Blue marlin, wahoo and scenic Pacific views from one of the world’s hottest sportfishing destinations.
Photography by Brandon and Meagan Rowan
Photography by Brandon and Meagan Rowan
Top gear from Garmin, Huk, Lew’s, Caza Offshore and more
Garmin Striker 5cv
Finding fish is easier than ever with STRIKER 5cv fishfinder. Mark and return to your hot spots, boat ramps and docks. You also can share your favorite waypoints and routes with other STRIKER and echoMAP™ combos. Plus, it has a built-in flasher and displays speed data. Includes tilt/swivel mount, CHIRP (77/200 kHz) sonar transducer with transom and trolling motor mounting hardware and cable. $299.00 www.garmin.com
Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool SLP Series
Mach Crush baitcast reels feature Lew’s exclusive SLP Super Low Profile compact Speed Spool design in a durable graphite frame with graphite sideplates. Its high-end performance comes from a premium 10-bearing system with double-shielded stainless steel bearings and ZeroReverse anti-reverse. The main gear and crankshaft are strong solid brass. The 95mm bowed aluminum handle features oversized Winn Dri-Tac knobs to ensure a noslip grip in all conditions. The rugged carbon fiber drag system provides up to 20 lbs. of drag power. $159.99 www.lews.com
Dexter Russell Softgrip 8” Narrow Fillet Knife
The SofGrip line is the ultimate choice in nonslip handles. Available in black and white, the soft handle allows you to grip tighter to prevent slipping and increase control. Each blade comes with a proprietary DEXSTEEL, stain-free, high-carbon steel blade, with an individually ground and honed edge. Their superior blade shape allows for easier slicing while the unique edge geometry keeps them long lasting. Not to mention, the seal between the blade and the handle will not let in any water or bacteria. $31.55 www.dexterrussellcutlery.com
Huk Santiago Long Sleeve
The Santiago long sleeve is packed with performance and ready to fish hard using our technology, but is comfortable enough to wear to the bar after a day on the water. A classic button down meets Huk Performance Fishing. $64.99 www.hukgear.com
Caza Offshore The Mito
We have dialed in the perfect shape, weight and size to create a lure that should always be in your spread. The Mito was inspired by the best attributes of the highly effective plunger style lure. The keel weighted slant head swims aggressively on the troll, proven to raise fish and generate bites. The innovative head material is non-yellowing, highly chip resistant and crystal clear. This “go to” lure is excellent in all sea conditions for dorado, sailfish, marlin, tuna and all pelagic gamefish. $40.00 www.cazaoffshore.com
By Brandon Rowan
It was Wednesday night and the Texas Billfish Classic’s Kick Off Party was in full swing. It was good times, great food, cold drinks and plenty of early entry giveaways from Costa Del Mar, YETI and more. Tournament director Jasen Gast and company put on one hell of an event.
As the party was winding down, for some of us, my wife Meagan and I said our goodbyes. We headed to the truck and I spotted an old friend I’ve fished with many times over the years.
“YAMAGUCHI!” I yelled.
Capt. Mark Yamaguchi and I shook hands and instead of a hello/goodbye I got an invitation.
“Hey man, we need you. We’re short and need someone who can fish tuna.”
For someone who is, uh, not much of a morning person, tuna fishing until sunrise is one of my favorites. After a thumbs up from my better half, it was game on and I rushed home to prep my gear.
The next morning I met the crew and we headed out from Freeport. Jack Beal, owner of $EA DOLLAR$, runs a tight ship with a solid crew. First mate Adam was the youngest of us but already boasts years of experience in multiple fisheries. I also met trolling experts Fred, who has fished with Jack for over 25 years, and Gary who has over 30 years experience in various countries. On night crew with Mark and I, was Matt and Kurt who brought in first place tuna during last year’s tournament.
The first night of fishing started out promising. We had cooperative seas, bait in our lights, a few fish early on poppers and easy jigging for blackfin. But our optimism faded as the hours dragged on and the sun began to rise. We busted our asses all night with no yellowfin tuna to show for it.
On Friday, conditions grew worse. The seas tumbled higher and rain pelted the boat. No matter; the sun set again and the night crew went back to work. But our luck started to change, as the air grew thick with flying fish. We netted well over a dozen flyers and sent them back out wearing circle hook jewelry. But drift after drift, we came up empty. Around 2 a.m., Mark made the call.
“Alright bring them in and lets make another drift.”
Those were the magic words. Kurt’s reel started screaming and it was fish on! The line continued to quickly peel away as Matt and I strapped him into the harness.
We knew this was a good fish but we didn’t realize how tough this one would be. A battle of wills began. Kurt gained yards and yards of line only to have the fish to strip it all away in an instant. This tug of war went on at least a dozen times before we finally saw color. Twenty minutes into the fight we were greeted with a tail, instead of the big head and open beak of a yellowfin tuna.
“She’s tail wrapped!” Adam said, gaff in hand.
