Women’s Swimwear and Fishing Apparel from Scales Gear
Adrienne Hall in the Ocean Scales bikini by Scales Gear. Photography by Kelly Groce.
By Kelly Groce
Inspired by the protection and hydrodynamic advantage fish scales provide; SCALES created a unique product line using the highest quality materials that combines performance, style and comfort for their apparel and accessories. Here is some of our favorite picks from their women’s gear.
WAHOO TRIANGLE TOP – A classic bikini top in a colorful-inspired Wahoo design.
WAHOO BAITING SUIT SOLO BOTTOM – A classic bikini bottom with added flare of the squid skirt tassels will make this bottom the talk of the boat, beach or the pool!
OCEAN SCALES BIKINI
OCEAN SCALES BIMINI TWIST TOP – A twist on a timeless bikini silhouette with a flattering Ocean Scales design.
OCEAN SCALES BANDED BOTTOM (ADDITIONAL COVERAGE) – Extra comfortable classic bikini bottom in a colorful Ocean Scales design.
TROPICAL SAILFISH PERFORMANCE TOP
A lightweight, comfortable and athletic fit performance shirt. Comes with a vibrant color sublimated print.
Model Adrienne Hall in the Wahoo Baiting Suit by Scales Gear. Photography by Kelly Groce.
Texas Yellowfin Tuna 101
A Quick Guide to Fishing the Floaters
By Brandon Rowan
Night owls rejoice, Texas yellowfin tuna fishing is hot from dusk to dawn. So, it’s pitch black and you’re bobbing along 100 plus miles offshore at the floaters (semi-submersible rigs). Well now what?
Blackfin tuna will provide all the bait and chum you need.
First things first, you need chum. The idea is to create a tasty trail of bread crumbs for fish to follow as you drift away from the rig. You could bring a bag of shad or other baitfish to get you started but all the chum and bait you need is right below your boat in the form of blackfin tuna.
Cousin to the yellowfin, these smaller tuna max out at around 50 pounds and swarm the night waters around the floaters. There is no minimum length or bag limit for blackfin tuna in Federal waters. Take the knife to smaller, football sized fish but bleed and ice the larger 15-30 pounders. They put up a surprisingly good fight and taste nearly as good as yellowfin, just make sure to remove the large bloodline. What is the best way to catch blackfin tuna? Jigs are your best bet.
Blackfin are not particularly finicky and will hit just about any diamond, knife or butterfly jig you send down to the deep. Jigs from 4 to 10 ounces with glow-in-the-dark colors seem to draw the most attention. Yellowfin will also hit jigs although not with the regularity of blackfin. In fact, on one trip my two best yellowfin tuna, in the 50-pound class, were caught with glow-in-the-dark and blue 8-ounce diamond jigs.
To start your drift, position the boat down current of the platform and drop your jigs down. Stay alert as you let your lure fall, many times fish will strike as the jig flutters downward. If your line suddenly goes slack, ratchet up the drag and set the hook.
The Japanese style of speed jigging can work in this situation but is tiring and not necessary when many bites happen on the fall. A slower yo-yo style of jigging is also effective, and if you’re at the right depth then sometimes a few lifts of the rod tip is all it takes to entice a bite. Load your jigging reels with color metered braid to help determine what depth the fish are feeding. Sometimes it’s 30 feet, other times it can be 300 feet.
If things are going as planned, then you should have plenty of blackfin after a drift or two. Cut your fish into one-to-two inch chunks and keep them handy in a designated chum bucket. On your next drift have one angler continue to jig while another tosses out a handful of chunks every couple of minutes. Set up two drift lines, one long and one short, each sporting a large bloody chunk of blackfin at the business end.
Chunking, as it is called, provides your best chance for landing big yellowfin tuna, so heavier tackle is a must. Stout stand-up rods, 30 or 50 lb. class reels, 50 to 100 pound fluorocarbon leaders and strong 4/0 to 8/0 circle hooks are standard gear. You don’t want to be outgunned when that 100 pounder finds its way to your chum line. Don’t be discouraged if the bite doesn’t happen in first 15 minutes. Many good fish have been hooked and landed far from the rig’s lights.
Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull Metallic Popper
Pop the Top
Yellowfin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico sometimes shy away from jigs but will violently assault a topwater lure if conditions are right. It’s a good idea to have a heavy spinning setup ready at all times for tossing poppers to surface crashing yellowfin. It is not uncommon to see tuna leap high out of the water when in pursuit of flying fish. A Shimano Saragosa or Stella loaded with 60 to 80 pound braid on a 7 – 8 foot rod is a common outfit. See this article for more detailed information on rods and reels.
The technique for working these lures is similar to the ole’ tried and true popping cork. A flick of the rod tip causes the lure’s cupped mouth to rush forward and create a commotion. They can also be reeled in ultra fast to create a big splashing disturbance on the surface. If the flying fish have taken to the skies, then it could be a good time to toss a popper.
Tuna absolutely love flying fish.
Skimming the Big Pool
Flying fish are tuna candy. Sometimes they’re so thick they’ll fly right into the boat. Other times they drift tantalizingly close but still out of reach. Your standard backyard pool skimming net solves this problem. Flying fish make superb bait so collect as many as you can and put them to work on a drift line. Nothing beats the real thing.
A Bloody Mess
Tuna fishing is exciting, it definitely tests your arms and back – but it is not clean. You might want to wear an old shirt you don’t particularly care about. Tuna must be bled to ensure the highest quality of meat. Cut the gills or make a small semi-circle cut behind the pectoral fin to drain your fish before boxing it. You can go a step further and gut the fish, remove the head and pack the body cavity with ice if you find down time between fish. Good luck and tight lines!
Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick
Anastasia Musick with her tarpon painting “Eyes on the Prize.”
Interview by Kelly Groce
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start painting?
Originally I am from Kazakhstan but I have lived all over Europe and Asia (11 countries to be exact) before I was even 17!Shortly after I came along, my family endured many hardships from the changing times, causing us to constantly move.
Like many young kids, I was fond of drawing, painting and anything artistic, but I tended to dedicate all of my time to this interest over anything else.Certainly it was a good focus, as no matter where we lived or what the language, I had to start learning that particular year(s), I had consistency and stability in my artwork. I think was more beneficial to me than anything.
When I was around 11 years old, I was starting to paint and draw animals and floral art at a very rapid rate.My mother would place the finished works in shops wherever we were living at the time.By the time I was 15, I was being contacted for commissioned pieces of a very wide array of subjects, including freshwater fish, birds, and a lot of floral works.
How did you get into painting wildlife?
I have from the very beginning painted a host of subjects without boundary, but I would say that the time period I started focusing mostly on marine and wildlife was 2-3 years ago. My first saltwater piece was around that time as well.
“Dancing in the Moonlight”
Aside from art, what else are you passionate about?
Well to be completely honest, I don’t really have much time to do much else!I paint 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and when I am caught up I try to go fishing or enjoy my time on the water.I take what I do incredibly seriously and try to give every ounce of energy I have to becoming better. After all, I have a lot of folks who have invested in me by owning originals.I would be doing them a disservice if I did not increase their piece’s value over time.
I do love to fish but unless it’s a subject I am completely new to, it really does not make the artworks any better to continually see the same species—at least for me it doesn’t, but what does improve the paintings is pure repetition. This is the only requirement needed to have the knowledge or capability to paint or draw anything with success.
What is your favorite fish to catch?
Redfish and Mahi.
Favorite location to fish or travel?
When time allows, I like to take either my paddle boat or kayak to a tiny little area in Charlotte Harbor that always is harboring at least a few hungry reds!Within the last two years my vacationing has been sort of limited, but I have really enjoyed the various beaches I’ve visited in Texas and of course the boardwalk in San Antonio was a fun time.
Favorite fishing moment?
The very first redfish I caught had a little over 13 spots and I think that’s when I fell in love with fishing and wanted to dedicate that as my predominate focus.
How can our readers purchase and enjoy your art?
