After The Hunt: Cures for the Hunting Offseason

Latest posts by A.J. Fick (see all)

Caldwell Pier

Article Contributed by Field Staff Writer K. Floerke.

I am sure most outdoorsmen can relate, the post hunt “season” can be a struggle. From the hunting blues, to your mouth watering in the heat of summer, craving your next bite of fresh harvested venison, or finding any excuse to pull your rifle out of the safe and give it a good cleaning (not that it needed it). Here I am, dead in the middle of summer in South Texas, 105 degrees, humidity up to 70%, continually trying to find new hobbies to keep me active outdoors, and the most important of all…SANE. Exploring the wild has always been a passion of mine, getting up close and personal with nature in hopes that I will understand it a little more than I did yesterday.

Fishing for shark has become a favorite summer hobby of mine this year. I have never really had any luck as an angler and there are a ton of things I need to learn that would help me lean less on the luck and more on the skill.  As a local surfer I have a deep understanding for the way the water moves and all of the beauty beneath and felt that I would have some kind of advantage with the extra knowledge, boy was I wrong. The beauty about shark fishing for me is I can sleep in until 9am, drink my coffee, load up the kiddo, get to the pier at 11am, set up and have the poles in the water by 12pm and the shark will still be there.  As opposed to fishing for game fish, where being up at 4am and on the boat by 5am is a requirement.  

Fishing in South TexasMy favorite place to fish is Keepers at Caldwell Pier located in Port Aransas (a familiar tourist destination), the pier is for any angler from the novice to the most experienced. It extends out 1200 feet into the Gulf of Mexico, providing ample space and underwater environments, allowing many different species of fish to bite the hook. Because of its 24 hour access and availability to anyone’s skill level, not to mention abundance of fish, from Red Drum to Bull Shark, it is where I found my love for fishing.

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July 11th seemed like a good day for fishing. There were lighter winds than usual and I could see the beautiful blue water moving in closer to the pier washing out all of the brown, murky water from the recent upwellings caused by the El Niño season. It didn’t take much for me to convince my favorite fishing partner, Flint, to come join me. I knew before we went that if we didn’t catch anything, sharing a couple of beers together and enjoying the outdoors would be enough for the both of us.  So there we were in the middle, at the end of the “T”, with close to 10 other fisherman of all ages and skill levels, all there for the same thing, that rush of reeling in the big one.

First cast, my pole is bent, hook is set, FISH ON!

Blacktip shark A quick fight and out of the water breached a 30″ baby Blacktip Shark, which have a minimum size of 24″ to keep and no maximum size limit. (All shark I have caught have been released, alive and well). It didn’t slow down after this fish, we were catching shark after shark and it seemed like we were the only ones on the pier reeling.

The other Anglers were fascinated and left their poles in the water to run over and get a closer look at our catch. They asked what we were using as bait, when I responded with squid, the confused look on their faces let me know that they were using squid also but they weren’t getting any bites.  Flint and I were in the right spot, with the right equipment, at the right time, and sometimes the perfect combination of those things can prove to be essential.

Hammerhead sharkWe caught seven sharks that day, Blacktip, Atlantic Sharpnose, and small Hammerhead. Needless to say, I have fished every day since then, eager to learn as much as possible about the techniques and tools needed for different conditions and fish. I can personally equate the rush of reeling a fish to the rush of seeing a hog come out of the brush, knowing that it takes skill, patience, and the right tools to have success when harvesting nature.

There is a need inside of me to be a part of the wild. Whether it be hunting for deer in 35 degree weather with my rifle while sitting quietly in a blind, or jumping for joy laughing loudly in happiness after successfully catching a shark and pulling it onto the pier. Finding a balance in the offseason of hunting has been a success this year. I found a new hobby that has connected me even more with nature that will allow me to develop more skills which will help me continue to provide my daughter the most natural foods taken by my hands, gifted to me from Mother Nature herself.

A.J. Fick

Born and raised in northeast Pennsylvania, I’ve lived in southern California, central Texas, and currently reside in western Idaho. I consider myself a western hunter at heart, enjoying being part of vast landscapes and the thrill of the stalk. One of my hunting mottos is “stretch the stalk, not the shot”. My motivations as an outdoorsman are rooted in the sustenance, independence, and challenging physical aspects. In fact, my largest driving factor for physical fitness is preparing for upcoming hunts and ensuring I’m well-prepared to climb mountains and cover ground with a heavy pack. I also recognize and respect the importance of conservation efforts for our wild animals and wild places and the close connection to hunting and fishing. If we want future generations to experience the wonder and adventure of the outdoors, and gain the countless benefits, we must continue to make wildlife conservation today’s priority to ensure continued opportunity.

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