The tuna must have heard him and sped back down to the deep, taking advantage by kicking that big tail, as we were unable to turn her head.
Thanks to the teamwork of the whole crew, Kurt’s unwillingness to give up and some attentive driving from Mark, we finally got the fish back to the boat. This time the line came free of her tail and the familiar circling of a doomed tuna began. We were ready.
Adam was quick with the gaff and close to 100 pounds of fresh sashimi hit the deck. It took 45 minutes of grit and hard work but she was finally in the boat. It was high fives all around!
The circle hook was stuck delicately in the corner of the mouth and came free too easily for comfort. We quickly put the tuna on ice and went back to work. Again, we drifted, jigged and popped until sunrise but that was it; one and done. Aside from a few badass blackfin, we only caught one yellowfin tuna, but it was the quality fish we were looking for.
On Saturday, $EA DOLLAR$ roared back into Freeport with a big tuna and a wahoo for the scales. I snapped a couple shots of Draggin’ Up weighing their big blue marlin from the water and then it was our turn. The tail rope was secured, the tuna was hoisted up and we held our breath waiting for the numbers.
“90 pounds on the dot!”
We had one fat tuna but it was just shy of the first place weight of 93 lbs. We took our pictures, got back on the boat, cleaned up, and made ourselves halfway presentable for the awards dinner where we were presented 2nd place tuna trophy.
It was another killer event with good food and plenty of drinks for famished, thirsty crews. Draggin’ Up came in first with their big blue marlin and were named tournament champions. The first ever Billfish Classic Cup was awarded to Bimini Babe. The night ended with TBC’s Jasen Gast and the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor presenting a donated all-terrain wheelchair to veteran Jacob De La Garza, who lost his leg in Afghanistan.
Another one was in the books with many good fish weighed and several billfish released. Jack Beal’s $EA DOLLAR$ continued a tradition of bringing big tuna to the scales. I would look for it to happen again next year.
The Texas Billfish Classic saw continued growth in participation and a substantial increase in prize money during its third year. The TBC fleet released eight blue marlin, one white marlin, six sailfish and weighed one big blue marlin. The TBC is one of the fastest growing billfish tournaments in Texas and the only event that allows participants to leave at noon on Thursday and begin fishing right away on the same day.
Draggin’ Up, a 74’ Viking from Houston, was the only boat to weigh a blue marlin on Saturday, Aug. 4 to claim top honors in the Blue Marlin Division. Angler Sam Rasberry’s 119.5 inch blue marlin topped the scales at 514 pounds.
“We were having a slow first day with no bites, so we decided to make a move for second day. We got the bite shortly after 9 a.m.,” said Draggin’ Up Captain Kevin Deerman. “We definitely knew the fish was a keeper after second set of jumps and got the gaffs ready. Great tournament and worked out for us betting heavy in the Blue Marlin kill pots!”
In the Billfish Release Division, Bimini Babe a 74’ Viking, took home top honors with three blue marlin releases and one sailfish, while Tico Time, a 65’ Hatteras, released one blue marlin and two sailfish to finish in second place. Over-Ride, a 64’ Titan, finished in third place releasing one blue marlin.
The Bimini Babe Team was also crowned Champions of the Billfish Classic Cup. This new event was developed to reward competitive teams fishing in both the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and the Texas Billfish Classic. Owner Babe Appling, Captain Robert Jones and team left with an extra $10,000 and custom art to commemorate the big win!
The Tuna category was won by Clark Miller from Smoker II with a 93-pound Yellowfin. No stranger to the podium, Kurt Pantle on $EA DOLLAR$ came in second at 90 pounds, followed by Lee Bull on the REHAB at 50 pounds. A nice summer wahoo raised the bar pretty high as Jasen Gast and the REHAB crew pulled up his 51-pound fish, barely topping the second place fish brought in by Tiger Neal on the Smoker II. Brian Wood of Draggin’ Up, came in third at 29 pounds. The Dolphin category was taken with the only qualifying fish at 23 pounds by Chris Gavlick aboard the REHAB.
The Top Lady Angler was Emma Griffith on Over-Ride and the Top Junior Angler Award was presented to Ethan Middleton on the Change Order.
1st- 514.0 lbs. Draggin’ Up – Angler Sam Rasberry
Catch and Release
1st – 2,000 pts – Bimini Babe – Captain Robert Jones
2nd – 1,000 pts – Tico Time – Captain Mike Hester
3rd – 600 pts – Over-Ride – Captain Jacob Dawson
1st – 93 lbs – Smoker II – Clark Miller
2nd – 90 lbs – $ea Dollar$ – Kurt Pantle
3rd – 50 lbs – REHAB – Lee Bull
1st – 51 lbs – REHAB – Jasen Gast
2nd – 47 lbs – Smoker II – Tiger Neal
3rd – 29 lbs – Draggin’ Up – Brian Wood
1st – 23 lbs – REHAB – Chris Gavlick
Top Lady Angler
Emma Griffith on the Over-Ride
Top Junior Angler
Ethan Middleton on the Change Order
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 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.
