Blue marlin, wahoo and scenic Pacific views from one of the world’s hottest sportfishing destinations.
Photography by Brandon and Meagan Rowan
Photography by Brandon and Meagan Rowan
Top gear from Garmin, Huk, Lew’s, Caza Offshore and more
Garmin Striker 5cv
Finding fish is easier than ever with STRIKER 5cv fishfinder. Mark and return to your hot spots, boat ramps and docks. You also can share your favorite waypoints and routes with other STRIKER and echoMAP™ combos. Plus, it has a built-in flasher and displays speed data. Includes tilt/swivel mount, CHIRP (77/200 kHz) sonar transducer with transom and trolling motor mounting hardware and cable. $299.00 www.garmin.com
Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool SLP Series
Mach Crush baitcast reels feature Lew’s exclusive SLP Super Low Profile compact Speed Spool design in a durable graphite frame with graphite sideplates. Its high-end performance comes from a premium 10-bearing system with double-shielded stainless steel bearings and ZeroReverse anti-reverse. The main gear and crankshaft are strong solid brass. The 95mm bowed aluminum handle features oversized Winn Dri-Tac knobs to ensure a noslip grip in all conditions. The rugged carbon fiber drag system provides up to 20 lbs. of drag power. $159.99 www.lews.com
Dexter Russell Softgrip 8” Narrow Fillet Knife
The SofGrip line is the ultimate choice in nonslip handles. Available in black and white, the soft handle allows you to grip tighter to prevent slipping and increase control. Each blade comes with a proprietary DEXSTEEL, stain-free, high-carbon steel blade, with an individually ground and honed edge. Their superior blade shape allows for easier slicing while the unique edge geometry keeps them long lasting. Not to mention, the seal between the blade and the handle will not let in any water or bacteria. $31.55 www.dexterrussellcutlery.com
Huk Santiago Long Sleeve
The Santiago long sleeve is packed with performance and ready to fish hard using our technology, but is comfortable enough to wear to the bar after a day on the water. A classic button down meets Huk Performance Fishing. $64.99 www.hukgear.com
Caza Offshore The Mito
We have dialed in the perfect shape, weight and size to create a lure that should always be in your spread. The Mito was inspired by the best attributes of the highly effective plunger style lure. The keel weighted slant head swims aggressively on the troll, proven to raise fish and generate bites. The innovative head material is non-yellowing, highly chip resistant and crystal clear. This “go to” lure is excellent in all sea conditions for dorado, sailfish, marlin, tuna and all pelagic gamefish. $40.00 www.cazaoffshore.com
The 21 Super Cat is the newest 21 Cat to the Haynie line. The main questions that get asked all the time is what’s the difference between the 21 Cat and the 21 SC? The 21 SC is basically the bigger brother to the 21 Cat. The beam on the 21 Cat is 8’ the beam on the 21 SC is 8’ 10” so it’s a much wider boat making it more stable. The sides on the 21 SC are higher than the original 21 Cat and the transom is also higher making it for a much drier ride. The cat sponsons on the original 21 Cat are much smaller and don’t have much V like the 21 SC does in return giving the 21 SC a much smoother and stable ride. So all in all the 21 SC is just an upgraded version of the original 21 Cat and believe it or not the 21 SC can do all the things that the original 21 Cat does so come see us today and let us build one especially for you.
By Capt. Steve Soule
We’ve all heard this expression, maybe not so often when we talk about fishing, but it definitely applies. As we learn an area or just learn to fish, things happen throughout the course of our days on the water. When we are novices, or less experienced, most of these things seem random or happen by chance. Whether it’s catching a fish or finding a new spot, it isn’t easy to see how the pieces of the fishing puzzle fall into place. Over time, the pieces come together, and details of how and why become much more clear.
For advanced or professional level anglers, fishing isn’t left to chance. It simply cannot be if you want to find shallow redfish success and find it regularly. I’ve learned lessons over many years and watched similar scenarios play out time and time again. The perspective of a guide, especially one who isn’t actively fishing, but more teaching and directing customers to fish is a very different one. Years of pushing a small skiff around the shallows teaches you many things. You get to watch fishing moments play out from a totally different point of view. It’s like having a grand stand seat on the front row, watching the entire scene play out in front of you, successful or not.
There is a ton to be learned both visually and with the end of the push pole about contours and bay bottom variations. My early years as an avid wader taught me many lessons that simply could not be learned from a standing in a boat. Contours, tapers and bottom composition are some of the most important factors in determining fish location and feeding pathways. These things, like so many that have led to fishing success for me are often quite subtle and the type of things that go totally unnoticed by the majority of people on the bay.
