As a kid, I was fortunate to be exposed to the outdoors by my family. My father’s side of the family enjoyed hunting as much as Grandpa River enjoyed the coast, so hook and bullets became a way of life for me. Those traditions growing up were some of the best I had in my life and thankfully, they continue.
A trip to the coast came about as an open weekend that offered a chance to do some coastal fishing. With any chance to hit the Texas salt, I made my way to Goose Island State Park near Rockport. I contacted my cousin to see if he would be open to joining. While he lives only 20 miles away, our busy schedules make it difficult to find time to meet, let alone enough time for a good fishing trip. Luckily he was able to make it work for this endeavor. After he confirmed we invited his dad (my uncle) and made our trip a little family affair!
As with any trip to the coast, the menu is a discussion of paramount importance. From breakfast tacos to some suspect summer sausage, the one
item that would make a lasting impression to me was the coffee. For most camping trips many would think coffee is a no brainer. What made this coffee special though was not just the warmth or the bitterness, but the conversations that took place while brewing it and the time shared while drinking it. Unfortunately, that coffee did nothing to aid in our weather forecast that weekend. The Texas summer is hot, humid, and just plain nasty. With little rain, it seems the entire countryside dries up. As we all met up at the park, it was talked about that this trip would be a night fishing trip, offering us a break from the oppressive sun and unrelenting heat. This offered us the best chance to not only enjoy the trip, but also catch fish. With a few hours to kill before we headed out, we packed our coolers and readied our gear.
Although the bulk of our fishing was to be done at night, the last two hours of daylight offer some prime fish catching opportunities. So for the last few moments of light, we hit a flat that was known to house good sized reds. Once at the spot, we unloaded and walked on out. Wading in the Texas salt, you need to be aware of the creatures that can end a trip in one misstep. Many fishermen who wade know that with each step the water is muddied, making it virtually impossible to see what lies on the floor and that is exactly where the most painful of all creatures, the stingray, can get you. The best protection against them and their barbs are wading guards or boots; fishing shin guards if you will. These guards offer great protection in the event you were to step on a ray and have them react violently. To feel the power of a hit is similar to that of your buddy giving you a slug punch, provided your buddy is Mike Tyson. So with this knowledge, I strapped on my ForEverlast Shin Protectors and headed out along the flat while the others stayed behind to enjoy the sunset and began to get the baits ready.
After returning from my solo walk, and with the sun setting, poles rigged, baits cut, and lines out, we waited. As with any gathering of relatives, the topic of family came up. Catching up is always a fun thing. What we didn’t realize was that with all the catching up we were doing was not being interrupted by fish catching. Time after time, our baits were being taken by crabs and or perch, neither of which were redfish. This went on for a few hours, and by the time we noticed it was 11pm and still no fish. We had been on the water at this spot for a few hours and no luck!
By 1 AM each of us were showing signs of being tired and frustrated. That is when my cousin’s line started to sing! WHAM! His pole bent over and the line began to zing from the reel. Fish on! It turned out to be a nice red, a good keeper. Our luck had turned! With a few more fish in the box the night began to drag. It was 3am by this time and we all showed signs of a long day. That is when I thought it would be a good idea for my secret weapon. As we loaded up the boat, my uncle and cousin both commented how they wished they had filled their thermoses with coffee for the night. Well with no thermos, I brought the next best thing- hot fresh camp coffee!
I call it camp coffee because the only time I drink it is when I’m camping. Having owned my MSR Pocket Rocket Stove for a few years, it is one of those items I enjoy being able to use in the field. When I asked my uncle if he wanted a cup of hot coffee his reply was nothing short of hilarious, “How do you plan doing that?” with as smart a tone as a 70 year old fisherman could muster. As I broke out my gear he seemed impressed (and a tad bit confused) as to how this would brew up coffee. As I brewed us both cups of coffee I explained exactly how the pocket rocket worked and how to mix the instant coffee and water together. Before we both knew it we had a nice cup of joe! As he enjoyed his camp coffee and I the same, we talked about how a good cup of coffee seems to lift the spirits of those who are enjoying it. The conversation turned to other coffee stories that involved the outdoors. We kinda had our own version of “Coffee Talk.” Being a true lover of coffee, he told me how he once had a boat rigged with a coffee percolator, the original camp coffee. Again, this was not the “best” coffee, but is was the best cup of coffee we both had ever had at 3am after a long night of fishing.
As the hours moved on we managed to box a few more fish and before dawn headed in. I’ll soon forget the number of fish we landed that night, and I may soon forget how tired I felt when got back to the camper and crashed. However I won’t forget the time I enjoyed a 3 AM camp coffee with my uncle. And this my friends, are what memories are made of.
-Brad @ ACK