Our team all arrived to the Lone Star State on a Thursday and drove into town and bought gas at the local gas station. The team was Yu, Josh, Russ and myself, Drew. We wanted to sit down and get something to drink and eat. We asked the clerk where to get some good food. She replied, “ya’ll should head down to the Jetty Shack.” We hopped back in the car and drove down the road. Hey guys, this doesn’t look like the right place,” I replied. It looked like a run down and had a neon light that said, Open, with cob webs in the window. As soon as we opened the door, it looked like a vampire’s layer, dark, dingy, and depressing. The scrawny guy sitting closest to the door looked over at us with a gaze and a stench that told me that he had been on a bender for at least a week. There were five other people in the bar. Three were watching crappy daytime tv silently keeping to themselves and the only woman in the place was playing video poker chain smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap boxed wine. We all look at each other and I know we are thinking the same thing. “Where the hell are we and how was this place recommended? We reluctantly sat down and ordered food and drinks and discussed our weather window. The weather was looking grim that we were going to get to go out at all, but we came to Texas to motor 140 miles offshore to the magical high spot. I was in a positive mindset that we were going to score a weather window before we had to fly home to Los Angeles, CA on Tuesday because I had a dream the night before that the weather was stormy but it cleared up long enough for us to make the run. The waitress came to the table and asked us what we wanted. Josh orders, “fried zucchini please.” The old, chain smoking, box wine drinking lady cackles and laughs uncontrollably from the poker machine, Fried Zuchini she says! “Who the hell orders fried zucchini.” “Where y’all from orderin fried zucchini?” Hehehe cackle cackle. We ended up ordering and getting our food which was decent for hamburgers and French fries and this ended up being that one hilarious quote for the rest of the trip. Fried zucchini hehehe cackle cackle!!! The next three days we were just waiting for our window. Everyone was in a positive mindset it was going to work out.
We basically slept 12 hours a day until Friday evening. The infamous Keith Love calls us and asks, “Ya’ll want to shoot some hogs on my land tonight with night vision scopes?” Heck yes we replied. We scurried over to the local entertainment, aka Walmart, to get hunting licenses. Russ and myself were the only ones that had a desire to shoot a feral hog which are pests for the locals and cause much damage to the community. We arrived to the property and meet Keith for the first time. He is mellow and soft spoken, tall bearded man, His eyes were glowing with excitement for the hog hunt. Keith leads the way for Russ and I. Yu and Josh hung back at the car. Right away Keith spots some hogs far off under some trees. He looks at us with excitement and says to take a look through the night vision scope on his personal AR-15 rifle. Keith says, “The hogs are hanging around the bison and there is another one by the ostrich sitting down. I think, “What is this place?” We are in Texas, right? Ends up Keith has an exotic animal collection that includes deer, kangaroos and various African buffalo. He said don’t get excited and shoot my animals, please. I’m thinking to myself this is bizarre but so cool. Russ is first up and we slowly and quietly crept closer to the hogs. Within 20 minutes of walking through his flooded property Russ aims and fires two shots and drops his first hog. He quickly hands me the rifle to shoot the scurrying hogs. They were all babies so I decided not to shoot. I was after something much larger. We took the dead hog to Keith’s ranch hand, Joe and he starts to process the hog. Russ was so pumped that he landed his first hog.
Now it’s my turn after we let the land rest for about 30 minutes. This time the whole crew comes along. Within 20 minutes again Keith spot a large hog as he stands on the top of his bulldozer looking over his property. He is amped because we are having such a lucky first hog hunt. We made our way closer to the hog and turns out it’s hogzilla. It’s a 250 pound hog and it is behind some hay bales. We got within 50 yards and Keith hands me the rifle and says, “Hurry up and shoot.” I aimed and took a shot. The hog stumbles and I plug him again then he takes off left and doubles back. Meanwhile I fire off 3 more shots and I missed. Shoot I didn’t drop hogzilla. We tried to track him down to no avail. Joe the ranch hand says don’t worry and heard five shots but the first two definitely landed. We will find him when the buzzards circle him in a couple days and we will send pictures and you can get a European mount of the skull. I am slightly bummed but had a blast on the hunt. By this time it was already late. We headed back to the hotel to sleep.