I had a day several years ago fishing with a customer new to shallow water. I had met him around 5:45 am for a mid summer sight casting trip. As per my usual, the morning was spent trying to acclimate the customer to the world of shallow water fishing. Trying to teach him to see fish, even when they aren’t visible, and understand the signs. This particular day, I became much more aware of just how many signs and subtleties I look for and try to relate to customers. It was somewhere around 11 a.m. when I mentioned a small mullet jumping. This was a little more obvious than many of the things I had pointed out that morning. The customer responded that this was the first thing they were able to notice, despite me talking and pointing things out all morning. I found this rather interesting, mostly because it made me realize that the level of scrutiny I look at my surroundings, goes far beyond what most people would see.
For those new to the sport, I’m sure that it’s tough to keep up with someone like me who is constantly pointing out things of interest and trying to describe their significance. Moreover, it probably generates some concern when they can’t or simply don’t see even half of what I tell them I’m looking for. I talk about all manner of things from “mud boils” and swirls, to wakes and pushes. Not the average language for most, and among the thousands of jumping mullet, flying birds and general commotion on the water, these things aren’t easy to distinguish.
Now, when we start to take this to an even more intense level of things like seeing a two-inch white shrimp jumping 50 feet away from you, it becomes easy to understand how this can be challenging when its all so new.
In my nearly 40 years of shallow water fishing, I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with hundreds of anglers, from complete novices to those who have fished this coast much longer than I have. I’ve always made a point of trying to learn something from every situation, and there have been many days when lessons have come from people with considerably less experience. Perspectives can be so different as we progress in fishing and gain knowledge and experience.
I have a great friend and fellow angler that I have known for many years and have gotten to spend more days on the water recently. We just had a day on the water where he asked me about boat positioning. This is all important in sight fishing, especially fly fishing, and a topic that all of my friends seem to expect me to have an exact answer to. This particular day, I gave a response that had become something that I’ve come to take as fairly obvious. “Follow the contour line;” a fairly subtle depth change that runs along this particular shallow flat. Something that in my mind had become a standard practice and to me was quite visible. It took some time, zig zagging back and forth across this contour before he began to realize what I meant. Just one of the many things that has led me to greater success in finding fish.
For many years, I have made a point to take careful notice about where I see fish and as much as possible what they are doing and the direction that they are moving. When you fish shallow, you get to see so much more and the opportunities to learn are everywhere around you. If you make a practice of little things like this, over time you can start to see patterns form that will only lead to future success. Sometimes these patterns apply within the course of a day, other times they are the type that would get logged into the memory banks as seasonal.
One of my favorites has always been trying to note what depth the fish are at. Given that most of the water I fish is shallower than most people would fish, it’s much easier to take note of. You probably wouldn’t think that the moving between 7 and 10 inches deep would make much difference, but there are many days when it really does.
Birds on the bay can be some of the best indicators around. I always tell people they are way better at finding fish than we are. We fish for fun, mostly. Birds find fish, and things that fish eat, to survive. Knowing various birds that we see around the bay and understanding what their various behaviors indicate is another invaluable tool. We all know the value of seagulls in leading us to hungry packs of trout or redfish. How many of us pay attention to a snowy egret or an ibis? If you saw three roseate spoonbills walking a shoreline, would you pay them any attention? Do you ever pay attention to pelicans? Could you even identify a loon? Every one of these birds can and will lead you to fish, along with many others. But without having seen them in action and having the experience of knowing what they mean, they just become a part of the coastal scenery.
The keys to success aren’t always obvious. I’ve told people for years that you can’t always go look for the fish. Some days you have to look for the signs of the fish. The movements visible on the waters surface; a shrimp flipping out of the water, being able to distinguish a different type of baitfish, or recognizing the difference in the way mullet jump. Being “tuned in” to your surroundings and constantly making the effort to learn and understand the “why” can only make you a better angler and one who finds success more consistently over time.
By Capt. David C. Dillman
galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012
We all can remember sitting down and chatting with our parents and grandparents as a youth. My conversations with them would usually be about memories of past times. The conversation always ended with them saying “Life is short; the older you get, the faster times goes by.”
Now, as I near the ripe age of 58, I understand what they meant. It only seemed like yesterday that the summer of 2018 began, and now the end is near. Fall is knocking on the door. Galveston Bay is about to go into a transition period.
September still might feel like summer during the day but slight changes in the air temperature will occur at night. The evening and early morning air will be slightly cooler and drier compared to the previous two months. This subtle change will begin to slightly lower the water temperature in the bay. This will spark a movement of shrimp and baitfish from out of the back marshes and into the main bay. Speckled trout will transition themselves, no longer seeking the depth of deep water. The fish may remain around deep water structure but will be feeding higher up in the water column. Live shrimp fished under a popping cork 4-6 feet deep will be lethal on these trout, while the “croaker bite’ will slow down.
Come October, we will see the “transition” in full swing. Passing cool fronts will lower the water levels and temperature even more, triggering a bigger movement of shrimp and baitfish from the back ends of Galveston Bay. Speckled trout will move to these areas to forage on what is exiting the marsh. Flocks of seagulls will pinpoint the location of these fish when they are feeding. Don’t rule out drifting the reefs and structure with live shrimp under corks, keying on presences of bait and slicks in the area.