A lightweight, comfortable and athletic fit performance shirt. Comes with a vibrant color sublimated print.
By Brandon Rowan
The Texas Billfish Classic celebrates its third year of bringing highly competitive billfishing back to Freeport. Over the past three years, the tourney has grown steadily and produces one of the most popular and enjoyable tournament formats on the Texas Gulf Coast.
The original tournament was formed in the 1980s by many of the bluewater pioneers who put Freeport on the map as a Blue Marlin hotspot in the 80s and 90s. During this time the Billfish Classic was a premier event with a rich history of record catches and great times.
In 2015, Tournament Director Jasen Gast resurrected the Texas Billfish Classic and added much more.
“One of the biggest success stories of the TBC is not the fishing, but what we are able to do on land,” Gast said. “Since 2015, the TBC has donated more than $25,000 to local and regional non-profit organizations.”
The tournament works closely with three charities – the Freedom Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and the Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run.
Jasen Gast has owned REHAB, a tournament winning 45’ Davis sportfisher, for five years now and has a history and passion for taking disabled children, veterans and others out on fishing trips. The opportunity to further help the needy came to Gast after meeting the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor while fishing in Costa Rica.
“I met Jasen during the Triple Crown in Los Sueños, Costa Rica. He wanted to bring a more patriotic aspect to his tournament,” Ailor said.
Since that meeting, the Texas Billfish Classic has already donated thousands to the charity and much more in the way of real life experiences and trips for our nation’s heroes.
“We are not a one and done charity,” said Pepper Ailor, who has worked with the Freedom Alliance over the past 13 years. “We stay in the lives of these heroes and bless the troops with genuine relationships.”
Each year the TBC invites a group of veterans down to Freeport to be involved in the week’s events and also embark on an offshore trip. With no cell phones or distractions, deeper connections are made during the inevitable lulls of a fishing trip and the shared exhilaration during the high excitement moments.
Last year’s group of invited veterans enjoyed a great inshore fishing trip. Marine Sgt. Cory, Army Sgt. Bill, Cpl. Jeramie and Master Chief Kevin spent a day on Galveston Bay catching redfish, flounder and trout.
“He has so much fun on those trips! Jeramie’s wife Lindsey said. “He comes back with new friends and so many stories! Thank you for inviting him! He is keeping in contact with several people through text. He just had the best time!”
Great things continue to be born of the relationship between the Freedom Alliance and TBC. Dudley Wood, a tournament participant and owner of the 54’ Bertram Smoker II, even donated a hunting trip to a group of five veterans he met during the tournament last year.
Gulf Coast Mariner encourages our readers to donate and volunteer for the Freedom Alliance and other worthy veterans charities but Pepper Ailor wants to see something greater happen.
“Form a genuine relationship with a veteran.” Ailor said. “There is too big a gap between the lives of our defenders and the public sector. Our veterans need to do a better job opening up and civilians need to listen better.
The TBC continues to be one of the fastest growing competitive billfish events in Texas. The high number of billfish catches in August along the Texas shelf also adds to a spirited weigh-in and awards banquet on Saturday night. Fishing the TBC is known to be hot by day and festive at night.
“He puts on the best as far as I’m concerned,” said Dudley Wood of Smoker II. “He lets us leave during daylight and that is huge. That’s why I quit some other tournaments that start you running out at night. The safety of my captain and crew is paramount.”
“It is a great tournament,” said Shawn Kurtz, owner of Hey Girl, the winning boat of the 2017 tourney. “Jasen has put together a pretty good program. It gets better and better each year.”
New for 2018 is the inclusion of the Billfish Classic Cup trophy. The winner of the BCC will be decided by the boat with the highest total release points from both the Texas Billfish Classic and Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, and in turn, take home a minimum of $10,000 cash.
This conservation minded tournament also encourages billfish release with the highest minimum in the state for harvesting Blue Marlin at 107 inches.
Don’t miss the hot fishing and festive nights this revived classic brings to Freeport. The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend the weigh-in on Friday and Saturday.
For information or to register for the Texas Billfish Classic visit them online at www.TexasBillfishClassic.com or contact TexasBillfishClassic@yahoo.com
Yo-Zuri has upgraded the new Bull Pop with patented Power Body, 3X treble hooks and through wire construction to give it the durability to handle the biggest Texas tuna. The large cupped mouth creates extreme surface commotion that draws fish in from long distances.
OTI’s Wombat Chugger produces explosive topwater action to excite large tuna and trigger strikes. These poppers come fully rigged and ready to fish with Raptor XH split rings and Raptor 4X treble hooks.
Look to the Halco Max 130 when tuna won’t commit to surface lures. This versatile Australian lure can be trolled but is best cast with spinning gear and steady retrieved during your drift.
Shimano’s Orca popper features a unique “Bubble Chamber” open mouth design based on how a jet engine turns low pressure into high pressure. Water flows through the hole at the top of the lure to create a unique bubble trail and splash. Less effort is required to work compared to traditional poppers.
