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Relentless Pursuit Tops the Field in the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic

RelentlessPursuit 1024x683 Relentless Pursuit Tops the Field in the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic

Relentless Pursuit

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

Photo courtesy of FredSalinas.com

 

QuickTime 1024x683 Relentless Pursuit Tops the Field in the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic

QuickTime

Easy Rider II

Intense

Split Decision

Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Poised for New Records

ECBC logo 300x118 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Poised for New Records
ECBCStart 300x169 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Poised for New Records

Photo credit: Capt. Dave Lear

With just over a month until the kick-off of the 17th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, boat registrations for this world-class fishing event are on pace to eclipse previous highs. The final field is expected to top 100 teams and if that does happen, a new $2.5 million dollar-plus benchmark in cash prizes would be established. The ECBC is hosted by the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and presented by Wind Creek Casino & Hotel-Atmore, AL. The tournament runs June 19-23, 2019.

“At the current pace of registrations, I’m confident we’ll exceed our 100-boat goal,” says Tournament Director Adam Alfonso. “And when we do, we’re likely to exceed last year’s overall record purse of $2 million as well. We have another great group of sponsors to help us celebrate 17 years and lots of activities to make the entire week a memorable one.” The Early Bird deadline for registering for the tournament is May 31.

The 2019 tournament will again make a strong statement for marine conservation. In the Gulf of Mexico the federal minimum length for boating a blue marlin is 99 inches. For ECBC anglers blue marlin must be at least 110 inches long to qualify in the weight division. That minimum is measured from the tip of the fish’s lower jaw to the fork of the tail. This increase in length will ensure the release of marginal marlin and result in only true trophies coming to the scales at Baytowne Marina.

“Raising the minimum length requirement was an easy decision,” Alfonso says. “The ECBC has been committed to conservation since the beginning and this new rule will ensure these magnificent fish are here for future generations. As a result, fewer fish will be sacrificed and those that are boated will truly reflect the caliber and skills of our contestants.” Can’t Deny It, the 2018 ECBC champion, took top honors with a blue marlin that was 118.5 inches and weighed 699.2 pounds.

In addition to the blue marlin weight division, smaller blues, white marlin, sailfish and spearfish that are successfully released earn points in the competitive release division. Releases are verified by video footage. Yellowfin, bigeye and blackfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin are scored one point per pound. The ECBC attracts multi-million dollar sport-fishing boats from across the Gulf of Mexico as well as the southeastern United States. Fishing begins after Thursday’s noon blast-off from the Destin Pass and concludes Saturday afternoon. Eligible fish are weighed Friday and Saturday evenings. Viewing is free and open to the public.

Even though the weigh-ins are popular crowd-pleasers, the festivities begin long before the boats leave the dock. Hancock Whitney Bank is sponsoring the ECBC Golf Scramble, which is open to participants and sponsors. Tee-time is 9 a.m. at The Links Golf Club on Wednesday, June 19.

Junior anglers get in on the fun on Friday, June 21, with the Kid’s Catch & Release Fishing Tournament. Prizes will be awarded to the winners who catch and release the longest fish from the resort’s many stocked ponds. Participants need to check in at the Baytowne Marina weigh scales by 10 am.

Tournament host, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and Presenting Sponsor Wind Creek Casino & Hotel-Atmore are joined this year by Tourism Partner Visit South Walton and Tournament Partners Mojo Sportswear and  Gulf Coast Yacht Group. Galati Yacht Sales returns as the Founding Sponsor while Sportfish Outfitters comes aboard for the first time as the Concierge Provider. Ten Emerald, 14 Platinum, 11 Gold and 32 Silver sponsors round out the many businesses and services that make the ECBC possible. Sponsor display booths will be located at Baytowne Marina.

The 2019 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic runs June 19-23 at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. For registration, dockage, rules and schedule of events, visit www.fishecbc.com. Reservations for golf carts need to be made directly through the Baytowne Marina office. Book now to get the best location and rates for the event weekend. Call 800-320-8115 or book online at sandestin.com. Use GROUP Code FISH19.

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 bay front, four championship golf courses, 15 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 120-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. People are invited to download Sandestin’s APP for iPhone and Android devices, or become a Facebook Fan or Twitter follower for the latest events and news.

 

Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship Announces Changes for 2019 Season

2019 GCTC logo 300x198 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship Announces Changes for 2019 SeasonThe Wharf; Orange Beach, Alabama:

Celebrating its ninth season in 2019, the prestigious Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship will feature a couple of important changes to the series, including new sponsors. Grander Marine and Invincible Boats are coming aboard as the new 2019 Presenting Sponsors. The pairing is a good synergy on several levels.

“I personally like to fish the Triple Crown tournaments and have been part of a team that was in contention previously,” says Grander Marine owner and angler Chris Bazor. “Our company sells new boats, brokerage boats and offers service, so sponsoring the series is a good way to help fellow contestants and promote our business. We’ll be competing aboard a 40 Invincible catamaran this season, so we figured why not? The owner of Invincible Boats is a passionate offshore angler too and the company builds some of the best quality mono-hull and catamarans in the sport-fishing industry, so it was a natural partnership.”

Grander Marine has a showroom and full service facility on Canal Road in Orange Beach, Alabama. Another satellite facility is scheduled to open later this summer. In addition to being the Gulf Coast dealer for Invincible Boats, Grander Marine also carries a full line of premium fishing and pleasure boats as part of its line-up. The Blue Marlin Grand Championship, the final leg of the five-tournament series, is held at The Wharf Marina in Orange Beach.

GCTC Director Scott Burt also 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. The team trophy, another stunning marlin sculpture crafted by Ledbetter, will be awarded annually to each champion.

There will be no rule changes for the 2019 season, Burt announced. Feedback from teams indicated satisfaction with the status quo. There will be an added financial component in the Optional Cash Award category, however. A new $25,000 winner-take-all prize will be awarded to the top team entered in the optional category. Teams wishing to participate in the Optional Division must sign up prior to the first event, the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, May 16-19, at The Wharf Marina. The scoring format for the Triple Crown points will remain the same as 2018.

Following the OBBC, the Triple Crown focus shifts to Venice, Louisiana, May 28 through June 2, for the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic kicks off June 3 through 9 in Biloxi, followed by the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic later in the month (6/19-23) at Sandestin. The Blue Marlin Grand Championship wraps up the Triple Crown competition July 9-14.

For more information on rules or the optional cash award levels, please visit: gulfcoasttriplecrown.com

Cindy’s Smoked Amberjack Fish Dip Recipe

fish dip recipe Cindys Smoked Amberjack Fish Dip Recipe

CATCH! CLEAN! COOK!

tx amberjack Cindys Smoked Amberjack Fish Dip Recipe

Turn hard fighting Amberjack into delicious smoked fish dip.