Remember not all trout make this movement. Depending on the weather and cool fronts, plenty of fish will still be caught in the areas you were fishing in August. Eagle Point Fishing Camp will have a great supply of live shrimp. Those anglers in the Kemah, Seabrook and Clear Lake area can call 281-339-1131 to check on their bait supply.
It has been a long hot summer but fishing remained good. I am looking forward to fishing these months and enjoying the cooler weather. The fish seem to bite through out the day, on any given tide. Take time away from your busy schedule and get on the water!
By Capt. Joe Kent
Autumn, or Fall Fishing, as we more frequently call it, is one of the best times of the year to fish the Galveston Bay Complex, especially for flounder.
In recent years, we have discussed the changing scene of fall fishing, noting how the timing has been altered. We likely all agree that we have seen a delay before the action gets underway; however, we have not discussed how flounder fishing has changed as a result.
Hopefully some pointers will help increase your harvests of this popular fall flatfish.
Fifty years ago, the first cold front of the season usually arrived in mid-September. Following it, fish would start changing their patterns, as an awareness took place that winter was not far behind.
By October, the water temperature in the bays had dropped and that, combined with the shorter periods of sunlight, gave way to the action. Flounder were noticeably more active and were beginning to make their way toward the passes and outlets into the Gulf of Mexico.
At some point between Thanksgiving and mid-December the sows are on their way and that is time for trophy flounder catches.
Today, much has changed due to the delay in the arrival of cooler temperatures. During the era we have been discussing, the water temperatures were below 70 degrees by mid-October and the first freeze of the year, albeit a light one, usually took place by late October.
The fall flounder run was well underway in October and old-timers looked at the peak of the annual run as taking place between the Full Moons of October and November. Now that same group looks to the same lunar phase between November and December.
A good example of how this delay has been recognized was when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department imposed special flounder regulations during November, as that was the month when the annual migration reached its peak and started winding down.
Not long ago the TPWD extended the November bag limit of two fish per person to mid-December. When the regulation was enacted all signs pointed to November as the time for the peak and the winding down. Now, it is well into December before the migration shows signs of running its course.
Today, the flounder run has its peaks and valleys; however, one thing that anglers are noticing is that many of the flatfish do not make the migration and remain in the bays.
The reason for this is that due to the warmer than normal conditions, bait still hangs around and with it a certain number of flounder.
During the run, there will be a few major cold fronts that empty the marshes and back bays. When this occurs, flounder will head to deeper waters and many take the signal to move on to the Gulf.
In recent years, the after effects of the fronts do not last long and many of the fish, including bait, will head back to the marshes and back bays. Savvy anglers have observed this and take advantage of the situation.
By mid-December, the majority of flounder is on its way to the Gulf or has arrived there. Still a few stragglers will remain.
Prior to 2010 I had never caught a flounder during January or February. In January that year a friend and I were drifting for trout in West Bay tossing soft plastics when I landed a 16-inch flounder. What a surprise it was.
Today, successful anglers plan their trips and hit the water just before a “Blue Norther” hits or several days afterwards. Toward the end of the run, the big sows finally start their journey and that is usually after a series of major cold fronts empties the marshes and drops the water temperatures into the upper 40s.
It usually takes several of these “Blue Northers” to encourage the majority of the flounder to head to the Gulf.
At some point between Thanksgiving and mid-December the sows are on their way and that is time for trophy flounder catches.
While live shrimp, mud minnows and fingerling mullet are three of the top natural baits for flounder when the big girls are moving, live mullet up to six inches in length is the resounding preference.
By Brandon Rowan
It was Wednesday night and the Texas Billfish Classic’s Kick Off Party was in full swing. It was good times, great food, cold drinks and plenty of early entry giveaways from Costa Del Mar, YETI and more. Tournament director Jasen Gast and company put on one hell of an event.
As the party was winding down, for some of us, my wife Meagan and I said our goodbyes. We headed to the truck and I spotted an old friend I’ve fished with many times over the years.
“YAMAGUCHI!” I yelled.
Capt. Mark Yamaguchi and I shook hands and instead of a hello/goodbye I got an invitation.
“Hey man, we need you. We’re short and need someone who can fish tuna.”
For someone who is, uh, not much of a morning person, tuna fishing until sunrise is one of my favorites. After a thumbs up from my better half, it was game on and I rushed home to prep my gear.
The next morning I met the crew and we headed out from Freeport. Jack Beal, owner of $EA DOLLAR$, runs a tight ship with a solid crew. First mate Adam was the youngest of us but already boasts years of experience in multiple fisheries. I also met trolling experts Fred, who has fished with Jack for over 25 years, and Gary who has over 30 years experience in various countries. On night crew with Mark and I, was Matt and Kurt who brought in first place tuna during last year’s tournament.