Private recreational anglers fishing in federal waters off the Texas coast will see a projected 82-day season starting June 1 under an agreement between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
The agreement is a modified version of the Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application submitted to NMFS earlier this year, and will allow TPWD to establish the opening and closing of the red snapper fishery in federal waters off the Texas coast for private recreational anglers fishing from their own vessels in 2018 and 2019.
Based on current harvest quota estimates, TPWD projects an 82-day red snapper season in federal waters, while state waters (out to 9 nautical miles) are expected to remain open year-round. Bag and size limits will remain unchanged under the permit; 2 fish per person daily with a 16-inch minimum size limit in federal waters, and 4 fish per person daily with a 15-inch minimum in state waters.
In September 2017, NMFS invited each of the Gulf States to apply for an EFP that, if approved, would authorize the states to manage recreational red snapper harvest in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Texas submitted its application for an EFP in February 2018 and subsequently held three public meetings along the coast and set up a web portal online for official public comment. The public overwhelmingly supported the original EFP application and the combination of the private recreational angler sector with the for-hire sector. Under this scenario, anglers were projected to receive up to 104 fishing days in federal waters.
While NMFS accepted the EFP allowing TPWD to manage the red snapper fishery, it rejected the application’s plan to combine all recreational anglers into one user group. “While we respectfully disagree with that decision, we are confident that Texas can successfully manage the red snapper fishery to the benefit of anglers and the resource. As such, this is a positive step forward in our larger discussions with NMFS and the Gulf States about state-based management of the red snapper fishery,” said Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
“Historically, charter boats have been included by NMFS in its allocation for recreational anglers. As a result, I believe it was unreasonable for NMFS to refuse to include the for-hire sector under the Exempted Fishing Permit offered to Texas,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman Ralph H. Duggins. “I have advised senior representatives at NMFS that I will vigorously oppose any future efforts to privatize the charter sector through the use of individual fishing quotas. To do so would undermine the fundamental linchpin of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation – that fish and wildlife are public resources.”
Help TPWD better manage this resource by downloading the iSnapper app on your smart phone and reporting your red snapper landings.
Galati Yacht Sales, a once storm ravaged Florida marina, is now a No. 1 dealership with locations in the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica. The company’s humble beginnings start with Jay Dee Jackson’s grandfather, Michael Galati Sr. in 1970. He moved his family of seven from New York down to Anna Maria Island, Florida.
“He felt drawn to Anna Maria, as this is the name of my grandmother. He saw this as a sign and decided to purchase a marina there that had just been devastated by a storm,” said Jay Dee. “From there, he and his wife, Anna Maria, and their five children worked to rebuild the marina and grew the company to what is now Galati Yacht Sales.”
Galati now has ten locations in three countries and carries some of the world’s finest yachts, including Maritimo, Viking, Prestige, Princess and Cruisers Yachts. They offer new, pre-owned and brokerage yacht sales with the ability to accept trade-ins on new or pre-owned purchases. Their Texas location is just off 45 south on Offatt’s Bayou in Galveston.
Galati Yacht Sales differentiates itself from the competition with a business philosophy that this family-owned company has lived by since inception. The third generation now leads the company and the principle remains the same; a passion and love for the industry in everything they do.
Their mission statement “Consistently Exceeding The Expectations Of Our Customers,” means clients are treated like family. Michael Galati Sr. was known to say that “Our customers are always there for us, so in turn, we will always be there for our customers. We must stick together as a family, work hard and earn our customers business.”
This work ethic has not gone unnoticed. Galati has been recognized in the boating industry in more ways than one. They recently earned No.1 dealer in Boating Industry’s Top 100 Dealers Award. They have won multiple times since 2007 and have now been entered into the Boating Industry Hall of Fame.
Galati is there for its customers and can assist for every step of a yacht purchase — an exciting process than can be a little stressful for some. Years of experience and in-house financing makes for a one-stop yacht shop. Whether you are a new boater, or an old salt, Team Galati strives to make your experience one to remember and enjoy for years.
The relationship with the Galati family does not end after your new vessel is purchased, that is just the beginning. They are always available to customers for anything they need along their boating journey. From hosting boating trips to our endless service technician support, they are happy to put in the work to help you have a more enjoyable experience on the water. For whatever your needs may be, Galati is a name you can trust.
“Apart from our family, we have been extremely fortunate to build an incredible team over the years. Our Galveston location staff members and brokers are there to support our customers in every aspect and have led us to only build upon the values that we laid our foundation on,” said Jay Dee Jackson.
Jay Dee is the manager of the Galati Yacht Sales Texas location. “My wife, Alyssa and I moved to the area recently from Sarasota, Florida and I am a graduate of The University of Mississippi with a degree in Business Management,” said Jackson.
Larry Smith joined Team Galati 13 years ago and boasts 46 years of experience in the marine industry. “It is a pleasure being associated with a company that puts customer service at the top of their priorities!” said Smith.
