Not Striper…Catfish!

We left Georgetown on Monday morning and picked Aunt Dianne up at the Austin airport. The boys were standing in the doorway of the RV as we pulled up to the “Arriving Passengers” area, they threw open the door and yelled in unison, “All Aboard for the Lake Conroe Express!” Aunt Dianne greeted them with a hug and a “Hey, that’s where I’m going!”

Aunt Dianne came and joined us on the road!

We stopped for lunch along the access road of Hwy 71 near Bastrop, Tx, and in the middle of our meal there was a knock on the door. I went to answer it and there stood a 72-year-old angel. Here name was Eva Marie and since we were parked out front of her home, she wanted to make sure we didn’t need anything. I visited with her and was touched by her in so many ways. She came to the U.S. from Germany after WWII with her husband, she was a survivor of torture by the Russian Army: she shot a Russian soldier who had finished raping her and was then raping her Grandmother. The soldiers took her, and buried her alive with other dead bodies. I didn’t hear how long she was buried, but the images of words describing how she was dug out have lingered. Eva has been on my mind since, she is now a widower, and lonely. I’ve written a note, and hope that the postmaster at Bastrop is successful at delivering a cryptic address. God blessed me with another soul to remember.

As we drove along Hwy 290, Hwy 6, and Hwy 105…the flowers were brilliant. Fields of blue like I had never seen in my life, and just past that were fields of every color as the Blue Bonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Bindweed, Indian Blanket, Scarlet Flax, Yellow Flax, Greenthread, and Mealy Sage were intertwined for a beautiful painting. It was incredibly, awesomely, gorgeous. We had to stop and take photos (along with hundreds of other travelers).



While at Lake Conroe, we stayed at the newest KOA in America. It was a beautiful campsite and we enjoyed ourselves very much. We spent two days on the lake with two different guides. The first day, the guide took us catfishing because the hybrid/striper/white bass fishing had been slow. We caught 17 catfish between 1.5 and 3 pounds. It was fun as each of us hauled in a couple. The second day on the water we fished for bass for a couple of hours and that didn’t prove worthwhile so we went back to catfish…but two hours later we still had no fish in the boat. We had a great time even though we were skunked.

Here is Jackson, proud of his big cat.

Fishing Scores

A Whole Mess o’ Snapper!

This HAS to be the Becker record for fish caught in one afternoon! Every time I looked out the front window one of the boys was reeling in a fish. The final number today? 25 Mangrove Snapper AND they threw back more than they kept! The water off the dock is so clear and blue that, earlier today, they spotted a “giant grouper.” Ben convinced Brian to put a grunt-fish on a large hook and it actually took it! Brian fought the grouper for an exciting couple of minutes but then it got under a dock and broke the line. The grouper came back a little later in the day but wasn’t interested in the bait. Sadly…it is not among the whole mess of fish you see in the following picture.

We are settled at Bluewater Key, about 10 miles from Key West. Yes, back in the Keys, and we are waiting for a visit from my sister, Debbie, and her husband, Ned. They arrive tomorrow night and will celebrate Jack’s sixth birthday with us before leaving on the 20th.


Fish Score
Brian Ben Jack
Round 1 15 6 10
Round 2 6 15 11

Detour #2: Indian Rocks Beach (and our Shark Story)

The Broadband Wireless conference in Orlando ended and we spent a great (and wet) day at Seaworld.

On Thursday (Oct 13) we headed back to Tampa hoping to pick up our RV from the service department at LazyDays. Unfortunately, the warranty work wasn’t quite completed. “No problem!” says our long-time friend, Scott Welch, and pastor of Fresh Start Church in Clearwater. “I’ve got a condo on the beach that you guys can stay in til your RV is finished.”

OH MY GOODNESS!!!! We couldn’t have been blessed by a better gift. This place is wonderful. You can see the Gulf of Mexico from the deck of this third floor condo, and the sand is only 30 yards from the door. Indian Rocks Beach is just south of Clearwater, FL, and 25 miles from downtown Tampa. If you are looking for a vacation spot near the beach, this is a great value and I hope you will consider giving Scott a call.