I have hundreds of pieces that I do reproductions of in small numbers, apparel and a host of other things available.Easiest way to contact me is either to go to Facebook and search me out: Anastasia Musick. Also feel free to contact me on my business page: Musick Art Corporation. You can also find my website at www.AnastasiaMusick.com
Are there any foundations or organizations you are involved with that you would like to tell our readers about?
I work with CCA Texas, Florida and several kidney research foundations.In 2019 I was selected to be the Texas CCA STAR Platinum Print Artist and would like to continue working with them and others.
“The Prospectors Bill”
Texas Billfishing Lures
Four top Texas captains give up the billfish lures that are always in their spread and should be in yours.
Moldcraft Wide Range with black/purple skirt. (no. 26)
Capt. Darrell Weigelt – PATRON
“My favorite lure for Texas billfishing is the Moldcraft Wide Range in black and purple. I can pull it anywhere in the spread and get good action from it in almost any condition. This lure catches a lot of big blue marlin. It is responsible for a massive 1,742-pound marlin, as well as the 80 pound line class world record blue of 1,189 pounds.”
Some of Capt. Deerman’s favorite Wide Range color combos.
Capt. Kevin Deerman – LEGACY
“On the Legacy, we have about 20 lures that I would consider our ‘A Team.’ These are the lures that have been productive for us on the Legacy and also on other boats that I have been on in years past. As far as picking a favorite, I would have to say the Moldcraft Wide Range would be my choice in any color combo. This one always finds a spot in our spread either as a lure with hooks, at the end of a daisy chain or by itself as a hookless teaser. Because it’s a soft lure we get more bites out of a fish and more opportunities at hookups.”
Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus 03/46 skirt combo at Melton International Tackle.
Capt. Troy Day
Owner Jasen Gast – REHAB
“My favorite lure for Texas billfishing is the Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus. It was designed by fishermen in Hawaii who catch more big blue marlin on lures than potentially any other place in the world. Run off the short or long rigger position, this lure is a proven billfish raiser for us. It creates a lot of noise in the water and pulls extremely well in a variety of weather conditions we see here in the Gulf of Mexico. Both the Ruckus and Baby Ruckus models are very aggressive and create quite the billfish attracting commotion.”
Makaira 19 – Chartreuse Paua Shell – Blue/Silver over Green/Chartreuse
Makaira Brutus – Blue Paua Shell/Silver Mirror w/ Silver Eyes – Blue/Silver/Black Bars over Purple/Black
Capt. Brett Holden – BOOBY TRAP
“Due to weather, we only have so many days to fish here in the Gulf. So if I’m chasing billfish I’m going to make it count. Makaira Pulling Lures, custom handmade lures by Justin Roper in Louisiana, are my first choice for trolling. Justin has 19 different lure heads, from slant to yap to chugger, in a variety of colors and weighted in couple different ways. My favorites are the 19, Brutus and Mars. I prefer to rig them with a single stiff or single semi-stiff hook. I’ll always the remember the first day I trolled a Makaira. We were in 400–500 feet of water and a big blue marlin inhaled the lure off the flat line right away. We ended up catching 12 wahoo and four big dolphin in an hour and a half after that first big blue. Since that day, I’ve made it a point to always have Makairas in my spread.”
Deep Drop Techniques for Grouper and Tilefish
Chelsey Holden and a very colorful tilefish.
Capt. Brett Holden with a real nice yellowedge grouper.
By Capt. Brett Holden
Deep dropping for tilefish and grouper is becoming more and more popular by the day here in the Gulf of Mexico. I began fishing for these deep-water critters in the mid-1980s, and the sport has grown into a daily routine for many Gulf anglers.
Faster boats with longer range have now made fish like warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, yellowedge grouper, longtail sea bass, barrelfish, tilefish and others easier targets for many Texas sport fishing vessels. These deep drop techniques will help you find these fish in 400–1,300 feet of water.
Capt. Matt Reed, left, and Capt. Jeff Wilson with a warsaw grouper.
Species of the Deep
Mike Parsons with a huge tilefish that measured in at 43 inches and 33.08 pounds.
Warsaw, yellowedge and longtail sea bass are commonly found around mountain tops, hard spots and deep water oil rigs in the 400–900 foot range. Warsaw grouper, on average, run anywhere from 40–100 pounds. But over the years I’ve seen several fish up to 250 pounds and a couple in the 300-pound range. Regulations have changed and now only one warsaw per-vessel is allowed.
Yellowedge grouper are delicious and average 8–18 pounds, with a few 20–30 pounders still caught fairly regularly. The largest one we ever caught was around 50 pounds.
‘Bubba’ with a longtail sea bass.
Longtail sea bass are another fish that seem to inhabit the same area. They are good eating but hold a little stronger taste than the deep-water grouper. Once again, these fish are mostly found in the 400–900 foot range.
Barrelfish and tilefish run a little deeper on average. For big barrelfish, you want to fish down current from the edges and walls of deep water mountain tops. The edges will have well-defined drops and barrelfish can stack up very thick at the top and bottom of this structure. They’re usually found a bit higher off the sea floor and mark well on a good bottom machine. These fish are most often found between depths of 850–1,200 feet.
Capt. Jeff Wilson and Mike Parsons with a trio of barrelfish.
Many times the deeper you drop for barrels, the bigger the fish tend to be. Last year we found a pile of barrels at 900 feet that ran 3–8 pounds. We moved off that ridge and found another school in 1,170-to-1,225 feet of water. All of the barrels off that ridge were running 12–18 pounds on average. These fish are a blast; they fight all the way to the surface, unlike many deep water species that tend to “blow up” as they near the surface. The barrels fight hard and really put a bend in the rod.
Tilefishing is a fast growing sport and produces exceptional table fare. Not long ago, tilefish were pretty much unheard of as a rod and reel fish. I caught my first one in the mid-1980s and have been targeting them every since. This fishery was kept very quiet for a long time and was a pretty big secret. Back in the 1990s, there were no limits on tiles, and that is what we filled our freezers with. But still to this day, they are a fish you can actually go target and pick up a few meals.
We have bigger tilefish here in the Gulf than most people would think. Just a few years ago, the record tilefish was only around four pounds. But I have caught uncountable tilefish running 25–35 pounds
and several that have been 35–45 pounds, including a couple near 50 pounds. Now that eyes are opening to the new daytime swordfishing industry here on the Texas coast, more and more tilefish are being boated.
Tilefish are probably the easiest of all the deep water fish you can target. The golden tilefish is most commonly found in the 900–1,250 foot range. Smaller tiles, averaging 2–10 pounds, can be targeted on the continental shelf wall without any special areas or specific “numbers.” Muddy areas anywhere from 900–1,000 feet of open water will hold tilefish.
Finding better average sized fish will take a little more work. Tilefish will typically get bigger off the shelf, or in valleys against the shelf. Drop on the down current side of small dips and slopes in 1,000–1,250 feet of water. Tilefish tend to feed right on the bottom, so try to stop your bait and hold the boat on an area as tight as possible.
However, slow drifting will also produce tilefish and is great for covering ground. Drag the bait against the bottom, stopping often, and then continuing the drift to explore new areas.
Finding bigger tilefish is another story altogether. I have learned a lot over the past few years about these large fish. The biggest ones will hold against ridges at 1,200 feet and are bold enough to follow baits headed for deep water. Drop your bait near the edge of a ridge that looks over 1,500–1,600 feet of water and be ready. The biggest tiles, those from 35–50 pounds, seem to live alone. I have caught most of these big fish away from the schools and many times, several feet off the bottom feeding in schools of squid or dragonfish. The big tilefish really don’t seem to like a lot of leader in their face. Single rigs with the weight above the bait seem to work best. A whole squid, about 14-inches-long, works very well. Use a large hook and bait to avoid the smaller fish when targeting big tiles.
I seem to catch lots of big tiles early in the year, April through May, and sometimes in as shallow as 850–1,000 feet. I’m not sure if it was due to spawning or what, but I’ve caught several in the 30–45 pound class during these months.
