Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The East Jetty Ballet

Several weeks ago John’s mother moved from her home into a senior living center.  We spent most of last week in the Texas Coast community of Lake Jackson getting ready for an estate sale and preparing her house to go on the market.  While there, we got our exercise a couple of mornings walking the East Jetty, located in nearby Surfside at Surfside Jetty Park.  

On one side of the park are beach homes, but very little beach these days.  “Improvements” to the shoreline over the last 100+ years, including building the jetties and the rerouting of the Brazos River to a site several miles down the coast, have unfortunately resulted in less and less sand being deposited along the shoreline.  The result…an ever-shrinking beach.

Across the channel is the West Jetty, and in the distance cargo ships and chemical plants.

The park is located in Brazoria County near the mouth of the Brazos River along what was “the most important harborage during the time Texas was a republic.”  The settlement, which would later be known as Velasco or Old Velasco, was the site where the schooner Lively landed in 1821 with thirty-eight men who would become the first of Stephen F. Austin’s colonists.  In 1831, Mexico, fearing annexation of Texas by the United States, passed a law halting legal immigration by Americans and established Fort Velasco as a customs port of entry.  

Now known as Surfside or Surfside Beach, the area was the site of the Battle of Velasco in June of 1832, a prelude to the Texas Revolution, as well as the signing of the Treaties of Velasco in 1836.  It also served as a temporary capital of the Republic of Texas while David G. Burnet was interim president.

Just outside the park is the site of historic Fort Velasco, and the park area includes the site of the Velasco Town Battery, which dated to before the 1860s.  The battery, which included an emplacement with two brass cannon, was turned over to the Confederacy in 1861.  During the Civil War, the port of Velasco was fortified by Confederate troops and eight gun batteries.  Over the years, the fort was abandoned and later demolished so only the pages of history testify to its existence. 

The East and West Jetties were originally built in 1881, and have been extended and improved over the years.   The East Jetty is now some 6/10 of a mile long, and provides a great place for fishing, bird watching, getting in your morning miles, and especially people-watching.

I like to call what we saw The East Jetty Ballet.  Lining both sides of the jetty from end to end are the fishermen and fisherwomen…

their children and grandchildren…

parents and grandparents…

and all the accoutrements of serious, all-day fishing.

Many people were fishing with shrimp.

Several were gracefully (and occasionally not so gracefully) throwing cast nets to catch their own bait, possibly shrimp, or more likely the small mullet that were schooling along both sides of the jetty.

If you look closely, you can see their little fishy eyes.

As there is action along the jetty, the person with the fish on-line has the right-of-way.  Everyone moves out of the way, lifting their rods in unison to allow access as the big fish makes a run along the jetty with the fisherman struggling to keep up.  

And when the fish reverses course, the action continues...just in the opposite direction.


Until the fish is caught!

And when someone needs to reset a line, there is a three-steps-back, three-steps-forward routine, followed by a mighty heave of the heavy pole as adjacent fishermen move gracefully out of the way and passers-by dodge and weave to avoid the swinging bait.  You can’t choreograph something like that.

This fellow had a fish on his line, but had a "That's why they call it fishing instead of shopping" attitude when he lost it

Following our walk on the jetty, we stopped at the nearby Seahorse Restaurant and Bar for a glass of tea.  The big, shady deck has a nice view of the beach where seahorse and fish sculptures overlook the water.  

Brown pelicans sailed overhead in an aerial ballet.  

And from the deck, we watched another kind of ballet…

…it was entertaining, but not as graceful as the one on the jetty.

What a great way to spend the morning!


  1. All good shots but I especially love the 1 of the guy tossing the net. Low battery. Got to go.

  2. He was pretty good with it, but the net was a lot smaller than the ones the guys were using in the surf in Cambodia. I guess they were after fish instead of bait.