Oil and water

| August 01, 2006

Off Port Aransas, Texas, driver Marcus Lindsey will take his 20-foot boat along giant oil tankers and look for big fish hiding underneath.

In a 20-foot boat, Marcus “Okie” Lindsey, his wife Amy and young sons Clayton, 5, and Collin, 2, look for big fish, often under big, big structures out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sometimes, there off the Texas coast, their quarry is hiding beneath an oil tanker, and sometimes it is in the submerged superstructure of an oil drilling platform.

In the looming shadows of these behemoths, the Lindseys strike gold. Their haul includes kingfish, mahi mahi, amberjack and jack crevalle, big fighting fish that will make an 80-pound fishing rod bend to its maximum.

Lindsey runs out of Port Aransas at the northern tip of beautiful Padre Island, one of the Gulf Coasts’ premier oil terminal ports, and usually motors out anywhere from four to 12 miles, maybe 25 minutes from the marina.

“There are two oil drilling platforms out there they don’t use any more; they’re capped wells, and we troll around those,” Lindsey says. “Sometimes we’ll tie up to them and get bait all the way to the bottom. The rig goes all the way down to the sea bed, and fish like structures.” The family also finds shipwrecks to fish around. “We have a map with 50 years of wrecks identified,” Lindsey says. “I think they’re mostly old shrimp boats.”

Fish also like to hide under oil tankers when they anchor offshore for a few hours, waiting to go into port.

“We’ll go into within maybe 15 feet of the tankers and troll around them, getting the bait in under the hull,” Lindsey says. “If the water is clear, and it usually is out there, you can see fish rushing up at the bait from under the ship. The tankers usually don’t mind, but if you get too closed, they’ll blast the ship’s horn.

“We’ll fish behind a moving tanker sometimes, but only if it’s going really, really slowly and we’re well back. I don’t play with them.”

If he fishes alone, Lindsey prefers to fish off the port of Galveston, but more tankers, moving faster, make it a less relaxed fishing expedition for a family, he says.

“We can still see quite a bit of skyline up to about 12 miles out, and there are hundreds of kinds of fish out there. I think king mackerel are probably the most common fish we get. And I’ve got some big ones, fish in the 50- to 60-pound range. Fighting a big fish like that can keep the adrenaline rushing nonstop, and they can take half an hour to bring in. I remember the first time I got a jack crevalle I didn’t have any idea what it was. I thought it was a silver dollar or a king mackerel because of the resistance, but it’s a thin fish with a deep body, and it was turning sideways to me to increase the pull. We catch some big jack crevalles, but we don’t eat them; they’re just for picture taking and throwing back. Now if I catch an amberjack, we’ll be eating some good stakes that night. And if I get king mackerel, I’ll barbeque them on a skewer like beef kabobs, wrapped in bacon and skewered with shrimp.”

The Lindseys like to gather friends and family at the beach and cook fish. “My brother has a boat down there, too, and sometimes we go out together and fish side by side loaded up with friends and family,” he says.

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