Fishing is a source of serenity, socializing and great stories
For many anglers, fishing is much more than an activity or sport — it’s a remedy for the daily stresses of life.
Gus Alvarez, a Galvestonian who works in construction, paddles his boat out to wade fish at his favorite spots in the West Bay about four times a week to get away from it all, he said.
“I love nature, I love being outdoors, and it’s what I call therapy,” Alvarez said. “I have a very stressful job with a lot of deadlines, and it’s very therapeutic for me. It puts me in a serene place.”
Easy access and the variety of habitats make the West Bay an ideal area to fish, Alvarez said.
“You go from grass to mud to oysters — the triple threat of fish right there,” Alvarez said. “That’s the main reason I like West Bay — all the different structures under the water the fish thrive in.”
Galveston Resident Jimmy Benz fishes in his boat around the Galveston causeway and the north jetties and enjoys the peace and quiet of it all, as well as the connection to the sea, where he had a long career, he said.
“Whenever I go, I don’t take a radio or anything, unless the Astros are playing,” Benz said. “I spent 42 years as a chief engineer on sea-going tugs and supply boats, so I’m really used to the water.”
While a relaxing, solitary activity, fishing also can be a social experience, League City resident Greg Hagerud said.
“I prefer to wade fish the beach,” he said. “You get a lot of people from out of town who want to see what you’ve got and ask you questions, and that’s fine.”
Along with its therapeutic qualities, fishing is a source of fun memories and stories to talk about for a lifetime. A favorite tale for Hagerud involves a wild intruder during a 2015 surf fishing outing with his friend T.L. Zentz, her boyfriend and another friend.
“We were out there wading, and I hooked into something really big,” Hagerud said. “One of my buddies was next to me, and the girl was next to me and her boyfriend was on the other side of her. I realized that I had a pretty good shark on the line, and when they saw the shark — it was a black-tip about 4 or 5 feet long, and it was jumping out of the water like they do — come out of the water for the third or fourth time, those two guys hit the beach in record time. But she starts wading out to where the fish is.
“Next thing you know, the shark jumps over her and does about three or four flips spinning,” Hagerud continued. “My words to the girl when the shark went flying over her head in about 5 feet of water were, ‘T.L., you might want to get up on the beach with those guys, that’s a shark.’ Those guys were scared to death. They wouldn’t get back in the water, but she baited back up and wanted to catch her own shark.”
For many, surprisingly, getting a tug on their line and reeling in an actual fish isn’t at the forefront of the fishing experience, Joel Rivera of Texas City pointed out.
“You don’t catch a fish every single time; it’s just more of catching a fish is a bonus,” said Rivera, who frequents the Texas City Dike and other fishing spots around Galveston. “I’m just going out there to relax, going out there to enjoy the water and the sunset and things like that.”