David Hunt is a native of Seabrook and continues his life-long love of the water and a passion for boats. He is a third generation member of Lakewood Yacht Club and a past president of the Gulf Coast Yacht Brokers Association. “I pride myself on my honesty, attention to detail, and desire to always act in my client’s best interest. Our marketing can make sure that your yacht is exposed to buyers throughout the world,” said Hunt.
Cory Webster is a native Texan and has spent the past 17 years developing his expertise in the boating business. Over the years, Cory has been fortunate to represent some of the best boating and yachting brands. “Working side by side with the best of the best in manufacturing, dealers and salespeople in this industry gets me excited. Seeing their values, passion and innovation keeps our business going strong!” said Webster.
Jordan Butler was born and raised in Galveston. The son of a well-respected captain, he was exposed to both the sportfishing and boating scenes at an early age. “Boating and fishing has always been a huge part of my life. I will always have a lifelong passion for going offshore and being on the water,” said Butler.
Randy Bright is a native Texan and has held every position in the competitive marlin fishing world as an owner, captain, angler and cockpit/wire man. “I stay very involved with many of my clients through the Houston Big Game Fishing Club events and several Gulf Coast and international fishing tournaments. I enjoy the friendships that I develop before and after the sale and spend time fishing, boating and traveling with clients particularly to the Bahamas and Costa Rica,” said Bright.
The boating season is just around the corner. Get in touch with Galati and they’ll get you on course to owning the boat or yacht of your dreams. Visit them in person at 7819 Broadway St., Suite #100 Galveston, Texas 77554. Call them at (409) 741-8716 or view inventory online at galatiyachts.com. Find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @galatiyachtsales
Eleven-year-old Will McLemore of Houston landed this 67” dorado while fishing with Capt. Brett Holden and the crew of the Booby Trap out of Los Sueños, Costa Rica. He also released his first ever blue marlin!
His father, Scott McLemore, also released a marlin just minutes later on their half day trip just 20 miles from the marina.
The big dorado took a live tuna, bridled with a circle hook, while fishing for Marlin near a floating log.
“There are a lot of big dorado this year,” Capt. Holden reported. “We have landed more this season than the past three years combined.”
By Janie Goldman
League City resident, Rodney DeVillier, Captain of Chum On, and owner of One More Cast Charters, (www.omccharters.com), brought in the winning 551 lb., 109 inch Blue Marlin in the annual Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament.
The win was celebrated by boat owner Dr. Kevin Horn, a Baytown orthopedic surgeon, and crew members Chris Horn (angler who brought in the winning fish), Ben Horn, David Horn, Jake Horn, Michael Horn, Shaun Essery and Joey (Sully) Sullivan.
Poco Bueno, is an invitation-only, family-run fishing tournament held every July in Port O’Connor. It was founded in 1969 by Walter W. Fondren and several friends with the intention to draw attention to Port O’Connor and the rich resources it has to offer fisherman.
Captain Rodney DeVillier, who runs the marine electronics department at Fathom Maritime service, says he has been participating in POCO since 1999. In that first year they won third place and won again in 2002 with the second place prize. Rodney explained that even though this year there was an option to weigh in on the second day, they choose to weigh in on the first day because it can bring in an extra $15,000. In addition, cooling the fish overnight can cost you some weight.
When asked what he especially enjoys about the Poco Bueno tournament in Port O’Connor, DeVillier explained that the format and rules are different from other tournaments. It’s all about tradition.
He plans to continue participating in POCO for as long as it continues to keep its traditions and the intentions of its founders.
Overall Point Leaders
1. Hey Girl 1,450
2. Smoker II 1,000
3. A-Team 650
Blue Marlin Division
1. Hey Girl 1,450
2. Smoker II 1,000
3. A-Team 650
Billfish Release Division
1. Hey Girl
2. Smoker II
1. Kurt Pantle – $ea Dollar$ – 59.5#
2. Cody Stephens – $ea Dollar$ – 53.2#
3. Trey – Bimini Babe – 50.6#
1. Michael Milan – Fool’s Gold – 24#
2. Gretchen Childress – Panacea – 21.8#
TOP FEMALE ANGLER
Diana Wood – Blue Marlin Release
TOP JUNIOR ANGLER
Miles Harper – Blue Marlin Release
Red Tide, owner Dan Sugulas, Capt. Dan Sugulas, 46.5 lb
Jason Buck, Done Deal
Chris Marshall, Done Deal
Top Junior Angler
Kanon Lasserre, Draggin’ Up
By Capt. Joe Kent
While writing the fishing report each day for the Galveston Daily News, there are many questions that readers ask about fishing and fishing equipment. One question that crops up fairly often has to do with fishing weights.
The inquiries are generated by anglers who shop at tackle stores or bait shops and see a wide variety of weights on the shelves and are curious as to how to distinguish between the choices. Another common question about weights has to do with a recommendation of what weight or weights should be used for a particular type of fishing.
Hopefully this article will shed some light on those questions and provide some useful information about how and when to use the various weights.