Saturday was super stormy and we talked with Keith and he said that we would have a window to head offshore Sunday morning. The weather said 15-20 knot winds and 6 foot short interval seas but the weather will calm through the day and Monday looks epic for the high spot. Harrah!! Finally good news! We consolidate our gear and get a good night sleep.
Sunday morning we packed the boat and we are off with Keith, deckhand Joe, Yu, Josh, Russ and I. It was a rough ride but sure enough the wind died as did the swell. We arrived to an abandoned rig at about 2:00 pm. Right away Keith meters fish. We look overboard and see a school of big amberjack come check out the boat. We quickly gear up and get wet. Russ decided to sit this dive out as he wanted to save his energy for the wahoo hunt. Josh and Yu are the first in the water. I take a while to get ready. Right away Josh dives down and sends an 11/32” shaft into the skull of a big amberjack. Fish on and a big one at that. I hear him screaming for Yu to help him out. This fish was fighting hard to drown Josh and get into the rig. Josh is holding on for dear life as he is being taken under and Yu arrives to the rescue as a good dive buddy should. This fish wants to wrap in the legs of the rig so badly. Josh and Yu aren’t giving up easily though and work their way far from the rig. Next thing I know they signal over to the boat and the fish is on board. Josh says he is exhausted and he was done for the day as he was sea sick as well from the motor out. His grin is ear to ear as he hold up the fish for pics. You wouldn’t even know he was sick. This fish was a tanker and he landed his personal best fish. It was in the 70 lb class.
At this point Yu and I jump back in. Immediatley he shoots a monster AJ. Same story, now we’re fighting him from wrapping in the rig and then the line goes limp. WTF, what happened. He pulls up the line and the fish snapped the cable slip tip. This fish was a monster. We get back to the boat and Yu grabs Josh’s Ulusub 172 and proceeds to put a hurt on the ever so tasty snapper. He lands a few and misses a shot on yet another snapper and says, Drew, Take my gun and give me yours I see a huge AJ. Of course it doesn’t show again and he takes a 30 pound class amberjack as there is only an hour until dark.
Yu asks me why I hadn’t shot an amberjack and I say well you know me I’m incredibly patient and sometimes to a fault. He urges me to shoot an amberjack so I dive down to 40 feet and immediately get schooled by 10 AJ’s. I pick the largest fish out of the school and squeeze the trigger on my Abellan Albacore 140 and the fish rolls. I am stoked as I kick up to the surface and I put my hand on the floatline and start pulling him in and then he wakes up. The battle is on. I worked him away from the rig and get him into the boat. I am super stoked but I want more of this fishy paradise. When I unwrapped one of Yu’s snappers from the rig I saw a grouper and wanted to take him.
We get back in and the hunt is on. I couldn’t find him as I worked ¾ of the rig. Yu says to me that we need to get out because it’s getting dark, so I took one more dive and the grouper comes out from hiding and I let the shaft fly. I stoned him and pick him up and wave to the boat. I get out and Keith is pumped and says I think you just landed the new world record scamp grouper. Turns out it wasn’t the world record as the previous of approximately 16 lbs was beaten but it was a beautiful specimen with character in the tail. The day is over and Cup Noodles never tasted so good and we crash out on the boat tied off to the rig.
First light we jump into the blue at the high spot expecting 100’ viz. It’s only 20-30’. Oh well, we are here for wahoo and won’t let that stop us. We are determined. Keith said this was the worst viz he had ever seen due to the flooding of the local rivers. Keith is a master at putting us on perfect drifts. The high spot is so fishy for about 300’. Josh is the first to shoot a hoo but it is so powerful he lost it due to a snapped cable shootingline. Yu is next he tears off. Shoot, what the hell. Next Russ and I get first dibs on the drift. These fish are so big that they tested all of our gear to the max. All of a sudden 20 wahoo show up and I drop down and let the shaft fly. Fish on! I ride the float and next thing I know the 50 lb fish is in my hands. I was elated!
