You Shoulda Been Here Yesterday

During all of the years I lived in Houston I went fishing in various spots in Galveston Bay. More times than I can possibly remember.

I was shown some of the very best places to catch fish, where the good reefs were, how deep they were, and how to rig my line for specific fish that might be biting.

Among others I fished at Deep Reef, Carancahua Reef, Offatts Bayou, and the Texas City Dike.

I fished mostly out of a boat, but occasionally from the bank, and once or twice I tried wade fishing.

I tried live bait, dead bait, cut bait, and once even tried artificial bait.

Yet, in spite of all the different places and things I tried, I consistently ended the day with a nasty sunburn and…no fish. And almost without fail, when I returned to the bait camp with out any fish, someone would say, “You shoulda been here yesterday. There were so many fish they were practically jumping in the boat.”

Four People In A Leaky Boat

We arrived early in the morning. The sun was up but hadn’t been very long. At the Galveston end of the causeway we turned left onto the road that led to a bait camp that sat next to the railroad tracks.

There were four of us. My sister, her friend Clara Faye, Clara Faye’s father, Mr. Cannon, and myself. While three of us unloaded the fishing tackle Mr. Cannon went over to the office and rented a boat. He also bought a goodly amount of live shrimp for bait.

We all got in the boat, and let me tell you it was a pathetic excuse for a boat, and after Mr. Cannon attached the motor to the back, we cast off and headed out into the bay. We didn’t really go very far since he wanted to fish near the railroad causeway.

He found a spot that he thought looked good and he told my sister to drop the anchor. She found the rope and when she found the anchor it turned out to be a round hunk of cement with a hole in it. The rope went through the hole and was secured with a big knot. Like I said, it wasn’t much of a boat.

Mr. Cannon baited his hook and that was when we noticed that all the live shrimp were in fact dead. Looked like they had been dead for several days. Anyway he got ready to cast and that was when we discovered that when Mr. Cannon casts everybody else in the boat ducks as low as they can.

We had been fishing for awhile when my sister noticed her feet were getting wet. It turns out that the boat was made out of aluminum and a couple of rivets on the bottom were missing so the owner of the bait camp had stuffed pieces of a paper coffee cup in them to stop the leaks. Clara Faye wasn’t fishing so she had sat there and pulled the paper out, not realizing that would let the water in. We had to quickly get busy and start bailing.

Then I happened to notice that our cement anchor wasn’t holding, probably because the rope was too short. We had drifted into the middle of the Intercoastal Canal and there was a tugboat with some barges heading our direction. I pointed that out to Mr. Cannon and he freaked. He threw down his rod and reel and grabbed the starter rope to fire up the outboard motor. It didn’t start. He kept pulling on it and adjusting the choke. Finally it started and we got out of the way, just in time.

He decided we’d been fishing long enough and we headed back to the bait camp. We hadn’t caught a single fish. Hadn’t even had any nibbles.

When we got back to the dock Mr. Cannon told the owner about the leaks and the owner acted surprised. Said that was one of his best boats.

After we got back in the car Mr. Cannon said if that was one of the best boats he darn sure couldn’t imagine what the bad ones were like. Needless to say we never used that bait camp again.