By Cindy Nguyen

Though darker meats of the Gulf like Amberjack and Kingfish are not the most sought table fare, it’s hard for me to release a nice Amberjack knowing what a crowd pleaser these bruisers can be! It’s taken me a few tries to get this dip the way I like it and I hope you all enjoy it as well!

Marinate overnight:

  • 1lb – Amberjack fillets
  • Italian Dressing
  • 1 Tbs Brown Sugar
  • Dash of Old Bay

Smoke at 200° for 2 hrs

After removing from the smoker, using gloves, break the fish down into a bowl of flaky meat.

Add the following ingredients one at a time and blend until consistency reaches a nice heavy spread.

  • 1 Tsp Minced Garlic
  • 3 Stalks of Celery Chopped
  • 1 Chopped Jalapeño
  • 1/2 Chopped Red Onion
  • 1/2 Cup of real Mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
  • 1 package of Cream Cheese
  • 1 handful of Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 Tsp of Saté Chili (this will give it a little heat and nice color)

Tip: Using a stand mixer will make this much easier.

Refrigerate and serve chilled with your favorite chips or crackers.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic Creates Special Lure Incentive

91043FF9 6DE3 4E35 AFC1 981007A3F881 263x300 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic Creates Special Lure Incentive

Photo courtesy of www.MGCBC.com

With 105 boats already pre-registered for the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and many more expected before the June 3 kick-off, the stakes will again be high for this popular sport-fishing event. More than $2 million in prize money was awarded in 2017 and 2018. Yet tournament organizers are sweetening the pot just a little more this year.

“We’re adding a special $25,000 incentive that will be paid if the winning fish is caught on a lure,” says Tournament Director Bobby Carter. “It has to be strictly a lure with no meat or bait attached. Dozens of genuine trophy blue marlin have been caught on plastics in the Gulf over the years, so including this special payout adds an interesting wrinkle to this year’s event.”

The Classic was the first tournament in the Gulf to increase the minimum length requirement to boat a blue marlin to 110 inches. Fish are measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. Smaller billfish can still be caught and released as part of the competition. Teams can also enter optional release division categories for a chance at six-figure prize payouts. Qualifying catches are verified by video confirmation.

“We are continuing to work with the other Gulf tournaments to standardize the catch and release rules,” explains Tournament Coordinator Bert Merritt. “That aspect is a major component as we all move forward, especially with the levels of prize money involved. Our catch data bears this out. In today’s climate, raising the length to 110 inches to boat a qualifying blue makes sense.”

In addition to the blue marlin weight category and the release division (smaller blues, white marlin and sailfish/spearfish), teams can also weigh yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin. The swordfish category has been retired after the new Mississippi state record was set in 2017.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic is hosted by the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel in Biloxi. Besides world-class gaming, the area offers beaches, golf, shopping and fine dining for family members who choose to stay ashore.

The 2019 MGCBC will be held June 3-9 at the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel/Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi. To enter or learn more about the rules and tournament history, please visit www.mgcbc.com or through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

Contact: Bobby Carter, 228-239-2575; bobby@mgcbc.com

The 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Comes to an End

lstcsail The 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Comes to an End

©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor

The number of billfish released in Leg 3, brings the three-leg combined total to 3,945 billfish overall

Los Sueños Resort and Marina, located at Playa Herradura on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, held the third and final leg of its sixth annual Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown billfish series, presented by Chantilly Air, March 27-30, 2019. Forty seven of the best and most competitive teams came together to release a total of 1,234 billfish over three days.

Going in to this event, the reports were that fishing was slow with 3-6 fish a day being average. But the teams found the fish and the radio went off with an early bite on Day 1 and ended with a nail-bite inducing finish on Day 3. With 100 points awarded for each sailfish release and 500 points for each marlin release, marlin always end up making a difference for the podium finishers. After all the scorecards were reviewed, a three-leg Triple Crown total of 3,945 billfish were released (3,820 sails and 125 marlin) – or 444,500 points achieved by the 51 teams that participated this year, 38 of which were registered in all three events.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 1

It was Tarheel to call in the first fish of the tournament just eight minutes after lines in, followed in the same minute by a triple sailfish release by Shoe. By 8:37 am four marlin had been released, with another two released in the following hour. In the same amount of time nine doubles were called in a three triples. Needless to say, fishing started off promising. By 10 am a total of 117 billfish had been released (111 sails, 6 marlin) and Fish Tank was in top position, followed by Sea Angel in second, and Tarheel in third. At the end of the day though, Uno Mas had taken first with 2,100 points (16 sails, 1 marlin), Sea Angel remained in second with 1,900 points (9 sails, 2 marlin), and Blue Eagle finished third on time with 1,700 points (17 sails), over Scandalous and Dragin Fly. The fleet achieved 373 billfish releases on Day 1, including 361 sails and 12 marlin.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 2

Just four minutes after lines in, it was Pez Collector to report the first sailfish release of the day to Tournament Control. Funny enough, they also released the last fish of Day 1 at 4:02 pm on Thursday! At precisely 11:24 am Fish Tank released a marlin, starting a flurry of marlin releases with 5 in under 12 minutes. Fish Tank was in top spot at noon with a two-day total of 3,200 points, followed by Hey Chama with 3,100 points, and Uno Mas in third with 3,100 points. In the end though, Uno Mas pushed their way back to top spot with 16 sails and 1 marlin on Day 2 alone for a two-day total of 4,200 points (32 sails, 2 marlin), followed by Hey Chama with 3,900 points (34 sails, 1 marlin), and Fish Tank finishing in third with 3,800 points (23 sails, 3 marlin) on time, over Sea Angel. A total of 531 billfish were released on Day 2 alone (517 sails, 14 marlin) for a two-day total of 904 billfish (878 sails, 26 marlin).

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 3

The first hour of Day 3 was an explosion of marlin hook ups and releases, with the first call of the day a marlin hook up by Reel Pushy at 8:05 am, which was released only five minutes later. By 8:40 am, a total of 8 marlin had been released, including a double header striped marlin by Numero Uno, who went on to win the day with an impressive 2,100 points after releasing 6 sails and 3 marlin. By 2 pm the fleet went on to release 212 billfish, with Hey Chama then in first with 3,400 points, followed by Blue Eagle with 3,400 points, and Fish Tank also with 3,400 points. Off Duty finished the day off nicely with a triple sailfish release at 4:04 pm, bringing the total billfish releases for the day to 330 (318 sails, 12 marlin) and the three-day combined total to 1,234 (1,196 sails, 38 marlin). Uno Mas finished first for the tournament with 5,000 points (40 sails, 2 marlin), followed by Big Oh in second on time with 4,900 points (39 sails, 2 marlin), and Hey Chama in third with 4,900 points (44 sails, 1 marlin).