Josh Graves carefully holds up a scorpionfish.
Beware of spiny, toothy and venomous critters that you might pull up from the deep. Spiny dogfish are small, deep water sharks that have spikes near the dorsal fins that can cause a painful sting. The spines on scorpionfish can also sting if you’re not careful. But these bright orange fish are pretty good to eat.
Once the sun goes down the tilefish stop biting and the eels take over in force. Conger eels have nice white meat but lots of bones. Banded shrimp eels and moray eels have mouths full of big teeth so watch out.
Hake, a small brown fish averaging 1–3 pounds, also bite at night and can be a nuisance. They will eat pretty much anything. Their meat is good and tasty but very soft. I use hake filets to replace crab meat in gumbo.
The tilefish don’t bite at night but grouper will if you’re in an area free of eels. Snowy and yellowedge grouper will take baits and warsaw will feed as high as 400 feet off the bottom in 900 feet of water.
Triple deep drop leader with LP circle hooks.
For years I never used any kind of light or strobe to catch tilefish and did okay. But over the past 10 years or so, I’ve started rigging them up and I think it does work better. I also found that rigging the light further from the bait will produce bigger fish. If we are targeting BIG tiles I will rig the weight and light 15 to 20 feet above the bait. Big tilefish will eat regular double and triple bait rigs, but once again, you’ll do better on a clean single rig. The standard double and triple bait drops work well for yellowedge grouper and smaller tilefish.
Your size of leader and weight will all depend on how much current you are fighting. The bite and fishing will be best when using less weight and smaller line. Thinner line means less bow in the line and that makes it easier to see bites. On the Booby Trap, we use Diamond braid made by Diamond Products. I like the orange 80 pound braid because it is easy to see.
Cannonball weights and lead stick.
With a light current and this braid, 3 pounds is a good weight to start with on your standard double bait leaders. I use cannon ball style weights because they don’t get hung up as easy on rough, rocky bottoms. If the current is strong then move up in weight size to 4 to 5 pounds. If it really cranking move up to 7 pound window weights or lead stick weights.
Some of these deep water fish have sharp teeth, so heavy mono leaders are a necessity. Yellowedge, longtail sea bass and other smaller grouper are not so bad but tilefish, eels and small sharks have sharp teeth. The grouper will wear through light leaders eventually and the tiles will bite clean through them. I use 300 pound LP or Momoi mono leader for our deep drops.
Use caribbean swivels to help keep the twist out of the leader and line. Most bottom fish will go into a spin on the way up.
Heavy duty circle hooks, from 8/0 to 16/0, work best for deep dropping. Tilefish and grouper have no problem snagging themselves on a circle hook and I would say it definitely helps keep the fish on when cranking them up from the deep. A sharp hook is also important. It’s a long way up and down, so a needle sharp edge is very important.
Be sure to take plenty of extra tackle when deep dropping. It is a long ride to the deep water fishing grounds and you might lose tackle to rocks and snags. Also, carry an extra spool or two of braided line. One break off at 1,000 feet can end the day if you are without replacement line.
When it comes to reels, the Lindgren Pitman S-1200 electric reel is the reel of choice on the Booby Trap. The LP is a deep dropping fishing machine that also has the strength and drag system to handle big warsaw grouper and swordfish. You can also hand crank tilefish and grouper on conventional tackle but it is a long way up and down.
Reel Crankie in action.
The Reel Crankie is a must have, great product that can assist in getting your rig up from the bottom fast. It’s not made for fighting fish but for retrieving your heavy weight and empty hooks when you don’t catch a fish. It does a great job of winding up all the line, instead of you wearing out your arm on empty hooks. The Reel Crankie fits on a cordless drill and clamps onto several different makes of conventional reel.
You can also deep drop with two lines but it can be tricky fishing and requires some boat handling. The more bow in the lines you have, the more likely you are to tangle your expensive gear.
Over stuffing your hook with bait can result in fewer hookups. It is more important to get less bait nicely hooked rather than too much bait, which will result in missed fish. Avoid hard, bony, bulky baits that can push a fish off the hook. Softer baits like fish fillets and squid will result in better hook ups. Larger squid are usually tougher and stay on the hook better than the small ones. I like to take a 12–16 inch squid and cut chunks for tilefish. Squid wings work well too but not as a whole squid or chunks.
Preparing Your Catch
Gut your grouper and tilefish ASAP for better table fare. These fish eat lots of shellfish, which can result in some nasty strong tastes in the meat if not taken care of properly.
Wash down your fish after gutting them and keep on ice. Try and keep cooler drained at all times so the fish don’t soak in water.
Go Get Them
Now you’re ready to go out and find your own tilefish and grouper. The entire continental shelf from Texas to Louisiana holds great bottom structure, supporting tons of deep water species.
Some fish stay directly on top of structure, some live on the walls, slopes and drop offs and some species are found on flat bottoms. Don’t forget to mark your hook ups on your GPS and keep a track record of your best catches. This is the best way to build and notice patterns on the different fish.
It is a fun way to spend the day with miles and miles of perfect habitat for multiple types of great eating fish. You never know what you will come up with and that alone makes deep dropping fun in itself.
Brett Holden is the captain of the Booby Trap, which holds the record for largest swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico. Holden is a pioneer in daytime swordfishing along the Texas coast; he holds numerous billfishing records and shares his deep drop techniques every year at the Texas Swordfish Seminar.
Offshore Fishing Boats for the Gulf
Venture far into the Gulf on any of these fine fishing boats from 24 – 36 ft.
Grady-White Fisherman 257
The Fisherman 257 was built ready to go offshore. Two insulated forward 120 quart boxes and a transom 185 quart box provide plenty of room for any pelagic or reef fish you bring in. The fully insulated 32-gallon lighted livewell keeps bait lively with full column raw water distribution. This ride makes for a comfortable, yet capable sport fishing machine.
Improved fishability with higher gunnels, larger fish boxes, more interior room and a transom livewell make the 270 one of the best laid out fishing platform on the market. The improved functional and stylish helm offers ample room for your larger electronics and multiple storage compartments for gear and equipment.
With a host of changes in both design and style, the new Cape Horn 24os is more ready than ever to face what awaits 50+ miles offshore. The newly designed hull provides impressive ride comfort and fuel economy. A sprawling floor plan leaves more room to fish. Two big live wells make sure you will never run out of bait.
The Gamefish delivers exactly what serious fishermen demand in a sportfishing center console boat. This boat comes ready to fish with multiple insulated fishboxes and livewells as standard features. The cockpit has abundant room for 360° of fishing and the hull delivers a soft, dry ride.
The 320CC is a versatile performer that excels in our Gulf chop. You can run flat out to your favorite fishing spot, even in rougher seas. A large 45 gallon livewell provides ample space for bait and over 1,300 quarts of insulated storage keeps your catch cold. Twelve gunwale-mounted rod holders and comfortable seating for twelve means you can bring the entire crew out fishing.
The combination of speed, an unmatched dry ride and rugged construction make the 36 Yellowfin the boat to beat no matter where you are fishing. The 36 can be powered by twin or triple outboards and either option will yield speeds that few other boats in its class can match. Numerous console, leaning post and top options, let you customize the 36 to perfectly complement the way you fish. A huge 477 gallon fuel capacity lends incredible range to this ride.
With its precision-engineered deep-V hull, high padded gunnels and unsinkable Unibond construction, the 330 Outrage delivers an incredibly soft, safe, dry ride, whether you’re venturing far from shore or cruising close to home. State-of-the-art navigation and command systems make captaining a breeze, while smart ergonomic seating ensures an enjoyable ride for every passenger. In the bow, a plush forward lounge lifts to reveal ample storage below while the facing bow seats invite easy conversation.
The 36os features “more of everything.” The wide beam and excellent speed let get out into the Gulf faster and in comfort.A 1,400 quart insulated fish box will hold any fish you may catch, including swordfish up to 9-feet-long. The rear 40 gallon live well is standard, as is the large transom gate. The main live well sports 60 gallons for keeping the largest of baits frisky. The 36os is a solid choice for the seasoned angler looking for all the advantages needed to fish harder than any other.