What a great detour this has been and the fishing has been great as well.

Day #1
On the first morning, the boys and I jumped on a party fishing boat for a 1/2 day fishing trip. Ben caught the ONLY keeper of our group (a red snapper) and both boys caught a number of small sea bass. I’d like to say that the reason I caught nothing was because I was helping them so much. But there’s no excuse for being skunked!
The deck hand cleaned our fish and handed us a plastic bag. We were excited to get home and grill it. But one thing lead to another and we just stopped for pizza. Somehow we left that bag of fish in our truck overnight…oh, my, what a terrible odor! And we didn’t get to enjoy to fresh fish! Grrrr.

Day #2
We used the castnet to get some live bait (3″ and 4″ minnows). We got lots of bites and Ben caught one whiting and one yellow tail snapper. But, while our backs were turned, a heron walked up to our bucket and enjoyed the easy catch for a tasty dinner. The sunset was wonderful as we went in late (and the second day without fresh fish!).

Day #3 – The Shark Story

After church, we fished for three hours with nothing but a bite here and there. But for a true fisherman, that just ups the challenge! With three live minnows baited on a three-hook-rigging, Ben cast out with his brand new saltwater rod and reel and set his pole against his chair to chase away a few heron from the minnow bucket. He turned just in time to see his pole bend down and the joyful glee could not be mistaken. Ben had caught two ten-inch ladyfish on a single cast.

Ladyfish aren’t good to eat, but are great for bait. I put the shark-rigging (a steel line with a VERY large hook) on my line and used one of Ben’s ladyfish for bait. I cut the ladyfish several times on each side to cause it to bleed while in the water. For over an hour, I got nothing and Ben continued to catch ladyfish. However, the sunset was beautiful as the whole family enjoyed the painted sky.

With only 10 minutes left before going in, I hooked two ladyfish heads onto the large hook and cast the last cast of the night. Five minutes later, I had a nice tug on the line and felt like I was bringing in a nice sized catfish. It was dark by this time and as I pulled the fish up onto the sand Ben yelled, “It’s a SHARK!!!!” A 20-inch black-tip shark! What a blast!!!


Fifteen minutes after we pulled the shark out of the water, we were grilling shark fillet’s on the stove. That’s fresh!!! What a flavor!


Day #4
Ben and I got up really early this morning and went out before sunrise. As soon as there was light, we caught minnows in our castnet and started fishing. WOW! Mackeral were biting. We caught two nice sized Mackeral (sorry for the fuzzy photo) and took them inside for a wonderful breakfast feast!

SCORES Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Brian 0 1 5 4
Ben 6 6 6 5
Jack 2

Fishing Grapevine Lake, Texas

We fished on our own a few days from the banks, but with no fishing boats to rent on the lake, we decided to hire a guide. We called Greg Stewart from and booked a Sand Bass (White Bass) fishing trip.

We met Greg at the Dove Loop Ramp and he took great care of us. Jack decided not to join us because it was going to be six hours long. We fished the banks for the first hour, then headed over to a place right in front of the dam where they are aerating the water. Thousands of minnows can be seen at the top of the water amongst large pools of air bubbles. And where there are minnows…the bass come as well. We used Lil’ George lures and cast across to the other side of the bubbles and pulled the heavy lure through the minnows. We caught over 40 sand bass and one large mouth. We kept 12 bass that were bigger than 10″ and smaller than 14″. The lake has a slot-limit that you cannot keep fish between 14 & 18 inches and only one that is bigger than 18. We didn’t land any of the big ones, but still had a wonderful time.

At one point, all three of us had a fish on and we were so close to scoring a “Triple Play.” However, Greg was the only one of us that actually landed his fish.

Greg was a blast to be with. He did a great job of working with Ben on his casting technique and quickly realized that Ben and I taunt each other. Greg joined in and we were all laughing as we pulled in the fish. We are looking forward to grilling the bass in the next few days.