CASH PRIZES & AWARDS

Nearly 700 guests came together under the stars at the Los Sueños Beach Club to enjoy a phenomenal buffet dinner and live music by Acustica Lounge’s Coco Hits. Immediately preceding the presentation of trophies, prizes and checks to the tournament winners, guests enjoyed the highly anticipated dock show filmed and produced by Rich Christensen and Michael Butler. The ceremony was closed out by a spectacular fireworks display by La Trinidad. Tournament winners took to the stage to receive a total of $240,000 in cash prizes, as well as other awards provided by tournament sponsors, including custom trophies by Gray Taxidermy, apparel by Tunaskin, framed prints of this year’s tournament art by Steve Goione, YETI coolers and tumblers, Huck buckets, Costa Del Mar, and Flor de Caña aged rum.

unomas The 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Comes to an End

1st Place: UNO MAS

5,000 points, 40 sails and 2 marlin

Uno Mas is a 60’ Bayliss captained by owner Brooks Smith, with anglers Sam Peters, Matt Traber, Justin DeBoom, Terry Robinson, and Jeremy Agüero. Uno Mas came in sixth in Leg 1 this year and eighth in Leg 2. They previously took first in Leg 2 in 2018, as well as second in Leg 3 in 2015, where Brooks was crowned Top Angler.

2nd Place: BIG OH

4,900 points, 39 sails and 2 marlin

This is Big Oh’s first win since 2015 when they fished on Trophy Box and took third both in Legs 1 and 2. Big Oh is a 63’ Scarborough captained by Ronnie Fields, with anglers Gray Ingram (owner), Jimmy Fields, Anthony Rizzo, Rodney Ingram, and Bo Ingram. Big Oh previously won several of the Signature Billfish Series and Marlin Invitational tournaments, which were run by Los Sueños prior to the formation of the Triple Crown.

3rd Place: HEY CHAMA

4,900 points, 44 sails and 1 marlin

Hey Chama, a 65’ Bayliss captained by Irving Irausquin, with anglers Leonard Chapman, Manoel de Silva, and Marlon Prendas, comes to us from Curacao. They fished the Triple Crown for the first time in Leg 2 of the 2018 series. These young up and comers finished 39th in Leg 1 and 44th in Leg 2, and gave a tremendous show in Leg 3 for a podium finish.

Series Champion: FISH TANK

17,400 points, 144 sails and 6 marlin

Fish Tank, a 63’ Hatteras captained by Ben Horning, with owners/anglers Chris and Laura Jessen, and their fellow anglers Kitt Toomey, Mike Ivancevic, Darren Helwig, and Joe West. Despite not making the podium for Leg 3, Fish Tank was the clear and undisputed Series Champion of the 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown, finishing with an almost unbelievable 17,400 points (144 sails, 6 marlin), 3,500 points ahead of the closest runner up, Sea Angel (on time ahead of Uno Mas with the same 13,900 points). Going in to Leg 3 Fish Tank already had a 2,900-point lead, and the 31 sails and 3 marlin they released in Leg 3 alone sealed their fate. Kudos to Laura Jessen who, despite a broken foot, released 6 sails this tournament alone and 34 sails over all three legs!

ABOUT THE LOS SUENOS SIGNATURE TRIPLE CROWN

2019 marks the 6th Annual Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown billfish tournament series. The Triple Crown consists of three annual tournaments, in January, February and March each year, and is fished out of the world class Los Sueños Resort and Marina in Costa Rica. Mark your calendars for the 2020 Triple Crown! Leg 1: January 15-18, Leg 2: February 26-29, Leg 3: March 25-28.

ABOUT LOS SUEÑOS RESORT AND MARINA

Los Sueños Resort and Marina is the premier luxury real estate resort in Costa Rica. Nestled on the Central Pacific Coast, Los Sueños is an 1,100-acre oasis offering incredible ocean, rainforest and golf course view properties; a gorgeous waterfront Marina Village commercial area with restaurants, shops and lively entertainment; a large private beach club for residents; an 18-hole championship golf course; a superb 201-room Marriott Hotel; and much more, all within close proximity to world record-setting sport fishing waters. Information on Los Sueños Resort and Marina is available online at www.lossuenos.com. Information on Los Sueños real estate properties is available online at www.lossuenosrealestate.com. For further information, please contact Ashley Bretecher, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, Los Sueños Resort and Marina, Toll-free: 1-866-865-9759, Direct Tel: 011-506- 2630-4005, or e-mail: a.bretecher@lossuenos.com.

Texas Billfishing Lures

Four top captains talking about the Texas billfishing lures that are always in their spread and should be in yours, too.

texasbillfishing Texas Billfishing Lures

Moldcraft Wide Range

moldcraftwiderangeblkpurp Texas Billfishing Lures

Moldcraft Wide Range with black/purple skirt. (no. 26)

Capt. Darrell WeigeltCapt. 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.”

Wide Ranges

Some of Capt. Deerman’s favorite Wide Range color combos.

Capt. Kevin DeermanCapt. 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

Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus

Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus 03/46 skirt combo at Melton International Tackle.

Capt. Troy Day

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 19 – Chartreuse Paua Shell – Blue/Silver over Green/Chartreuse

Brutus - Blue Paua Shell/Silver Mirror w/ Silver Eyes - Blue/Silver/Black Bars over Purple/Black

Makaira Brutus – Blue Paua Shell/Silver Mirror w/ Silver Eyes – Blue/Silver/Black Bars over Purple/Black

Capt. Brett HoldenCapt. 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

chelholden Deep Drop Techniques for Grouper and Tilefish

Chelsey Holden and a very colorful tilefish.

captholdengrouper Deep Drop Techniques for Grouper and 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.

warsaw

Capt. Matt Reed, left, and Capt. Jeff Wilson with a warsaw grouper.

Species of the Deep

Mike Parsons with the new Texas state record tilefish. 43 inches and 33.08 pounds.

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.

‘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.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Other Species

Josh Graves carefully holds up a scorpionfish.

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.

Spiny Dogfish

Spiny Dogfish

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.

Hake

Hake

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.

Triple deep drop leader with LP circle hooks.

Rigging

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.

weights

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.

reelcrankie

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.

What Bait?

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.

Connor Weigelt holds up a beautiful colored tilefish.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. 




