I wrote this article shortly after a saltwater fishing trip to “The Barge” in May of 1995Last month I had the opportunity to go saltwater fishing with a couple friends, Brian and Darren Broaddus. Their family and another family own a floating house barge down in the Christmas Bay area. Christmas Bay is located at the far west end of West Bay and is within sight of the San Luis Pass toll bridge. The three of us had planned a five day trip to the “barge” to begin on May 29th . Planning, preparation, and anxiety always accompany this type of fishing trip when I get the chance to make one. We arrived at Bastrop Marina at around noon on Monday. The boat loaded with our fishing gear, food, and clothes for the week. Brian and Darren went through their boat launching routine while I went in and paid the launch fee. Before long we were headed down Bastrop Bayou to Christmas Bay. About half way there we passed by the mouth of Lost Lake and there was a group of birds made up and working over a small reef. We pulled up wind of the birds drifted towards the action. The boat was loaded with all of our gear, working around it in a fisherman’s frenzy we set up for the drift. We drifted within casting range and Darren was first to cast, an automatic hookup. I cast into the birds, fish on. Brian cast in, he too was hooked up. We all worked our fish to boat, we were on a school of small trout mostly fourteen to sixteen inches. The birds moved just in front of us downwind and we were able to stay with the school for about fifteen minutes. Every cast for a while was a hookup, not many keepers in the school but definitely some serious action. We eventually drifted through the school and were out of casting range. Rather than drifting the birds again we agreed to head to the barge and unload and then come back and fish. I offered to stay and wade but they insisted that I help unload the boat. We ran the intracoastal and turned into a small back bay and there it was. A sportsman’s dream is one way to put it, the barge was truly a work of art designed by fishermen for fishermen, it appealed to me in every way. The deck went all the way around the house with a fish cleaning station on one corner. Inside were two sets of bunk beds, a kitchen, and a table and chairs. Still in awe of the whole concept I sat on the deck and pondered a moment. Brian and Darren knew how impressed I was and just kept laughing as they too were glad to be there. Redfish Shortly afterward we boarded the eighteen foot “scooter boat” and took off. The boat has no gunnels whatsoever, the deck ends and then there is water. Landing fish was a cinch , you would just get the fish to the boat and then just slide him up onto the deck. Only on a big fish would we get the net. We ran around to Lost Lake again and found the birds over what was probably the same school of trout. Fishing the birds again was the same scenario, fish after fish. We stayed with them for an hour or so and then just left them biting in pursuit of bigger trout. We drifted a few shallow reefs and picked up scattered fish for the rest of the afternoon and eventually headed to the barge for the night. We ate dinner and talked about our day and our strategy for the next. The next day we headed into West Bay looking for bigger trout. We quickly spotted two groups of birds in the distance and we headed towards them. We pulled up wind of the birds and set up for a drift. We got into casting range and again it was automatic. Every cast was a speckled trout with about 1 out of 4 being a solid keeper. We left the first group of birds to hit the other group that was made up about a half mile away. Another school of trout, small with a few keepers. We worked birds the entire morning and boated around eighty trout with twenty two keepers. Back at the barge for lunch we decided to stay in the back bays for the afternoon and fish for reds. We laid down for a short nap before the afternoon of fishing but that did not last long. Right outside my window not twenty yards away four gulls were dive bombing and working like crazy! We ran outside and grabbed a rod off of the boat and threw into them. Brian and I standing on the barge hooked up, we both caught a keeper speck. This was too much, keeper trout from the barge. The nap was over and we headed back out. We then went into Christmas Bay and began drifting reefs casting soft plastics in search of redfish. We fished for several hours hitting different spots. A few speckled trout and no redfish was the tally by about seven thirty . We were running out of daylight and starting to get hungry so we decided to hit one more spot before heading in. We pulled up to a peppergrass shoreline with a small shell point sticking out and got on a drift. Just as we passed the point Darren hooked up. I hooked up next and we both leaned hard on our fish as line ripped off of our spools. Freight train I thought. Darren had not even turned his fish and he just sat there with a bowed rod and a grin until he could finally make some headway with his the fish. We both worked our fish to the boat where Brian netted each of them. One of the fish measured twenty six inches and the other measured twenty seven. We made that drift several more times before dark catching reds every pass. We ended up with eight keepers, one shy of a limit, and had caught about fifteen other reds that were just undersized. The rest of the week was picture perfect like the beginning. We rode out a couple thunder squalls and listened to two championship Rocket games during the week. The birds continued to work in West Bay and we caught lots of speckled trout and several close to five pounds. We also stayed on that school of redfish throughout the week, we would finish off each day with several drifts by that shell point and pick up redfish each pass. It was hard to leave Friday afternoon, we had an enjoyable week on the barge and looked forward to going back. Bill Cannan, June 1995 Life was pretty simple at that time, a trip like that now would take months to put together. Darren owns a Ford dealership in Wichita Falls, Brian is an engineer for a commercial air conditioning company in Houston, and I am ten years into a fishing career. We’re not just three guys fresh out of college anymore.
Capt. Bill Cannan, November 1999