Used to be when I thought of cabin getaways in Texas, the Goodnight Cabin on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon came to mind. Or one of the Civilian Conservation Corps cabins at Caddo Lake. I’d stayed in lots of cabins and some even on the water, near a lake or river. But I’d never stayed at a cabin in the water.
That changed last Labor Day. My longtime friends Ron and Stephen invited me to Captain Carl’s Cabins to do a little fishing. Captain Carl has four cabins, and they’re all in the ocean. Two are on Laguna Madre along the Naval Air Station’s former “crash channel” near Corpus Christi Bay, and two are farther south around Baffin Bay. They’re all less than a mile from land, and we stayed at one near Corpus.
We went down on a Thursday and booked hotel rooms, grabbing any gear or tackle we might need that night. Early the next morning, we packed groceries for the next few days—food, drinks and plenty of ice. Then we loaded everything into coolers and went down to Clem’s Marina, our disembarkation point.
One of Captain Carl’s associates met us at 10 a.m. and shuttled us out to our cabin. We unloaded and got settled in before lunch. The cabin was equipped with a gas generator, general lighting and receptacles, a giant fishing spotlight on the cabin roof, a window air-conditioning unit, propane stove, charcoal grill, large plastic barrel of freshwater, sink, composting toilet, three solar showers and eight bunk beds. Nothing fancy, but functional.
Captain Carl’s associate showed us how to work the generator, discussed the amenities and then shoved off.
At dusk, we activated the big spotlight and began sending our lines. Stephen caught a red drum and then a large flounder. Ron caught a speckled trout. I caught a mangrove snapper.
Then we took turns. Black drum, red drum and trout. And sometimes things got weird (especially for a landlubber like me)—we caught a ribbonfish and then an eel. I had never seen anything like them except on TV.
We did well the first night and fished late, packing the caught fish on ice. Then we availed ourselves of the solar showers and bunk beds. The air conditioning took the edge off the late summer heat and muffled the din of the generator.
The next morning, we had a half-day charter boat trip planned. Captain Ram Rodriguez took us to the intercoastal areas and toward Baffin Bay. He located a school of speckled trout, and we caught them steadily for a good hour or so. Then he headed back toward our cabin and put us on a school of black drum. We returned to the cabin for a late lunch and rested through the heat of the day.
After dinner, we were back out under the spotlight and fishing late again—casting and reeling, plumbing the depths of the crash channel and skimming the surface for top feeders. Occasionally, a boat would go by, transporting its occupants home or out to one of their favorite nocturnal fishing holes.
We caught drum, trout and flounder, mixed in with a gnarly-looking oyster toadfish and then something really big. It gave Stephen a ferocious tug of war for several minutes before spitting its hook out and returning to the depths.
Our cabin in the ocean was a unique spot well off the beaten path. We caught a lot of fish and saw some fantastic sunsets and sunrises. The setting was serene and peaceful, and I thought it might be a nice place to come back to even if I didn’t fish, for deck time under the Gulf sun or solitude for that stack of books I’d been meaning to get to.
E.R. Bills is a writer from Aledo. He is the author of “Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious” (History Press, 2013).