Winter Wahoo

 

DSC 0012 300x200 Winter Wahoo

Photo: Kelly Groce

DSC 0067 227x300 Winter Wahoo

My first wahoo weighed in at 36 pounds. (Check out those seas behind me). Photo: Shayne Ellis

BY KELLY GROCE

I was lucky enough to tag along with Team Pay Czech as they went searching for wahoo out of Freeport Marina for the 2019 Winter Wahoo Championship. Despite the howling winds and 4-6’ seas, we caught wahoo, blackfin tuna, amberjack and barracuda and had an absolute blast while doing so. Huge thanks again to Joe Schiller, Joey Schiller, Shayne Ellis and Collin Ferrera for inviting me along my first overnight offshore trip as well as my first wahoo. Go Team Pay Czech!

 

Collin Ferrera stuck this beautiful wahoo. Photo: Kelly Groce

2019 LOS SUEÑOS TOURNAMENTS BEGIN WITH THE LADIES

 

costa rica sailfish 2019 LOS SUEÑOS TOURNAMENTS BEGIN WITH THE LADIES

©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor.

Los Sueños Resort and Marina, located at Playa Herradura on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, held the first leg of its sixth annual Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown billfish series, presented by Chantilly Air, January 16-19, 2019.

A total of 44 of the world’s most competitive billfishing teams comprised of 210 individual anglers challenged each other over three days of fishing, releasing a total of 648 billfish, including 582 sails and 66 marlin for a per boat average of 15 billfish releases.

fish tank los suenos 2019 LOS SUEÑOS TOURNAMENTS BEGIN WITH THE LADIES

Fish Tank, owned by Chris and Laura Jessen and captained by Ben Horning, took first place in both the Ladies Only Tournament and the Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown. ©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor.

LADIES ONLY ONE-DAY TOURNAMENT

Held on Tuesday, Jan. 15, the first annual Los Sueños Ladies Only Tournament, presented by Chantilly Air and sponsored by Maverick and Galati Yacht Sales, brought together 49 individual anglers participating on 17 boats. It seemed like a clear battle between Family and Friends and D.A. Sea who were tied both for points and on time just half an hour before lines out.

Fish Tank (anglers Laura Jessen and Michelle Keeney) surprised everyone though, calling in a marlin hook up which they went on to release at 4:04 p.m. for the win, having released 8 sails and 1 marlin for 1,300 points. D.A. Sea (anglers Valerie Dunn, Susan McCart, and Judy Duffie) ended up second with 1100 points with 6 sailfish and 1 marlin release, and Family and Friends (anglers Jackie Kopp, Kristin Feller, and Andrea White) rounded out the leaderboard in third with 1,000 points after releasing 10 sails.

Awards were presented the following day and the ladies took to the stage to receive their cash prizes and trophies, sponsored by Gray Taxidermy. A total of $27,500 was handed out, 50% going to first, 30% to second, and 20% to third. Individual angler points follow the ladies through the Triple Crown and will be tallied to their total scores from that event to determine the Top Female Angler Overall. So far, Jackie Kopp of Family and Friends is well in the lead with 700 points from the Ladies Only and 1,500 points from the first leg of the Triple Crown.

©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 1

It was Numero Uno who fittingly released fish “numero uno” of the tournament at 8:05 am on Day 1, Jan. 17. By 10 a.m., the competitive fleet of 44 teams and 210 anglers had released 89 billfish, including 84 sails and 5 marlin. Tarheel took an early lead with 800 points, over The King and I and Blue Eagle, each with 700 points. The King and I showed their stripes early with 1,800 points by noon, taking a 600 point lead over Tranquilo with 1,200 points and Outlaw with 1,100 points.

Over 40 fish were released in the next two hours, but the leaderboard changed very little. The King and I ended the day in first with 2,000 points, Wire We Here ended up releasing 6 sails and 2 marlin for 1,600 points and second place, and Blue Eagle released the same fish for the same points, just 13 minutes later to take third for the day.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 2

The King and I had a slow start to Day 2 with zero releases by 10 a.m., but managed to hold on to their first place spot. Wire We Here released four sails in the same period to tie The King and I with 2,000 points, just one sailfish release and 100 points ahead of Reel Pushy. By noon the fleet had released a two-day total of 380 billfish and Fish Tank had pushed The King and I down to third on time after Wire We Here, both with 2,100 points, and taking top spot with 2,300 points. Family and Friends were keeping their name in front of spectators, taking top spot with 2,600 points by 2 p.m., followed by Fish Tank with 2,400 points and Reel Pushy in third with 2,300 points. By the end of the day Family and Friends had earned enough points after releasing 7 sails and 2 marlin for a two-day total of 2,600 points, to keep their first place position. Reel Pushy released 7 sails and 2 marlin on Day 2 for a two-day total of 2,500 points, and Fish Tank rounded out the top three with 2,400 points after releasing 9 sails on Day 2. The top nine teams were all within one marlin and one sail of the lead going in to Day 3.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 3

Day 3 followed the same trend as the first two days with a good morning bite. By 10 a.m. the fleet had released 61 billfish for a three-day total of 522 billfish (469 sails and 53 marlin). The King and I were vying for the leaderboard and had amassed 3,300 points to take first over Reel Pushy in second with 3,100 points, and Tranquilo in third with 2,800 points. At noon it was still anyone’s game. Fish Tank was in first with 3,500 points. The King and I was in second, now with 3,400 points, and Reel Pushy in third with one more sailfish for 3,200 points. The 2 p.m. leaderboard would end up being a prediction of the Leg 1 finishers, showing Fish Tank in first with 4,200 points, The King and I in second with 3,400 points, and Reel Pushy in third with 3,300 points. Fish Tank went on to release four more sails, ending the day – and the tournament – with 4,600 points.

RESULTS

Los Sueños Ladies Only Tournament

1st Place: FISH TANK

Fish Tank, a 63’ Hatteras captained by Ben Horning, with anglers Laura Jessen and Michelle Keeney. Michelle was the top angler for this event, with 900 individual points after releasing 4 sails and 1 marlin.

2nd Place: D.A. SEA

D.A. Sea, a 60’ Viking captained by Climaco Rodriguez, with anglers Valerie Dunn, Susan McCart, and Judy Duffie.

3rd Place: FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Family and Friends, a 50’ Craig Blackwell captained by Joshua Porras, with anglers Jackie Kopp, Kristin Feller, and Andrea White

Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown

1st Place: FISH TANK

4,600 points, 31 sails and 3 marlin

Fish Tank, a 63’ Hatteras captained by Ben Horning, with owners/angler Chris and Laura Jessen, and their fellow anglers Kitt Toomey, Mike Ivancevic, and Darren Helwig. Fish Tank also took third place in Leg 1 of the 2016 Triple Crown and third place in Leg 3 2017. Laura Jessen is familiar with the stage, having also been the Top Female Angler in 2017.

