By Capt. Joe Kent
Seaweed or Sargassum Weed as it is called is found mostly in the Atlantic Ocean and comes in concentrations from the Sargasso Sea. Sargassum Weed’s name is a result of Portuguese sailors likening this ocean-dwelling species’ bladder’s appearance to small grapes called salgazo.
Sargassum weed gravitates toward milder, more temperate and tropical oceans and farther toward shallow bodies of water. While some Sargassum weed attaches to the ocean floor, there are two species – the natan and the fluitan – that have become holopelagic, which means that they drift and migrate around the oceans and bodies of water throughout the world, though they are mostly concentrated in the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding bodies of water such as the Gulf of Mexico.
Sargassum weed acts as a mobile transport habitat for a great variety of marine life and as sublime refuge for young fish that may lack mobility. When young fish find a safe haven in Sargassum weed, they are far more protected from the ocean’s predators, thus making it possible to survive to adulthood. These patches of seaweed as we call them provide shelter, food and a place where schools of fish may form, further protecting young fish and other marine life. Many species of marine life take refuge in the Sargassum weed and travel thousands of miles with this floating habitat, seeking protection and survival. With the presence of all of these young fish in one location, large fish often hover around, awaiting a shot at the young prey. All of this serves as a great advantage for anglers in search of the predator fish.
August is in my opinion the best month for offshore fishing along the upper Texas Coast. Anglers able to make it 20 miles out should easily locate this fishing phenomena and the variety of fish in and around it.
Chicken Dorado, as the smaller of the species of Dorado are called, attack small bait with a vengeance and fishermen focusing on weed lines and patches mop up on them.
One nice thing about Dorado is that there are no bag or size limits; however, with that being said, good stewardship dictates taking only as many as you, your family and friends will consume.
For table fare, Dorado are among the best fish in the ocean. Other fish commonly found among seaweed are all of the pelagic fish, tripletail and all sorts of small bait fish.
Offshore anglers fishing off of the Texas Gulf Coast encounter basically two types of seaweed concentrations. Weedlines and Weed Patches.
Weedlines are, as the term suggests, long lines of seaweed clumped together along a tide line or water color change. The patches are big clumps ranging in size from a few square yards to several acres.
One of the best ways to fish long weed lines is to troll both sides. However, often there is so much scattered seaweed along the edges that trolling can be frustrating as the lures keep getting clogged with the weed. Drift fishing is the other popular method for fishing around seaweed and is the method of choice if trolling is a problem.
Once a strike takes place, it is a good idea to chum the area to keep the schools of fish nearby. Dorado in particular will continue to feed although others in the school are hooked and fighting for survival.
Some of the largest ling I have caught have come from seaweed concentrations as there is another benefit that comes from the big concentrations and that is shade. Ling and Dorado love shade during the heat of the day and seaweed definitely offers that benefit.
Just about any bait used otherwise for offshore fishing will be good for fishing the weed lines and patches. The idea is to keep the bait suspended anywhere from the surface to just a few feet below.
One of the best ways to test an area is to toss some chopped bait into the water. If fish are nearby, they normally will come check it out and you can actually see your target.
Fishing around seaweed offshore is one of my favorite types of fishing. If you have not tried it, chances are you will share my enthusiasm once you experience it.