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Star-Courier News

Going after croakers

Ask any serious speckled trout angler what’s the all around best bait for trophy trout and they’ll answer “live croaker”. This small bait fish is a natural enemy of the speckled trout. It preys on speckled trout eggs.

Croaker looks similar to a small redfish (without the spot). They are available at bait stands along the coast on a daily basis. Shrimpers bring the croakers in each day and sell them as part of their bycatch. The problem is finding them.

Because they are so effective at catching big trout, most guides establish a relationship with bait stand owners. I know of many anglers who have to get to bait stands at 2:00 a.m. to get their croaker. The guides usually show up at 4:00 a.m. Certainly arrangements need to be made with a bait stand well in advance to get your bait.

I fish with croaker a half dozen times each year. Most recently my guide, Captain Bill Sheka, Jr. took me to Baffin Bay where we landed over 100 trout up to 28 1/2 inches long in only five hours!

Sheka’s technique is to fish Baffin’s rock piles (which are now visible) with bright sun and a good set of sunglasses. Simply hook the croaker above the anal fin in the line on the side of the fish, using a specialty Mustad croaker hook. The hook is tied directly to 14 lb. test Fireline. This is a new, no stretch super line that’s perfect for croaker fishing. Use no weight. It will cause the croaker to get hung on the rocks.

The more alive they are, the better. You want them working on the end of your line. Make long casts to the rocks. Allow the croaker to swim freely, then slightly pump the rod, forcing the croaker to have to swim. This will also force the bait to emit a croaking noise that will attract trout. Don’t give the croaker too much slack because it will swim into the rocks and get hung up.

Rod position is a key. Keep the rod tip from the 10:00 – 12:00 position with the reel engaged. When a trout takes the bait, drop the rod top and simply set the hook. There is no need to allow the fish to swallow the croaker, as with monofilament line. Remember, Fireline has no stretch!

Many saltwater anglers believe using croaker for trout kills too many fish. It does kill some if they are allowed to swallow the bait. So use Fireline and make quick locksets. You’ll hook them in the side of the mouth 90% of the time.

Things to remember:

1) Make arrangements early with bait stands for bait.

2) Avoid throwing dead croaker in water. They’ll attract seagulls, which will take your good croaker before it gets under the surface.

3) Keep croaker lively in a good aerated bait well.

4) Prior to casting, hold croaker tightly in hand and shake vigorously. It’ll make it croak more.

5) When croaker become weak, try hooking two on the same hook.

If you’ve never caught a trophy trout, you need to try live croaker. It’ll make a believer out of you!

Catch the Texas Angler locally on or check your local listings for show times. You can also watch Keith Warren on Fox Sports Southwest on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. You can reach the Texas Angler at P. O. 3I0601, New Braunfels, Texas 78131-0601, or visit us online at

Racer killed in St. Louis had local ties and fans


Darrell Russell, Top Fuel driver for Joe Amato Racing, was fatally injured Sunday after a violent crash in the second round of eliminations at the Sears Craftsman Nationals in St. Louis.

The thirty five year old had strong local ties. He resided on his ranch in Hockley with his high school sweetheart and wife of nine years, Julie. His crew chief was Wayne Dupuy, whose father Lynwood Dupuy is Director of Dragstrip Operations at Houston Raceway Park (HRP) in Baytown. Russell has many friends, family, and fans in the local area.

On the HRP message boards, fans are suggesting that the dragstrip at Houston Raceway Park be named Darrell Russell Drive as a memorial in honor of the hometown race champion.

Crosby race fans J. C. and Donna Davis were watching the televised race and found the accident “just unbelievable”. “It really floored us when it happened”, said Mr. Davis. “We have watched him ever since he was Rookie of the Year (in 2001). He was just a good, clean racer, and such a super nice fellow.”

HRP and the local chapter of Racers for Christ (RFC) are jointly planning a memorial and tribute to Russell next Saturday, July 3rd, at 4:00 p.m. The Park will interrupt its scheduled Clobberthon event to remember Russell. Plans are not yet finalized, but
RFC chaplain Ted Jones of Mount Belvieu will participate, and Lynwood Dupuy is also expected to speak.

“Every racer has a passion for racing, and their purpose for being there is to win that trophy. This weekend as Darrell crossed the finish line, he met his destiny, but this time his prize was heaven. And unlike a trophy, this prize is eternal,” commented Chaplain Jones.

Jones also recalled observing Russell as he interacted with children from the Galveston Burn Center last April during the O’Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park. “At that moment, his mind was on the kids, and not on the race ahead. That tells you what kind of man he was.”

Funeral services will be held at First Baptist Church in Tomball at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, July 2nd. Larry Smiley, the National Chaplain of Racers for Christ, will officiate.

“Darrell attended our chapel services, and of course everyone knows about his engaging smile. He had a real love for people,” says Smiley. “I think his faith was behind all that.” The RFC sticker on the racecar was a high priority for Russell, as well as Wayne Dupuy and the rest of the Amato team, according to the RFC chaplain.

A trust fund has been established for the Russell family. Donations may be sent to Darrell Russell Memorial Fund, Partners Bank of Texas, P.O. Box 60369, Houston, TX 77205.