TOP ANGLER

Chris Jessen of Fish Tank achieved the highest points out of all participating non-professional anglers after releasing 6 sailfish and 2 marlin for 1,600 points.

2nd Place: THE KING AND I

3,400 points, 9 sails and 5 marlin

The King and I, a 50’ Ocean Yacht, captained by Victor “Pia” Ceballos is from Guatemala and first started fishing the Triple Crown in 2018. Anglers Pablo Sechel, Sergio Alvarado, Juan Pablo Ramos, Juan Andres Morales and Charles Donato finished in second place in Leg 1.

3rd Place: REEL PUSHY

3,300 points, 18 sails and 3 marlin

Reel Pushy, a 58’ Monterey co-captained by Chris Workmon and Dave Dalfo also just started competing in the Triple Crown in 2018. This is their second year and angler/owner Robert Banker along with his fellow anglers Patrick Lanahan, Samantha Mumford, Tyler Wall, and Kevin O’Connor.

ABOUT LOS SUEÑOS RESORT AND MARINA

Los Sueños Resort and Marina is the premier luxury real estate resort in Costa Rica. Nestled on the Central Pacific Coast, Los Sueños is an 1,100-acre oasis offering incredible ocean, rainforest and golf course view properties; a gorgeous waterfront Marina Village commercial area with restaurants, shops and lively entertainment; a large private beach club for residents; an 18-hole championship golf course; a superb 201-room Marriott Hotel; and much more, all within close proximity to world record-setting sport fishing waters. Information on Los Sueños Resort and Marina is available online at www.lossuenos.com. Information on Los Sueños real estate properties is available online at www.lossuenosproperties.com. For more photos from Los Sueños tournaments, please click here

Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations

Spend your winter at one of the five hottest fishing grounds this side of the globe.

tropic star lodge Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations

PANAMA

The Tropic Star Lodge in Piñas Bay has been producing world-class inshore and offshore fishing since 1963. Nestled 150 miles southeast of Panama City, this remote destination offers access to the abundant fishing grounds of the Pacific and splendor of the pristine Darien Jungle.

Expect hot action on some of the most sought-after pelagic fish during January and February. Black and blue marlin fishing will be excellent, as are the prospects for hooking into large pacific sailfish, big cow yellowfin tuna and bull dorado.

Despite its far-removed location, the Tropic Star Lodge has accommodations and amenities to please the most persnickety of travelers.

Visit TropicStar.com for more information.

SergioPucci Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations

Photo by Sergio Pucci

COSTA RICA

The Los Sueños Resort and Marina is a 1,100-acre master planned destination resort, offering all the services and amenities of a small city. Calm waters and short distances to one of the healthiest billfisheries in the world make it a highly popular sportfishing destination. The main attraction during winter is unrivaled action on big pacific sailfish, but yellowfin tuna and dorado make appearances as well. Visit lossuenos.com for info on charters and lodging.

GUATEMALA

Sailfish Oasis in Guatemala, “The Sailfish Capital of the World,” is home to one of the largest breeding grounds for Pacific sailfish. Guatemala holds both the conventional and fly fishing records for most sailfish released in one day. The Sailfish Oasis lodge is situated in a secure, tree-lined, residential development, on the edge of a canal that overlooks the mangroves. Their fleet of sportfishing yachts can accommodate the needs of every angler. Visit SailFishOasis.com for more information.

Famous arch in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

MEXICO

Cabo San Lucas is host to a strong striped marlin bite during the winter months. The action on these acrobatic fighters continues through spring and into early summer. This popular Baja destination has no shortage of accommodations and fishing charters. We recommend RedRum Sportfishing (redrumcabo.com) and Chupacabra Sportfishing (chupacabrasportfishing.com)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida is a winter sailfish hot spot.

FLORIDA

South Florida’s peak Atlantic sailfish season begins in January and sets off a flurry of fishing activity in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Keys and as far north as Fort Pierce. The prospect of a multi-fish day is good, as large schools of these spirited fish move up and down the coast all winter long. Trolled lures are effective but live bait fished under a kite is the most popular method.

Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

musick tarpon 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.

musick swordfish Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

“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.

“Nine Lives”

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.

“Ambush Queens”

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”

Fishmas Gift Guide

redfish earrings Fishmas Gift Guide

Gone Coastal Jewelry

Gone Coastal Jewelry features the highest quality nautical and coastal jewelry along with exceptional customer service. No matter which design you choose, their necklaces, bracelets, earrings, charms, pendants, rings and more fully embody the excitement, beauty and peacefulness of coastal life. GoneCoastalJewelry.com

columbia megavent2 Fishmas Gift Guide

Columbia Men’s Megavent™ II PFG Shoe

It dries quickly, drains water easily, and laces up fast. The latest Megavent™ hybrid shoe is made for the professional angler who needs an outsole that grips when wet, an upper that resists stains, and an overall design that performs when the excitement hits. Gulf Coast Mariner put these shoes to the test all summer in Cabo San Lucas and during the Texas Billfish Classic. They are extremely grippy boat shoes that don’t sacrifice comfort or durability. Columbia.com

Studio Abachar Pinup Girl Stickers

Impressive vintage-styled stickers from world-famous marine artist Amadeo Bachar. These 8” Clear vinyl stickers are printed with white ink behind Amadeo’s fish illustration to preserve opacity and unmatched level of detail. Each is coated with heavy UV to stand up to the elements— rain, wind and sun without fading. Also available in prints. Visit studio-abachar.myshopify.com

Cold Steel Bird & Trout Knife

The Bird & Trout knife is a much loved, lightweight tool that is enjoyed by hunters, fisherman and outdoorsmen the world over. Its lightweight one-piece construction and its versatile, ultra-skeletonized sheath make it effortless to carry and a joy to wear all day long. Made of Japanese AUS 8A Stainless Steel. Overall length 6 5/16” Blade length is 2 1/4” ColdSteel.com

Avid Angler Jewelry

Avid Angler Jewelry provides unique, realistic jewelry that has been designed and hand-crafted by fellow fishing and hunting enthusiasts. Be it sterling silver or 14k gold, these pendants, charms, pins, earrings, bracelets, tie-tacs and rings can be created to customize your collection. These inshore or offshore pieces express a love of nature and the outdoors and make a perfect gift. @AvidAnglerJewelryDesigns

YETI Rambler Half Gallon Jug

With rugged construction, FatLid™ insulation and a stainless steel handle, the Rambler® Half Gallon Jug is built to take on the wild. Whenever and wherever you need it, count on an ice-cold (or piping hot) sip from your Rambler to come to the rescue. Available in 2 DuraCoat™ colors and stainless steel. Yeti.com

Avet Patriot Series Reels

Give the gift of American Pride! All of your favorite Avet reels are now available in red, white and blue. The 6061 T-6 marine grade aluminum frame proudly displays our flag and features an anodized finish for superior corrosion resistance. Avet reels feature precision machined stainless steel gears and components and are proudly made right here in the good ole’ U. S. of A. AvetReels.net

Fishing Cabo San Lucas

Blue marlin, wahoo and scenic Pacific views from one of the world’s hottest sportfishing destinations.

