Two or three times a year we go to the Gulf Coast near Galveston to sight see and fish. In August, 2012 we decided to try to find some new country and turned east toward Mobile, Alabama. (See article 1244.) At many beaches in Texas you are allowed to drive right out on the beach, set up camp, and fish. On the 2012 trip along the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coasts we were disappointed to see the rules were a lot more strict. All our gear would have to be carried several hundred yards from parking lot to the beach. Zack would have to stay at the pickup. When Bob Wills was invited to play at the Grand Ole Opry his band was setting up the instruments. An Opry big wheel was watching the band set up and told them they couldn’t have drums on the Grand Ole Opry. Bob Wills didn’t blink. He said, “Load em up boys. We going to Texas.” That’s the way Jean and I felt after seeing the situation on those beaches. We were fishing at our old spot near Galveston in less than twenty four hours.
A few weeks ago our oldest boy, Michael Williams, and some of his family went to Orange Beach, Alabama and stayed about a week. His adventures have made Jean and me reconsider. Instead of going back to Galveston in September, we will probably go to Orange Beach Pier. Before he left he asked me what type of rod and reel he should use on a pier and I suggested he go to the pier and watch a while before buying any gear. See what the regulars are using down there. After checking out the gear on the pier he went to nearby J&M Tackle and bought three rigs. The one that impressed me the most was one I had never heard of. To me, Penn reels have always sorta been the top of the line but the best of the three he bought was a German made Van—Staal model 200 spinning reel mounted on a custom made ten foot long rod. I had never heard of the Van—Staal brand. The reel is so high tech it does not have a bail. You know, the wire thing you got to flip over before you cast a spinning reel. Also waterproof and completely made of aluminum.
Here on Cooper Lake I use thirty pound test line that works good on catfish up to fifty pounds and above. Michael surprised me when he told of fighting big fish from the pier and only using 16 pound test. Your drag is set to slip at about 5-10 pounds so you don’t have to worry about the line breaking. You just let the fish run till he is tired. Two tarpon were hooked and stripped line off the reel out to three hundred yards, almost using up all the line on the reel. At the end of the quarter mile pier is where Michael caught most of his fish such as jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, tarpon, and a 500 pound turtle. A twelve foot long tiger shark cruised along one day in the clear water. His sixth grader, Reed, was the official bait catcher, bringing in sardines, mullet, and alewives. (Alewives are a type of shad.) Reed used an apparatus called a sabika which is kinda like a small trotline with 6-10 tiny fly fishing type lures on it.
The long pier was destroyed in 2004 and rebuilt in 2009. There is a debate if it is the longest or second longest on the gulf coast. Fish commonly caught are red drum, ling, Spanish mackerel, pompano, tripletail, flounder, mangrove snapper, tarpon, whiting, sharks, and jack crevalle. Be aware of many rules if you are planning to go to the pier. Things such as four rod limit per person and you can only fish with one at a time. Bottom fishing only on the upstream current or upwind side. Cork fishing only on the down current or down wind side. Must use good sportsmanship. Only one crab basket. Can’t fish while your crab trap is in the water. Fish must be put in a cooler or released within ten minutes. Keep tackle and gear off benches and tables. Cut your bait only at bait tables. Don’t sit or stand on the rail. No jumping or diving off the pier. No alcohol. No cooking on the pier. Clean up after yourself. No pets. No soliciting. No shark fishing. No reels larger than a Penn #4. No cast nets. No gill nets. No wire crab traps. No spears or spear guns. No sleeping. No cots. No bed rolls. No sleeping bags. No skates. No skate boards. No bicycles. No running. No horseplay. No fireworks. No firearms. No slingshots. No lounge chairs. No umbrellas.
Were you ever in the kitchen with your mama when she made a cake and told you not to touch it? Did you wait until she turned her head and touched it? Human nature I guess, especially for Americans who rebelled against a lot of things. That is a lot of rules but there is an old saying that if there were no rules we could have no games. I called the tackle place in Orange Beach and found more information. The pier is about 35 feet above the water at the far end. Water is about thirty feet deep at the far end. Now all we got to do is figure out what to do with Zack when we go to the pier. I bet they got doggie day care somewhere close there.
A man got a pet centipede. One day he hollered at the centipede that he was going to town and did he want to go. The centipede did not come out of the back room. The man hollered several more times and finally asked if he was going to town with him or not. The centipede screamed back,” I’m putting my shoes on.”