The first night of fishing started out promising. We had cooperative seas, bait in our lights, a few fish early on poppers and easy jigging for blackfin. But our optimism faded as the hours dragged on and the sun began to rise. We busted our asses all night with no yellowfin tuna to show for it.
On Friday, conditions grew worse. The seas tumbled higher and rain pelted the boat. No matter; the sun set again and the night crew went back to work. But our luck started to change, as the air grew thick with flying fish. We netted well over a dozen flyers and sent them back out wearing circle hook jewelry. But drift after drift, we came up empty. Around 2 a.m., Mark made the call.
“Alright bring them in and lets make another drift.”
Those were the magic words. Kurt’s reel started screaming and it was fish on! The line continued to quickly peel away as Matt and I strapped him into the harness.
We knew this was a good fish but we didn’t realize how tough this one would be. A battle of wills began. Kurt gained yards and yards of line only to have the fish to strip it all away in an instant. This tug of war went on at least a dozen times before we finally saw color. Twenty minutes into the fight we were greeted with a tail, instead of the big head and open beak of a yellowfin tuna.
“She’s tail wrapped!” Adam said, gaff in hand.
The tuna must have heard him and sped back down to the deep, taking advantage by kicking that big tail, as we were unable to turn her head.
Thanks to the teamwork of the whole crew, Kurt’s unwillingness to give up and some attentive driving from Mark, we finally got the fish back to the boat. This time the line came free of her tail and the familiar circling of a doomed tuna began. We were ready.
Adam was quick with the gaff and close to 100 pounds of fresh sashimi hit the deck. It took 45 minutes of grit and hard work but she was finally in the boat. It was high fives all around!
The circle hook was stuck delicately in the corner of the mouth and came free too easily for comfort. We quickly put the tuna on ice and went back to work. Again, we drifted, jigged and popped until sunrise but that was it; one and done. Aside from a few badass blackfin, we only caught one yellowfin tuna, but it was the quality fish we were looking for.
On Saturday, $EA DOLLAR$ roared back into Freeport with a big tuna and a wahoo for the scales. I snapped a couple shots of Draggin’ Up weighing their big blue marlin from the water and then it was our turn. The tail rope was secured, the tuna was hoisted up and we held our breath waiting for the numbers.
“90 pounds on the dot!”
We had one fat tuna but it was just shy of the first place weight of 93 lbs. We took our pictures, got back on the boat, cleaned up, and made ourselves halfway presentable for the awards dinner where we were presented 2nd place tuna trophy.
It was another killer event with good food and plenty of drinks for famished, thirsty crews. Draggin’ Up came in first with their big blue marlin and were named tournament champions. The first ever Billfish Classic Cup was awarded to Bimini Babe. The night ended with TBC’s Jasen Gast and the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor presenting a donated all-terrain wheelchair to veteran Jacob De La Garza, who lost his leg in Afghanistan.
Another one was in the books with many good fish weighed and several billfish released. Jack Beal’s $EA DOLLAR$ continued a tradition of bringing big tuna to the scales. I would look for it to happen again next year.
The Texas Billfish Classic saw continued growth in participation and a substantial increase in prize money during its third year. The TBC fleet released eight blue marlin, one white marlin, six sailfish and weighed one big blue marlin. The TBC is one of the fastest growing billfish tournaments in Texas and the only event that allows participants to leave at noon on Thursday and begin fishing right away on the same day.
Draggin’ Up, a 74’ Viking from Houston, was the only boat to weigh a blue marlin on Saturday, Aug. 4 to claim top honors in the Blue Marlin Division. Angler Sam Rasberry’s 119.5 inch blue marlin topped the scales at 514 pounds.
“We were having a slow first day with no bites, so we decided to make a move for second day. We got the bite shortly after 9 a.m.,” said Draggin’ Up Captain Kevin Deerman. “We definitely knew the fish was a keeper after second set of jumps and got the gaffs ready. Great tournament and worked out for us betting heavy in the Blue Marlin kill pots!”
In the Billfish Release Division, Bimini Babe a 74’ Viking, took home top honors with three blue marlin releases and one sailfish, while Tico Time, a 65’ Hatteras, released one blue marlin and two sailfish to finish in second place. Over-Ride, a 64’ Titan, finished in third place releasing one blue marlin.
The Bimini Babe Team was also crowned Champions of the Billfish Classic Cup. This new event was developed to reward competitive teams fishing in both the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and the Texas Billfish Classic. Owner Babe Appling, Captain Robert Jones and team left with an extra $10,000 and custom art to commemorate the big win!
The Tuna category was won by Clark Miller from Smoker II with a 93-pound Yellowfin. No stranger to the podium, Kurt Pantle on $EA DOLLAR$ came in second at 90 pounds, followed by Lee Bull on the REHAB at 50 pounds. A nice summer wahoo raised the bar pretty high as Jasen Gast and the REHAB crew pulled up his 51-pound fish, barely topping the second place fish brought in by Tiger Neal on the Smoker II. Brian Wood of Draggin’ Up, came in third at 29 pounds. The Dolphin category was taken with the only qualifying fish at 23 pounds by Chris Gavlick aboard the REHAB.