Browsing around the fishing weight displays in tackle shops can be a confusing adventure, as most of the larger operations have dozens of different types on display with only a few being popular with fishermen.
Before getting into the various weights available, let’s address a basic question. For what type of fishing is the weight designed? Casting for trout and reds involves different types of weights than say surf fishing or offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Pier fishing also has its unique type of weights.
For most types of fishing, the objective is to get your bait down with the least amount of weight. Currents, wave action and wind all effect the choice of weights.
When viewing the choices of weights at most tackle stores there are several that stand out and for purposes of this article we will focus on the most popular along the upper Texas coast.
For bank and pier fishermen who cast baits with a double drop leader and weight at the bottom, the most popular are the bank sinker, pyramid and bell weights. All come in varied sizes and are designed to get the rig (leader, hooks and weight) to the bottom quickly before the “trash fish” attack on the way down is successful.
This type of fishing is great for pan fish and is the most convenient and popular style when fishing from piers, rock groins and jetties with dead bait.
When using live bait, other weights are the answer and again the objective is to get your bait out there and to a depth where the fish are feeding. This is much more challenging than just getting your baits to the bottom.
Current strength is the key to choosing the right weight and just as important, the type of weight. When fishing for most game fish, whether from a pier, wading or a boat, a slip weight is the best choice. Slip weights include egg weights and the easily changeable rubber grip weights and pinch weights. All are found in various sizes and again the choice is determined by where you want your bait in relation to the current flow.
Another of the detachable weights is the split shot which is easily attached and removed from fishing lines and is one of the smaller weights. This weight is popular with anglers free-lining bait with little resistance.
One weight that gets more attention or curiosity than most is the odd looking surf fishing bait called the Sputnik. The name comes from its resembling a satellite with antennas. This bait is popular with surf fishermen as it digs into the sand and is not nearly as affected by wave action and tidal flow as other weights. It also is popular with anglers fishing rocky or debris filled areas, as the wire protrusions we call antennas are much more easily removed from being stuck in the rocks or debris.
Finally, we deal with offshore weights. While heavy pyramid, bank and egg weights are popular for getting baits down to the reef fish, the trolling weights have been found to move the rigs faster to the bottom. The reason is their slim design that does not displace as much water as other bottom weights.
While there is a desirable and proper weight out there for whatever your choice of fishing, remember the key to all of this is to get your bait to its desired location with the least amount of resistance.
Owner Jasen Gast | Capt. Troy Day
We run a split of Yo-Zuri Bonitas in purple/black and orange/black on the corners short and Ilander Heavy-Weights in black/red, black/purple and blue/white with ballyhoo long on the outriggers. The Bonitas are rigged on 275# 49-strand cable and the Ilanders are rigged on 175# cable with 9/0 needle eye hooks like the Mustad 7731AD or equivalent. This is not a live bait fishery, as the sharks are too thick.
Stand up gear in the 30-pound class is the perfect tackle in our opinion. These rigs are light and fun, but still have enough strength for the occasional monster roaming out there. But, we do take the 50-pound gear along too, as they are appreciated when the wahoo are running big and for pulling bonitas on the shorts.
Target the edge of the drop off, usually 160-200 ft. depths, but move around until you mark fish on the sounder and then stay on them. If you’re not marking well, don’t be afraid to troll wide and deeper looking for them. Every once in a while the wahoo will be shallower, but most of the time kingfish and barracuda are thick shallow on top of the reef.
When you get a bite, keep the rest of the spread out. Many times you will get multiple hook-ups as the lures sink while you fight the fish.
The best bite is usually very early in the morning but can be good in the evening too towards the later part of the day.
Although you are mainly targeting wahoo in January, be prepared to catch other species as well. We have caught dorado, tuna and sailfish while trolling for wahoo.
Capt. Darrell Weigelt
I’ve always had my best results with Yo-Zuri Bonitas in purple/black or orange/black. Troll them fast at 10-12 knots. If fish are present they will be chasing bait. At the Flower Garden Banks, fish the up current side of the bank. The wahoo move through the current upwellings. Rig the Bonitas on six feet of multi-strand cable.
Capt. Kevin Deerman
On the Legacy we always pullYo-Zuri Bonitas on the flat lines and drop one of them on the down rigger when the bite is slower. Orange/black and purple/black have always worked the best for me.
We pull weighted jet heads (not any particular brand) on the left and right riggers with an Ilander/ballyhoo on the center rigger. We pull mostly blue/white or pink/white Ilanders.
We also keep a couple of spinning rods with large spoons ready to cast after we are hooked up. We have tried pitching live blue runners out after missing a bite or marking fish but sometimes ended up with big amberjack that are mixed in with the wahoo.
When the bite is really on we try to keep it as simple as possible.
What was it like cruising through the Canal?
The entrance into the Panama Canal begins on the Pacific Ocean side in Panama City at Balboa and ends on the Atlantic side in Cristobal. The Canal is 50 miles long from deep water in the Pacific to deep water in the Atlantic. The original elevation was 312 feet above sea level where it crosses the Continent in the rouge mountain range.