SCORES Round 1 Round 2
Brian 15 11
Ben 13 5
Greg 5 8

Both Ben and I are confident that if he had really been trying, Greg would have kicked us pretty hard.

Shawano Lake, Wisconsin

Shawano Lake is home for some great large and small mouth bass, northern, muskee and small perch and sunfish.

The Northern
Ben and I went out in our rented fishing boat. Using a perch-spinner bait, we bounced the jig up and down in the water about 10 feet deep. Some hungry northern came our way! We caught five in total. The first 10 seconds are fun, but after that the fish gives up and you just drag them in. Its always a surprise to see such a big fish at the end of your line.

The Bass
Now these small and large mouth bass are fun. The most success was using a weedless jig head and 4″ Gulp bait in the lilly pads. First you have to use 20 lb braided line to keep from breaking your line. You cast into the lillies and pull the jig across the tops of the lillies and the jig will fall into the water before it is dragged back up on the next lily. WOW! When the bass hits there is no doubt in it. The strike is huge and the fun begins. Jack and I went out the last morning in Shawano and had two keepers: a 15 1/2″ & 16″ bass. It was fun!

We never got into the muskee…we’ll have to do that next time.

SCORES Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Brian 12 15 0
Ben 15 9 1
Jack 9

The Becker Fishing Contest Official Scoring System

In order to make fishing more fun in our family, we’ve created a fish scoring system.

  • Non-keeper (because it is too small) — 1 point
  • A Keeper — 2 points
  • A fish deemed “trophy size” — 3 points (17″ bass, 12″ perch, etc)
  • Catching the largest keeper or trophy fish so far that day — 1 point

Winner is the first to score 15 points or the highest score when time to leave.

Combination points are possible, i.e., catch the first keeper of the day and it is worth 3 points

  • o keeper = 2 points
  • o largest keeper so far that day = 1 point

Fishing Door County: Green Bay & Lake Michigan

The perch fishing was incredible in Door County. We spent almost all our time in Fish Creek on the pier.
We’d been told to fish off the top with bobbers and keep the bait off the bottom because of the scavenger fish. But everyone was catching small 6″ perch with bobbers off the top and I wanted bigger. Putting a large weight three foot from the end of the hook and hooking the minnow in the tail kept the minnow swimming above the bottom. Wow…what fun! Jack’s big catch was the largest…a 12″ perch.


People came over several times each day asking how we were haved such success. We shared our minnows with many, as well as, our favorite spot. At one point a man with two kids came by in a little dingy and asked, “How are you guys catching so many?” We had seen them catch nothing for over an hour. We gave them a dozen minnows and the younger boy caught one pretty quick. Twenty minutes later the daughter was still skunked and Ben said, “Hey, bring your boat over here and toss your line right here.” The father manuevered into position, the daughter dropped her line down and 15 seconds later they were pulling a nice sized perch into the boat. As they were motoring away, the father yelled back, “You guys have made our day! Thanks!!!!”

We spent over 30 hours fishing from the pier sometimes just me and Ben and sometimes with Jack as well.JacksGobieBassCatch.jpg All in all, it was over 70 man-hours of fishing. And what did we have to show for it?

45 Yellow Perch – 7 to 12 inches
1 Smalley (Small mouth Bass) – 16 inches
3 Crappie
— we caught tons more that were just a bit smaller including two mroe smalleys

And some great fish fries!!!! All in all we’ve fed 30 mouths with the catch. Not bad!

Jackson’s Double Play
One great catch was a double play by Jackson. Fishing with a night-crawler, he caught a gobie (scavenger fish) about three inches long. As little boys do, he decided to put the gobie back in the water to watch him swim around on his line. Next thing I know I’m hearing, “Dad, it’s a bass!!!!!!” Jackson’s gobie was the perfect bait for a hungry 11-inch smalley. What fun!

Brian 13
Ben 9
Jack 15