Shimano unveiled new, heavier weights of 200g and 250g for their innovative Flat Fall Jigs at this year’s ICAST. These jigs are designed to entice strikes as they flutter down through the water column. Speed jigging is, no doubt, an effective way to catch fish, but can also be physically taxing. These Flat Fall Jigs take the work out of jigging and let you conserve energy for fighting fish.
We were eager to try out the new 200g in Pink/Blue offshore the Texas coast. On a trip 30-40 miles out of Galveston, we hooked up on red snapper, dorado and kingfish while fishing near platform structure and reefs. This jig falls through the water column slower than other jigs of the same weight so keep a mindful thumb to prevent backlashes.
The Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine crew hooked up on a dorado 40 miles offshore Galveston.
As designed, the jig drew fish strikes as it fluttered through the water column, but this lure can also be worked up back to the surface in typical speed jig fashion. Hook ups on dorado mostly occurred 10-30ft under water as the jig was ripped back to the boat. Keeping it near the bottom was productive when fishing for red snapper.
The 200g and 250g flat fall jigs should also be perfect for other Gulf species like amberjack, grouper and tuna. These lures could be very effective when jigging for tuna at night near the ‘floaters’ or semi-submersible drilling platforms in the Gulf. Blackfin tuna, and occasionally yellowfin tuna, have no problem hitting diamond and speed jigs on the drop near this structure.
Check out the video below for a Texas-sized red snapper brought up on Shimano’s new 200g Flat Fall Jig.
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.
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.
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 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 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!
It took Draggin’ Up 20 hours to bring in this blue marlin! They placed third with this fish at the 2018 Poco Bueno Tournament.
Family, friends and most importantly, fun on Chris Heule’s tournament winning 74’ Viking
By Brandon Rowan
For Chris Heule, owner of Draggin’ Up, it’s all about being out there with family and friends. Catching fish is just the icing on the cake. Draggin’ Up has hit the ground running in the short couple years they’ve been on the tournament scene. Multiple blue marlin have hit the scales, awards have collected and tournaments have been won. That’s a whole lot of extra icing.
“I bought Draggin’ Up in September of 2016. I had always wanted a sportfish,” Chris Heule said. “I have a big family, with a lot of friends, so I was looking for something that could handle the crowd of people that we run with.”
Chris was born and raised in Seabrook and hasn’t strayed too far since. He now calls Friendswood home but keeps Draggin’ Up at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook.
“I’ve always enjoyed the water so I wanted to stay near the water,” Chris said.
Crew, family and friends celebrate a win at the Texas Billfish Classic.
Chris and his family fell in love with the room and performance that a Viking Yachts 74, like Draggin’ Up, has to offer.
“My son Sam loves to fish too, so him and the crew he brings make a big impact on the boat,” Chris said. “All of his friends hang out with us.”
Chris and his son, Sam Rasberry, share a mutual passion for fishing and hunting, and get to spend a lot of time together. But it’s not a boys club out there. Chris’ wife Erika and his daughter Kennedy also love boating and fishing. Kennedy recently caught her first sailfish on a trip to Isla Mujeres
“I don’t have to bargain with Erika to go out on the boat, she’s always ready to go fishing!” Chris said.
Owner Chris Heule, center, with Sam Rasberry and Capt. Kevin Deerman.
At the Helm
No ship is complete without a captain and Draggin’ Up has one of the best in the biz. Capt. Kevin Deerman has been fishing most of his life and took his first captain job in 1986. Deerman has some serious notches on his belt. As former captain of the Legacy, he was at the helmwhen angler Richard B. Richardson, Jr. reeled in the 972.72 lb. Texas state record blue marlin during the 2014 Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish Tournament.
“Kevin Deerman:He is the reason we do what we do,” Chris said of his captain. “He has really pole vaulted us to the marlin and bigger gamefish we are catching now. We wouldn’t be where we are now without our crew and Kevin.”
Before Draggin’ Up, Chris and Kevin were strangers, but closer to each other than they knew.
“We didn’t know each other but it’s crazy how many mutual friends that we had,” Kevin said. “But I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have Chris and his family in my life. They’re great people and they enjoy doing the things that I love. If they weren’t so passionate about fishing we wouldn’t be out there doing what we’re doing.”
Tricks of the Trade
We all know the drill. The pineapple is a must and absolutely no bananas on board. Every boat has their own superstitions and rituals and Draggin’ Up is no exception. Chris, Kevin and Sam lit up with excitement when asked about theirs.
“Oh man, I didn’t before I met Kevin but now I have a whole slew of them,” Chris laughed. “Some of them we can talk about, some are hush hush.”
And I’m good with that. Here at GCM, we’re not about giving away fishing spots or secret tournament rain dances. But Chris and company were gracious enough to let me share a few of them. Dunkaroos are big on Draggin’ Up.
“That’s when you take a bucket full of ice and water and you stick your head in there. When you come up you drink a beer.”Sam Rasberry said. “Every since we started doing that we seem to get a marlin bite a few minutes later so we keep it going.”
The guys agree that the boat has to be jamming Post Malone and of course, no bananas are allowed on board. Kevin experimented with two pineapples for extra luck but went back to a solo fruit after that didn’t work out. Maybe the fish gods found it greedy.
The guys on Draggin’ Up also insist that Chris keep his comments to a minimum.
“We can’t let Chris make any comments on anything that might happen because then it will happen,” Kevin said.
For example, Chris couldn’t help but talk about how good a hook-up ratio they were having during a trip. But on the next trip out, the boat only went 1 for 5.
“And on another trip, Chris said to me ‘It’s amazing we haven’t seen any sharks in a long time!’” Kevin said.“So I yell down ‘One shark, coming up!’ It wasn’t more than 30 seconds later that a 500 lb. tiger shark came up chasing the teaser. Of course, it took a bait and we caught it.”
In their first tournament season, Draggin’ Up came out swinging. In 2017, they clinched a 4th place blue marlin at Poco Bueno, Kanon Lasserre was named top junior angler at the Lone Star Shootout, and they weighed a 3rd place blue marlin at Texas Legends Billfish Tournament. Things got even better in 2018 with a 3rd place blue marlin at Poco Bueno and a 1st place win at the Texas Billfish Classic in Freeport. The boat stays busy and fishes tournaments up and down the Gulf Coast.
“The Houston Big Game is another one of our favorite competitions,” Kevin added. “We got top private boat the first and second year we entered.”
In 2018, the boat also collected awards for Top Captain, Kevin Deerman, Top Male Angler, Sam Rasberry, and 2nd place blue marlin, Chris Heule.
Draggin’ Up likes to keep the mood light and the mojo going during tournament time. Rituals and superstitions come into play and also antics, like catching fish out of an inflatable kiddie pool on the cockpit, are not out of the question.
The boat’s second favorite fish to catch is Yellowfin Tuna but they never get tired of seeing the man in the blue suit.
“When a blue marlin hits your bait, it’s completely different than anything else out there,” Kevin said.
“You could be having the slowest day, with everyone walking around pouting and moping, and the mojo on the boat is completely down, but when that bait goes off everyone’s attitude completely changes,” Chris said.
Fish From Hell
The Bahamas are a favorite destination for Chris Heule and Draggin’ Up.
The guys from Draggin’ Up have seen some truly wild occurrences in the few years the boat’s been on the water. The boat travels and Chris’ absolute favorite destination is the Bahamas. But the water is not without peril. The boat encountered a tropical wave on a trip to Isla Mujeres one year and the next year they were struck by lightning. But the one story that stands head and shoulders above the rest is the 20 hour blue marlin fight during the 2018 Poco Bueno Tournament.
“We have so many memories from this boat but that one marlin trumps anything we’ve ever done. Fish don’t usually last that long,” Chris said.
The crew did everything they could to stay awake during the fight and Chris never left the fighting chair.
“We tried every trick in the book,” Kevin said. “We made circles on it, tried getting it to come up, or on both sides of the boat and the fish just kept switching on us. It was on the leader most of the time.”