The Top Lady Angler was Emma Griffith on Over-Ride and the Top Junior Angler Award was presented to Ethan Middleton on the Change Order.
1st- 514.0 lbs. Draggin’ Up – Angler Sam Rasberry
Catch and Release
1st – 2,000 pts – Bimini Babe – Captain Robert Jones
2nd – 1,000 pts – Tico Time – Captain Mike Hester
3rd – 600 pts – Over-Ride – Captain Jacob Dawson
1st – 93 lbs – Smoker II – Clark Miller
2nd – 90 lbs – $ea Dollar$ – Kurt Pantle
3rd – 50 lbs – REHAB – Lee Bull
1st – 51 lbs – REHAB – Jasen Gast
2nd – 47 lbs – Smoker II – Tiger Neal
3rd – 29 lbs – Draggin’ Up – Brian Wood
1st – 23 lbs – REHAB – Chris Gavlick
Top Lady Angler
Emma Griffith on the Over-Ride
Top Junior Angler
Ethan Middleton on the Change Order
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A lightweight, comfortable and athletic fit performance shirt. Comes with a vibrant color sublimated print.
By Brandon Rowan
The Texas Billfish Classic celebrates its third year of bringing highly competitive billfishing back to Freeport. Over the past three years, the tourney has grown steadily and produces one of the most popular and enjoyable tournament formats on the Texas Gulf Coast.
The original tournament was formed in the 1980s by many of the bluewater pioneers who put Freeport on the map as a Blue Marlin hotspot in the 80s and 90s. During this time the Billfish Classic was a premier event with a rich history of record catches and great times.
In 2015, Tournament Director Jasen Gast resurrected the Texas Billfish Classic and added much more.
“One of the biggest success stories of the TBC is not the fishing, but what we are able to do on land,” Gast said. “Since 2015, the TBC has donated more than $25,000 to local and regional non-profit organizations.”
The tournament works closely with three charities – the Freedom Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and the Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run.
Jasen Gast has owned REHAB, a tournament winning 45’ Davis sportfisher, for five years now and has a history and passion for taking disabled children, veterans and others out on fishing trips. The opportunity to further help the needy came to Gast after meeting the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor while fishing in Costa Rica.
“I met Jasen during the Triple Crown in Los Sueños, Costa Rica. He wanted to bring a more patriotic aspect to his tournament,” Ailor said.
Since that meeting, the Texas Billfish Classic has already donated thousands to the charity and much more in the way of real life experiences and trips for our nation’s heroes.
“We are not a one and done charity,” said Pepper Ailor, who has worked with the Freedom Alliance over the past 13 years. “We stay in the lives of these heroes and bless the troops with genuine relationships.”
Each year the TBC invites a group of veterans down to Freeport to be involved in the week’s events and also embark on an offshore trip. With no cell phones or distractions, deeper connections are made during the inevitable lulls of a fishing trip and the shared exhilaration during the high excitement moments.
Last year’s group of invited veterans enjoyed a great inshore fishing trip. Marine Sgt. Cory, Army Sgt. Bill, Cpl. Jeramie and Master Chief Kevin spent a day on Galveston Bay catching redfish, flounder and trout.
“He has so much fun on those trips! Jeramie’s wife Lindsey said. “He comes back with new friends and so many stories! Thank you for inviting him! He is keeping in contact with several people through text. He just had the best time!”
Great things continue to be born of the relationship between the Freedom Alliance and TBC. Dudley Wood, a tournament participant and owner of the 54’ Bertram Smoker II, even donated a hunting trip to a group of five veterans he met during the tournament last year.
Gulf Coast Mariner encourages our readers to donate and volunteer for the Freedom Alliance and other worthy veterans charities but Pepper Ailor wants to see something greater happen.
“Form a genuine relationship with a veteran.” Ailor said. “There is too big a gap between the lives of our defenders and the public sector. Our veterans need to do a better job opening up and civilians need to listen better.
The TBC continues to be one of the fastest growing competitive billfish events in Texas. The high number of billfish catches in August along the Texas shelf also adds to a spirited weigh-in and awards banquet on Saturday night. Fishing the TBC is known to be hot by day and festive at night.
“He puts on the best as far as I’m concerned,” said Dudley Wood of Smoker II. “He lets us leave during daylight and that is huge. That’s why I quit some other tournaments that start you running out at night. The safety of my captain and crew is paramount.”
“It is a great tournament,” said Shawn Kurtz, owner of Hey Girl, the winning boat of the 2017 tourney. “Jasen has put together a pretty good program. It gets better and better each year.”
New for 2018 is the inclusion of the Billfish Classic Cup trophy. The winner of the BCC will be decided by the boat with the highest total release points from both the Texas Billfish Classic and Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, and in turn, take home a minimum of $10,000 cash.
