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Redfish Lodge Enters the 21st Century

Being in a remote setting sure has its advantages for quiet, privacy, seclusion, and of course…fishing. It is not, however, conducive to having state-of-the-art telecommunications at your fingertips.

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We can brag that we have all of the above but fortunately the lodge is close enough to Rockport that Redfish Lodge is pleased to announce that we have advanced out of the dial-up dark ages by installing high speed WI-FI at our facility. Our guests can now access high speed internet from anywhere on our grounds using the wireless set-ups in their laptop computers. Check emails, surf the net, and send fish pictures all from the comfort of their rooms without phone lines or DSL cables.

Casting with laptop in hand takes special training and coordination so guests may have to put down your computer to catch fish. Fish are difficult to catch on the web, particularly oversized. Isn’t technology wonderful!

Tournament

March 11 Redfish Lodge and Moondog Seaside Eatery played host to the Chuck Scates Benefit Tournament. This event was held to raise money for former Redfish Lodge manager and current guide Chuck Scates, who lost his entire 2005 fishing season due to a battle with throat cancer, a battle that he thankfully seems to have won. The event was originally scheduled for last September, but a lady named Rita prompted the rescheduling. It consisted of a fishing tournament, barbecue, raffle, live auction, and silent auction. Lots of people, many of whom were Redfish Lodge guests, helped tremendously by fishing in the tournament, donating items, money, or services, or by volunteering to help out. Thank you to all those who participated. Your generosity was greatly appreciated.

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The tournament itself was a big success, despite winds gusting in excess of 40mph. Twenty-three teams hit the water at sunrise on the 11th, 17 of which fished in the guided division and six that were unguided. The goal was to catch and release the most legal size reds and trout, record them on a score sheet, and “weigh in” a total number of inches. Prizes were given to the winners of each division, as well as largest red and largest trout of the tournament. Law Rogers and Wayne Snow of Houston took first place in the guided division with a total of 160.75 inches of released fish. They were guided by Redfish Lodge’s own Cupe Adams. First place in the unguided division went to Bryan and Ronnie LeVrier of San Antonio with 20 inches. Big trout was a 24-incher caught by Bill Lockett of San Antonio with guide Duane Flowers of Redfish Lodge. The winning red was a 28-incher caught by Jimmy Babbitt of Houston while fishing with guide Rhett Price. All winners received rods and guided fishing trips that were donated by local guides. Thanks to all the guides that participated and donated trips.

The auction and raffle were very well attended, with a crowd in excess of 150 people. Among the auction items were beautiful pieces of artwork, guided fishing and hunting trips, gift certificates to local restaurants and hotels, jewelry, fishing tackle, and much more. The big raffle of the night, a Hewes Tailfisher with a Yamaha motor and trailer donated by Maverick Boats and Ronnie’s Marine, was won by Victor Pena of Houston. The generosity of the people in attendance and of all those who participated and donated made the event a big success, and Chuck’s medical expenses are now paid. For a complete list of sponsors, donors, and tournament winners, please visit www.chuckscatesbenefit.com.

Intro – Newsletter 2006

A fishing trip to Redfish Lodge brings to mind visions of speckled trout tailwalking on a hookset and reds ripping line off of a light tackle reel. But did you know that there are other, bigger fish to be battled in the waters surrounding Rockport? March presents an excellent opportunity to land a huge black drum from 40 to 70 pounds during their spawning run. The trips to the gulf surf in July through September often produce kingfish in excess of 30 pounds, huge cobia, and sharks that can weigh over 200 pounds!

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Fishing in the flats throughout the season may have you fighting a monster jack crevalle or even a tarpon. All of these fish are caught at Redfish Lodge every season, and most by guests expecting a red or trout. The next time you are out with a lodge guide and get a bite, hold on tight. You may be in for more than you bargained for!

Tonic

“Tonic”, the Redfish Lodge adopted mascot, is looking for a good home. She is a 4-5 year old Great Pyrenees who is housebroken, loves people, affection and open spaces. She has to sleep inside at night because she is afraid of the dark and is terrified of thunder. Cuddling and reassurance will get her through even the worst storms.

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Tonic is a great watchdog, good with kids, but has never been exposed to cats (that we know of). She needs open space or a large fenced-in yard to roam. She has had all of her shots, is spayed and in great health. If you would like to take Tonic home, email Brian.

Unsung Heroes

Redfish Lodge has sent out thousands of comment cards over the last several years, and have learned a great deal from the responses. We know what to change, and what to keep the same. We ask if there was any staff member that made your trip a memorable one and many guests have responded positively. Our evening staff are often complimented for the culinary delights and attention to detail. The guides are mentioned often for putting guests on some great fishing. There is, however, a list of staff members who have never been mentioned on a comment card despite doing a great job day after day. They work behind the scenes to make sure that everything can go smoothly for the staff on the front lines. This segment is dedicated to them.

annAnn Gragg is our head housekeeper, and her very job depends upon never being seen or noticed. She makes sure that every guest returns from fishing to an immaculate room and a pristine lodge. She also makes sure that everything gets done in a very small window of time between the departure of one group and the arrival of the next group just two hours later. She routinely deals with weather-shortened fishing trips, late departures, early arrivals, and the disasters of those who elected to over-indulge the previous evening. Most impressively, she handles this huge responsibility while rarely ever being seen or noticed, and never being complimented on a comment card. Thanks Ann!