Photography by Brandon and Meagan Rowan

pueblo bonito beach Fishing Cabo San Lucas

The Pacific thunders against the beach outside of the Pueblo Bontio Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort

mr cabo Fishing Cabo San Lucas

EL ARCO: Meagan in front of “Land’s End” – Cabo’s famous rock arch formation.

The sun rises over Cabo San Lucas as the sportfishing boats make their way offshore.

We were greeted with calm seas on our outing.

This marlin hit a naked caballito (Bigeye Scad) on the shotgun line and absolutely lit up with color next to the boat. Capt. Ramone and First Mate Julio of RedRum Sportfishing were absolute pros and put us on the fish.

 

My first blue marlin breaks the surface. Caught with RedRum Sportfishing on the ‘ReelRum’

A pair of remoras are revealed on the underside of this marlin.

 

This wahoo hit a skirted plunger on the port rigger line. We had unbelievable ceviche and grilled wahoo that night.

Gear

Top gear from Garmin, Huk, Lew’s, Caza Offshore and more

 

GARMIN STRIKER 300x183 Gear

Garmin Striker 5cv

Finding fish is easier than ever with STRIKER 5cv fishfinder. Mark and return to your hot spots, boat ramps and docks. You also can share your favorite waypoints and routes with other STRIKER and echoMAP™ combos. Plus, it has a built-in flasher and displays speed data. Includes tilt/swivel mount, CHIRP (77/200 kHz) sonar transducer with transom and trolling motor mounting hardware and cable. $299.00 www.garmin.com

machcrushcasting 300dpi 300x237 Gear

Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool SLP Series

Mach Crush baitcast reels feature Lew’s exclusive SLP Super Low Profile compact Speed Spool design in a durable graphite frame with graphite sideplates. Its high-end performance comes from a premium 10-bearing system with double-shielded stainless steel bearings and ZeroReverse anti-reverse. The main gear and crankshaft are strong solid brass. The 95mm bowed aluminum handle features oversized Winn Dri-Tac knobs to ensure a noslip grip in all conditions. The rugged carbon fiber drag system provides up to 20 lbs. of drag power. $159.99 www.lews.com

Dexter Russell Softgrip 8” Narrow Fillet Knife

The SofGrip line is the ultimate choice in nonslip handles. Available in black and white, the soft handle allows you to grip tighter to prevent slipping and increase control. Each blade comes with a proprietary DEXSTEEL, stain-free, high-carbon steel blade, with an individually ground and honed edge. Their superior blade shape allows for easier slicing while the unique edge geometry keeps them long lasting. Not to mention, the seal between the blade and the handle will not let in any water or bacteria. $31.55 www.dexterrussellcutlery.com

Huk Santiago Long Sleeve

The Santiago long sleeve is packed with performance and ready to fish hard using our technology, but is comfortable enough to wear to the bar after a day on the water. A classic button down meets Huk Performance Fishing. $64.99 www.hukgear.com

Caza Offshore The Mito

We have dialed in the perfect shape, weight and size to create a lure that should always be in your spread. The Mito was inspired by the best attributes of the highly effective plunger style lure. The keel weighted slant head swims aggressively on the troll, proven to raise fish and generate bites. The innovative head material is non-yellowing, highly chip resistant and crystal clear. This “go to” lure is excellent in all sea conditions for dorado, sailfish, marlin, tuna and all pelagic gamefish. $40.00 www.cazaoffshore.com

$EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Continues

TBC tuna $EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Continues

Brandon Rowan, Matt Taylor, first mate Adam and Kurt Pantle with our 90 lb. tuna.

I went from reporting on the Texas Billfish Classic to fishing it

By Brandon Rowan

It was Wednesday night and the Texas Billfish Classic’s Kick Off Party was in full swing. It was good times, great food, cold drinks and plenty of early entry giveaways from Costa Del Mar, YETI and more. Tournament director Jasen Gast and company put on one hell of an event.

As the party was winding down, for some of us, my wife Meagan and I said our goodbyes. We headed to the truck and I spotted an old friend I’ve fished with many times over the years.

“YAMAGUCHI!” I yelled.

Capt. Mark Yamaguchi and I shook hands and instead of a hello/goodbye I got an invitation.

“Hey man, we need you. We’re short and need someone who can fish tuna.”

For someone who is, uh, not much of a morning person, tuna fishing until sunrise is one of my favorites. After a thumbs up from my better half, it was game on and I rushed home to prep my gear.

jack beal $EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Continues

Capt. Mark Yamaguchi and $ea Dollar$ owner Jack Beal.

The next morning I met the crew and we headed out from Freeport. Jack Beal, owner of $EA DOLLAR$, runs a tight ship with a solid crew. First mate Adam was the youngest of us but already boasts years of experience in multiple fisheries. I also met trolling experts Fred, who has fished with Jack for over 25 years, and Gary who has over 30 years experience in various countries. On night crew with Mark and I, was Matt and Kurt who brought in first place tuna during last year’s tournament.

The first night of fishing started out promising. We had cooperative seas, bait in our lights, a few fish early on poppers and easy jigging for blackfin. But our optimism faded as the hours dragged on and the sun began to rise. We busted our asses all night with no yellowfin tuna to show for it.

On Friday, conditions grew worse. The seas tumbled higher and rain pelted the boat. No matter; the sun set again and the night crew went back to work. But our luck started to change, as the air grew thick with flying fish. We netted well over a dozen flyers and sent them back out wearing circle hook jewelry. But drift after drift, we came up empty. Around 2 a.m., Mark made the call.

“Alright bring them in and lets make another drift.”

Those were the magic words. Kurt’s reel started screaming and it was fish on! The line continued to quickly peel away as Matt and I strapped him into the harness.

We knew this was a good fish but we didn’t realize how tough this one would be. A battle of wills began. Kurt gained yards and yards of line only to have the fish to strip it all away in an instant. This tug of war went on at least a dozen times before we finally saw color. Twenty minutes into the fight we were greeted with a tail, instead of the big head and open beak of a yellowfin tuna.

