If you drive down the fairly uninhabited stretch of beach between San Luis Pass and Surfside, especially in the early fall, you will usually see a few people fishing from the shore with big stiff surf rods. The last time I drove that stretch of beach, I stopped and watched a couple of guys cutting the waves in a small kayak looking boat. I didn’t stay and watch too long, but the best I could figure was that they were anchoring their rods on the beach and then hand carrying the hook and bait out past the third sandbar. Since not even the strongest guy can cast that far, it seemed to me like a pretty good idea if you know how to maneuver the kayak.
Although Dad liked the calm waters of the bay, he sometimes took me surf fishing out to the third sandbar. Since we didn’t have a kayak (and I can’t even imagine Dad getting in one), we waded out there with our rods, bait bucket and other gear. If you ever waded out more than a few hundred feet into the surf, you probably noticed that the water gets progressively deeper and then all of the sudden, it gets shallow again as you hit the first sandbar. If you keep going, you repeat that process till you reach the third sandbar. The deep water right past the third sandbar was where the big red fish were.
Now the reason the guy used the kayak to set his bait is the fact that the third sandbar is a long way from shore. I’ve never been out there as an adult, so my perception may be clouded by youth, but as a 10 â€“ 12 year old kid, it seems like we walked forever to get there. Dad could walk out without having to swim, but I would usually have to tread water in the deeper spots. Unless the weather was really rough, there were no waves out on the third sandbar and the water was only waist deep or less, but the scary part was that I couldn’t see the shore because of the waves breaking between the shore and us.
One of the things I learned from surf fishing is that it wasn’t only the redfish that cruised in the waters on the other side of the third sandbar; the sharks were pretty fond of that area too. One thing about Dad, he wasn’t afraid of anything in that water and his confidence usually made me feel safe. Now Dad did teach me to be aware of the sharks and how to prevent any problems with them. We kept our bait bucket and stringer on a long rope and let them drift away from us. That way, if a shark decided he wanted our stringer of redfish, at least he wouldn’t take a chunk of our leg along with him. Whenever Dad caught a shark, he would bring it in close enough to identify it and then cut the line. Occasionally, if it was a really big shark or we were about ready to head back to shore, Dad would wade in and reel the shark in from shore where it was safe.
The first time I saw Dad reel in a big shark, I got a close up look at his teeth. That gave me a healthy respect or maybe a slight fear of those critters. But Dad always said to be careful, but don’t worry too much about them since sharks like to eat fish, not humans. Needless to say, when I was out on the third sandbar where I couldn’t see anything but water and sky, I was always looking for that distinctive shark fin breaking the water.
One time we were out on the third sandbar fishing and I looked out and saw a fin breaking the water and coming straight for us at a fairly fast speed. I pointed to the fin, but Dad just ignored it, like it wasn’t even there. As the shark fin got closer and closer, I was beginning to panic. Maybe Dad was wrong about sharks. Maybe this shark had developed a taste for human flesh. Since I had nowhere to go, I just moved closer to Dad, who by now had a slight grin on his face, like he was somehow enjoying my discomfort. When the “shark” got about 20 feet from us, it suddenly leaped about 5 feet out of the water in a perfect arc and then swam away. By then I realized it wasn’t a shark, it was a large dolphin. We’d just had a close encounter with Flipper. Dad just laughed a little and kept on fishing.