JH Performance Boats

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JH Performance Boat’s most popular model, the Outlaw 230X, anchored down.

High-quality, built to last shallow water boats manufactured by Richmond family

By Kelly Groce

Born and raised in Richmond, TX, John Schubert and his brother Michael built racing boats their entire lives thanks to the knowledge that their father passed down. After starting Sport Marine in 1988 and being a dealer of a variety of boats for years, the family decided to start building their own boats in 2007.

JH Performance Boats has 3 models in a variety of lengths to choose from; Outlaw Series, BX Series and the B Series. Each JH Performance Boat is constructed from the highest quality polyester gel coats and resins using a variety of fiberglass cloth materials in multiple layers for added strength. Each hull is hand laid and filled with full foam flotation throughout. Floors and decks are built with 100% composite core materials and transoms are made of high density solid composite sheets. JH Performance Boats has a wide variety of colors to choose from to make your boat even more tailored to your liking.

With a phenomenal reputation by shallow water fisherman for attention to detail, excellent craftsmanship and above and beyond customer service, JH Performance Boats is now producing 50-60 boats a year and continues to grow. Enjoy

DSC 0189 1024x683 JH Performance Boats

Owner of JH Performance Boats, John Schubert, with an Outlaw model that will be on display at the Houston Boat Show this January 3-12. Photo: Kelly Groce

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Believe it or not, we’ve never been that much of a fishing family. We’ve been way more of a racing family or  just a normal boating family, but I really enjoy being a part of the fishing group of people that we are involved with now. I think shallow water boats and the shallow water community is a great group of people to deal with. They can be hard on equipment, but at the same time it’s a hard way of fishing. I enjoy that group of people the most and that’s who we cater to.

I’m still not much of a fisherman. My brother Michael and I will build a fishing boat for us to have, but then someone will come and buy it (laughs). We have a lot of fishing guides with our company, so we can always go fishing with them if we want. We mostly do a lot of boat racing and our kids enjoy it. That’s something my father always did, so naturally my brother and I did too. It’s pretty neat and it’s been part of what we do. We’ve gained a decent amount of knowledge doing it.

We also have  a house at Selkirk Island, which is up north from Matagorda. The whole family goes there and we bring a ski boat to run the river and pull the kids on tubes. The bay is right there if we want to go fishing, so that’s nice. My kids are getting older so its not just about going tubing anymore, but hose are some of our favorite times.

What is your most popular model?

The 23′ Outlaw. The boat drives and handles incredibly well. It is a great boat for getting across the bay and keeping you dry. It’s just a great running boat. We’ve sold a lot of them and people come in and want them again and again. We have lots of returning customers, which we appreciate. We;ve had Generation 1 and Generation 2 of the Outlaw. When my brother and I set out to build that boat, we drew what we wanted on paper and designed what we wanted. We built that whole boat out of wood, put a transom on it, bolted on a 200 HP Yamaha and ran that thing. Right out of the box it was pretty close to what we were thinking. We would go run it and come back home and in about an hours time we would have it flipped upside down and on the trailer. Since it was wood we would modify it easily; change angles, widths and all that kind of stuff. We would flip it back over, put a motor on it and go run it. We wouldn’t be in the water more than 3 minutes and know that quick if our modifications worked or didn’t work. We would do this over and over again until it was right. We had 16-18 hours on that boat after the fact just trying to figure out what would work. We got that one built and we were pretty happy with it. It didn’t carry the speed we wanted, but everyone said it was fine. They were all liars. There is no such thing as fast enough (laughs). We changed it up and we got it where we want as far as speed goes.

Does JH Performance Boats put on any events you want our readers to know about?

We do. Our JH Performance Boats Owners Tournament is in mid to late October each year out of Matagorda Harbor at the pavilion. Last year, we had 65 boats and 300+ people come out to support. It’s a really fun event that starts on Friday. We feed everyone and make sure everyone has plenty of cold beer. We get a lot of great product to giveaway too. Everyone is welcome.

JH PERFORMANCE BOATS

The Best and Worst Times of the Year for Fishing?

fishing texas The Best and Worst Times of the Year for Fishing?

By Capt. Joe Kent

With the new year just getting underway, let’s address a topic that is one of the most debatable among anglers and that is when is the best time to go fishing and when is the worst.  We also will address the best and worst seasons for fishing, again a very debatable subject.  All of this centers around fishing the Galveston Bay Complex.

A number of years ago when the Houston Fishing Show was held in the old Albert Thomas Convention Center in downtown Houston a survey was taken of participants asking what they thought were the best and worst times to fish.

The answers were published in the Houston Post Newspaper which later became part of the Houston Chronicle.

According to the crowds visiting the show the best times are:

When you can; when the fish are biting; when you mow your grass the most often; during the Full Moon; during the New Moon; when it is overcast; when the wind is from the southeast; when winds are calm to light; summer and or fall.

The answers for the worst times were:

When the fish are not biting; when you take your vacation; during the winter months; during March; When it is stormy, windy, cold and when the tides are unusually low or high.

When reviewing the results of the survey I agreed with most of the responses for both the best and worst times.

Now, let’s take a look at what my experiences have shown as the best and worst times of year for fishing by evaluating each season.

Winter

Fishing often is good during the winter, especially the early part.  While a number of species of fish have migrated away, trout, reds and a variety of pan fish are around.  Winter presents two problems, one is the number of cold fronts that empty the bays and bring cold temperatures.  This results in a disruption of the location of fish and their feeding patterns.

The other problem is with anglers who just do not like to be uncomfortable while fishing.  Cold temperatures definitely present such problems.

Besides trout and reds, sheepshead, whiting and sand trout are good bets for action and tablefare.  Toward the end of winter, the black drum run begins to take place.

Spring

In my opinion this is the worst of the seasons for fishing, especially around spring break each March.  The culprit here is wind and constantly changing temperatures brought on by the continuous frontal systems.  The three windiest months of the year occur during the spring and in order of magnitude they are April, March and May.  The highlight of spring fishing is usually the black drum run when huge fish are caught all around the island, especially along the jetties and Texas City Dike.  Some of the black drum are well over 50 pounds.

Summer

Summer is the beginning of more constant fishing and runs a close second to autumn as the choice of anglers for the best time to fish. Since offshore fishing is one of my choices, summer is my favorite time to fish, especially from mid-July to Labor Day.  Just about all of the species of fish that are found around Galveston are present during the summer.

Fall

Fall is the choice of inshore anglers as fishing tends to peak in October and November and conditions are very pleasant to be outdoors.  The annual croaker and flounder migrations of November add to the reasons for anglers choosing fall as the best time to fish.

In closing, I must go back to the very first reason given in the survey as the best time to go fishing and that is “when you can.” Have a great fishing year in 2020!

Lure Focus: KDEN Lures

kdenlures Lure Focus: KDEN Lures

Blazin’ Shad

KDEN Lures has spent countless hours developing the perfect swim bait, designed to meet the demands of any fisherman. The Blazin’ Shad paddle tail swim bait is available in 4’’ and 5’’ models with a variety of color options to meet any condition. All KDEN Lures swim baits are made in Texas using a revolutionary plastic formula that produces one of the strongest, most durable swim baits on the market. The ribbed V shaped belly design paired with a unique paddle tail creates amazing vibration and life like action while being pulled across the water.

Low Country: Fishing South Carolina with D.O.A. Lures

landscape 1024x660 Low Country: Fishing South Carolina with D.O.A. Lures

The view from our dock looking at the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge.

metrout 858x1024 Low Country: Fishing South Carolina with D.O.A. Lures

Catching this trout on D.O.A.’s topwater, the PT-7, was the highlight of my trip. Photo: Scott Null

By Kelly Groce

South Carolina is home to 6-8’ tides, incredible seafood and BBQ, miles of marshes and mature oaks draped with moss. I was lucky enough to be able to fish this area with some great people in the fishing industry and the Low Country did not disappoint.

An hour north of Charleston, is the small, quaint community of McCllellanville. Here you will find the marsh land beauty and National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Romain, that separates the ICW from the Atlantic. I was expecting to catch a lot of redfish here, but speckled trout were the ones that showed up to play our first day of the trip. Capt. Jordan Pate has lived in the area his whole life and enjoys everything that there is to offer such as fishing, hunting and surfing. Jordan uses similar tactics we use here in Texas. Jordan had some rods rigged with a popping cork and D.O.A. 3” Shrimp and the other rods had a jighead with a D.O.A. 3” Shad. The wind was howling, but both of these methods worked just fine. Capt. Brian Barrera had to try the D.O.A. 3” Shad in the color Candy Corn since he was told he’d never catch anything on a lure that color in these water. He turned the skeptics into believers.

Charleston is home to great seafood. The oysters were incredible.

The second of the trip, Scott Null and myself traveled into Charleston to fish with Capt. Joe Benton on his Cayo poling skiff. We started the day fishing around some exposed oyster reefs and looking for tailing reds. The waters were calm so it was the perfect opportunity to throw D.O.A.’s topwater, the PT-7. As I was working my PT-7 alongside some grass I got a blow-up pretty close to the boat and it ended up being a beautiful 23” trout. Once again, coming to South Carolina I thought I was going to be catching redfish for the most part, but I’m not going to

complain about catching thick speckled trout on topwaters…ever. We poled around the corner and there was a beautiful sight of shrimp jumping followed by redfish wakes and tails waving. They weren’t amused with my topwater, so Scott got some photos and I enjoyed the nature show. If I would have had the time to change out my lure, a D.O.A. shrimp or their new lure, the Snakoil, would have done the job. Meanwhile on a different boat, Ed Zyak was putting a hurt on redfish using the Snakoil. It is great for sight casting big redfish and trout.