This conservation minded tournament also encourages billfish release with the highest minimum in the state for harvesting Blue Marlin at 107 inches.
Don’t miss the hot fishing and festive nights this revived classic brings to Freeport. The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend the weigh-in on Friday and Saturday.
For information or to register for the Texas Billfish Classic visit them online at www.TexasBillfishClassic.com or contact TexasBillfishClassic@yahoo.com
By Capt. Joe Kent
Each summer, hundreds of visitors flock to the Gulf Coast for vacation and to enjoy some of the best saltwater fishing around. Many, however, are not experienced in saltwater fishing and others have had limited experience and have had difficulty catching fish.
Perhaps a few of the pointers discussed in this article will contribute to some successful fishing while here. While a few visitors have never been fishing, others have had experience freshwater fishing which they soon find out is very different than saltwater fishing.
For over 12 years I have been the fishing columnist for the Galveston County Daily News, writing a daily column about Galveston area fishing. During those years, vacationers have asked a lot of questions about how, when and where to fish and from them we will focus on those asked most frequently.
Among the most common questions are; where to fish, equipment needed and baits. Following those are questions about when to fish, where to fish without a boat, the best times to fish and fishing licenses.
Let’s start by addressing the equipment needed. For inshore fishing (bays and jetties), a medium action rod and reel equipped with 10 to 15 pound test line is the most popular choice.
Among the most popular riggings are popping corks with treble hooks. Popping corks with a leader ranging from say 15 to 28 inches in length using 20 to 40 pound test line work well. Treble hooks are the most popular, with sizes 6 to 10 being the most common. My preference is size 8.
Prepared popping corks are available at most tackle and bait shops and my recommendation to the newcomer is to start with one of those.
In the hot summer, when the water temperature is above 80 degrees, fish will tend to be deep thereby making a bottom rig the best choice. We call this bottom bumping and the rig is fairly simple consisting of a swivel, 15 to 24 inches of 20-30 pound leader and treble hook of the sizes mentioned earlier, or a small kahle hook.
Above the swivel, a slip sinker from 1/8 to 3/4 ounce should be used. The size will depend on the strength of the current and the idea is to use as small a weight as possible to get the bait near the bottom.
Live shrimp and croaker are the two most popular summertime baits and for the newcomer, I recommend live shrimp. The bait camps can show you how to hook the shrimp, as it is a fairly complicated process of getting the hook just under the horn of the shrimp.
For newcomers, I do not recommend artificial baits.
Where and when to fish are not quite as easy to answer, as weather conditions have a major impact on that choice. If you are fishing from a boat, there are many spots including the jetties, Causeway Bridge area, East and West Bays, Galveston Ship Channel shorelines and gas well shell pads. The key for all of those areas is having tidal movement and at least fair water clarity.
Unfortunately, the locations are limited for those anglers without boats. Fishing piers along the beachfront, Jamail Bay Park, Seawolf Park and a few private subdivision piers are about it. For those willing to wade fish, the surf can be red hot with action during the summer. The keys to success are light wind and good water clarity.
Moon phases play into the equation, as days on both sides of the full and dark moons offer some of the best tidal movement. The best wind direction is a light to moderate southeast wind while the worst winds during the summer are from the southwest and east. Wind velocity plays a big role in both of the adverse winds, as light winds from either direction are often tolerable; however, moderate to strong velocities are usually just not worth fighting.
A saltwater fishing license and stamp are needed and can be purchased at sporting goods stores, many bait shops and online at tpwd.texas.gov. Try to get your licenses ahead of time to avoid delays on the morning of your trip.
Hopefully the information above will help you have a productive fishing trip while enjoying the many attractions that the Texas Gulf Coast has to offer.
Yo-Zuri has upgraded the new Bull Pop with patented Power Body, 3X treble hooks and through wire construction to give it the durability to handle the biggest Texas tuna. The large cupped mouth creates extreme surface commotion that draws fish in from long distances.
OTI’s Wombat Chugger produces explosive topwater action to excite large tuna and trigger strikes. These poppers come fully rigged and ready to fish with Raptor XH split rings and Raptor 4X treble hooks.
Look to the Halco Max 130 when tuna won’t commit to surface lures. This versatile Australian lure can be trolled but is best cast with spinning gear and steady retrieved during your drift.
Shimano’s Orca popper features a unique “Bubble Chamber” open mouth design based on how a jet engine turns low pressure into high pressure. Water flows through the hole at the top of the lure to create a unique bubble trail and splash. Less effort is required to work compared to traditional poppers.
Interview by Kelly Groce
Can you start by telling our readers a little bit about yourself?
Around the early 90’s I started venturing off with a high school buddy going to Port O’Connor when we were old enough to drive. First night was sleeping in the bed of the truck stealing showers late at night at the Texaco (Fishing Center) from the water hose. Night two we treated ourselves to a $40 room at the Port Motel. We would fish ALL day, crush Josie’s Mexican Food for dinner, then fish with super light weight rods for the worlds biggest hard heads off the Fishing Center Docks. In 2011, I got my captains license hoping I could earn some extra money while having fun and paying for my extreme fishing habit. I guess you could say some of the early thoughts about Fishhide came from those days of guiding.
