While we were on Padre, we had ‘George’ over for dinner quite a bit (because we caught lots of salt water catfish! LOL!).  When any of the fishermen on the beach would get a bite, George would fly or run down to the beach and stop just behind and off to the side, of the fisherman.  George would watch intensely, and was just as interested in the catch as the one with the pole, only they each hoped for different outcomes.  The fisherman would be hoping for a red drum, black drum, whiting or pompano.  George was always hoping to find a hardhead (catfish) on the hook; hardheads are considered garbage fish by most of the fishermen on the island (and after trying all 4 kinds listed above, we can understand their preference 😉 ), and the fishermen discard the catfish…right into George’s waiting beak.   The bigger catfish are usually cut in half for him (he’s rather spoiled! LOL!), and he will grab ‘his catch’, run back up to the dunes, and swallow it whole…padre island 064It always gets lodged halfway down his throat, and he sways around for a bit like a drunk, but before long, he’s back watching and begging for another handout.padre island 067One day that we were there, low tide was a -4, which in laymen’s terms (the only kind I know 😉 ), means it went out even farther than normal.  We girls took a walk on the beach, and found dozens of sea stars (often known as starfish, but, well, they aren’t fish!) stranded above the still outgoing tide.padre island 113Most of them were moving along the beach trying to find the water again…padre island 115We were surprised at how they appear to move along like a hover craft – no movement can be seen as they are propelled along by dozens (hundreds?) of little arms underneath. padre island 117 They glide along much faster than we thought they could too!  They leave interesting little tracks behind them, and when they stop, they would scoop the sand out from below them, settling themselves down into the sand until they were covered completely – all without visible movement from above.padre island 128They were so interesting that it took us a long time to walk between the campground and the visitor’s center.  On the way, we found this sea star working on his lunch…padre island 131We put him back to finish it.  But, we did take a bucket along and collect a few sea stars to show to the rangers.
The receding waves left a lovely pattern in the sand…padre island 133When we (finally!) got to the visitor’s center, Ranger Buzz let the kids pick one of their collected sea stars to put into the salt water aquarium that is displayed in the building; it’s full of beach finds, including the cutest little puffer fish that someone found alive on the beach.  We then ran back down to the beach and the little girls collected some live clams to put into the tank for the sea stars (there was another one already in there) to eat…padre island 150In the meantime, the boys were fishing, fishing, fishing.
I guess we didn’t do too bad for our first year surf fishing! LOL!

We caught lots of catfish (which we tried, but didn’t eat – they were edible, but we preferred the drum and whiting so we didn’t keep the hardheads), and quite a few whiting, and Vaughn caught nice 5# and 8# Black Drum which he was pretty tickled about.  He chided Jake about getting out there on the pole.  He shouldn’t have.

Jake did take over the pole for awhile…padre island 166He hooked a big ole’ fish, which fought a lot harder than any of  Dad’s, but Jake lost it just out of sight.
He decided to try for a bit longer…padre island 170And hooked into something obviously bigger than the one he’d lost earlier.  He fought it and fought it.  It would take line, and Jake would reel like crazy.  Then it would run again, and Jake would reel again.  That fish about wore him out before he got it close enough for his dad to wade out with Todd’s net and scoop it out of the surf…padre island 200By this time there was quite a crowd watching, including the campground host who was saying that it better not be longer than 42″! LOL!
padre island 204* catching Black Drum
They dumped a 38″ Black Drum out of that net.  Jake was pretty tired.  When he had first hooked it, and realized it was a bigger fish than they were used to catching, one of the boys had run up to the camper for the camera.  Big deal.  (you have no idea how many fish pictures we have! 😉 )  I took a shower (ok, just washed my hair in the campground bathroom sink), vacuumed, cleaned up the camper… then leisurely walked down to the beach with the little girls and Caleb, with no idea that anything exciting (to us at least!) was going on.  I still made it to the show in time! LOL!padre island 206Todd left his poles and came up too, and he had a tape measure!!!  :)padre island 209(…and next time I went in for groceries, I found a 50# scale with a tape measure in it for $7!  I gave it to the guys right away since it would have been mean to save it for a stocking stuffer! LOL!)

The boy was pretty tickled over his catch.padre island 217We took a few pics after finally getting the hook out with pliers.  The keeper range for Black Drum is 14 to 30 inches, then over 52″, and everyone says they aren’t as good, and are tough, over about 32.
We put it back…padre island 229It was hard – we ALWAYS catch and release. in bacon grease.
But, it was cool to watch that big ole fish swim off (so we can catch him again next year – hopefully he’ll be over 42″, eh Walt 😉 ).  padre island 232Between walks on the beach, reeling in monster fish (well, it was to us northerners!), and catching ghost crabs…padre island 243We’re pretty spoiled.   <3

Lilla Rose

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