Russell’s dragster went out of control and crashed at over 300 mph as he crossed the finish line on the quarter mile strip. The car appeared to shred a tire after the parachute was deployed, but the exact mechanical malfunction had yet to be determined at press time.

Russell was unconscious but still breathing on his own when he was rescued from the intact driver protection compartment and rushed by helicopter to St. Louis University Hospital. He was pronounced dead from head injuries about two hours later.

Russell was the 2001 NHRA rookie of the year. He was the third driver in NHRA history to win in his first start. He had six career Top Fuel victories, including two weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio.

Russell finished in the top ten for the POWERade points competition all three years of his professional Top Fuel career. He never posted a DNQ in his career, with a qualifying streak of 70 races. He was the number one qualifier in the St. Louis race, with a best elapsed time of 4.511 seconds.

The Star Courrier staff extends our thoughts and prayers to Darrell’s wife, Julie Russell; his parents, Burnell and Gwen Russell; the Joe Amato Racing team; Rob Geiger; and all the race fans in our readership.

Keeping cool with water and no electricity…

Already had to take two baths and it ain’t noon yet. First one was from washing the house eaves and fascia. No power washer, just a Charlie washer.

Actually, I could have simply dried off after that because I was soaking wet. Anyhow some soap didn’t hurt anything.

After that I put on my cleanest dirty blue jean shorts and fired up the gas weed eater. Went all around the house, the shed, back fence and back again. My legs and shorts were covered in splatters of grass. I closed the garage door and got out of the dirty shorts and shirt and hit the showers again.

One cain’t come in the house being that dirty and covered with grass clippings; it ain’t worth it to get the Mrs. all fired up by doing so.

Besides, she ain’t here and I’m the one that would have to clean up the mess.

The Mrs. is above the Mason Dixon Line this week between Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Lancaster County (Amish Country). I’ll be making that trip later on during the year. I drove there last year and would not mind doing it again but the Mrs. ain’t too pleased with that thought. Driving adds four days to my short vacation time as its two days up and two days back; it’s worth it to me to see more of this country.

Do enjoy going to Amish Country and seeing all of that. Even I like to shop there. A most conservative way of life, however, I’m sold on electricity.

A lady friend was telling me of a spring house her grandmother had and how she utilized it to store milk, butter and eggs. It was a small, four walled-building with the roof built over a stream. Water coming from a ground spring was cold water and the room was generally 20 – 30 degrees cooler than outside.

I too have used a stream to keep my drinks cool but that was a long time ago. It works well with watermelons too.

Back as a chap I would go down close to the river with my grandpa, we’d cross a bridge and he would stop the wagon. Walk around a cane break and down to a stream covered with branches and bushes to filter the sunlight out. It was cooler in the little opening and we used the snuff glass kept upside down on a stick to get a drink.

That old wagon was one rough ride as I recall. Steel wheels and one felt every rock in the road. I’d sit on the back and of course back then I did not have much cushioning, ’nuff said.

Take a bath at night meant washing on the back porch or out in the yard under the Mimosa tree with a bar of Lifebuoy soap. They had Octagon soap too.

On the back porch was a shelf with a large hole on one end cut out to hold a bowl. Didn’t need hot water in the summer except for cooking and canning.

Jimmy Lane — Surviving the Hungry Years…

Jimmy Lane, former Crosby resident, West Virginia native, former boxer and now a retired Texan living in Athens, Tex., wrote a book a couple of years ago. “Surviving the Hungry Years,” was published in Huntington, W. Va. I picked up a copy of this paperback at the Crosby/Huffman Chamber of Commerce office earlier this year.

Semi-retired Huntington sports columnist, Ernie Salvatore, wrote the foreword to Jimmy’s book. “Jimmy Lane didn’t look like a ‘hungry’ fighter. His blond, blue-eyed good looks and his flat stomach suggested a different line of work. Movie star, maybe? Far from it. As one of eight Lane children of an often unemployed candy maker, Jimmy Lane was always hungry, whether it was for success in the ring, or for searching for a square meal at a real dinner table with tablecloths and cutlery. He was, in a word, ravenous….”

Salvatore goes on to say “Jimmy Lane’s story is a good one and it’ll take you many places…Above all, he writes the way he fought…openly and honestly, and he scores another knockout. What more can anyone ask?”

It would be easy to go on about the things this sports writer says about Lane but that would only be half the story about the man who lived on the Crosby-Dayton Road for about five years while working for the Crosby ISD. He had already retired once from Tyler Junior College and hung it up again about two years ago when he moved to Athens. His daughter and son-in-law, Phyllis and Jerry Blizzard, continue to reside on that same Crosby-Dayton Road.

Lane was a fighter of note during his younger years. He fought as an amateur in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois for a number of years. He was once the bantamweight Golden Gloves National Champion. Later he turned professional while fighting in New Orleans. For several years he fought in the New Orleans and Houston areas winning far more than he lost. During his career he had 150 bouts from the bantam to welterweight classifications. He won 93 of 100 amateur fights and 43 of 50 professional bouts.