Both days of fishing ended with exchanging fish stories paired with incredible meals. South Carolina’s oysters are un-be-lievable. Shrimp and grits, crab cakes, pulled pork, chicken wings… it’s all good. If you don’t come to South Carolina to experience the fishery, you should definitely make the trip for the cuisine.

Thank you Mark Nichols, Ed Zyak and Brian Barrera of D.O.A. Lures for the invite to experience everything the Low Country has to offer. With fishing gurus such as Bill Carson, Scott Null, Cindy Nguyen, Johnny Lu, Jeff Burleson and Dave Lear in the mix, it’s always a fun few days of learning and laughs.

Capt. Joe Benton and Scott Null heading in after a day of fishing Charleston.

Capt. Brian Barrera with an example that similar tactics we use here in Texas such as a popping cork rigged with a D.O.A. shrimp worked just as good in South Carolina.

My first South Carolina speckled trout. We caught plenty of trout this size using a D.O.A. jighead with a 3″ Shad tail or the 3″ shrimp rigged under a popping cork. Photo: Brian Barrera

Flounder Tips and Tactics

briansp Flounder Tips and Tactics

Capt. Spencer with a nice 20″ flounder.

By Capt. Brian “The Flounder Professor” Spencer 

The fall flounder run showed some awesome numbers up and down the coast it was a great sight to be seen. During that time of year, the fish are typically way bigger since a lot of them are females heading out to deep waters to spawn. A few fish I have seen being pulled in have been in excess of 8 pounds! Granted, most of them are all around 5 or 6 pounds, which is still a hefty fish in anyone’s eyes.

My personal best is almost 27 inches and 8.7 pounds and she was caught late in the year a couple of years ago. I was fishing an old spot of mine during the run and was bouncing a lemon pepper Chickenboy Lure on the bottom when she decided to bite. She was fighting weird, almost like a big redfish so I didn’t try and tire her out and just horsed her in. Luckily, she was hooked well and I was able to land it but that is one memory I will never forget.

A good fishing memory is one thing a child will have ingrained in their mind if you get them out there and no matter the outcome, it is something that will always be in their memory. Even if you don’t catch any fish it is definitely the experience that means more than a cooler full of bounty. Although it is nice to catch also, the lesson on how to fish will get them further than a full belly. If you ever get the chance to take a person who is either a child or new to the sport you should do it so that the sport can be passed along to others and not be forgotten.

When fishing, a great place to lay your line would near any kind of structure with a nice big drop-off not too far away from it. Deep ship channels and basins are a great place to start, or even the jetty. Lately my bait of choice has been to run a tandem rig with a bubba clucker in the front, in one of the many great colors, but with stained water I would choose a good bright one and in the back, usually a Gulp! Swimming Mullet in either chartreuse or pink. I use a 1/4 ounce jighead in the front and 1/8 ounce in the back to keep it in the best area of the water column. But adjust accordingly to your depth and water current.

As we get further into January, the flounder will start to trickle out and then be gone until around March. You can still catch them year round it is just not always as easy as it is during the run.

Check out my YouTube channel at “Flounder Professor Outdoors” for tips on how to tie up the tandem rig and subscribe for a chance to win a free flounder trip! When I reach 500 subscribers I will pick one name and then when I get to 1,000 I will pick two names. Get out there and go catch a big one. Until next time, tight lines and sharp gigs.

Flounder Professor Outdoors  /@ You Tube & Facebook

Flounder Professor @ IG & Twitter

Sponsors: Chickenboy Lures, Power Pole, Wet Sounds, Waypoint Marine, Penn Fishing, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Slick Sticks, Steves Lures, Kelley Wigglers, ForEverlast Inc, Houghy Sticks, Redtail Republic, Stinkypants fishing, Jerrys Leds, Salt Thugz Apparel Co

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

flyfishingredfish Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Stephen Young with a good redfish on the fly rod.

TRACKING DOWN COLD WEATHER REDFISH

By Steve Soule | ultimatedetailingllc.com

After 51 years of living in some of the southernmost regions of the United States, its very safe to say that I’m not the biggest fan of cold weather. I have however, many years back, learned that I truly love winter fishing.

Once you can get past the initial shock of cold air and water, even the damp and cloudy days can be some of the best that we will see all year. Let’s take a look at why winter is often so good for anglers and how to capitalize on cold weather fishing.

Forage Focus

As summer exits on the upper Gulf Coast, our abundance of baitfish and other food sources begins it dwindle. At first glance, this definitely doesn’t seem like it would lend itself well to better fishing. But if we think back to the dog days of summer, one of the most difficult parts of consistently catching fish would be locating the right areas. But when nearly every place that you would consider fishing is covered with mullet and other obvious signs, it can be confusing. I know it seems strange to think, but less abundant food supply can lead to better catches.

Why, you ask? Well, when there are food sources at every location, it becomes difficult to determine which area has not only the proper food sources, but also the predatory creatures we so desperately want to capture. During the cooler months, less can often equal more when it comes to catching redfish and trout. As food sources dwindle, they also concentrate! The resident populations of mullet and other fish now occupy much more limited areas of the bays, and remaining populations tend to become concentrated in areas of greatest comfort and reliable food sources. To less experienced anglers, this may still sound like it won’t help us locate fish. But as you begin to explore the bays in winter, it becomes evident that if you find concentrations of bait fish and other food sources, you will inevitably find concentrations of predators nearby. On the coldest, and most difficult days, never overlook the slightest presence of baitfish!!

heddonsuperspook Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Heddon Super Spook in Okie Shad.

Winter Lure Choices

Now that we have unlocked the key to locating predators in cooler water, we can get down to catching them! Hopefully. Winter is a “pick your poison” time of the year. My personal lure preference are larger mullet imitations for covering open water areas and structure. If I could only fish with one type of lure for the rest of my life, it would have to be a topwater. They prove deadly effective to the patient winter angler. Most won’t have the level of dedication and patience required to fully take advantage. If, by chance you are within the group of patient and you want to see some of the most explosive strikes that fish can provide us with, then tie on a Super Spook or She Dog and be prepared for some fun. Here are a few general rules for topwater fishing:

  • Make sure that you vary the retrieves!
  • Don’t assume tight cold water means you have to fish slowly to get bites.
  • Be patient
  • Some days, what you think is slow, isn’t slow enough, so go slower

There are always those days when they trout and reds just don’t want to come to the surface to eat a topwater. Though these days disappoint me greatly, it’s a fact that must be accepted. Coupling this fact with the fact that I’m constantly searching for the bigger fish, I will continue with my larger baitfish patterns during winter. Subsurface finesse baits, such as MirrOLure Catch 2000, Catch 5, Corky original and Fat Boy are some of the most effective winter standards on the Texas Coast, and rank very high on the list of big trout and redfish producers. These subsurface baits, much like topwaters, require a great deal of angler input to be truly effective. But once you’ve mastered a few retrieves, they will astound you with their ability to pry open the mouths of fish in very cold water. The key here is to experiment and vary retrieves and learn some of the many things that these baits can achieve. And of course, just like in the case of the topwater, there are days when slow just isn’t slow enough, so go slower!

Another type of bait or lure that can prove exceptional during the cooler months of the year, and is equally effective in the hands of a dedicated angler, is the “Twitch Bait.” What I’m referring to here are floating or suspending lipped baits. The big brand names that we all know in this category would be Rapala, Bomber, and more recently Yo-Zuri, along with a host of others. This category of lures has been around for many years, and can be just as effective as the others mentioned above. They can do so many things once the operator has taken the time to explore various retrieves. When you’re just getting started with this category, just varying speed with steady cranking can be very effective. Of course, like every other lure type, there are so many options with start and stop, fast twitches, and definitely lots of pauses.

Cold water, though it can provide us with some devastating and explosive attacks from our favorite predators, can also frustrate us with horrifically slow and subtle bites. On these days, learning new retrieves is often the trick that can take a day from zero to hero. Fast, slow, in-between speeds, starts and stops, and often long pauses can lead to some of the best catches when water temps plummet. Winter’s coldest days are the ones that make some of the best anglers shine. These are the days where the average angler just gives up, but for those who possess patience and persistence, and of course, who are in the “right” areas, be prepared for some serious photo ops.

Soft Plastics

If you just aren’t ready for the “grind mode” and patience isn’t your thing, that’s okay. Soft plastics, such as “rat tail” or “swim tails” will still produce well. Bass Assassin Sea Shads or MirrOLure Lil’ Johns offer less angler input and will typically produce much better numbers when fished though concentrations of baitfish. These are perfect for the drifting anglers and can work just as well for a wade fisher. To be honest, the Sea Shad has become one of my staple baits for sight fishing year round. A small profile with a swimming tail is effective in so many situations. Add to this, these baits require very little beyond just a steady retrieve to catch fish consistently, making them great for those just getting into lure fishing.

Last but not least, of the fun things about winter fishing is the water clarity and potentially extreme low tides. Though for many of us these can make for tough fishing days and potential new oyster rash on our prized fiberglass fishing crafts, they also combine to give us some of the best bay learning and exploration days of the year. Get out there and take advantage of the clear water and low tides. Learn some new areas and expand your understanding of the areas you already fish. Take your time when exploring; make sure that you look for structure. Try to gain a better understanding of the tide flows in these new areas. Don’t get in a rush. Try some new lures and new retrieves, and don’t forget that some days, slow just isn’t slow enough.

Not All Oils are Created Equal

lucas marine Not All Oils are Created Equal

Lucas Oil Marine Products offer lubrication and protection for extreme marine environments

Forrest and Charlotte LUCAS started Lucas Oil Products with the simple philosophy of producing only the best line of lubricants and additives available anywhere. Since its inception, Lucas has steadfastly adhered to this corporate objective. Through innovative product research and development, along with aggressive marketing programs, Lucas has established itself as a top selling additive line in the American truck stop industry.