Eldon Flaherty handles grounds and building maintenance and always sees to it that everything on the property looks and runs perfectly. In addition, Eldon aids in guest transportation to and from airports and boat ramps as well as fish packaging and cleaning. He routinely deals with delayed airplanes, late airport arrivals, too many or not enough fish for guests, and the constant assault of the South Texas weather on our facilities. He is also on call for broken water lines in the middle of the night, electrical outages, and emergency grocery store runs if supplies run short. Again, his name has never appeared on a comment card. Thanks Eldon!

There is also the Boss who is hardly ever on site during the operating season. Aside from signing the checks his strategy is to encourage us to make Redfish Lodge the best in the world.

Anglers’ Patron Saint

In our continuing quest to provide the best possible fishing experience, Redfish Lodge explores every conceivable avenue. Our latest is to employ the Patron Saint of Fishing. So far we have found that, depending upon the culture and text we research, seven different saints lay claim to this title. The choices are as follows:

  • Andrew the Apostle
  • Anthony of Papau
  • Benno
  • Nicholas of Myra
  • Our Lady of Salamera (Virgin Mary)
  • Peter the Apostle
  • Zeno of Verona

St. Andrew is definitely one of the top contenders but Andrew does not seem to specialize in fish; he seems to be a generalist. We all know what is said about a “Jack of all Trades…”

St. Anthony may be to fishing what Bob Eucker is to baseball. He may be very good at talking fishing, but his on-water experience is very sketchy. He should only be evoked if desperate.

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Okay, who was praying for a white Christmas?

St. Benno, although a relatively minor deity, seems to have a soft spot for anglers; so we have given him a B plus.
St. Nicholas of Myra, not to be confused with the Christmas, St Nicholas, must have sneaked on the list. His credentials are very obscure. Especially when you look at Myra on an ancient map. Where does one fish in the desert?

Our Lady of Salamera (The Virgin Mary) is the patron of almost everything. She is far too busy with more urgent matters to be called on by anglers. If you have a big, hungry crowd and want to serve fish, her son has some experience with that. You may want to send him a prayer.

St. Peter the Apostle, although very busy with a multitude of responsibility, is never-the-less one Saint that will take time to be a positive influence on the boat or from shore. His mortal career as a fisherman in the Sea of Galilee comes in handy for this task.

St. Zeno of Verona is our choice to be the patron of Redfish Lodge. He is always depicted with rod in hand and occasionally with his catch as well. Zeno is our choice if a miracle is required to make the fish bite. He is doing a fine job at his newly appointed post, as you would see on any trip with one of our Redfish Lodge guides.

Chuck Scates

scan_3As many of you may have heard, our former general manager and current guide Chuck Scates was diagnosed with mastoid cancer in October. He underwent a radical neck dissection on November ninth, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. His recovery is coming along nicely, and although he is currently off the water he is planning to return to guiding on April 1.

Chuck would like to extend his appreciation for all of the concerned phone calls and prayers, and hopes to see all of you on the water again soon. Chuck would also like to add that due to his surgery, he will only be able to yell at his fishermen half as much as he has in the past, so leave the ear plugs at home.

Yes! We Have No Bananas …

… And Other Fishing Superstitions!

bananasDid you ever wonder why there are no bananas in the fruit bowl at Redfish Lodge. It has nothing to do with budgets, bugs, or allergies..it is far more serious that that. Bananas have long been considered the ultimate curse for a fishing vessel. Since the ancient Polynesians first started fishing the oceans, it was noticed that vessels that headed out on long journeys and brought bunches of bananas for nourishment often did not return. It seems logical, bananas last a long time even in the heat, they are not heavy or bulky, and they are very good for you. Why, then, was the fate of so many fishing vessels sealed when they loaded up the bananas? Now in the days of science and enlightenment, we do have an answer. Journeys of several weeks or more allowed the thousands of banana spider eggs located in the banana bunches to hatch, and when the fishermen went to bed, they really went to bed. The highly poisonous banana spiders bit them and the ship with the dead crew was lost at sea forever. In the modern era of pesticides, cell phones, and GPS navigation, it is unlikely to say the least that these events will transpire again, but once a superstition is born it will not go away easily. For this reason, bananas are best left in the supermarket. Serious fishermen and guides alike have removed them from their diets altogether. Excessive? Maybe, but you do not want to provoke the ire of the fish gods!

