, I called her.
Hey Lou, if I hook up, you take the rod. Sure enough, I did, he did, and together we landed a 22" schoolie male.
Taking this one home for Mom - she loves those big trout.
It got better into the evening and after midnight.
Susie landed her lifetime schoolie spec, 24.5 inches - on XUL, and two 50-yd runs.
Guys, this was a male trout, and rare enough, the state keeps a 28" record male speckled trout.
The fishing was good into the wee hours, and our Saturday night stringer included the biggest and thickest male schoolies we've ever caught here - 16" to 25"
and every one a male - proof Susie's 25" trout was a schoolie male.
First thing in the morning, the pelicans lined up for our filleted carcasses. One wise old brown didn't want the carcasses, only the rib trim.
I think I slept most of Sunday day, while Susie enchanted the most phenomenal Waygu beef pot roast that melted in our mouths.
But before dinner, I was having fun yet with a small sunset snook.
Lou and I agreed we would not fish past midnight, but finish our Sunday limits (1 and 2) and sleep to prepare for the pack out.
We were done by 10:30, Lou added a thick 19" stud, and I added 4 fish tacos to our ice water bowl.
We fished with good company.
packing out Monday morning - we'll see you next year, old friend
on the drive home, I made the good call to swing across SH 44 through Robstown and down to Water Street for lunch at Thai Spice - this only added 20 miles to our drive.
I had the shrimp and flounder
I think my friends got tired of hearing me purr.
December new moon was one for the books.