The man on the leader, Andy Hollen, literally collapsed once the fish was landed. It took 20 hours, and a fight reminiscent of The Old Man and the Sea, but the crew was able to capture third place in the tournament with the 575.5 lb marlin.
The majority of billfish are tagged and released on Draggin’ Up.
Chris entertains a large group of friends and family on Draggin’ Up and the boat boasts several first catches. At least 18 people have caught and released their first blue marlin on board.
“When we go out and fish, we tag and release the majority of billfish,” Chris said. “It’s important to do what’s right and preserve what we do. It’s not always about killing. We are passing on the future of these fish still being able to be caught where we live.”
The amount of billfish released far outnumbers those retained. Kevin can count on two hands the amount of marlin retained over the years, including time before Draggin’ Up.
All in all, Team Draggin’ Up doesn’t have too much to complain about, especially with all of their accomplishments in such a short span of time. They continue to stay the course with family, friends and fun out on the water. Look for Chris Heule, Kevin Deerman, Sam Rasberry, mates Conner Golightly, Seth Brennan and the whole Draggin’ Up extended family, to continue making waves in the 2020 billfish tournament season.
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.
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.
Robbie Gregory of Mowdy Boats stands with a fine example of their 25’ Catamaran. This is their most popular model.
Premium 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.
Viking Unveils Valhalla Line of Center Consoles
The V-37 shines as a versatile coastal or offshore fish-raising thoroughbred with the legs to run long distances powered by either twin or triple outboards.
From the brilliant and innovative minds and builders of Viking Yachts, the new and exhilarating Viking Valhalla is here
This sleek new Viking is what center console boating dreams are made of, offering a high-end spin on your average center console.
The well renowned Viking Yachts builder has created a Valhalla V-33, V-37 AND V-41 that sets evolutionary standards in performance, engineering, quality and fishing capabilities. While strong in functionality and durability, the Valhalla does not withhold gorgeous craftsmanship and design.
Some of the impeccable features of the new Valhalla line include gently-sloped S-shaped sheers, double forward chines, helm pods, raised toe rails and abundant seating throughout. On deck, a raised transom live well, in-deck fish boxes, rod holders, a port dive door and storage space galore, just to name a few of the key features of this new center console.
The new Valhalla line certainly does not lack in power, with four-stroke outboards firing these impressive vessels from 300 to 425 in twin, triple or quad engines depending on length. A standard for the Valhalla line is power-assist hydraulic steering, and joystick helm control systems, are of course, an option for any of the models. Stepped hulls, as well as the direct-fuel-injected engines allow for exceptional fuel economy and range.
Bring all of the fishing equipment you need and more for offshore trips and coastline trips alike. This center console allows for plenty of storage of all of the trimmings needed for fishing and hosts top-notch fishing equipment for your days on the water.
This remarkable new creation from the Viking family is sure to impress, with all of your fishing, travel, durability and power needs, the Valhalla is unique in its class. For a more in depth look at the new Viking Valhalla line please contact our Galveston or Clear Lake offices at 409-741-8716.
$EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures
The winning crew of $EA DOLLAR$, from left to right, Mark Yamaguchi, Mark Budzise, Brandon Rowan, Brandon Nelson, Adam Lewis, Brad Bull, Gary Hervey, Scott Pantle, Randy King, Kurt Pantle, Matt Taylor, Jack Beal, Ace Nelson and Fred Pyle.
High stakes and hot fishing are the name of the game every year at the Texas Billfish Classic and 2019 was no different. I was back on board Jack Beal’s 60’ Bertram, $EA DOLLAR$, to keep the night crew’s tuna win streak going. Last year, we hauled in a 90 lb yellowfin tuna that fell just three pounds short of first place. That was tough. We had our sights set on being No. 1 this time around.
Jasen Gast and the whole TBC team put on a killer kick-off party at Freeport RiverPlace the night before fishing started. The next day, we were locked, loaded and ready to head out far into the wild blue of the Gulf. We had a game plan and wasted no time putting it into action.
There were old and new faces on board for this year’s tourney. Introductions and catching up were in order as we roared out to pelagic possibilities. Plenty of laughs and colorful conversation (you guys know who you are) kept us entertained as we neared our first stop.
You never know what you will find out there. Adam Lewis holds up our “trophy” mahi.
As the sun set on our fishing destination, the night crew geared up and went to work. We had Capt. Mark Yamaguchi at the wheel, Matt Taylor, Kurt Pantle, his cousin Scott, and myself down in the cockpit. Several of the guys on the day crew helped out early in the night and first mate Adam Lewis made many important gaff shots.
It didn’t take long for us to put a nice yellowfin on the deck and crack open the celebration brews. $EA DOLLAR$’ night crew is a well-oiled machine of jig, pop, chum, drift, catch, gaff, rinse and repeat.
The night stayed lively as schools of fish periodically found their way into our chum line and lights. Multiple hook ups on yellowfin and big bruiser 20-30 lb blackfin tuna kept us going until sunrise.
I was absolutely stoked for Kurt’s cousin, Scott, when he landed his first yellowfin tuna, on topwater no less!
“I saw tuna busting on top, luckily I had the popper rod right next to me. I quickly cast it out and after the second pop it was on!” Scott Pantle said.
I’m real happy he got a warm welcome to Texas
tuna fishing. Scott is from Florida, where blackfin tuna is the target species, not the bait. I was lucky enough to witness that tuna crush the OTI Wombat Popper he had tied on and oh man, it was a beautiful sight to behold.
Every one of us put a yellow on the deck that night. At sunrise, it was time to tally things up. We had 6 yellowfin in the box, including an odd fish I caught on a Williamson Benthos jig. All other fish came from drifting chunks and Scott’s one on the popper. The flying fish piercing parlor was open for business but the tuna were indifferent to our winged offerings.
After a hot shower and a good meal, I hit the bunk with explicit instructions for the trolling guys to come smack me awake if they got into a good fish. The chance to photograph a big blue marlin jumping for the sky takes priority over sleep. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
MEET JJ: The legend himself, JJ. We rescued this Pelican from the middle of the Gulf during the tournament. We were ready to turn him over to Parks & Wildlife but he jumped ship when we reached land.
FREE BIRD FRIDAY
After a good day’s rest, I was back up with camera in hand, waiting for the afternoon billfish bite. The marlin never materialized, but things stayed interesting nonetheless. We spotted a brown pelican bobbing up and down near the rig as we trolled around. We were a good 170 miles out in the middle of the ocean. This bird was in trouble.
We maneuvered over and tried to lure the pelican in through the tuna door with some bait. The poor guy was so weak, he couldn’t even muster the energy to come on board. Our flying fish net became a bird net and we scooped him up and in. We made a cozy spot in the corner with an old towel and named him “Jack Jr.”
We fed JJ as much fish as he wanted and after about 10 pieces and some water, he was content. We don’t know how he got so far out, but this lucky bird nearly became shark bait. JJ rested happily in the corner and regained his strength as he oversaw our tuna operation.
This night began much the same as the last one with a hot bite early. Line peeled away from my reel on the first drift and after a surprisingly short fight I had a respectable yellowfin tuna on the deck. The wheels of our tuna machine kept turning but that was the last yellow of the trip. But again, things stayed interesting.
JJ quickly regained his vigor and, well, actually became something of a terror. He bit Fred and a few others as they walked past. Them birds have some range with that neck! JJ’s happy little corner was on top of the livewell, so depositing flying fish in the tank became a careful procedure.
They say you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, but we forgive you JJ. A sportfisher is no place for a pelican.
JJ stayed on board for the rest of the night and watched the day crew score a white marlin and wahoo at sunrise. He didn’t care at all for the way we screamed back towards land for the weigh-in. Jack Sr. had Parks and Wildlife on the phone, but once we broke the jetties, JJ spotted some of his pelican brethren and left us behind.
“Fishermen and hunters always get a bad rap but we’re all about conservation,” Jack Beal said.