In Europe since the dawn of the domesticated animal, it has been considered a bad omen to begin a fishing trip when the cattle in the fields are lying down. Conversely, it is considered lucky if they are standing. As ridiculous as this may seem, again with a little applied modern science we find that it is rooted in truth. Most all animals, with the exception of humans, plan their day around a lunar clock rather than a solar one. Their active and inactive periods are defined by the position of the moon rather than that of the sun. The sun is merely a convenience for those of us not blessed with the ability to see in the dark. This means that birds, deer, cows, and fish have the same activity periods during the lunar day. A cow lying down really does mean that the fishing will not be as good as if it was standing! Why, you ask, does superstition not hold true to hunting in European culture. The answer lies in the method of hunting used in most European nations. They do not sit in a blind and wait for an active animal to come to them. They send pushers into the woods to beat the trees with sticks and force even sleeping animals to move. While a fish has to be a willing participant in fishing, stag, pheasants, boar, and other game can be coerced into participating whether their schedule suggests it or not.

Want to avoid some other errors in judgement that may turn the fish gods against you? Superstition suggests that you never step over a fishing rod lying on the ground or on the deck of the boat. An easy way to avoid this is to never put a rod there. It is an invitation for it to be broken, and having a rod broken is a sure way not to catch fish. Never board or even cross a fishing vessel until you are invited to do so by the captain. Why? Not only does superstition suggest it, but it is just rude. In ancient times when this practice began, guides probably took these rude people to bad fishing holes, making the fishing poor and bringing about the lore. Never catch a fish on the first cast of the day. Hard to find the science in this one, but better to cast in the wrong direction and reel fast so as not to take any chances.

While this list is nearly endless, there are a few of the more important ones to remember. The good news is there is a fool-proof cure for any curse you may place on yourself, your boat, or the fish. A pineapple, be it fresh, canned, dried, or squeezed into juice will always win the favor of the fish gods. If you are in real trouble, putting a small portion of your pineapple product into the water as a sacrifice will surely bail you out. Science? Sure, fish love…the…smell…of pineapple? Yeah, that’s it! Just make sure that if you bring dried pineapple in a trail mix that there is no dried bananas in there. We don’t want to open that can of worms … ah spiders again.

Big Boys in the Bay

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During Labor Day weekend 2004, guest Wayne Penello caught a 37-inch, 20-pound redfish. He was fishing with Captain Paul Brown in Ayers Bay using live piggy perch as bait. This fish broke a long standing Lodge record of 36 inches and 18 pounds caught in 1995. Wayne’s fish, however, would not enjoy the view from the top for long. Two months and two days later the record was broken again. On November 6, Jared Davis caught the new record while fishing with Captain Cody Kubicek in San Antonio Bay. His red, caught on a live shrimp under a popping cork, tipped the scales at a whopping 27 pounds! This 41-inch behemoth took half an hour to land, and will be gracing Jared’s wall when the taxidermist finishes with it.

We are left to wonder whether these two catches were coincidence, or if they are a sign of things to come. Are some of the redfish that normally migrate to the Gulf staying in the bays? The overall health of our bay system has been deemed excellent by Parks and Wildlife biologists, and baitfish are plentiful and accessible. Maybe these big reds are finding our bays too tempting to leave and are sticking around a few extra years. Next year may see another record boken, and another …

Babes on the Bay Tournament

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On April 30, 2005, Rockport played host to the 6th annual Babes on the Bay fishing tournament, one of the largest CCA fundraising events in the organization. 534 women anglers competed on 156 teams for fun, prizes, and a year’s worth of bragging rights. For the first time in the tournament’s six year history, two Redfish Lodge guides participated in the guided division to measure their skills against many other local professionals.

As seems to be the case with this event every year, the weather was as uncooperative as possible. A strong front blew through at 6:00 am on the morning of the tournament, bringing with it sustained north winds in the 45+mph range and gusts to 55mph. Conditions deteriorated throughout the day, as the winds refused to subside and the water quality went downhill fast. Some anglers never left dock, some began returning immediately, and some of the tougher ladies stuck it out and fished for the day.

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Weigh-in took place between 12:00pm and 4:00pm, and teams could weigh in three trout and one redfish toward their total. 99 teams scratched, meaning they had no eligible fish. The remaining 57 teams wearily staggered in throughout the weigh-in time, some with four fish, many with just one. When all teams were accounted for and the standings were posted, Redfish Lodge guides Brian Holden and Cody Kubicek held the first and second place positions on the leaderboard by a huge margin over an otherwise tightly packed field. In addition, Tonya McLeod on Brian’s team won the prize for the redfish with the most spots (13), earning her a gold redfish pendant with 13 diamonds on it.

Besides the contestants in the Babes on the Bay tournament, there were six other boats on the water that day. They were the rest of the Redfish Lodge squad, putting together nice boxes of reds for a full house of lodge guests and practicing for the next big tournament to be held in “unfishable” conditions. The moral of the story is a simple one. If you have a trip planned to Redfish Lodge and there may be some bad weather during your stay, remember two things. Bring your rain jacket or windbreaker, and leave the rest to the Lodge guides. They will keep you safe and put you on fish in any conditions. For more information about Babes on the Bay, visit babesonthebay.com.