If It Can Happen, It Will~~~
This is another one of my fine adventures in South Texas~~ Please Enjoy...
If It Can…It Will…
We had heard that the flounder were just laying around waiting to be gathered at the Port Mansfield Channel. It was only August, so this wasn’t the annual migration where they leave the Laguna Madre Bay heading into the deeper, warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Jeff had been a commercial fisherman for more than twenty years. I had limited experience gigging flounder, so was eager to further my education, besides earning a few dollars. The market for selling flounder was established at two dollars per pound. With any good luck, we could make a couple of hundred dollars while having some fun. Some plans are better left on the drawing board.
Neither one of us had a vehicle capable of negotiating the twenty-two miles of beach required to reach our destination. We were able to convince a friend to transport us up to the cut in exchange for gas money. Loading our provisions of four coolers (three filled with ice to preserve our catch) and assorted camping gear, we partaked on our merry adventure. The sun was shining; the wind was light from the south; the temperature hovered in the eighties; and we had a case of beer! Who could ask for more?
We were dropped off on Friday near the Mansfield Jetties, bidding farewell to our buddy with the understanding that he would return on Monday to get us. After setting up camp and having a bite to eat, we waited for the midnight tide that was due to come in. High tide allows the flounder to move all the way up to the shoreline, making it possible to walk with lanterns and gigs without getting our shorts wet. That night proved to be fairly successful, yielding about forty pounds of fish. We did have to tramp a total of nine miles but we figured we needed the exercise anyway. We finally fell asleep just prior to dawn, well satisfied with our efforts.
Waking at noon on Saturday brought us an unwelcome surprise. The wind had picked up considerably, to forty miles per hour, with gusts nearing fifty. Our tent became a casualty, leaving us virtually unprotected from being sand-blasted. Hiding behind a dune, we consumed most of our liquid refreshment and listened to the howling breeze. By nightfall, it had moderated significantly but had made the water so murky that it was impossible to attempt gigging flounder. Murphy’s Law of things going wrong seemed to have come into effect.
Sunday morning brought more wonderful news. The wind had shifted to the north, and yes, it started raining. One of the cooler lids had blown off during the night, allowing the ice to melt. So now we were running low on ice to keep our fish cold. The day was too miserable to enjoy any outdoor activities and the closest indoors was thirty miles away! All day we spent singing "Oh Woe is Me", until we ran out of verses.
Monday’s weather eased up enough to let us go exploring. Two miles south of the Jetties we discovered a dune buggy someone had abandoned on the beach when they got stuck in the sand. Through our unequaled mechanical expertise, we were able to get it running and free from its entrapment. Figuring this as a charitable act of God, we loaded our "gift horse" with our two coolers of flounder and anything else we could fit into the limited available space. We stashed the rest of our equipment, hoping to come back another day to retrieve it.
With the rain coming down again, we made a desperate run back to civilization. The company which had rented the dune buggy was relieved to have it returned in one piece. They gave us a ride to Port Isabel where we could sell our fish before it spoiled. Somehow in the transition we missed our friend, who valiantly drove in the bad weather and soft sand all the way up to the channel only to find an empty campsite.
When events run afoul, there is no telling when they will end. I believe that Murphy must have been an optimist.
James V. Weber 3/23/94