During one of our earliest camping vacations we decided to go fishing in the Lake of the Ozarks, an area noted for great angling experiences. We borrowed poles, gear, a motor and a fish finder gizzmo from Ken’s folks and rented a boat for the week. Ken loved playing with the fish finder as he loves all electronics, but we didn’t catch a thing. All around us people had much more success and they began to feel sorry for us and gave us fish. They even cleaned it first. We learned this lesson well. We have never really tried to fish again, but are always ready to take some excess off people’s hands. It works!
The inlet to Corpus Christi Bay is lined with giant boulders to prevent dune erosion and it also functions as a fishing pier. When we open our eyes in the morning there are already fishermen out there and they are still going strong as the sun sets. We walked the half mile pier today and discovered that there were a lot more other fishermen out there than the humans.
The pelicans are especially fun to watch. They fly in formations, sometimes fifteen birds at a time, barely moving their wings as they ride the air currents. Once they spot a school of fish they drop like rocks into the water. They scoop up more than two gallons of water in their flexible neck sacks and hook their jaws open, allowing just enough room to drain the water, but retain the fish. We’ve heard different stories about pelicans and their fishing methods. One ranger told us that they tend to die from Alzheimer-like disease since their brains take a beating every time they crash into the water. Another said they have cells that fill with air that provide cushioning just like bubble wrap. I like that version better.
Cormorants are also common here. They do not have as much oil in their feathers as most water birds and ride low in the water with mostly their neck and head showing looking a bit like snakes. Every so often they have to get out and dry off their wings before they can fish again. We saw one catch a fish that was just a bit too big and it tipped back its head and swallowed and swallowed as the silvery left over hung out over its beak. I thought a sea gull might swoop in and rip it right out of its gullet.
There were also dolphins cruising around the edge of the pier. There were no acrobatics and picturesque jumps today. Instead their sleek backs laced up and down through the waves as they doggedly pursued a meal along with everyone else near the pier.
And of course the area is full of sea gulls. The large flocks that live on our beach are so raucous we can hardly hear the waves crashing at times. They love to hang around the humans and partake of a bit of left over bait or the leavings from cleaning the catch. But mostly they just sit in picturesque formations with their faces into the wind and talk and talk and talk.
If no one gives us a fish today, we’ll head to the all-you-can-eat shrimp place in town.