When did you create FishHide and why?
Ultimately Fishhide was created to fill the need of being able to be seen when desired but blending into your background so not to unnecessarily spook any redfish you might be tracking. I was prefishing the possum tournament in August 2011 in Mule Slough (POC), the guys had dropped me off near a boat lane but far enough away that I wouldn’t get run over or so I thought. Not too long after they left a boat did come within 25 yards of me without even noticing me and that gave me a cause for concern for the next day when we were going to be dropped off even earlier. The next morning I had decided to wear a highway vest in order to be seen by the spotlights the boaters were using to navigate through the backwaters. I can tell you it definitely worked when a boat came towards me held the spotlight on me for at least 10 seconds and then change course giving me plenty of room. I was very proud of my decision and I felt very confident that I could start fishing without having too much to worry about. As the sun starting to come up I was chasing redfish in calf deep water moving slowly and quietly as I could, but I could not seem to get close to them. It dawned on me that the sun was reflecting off my highway vest and making me stand out like a Roman candle. I took the highway vest off put it in my belt and proceeded to catch big enough fish to help put us in second out of 52 boats.
What makes your fishing apparel unique from others?
FishHide is a TRUE performance fishing shirt. Meaning it comes included with: • 2 chest pockets • Comfort cuffs with thumb holes (acts as gloves) • Built in lens cloth • Built in sun collar • Built in kill switch loop • SPF 50 micromesh material that dries fast and is breathable.
What’s your favorite lures to throw for inshore fishing?
I have narrowed down my favorite lures to Corky’s, Down South Lures, Home Recker Paddle Tails, Paul Brown Devil Flappers and topwaters. Oh, and 3” Gulp! Shrimp for those flatties.
What can we expect to see in the future from FishHide?
Fishhide will likely officially change names from Fishhide Sportswear to Fishhide Outdoors in 2018 or early 2019 due to some other nonapparel gear coming out. Stay tuned with Fishhide on Facebook and Instagram to follow along with my new product that should come out summer of 2018.
By Capt. David C. Dillman
galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012
Summer has finally arrived here along the Texas Upper Coast. This June, the Galveston/Houston area broke record or near record high temperatures on several days. But the trout fishing in June was really good. As the heat sets in the next two months, the trout action will only get hotter!
As the doldrums of summer set in, the water temperature rises in the bay. This rise will cause trout to seek the deep water structure Galveston Bay affords them. In July, the area known as the Exxon A-Lease should be loaded up with trout. The deep water structure of shell pads near these numerous gas wells will hold the fish to this area. Any given well in this location can be productive but some wells are better then others.
The shell pads located adjacent to the ship channel will see its share of trout too. Some of the oyster reefs are marked by PVC pipe. Some reefs must located using your depth sonar. Channel markers 50-62 are popular areas to fish in July.
In August, trout will begin their annual migration north. There will still be plenty of fish in the areas mentioned earlier. Some fish will move farther up the channel, staging on the reefs from markers 66-72 and around the tip of Atkinson Island. The wells located in the middle of Trinity Bay will also see an increase in the population of trout. These wells, just as the wells in the A-Lease, provide good structure for the fish. Trinity is a big open bay that can get rough, so plan fishing the open water there according to the wind speed and your boat’s capability.
Live natural baits work best in the heat of July/August. Live croaker and shrimp are the baits of choice this time of year. Croakers should be fished on the bottom, while shrimp can be used on the bottom or under a popping cork.
Eagle Point Fishing Camp in San Leon offers easy access to all of these areas and has a great supply of live bait during this time of year. They can be reached at 281-339-1131 for updates on conditions and bait. Enjoy the heat of the summer and its hot fishing! Remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated!!
By Kelly Groce
On June 23, CCA Galveston put on their 3rd Annual Ladies Fishing Tournament. The captain’s meeting and weigh-in was held at the beautiful Pelican Rest Marina on Offatts Bayou in Galveston.
The wind was blowing about 20 mph for the tournament which made fishing tough, but all the ladies still had a great time and some managed to bring nice fish to the weigh-in. Besides the standard weigh-in categories such as Heaviest Trout and Redfish, there was Redfish With the Most Spots, Blackjack Trout (trout closest to 21”, but not over), and Heaviest Trash Fish.
The trophies were unique since they were supposed to be used for last year’s tournament which was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey. Each trophy had a “Harvey Make-Up 2018” tag on it. CCA Galveston also had some great raffle items including fishing rods from Waterloo, reels from Concept 13 and Shimano, Engel and Game Guard coolers, Foreverlast wading gear, and more.
This tournament is not only a fun time, it raises money for the Coastal Conservation Association Galveston Chapter to allow them to continue to conserve, promote and enhance the present and future availability of our coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public.