Lucas is also one of the fastest growing additive lines in the consumer automotive industry. A premium line of oils, greases and problem-solving additives has helped to firmly establish Lucas as a prominent figure in this marketplace.

Lucas also produces a heavy-duty line of products for the industrial and agricultural markets. President Forrest Lucas sums it up; “Our forte is to make better products for industries and specialty situations that are not having their needs completely satisfied by other oil products and, believe me, the major oil companies have left a lot of weak spots. We have an excellent staff and a world of technology which we have gained through years of research. Together we have done a great deal in a short period of time and we intend to do a lot more.”

Lucas has long been directly involved in the American racing industry through multiple vehicle sponsorships and racing event promotions, at all levels. Seeing a need for better lubricants in this industry, the Lucas people went to work again. The end result being a line of high-performance engine oils and gear oils that are second-to-none in the racing industry.

The Lucas success story has been built upon hard work, an unparalleled line of premium products and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. This single formula for success will continue to guide Lucas Oil Products as it grows in the years to come.

Marine Products

Lucas Oil offers a complete line of marine products that meets or exceeds all manufacturers specifications.

Lucas 4-Stroke Marine Engine Oil SAE 25W-40 is fortified with special additives that coat all moving parts to guard against rust, corrosion and moisture during long storage periods. This oil increases catalyst life in newer inboards and also has applications for 4-stroke outboard and personal watercraft.

No matter the style of boat or type of engine, Lucas has got it covered. They also produces oils for 2-stroke engines and a formulation specifically for 4-stroke outboard motors.

For racing or high performance tournament boats, look to Lucas Extreme Duty Marine SAE 20W-50 Engine Oil. It is designed for use in high performance situations that require the ultimate protection. It lowers oil temperatures, extends oil life and minimizes metal fatigue. This product is compatible with methanol and all racing fuels.

Treatments, Stabilizers and More

It takes more than just oil to keep your boat working at tip-top shape. Lucas Marine Fuel Treatment fights corrosion, keeps fuel lines, carburetors or fuel injectors clean and free of deposits while lubricating and protecting vital engine parts. Powerful detergents improve cleanliness in the fuel system and internal engine parts.

If you’re one that puts the boat away during the winter months, look to Lucas Fuel Stabilizer to prevent gasoline break-down during storage. It’s easy to use and safe in all grades of gasoline and in all 2 and 4 cycle engines.

Fishermen will be especially interested in Lucas Fishing Reel Oil. A special blend of oil and additives penetrates into tight spaces to lubricate and provide corrosion resistance in even the harshest saltwater environment. It’s also a great product for your folding hunting or bird knife. In fact, Lucas produces a whole subset of oils, cleaners and polishes for guns and hunting rifles.

Whether you’re boating or hunting this winter, Lucas Oil provides the best products to keep you enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. Palmer Power Marine Distributors carries Lucas Oil products at their Houston location, at 6451 Rupley Circle or at the Kemah location at 935 Lawrence Rd. You can call the Houston store at (713) 644-6410 and the Kemah store at (713) 244-6650, or visit them online at www.palmerpower.com

Visit www.lucasoil.com for information on their full product line and other retailer locations.

FlatsWorthy

flatsworthy FlatsWorthy

FlatsWorthy’s Chuck Naiser holds up Steve Soule’s redfish caught on the fly.

Working together to promote respect for anglers and resources alike

By Steve Soule

recently had the opportunity to meet with the founder and president of a very unique and growing Texas organization, whose primary goal is to educate and disseminate information about sharing our coastal waters and resources. If you read my article two issues back, you know that this is something that I feel very strongly about. Chuck Naiser, who guides shallow water anglers in the Rockport area, has been actively guiding since 1993 and fishing the mid coast since 1967. He is definitely a man who has seen coastal change and is passionate about the preservation and enjoyment of our bays, marshes and shallow flats.

Chuck and I made an instant connection while discussing coastal change and it was truly fascinating to hear how much our observations and thoughts mirrored each other, even though we fish waters so far apart. It was immediately evident, even though we had never really gotten to speak one-on-one before, that we had seen very similar changes within each of our diverse and separate ecosystems. These changes were, and are related to the coastal habitat, as well as the people who utilize them.

Diverse Anglers, Mutual Respect

I’ve given a lot of thought to this over the course of many years, watching disturbing activity from boaters increase in the Upper Coast bays and shallows where I have spent the past 25-plus years of my life fishing. The phrase that Chuck and FlatsWorthy chose to use as a descriptor for the organization is “Diverse Anglers, Mutual Respect.” This couldn’t be more succinct and yet so encompassing. These bays and other inland waters belong to us all equally! There is no user group that has more right or entitlement to usage. We are all equal here and anyone with the ability to access coastal waters is perfectly within their rights to do so.

We have coastal enforcement agencies in place who already have an existing set of laws that we are all expected to follow. Texas Parks and Wildlife, along with Texas Game Wardens, are empowered to enforce these laws. Like any other policing entity, they are overburdened and understaffed. One of the most important distinguishing factors about the FlatsWorthy organization is its goal is to establish a set of guidelines, with regard to boating and fishing etiquette, established by users at all levels and styles. The organization seeks a broad and diverse input to help establish these suggested practices, and has chosen to attempt to work to spread information that will help make every day more pleasant for all users of coastal resources.

Its about educating, not legally mandating! If we can establish and maintain a unified, diverse group of people who actively promote and enjoy inshore waters, and work together to promote a level of consideration, etiquette and respect, we can negate the need for Governmental involvement.  Therein lies one of the primary goals and core values; “self governing and cooperation, rather than regulatory enforcement” will allow all users to continue to enjoy the resources in diverse ways.

To date, the FlatsWorthy group has held many meetings, worked with biologists, broad and varied boating, fishing, kayaking and other groups to work to develop a understanding of the concerns each user group has. From this, it becomes clearer the level of respect and courtesy that is needed to help ensure that we can all enjoy coastal habitat and resources without infringing on others who are trying to enjoy them as well.

We have all seen, experienced, and heard multiple stories about boating activities that are much less than desirable. I have personally experienced more incidents than I would ever care to recall or recount. Interestingly, I feel that there are a great number of these occurrences that are accidental and stem purely from ignorance of acceptable behavior. Sadly, there are still a large number of inconsiderate acts on the water that likely can be attributed to individuals who just don’t grasp the concept of courtesy. Many can also be attributed to ignorance on one side, followed by arrogance or anger on the other. I have had my moments on the water of wanting to retaliate against inconsiderate boating behavior, but refuse to allow myself to succumb to the urge.

From boat launch to destination, be it hunting, fishing, birding or just recreational fun, everyone on the water deserves respect and consideration. We, as users, all find pleasure on the water, and many like Chuck Naiser and myself have spent many years promoting what we love. With growing populations and interest in coastal waters, we aren’t likely to see anything short of a continued growth in those who spend time on the water. Given this fact and having an understanding of how to successfully navigate our challenges with respect to others users, we can continue to share and enjoy a healthy coastal fishery for many generations to come.

If you want to learn more about an organization working to make everyone’s time on coastal water better, take a look at www.flatsworthy.com

Among the many things you will find when you look at their website is the FlatsWorthy Code of Angler Respect (COAR). The tenants are 1) Respect Fellow Anglers 2) Respect The Resource 3) Respect The Law

If you like the sound of this organization, please take a look and see if its a good fit for you and your angling and or boating style.

Resolutions and a New Year

dill1 Resolutions and a New Year

Joe Holecek with a bull red.

By Capt. David Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

“A resolution is a plan of something to be done.”

Every year, people make resolutions, but rarely follow through with them. Without a plan, resolutions fail miserably. Most result in failure.

I, myself, make resolutions every New Year. Rarely, do I follow through with them. This year I plan to resolve this issue. How many of us do the same; make resolutions and not follow through with them? What I hear from a lot of folks I encounter is “I really need to use my boat and fish more this year.” If you fall into this category, January and February is the best time to resolve this resolution.

The weather this time of year is “iffy” to say the least. This makes it the right time, to get your boat and fishing gear in order. Do not hesitate getting that boat into a shop for repairs and maintenance. Before doing so, take all items out of your boat. It is amazing how much ‘stuff’ you can collect during a fishing season. Discard all that is no longer serviceable. Don’t overlook your rods, reels and tackle. Get your reels serviced, rod eyes replaced, and inventory your tackle. I would also recommend having preventive maintenance performed on the boat trailer. Being organized and ready makes that first spring fishing/boating trip enjoyable and not a chore.

If you’re new to boating and fishing, do not miss the annual Boat, Sport and Travel Show at Reliant Center, January 3-12, 2020. On display will be the latest boats, boating accessories, fishing tackle, marinas and fishing charters. I will be at the show everyday in the Eagle Point Fishing Camp/Waterman’s Harbor booth. Stop by and lets chat!

dill2 Resolutions and a New Year

Billy, Stockard and James Bragan.

On the fishing front, catches of trout, redfish, black drum and sheepshead have been good in Galveston Bay. Timing is everything this time of year. Warming periods between fronts is the key. For those who like to pursue flounder, TPWD held scoping meetings in December about further restrictions on these fish. If any change is recommended the vote will take place in Austin, during the commissioner’s hearing in March. I suggest you monitor the web for any new proposals and public comment meeting the next couple months.

I am looking forward to this coming year both spiritually and personally. I have a “plan” in place to keep my New Year’s resolutions. As a new Christian, my walk with Christ will be number No. 1 on my list, along with my upcoming marriage later in the year. I will continue to fish, which is my passion, and God willing, introduce new anglers to fishing. Lastly, I can’t say enough about the great people that keep the magazine in print. I am very blessed to write for them. Until the next issue, ‘tight lines’ and may God Bless you this coming year.

