At the time of this writing, March 24, no “Shelter in Place” order has been given by Governor Greg Abbott. This could change in the future and people should monitor the State of Texas website for updates.
With every school year in the state postponed and many adults at home as well due to the executive orders from the governor, families are trying to figure out what to do with their time. There are activities that can still be done outside of the home that are within the guidelines of Governor Abbott’s orders.
The current list of precautions includes washing your hands thoroughly; maintaining a social distance of at least 3’ between people; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; practicing good respiratory hygiene (covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough). Gatherings of 10 or more people are not allowed. Some grocery stores and other essential locations, such as pharmacies, have started putting employees out front to limit the number of people inside the store at any one time. Many of the schools have started internet-based instruction.
But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sit inside your home and watch the world pass by outside or binge watch your favorite shows repeatedly on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. There are still options out there to spend your time actively and productively and to get your mind off of the doom-and-gloom that seems to permeate every aspect of life in these days of the pandemic, social media and 24-hour news.
Many fishing guides from the inland lakes to the coast have had clients cancel trips. Not only does this mean that you can now find reduced-rate trips, you can find them in almost every area of the state. Many of the guides offer more than just fishing trips, they offer family educational trips, such as those offered by highly respected fishing guide Capt. Dean Thomas of Slowride Guide service in Aransas Pass, “We’re still open for business. I have some clients coming in from Austin to one of our rentals and they’ve booked a fishing trip because the outdoors away from others is still relatively safe. We also have other options like the eco-tours and beachcombing if you want to get out of the house.”
Thomas has been a fishing guide for over 2 decades and says that the profile of who his clients normally are has changed somewhat with the pandemic hitting, “It’s just shifting gears. Different people are going to fill up those trips. The people that are traveling aren’t leaving their families behind. We have some people who have a house here and booked a fishing trip with me. We have kayaking, fishing, birding, hiking just for fun, sightseeing and eco-tours. All they have to do is show up; we provide the fishing gear, the boat or the kayaks and the drinks. If you just want to see the water and don’t want to go fishing, we can do that.”
There are many popular destinations around Aransas Pass, Rockport and Port Aransas that Thomas’ clients like to go to when sightseeing or on an eco-tour, but the most popular destination is just a short boat-ride from the dock, “We go to Ransom Island. It’s a 4-5 hour trip and people love it. People love the sightseeing and eco-tours. We honor the social distancing by getting people away the cities. They say that the sun kills the virus so that’s a bonus. And, we even have lodging.”
Carrie Scruggs is Thomas’ girlfriend and helps run the rentals and other aspects of the business, “We have a lot of open dates through June.”
Thomas says you can book any trip that you want through his website, “It’s Slowrideguide.com. There is a tab for everything from lodging to eco-tours to fishing.”
Scruggs says that the eco-tours remain popular, especially with families, “When Dean does the eco-tours, he takes samples of the water where you can see little seahorses, shrimps and crab. We can also go see the dolphins while we’re out there. Everyone loves it and has a great time.”
Thomas points out that the trips can be educational for children and adults alike, “We drag a net and put all of the shrimp in crabs and other marine life in a glass container of water where you can hold them up and look at them. Then we’ll take some seagrass and sift through it and you’ll find Pipefish and other marine life. The baby Seahorses and little shrimp are exciting for everyone. People see the baby shrimp and are surprised and ask me, ‘Are these little baby shrimp the same ones that we eat at the restaurant?’ I tell them that the baby shrimp are the same ones they eat, but just after they get a little bigger. We also go and get oysters and learn about them out on the water or beach. We have an oyster drill that we take with us.”
Guests can plan out an entire week with Thomas, “We have the bay and the marshes. When I talk to people we customize their trip, to get them what they want. We talk about their abilities and if the kayaks aren’t for them, we have the boat. If the weather is great, we can take the kayaks. If the weather isn’t perfect, we have the boat. We won’t put someone out there on a kayak that isn’t capable of paddling it. We want people to have fun and we do it as safely as possible. Maybe you just want to come out and go beachcombing. We hop in the boat and got to beaches along the islands in the area and find seashells and learn about everything out there. We can do a fishing trip one day or one morning and do a beachcombing or eco-trip the next day and then maybe a kayaking trip the next day or evening. We tailor each trip for the guests.”
Another well-known and respected fishing and hunting guide is Capt. Marcus Canales. He guides fishing trips on the coast but also guides hunting trips in south Texas. When the hunting season is over, he guides hunts for hogs and exotics in addition to the fishing trips. People have started buying the grocery stores out of everything, particularly toilet paper, sanitizer and meat. Canales says that meat is just one aspect of fishing or hunting exotics and hogs, “With everything going on at the moment, any chance to be outside and away from the news and possibly phones as well is always a great thing. We offer fishing trips and hunts, not only to gather meat, but also to enjoy the outdoors and fresh air.”
Canales was asked if he believed that the average person, who didn’t typically explore the outdoors through hunting and fishing, understood the impact that the virus was having on fishing and hunting guides, “I have had long-time clients call or text to check up on us, but for the most part, especially those that may not hunt or fish, have no idea exactly what we do or how this really affects us, especially since this is my full time job.”
Canales points out that getting into the outdoors can help you psychologically and create some positive memories in the midst of the pandemic that has gripped the world, “The benefit of getting out on the water or in a blind right now is that you get some fresh air, enjoy some quality time, conversation and most importantly, make some great memories. I believe that fishing and/or hunting can be a great coping mechanism simply because its a chance to sit, enjoy what mother nature has to offer, let the mind settle and get some fresh air.”
Just as with Thomas, Canales’ trips are family-friendly, “All of my fishing trips and hunts are family friendly. I take anyone from a seasoned veteran to people and kids that are just starting out and like to learn. I love to teach. I offer fishing trips out of Baffin Bay and also offer hunting opportunities for native game and exotics on our personal ranch in LA Salle County, and at a beautiful ranch that I run near Pearsall along with a few others in between.”
The trips can not only have a positive mental impact on the clients, it helps the guide as well, and in more ways than just money, “We are trying to remain calm, but with charters being postponed or canceled as well as hunts, it starts to hurt, especially when this is your full time job and self employed. No work, no pay, but a smile and remaining calm goes a long way.”
You can reach Capt. Marcus Canales by calling or texting him at (210) 838-6937 or emailing him at Macanales1@gmail.com.
You can contact Capt. Dean Thomas at www.slowrideguide.com.