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Too much skin wins flabby man plenty of solitude

Wader in thong exposes secret to fishing alone

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

"Don't look," a fishing guide once barked as we raced between redfish spots.

Anchored off our port bow were two young men in an aluminum skiff. The cowling was off their outboard, and there was an open tool box on the rear deck. One guy held a screwdriver and the other gave a casual wave, but neither man actually was working on the motor. Three rods stood in holders, each with a line extending toward a nearby shell reef.

"They're young," the guide grumbled. "They'll be OK."

When we passed the same area later, after the tide changed, the little boat was gone.

Wait a second. That engine and boat looked fairly new. Were the men really in trouble? Or just trying to keep us away from big fish?

In a good spot, uninvited guests with fishing rods can be worse nuisances than mosquitoes and horseflies. And with thousands more Texans discovering saltwater fishing every month, coastal sharpshooters are turning to trickery to deflect prying eyes.

Not reality TV

The wild gyration and hollering on television fishing shows is strictly theatrics aimed at injecting enthusiasm into a sport that is as quiet under normal circumstances as golf. Except for the occasional "Got one" or "Got another one," serious fishermen rarely have much to say and, when necessary, can communicate complete thoughts without muttering a word.

Because small clues can tell big stories, well-schooled fishermen often use deception to repel the curious, and their efforts today are far more elaborate than the cowling trick.

Nothing I've seen or experienced in 45 years of fishing, however, prepared me for what I witnessed last Sunday at Surfside. It took guts, and more, but one man's bold ruse all but guaranteed him unfettered access to a generous stretch of surf.

Water that morning was clear and flat. Rather than drive to San Luis Pass, I idled down the beach looking, as fishermen do, for activity.

In addition to diving gulls and leaping mullet, veteran surf waders know also to key on bent rods and trailing stringers. I hoped to see something conclusive â€" and wound up seeing too much.

A short distance ahead, a man waded toward the beach. His was the only car on the sand for a quarter mile in either direction, and in his lazy, green wake trailed a long stringer of broad, black tails.

As the lucky fisherman plowed through waist-deep water in the second gut between sandbars, I debated whether to say "Nice fish" or ask "What are they eating?" as I parked alongside his car and eased into the morning tide.

When he climbed onto the first sandbar, I saw my first-ever Texas surf wader wearing a thong. Not short shorts. Not one of those racing swimsuits that Olympians wear. Not even an athletic supporter. A thong.

And a straw hat, as if it mattered.

The man was old enough to know better, in his 40s at least, and his next physical workout will be his first in many years.

The sight was horrific and, like a train wreck or spinach between someone's teeth, I found it difficult not to stare. His sloshed onto the beach in pale, hairy glory and, in an instant, dashed any thought I had of parking nearby.

Wait a second. Perhaps the thong-wearing surf wader was just as uncomfortable as the next, physically and emotionally, about fishing in a coin purse and rubber band. That, or he was visiting from France. Either way, that thong worked like a bucket of jellyfish to keep other fishermen at a distance.

Act your age

Nobody older than 40 should wear a thong in public whether it is visible or not. That's just wrong, like kicking puppies and stealing from your mother and eating those individual pieces of candy-by-the-pound before you get to the checkout stand.

Thongs should be worn by exotic dancers and Sumo wrestlers. Period.

No, semicolon. There may be a marketing opportunity here.

Imagine a complete catalog of sportsmen's thongs in sizes from S to XXXX. Maybe XXXXX.

Wear this, the caption beneath the plus-sized male model in a gold lamé thong and toting a fishing rod would read, and never deal with crowds again.

For wade fishermen, quick-drying thongs with tiny loops around the waistband to hold pliers and stringers. And for winter fishing, a neoprene thong â€" with removable cheek covers for those extra-cold days.

Seasonal selections

Come autumn, camouflaged thongs for dove hunters. Cooler than shorts and a T-shirt, the upland thong beats the heat.

In states that require them, "blaze orange" thongs for deer and pheasant hunters. Then again, thongs won't meet any of those states' "minimum square inches" requirements.

And with the purchase of each sportsman's thong, a free tube of sunscreen. Not so much for protection from damaging rays as to keep surrounding skin entirely pale. A deep tan might dilute the magically nauseating power of the thong and, in the soft light of dawn or dusk, actually might draw a second glance.

Thongs are not for everyone. Anyone brave enough to hike the straps and march into broad daylight deserves whatever solitude they seek. And on most of the Texas coast, surely will get it.

Doug Pike covers the outdoors for the Chronicle and hosts Inside the Outdoors from 6-8 a.m. Saturdays on KTRH (740 AM). He can be reached at [email protected]

4,517 Posts

did you end up fishing last weekend?? i cleaned out the garage and reoragnized all my fishing equipment. that's as close i could get.

Still a write in candidate HOMER '16
2,582 Posts

Ended up going to a CCCF gathering at the beach and doing to dawn patrol thing with only a 14" spec to show for it. But i was not the only one who got skunked. The gathering was top notch great people, great food, and a few cold ones always make the beach more enjoyable.


4,517 Posts
i don't think i like that abbreviation of boat_money. sunday to my recollection was fairly calm and hot. even with only a 14"er i would've rather been there at sunrise than sweating my arse off in the garage. after i fish poc this weekend we'll put a trip together for maybe the san luis, x-mas lower w bay area.
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