Tie One On: Capt. Brian Barrera

doa barrera Tie One On: Capt. Brian Barrera

We ask captains, guides and those in the industry what they’re throwing, for what species and what they’re drinking after a long day of fishing.

doaluresb Tie One On: Capt. Brian Barrera

D.O.A. Lures Bait Buster in 309 Glow/Gold Rush Belly and 3″ C.A.L. Shad Tail in 455 Texas Croaker.

I’m doing a lot of snook and juvenile tarpon fishing right now. With that being said, the trusty Shimano is always rigged up with a D.O.A. Lures Bait Buster, in a variety of colors worked “low and slow,” or I’m burning a D.O.A. 3” shad tail in anything with chartreuse on a 1/2 to 1 oz. jighead through the thermocline where the fish like to hang this time of year.

Once back at the dock after a long day in the elements, I like to have a Kimo Sabe Mezcal Reposado on the rocks or an old fashion. And bartender… keep ‘em coming!

-Capt. Brian Barrera

inshorefishingsouthpadre.com | 956-755-9413

Destination Fishing: Bull Reds in Port Fourchon, LA

port fourchon redfish Destination Fishing: Bull Reds in Port Fourchon, LA

Alisha Soule with an absolute giant Port Fourchon redfish.

By Steve Soule | www.ultimatedetailingllc.com

I’ve taken a few short destination fishing trips this year, trying to spend more time away from my home waters and learning new areas. New challenges and new waters, and attempting to take what I’ve learned fishing my home waters of the upper Texas Coast and apply that to other areas. This is the part of fishing that I find most interesting, putting together the pieces like a puzzle and figuring out how to catch fish in new areas. Going somewhere new is always a fun, though it can be frustrating and put your skills and knowledge to the test. The satisfaction from developing a plan and finding success is one of my greatest pleasures.

This past weekend, my wife and I spent a day and a half fishing in Southern Louisiana, Port Fourchon, to be specific. This is a tiny town in a very remote part of southern Louisiana. It is an industrial port town that primarily serves the off shore oil and gas industry. Definitely not somewhere you would end up by accident. Beyond the Industrial side, Fourchon and its neighboring Grand Isle, serve the fishing community. The entire area is like an overgrown marsh, with slightly deeper secondary bays. What makes this place spectacular is that it has extreme close proximity to the deeper gulf of Mexico on the southern end and an endless supply of fresh water coming down through rivers, bayous and swampy marsh. In all honesty, this is basically the nursery for the upper gulf of Mexico.

Though I have fished here two times in the past, it was during a different time of the year. Like any fishing location, seasons will effect the location and concentrations of fish and their food sources. Before any trip to new locations, it’s always wise to do some research. try to learn a little about the lay of the land. Study maps and arial photos, look at tides, both height and movement and try to make sense of where fish might be. We got there Saturday evening on the heels of a cold front that had way more wind and rain than expected. I knew that this would cause some lingering dirty water which didn’t go well with my plan of sight casting. Some things are well beyond our control and we just have to learn to roll with them.

From the start, this was planned as a very short trip so I had to maximize my time. I had gotten one report about potential location of our target species, Bull reds. The lingering winds and dirty water did not help there, so after some driving to look at shorelines in open water, I decided i needed to try to find some protected north shore areas that may have cleaner water draining from creeks and bayous. This is where basic fish finding skills come into play. With limited time to locate and catch fish, it doesn’t make sense to fish without seeing some evidence of life.

After our trip south to look at open shorelines, I headed back north into some more protected areas, looking for birds or bait and clearer water. We made a few short drifts in areas with some moving bait and missed two big reds on top water. The blow ups were amazing but couldn’t get either of them stuck long term. We also caught a few small trout, but this was not the area where we would be able to sight cast, though we were getting much closer. Side note, I use the top water lures as search baits when I don’t know the area well or can’t see to sight fish.

Now that we were in more protected water it was time to explore areas where outgoing tide was draining from bayous out to the secondary bays. Initially I spent some time poling the boat, but it became evident quickly that I would need to cover a little more water. We would idle along about 50-100 feet from the shoreline looking for wakes from big fish and muds and as soon as we found a fish or two go back to poling. This is where you really have to start paying attention so that you can put together the patterns. Each drain had some level of life in it, bigger drains that had more current seemed to be holding big fish. Now we have a fishable pattern.

Finding a bayou or two that would wind back north into the marsh, especially those that had wide spots where there were small shallow flats seemed to be the trick to locating fish. Now its getting interesting! I would pole slowly around the points leading into bayous and started seeing both reds and black drum. Fish were not moving very aggressive so a slow stealthy approach proved to be the best plan. Many times we were able to get the boat within 10 feet of fish and with increasing light, it was becoming much easier to see them. We missed a few as is always the case in sight casting, then the fun really got started.

bull red soule Destination Fishing: Bull Reds in Port Fourchon, LA

Steve Soule releases a bull redfish.

Poling into a small flat at the bottom of a bigger bayou drain, we started seeing fish slowly crawling along looking shorelines feeding as they went. It didn’t take long before we were among them and getting good shots. our first fish was close to the boat and though it didn’t look huge when I cast at it, ended up being about 45 inches long. The fight with these big reds in shallow water is a little more intense than with their smaller counterparts. Several big runs and the usual level of disasters trying to maneuver a fish around the boat and we got her landed, photographed and released. First half of the mission was now accomplished, the only issue was it was supposed to be Alisha’s fish.

We spooked several fish during the fight with the first one and could still see and hear a few fish moving around the small flat. Back to the hunt! We worked our way around the flat, still struggling to see fish well. Then stumbled onto another slow crawling giant and it was her turn to shine. The fish was swimming slowly towards the boat and not yet aware of our presence. Alisha made a short cast, crossing the fish’s path and as it approached, gave the Buggs jig a few slight bounces to make the lure more visible. When she saw the lure, she attacked and the fight was on. It can all happen just that fast.

We had spent 2-3 hours of driving, looking and narrowing down our search pattern, then within a matter of 30 minutes, had found a nice flat that had multiple fish over 15 pounds, and landed two fish well over 20-25 pounds. This particular flat sat at just the right angle to the tide flow and was just large enough to stop a good quantity of fish and food in the outgoing tide. We saw numerous reds and several large black drum there. Now we had one pattern to look for in other areas and attempt to repeat.

We poled through several areas that looked similar, though none had quite the same layout. We found some smaller fish, that laughably would be considered on the bigger side back home in Galveston, but didn’t see as many big fish that would break 20 pounds. At this point it became evident that with the conditions we had, we would need to continue to find more protected and shallower water to continue to sight fish.

We checked a few shallower pond and lake areas, with some success, but finding any real concentration of feeding fish was not going well. We had our share of difficulties, dirty water and a pair of polarized glasses that got left in the truck, but we made the most of it and had a great time.

We knew that Sunday was going to be a great day as far as sun and wind conditions, and would be our best window of opportunity. Monday, would only be a half day, and weather conditions were supposed to be pretty good. As it often works out, when I woke up Monday morning, Conditions had worsened. Full cloud cover and increased wind. Nothing you can do except make the most of what you are given. Off we went, this time armed with a few places to start our hunt. Clouds, do not make sight fishing easy. And as you might imagine, we missed a lot more fish that we just couldn’t see until we were too close. We did manage a few fish and as we were nearing the end of our day, idling down shorelines working back towards the boat ramp we found a few reds and one more highly entertaining moment. I was standing on the casting platform with Alisha idling along and just looking for fish when we stumbled onto a small group of fish and the last fish of the day was sight cast with the outboard motor running. Made for a great laugh and a good ending to a short trip to the land of the giants.

Lots to be learned from trips like this. I find it fascinating how much fish act and feed in the same manner in totally different locations. Outgoing tides around marshes are always fun, they put fish on the move and create feeding situations that make for some great fishing. Moving prey species out into more open water where predators can easily attack. These tides generally move fish into areas where we can locate them and capitalize on their feeding. On incoming tides, look for fish to move farther into the reaches of the marsh and follow prey species to areas of safety. It is cool to see how much so these waters work on a parallel to the marshes closer to home for me. Though the area is vast and enormous compared to our marshes on the upper Texas coast, this place acts just like an overgrown Texas marsh, and once you start to look at it this way, becomes family easy to figure out.

With so many great destinations along the Gulf Coast, its just a matter of picking a spot where you want to go, spending a little time researching the area and go have some fun. I picked this area for its remote nature,(we only saw one other boat all day fishing similar water) and its notorious giant redfish. It only gets better on the southern fringe waters during winter if you want to go find giant redfish in relatively shallow water. There are fish there all year round, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Bottlenose dolphins are a regular sight and often you can sit and they will roll and play near your boat. If it’s time for a change of pace, grab a map, do a little research and go have some fun doing something completely different.

Hosted Trip to South Padre Island

big red 768x576 Hosted Trip to South Padre Island

Unbeatable fishing in South Padre Island, Texas.

 Hosted Trip to South Padre Island

Mariachi band played after an evening dove hunt.

By Capt. Dave Stewart

I spent the whole month of October in South Padre Island, Texas hosting 3 groups from the Carolinas to fish Laguna Madre waters. This area is beautiful, full of skinny flats with loads of grass that requires new techniques to tackle the huge prey that can hide in it. I solicited the help of several of our D.O.A. Lures guides to show these anglers are and techniques sticking trout, reds, flounder and tarpon. Weather as the cold fronts drop can and did hamper us a few days but that is the Lords will. You must adjust as our great guides did. My relaxation while anglers hit it with the guides. Oh – also had a private pool too. Great place to lounge and chill after day of fishing. I play chef – not but damn good cook! Breakfast lunch and supper every day. Suppers such as grilled pork roast, jambalaya, fish (plenty) and dove breast on grill. My big event is supper of local fare. I hired a local chef that cooks EVERYTHING from scratch – no cans. Real Mexican food at its best and believe me… she has great pleasure in cooking for us and you wont go away hungry. Hope leftovers are okay with ya!

