out to sea. I crossed several sand bars as the water got progressively deeper. I stopped about mid-chest deep, leaned back, and cast as far as I could. The large surf weight must have overpowered the rotten 6-lb test line because all I saw was my hook, line, and sinker some 10 yards in front of me. Back to the beach for more tackle. *Lesson #4- Supply yourself with good balanced equipment, not just any old tackle. I found some stronger line in my tackle box, got it ready, and was off again. Stationed at the same place, I cast; and this time the line held. The weight was too heavy for the rod so the cast went only some 30 feet; but I was fishing. I thought I could feel something bit-ing my bait, but I could never set the hook. About every 8 seconds a large wave would roll over me and I could do one of two things: try and jump up high enough to keep my head above water or just hold the rod up high and let the wave wash over me. I finally chose the latter. *Lesson #5- Trust your instincts. (I thought something was wrong with that picture.)
I was going through my bait pretty quickly without catching anything. I made several trips to the beach for more bait and each time the wife happily cheered me on. One time when a wave knocked me down I looked at the beach and there were two trucks stopped at my camp. As I walked in closer, I saw several people talking to the wife; I noticed they were laughing. One guy said What in the heck are you doing? I proudly said, Im surf fishing. They (including my wife) all laughed and pointed to the man down the beach sitting under an umbrella. He was drinking a cold one with his rod held high in a rod holder and another guy said, No, hes surf fishing. I dont know what the hell you are doing but it sure is amusing to watch. (That put a big damper on my day. Ok, lets review: I had the wrong beach equipment, rod, line, and hooks; bad bait, no map, no local information, no surf fish-ing knowledge; and basically no idea what I was doing. I guess I did have the right truck at least. The surf kicked my butt in every way there was. I was embarrassed and mad at the same time. Back in New Mexico I started a quest to gather all of the knowledge I could about surf fishing. This involved the web, books from eBay, fishing magazines from Florida on salt water fishing, and lots of reading. In the tackle department I ordered a Quantum Great White spinning reel from Cabelas catalogue. On my next vacation to Paradise, I stopped in at Bilmore & Son hardware store in Port Aransas. I guess I looked out of place. The lady said, You look like a fish out of water, do you need some help? I told her I wanted to go surf fishing but all I had was a reel. She told me all about surf fishing, guided me to an entry-level 10-foot rod, wound good line on my reel, and sold me all the hooks, and tackle I needed to fish the piers, jetties, and surf. I was now armed and dan-gerous! Later that week my trip to PINS was what I call 'success'. I had some proper beach equipment for the wife (she hadnt given up on me yet), a good map, and, to make a long story short, I even caught some fish. I started catching fish from the docks, jetties, shore, and surf. I had begun to crack the code of salt water fishing. Like the surf has its highs and lows so does beginner's surf fishing. Just remember how much fun it could be to learn to fish all over again. More on the progress of my learning next time.
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I could do one of two things: try and jump up high enough to keep my head above
Fishing is fishing, and water is water, right? Ive caught hundreds of fish and could be called experienced in most circles. My buddies always asked me where to go and what bait to use when we went fish-ing because I always caught the most, or at least, the biggest fish. So on one summer vacation to Paradise some ten years ago, I decided to find out what was so great about surf fishing down on PINS. I convinced the wife she would have a blast sitting on the beach in the hot sun with no shade watching me catch fish after fish, and she en-thusiastically said Well, I guess so, but I cant stay all day. We were off. Needing bait, I stopped by Circle K for some ice and shrimp. I had brought my best trout rod but had no big tackle, so I grabbed some leaders and hooks along with some drinks on the way out the door. Once we hit the sand I shifted my truck into 4WD and we drove down the PINS beach marveling at all the people parked and camped on the beach. I had been to beaches in California and Florida where you cant even find access to the beach, much less see the water from the road. This was truly Paradise! The tents and camp-ers and RVs seemed to stretch down the beach for ever. We finally came to a sign that warned only 4WD should proceed further. The campers thinned out below that sign and I started watching the water for ? I didn't have a clue what to watch for. The first thing I did notice was that the groups of people stopped to camp and fish were spaced out with about 400 yards be-tween them. I found this really neat, especially compared to most lakes and rivers where people will stand next to you and throw their lines over the top of yours. I came across a man and women (that looked to be retired) who were both sitting in beach chairs watching their rods. They gave a friendly wave as we drove up. I stopped and got out to ask how the fishing was. They were very informative. I asked them questions about fishing, bait, and the 'sacred' space between fisher-men. I told him it was my first time in the surf, and he asked to see my gear. I showed him my 6-foot rod and Mitchell 300 reel, the leaders, and the hooks. I think he politely turned away and laughed. He said Come over here and look at my stuff! I had never seen a tackle box that big, with drawers full of tackle. He started taking things out and handing them to me saying, Try these hooks and Youll need to put this swivel on your line. Do you have any weights?"... I left his spot with a sack full of weird, new tackle, a wish of good luck, and a request to stop back by on my way home and tell him about my fish-ing day. (I have since come to learn that this gracious man repre-sented most people who fish PINS.) Driving down the beach and trying to honor the 400-yard spacing rule, the wife kept asking when we were going to stop. My only criteria for selecting a fishing spot became space between other fishing parties. Upon finding one, I stopped and set up our camp (one folding chair.) *Lesson #1- Bring more creature comforts for the wife. I tied a hook and one of the surf weights the man had given me on the end of the line. When I opened the container of shrimp, they were frozen solid. *Lesson #2- Dont keep your frozen bait on ice if you want to use it when you first get to the water.
I broke the brick of shrimp into three pieces, put a hunk in my shirt pocket, and waded out into the warm water. Swishing the shrimp back and forth to quicken its thawing, I lost one half of the hunk; but at least the rest was thawed enough to bait up a hook. *Lesson #3- (You know)-Dont swish your bait. I was some 30 feet from shore, but the water was ankle deep. Even I know that big fish live in deep water, so I start walking
Virgin Surf Fishing MexicoMike
To cook the garlic,
wrap it in aluminum
foil and bake it on
350 degrees for 15
ANNIE'S MEDITTERANEAN-STYLE POMPANO
Season fish fillets with spice. Heat oil in a saut pan, add fillets and sear until golden brown. Turn carefully and sear second side until golden brown. Add olives, tomatoes, eggplant, onion, garlic, and rosemary. Stir vegetables around taking care not to break fish, 3 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer to reduce slightly. Whisk in butter a few pieces at a time, and adjust seasonings to taste with salt and pepper. Serve fish with generous spoonfuls of sauce and vegetables. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and scallions. My dad and I like it on a bed of couscous with pine nuts. Try it. Its a very nice variation on the versatile Pompano. Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients needed: 4 6-ounces pompano fillets 1 to 2 tablespoons Creole spice 1 to 2 tablespoons oil 1/4 cup each chopped green and black olives 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes 1/4 cup diced grilled Japanese eggplant 2 tablespoons chopped onion 1 tablespoon mashed roasted garlic cloves 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary 1 cup chicken stock 1/2 stick butter, chil