Tell us about the vessel you took through the Canal.
Patron is a custom built 65’ Ebony sportfishing boat designed by Australian designer Frank Woodnutt, and was built in Indonesia in 2005.
How long does it take to go through the Canal?
The time it takes varies with the speed of vessels making transit. Our passage through Canal started at 8:00 a.m. and ended at 4:00 p.m. That is considered a fast passage. It requires about 10 hours for an average ship to transit the Canal. Minimum speed to transit is four knots. Sailboats may not transit under sail. All vessels must transit with motor propulsion. Normally for sailboats or slow vessels the transit will take 2 days. These vessels are allowed to anchor for the night in Gamboa or Gatun Lake Anchorage.
Is there a fee required?
Yes, our fee was $5,000 including agent fees. The largest ship we saw during transit was a 1,000 foot car carrier. Fees on that ship were over $250,000
When did the new locks open and how will this impact the Port of Houston?
The new canal locks were opened last year and are used only by the largest ships. The increased volume of ship traffic is a good thing for the port of Houston because of the large amount of ships that transit and continue on to Port of Houston.
This June, the United States Department of Commerce announced a reopening of the red snapper season in Federal waters for recreational anglers. The decision came mid month and was welcome news for many anglers. The original, dismal 2017 season opened June 1 and closed June 3.
The extended federal season will open each weekend, Friday to Sunday, and close again the next day on Monday. These weekend openings will continue until Monday, September 4. Fishing also will be allowed on Monday and Tuesday, July 3-4 and Monday, September 4. The minimum length is still 16 inches and two fish per person may be retained per day.
However, Texas state water snapper will be off limits Monday through Thursday during the extended federal season, with the exception of holidays. Texas might also gain a fall season but there has been no confirmation on this matter yet.
There is still much work to be done, but this is a victory for advocacy groups, Gulf residents and the economies of many coastal communities.
See this PDF for the full recreational regulations for red snapper and all other species.
Now in its 13th year, The Lone Star Shootout is an Invitational Billfish tournament known for its great format, abundant, spirited festivities, large payouts to participants and, most importantly, for its contributions to numerous charitable causes. The Lone Star Shootout provides the opportunity to compete against some of the Gulf Coast’s most talented billfish teams in a format and location that is second to none!
With the central Texas coast location in Port O’Connor, the tournament draws the top billfish tournament teams from South Texas to Florida to compete in the unique format that emphasizes billfish release, women and junior participation and a relaxed family friendly atmosphere.
Often coined “the highlight of the event” (outside of catching the winning fish), the Shootout Champion’s Party is the culmination of nearly a week of preparations, long hours, hard fishing and FUN! Praised for the generous open bar, tasty catered food, live musical entertainment and “Saloon” atmosphere, this night is the true apex of the event. The revealing of the winners and the passing on of The Perpetual Champion’s Trophy also occurs on Saturday night. This magnificent trophy is the prized possession of each year’s champion and has become one of the most sought after trophies on the Gulf Coast tournament trail.
Caracol Club has played host to the Tournament for the past 8 years and, along with the great bay city of Port O’Connor, will welcome the Tournament again this year. Known for its tranquility, laid-back fishing village atmosphere and easy access to the premier billfish spots in the gulf, the town of Port O’Connor is alive with action the entire week of The Lone Star Shootout. Numerous sponsors (and quite a few participants) are residents of or business owners in Port O’Connor and the tournament welcomes the community and visitors to come to the weigh in at Caracol Club on Saturday, July 22nd to see the beautiful boats and amazing fish being weighed in.
Last year over 45 boats competed for the title and coveted Perpetual Trophy. Online entry is currently open on the Tournament website (www.thelonestarshootout.com), along with tournament rules, scoring and side pot information, prior year’s results, photos and much more!
Participants, volunteers and Shootout guests are encouraged to actively participate on the above channels by using the “check in,” tag and share features of social media! We welcome your photos, videos and interaction!
Please find, below, a schedule of events for this year’s Lone Star Shootout. Dates and times are subject to change prior to the start of the event without prior notice. Please check the Shootout website for the most accurate, up to date information.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Friday, July 21, 2017
Saturday, July 22, 2017
May 30 – June 5
June 5 – 11
July 6 – 9
Port Aransas, TX
July 12 – 15
Port O’Connor, TX
July 18 – 23
Port O’Connor, TX
July 26 – 30
Aug. 2 – 6
Port Isabel, TX
Aug. 9 – 13
Port Aransas, TX
Aug. 16 – 19
Aug. 25 – 27
Port Aransas, TX
By Capt. Joe Kent
While not the official start of our summertime fishing season, Memorial Day Weekend often offers excellent conditions for both inshore and offshore fishing. For many anglers it is their first run of the year to offshore waters.
Others focus on the jetties and bays, with all areas capable of producing some nice fish.