The accommodations for the trip.

The jetties (a short run to the Rio Grande and the border) are full of mullet as the run is on. Tarpon, snook and loads of big reds hang in them. Weather dictates fish ability but awesome if can do. Inshore fishing in skinny waters hold trout and reds with a huge opportunity for BIG fish. 30″+ trout and huge schools of reds that we had up to 30”. If weather is right sight casting is a blast. Imagine casting at a huge school of over slot reds. Hook up in skinny water and hang on. No where to go but out or IN. watch the boat, say goodbye. Deeper water holds plenty and huge snook providing top water at its best. One a.m. trip hooked approximately 40 really nice snook.

I also arranged for 1 group to go dove hunting – off the shelf – limit out on big white wings full of sunflower seeds. They wanted a marichi band in the field after shoot with appetizers and beverages. Can and did do.

To top it off, they also wanted massages. Well, I can arrange it. I had a licensed massage therapist come rearrange their bones and muscles from the hard shooting and fishing.

South Padre Island is a great place to hold a team building or group trip – comradery at its best. Don’t come here just for this, beautiful area to sight see and relax on the Gulf beaches and such.

Until next time (maybe March), tight lines.

Capt Dave Stewart
KneEDeeP Custom Charters
www.pamlictackle.com

 

A beautiful snook that was landed while fishing with Capt. Brian Barrera.

Capt. Dave Stewart with a south Texas snook.

Capt. Ruby Delgado with an upper slot redfish.

Mowdy Boats

robbie with boat 1024x683 Mowdy Boats

Robbie Gregory of Mowdy Boats stands with a fine example of their 25’ Catamaran. This is their most popular model.

DSC 0694 683x1024 Mowdy BoatsPremium shallow water boats being handcrafted one at a time in Port Lavaca

Photography and interview by Kelly Groce

Mowdy Boats have been built since the 1970s by Mr. Hal Mowdy of Victoria, TX. Hal was the patriarch of all the Texas boat builders. Himself, along with Steve Bell of Shoalwater Boats and Mr. Haynie of Haynie Bay Boats, were ahead of the pack and started everything we see on Texas waters today. Mr. Mowdy was a one man show and made all his boats in one color, Mowdy gray. If you wanted a boat, that’s what you were getting and it may take 7 or 8 months to get your finished boat. Mr. Mowdy was extremely dedicated to the quality and the hand craftsmanship to each and every single one of his boats.

Mowdy Boats is now located in Port Lavaca and led by Frank Crappito and his managing partner, Robbie Gregory. I was fortunate enough to take a quick road trip down to meet with Robbie, who had just returned from Houston where he had gifted each of the winners of the largest trout division of the CCA Star Tournament a Mowdy boat. Besides the Star Tournament, you’ve most likely seen these beautiful boats on the water since Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Game Wardens, Coastal Fisheries, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, all run Mowdys. Robbie gave me a personal tour of their facility and educated me on how each boat is built one at a time by master craftsmen. From swampy back-bayous to fishing out in the Gulf, Mowdys can navigate through any water condition. Enjoy.

How did you and Frank get involved with Mowdy Boats?

So the way this company came about was in 2011 when one day Frank and I were fishing on his 22’ Mowdy that took him 3 years to find. Frank and I were just shooting the breeze and talking about how great these boats are. Frank said, “Wouldn’t it be something if we could buy the mold to this 22’ and build ourselves a couple of boats?” Frank then asked if I knew Mr. Mowdy. Having guided in Port O’Connor for 20 years I know just about everybody. Frank suggested I go talk to Mr. Mowdy and see if he will sell us the mold.

The next week I met with Mr. Mowdy and asked if he would sell us the mold to the 22’ and he said, “No I won’t sell you that mold, but I will sell you ALL of my molds and ALL of my equipment. Everything but the building.” I called Frank and told him that Hal won’t sell the one mold, but he wants to sell everything. I know it was a great opportunity especially since the boats already have such a great reputation. Frank said, “If I back it, will you run it?” Without hesitation I said, “I’m in.” So basically we did a hand written contract and a week later we paid Mr. Mowdy.

After that, we started looking for a place. I live here in Port Lavaca and we found this facility here. We had no clue on how we were going to build the boats. After fishing one day, I was at Clark’s in Port O’Connor, which is a marina, hotel and restaurant. I was there eating and my waitress said, “What do you do?” I told her I’m a fishing guide, do some building and developing, and now a friend of mine and I just bought Mowdy Boats. She said, “My husband builds boats and he needs a job, would you like to talk to him?” It was a God send. It turns out her husband started with Mr. Haynie of Haynie Bay Boats when he was 17 years old. He is now in his ‘50s, but that’s all he’s done his entire life. After talking to each other, he agreed to come onboard to help and he brought with him a family of a father and 3 sons. That’s all they’ve ever done their whole life is build these kind of boats. So we started with the most experienced crew of boat builders that you could ever imagine. From there, we started building boats.

The 25’ Catamaran, which is our most popular boat, is amazing. There’s no other boat out there like it. It runs incredibly shallow, but it also takes the water well because of the entry. It’s stable because it has all the tributes of a catamaran with the full tunnel. You can get on one side and jump up and down and it just sits there, it doesn’t rock around. Mr. Mowdy had only sold maybe 7 or 8 of those style boats, but as we began to get them out there and some of the fishing guides picked up on ‘em and started running them, 9 out of the 10 boats we build now are the 25’ Catamaran. Everybody wants it. Word of mouth has definitely made it what it is.

Another 25’ getting the final touches. This boat was built totally to the customer’s wants and needs.

How are Mowdy Boats different from other boat companies?

Mowdy is different from other companies because this is not a cookie cutter boat. So when I build your boat… I mean I build your boat. You get to tell me what color, pick the upholstery, decide where you want this or that. It’s totally custom. We are limited production, so we do about 50 boats a year. Which is a good thing because it keeps the price point high and you as an owner keep the value up on your boat. One thing that’s for sure is that you cant find one for sale, well maybe one or two, but people don’t sell their Mowdy. They are lifelong boats. They hold their value. Some guys will keep their boat for 5, 6, or 7 years and sell their boat for more or as much as what they paid. That is unheard of when it comes to boats.

We 100% foam fill our boat, from the top of the deck to the bottom of the hull. There is no void. It’s all filled with 2 lb. closed cell foam. The foam makes for a quiet ride that you don’t get beat up on. The boat just slices through the water. Little things like that set us apart from other boats. We block the bow of our boat so when you take it off the trailer it doesn’t hang off the reverse gunnel. By having a reverse gunnel on our boats, the water hits the reverse gunnel and throws the water down making it an extremely dry ride. Our aluminum is made at another facility, but it’s our deal. All of our cup holders are insulated cup friendly, like I said it’s the little stuff. But if you fish, you know how important all those little things are. We listen to our people and we aren’t close minded. We are here to build to your taste.

Another great thing is, you can’t sink a Mowdy. Think of a surfboard that is totally encapsulated. You can punch a hole in it, but you can’t sink it. That’s a Mowdy. The 2 lb. closed cell foam can’t adsorb water.

When your boat is done, it comes with tags, registration, and everything else you need. It is ready to be picked up and put in the water. We build this boat for you and the only thing I want to see from you once you pick it up, is fish pictures.

How did you get involved with the CCA Star Tournament?

A 25’ Mowdy Catamaran in the beginning stages of being made.

My partner Frank has a good friend, Bill Kinney, who’s head of the Star Tournament. There was an opportunity that came available for the prize boat for largest trout divisions for the upper, middle and lower coast since Blue Wave Boats dropped out. Frank and I talked about it and said it was a great opportunity with CCA being such a good organization and they do a lot of good with scholarships for kids. If you are a saltwater fisherman and you aren’t entered in the Star Tournament, something is wrong with you. The prizes are great. This year there was 51,000+ entries in the Star Tournament. So we signed up for a 5 year agreement. This was our 4th year, and we are going to renew for 5 more years. Our business has definitely increased being involved with them.

Robbie and the rest of the friendly staff at Mowdy Boats welcomes you to stop by the facility in Port Lavaca to answer any of your questions or to get your new boat built and rigged. Tell them Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine sent you.

Buggy Whippin: Galveston sight casting with Capt. Clay Sheward

buggs lure redfish sheward Buggy Whippin: Galveston sight casting with Capt. Clay Sheward

Capt. Clay Sheward holds up a nice marsh redfish with a double spot tail.

Story and photography by Brandon Rowan

THE WATER IS STILL AND SO AM I. The redfish swims along a flat, that is painted with a palette of green sea grass and dull colored sand, unaware of our presence. On the bow of Capt. Clay Sheward’s skiff, I feel more like a hunter in a tree rather than a fisherman. The rod in my hand is the bow and the arrow is a hair-tied Buggs jig at the end of my line.

Clay gives the word and I make a light cast behind and ahead of the red. We can see everything in the water on this calm October morning. I reel quickly to intercept the moving fish and begin jigging to tempt what I hope is a hungry fish. My heart starts beating faster as the redfish inches closer and closer to my offering. Time thickens and that half  moment seems to last an eternity before the fish inhales the Buggs lure.

BEGINNINGS

Clay Sheward, 37, was born and raised in Spring, Texas. His passion for fly fishing started very early in life.

“I’ve been fly fishing for a really long time, since 1992, when the movie A River Runs Through It came out,” Clay said. “I saw that movie with my dad and that Christmas, my family provided me a fly tying kit and a fly rod.”