Matt Taylor, Scott Pantle and Kurt Pantle at the Texas Billfish Classic weigh in.
MOMENT OF TRUTH
Good karma paid off. When it was all said and done, we had 7 yellowfin tuna on ice, although no hundred pounders. We weren’t sure what to expect since our 90 lb fish last year was only good enough for second place. We held our breath at the weigh-in as they hung up our first fish. The scales’ flashed “49” and it was high fives and shouts all around! Not only was our win confirmed, but we also took second place with a 47 lb fish.
“If your next paycheck depended on catching a big yellowfin tuna, I would recommend you call the night crew of $EA DOLLAR$!” Matt Taylor said.
$EA DOLLAR$ was presented with a check for a cool $40,500 at the TBC awards dinner later that night. As a bonus, the whole crew walked away with bags of fresh tuna and a story we won’t soon forget.
You never know what you may see when you venture out into the Gulf of Mexico. I can’t help but imagine the sideways and disbelieving glances the other pelicans throw at JJ when he tells his tale. He came away with a strange new story to tell his buddies and so did we.
Fred Pyle and Jack Beal show off the goods.
Dolce Coco Wins Swordfish Cup in the Dominican Republic
The 1st Annual Swordfish Cup, a single-species tournament with a 24-hour global format, was held July 27-28, 2019, with 23 boats in the initial fleet. Paco Vela and his crew aboard Dulce Coco, a Hatteras based in the Dominican Republic, were declared the winners with a 381-pound broadbill. The Swordfish Cup was presented by Fly Zone Fishing and RJ Boyle Studio. Updates were broadcast on FaceBook every two hours during the 24-hour tournament.
Dulce Coco’s fish was caught on a whole de-boned and butterflied bonita near Isla Saona off the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic. The 95-inch sword was boated late the first night and was weighed at Casa de Campo in the early hours of the morning. Vela and his team won a cash prize and the $1,500 Hooker Electric Bounty for their efforts.
With boats fishing Grand Cayman, St. Maarten, Cancun, the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys and East Coast, competition was intense. Luna Tico brought a 291-pounder to the Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach at 11 am. Tournament sponsor and local expert RJ Boyle, competing aboard Hooked Up, brought an 80-inch 250-pound entry to the Lighthouse Marina in Pompano Beach around 6 pm.
Aussie Rules fished during the day off Cancun, Mexico and caught a non-qualifying fish. The minimum weight was 200 pounds. The crew reported a very low-key, fun and relaxing day of fishing, however. Because of the time-zone differences, many boats communicated with tournament control via text or WhatsApp.
In the Gulf of Mexico, The Duke captured some smaller swords along with a very large mako shark. Tighten Up, based on the Texas coast, went five for five on swordfish with the largest measuring 72 inches from the fork of the tail to the tip of the lower jaw. All line class weights were allowed. Anglers could only use conventional rods and reels, including electric mounted on rods. Weigh-ins were conducted at approved scales certified by governmental authorities within the last year.
Yellow Whip, fishing out of St. Maarten, staged a determined and late challenge. After the crew fished all day in extremely rough conditions, they returned to port to rest and eat. The boat went back out around midnight and hooked up right around dawn. After a battle lasting 2 hours and 40 minutes, they finally boated the swordfish which tipped the scales at 291 pounds.
“Everything went really, really well for a first-time event,” says Tournament Director Robert “Fly” Navarro. “I’m happy with the participation and the geographic spread. All the teams reported having a good time and the number of boats will only increase based on the feedback and inquiries. Congratulations to Dulce Coco and thanks to all the teams and our sponsors. I look forward to the second edition next summer.”
The 2020 Swordfish Cup will be held July 25-26, 2020. For more information, please visit www.swordfishcup.com
Relentless Pursuit Repeats as Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion
Photo courtesy of the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship
In another close finish, Relentless Pursuit, a 95 Jim Smith based in Venice, Louisiana, was named the 2019 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion. This season marks the second time the boat has earned top honors, following a 2015 championship run. Relentless Pursuit is owned by Dennis Pastentine, with Capt. Robbie Doggett the boat’s long-time skipper. In addition to bragging rights for another season, the team takes home a custom Frank Ledbetter metal marlin sculpture and $31,625 in cash including optional entry categories.
The Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship is composed of the top five big-game tournaments in the region. The Blue Marlin Grand Championship is historically the last leg, but with Tropical Storm Barry moving west across the prime offshore waters, the tournament was cancelled for safety reasons. Done Deal, a three-time Triple Crown Champion, was tied with Relentless Pursuit before fishing started. Ties are determined by the largest marlin landed, which gave Relentless Pursuit the winning combination.
“During the Orange Beach Billfish Classic we left the dock at noon and ran four hours to reach 130 miles offshore,” Doggett explained. “Within 45 minutes we were already hooked up by the time other boats got there. The fight lasted an hour and 45 minutes. We slowly eased back in and weighed the fish the next morning.” That winning 658.2-pound blue marlin was caught on a trolled ballyhoo skirted with a pink Islander lure.
“We call it Stinky Pinky once the ballyhoo is added,” Doggett says with a laugh. “We strictly troll to cover more water and have an arsenal of 60 lures in various shades of blue, silver, purple, green and yellow. We run two rods each off the outriggers and two flat lines. We don’t have the patience to live bait, but we’ve been pretty successful with our style of fishing.”
In addition to the OBBC win, Relentless Pursuit won the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic with three blue marlin releases (no billfish were weighed) and earned series bonus participation points. Done Deal also finished with 625 points from second place release awards in the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic and the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, plus bonus points. Katie Gonsoulin was the angler on Done Deal’s big fish, a 535.5-pound blue, good for a second-place finish in the CCBC. Jason Buck is the boat’s captain and Jon Gonsoulin is the owner.
Fleur de Lis, a 72 Viking run by Capt. Scooter Porto and owned by Jeff Landry, was the third-place team in the 2019 GCTC standings with 500 points. The boat weighed the heaviest blue (602.7 pounds, angler Hunter Myers) in the CCBC, along with bonus points. Fleur de Lis is based in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
“This was a total team effort,” Doggett says of the 2019 Championship run. “This season was all about our former team mate, Dale Artigue, who passed away just before the holidays. His spirit was always with us in the cockpit. There are so many talented and hard-working crews fishing the Gulf that it makes competing against guys of this caliber such an incredible experience.”
Marking its ninth season, the 2019 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship was presented by Invincible Boats and Grander Marine. The five legs include the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic and the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.
For 2019 GCTC Director Scott Burt commissioned a commemorative trophy that will be on permanent display at The Wharf Marina’s Outfitter’s Store. Created by marine metal artist Frank Ledbetter, the perpetual trophy will sit atop a rotating base and will feature all previous Triple Crown Champions. Relentless Pursuit will now have to decide where to display its second GCTC Championship blue marlin.
“It was a tough season with all the weather issues, but Capt. Robbie, Dennis and Team Relentless Pursuit once again lived up to the boat’s name and came out on top,” Burt said. “Congratulations to them and well done to all the competing boats. We look forward to another exciting finish as the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2020.”
Sorted Wins The 2019 Blue Marlin World Cup
Photo courtesy of the Blue Marlin World Cup
With an angler who flew halfway around the world to participate, Sorted, a 32 Luhrs based in Madeira, Portugal, claimed the winner-take-all $600,000 prize in the 2019 Blue Marlin World Cup fishing tournament. Sorted’s blue, caught by Craig Watson of Melbourne, Australia, weighed 541.2 pounds. Only one other fish was weighed, but it fell 23 pounds short of Watson’s entry.
Capt. Howard Williams is the Sorted’s skipper. The fight lasted 2.5 hours and the fish was caught on a one of Watson’s lures called a Bluedog Turtle. The boat was not entered in the optional $8,000 Big Blue Challenge jackpot, which would have boosted the overall payout to more than $1,000,000.