Next year, fishing starts as soon as the captain’s meeting ends, which many anglers are excited about! Thanks again to CCA Galveston President Dr. Ken Ellis, Treasurer Karen LaRue and all the nice folks who worked hard to put this tournament together. Can’t wait to participate next year!
By Brandon Rowan
This is a great way to rig a Down South Lure when fishing for flounder that are super tight to rocks, pilings or heavy shell. Fish as close as you want to structure with confidence and lose less tackle. Just be sure to tuck the barb of the hook back into the plastic and set the hook like you mean it.
Pull your rubber sinker stop onto your line. Add your tungsten bullet weight (1/8 oz., 1/4 oz. or 3/8 oz.) and slide both up your line, giving yourself plenty of room to tie on your hook.
Tie on a Gamakatsu 2/0 EWG worm hook with your preferred knot.
Push the hook into the head of your Down South Lure, about the length of the hook’s offset shank, then push the hook through the underside of the lure and thread up onto the shank.
Lay the hook against the plastic and visually mark where to push the hook back up through the lure. Push the hook through the belly and up through the top of the lure. Bury the tip of the hook back into the plastic. The lure should lay naturally when rigged correctly. Slide down your rubber stop and peg the weight to the lure. This keeps the entire rig compact and less likely to catch rocks or other snags.
By Brandon Rowan
June 6, 2018 – A new fish kill has been reported in Galveston Bay near Seabrook. Thousands of dead shad are washing ashore near Todville Road and the surrounding area.
This is the second Galveston Bay fish kill reported in two weeks. The Seabrook event comes only a week after a massive fish kill further north in the Bay near the Houston Yacht Club.
Hotter-than-average temperatures in late May and early June are most likely responsible. Hot weather depletes oxygen supplies from the water and suffocates these small fish.
Due to health concerns, Texas Parks and Wildlife discourages fishing in areas where fish carcasses have accumulated.
You may report other fish kills to Texas Parks and Wildlife by calling their 24-hour hotline at (281) 842-8100.
The 37th Annual South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce Ladies Kingfish Tournament will be held on August 10-12, 2018.
The tournament is divided into two divisions, Bay and Offshore. Anglers fishing in the Bay Division will vie for trophies in the categories of Redfish, Trout and Flounder, while anglers in the Offshore Division complete in the categories of King, Bonito, Blackfin Tuna and Dolphin. Trophies will be awarded to the first four places in each category and Grand Champion Bay and Grand Champion Offshore winners will also receive trophies. Trophies will be original unique artwork from famed artist Dinah Bowman. NOTE: To qualify for Grand Champion an angler must bring in one of each fish listed in the category they are fishing in. In the event all qualifying fish are not brought in the division, the next highest number brought in will qualify.
The tournament kicks off Friday, August 10 with check-in and on-site registration from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the SPI Convention Centre. On Saturday, fishing begins at 6:30 a.m. Sea Ranch Marina II at SouthPoint is where all the action will be with Bay division weigh-in from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Offshore weigh-in from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sea Ranch Marina II at SouthPoint provides a large viewing and parking area for family and friends, and anyone else that would like to see who brings in the biggest fish. The Sunday Awards Luncheon will be held at SPI Convention Centre beginning at 11:00 a.m. All participants are invited to attend.
Early registration fees are $95.00 per angler. The registration fee includes an event bag and lunch at the Sunday awards ceremony. The early registration fee for Captains/Boat Operators, Deckhands and Guests is $25.00 and includes lunch at the awards ceremony on Sunday. Registration fees increase to $100.00 for anglers and $30.00 for Captains/Boat Operators, Deckhands and Guests after July 13. All anglers and their Captain/Boat Operators, Deckhands and Guests must be paid registrants of the tournament and have completed release forms on file with the SPI Chamber of Commerce. Tickets may also be purchased at the door for Sunday Lunch for $25.00 per person. Food will be available only with a ticket.
Join us for the 37th Anniversary Ladies Kingfish Tournament and start your own Island tradition.
If you would like additional information about the tournament please contact the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce at 956.761.4412 or firstname.lastname@example.org
It dries quickly, drains water easily, and laces up fast. The latest Megavent™ hybrid shoe is made for the professional angler who needs an outsole that grips when wet, an upper that resists stains, and an overall design that performs when the excitement hits.
With a quick zipper pull, these pants convert into an 8.5″ inseam short that lets you adapt to changing conditions. They’re crafted from a lightweight yet durable nylon ripstop fabric that repels angling stains, resists harsh UV rays, and dries fast so you won’t get soggy.
New from Columbia, this long sleeve shirt with Omni-Wick and Omni-Shade UPF 30 technology has a built-in hood that will keep you cool and protected.
Built with a cool-wearing mesh back and moxie fish flag graphic, this hard-working PFG ball cap keeps the sun off your face as you reel ’em in—or run errands around town. A classic adjustable snap-back closure lets you dial in the perfect fit.