This film, which won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1993, is set in early 20th century Montana and follows a pair of brothers and their love of fly fishing. Many scenes in this movie do an excellent job of capturing the camaraderie of fishing; the tense moments before the catch and the  euphoria after the fact.

Clay cut his teeth fly fishing on the local ponds and creeks near the Woodlands, but as he grew older his love of fly fishing carried him to new locations.

“Mostly, I went to the Guadalupe and the White River in Arkansas. Sometimes my family would travel to Colorado. I didn’t get to do it a whole bunch but I would practice casting in the yard to teacups. Of course, I grew up and girls came along, but I always tied flies. I still do it regularly,” Clay said.

sheward fly fishing Buggy Whippin: Galveston sight casting with Capt. Clay Sheward

OCEAN CALLING

Eight years ago, Clay’s focus shifted from freshwater to saltwater fly fishing. First from a kayak, then to an Ankona ShadowCast 18 which served him and his customers well for several years. But in 2019, Clay was searching for his perfect skiff and finally found it.

“I run a 2019 Chittum Skiffs Laguna Madre with a 50HP Tohatsu. I couldn’t be happier. The trailer is gorgeous and it is such a really nice rig. I can’t believe that I have one. It’s just unbelievable,” Clay said.

The Chittum has expanded Clay’s range and clients of Buggy Whippin Sight Fishing enjoy access to the skinniest of waters in our area.

STUDENT OF NATURE

Clay’s love and careful examination of nature has paid dividends on the flats, where subtle, easily overlooked signs can tip off the location of fish.

“I like to watch animals. It doesn’t matter if it’s just me chilling in the backyard watching birds or hawks, or even seeing my dogs’ ears perk up when they catch a scent and chase it down,” Clay said. “Sitting stream-side, watching a trout circle behind a rock and then leave during changing cloud cover and then come back to the same spot several times a day. Or watching a spider build a web completely from start to finish. That sort of thing.”

Clay recently purchased a drone to better observe wildlife in the marsh. This eye in the sky lends a totally different point of view compared to a poling skiff.

“I’ve seen some crazy things with trout and redfish schooling up on the flats with the drone,” Clay said. “I’ve seen schools of redfish following one big alligator gar. Whatever the gar did, the redfish did the same. I’ve seen bobcats back there in Green’s Lake, as well as pigs. It’s educational as hell.”

Brandon Rowan with one of many redfish caught sight casting with Capt. Sheward.

TIME RETURNS TO NORMAL and I quickly bring my first sight-casted redfish to hand. I get a “Nice Job” and a fist bump from Clay after the release. The day is early and we continue our hunt for redfish along the sandy flat.

Stingrays, so many stingrays, hover along eeriely as we the glide down the shoreline. Flounder scoot away in a trail of punctuated mud puffs and gnarled, large crabs plod on slowly. This is my first time on a poling skiff and it 100% reminds me of flounder gigging. You are able to witness the abundant life of the bay, visually scanning until your target is located and then a careful approach begins. Unlike the rapid fire retrieves of blind fan casting, you often only get a single shot, like a sniper, when sight casting to a redfish.

Further down the flat, we have no problem tracking down more reds on this absolutely gorgeous day. Bronze backs and tails flick along the shorelines and shell points. Some of these we catch, others refuse the lure or fly, and others spook and run.

It felt like an entire day’s worth of fishing has happened but in reality only two hours have passed. But the day is young. We make a change, push off the flats and head back into the deeper recesses of the marsh.

This redfish absolutely crushed a Buggs Jig.

BUGGY WHIPPIN

Clients of Capt. Clay Sheward can expect to fish the maze of marshes and flats on the north shoreline of West Bay and the surrounding areas. There are opportunities to wade or even fish from shore. His Chittum Laguna Madre skiff has everything the fly angler could want and accommodates two fisherman.

However, you don’t need to know how to fly fish to enjoy sight casting for redfish. Catching these fish on light spinning tackle is still a blast and provides ample challenge. You will be thoroughly tested on how accurately and quickly you can place a cast.

“Scratch them on the chin” is what Clay advises when casting to a hungry redfish. It’s hard for them to resist an easy meal in front of their noses. An alternative method is to cast beyond and ahead of a fish, making sure you intercept its path.

No matter your tackle, stealth and speed are essential for success. Casts must be made quickly but delicately, without excessive movement. Heavy steps, twisting hips or any careless motion can rock the skiff and alert fish to your presence.

Clay does not sugar coat it. If you are doing something wrong, he will absolutely let you know. But the best teachers rarely coddle. Those ready to learn and listen have a high probability for an epic day of redfishing with Captain Clay Sheward.

Capt. Clay Sheward poles his Chittum Skiffs Laguna Madre along the flats.

KEEPING IT FLY

As a fledgling fly fisherman, I was eager to pick Clay’s brain on advice for those new to the sport.

“First, remember ‘Tip down, strip tight and everything will be alright,’” Clay said. “Second, if you feel like you need to go faster and harder, you probably need to go slower and softer, especially with a fly rod.”

Must-have flies include the Kwan, Clouser, Gurgler, spoon fly and any shrimp imitation with a weed guard. If Clay could only have one it would be the Kwan. He also recommends tying a loop knot, with as small a loop as possible, for most flies. He is an avid user of 16 and 20 lb tippets for his clients when targeting redfish on the upper coast. He is also a firm believer in casting whichever rod you are going to buy.

“Cast it and get what feels good to you. Redfish don’t need expensive fly reels. It’s nice to have, but not needed for reds in our area,” Clay said. “Gordy and Sons is one of the nicest fly shops in Houston. They’re no joke and the people that work there are extremely knowledgeable fly anglers.”

Although Clay’s all-time favorite fishing location is the Black Hills of South Dakota, his favorite fish to catch on the fly is the tripletail.

Umpqua’s Kwan fly, tied with bead chain eyes.

“Getting them to eat is the best because they are so stingy man! It’s got to be a perfect presentation,” Clay said. “You can get really close to them though and that gets the nerves going. I think that’s my favorite right now, but chasing a redfish with its back out of the water, and poling up to them…hunting them, that’s always going to be for me.”

THE SUN IS OUT NOW and we find ourselves deep in the marsh, floating along a back creek that is absolutely full of redfish. We glide over schools of erratic, frenzied bait as multiple big redfish cruise down the shoreline, picking them off lazily, one by one.

Clay’s oversized redfish.

It’s been several hours since we left the dock and I’ve honed in on what’s needed to effectively spot and cast to fish, thanks to Clay’s instruction.

We absolutely tore it up on that little stretch of water. After each fish caught and released, we seemed to spot another one right away. Clay caught an absolute beauty of a fish that taped out barely over 28 inches; a heartbreaker of a fish if it was a tournament day.

My favorite catch of the day was an upper slot redfish that came on a second chance. We had a pair of fish swim across our path that ignored the first presentation. They picked up speed and starting swimming away, no longer in sight. I flung out a far cast, as delicately as I could, and started jigging back to where I thought they might be. I knew I got it right when my reel’s drag started screeching.  After a rigorous fight, I brought the bronzed backed, pumpkin eyed fish in for a quick photo and release.

It was early in the afternoon but we decided to end the day on high note. The Chittum snaked its way through the marsh lanes as we made the scenic trek back to the dock. I was definitely impressed with the way the boat handled.  It took on chop with no issue, didn’t slide around the corners and granted us access to areas other poling skiffs couldn’t reach that day.

I’ve caught my fair share of redfish and I’ve got to say this was the absolute, most exciting way to catch them. If you have a background in kayaking, gigging or hunting, and you haven’t sight casted to redfish, you are missing out I’d say.

Summer and fall are Clay Sheward’s favorite times to be on the water but winter does have its perks.

“The water is so clear in the winter and it’s so fun. You can see everything on the bottom when you’re poling. You can learn so much, it’s incredible.”

Book a trip with Capt. Clay Sheward by visting buggywhippin.com, emailing claysheward@gmail.com or calling/texting 281-745-1578. Rates for two people max are 4 hours at $450, 6 hours at $550 and 8 hours at $650. Check him out on Instagram and Facebook @BuggyWhippin

Check out the heart shaped spot on Clay’s redfish!

Late Fall Galveston Bay Fishing

red fish rach Late Fall Galveston Bay Fishing

Rachel Thevenet

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

Wow. It’s hard to believe that another year has passed. I wrote this article on the verge of Halloween, and finally the Upper Coast had its first passage of a “cold front.” Although not really cold, it at least got us out of summer-like temperatures and hopefully curtailed the remaining hurricane season. Tropical Storm Imelda, wreaked enough havoc in some places along the Upper Coast of Texas.

Prior to the arrival of Imelda, Galveston Bay was flourishing with speckled trout and redfish. The fish were being caught over the entire bay system. Then when everything was setting up for some outstanding late September and October fishing in Galveston Bay, torrential local rainfall and subsequent runoff curtailed the action. I am praying that this November and December, we see a return to a near normal weather pattern and end this year with some great fishing and catches.

big ug Late Fall Galveston Bay Fishing

Barry Lofton

I am optimistic that the fish will be caught from the traditional locations for this time of year. Trinity Bay should produce it’s fair share of speckled trout and redfish in November. Both shorelines in Trinity, depending upon the wind, will be excellent choices for those who like to wade and or boat fish. Jack’s Pocket should not be overlooked. The fish were there prior to Imelda!  Also in November, the shoreline between Eagle Point and April Fool Point, has always been productive, especially with a North-Northwest wind.