“She’s tail wrapped!” Adam said, gaff in hand.

The tuna must have heard him and sped back down to the deep, taking advantage by kicking that big tail, as we were unable to turn her head.

Thanks to the teamwork of the whole crew, Kurt’s unwillingness to give up and some attentive driving from Mark, we finally got the fish back to the boat. This time the line came free of her tail and the familiar circling of a doomed tuna began. We were ready.

Adam was quick with the gaff and close to 100 pounds of fresh sashimi hit the deck. It took 45 minutes of grit and hard work but she was finally in the boat. It was high fives all around!

The circle hook was stuck delicately in the corner of the mouth and came free too easily for comfort. We quickly put the tuna on ice and went back to work. Again, we drifted, jigged and popped until sunrise but that was it; one and done. Aside from a few badass blackfin, we only caught one yellowfin tuna, but it was the quality fish we were looking for.

On Saturday, $EA DOLLAR$ roared back into Freeport with a big tuna and a wahoo for the scales. I snapped a couple shots of Draggin’ Up weighing their big blue marlin from the water and then it was our turn. The tail rope was secured, the tuna was hoisted up and we held our breath waiting for the numbers.

TBC staff measures the tuna before weighing it.

“90 pounds on the dot!”

We had one fat tuna but it was just shy of the first place weight of 93 lbs. We took our pictures, got back on the boat, cleaned up, and made ourselves halfway presentable for the awards dinner where we were presented 2nd place tuna trophy.

Jack Beal and Kurt Pantle with the 2nd place tuna trophy.

 It was another killer event with good food and plenty of drinks for famished, thirsty crews. Draggin’ Up came in first with their big blue marlin and were named tournament champions. The first ever Billfish Classic Cup was awarded to Bimini Babe. The night ended with TBC’s Jasen Gast and the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor presenting a donated all-terrain wheelchair to veteran Jacob De La Garza, who lost his leg in Afghanistan.

Another one was in the books with many good fish weighed and several billfish released. Jack Beal’s $EA DOLLAR$ continued a tradition of bringing big tuna to the scales. I would look for it to happen again next year.

For more photography from this tournament, visit Gulf Coast Mariner’s Facebook and the Texas Billfish Classic Facebook.

Draggin’ Up Wins the 2018 Texas Billfish Classic

team draggin up marlin Draggin Up Wins the 2018 Texas Billfish Classic

Draggin’ Up were named tournament champions and won the blue marlin division with their 514 lb fish.

The Texas Billfish Classic saw continued growth in participation and a substantial increase in prize money during its third year. The TBC fleet released eight blue marlin, one white marlin, six sailfish and weighed one big blue marlin. The TBC is one of the fastest growing billfish tournaments in Texas and the only event that allows participants to leave at noon on Thursday and begin fishing right away on the same day.

Draggin’ Up, a 74’ Viking from Houston, was the only boat to weigh a blue marlin on Saturday, Aug. 4 to claim top honors in the Blue Marlin Division. Angler Sam Rasberry’s 119.5 inch blue marlin topped the scales at 514 pounds.

“We were having a slow first day with no bites, so we decided to make a move for second day. We got the bite shortly after 9 a.m.,” said Draggin’ Up Captain Kevin Deerman. “We definitely knew the fish was a keeper after second set of jumps and got the gaffs ready. Great tournament and worked out for us betting heavy in the Blue Marlin kill pots!”

In the Billfish Release Division, Bimini Babe a 74’ Viking, took home top honors with three blue marlin releases and one sailfish, while Tico Time, a 65’ Hatteras, released one blue marlin and two sailfish to finish in second place. Over-Ride, a 64’ Titan, finished in third place releasing one blue marlin.

The Bimini Babe Team was also crowned Champions of the Billfish Classic Cup. This new event was developed to reward competitive teams fishing in both the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and the Texas Billfish Classic. Owner Babe Appling, Captain Robert Jones and team left with an extra $10,000 and custom art to commemorate the big win!

The Tuna category was won by Clark Miller from Smoker II with a 93-pound Yellowfin. No stranger to the podium, Kurt Pantle on $EA DOLLAR$ came in second at 90 pounds, followed by Lee Bull on the REHAB at 50 pounds. A nice summer wahoo raised the bar pretty high as Jasen Gast and the REHAB crew pulled up his 51-pound fish, barely topping the second place fish brought in by Tiger Neal on the Smoker II. Brian Wood of Draggin’ Up, came in third at 29 pounds. The Dolphin category was taken with the only qualifying fish at 23 pounds by Chris Gavlick aboard the REHAB.

The Top Lady Angler was Emma Griffith on Over-Ride and the Top Junior Angler Award was presented to Ethan Middleton on the Change Order.

RESULTS:

Blue Marlin
1st- 514.0 lbs. Draggin’ Up – Angler Sam Rasberry

Catch and Release
1st – 2,000 pts – Bimini Babe – Captain Robert Jones

2nd – 1,000 pts – Tico Time – Captain Mike Hester

3rd – 600 pts – Over-Ride – Captain Jacob Dawson

Tuna
1st – 93 lbs – Smoker II – Clark Miller

2nd – 90 lbs – $ea Dollar$ – Kurt Pantle

3rd – 50 lbs – REHAB – Lee Bull

Wahoo
1st – 51 lbs – REHAB – Jasen Gast

2nd – 47 lbs – Smoker II – Tiger Neal

3rd – 29 lbs – Draggin’ Up – Brian Wood

Dolphin
1st – 23 lbs – REHAB – Chris Gavlick

Top Lady Angler
Emma Griffith on the Over-Ride

Top Junior Angler
Ethan Middleton on the Change Order

Women’s Swimwear and Fishing Apparel from Scales Gear

 

b8a1d2f365c348b49fd3d5a774266b18 Womens Swimwear and Fishing Apparel from Scales Gear

MONEY2 Womens Swimwear and Fishing Apparel from Scales Gear

Adrienne Hall in the Ocean Scales bikini by Scales Gear. Photography 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 BIKINI

 

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!

  • 85% Nylon
  • 15% Spandex
  • SPF 50+

 

 

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.

  • 85% Nylon
  • 15% Spandex
  • SPF 50+

 

 

TROPICAL SAILFISH PERFORMANCE TOP

 

A lightweight, comfortable and athletic fit performance shirt. Comes with a vibrant color sublimated print.

  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection
  • Slim Fit Design
  • Quick Drying
  • Antimicrobial
  • Moisture wicking technology
  • 4.1 oz 100% Microfiber

 

 

GIRLY TUNA BOARDSHORT

 

SHOP ONLINE AT WWW.SCALESGEAR.COM

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/scalesgear

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/scales_gear

 

Model Adrienne Hall in the Wahoo Baiting Suit by Scales Gear. Photography by Kelly Groce.