Mystic Blue, fishing in the Cape Verde Islands, caught the other qualifier, a 518-pound blue marlin. Female angler Aylin Karahan was in the fighting chair for that fish, with Capt. Giorgio Assolari at the helm.
The hook-ups of the two fish were only 40 minutes apart, but Mystic Blue actually boated their fish 20 minutes before Sorted. The lengths were very close, yet Sorted had the slight weight advantage. As the fishing progressed across the remaining time zones the other teams could see those entries were beatable. But no other boat managed to catch a qualifier.
“Mr. Watson flew to Madeira specifically to fish the World Cup and his victory really has a lot of folks excited in Australia,” said Tournament Director Robert “Fly” Navarro. He noted that the win was a significant milestone for the country’s fishing community.
The Blue Marlin World Cup is a one-day fishing tournament held around the world. Blue marlin weighing more than 500 pounds are the only eligible species and competing teams fish in their respective time zones from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The fish must be caught on conventional sport-fishing tackle with tournament-rated line with a breaking strength of 130 pounds or less. Entries are weighed on certified government scales in their respective locales. A total of 150 teams, competing in eight different time zones, made up this year’s tournament fleet.
Trouble Maker, fishing out of Kona, Hawaii, recorded the only eligible entry in 2018, a 760.5-pound blue. Done Deal, a 70 Viking based in Houma, Louisiana, earned more than $1 million in prize money combined with a 600-pound fish in 2017. The largest marlin ever weighed in World Cup history tipped the scales at 1,195 pounds. It was caught aboard Challenger in Bermuda in 1993. Two other “granders” or fish weighing more than 1,000 pounds are also in the World Cup win column. They were caught in Bermuda and Cape Verde.
The 2020 Blue Marlin World Cup will be held July 4, 2020. For more information or to register, please visit: www.bluemarlinworldcup.com
Fishing Offshore Weedlines
A well formed weed line is a favorite sight for many offshore fisherman. They are known best for holding Dorado (pictured) but ling, wahoo, sailfish and marlin can be caught here as well.
By Capt. Joe Kent
For the last 20 years or more offshore seaweed, which forms weedlines in the Gulf of Mexico, has been either over abundant or virtually nonexistent.When abundant, many species of fish follow the sargassum, or seaweed as it is more commonly called, as the patches, clumps and organized lines reflect the basics of the marine food chain.
During lean times, such as offshore Galveston anglers have experienced for several years now, there is a conspicuous absence in the number of pelagic fish in the nearshore waters of the Gulf.Most notably absent are the Dorado, Dolphin fish or mahi-mahi, as they are called interchangeably.
Dorado of all sizes hover around masses of seaweed and along with them are just about all other fish that roam the Gulf waters.
This year it appears that we may have more seaweed in our near shore waters and if so, look for a banner year of offshore fishing along the upper Texas Coast.
Seaweed attracts and is a refuge for small crustaceans and fin fish.Watching carefully from close range are larger fish waiting for an opportunity to feast.Behind those are billfish, huge Dorado, ling, wahoo, sharks and as mentioned earlier almost every species of pelagic fish in the Gulf.
Just about all marine life in the Gulf of Mexico waters can be found in the vicinity of this vegetation.
Now that we know what is offered in the way of fish around the seaweed, how do we take advantage of it and catch some of the fish?
Chicken Dorado can provide fast action on weedlines.
Dorado, especially the smaller chicken Dorado, are one of the most common fish hanging around the shade and protection.Tripletail, small amberjack, king, ling, shark, wahoo and sailfish are others that are commonly found just outside of the masses of weed.
Anglers experienced at fishing the weed lines know that there are two ways to find the fish.One is to quietly move close to big concentrations of weeds and toss out small pieces of squid or cut bait.Any chicken Dorado close by likely will come out of hiding to pursue a quick and easy meal.
When this occurs, anglers using light to medium tackle will toss free-lined squid or other bait toward the seaweed and bingo, most of the time a group of small Dorado will inhale it.While battling the small Dorado many others will follow close by and the key is to keep the fish hooked while others in your party toss similar baits into the water.
On one occasion years ago my group of four landed over 100 while employing this technique.
Once the Dorado have scattered, slowly maneuver your boat along the edges of the weed line and look for either more Dorado or tripletail.
Often at some point large Dorado and ling will appear searching for the same chicken Dorado you are pursuing.Both ling and Dorado are curious fish and tend to check out noise.One technique that works in getting their attention is to pound the side of the boat with your hands.
If no fish appear, move on to another clump or line or begin trolling. Trolling is another way to find the fish.Try trolling the outer edges of the weed concentrations keeping enough distance to prevent the trolling lure for getting tangled in the seaweed.
The most active seaweed lines are going to be found in blue or blue/green waters.Lines found in off color water are hardly worth the time to check out.
Most of the strikes are going to be near the surface and visible.Every ling I have caught while working seaweed has come to the surface to check out the bait.Sometimes they just smell it and take off, other times they take it.
One mistake that newcomers make when larger fish like ling first take the bait is to try to set the hook too quickly.Free spool enough line that the large fish can take the bait and start swimming away before setting the hook.
For the chicken Dorado and smaller fish, setting the hook immediately is imperative.
One pointer for boats, especially those propelled by outboard engines, is that when working seaweed areas often the props get tangled in the vegetation.When this occurs put the engine in reverse and it should remove the clutter.
Hopefully we will see a good balance of weed lines in the Gulf this summer and we can enjoy the bounties of seafood they offer.
2019 Texas Billfish Classic to be the best yet
The TBC continues to live up to its name as the fastest growing billfish tournament in Texas
By Brandon Rowan
In its fourth year of bringing highly competitive billfishing back to Freeport, the Texas Billfish Classic continues to grow, with the 2019 tournament promising to be the largest one yet.
Usually an August tournament, the Texas Billfish Classic changed dates to July 16-20 by popular demand. With the unfortunate cancellation and indefinite hiatus of Poco Bueno, many of the Gulf’s best fishing teams were still ready and hungry to fish those dates.
Those teams who have never fished the TBC are in for a treat. Tournament director Jasen Gast and staff produce one of the most popular and enjoyable tournament formats on the Texas Gulf Coast. Many participants appreciate the start time, which allows boats to leave during the day and avoid dangerous runs at night. The camaraderie of the kick off party, a spirited weigh-in and awards dinner are well known and anticipated events of the tournament.
Fishing was smoking hot last year. Draggin’ Up set a new tournament record by weighing a 514-pound blue marlin. The competition for tuna was tight with Smoker II’s first place fish weighing 93 pounds and $ea Dollar$’s 90-pound tuna nabbing second place.
“But one of the biggest success stories of the TBC is not the fishing, but what we are able to do on land,” Tournament Director Jasen Gast said.
The tournament works closely with three charities; the Billfish Foundation, the Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run and the Freedom Alliance, and has donated thousands to charity over the years. The 2018 Awards Banquet ended with Jasen and the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor presenting a donated all-terrain wheelchair to veteran Jacob De La Garza, who lost his leg in Afghanistan.
Don’t miss one of the year’s best tournaments and come on down to Freeport. The general public is invited and welcome to join the weigh-in.
For information on the Texas Billfish Classic and its schedule of events, visit www.TexasBillfishClassic.com or contact TexasBillfishClassic@yahoo.com
Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record
totals in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo credits: www.maximpactphotos.com
Sunday night couldn’t come soon enough for Nick Pratt and the crew aboard It Just Takes Time, a 62 Viking based in Orange Beach, Alabama. After weighing a 574-pound blue marlin on Saturday night, the crew had to wait it out to see if any other qualifiers would make it to the scales Sunday. None did. As a result, the team swept the blue marlin division, multiple optional entries and won the 2019 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, earning $596,025. That single team payout is the new ECBC record and one of the largest ever for a Gulf big-game fishing tournament. A total of 80 boats competed in the 17th annual event for more than $1.86 million in cash prizes.
