Monday Morning Look Back at Black Friday – A Stinker!

| November 26, 2018

Getting Skunked Makes Me Think 

A Dangerous Thing

Fly fishing has as many different meanings as there are different individual fly fishers in the world. Each of us finds at least one thing we take from the sport, that we believe, no one else feels or has felt. It’s an escape for many, myself included, a challenge and a thousand other things. But what makes it unique is how we each got to the point of needing an “escape,” or a “challenge.” None of us started down this path on the same day, in the same place at the same time. So those beginnings shape the (often times) fractions of differences in our perspectives today.

It wasn’t that long ago that I missed a Black Friday because I was in the depths of chemo and radiation treatments, bottoming out at 135-pounds with a tube sticking out of my body from the wall of my stomach. Needless to say, making that Black Friday Fly Fishing trip was out of the question. Other than that, I have to struggle to remember, off the top of my head, another Black Friday I have missed on the Fly. I guess I could look it up on the website, but …

There is also another thing factoring in to our individual fly fishing DNA and that is what we rely on to explain our experiences. The “fish gods” can be good, and they can be unforgiving. The sciences can produce predicted and unpredictable results – repeatable and defiant.

The science of flounder on fly in the Galveston system told me, through an article on this Thanksgiving Day by Shannon Tomkins at Houston Chronicle, that while the TPWD counts of redfish and trout are showing strength and growth in all Texas Bay Systems, the flounder is not having the same “luck.” Tomkins also quotes from the TPWD research that, 1) snook are showing up in netting samples in every single bay system in Texas, 2) bull sharks and alligator gar are showing up in bays in increasing numbers as salinity drops, and, 3) the counts for flounder are on a steady decline with smaller fish overall.

Black Friday seemed almost perfect as I stopped on the road into Sea Wolf Park. Strangely, it seemed to me the “No Parking” signs had migrated further down the road – keeping the riffraff such as myself further away and even more discouraged from walking up and walking in. Sure you could pay to park in the park, but in the spirit of taking more and more, what was once a $10-dollar parking spot with a fishing wrist band is now a $15-dollar fee. Combine these two things? Let’s just say taking a headcount was pretty easy. I saw maybe a dozen fishermen wading knee-deep in the cove. The mosquitoes buzzing around my head far outnumbered the fishermen. I hardly had to walk at all to get separation.

As the desperation set in, I spent time looking at all the conventional fishers – not a single bent rod. So began my methodical search — moving further and further out of the cove. As you can see in the video, I drag the fly across the bottom in long slow strips. That is something I had never documented, so now you can see (by watching the video) how that works. Still, something was up. The tide was out and barely moving. There were no porpoise chasing and corralling flounder as in years past – flipping flounder in the air like pancakes before eating them down.

It was off. I only saw one flounder caught in three hours, and it was about ten-inches long. I was in the wrong place, or the wrong time in the right place. Either way, it was time to move.

wade fishing galveston texasAT THE SLP

I walked in again at the SLP, or actually ran in to get away from the mosquitoes. Seems they will only go so far offshore, and then they turn back. Maybe I should have done the same. After probably five miles of wading in what seemed like near-perfect conditions, again nothing. Time to move again.


Conditions were roaring at the confluence of the Houston Ship Channel and the Gulf. There was lots of movement to the water, but virtually no signs of bait or fish. I managed to fish some riptides that come across from the jetties to the channel, but again nothing. By this time there was little light left for this Black Friday, and I had to admit this would be the first one in memory without a single bite. Skunked.


Now as for my superstitions? Well, it couldn’t have been science, right? First mistake, I talked about catching flounder. Second mistake, I talked about keeping flounder – surely an insult to the fly fishing gods. The third mistake was less about superstition – ignoring science opens us up for all kinds of folly and this Black Friday Fly Fishing trip was indeed folly.

I called it quits and headed for home. Just as I always swore to readers here; I’ll tell you the bad and ugly that goes with the good. And this Black Friday was bad and ugly even though it was good to get out on the water, commune with nature and bask in the humility delivered by fly fishing this day.

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Category: Adventure, Body-Mind-Soul, Fishing Reports, Houston Fly Fishing, Jetties Fly Fishing, Life Observed, On The Water, Technique, Texas Gulf Coast

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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