December, look for the fish to be transitioning to the Northwest reaches of our bay. Tabbs, Crystal, Scott and Burnett bays will all produce fish. This area offers shelter from the winds and provides the fish with deep water protection from severe cold fronts. One of the best stringers of fish I ever caught came from this area with air temperature hovering around 30 degrees. Clear Lake should not be overlooked during this month. Again, it offers the protection from the wind and allows the fish to slide off into deeper water in case of a severe temperature drop.

In November and December the flounder fishing is in full swing! The usual places should all produce excellent catches. The Galveston Harbor would be high on my list as the top spot. Of course, shorelines adjacent to major marsh drains, passes and the Galveston Jetties are also good.

Remember to take precautions this time of year. Check the weather and dress for the conditions. I highly recommend a waterproof/windproof jacket and carrying an extra set of dry clothing. Enjoy the Holidays and remember that the Houston Boat Show begins the first week of January. I will be there at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth during the show. Eagle Point should have plenty of live shrimp and mudfish for the angler.

Galveston Live Shrimp Shortage

skrimp Galveston Live Shrimp Shortage

shrimpHong Kong food and culture

Are they in jeopardy for the future?

By Capt. Joe Kent

Live shrimp likely are the most popular and sought after bait along the Gulf Coast.  While inventories at bait shops have been erratic this season, anglers willing to search a wide area around the Galveston Bay Complex usually have been able to locate live shrimp.

What does the future hold for this valuable resource?  Will we have sufficient supplies for future generations? What will the cost be for Gulf Coast anglers?

Live shrimp are caught by shrimpers dragging their nets in the bays.  For many decades there were few regulations on shrimpers; however, as the number of bay shrimpers increased, problems began and a multitude of regulations were enacted.

Beginning in the late 1970s, shortages of redfish and speckled trout started showing up.  While fish-killing freezes had a major impact, studies showed that the bays were being over harvested by shrimpers, along with the resulting by catch mortality rate for other marine life.

The first step was to ban any future commercial shrimp trawl licenses.  While this halted future shrimpers getting into the business, it did not address the large numbers of boats working the bays day in and day out.  For that reason a “buy-back” program was started where shrimpers could sell their licenses and have them taken off of the books, meaning eliminating another shrimp boat from shrimping the bays.

After over 20 years of the buy back program and no additional permits being issued, the numbers of active shrimpers started to dwindle.

Recently, the owner of two bait shops in the Galveston area visited with me about his concerns and the problems likely to occur if something does not change.

Some of the concerns he expressed were that bait shrimpers are leaving the business at a rapid rate making it increasingly difficult to obtain dependable supplies of live shrimp.  The bait shops and camps most affected are the smaller ones that cannot justify having a designated shrimper for their supplies.

The cost of diesel, the most common fuel for shrimp boats, is increasing and the shrimp stocks are declining.  A good number of shrimp boat operators have relocated from the Galveston Bay Complex to areas where shrimp are more plentiful.

The current regulations also contribute to the problem, as they were enacted based on a much higher number of shrimp boats operating in the bays.

In the past, shrimpers would drag for both live shrimp for the bait shops and table shrimp for seafood markets.  Low table shrimp prices driven by imported foreign shrimp currently make it unprofitable for them to go after table shrimp.

Now, let’s take a look at what is going to take place if nothing changes.  Higher prices and more shortages will be the result.

As fuel prices increase, the profits for shrimpers decrease.  With the restrictions on poundage they are allowed to catch daily, the result is obvious.  Higher prices at the bait camps, for live shrimp when available.  Today, the average price for a quart of live shrimp in the Galveston Bay Complex is around $20.  If prices increased to say $35/quart would anglers continue to purchase this bait?  Also, there is a good possibility that shrimp would start selling by the dozen and not by the pint or quart.

Along the Southeast Atlantic coast, live shrimp go for between $5.00 and $7.00 per dozen.  If this practice was adopted along the Gulf Coast and if the price of shrimp rose, just think about how far a couple of dozen of shrimp at say $12.00/dozen would go during the summer when almost every fish and crab are in a feeding mode.

Summertime anglers know how many shrimp are lost to bait snatchers and take that into consideration when purchasing live bait.  The result would be an unaffordable fishing trip at the higher prices.

While there is not much we can do about the foreign shrimp competition or fuel prices, one thing that should take place is for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to reevaluate the poundage limitation for bay shrimpers considering that there are much fewer shrimp boats on the water today.

The TPWD has done an excellent job of managing our wildlife resources and hopefully they will continue that trend by doing what is best for our future supplies of live shrimp.

TIE ONE ON: Capt. Wayne Davis

wayne snook TIE ONE ON: Capt. Wayne Davis

WE ASK captains, guides and those in the industry what they’re throwing, for what species and what they’re drinking after a long day of fishing.

WAYNE DAVIS: Full-time fishing guide of Hook Down Charters specializing in wading with artificial lures in Port Mansfield, Texas. www.kwigglers.com | 210-287-3877

kw willow tail TIE ONE ON: Capt. Wayne Davis

The Willow Tail comes in a variety of fish catching colors.

First, I use soft plastics (KWigglers) 95% of the time, the other five percent you can catch me throwing topwaters.  Over the last couple years, I have found myself throwing the Willow Tail Shad (WTS) most of the time.  This is a very effective shallow water bait and I always rig it on our 2/0, 1/8 oz. short shank black nickel hook.

All of my charters are done wading with artificial lures. I am never fishing over 3 feet, and most of the time it is less than thigh deep. With the WTS and small jighead I can effectively, and with control, work the lure in just about any condition (grass, potholes, ledges etc..)

Every short twitch with the rod tip makes that WTS tail flip flop around – I believe the lackadaisical attitude of the bait entices a strike from just about any fish.  The WTS is a lazy bait, not designed for a simple cast and retrieve method.  The angler should work the bait.  The mere profile of the WTS is in and of itself luring to big fish.

Over the last two years I have been targeting and have been able to somewhat pattern South Texas Snook.  To date, I have landed 52 during my trips.  Almost all of them have been over 28 inches, with the largest one taping out at 35 inches and 13 pounds. All have come on the Willow Tail.  I also caught the STAR winning trout while snook fishing – a 31+ incher at 9.5 pounds.  Since I am a licensed captain I do not qualify for CCA STAR so the fish was released (it would have been anyway).

As far as a dock cocktail after a day of fishing – well of course the “Wiggler.” White rum, cranberry and a splash of grapefruit juice. I took it to our local restaurant in Port Mansfield, The Pelican, and they loved it so much they put it on their menu and it is the number one selling cocktail.

Remembering Capt. Aubrey Black

baffin bay rod gun Remembering Capt. Aubrey Black

Capt. Aubrey Black and the love of his life, Capt. Sally, combined their talents, experience and passion for the outdoors and started the fishing and hunting lodge of their dreams, Baffin Bay Rod and Gun.

aubrey black Remembering Capt. Aubrey Black

By Kelly Groce

On October 3, 2019 the fishing community unexpectedly lost one of the great ones, Capt. Aubrey Black of Baffin Bay Rod and Gun. Aubrey was a kind and wonderful man whose passion was putting his clients on their personal best speckled trout.

Together, Aubrey and his wife, Capt. Sally, achieved their dream of having a first-class fishing and hunting lodge on Baffin Bay. Sally is absolutely devastated by the loss of Aubrey, but very thankful for all of the outpouring support from friends, family and the fishing community.

To keep Aubrey’s legacy alive, Capt. Sally and the entire crew at Baffin Bay Rod and Gun invite everyone to continue booking fishing and hunting trips at “The Last Best Place on the Texas Coast.”  Visit them online at www.baffinbayrodandgun.com

Making Dreams Come True

eric simmons Making Dreams Come True

Eric Simmons, owner of ES Custom Boats and Simmons Custom Rigging, builds high performance, shallow draft boats.

Eric Simmons of ES Custom Boats and Simmons Custom Rigging builds dream boats one hull at a time

By Brandon Rowan

In 2003, tournament angler and fishing guide Eric Simmons had a decision to make: continue guiding or focus on a dream of building his perfect boat. Fast forward sixteen years later, and Simmons is making others’ dreams come true with his shallow draft, ultra high performance boat, the Revolution.

“The Revolution series builds on our history of know-how,” Eric Simmons said. “We’re always evolving and building a better product.”

trophy trout trophies Making Dreams Come True

Eric’s tournament background played a role in the design of his high speed boats.

BIRDS BEFORE BOATS

Born and raised in Freeport, Eric’s first love was duck hunting and all he ever wanted to do. Needing something to do in the offseason, he later discovered a second love, fishing.

“As soon as I could, I got a boat and a truck and started fishing up and down the Texas Coast. I didn’t come from a big hunting or fishing family so I’m not sure where I got it from. But I loved it. I made a lot of good life long friends doing that,” Simmons said.

Eric was fortunate to be up-and-coming during a lot of the big Mickey Eastman Troutmasters style tournaments. These life experiences shaped his boat’s design.

“Tournament anglers like the Revolution. It’s a boat race with some fishing sprinkled in there, so we do cater to that,” Simmons said.

Through guiding and tournaments, Eric gained a lot of knowledge and insight on what he wanted to see in his perfect fishing boat. Slowly over time he realized what he was looking for didn’t exist. And despite no formal education in nautical design, he decided he was going to build his own. The rest is history.

“I am self taught, a student of the game. I had the desire and want to do it,” Simmons said.

ES Custom Boat’s Revolution is powered by Mercury Racing Outboards.

A LEAGUE APART

The Revolution is CAD designed and blends efficiency with shallow water capability. There’s a lot of shallow draft cats out there but that’s not what sets the Revolution apart.

“The handling characteristics of our boats stand alone,” Simmons said. “The performance and speed are in a different league. Our hulls have some of the best ride quality out there.”

The Revolution is made to order and a waiting list of 12-16 months is typical. But good things come to those that wait. Customers of ES Custom Boats have the privilege of truly crafting their dream boat from the ground up.

