Families cherish time spent fishing and enjoying bounty of Gulf and inland waters
Whether it’s the simplicity of holding homemade fishing poles off the edge of a weather-beaten dock or the excitement of an excursion aboard a twin-engine cruiser equipped with sonar fish finders, the results are the same — smiles and laughter and a feeling of togetherness.
While not quite yet the height of the season, three families shared their latest angling adventures, proving that catching fish may not be the most important part of the sport.
The Barajas Family
Getting her kids out the door for school sometimes is difficult for Tiffani Barajas, a Bacliff mother of four. But getting them out the door to go fishing? That’s a different story.
Adrian, 11, Alexis, 10, Grace, 9, and Joseph, 7, have been fishing with their parents as long as they can remember. Fishing off the shore and dock at Bayshore Park in Bacliff have always been memorable occasions.
“I was 2 when I went fishing for the first time!” Grace said.
Fishing for croaker, flounder and redfish, along with crabs is a tradition with the Barajas family. Tiffani Barajas fondly recalled fishing with her father in Galveston Bay, wading out into the water and catching redfish or flounder. While Alexis and her siblings love to fish, Bayshore Park is much more than just a place to drop a line in the Gulf, she said.
“There are stray cats living down by the water — we call them ‘sea cats’ and sometimes we feed them,” she said.
On a recent day, the kids, while occasionally leaving their fishing poles unattended, also managed to see a brown weasel, first thought to be a nutria, scurrying along the rocky shoreline. They threw a crab trap into the water loaded with hot dogs as bait. But the crabs weren’t biting. A nearby fisherman advised trying liver or chicken as bait. The kids set their focus on fish and put shrimp on some hooks, which attracted a few nibbles, generating some momentary excitement. But the family wasn’t successful in bringing home a bounty of seafood.
As the family packed up just after sunset, Adrian, wise beyond his years, said: “It’s not about what you catch. It’s about being with your family and just having fun together.”
The Kirschner Family
Rob Kirschner is a fifth-generation fisherman. Born on Galveston Island, Kirschner has been fishing the Gulf of Mexico nearly all his 45 years. Now that he’s a father of two, the Kirschner tradition continues. He takes his own family out on his boat, a Venture 34, as often as he can. Sophie, 7, and Charlie, 6, along with Rob’s wife, Kim, enjoy fishing for red snapper, grouper and ling and have had some plentiful days of fishing over the years.
Despite an 11-hour “fishing date” early in their relationship, the sea-sick prone Kim, a San Antonio native, quickly learned to appreciate — if not fully embrace — Rob’s love of fishing. She values family time on the water, she said.
“I love going out … when it’s calm,” she said with a smile.
Kim “loves catching trips more than fishing trips,” Rob said with a laugh.
Reeling in an amber jack or a red snapper is an activity Sophie and Charlie love sharing with a few of their friends who occasionally accompany the Kirschners on fishing trips.
“That’s really the best part for me,” Rob said. “I like driving the boat and watching other people reel in the fish.”
The Sims Family
George Sims has been working at Bayou Bait & Tackle in Galveston for more than 20 years and does everything from making lead weights and leaders to directing tourists to the best places to drop a line for a chance at a “Grand Slam,” which amounts to catching a speckled trout, a flounder and a redfish in one day. Sims’ primary task, however, is catching and supplying bait to the company, mostly shrimp, mullet and shad, depending on the season. He knows that without bait “ain’t nobody goin’ fishing,” he said.
Sims, 49, grew up in Galveston fishing with his father and has carried on the tradition with his four daughters and four grandchildren.
“My father was one of the last generations of beach seiners, before it was illegal, fishing in Galveston with 1,000-foot nets,” Sims said. “Tourists were always curious and would help him pull in the net. Free labor!”
From the age of 5 or 6, daughter, Briana, 20, and granddaughter, Taisha, 16, fished with Sims in La Marque at Highland Bayou Park. Sims, who lives in Hitchcock, said he felt safer teaching the kids to fish in calmer, shallower waters. Once the girls were comfortable with their rods, reels and nets, they graduated to helping Sims catch bait, earning a little extra cash from Bayou Bait & Tackle owners Billy Praker and Scott Moss.
“They always paid the girls more than the bait was worth to make them feel good about their work,” Sims said. “We’re all like family here.”
Almost every member of the Sims family, including his wife, Rhonda, have worked alongside him bait fishing and/or making fishing tackle. And though fishing is a big part of Sims’ living, some days off are still spent somewhere on the banks of Galveston Bay casting out a line.
“The best part is just hanging out with family,” Briana said.