Now it’s Russ’ turn and the Bull sharks had now caught onto our shenanigans. Russ drops to 20’ and pulls the trigger on his Oceanborn 145 and the bull sharks get aggressive. I fought em while he pulls in his jurrasic beast. I am chasing them off and even push one off me with my hands. “You are not getting my buddy’s fish,” I think. This shark control is so much fun to me. I learned that I really love sharks. It adds to the beyond epic experience of Texas. Russ gets the fish on the boat unscathed by the bulls and is exstatic!
Josh shot two other fish and had one tear out and another snapped cable shooting line and he is done for the day after a big bull shark has a hard on for him as he fought it off. This whole time we were offshore he had seasickness and this was the last straw and he was exhausted and done. This kind of bluewater hunting is about as exteme as it gets. The sharks are many but the fish are huge.
Now it’s my turn again and 30 wahoo show up on this drift. I dive down and wait for a thick one to pass. Wait, wait, wait, boooom. I got him as he swims off at an astronomical speed. Shoot, as soon as my gun fired the sharks showed up thick as thieves. This one is gonna take swift speed and a good buddy. I swim up holding the floatline and ride my float like a boogie board and start climbing the line towards my fish. As I get the shooting line I see the fish and it is seriously hurt dodging a few sharks but not unscathed. A bull bit half of my hoo's tail off! Oh no! At this point is swim down into a sharknado and bearhug the hoo as I reach for my knife and brain it while Russ and I fight off the bulls. This fish is mine and we shoo the dogs away. I got lucky with this one. If it wasn’t for Russ I wouldn’t have landed it. Now the fish is on the boat and I let out a warrior cry because the stoke is flowing out of me from the battle. I struggle to raise the 80lb class wahoo and am overjoyed!!
As I reload my shaft into the gun I realize my shaft is bent and I grab another to head out to war. Unfortunately, Yu had torn off yet another wahoo and also lost shafts due to the brute strength of the fish and gear failure. I’m telling y’all that you have to have some serious gear supply to land fish of this class. This was the last wahoo that was landed on this trip. The sharks got thicker and I tore off a shot I placed in a gill plate on another tanker bigger than my last. The fish took off with such speed that my Mori cable slip tip frayed to a thread from the tear out. Russ lost another hoo to an aggresive storm of sharks that would make most people ask for a diaper built into their beavertail. We let things quiet down again and dove at dusk. Keith the Love hog dog took a hale marry shot on a record fish that had Arnold Shwarzenegger shoulders and missed. Yu tried to chase down an even bigger one but he didn’t want to play. I was bummed for him and Yu’s float was faulty and withheld shooting a 150 lb marlin. We hopped in for one last drift and it was a good one. An amberjack came charging Yu from the deep and he passed on it. The raindbow runners were everywhere and huge barracuda were chasing them. I wanted one last amberjack because I was certain I could get him. I swam down to 50’ and let the shaft fly. Bam, he rolled. Then the bulls showed up again this time it was sharkier than I have ever seen. The AJ woke up and dodged two sharks. As I was pulling him I reached my shooting line the bull shark bit it in half taking my shaft with him. I let go. The sharks power was unbelievable. Half the fish was floating 25’ down and I was sure one more bite and would finish that fish off but without skipping a beat Keith shot it!!! We retrieved the carcass and got the hell out of the shark frenzy with the rest of the fish. This was such a rush and we were all so happy that we ended the trip like this. I was fortunate to recover my float and bent shaft and tip.
Before we got out of our wetsuits we penciled in another trip with Keith and we packed up and headed back to land stoked and exhausted. All in all I would call Keith’s charter beyond epic. After the trip was done we all together lost about $2000 worth of shafts tips and cable shooting line due to the power of the Jurassic fish and shark. We booked the 60 hour trip but were only able to get in a 36 hour trip do to our window. All of this was done in 13 hours of diving. This is a testament to Keith’s trip, Where extreme meets reality!