“We have a hull and deck mold, but the color, the way you lay it out, and your style of fishing has a lot to do with the end result, as well as your budget and imagination,” Simmons said. “It’s fun to do each one. They’re all a little bit different.”

Everything starts with an idea on paper. Once a plan is in place, the hull is created at the glass shop, gel coat is sprayed and the deck and fuel tanks are added. The hull then moves to the rigging shop where it stays for two to three weeks. Engines, electronics, aluminum work and any and all marine accessories are added. A Power-Pole shallow water anchor system is affixed to every boat. Eric prefers top-shelf, hand picked products from companies like Power-Pole, Simrad, Wet Sounds Audio and Mercury Racing.

The Revolution is outfitted with Simrad electronics.

“I am OEM with Mercury and Mercury Racing. I’ve always liked their product; it has given us an edge. They have a full array of factory props that work well with our boats. Sometimes with custom props you never know what you will get from one to the other,” Simmons said.

The Revolution also features high quality anodized Jack Plates from Bob’s Machine Shop in Florida. Theirs is a superior design; strong, simple and very fast. Eric prides himself on attention to detail and total control over quality.

“We do say no to certain ideas because we may have tinkered with it and realize it didn’t work. We like to keep control so there’s no oddball boats out there somebody isn’t happy with. We don’t go with who is going to give us the deal but who is going to give us the best results,” Simmons said.

The Revolution comes in two lengths, the 23 and 25. Both perform similarly and are a matter of preference. The 23 is preferred by solo anglers, smaller groups and those who don’t have the space to accommodate the 25.

THE FUN PART

Once work is completed in the rigging and aluminum shops, the boat is turned over to Eric.

“I get the fun part of water testing each one,” Eric said with a smile. “My job is to make sure she floats and quality control every little thing I can find.”

After that, the boat is detailed, another checklist is completed and she is out the door to a happy new owner. ES Custom Boats currently produces three boats a month but Eric’s goal for 2020 is to build a boat a week. And if that isn’t enough to keep them busy, Simmons Custom Rigging also outfits boats of other makes, with several aluminum or rigging jobs a year. The shop recently outfitted a bare hull Majek with a riser box, complete aluminum work and the console.

Another attractive aspect for customers of ES Custom Boats is the resale value. A lot of custom boats take a dive in value the second they leave the yard.

“Our resale value is extremely high,” Eric said. “A lot of my return customers have reported that they’ve broken even or made money when they sell. It’s not guaranteed but it seems to be the case out there.”

Eric Simmons with one of his custom coolers and “office security.”

FAMILY GUY

When Eric isn’t in the shop or tinkering with designs, he is passionate about his family.

“We like going out on the boat in the summer time,” Eric said. “We’re a boating family, that’s my biggest thing. I have three kids with my wife Candace; Hailey is 10, Cole is 12, and Olivia is 15 and has her driver’s permit.”

But with the kids back to school, Eric’s attention turns to his two favorite fishing targets, trout and redfish.

“I like winter time fishing. The bays are a lot quieter, there’s less people out there and you’re after a different caliber of fish. That’s what I really enjoy.”

For more information on building your dream boat, visit simmonscustomrigging.com or call the office at (832) 864-2331

Catch and Release Tips

souleredfish Catch and Release Tips

Steve Soule releases a slot redfish with care.

Caring for your catch: Handling fish and releasing properly

By Steve Soule | www.ultimatedetailingllc.com

There are probably not many people reading this article or others in this magazine that don’t have a great respect of fish, wildlife and the great outdoors in general. I know that over many years of fishing and spending time on and around coastal waters, my appreciation of the natural beauty and numerous species it supports has only grown greater.

With the vast majority of us spending too many days in offices, stuck on highways, and staring at small screens, time spent outdoors only grows more precious. It has always felt like time well spent, whether fishing for fun or for money as a tournament angler or guide. Understanding the value of the natural resources we have and consciously working to ensure that we can continue to enjoy it for many generations to come is of paramount importance.

CHANGING OF THE BAY

For those that are younger, newer to an area, or just haven’t spent as much time along the coastal waters, change definitely won’t be so noticeable. For those who have been on and around the coast for 10, 20 or 30 more years, change is striking and often disturbing. Coastal development, land erosion, dredge work and many other factors affect the bays and waterways. Some of these factors are just a part of nature and will happen regardless of human impact. Others are a direct effect of our desire to be on or near the water and the need for infrastructure and transportation in and around waterways. Those of us on the upper Texas Coast utilize and enjoy one of the most heavily populated and heavily trafficked bays in Texas.

Galveston Bay has an uncanny ability to withstand catastrophic events and rebound amazingly well. With near constant dredge work, endless barge and ship traffic, an enormous amount of recreational users, run-off water that none of us want to know the content of, and an occasional spill or collision leaking hazardous chemicals into the system, its truly miraculous how abundant this fishery remains. Wildlife in and around Galveston Bay seems to somehow pull through many challenges. The diversity of the system plays a huge role in this; three major Gulf inlets(for the moment), numerous rivers, creeks and bayous that empty into it and vast satellite nursery areas around the bay provide habitat. Given these facts, plus the sheer size of the bay, fish and other sea creatures seem to thrive on their ability to move around the bay system under varying conditions.

Fish and their food sources move around the bay every year, for the reasons listed above and many others. Couple this fact with the not-always-great water conditions and the prospect of catching fish can become daunting. Kudos to those who have figured out how to consistently catch fish here or in any saltwater bay system, as it is often difficult.

doubleredfish Catch and Release Tips

Clay Sheward and Rick Spillman with a double hookup on redfish.

STEWARDSHIP

Having fished the upper coast for a little over 30 years now, I’ve experienced good and bad. I’ve had more tough days of fishing than I care to admit or recall. I’ve found some great success, and always tried to keep track of how and why, so that I could hopefully repeat those days. I’ve seen some staggering changes and of course developed some very strong opinions based on years of observation.

Though I do eat fish from time to time, and killed more fish in the past for tournaments than I wish that I had, I have come to a point where I only take fish that I can eat that day. I have two primary reasons for this: first, I can assure you that fresh fish tastes much better than frozen. Second, for me, the enjoyment of fishing has always been about the chase and pleasure of fishing and catching them, rather than eating them.

There are laws in place designed to help control and maintain the fish populations that do a reasonably good job of ensuring that we will be able to enjoy the resource for many years to come. Each and every licensed fisher in the state is entitled to participate and enjoy consumption within those laws.

I’m not going to advocate change, though I was pleased when TPWD announced the reduction in speckled trout bag limit this year. I believe that decision will help overall populations. What I would really like to address isn’t the laws, changes to them or enforcement of them. I am of the opinion that those who most frequently use the resource, especially those who make their living from our fisheries, are the ones with the greatest responsibility to maintain the resource and teach future generations.

This group of people, in many cases, knows the condition of the habitat and fishery better than the politicians and lawmakers that govern over it. I have heard many different ideas and opinions about regulations and changes to them and how they will affect guides and commercial fishers. Probably the largest impact that can be controlled is that of the recreational fishing industry.

As a guide, I would say it is in your best interest to encourage that people only take the fish they plan to eat within a short period of time. Definitely, do not catch an additional limit and keep for your customers, since this has been a law for many years now. And as a steward of the fishery and in the interest of ensuring you have fish to catch in the future, encourage catch and release. Trust me, your customers book you because they enjoy fishing with you and respect your knowledge and want your guidance. They aren’t showing up because they have found the best way to feed their families. And yes, they will continue to come back to fish as long as there are fish to catch.

Now that we have jumped onto the catch and release train, we can start thinking about the impact we have there. I’ve spent a lot of years fishing primarily catch and release and have learned a lot about how to make sure fish survive and swim away healthy. I’m going to list some very basic rules to help make sure that are efforts are rewarded with a thriving population of fish.

TIPS FOR CATCH & RELEASE

  • Fight fish quickly to help reduce stress and exhaustion effects
  • Minimize the time fish are out of the water. They can’t breathe when there isn’t water passing their gills!
  • Avoid putting fish in contact with dry surfaces. It removes their protective slime. (wet hands to grab, keep off of hot boat decks)
  • If you can, release the fish without removing from the water.
  • Hold fish horizontally when out of the water. They don’t have support for internal organs so holding vertically can cause damage.
  • If possible, don’t hold fish by lips or jaws. ( Lipping and weighing devices that hold fish by lip or jaws can cause serious damage to connective tissue around the jaw.
  • Always attempt to revive fish by holding in water by the tail until they can swim away strongly.
  • If you’re going to measure a fish, wet the ruler.
  • Don’t force the jaws of a fish to overextend with lipping tools

A FEW MORE THOUGHTS

Fish are fairly durable and can handle being caught and released, but limiting adverse effects helps to make sure our efforts aren’t in vain. Making the effort to encourage and practice catch and release among recreational anglers and guides will almost certainly have a bigger impact on fisheries than regulations. I’ve never been one to believe that government knows or can react fast enough to be the best steward of resources. I firmly believe that as recreational users of the fishery, we stand to lose the most so we should work to maintain it. Killing 30 fish for your customers may be your right, but posting pictures of dead fish in a cooler or on the deck of your boat probably isn’t the best way to market how you help to keep our fishery strong.

Just because you have the opportunity to fish every day, doesn’t mean you should kill fish every day. One day you may just run out of fish. Killing a big trout or redfish for food isn’t great; expect parasitic worms and mushy trout fillets. Plus, the giant rib cage of a bull red yields much less meat than expected. These fish are also important spawners and make future fish generations possible. The same does not apply to flounder fillets, but we do need to maintain a strong breed stock.

Short sided planning around your love of fishing will likely lead to long term disappointment in your catching.