Most years, the water temperature has reached the 80-degree mark and, while not as warm as in the mid-summer range of July through mid-September, it is at the point when all of our summertime fish are around.
The bay waters are not so warm as to keep trout and other fish that are sensitive to dissolved oxygen levels, in deep water. This means that wade fishing the shorelines continues to be a viable option for catching trout, reds and other fish.
During May, the jetties begin turning on with trout activity and other fish join the prized specks in feeding up and down the rocks. May through August is prime time around the collection of granite rocks known as the North and South Jetties and many locals add still another designation, that being the Bolivar Jetties for the North and the Galveston Jetties for the South.
Regardless of which designation you use, Memorial Day Weekend is a great time to fish them.
Bird action in both East and West Bays will continue until the waters warm to the point that the fish go deeper. Normally that does not take place until late June or early July.
Memorial Day Weekend is a Holiday Weekend that I always have looked to as the time to head offshore, conditions permitting. My first Memorial Day trip was in 1972 and what a trip it was. King mackerel were thick beginning about 10 miles south of the Galveston or South Jetty. Before that I had made an offshore trip in my boat only four or five times over the previous years.
A learning experience it was. One of the largest kings I have ever caught was landed that day. It was a real “smoker” that weighed 48 pounds on the unofficial scales at Wilson’s South Jetty Bait Camp.
Wayne Tucker, operator of the bait camp, said the king was one of the largest he had seen.
For years thereafter Memorial Day Weekend was set aside for offshore fishing and the percentage of times we were able to make it beyond the jetties was higher than normal for offshore trips.
Some of the largest pelagic fish which include kings, ling, sharks and Dorado make it to the shallower offshore waters during May and early June, with Memorial Day right in the middle of that timeframe.
Besides good fishing and statistically good weather, the Memorial Day Weekend does not normally have the intense heat we experience later in the summer. One advantage of fishing offshore during this time is that the crowds are much lighter than for inshore fishing.
While inshore fishing is in its prime, the weekend is one of the busiest on the water. Normally, that does not bode well for fishing and one way to escape the heavy concentrations of boats is to head out from the jetties and enjoy the offshore.
Don’t forget the sunscreen, as the sun is intense, and that warmth of the season along with good fishing and crabbing, make Memorial Day Weekend a very special time of year.
Keep up with Joe Kent’s daily fishing report here.
Throwing poppers and swimbaits at night can be extremely productive when fishing for yellowfin tuna in the Gulf. Tuna love flying fish and readily come up to the surface to feed. Long, specialized rods and heavy duty spinning reels are best for this type of fishing. From budget minded, to top-of-the-line, these rods and reels for tuna popping will get you on the right track.
These are some of the highest performing, and best valued popping rods on the market today. With shaped EVA grips, new Fuji “K” series Alconite guides, and a new padded rod sock, the OceanXtreme can defeat monsters. Depending on your needs, the 40/60 or 60/80 rods are best for our size of tuna in Texas. MSRP $249
The newest line of Tuna Sniper rods are lighter, stronger, and have a faster taper for the longest possible casting distance and more control boat side. These rods have a moderately fast action, with a slightly faster tip section, shaped EVA grips, new Fuji “K” series SiC guides, and a new padded rod sock. The size 40 stripper guide and new 8’ length give this rod a balanced feel and lighter weight than pre-2012 Tuna Sniper rods. MSRP $449.99
This all-aluminum body reel from Fin-Nor could be one of the best values in high-performance saltwater spinning reels today. The Lethal 100 adds a triple-supported spool shaft, a forged brass main gear and a back-up pawl and ratchet anti-reverse. MSRP $139.95
This tough, all metal construction reel from Penn works well for tuna at a good value. Features include an anodized aluminum superline spool, five stainless steel ball bearings and a sealed drag system with 3 HT-100 washers that stays smooth during big runs. MSRP $179.95
The Cabo series is built for long-lasting, fish-stopping performance – from the indestructible TiMag® bail to the multi-layer corrosion protection. This reel utilizes hybrid ceramic bearings in high-load areas. Specifications for 80PT model. MSRP $229.95
A Gulf tuna staple with excellent performance at a good price. Improvements in the current Saragosa® include SW Concept design with X-Ship & X-Tough drag and durable cam oscillation system for better drag performance. Specifications for 10000 model. MSRP $309.99
Accurate’s TwinSpin reels are machined from high-grade materials and can handle the Gulf’s largest tuna. Features include Accurate’s patented TwinDrag™ system, five class 5 ABEC stainless steel bearings and a skirted spool that reduces heat build-up and help trim weight. These reels are designed, manufactured and assembled in the USA. MSRP $859.95
Widely considered one of the finest spinning reels in the world, the Stella SW can handle the largest fish swimming our waters. This reel utilizes high quality materials and technology in every aspect, including a high rigidity aluminum body, X tough drag washers at the base of the spool, a cold forged aluminum handle and forged metal internals. This latest version of the Stella is the longest casting reel yet. Specifications for 14000 size. MSRP $1,159.99