“There are a lot of good boats in this fleet,” Pratt said at the awards ceremony at the Baytowne Marina. Pratt was the angler on the fish and also owns It Just Takes Time. It was the first marlin caught on the new boat and only the second blue he’s landed. “So we were very nervous today. We spent it fishing and actually released a blue and caught a dolphin. But everyone was clock-watching.” Capt. Chris Hood was at the helm during the fight, with mates Boone and Donnie Shear in the cockpit. Chapman Cook and Brandon Myer were the other anglers.
“We’re very fired up. Winning this kind of money is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Pratt added. “But I always believe in bet big to win big. This is the best week, by far, I’ve ever spent fishing and the ECBC is the greatest tournament ever!”
There was plenty of action in the billfish release division. Past ECBC champion Done Deal, with Katie Gonsoulin in the chair and Capt. Jason Buck on the bridge, won Top Release Angler, Top Lady Angler and Second Place Release Boat by letting three blues swim away. With optional entries, the team is taking home $163,939. Done Deal is a 70 Viking based in Houma, Louisiana and a perennial contender on the Gulf blue-water circuit. Capt. Clayt James and his crew aboard Chasin Tail, an 80 Weaver Boat Works, claimed top honors in the Release Division, also with three blues on time, for an impressive $229,145 payout. Southern Charm, a 63 Hatteras run by Capt. Bo Keough, was the third-place release team with two blues credited ($75,980).
Jeff Cultan and Triple Threat (Capt. Chilli Willams) cranked in the largest tuna for the week, a 167.5-pound yellowfin. That catch earned the team a $126,310 payday. Capt. Cricket Crochet, Christa Forrester and the anglers aboard Restless boated the second-largest tuna at 157.2 pounds, worth $47,872. Hunter Ryan, Capt. Bennie Goldman and Reelentless took third-place tuna honors with a 148.2-pounder, good for a $90,497 check.
Local team Mollie, with Capt. Jeff Shoults on the throttles, boated the largest of many dolphin weighed in Sunday. Mollie’s fish, caught by Hugh Flanagan, tipped the scales at 44.8 pounds, paying $25,600. Phen-Syn (Capt. Hall Bohlinger) and Arti Davenport whipped a 40.6 pound dolphin, which won $51,540, while Dennis Pasentine, Capt. Robbie Doggett and the Relentless Pursuit team pulled a 40.5-pound bull off a weed line to earn $127,015 with optional entries.
No monster wahoo came to the scales, but the top three fish still were nice money-makers. Captain/angler Kirk Ogren whipped the biggest at 55.8 pounds for $25,600 aboard Pair-A-Dice. Capt. Dusty Parrish, angler Chris Patroni and the Ultimate Lure crew earned second place honors and $23,550 for a 49.4-pound fish. Sage Mount, Capt. Dylan Gandy and the buddy team fishing on Dream’s Wake IV, a Yellowfin 36-foot center console, landed the third biggest ‘hoo at 42.9 pounds, for a $10,240 consolation prize.
totals in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo credits: www.maximpactphotos.com
In the unofficial “It Pays to Play” category, Squid Row took home a check for $84,285 for a 24.9-pound wahoo in a perfect example of why entering optional jackpot divisions can be so lucrative.
Jackson Moore, fishing on BuggyWasher, was named the top Junior Angler—Billfish by releasing a blue marlin. Logan “Mule” Reeder earned top Junior Angler—Game Fish honors by whipping three dolphin weighing 86.1 pounds. Reeder was competing on Cotton Patch, another previous ECBC tournament champion.
“The week started out crazy thanks to the weather,” said Tournament Director Adam Alfonso. “But it all worked out and another successful ECBC is in the books. Congratulations to the It Just Takes Time team and all the other winners. I’d like to express my gratitude to the entire fleet for participating and our wonderful sponsors for their incredible support. My fantastic staff and I look forward to welcoming everyone back next June for our 18th season of exciting big-game tournament action here at the Emerald Coast.”
Tournament host, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and Presenting Sponsor Wind Creek Casino & Hotel-Atmore were joined this year by Tourism Partner Visit South Walton and Tournament Partners Mojo Sportswear and Gulf Coast Yacht Group. Galati Yacht Sales returned as the Founding Sponsor while Sportfish Outfitters came aboard for the first time as the Concierge Provider. Ten Emerald, 14 Platinum, 11 Gold and 32 Silver sponsors rounded out the many businesses and services that make the ECBC possible. Sponsor display booths were located at the Baytowne Marina during the weigh-ins.
About Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort:
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a major destination for all seasons and all ages and was named the #1 Resort on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The resort invites guests to a world of 2,400 acres and 30 charming neighborhoods featuring 1,300 vacation rentals, condominiums, villas, town homes and the best in hotel accommodations. As a member of Visit South Walton and Visit Florida, the resort features more than seven miles of beaches and pristine bayfront, four championship golf courses, 15 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 123-slip marina, a fitness center and spa, meeting space and The Village of Baytowne Wharf, a charming pedestrian village with events, shopping, dining and nightlife. Follow @Sandestin on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest events and news.
Relentless Pursuit Tops the Field in the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic
Relentless Pursuit, a 95 Jim Smith owned by Dennis Pastentine, won the top honors in the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, which concluded Sunday evening at the Point Cadet Marina. Led by Capt. Robert Doggett, anglers Josh Jones and Mike Akue and the team scored 1,800 points in the billfish catch and release division to take the overall tournament award. They also won optional prize money in the tuna and dolphin divisions for an overall payout of $116,675. Relentless Pursuit calls Venice, Louisiana, its home port.
No blue marlin were weighed during the tournament, which convened during inclement weather offshore. The original field included 115 boats, but only 25 opted to compete in the heavy seas. Conditions were compounded by massive amounts of flood water pouring out the Mississippi River and floating debris, which made navigation difficult. Several impressive game fish catches were tallied, nonetheless.
Easy Rider II, a 61 Buddy Davis based in Galveston, Texas and skippered by Capt. Leslie Van Norman, was the second place catch and release team. The 1,200 points accrued, plus optional entries, earned the Texas anglers $28,382 in prize money. Pullin Wire, another 61 Davis from Panama City, Florida, also scored 1,200 points, good for the third place tournament award. Brennen Moore is at the helm of Pullin Wire. Sancha, a 68 Viking from Port Aransas, Texas, and Fleur de Lis, a 72 Viking from Grand Isle, Louisiana, won optional money for releasing marlin.
The game fish categories were tightly contested with the leaderboard changing several times during the weigh-ins. Owner/angler Robert Burroughs on Quick Time, a 70 Viking from Orange Beach, Alabama, took home $44,474 with the top tuna, optional dolphin and wahoo. The 142.87-pound yellowfin was the biggest fish weighed. Capt. Shelby Johnson is Quick Time’s skipper.
Deb Hebert, fishing aboard her 57 Gillman, Doctors Orders, took second-place tuna honors with a 137.16 yellowfin. Angler Toby Berthelot whipped the third-largest tuna at 128.49 pounds on Get Reel, a 60 Hatteras. The team also added optional dolphin and tuna for a $35,559 payout.
In the tournament dolphin category, Andre Feucht on Split Decision, a 37 Freeman (Capt. Scott Robichaux), wound in the biggest bull, tipping the scales at 35.8 pounds, worth $10,535. Iona Louise (68 Hatteras), with Tami Hudson in the chair, scored the second heaviest dolphin at 35.72 pounds. Combined with an optional wahoo, owner Joe Hudson, Capt. Clip Hopkins and the team earned $26,816. Angler Abbigal Weidenharf and Team Snafu, a 74 Viking, were third place in the dolphin division with a 35.44-pound entry.
Josh Collier and Intense owner Neal Foster captured the first- and second-place wahoo aboard a 39 Contender center console. Their fish weighed 89.83 and 59.68 pounds, respectively, good for a $53,056 payout.
“It was a very tough week due to circumstances beyond our control,” says Tournament Director Bobby Carter. “I’d like to thank everyone who participated and I’d also like to thank my team for pulling this one off.”
The 2020 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, hosted by Golden Nugget Biloxi, is scheduled for June 1-7, 2020. For more information, please visit: www.mgcbc.com