 

Texas Billfish Classic returns to Freeport Aug. 1-4

bmarlinjump Texas Billfish Classic returns to Freeport Aug. 1 4

Charity-minded tournament brings billfishing back to Freeport

By Brandon Rowan

tbclogo 150x150 Texas Billfish Classic returns to Freeport Aug. 1 4The Texas Billfish Classic celebrates its third year of bringing highly competitive billfishing back to Freeport. Over the past three years, the tourney has grown steadily and produces one of the most popular and enjoyable tournament formats on the Texas Gulf Coast.

History

The original tournament was formed in the 1980s by many of the bluewater pioneers who put Freeport on the map as a Blue Marlin hotspot in the 80s and 90s. During this time the Billfish Classic was a premier event with a rich history of record catches and great times.

In 2015, Tournament Director Jasen Gast resurrected the Texas Billfish Classic and added much more.

“One of the biggest success stories of the TBC is not the fishing, but what we are able to do on land,” Gast said. “Since 2015, the TBC has donated more than $25,000 to local and regional non-profit organizations.”

The tournament works closely with three charities – the Freedom Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and the Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run.

  • The Billfish Foundation operates worldwide to advance the conservation of billfish and associated species to improve the health of oceans and economies.
  • The Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run has delivered toys, clothing and Christmas meals via boat to thousands of needy children on the Texas coast since 2006.
  • The Freedom Alliance goes above and beyond to meet the needs of wounded warriors and their families. This includes rehab/recovery funds, customized wheelchairs, care packages to deployed troops and a scholarship fund for the children of fallen heroes.

A Patriotic Tournament

Jasen Gast has owned REHAB, a tournament winning 45’ Davis sportfisher, for five years now and has a history and passion for taking disabled children, veterans and others out on fishing trips. The opportunity to further help the needy came to Gast after meeting the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor while fishing in Costa Rica.

“I met Jasen during the Triple Crown in Los Sueños, Costa Rica. He wanted to bring a more patriotic aspect to his tournament,” Ailor said.

Since that meeting, the Texas Billfish Classic has already donated thousands to the charity and much more in the way of real life experiences and trips for our nation’s heroes.

“We are not a one and done charity,” said Pepper Ailor, who has worked with the Freedom Alliance over the past 13 years. “We stay in the lives of these heroes and bless the troops with genuine relationships.”

Each year the TBC invites a group of veterans down to Freeport to be involved in the week’s events and also embark on an offshore trip. With no cell phones or distractions, deeper connections are made during the inevitable lulls of a fishing trip and the shared exhilaration during the high excitement moments.

Veteran group after a solid day catching fish during a donated trip on Galveston Bay in 2017. Photo by Pepper Ailor.

Last year’s group of invited veterans enjoyed a great inshore fishing trip. Marine Sgt. Cory, Army Sgt. Bill, Cpl. Jeramie and Master Chief Kevin spent a day on Galveston Bay catching redfish, flounder and trout.

“He has so much fun on those trips! Jeramie’s wife Lindsey said. “He comes back with new friends and so many stories! Thank you for inviting him! He is keeping in contact with several people through text. He just had the best time!”

Great things continue to be born of the relationship between the Freedom Alliance and TBC. Dudley Wood, a tournament participant and owner of the 54’ Bertram Smoker II, even donated a hunting trip to a group of five veterans he met during the tournament last year.

Gulf Coast Mariner encourages our readers to donate and volunteer for the Freedom Alliance and other worthy veterans charities but Pepper Ailor wants to see something greater happen.

“Form a genuine relationship with a veteran.” Ailor said. “There is too big a gap between the lives of our defenders and the public sector. Our veterans need to do a better job opening up and civilians need to listen better.

Marty Griffith’s Over-Ride with the tournament record blue marlin at 410 pounds. Photo by Brandon Rowan.

People’s Choice

The TBC continues to be one of the fastest growing competitive billfish events in Texas. The high number of billfish catches in August along the Texas shelf also adds to a spirited weigh-in and awards banquet on Saturday night. Fishing the TBC is known to be hot by day and festive at night.

“He puts on the best as far as I’m concerned,” said Dudley Wood of Smoker II. “He lets us leave during daylight and that is huge. That’s why I quit some other tournaments that start you running out at night. The safety of my captain and crew is paramount.”

“It is a great tournament,” said Shawn Kurtz, owner of Hey Girl, the winning boat of the 2017 tourney. “Jasen has put together a pretty good program. It gets better and better each year.”

New for 2018 is the inclusion of the Billfish Classic Cup trophy. The winner of the BCC will be decided by the boat with the highest total release points from both the Texas Billfish Classic and Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, and in turn, take home a minimum of $10,000 cash.

This conservation minded tournament also encourages billfish release with the highest minimum in the state for harvesting Blue Marlin at 107 inches.

Don’t miss the hot fishing and festive nights this revived classic brings to Freeport. The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend the weigh-in on Friday and Saturday.

For information or to register for the Texas Billfish Classic visit them online at www.TexasBillfishClassic.com or contact TexasBillfishClassic@yahoo.com

Yellowfin Tuna Lures After Dark

Tie on one of these proven tuna lures when drifting near semi-submersible platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

yo zuri bull pop Yellowfin Tuna Lures After Dark

Color: Mackerel. Available in 6 and 8 inch sizes.

Yo-Zuri Bull Pop

Yo-Zuri has upgraded the new Bull Pop with patented Power Body, 3X treble hooks and through wire construction to give it the durability to handle the biggest Texas tuna. The large cupped mouth creates extreme surface commotion that draws fish in from long distances.

wombat laser Yellowfin Tuna Lures After Dark

Color: Laser purple. Available in mini and full sizes.

OTI Wombat

OTI’s Wombat Chugger produces explosive topwater action to excite large tuna and trigger strikes. These poppers come fully rigged and ready to fish with Raptor XH split rings and Raptor 4X treble hooks.

Color: Pilchard. Available in over 10 colors and 3 sizes.

Halco Max 130

Look to the Halco Max 130 when tuna won’t commit to surface lures. This versatile Australian lure can be trolled but is best cast with spinning gear and steady retrieved during your drift.

Color: Black. Available in 7 colors and 3 sizes.

Shimano Pop Orca

Shimano’s Orca popper features a unique “Bubble Chamber” open mouth design based on how a jet engine turns low pressure into high pressure. Water flows through the hole at the top of the lure to create a unique bubble trail and splash. Less effort is required to work compared to traditional poppers.