Some of those were in the Houston area where he fought in the old Sam Houston Coliseum. In the “Big Apple” he fought, with distinction, many of the top boxers of his day. He was one of the fighters in the last feature fight held in the old St. Nick’s Arena which has long since been torn down. He believes he fell victim to less than honest judging several times in New York—“three as an amateur and once as a professional.” This fight was one of those one judge voted the bout even and the other two voted for Lane yet the decision went against him.

As a youngster in Huntington, Lane and his siblings were frequently hungry and he tells of this in his book. That didn’t change significantly until he entered the Army. He spent 18-months in Europe and spent much of his time boxing. He toured much of the continent boxing with other soldiers and made an excellent account of himself. He won the Com Z championship that at the time was all of France. Later he won an European Championship.

In my discussions with Jimmy I learned he married a Houston girl 37 years ago who saw him for the first time on television in a bout at the Sam Houston Coliseum. Most of the time he was boxing he also held a full-time job. He worked several years in Houston with Armour Meat Packing in addition to employment at Tyler Junior College and the local ISD position. Now it is only retirement for Lane. His book continues to be available at the Crosby Chamber office at $9.95.

Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!

Man drowns trying to rescue daughters

HUFFMAN – At about 8:30 p.m. on July 12, Jose Gilberto Martinez saw his young daughters start to drift away on their rubber raft in Lake Houston, according to witness accounts.

The girls were wearing life jackets but became distressed as the wind began to take their raft away from the proximity of their father, according to assessments of Houston Police Department’s Lake Patrol.

Mr. Martinez at that time began swimming out to the girls but went under the water, witnesses say.

The girls were rescued from a pier by a local woman that used pole to pulled them to safety.

“They called out to him, according to the lady, so he tried to swim out to them and just didnÕt have the strength to make it out to where they were at,” said Richard Robinson at the scene.

H.P.D. Lake Patrol Officers White and Fowler answered the call and began to search for Mr. Martinez. HPD Dive Teams arrived shortly thereafter and brought sonar equipment that would find the body of the 38 year old man at about 1:40 a.m. near the 100 block of the Atascocita Exit.

Martinez lived in Porter in the 16000 block of Live Oak Square Drive.

According to Officer Fowler, “It is important to know your limitations when you set out to swim.”

West Nile Virus confirmed in Baytown

BAYTOWN – West Nile Virus, which first showed up in Northeast Houston earlier this summer, has been discovered in Baytown.
The Harris County Health Department has confirmed that West Nile Virus was found in a mosquito trapped in the Chaparral Subdivision in late June.

According to the health department, people who are over 50 or who are compromised immune systems are most vulnerable to the illness. However, they said that only about one percent of cases become severe. Initial symptoms of West Nile virus include swollen lymph glands, low-grade fever and headache. In more sever cases, the illness can cause muscle weakness, disorientation, brain inflammation and in the most extreme cases death. They say that symptoms usually are notices five to 15 days after exposure.

The health department says that the best way to protect oneself is to eliminate breeding grounds such as standing water in potted plant, and rain gutters. They also suggest wearing long sleeves and pants at dusk, when the culex mosquitos are most active and use of a insect repellant.

Mike Lester, Baytown Health Department director, said they have stepped up evening mosquitos spraying schedules in response to the countyÕs discovery.

Bizarre wreck hurts mom, son, charges questioned

CROSBY – A pregnant mother and her two year old son were injured when their van was rear ended by a Dodge pickup truck on June 24 at the intersection of Krenek Rd. and FM 2100.

Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies reports indicate the accident occurred that Thursday at about 4:30 p.m. According to the report, the driver of the van, Danyel Reuter, of Highlands, was sitting at the red light on FM 2100 with her two year old son in back seat when the van was struck by the pickup of Eugene Edward Blake of Crosby.

The report indicates that Blake’s license was suspended. He was charged with Failure to Control Speed and No Proof of Financial Responsibility.

Contributing factors to the accident were cited by Deputy Paul Begley of the Wallisville Substation as failure to control speed and taking medication. The report is indicated as final.

Sources indicate Blake’s license was suspended for medical reasons.

Alleged dognappers going after pit bulls

HIGHLANDS – Harris County Precinct 3 Constables deputies are on the look out for at least two men that allegedly take pit bulls from their local owners possibly for resale in much further south markets.

Two men were reportedly observed bestowing some rough treatment upon five pit bulls near the racetrack in Highlands.

A passerby allegedly bought one of the dogs from the men for $50 to keep it from the rough treatment. The dog purchased was said to be the most tame of the five.

According to the man that bought the dog, the men in possession of the dogs said they were just trying to sell them.

The Pit Bull Samaritan later noticed that the dog had a collar with a tag and returned it to the rightful owner on Grace Lane.

The men were described as black males driving a blue and grey primer old truck and a maroon car. Grace Lane residents said that they had observed the Maroon car driving slowly up and down Grace Lane.

The suspects are not wanted on charges at this time.

Residents are advised to keep special watch over their pets and call Precinct 3 Constable Deputies at 281-427-4791 if they observe any suspicious activity.