At the end of my trip to Texas I realized despite being so many miles apart Texas has a few similarities to Alaska mixed in with a bunch of direct opposites. Yes, they are the two biggest states in the United States and while Alaska is the most northern state in the U. S., Texas is one of the most southern states. They both have oil fields including off shore oil producing platforms. Texas generally is known for its hot humid weather while Alaska is known for its cool to arctic weather. It is interesting to note that while we were there a “Blue Norther” came through one night and we just about believed we were back in Alaska. Texas has spiders, snakes, and turtles while Alaska seems to be content just getting along with spiders. Texas has more people in one city then Alaska has in the whole state despite being twice as big as Texas.
I found several similarities in the people of Texas to the people of Alaska that I found very interesting. Texans are a very proud people and take great pride in being a Texan and the fact that they live in Texas. Alaskans also are a very proud and independent people who also are proud of the fact that they live in Alaska. Neither Texans nor Alaskans like to be told what to do when it comes to hunting or fishing management issues especially if the decision comes from outside of the state boundaries.
A few days before my trip ended I was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico at Freeport and once again my fishing partner was Richard Wagner. We were using live shrimp for bait and every time I felt a tug on my pole it was the opportunity for me to see a fish I have never even seen before let alone catch. It was cold there that night and Richard brought me a sweatshirt that was my wife’s which I really needed to keep warm despite having on a winter jacket already. Instantly I thought about my readers in Alaska and what they would be thinking seeing ol’ Perkovich all bundled up in Texas fishing and even wearing women’s clothes! Hey now guys, that really isn’t women’s clothes it is just a sweatshirt. What are those almost preformed pocket like things in the front of the sweatshirt you ask? Places to put my fishing line, bobbers, and even a couple pairs of gloves after all it is unused space! Never mind! I watched Richard catch a very hard fighting 25-inch red fish (member of the drum family) that are targeted by fishermen for their fighting ability as well as being delicious on the table. This was the biggest red fish my fishing partner has ever caught and each time the fish made a run close to shore the excitement mounted till finally I scooped him up in the landing net. I also caught several Sheephead which really fought, in fact I described setting the hook on one of these fish like snagging a cement block, a slight pause then these powerful fish start peeling out line.
Another comparison would be catching a crappie pumped up on steroids. Long needle like spines protrude out past the top fin of these zebra colored fish and even more dangerous are the really nasty looking teeth on these fish. One glance and you’re quickly convinced that you need to have a pair of pliers to remove the hook. Another good fish to eat, however the skin on these fish is so tough it might be easier filleting out the side wall on your car tire! I also was lucky enough to catch a 25-inch red fish that gave me a tremendous fight before I steered him into my net. I also caught three whitings that did not fight as much as the sheephead or red fish but fun to catch anyway. I caught a couple flounders but they were small so I put them back. I also caught two stingrays, one that was too big for my net and tangled into my other pole. Since we didn’t have a gaff either I felt relieved when he finally got impatient with me trying to figure out how I was going to get him lifted over the three foot wall on the dike and broke my line. The other smaller one I got in the net and was happy when he was dumped back in the water.
I also caught a snake! Yes a snake, a long skinny snake! Don’t let them Texans tell you it was an eel either, I think the word eel came from some gal seeing one of these snakes and screaming EEK and was misunderstood and they thought she said eel. My theory is if it is over 10 inches long it is a snake, if it is less than 10 inches long it is a worm! This snake was over 20 inches long, brown, and about as big around as a cigar with a frill like fin running up the top of his back nearly the whole length of his body. Maybe this fin was on the bottom I really did not look at him very much as he was plenty mad at me when I grabbed him with my fishing pliers. I was fishing alone at the time when I caught him so I put him in the cooler with the fish so that the Texans couldn’t say “Ya right you caught a snake!” Well then what did my fishing partner do when he came back? He grabbed the eek with my fishing pliers and tossed him back in the ocean while mumbling something about an eel! No evidence, no snake pictures, no nothing just the soft splash of my eek hitting the water and then he was gone. Go ahead and laugh, I would like to see you try and get one of these eeks in your landing net? Fishing in Texas was a great experience for me and one I will never forget, but I do prefer Alaska. A very special thank you to Richard Wagner for making it all possible and being a great fishing partner even if he did throw away the eek! See you next week!
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