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Fins & Feathers

September 1st, 2019

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By Capt. Joey Farah

Marbled skies of fall color hold waves of waterfowl, and hover over some of the best bay fishing in the world. Here in Texas we are blessed to enjoy the harvest basket of winter sports. Combining fins and feathers brings days of duck hunting and fishing together. Hunting waterfowl can be a excellent and easy way to introduce youth and inexperienced hunters to the hunting sports. For seasoned hunters, the beauty and strategy of the hunt, and the game taken fulfill the wild spirit in each of us. This winter come experience hunting and fishing the right way; cast and blast Texas style!

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Fall and winter prove to be some of the best fishing of the year.

CAST FOR FINS

The bays come alive with coastal gamefish as air and water temperatures drop. Deeper water and softer bottoms hold smaller creatures that help get these fish through the winter months. Shrimp, crabs, mud worms, clams and mollusks, are just some of the building blocks of the food chain. Small minnows, baitfish and sport fish follow. These gatherings, and favorable water conditions, group winter fish in areas that fishermen can enjoy some awesome catching.

Strong cold fronts may seem like a good time to stay inside and dream about boiling hot summer days on the water, but then you’ll miss some of the best fishing of the year! Whipping winds roll the bottom and bring up those hidden food sources. Redfish, trout and black drum go into a feeding frenzy with each cold front. The first day or two is usually the best; those beautiful sunny third and fourth days are usually too pretty and fishing slows. The colder the water gets, the longer it takes fish to digest their meals. This can make feeding patterns predictable but spread out. Watching the lunar feeding tables will help anglers score the right times to be on the water. Here in the Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay Area we find some of our best fishing both close and far from the dock. The flats of the Laguna Madre hold an enormous amount of bait, which migrates into the ICW Canal when it gets cold. Schools of gamefish follow, putting all those fish in one area.

We work the edges of the drop off with soft plastics for some of the most insane trout and redfish action you have ever seen! Fall bait favorites are easily the 3” DOA CAL Shad. This is the perfect imitation of a small pinfish or mud minnow. Colors should include pumpkinseed/chartreuse, purple/chartreuse, blood red and glow. The larger 5” Jerk Shad is my go-to bait for big trout in the shallows with a light 1/16 oz. DOA jighead. This combination floats and flutters like a sand eel looking for any way out of becoming a meal! The 3 and 5” DOA jerk baits also fit the bill. They imitate both a fleeing minnow as well as the sand eel profile.

The best time to hook up on the hard fighting, great tasting black drum is now! The schools of drum gather during the winter months to feed on small clams and crab. We bring in limits of these fish all winter. Live shrimp works best, as well as crab and sea lice. The absence of trash fish and pin perch during the winter months makes fishing with shrimp much easier. The rock piles of Baffin Bay and the fish funnel to the south the Land Cut, are famous for their winter fishing greatness. We anchor up on those big rock piles and use live shrimp deep under popping corks to load the box with drum, trout, and reds.

When the temperatures really drop low, we find redfish fall off of the flats by the thousands into the deeper holes. Catching big redfish every cast can be an out of body experience! Last winter we had one morning where we brought 60 redfish to hand with three anglers in about three hours! Don’t let the heater keep you out of the best fishing of the year this winter, come experience miles of grassy flats boiling with excitement.

Texas Coastlines host over 20 species of waterfowl, each very beautiful. Photo: Joseph Farah

BLAST FOR FEATHERS

Like a squadron of fighter jets, the flock of descending ducks rounded the blind and cupped in for a landing. As their feet opened for the landing, fire erupted from the line. The lead birds dropped and a few more pops dropped two more. As the ripples stretched across the sky mirrored surface, my dog leaped across the flat for the first feathered trophy of the morning.

Big game hunting is expensive and puts the stress and buildup into one shot, one trophy. Waterfowl hunting is about ACTION! Diverse species are found with each duck specialized in its own way for feeding and flying. Colors like the most beautiful skies highlight their body in a rainbow of beauty. Young hunters can grasp gun safety, responsible shooting and hunting, as well as the idea of taking a life much easier, with waterfowl versus big game hunts.

The fact that I have the best and biggest, most comfortable duck blinds makes gathering friends and family much easier. We make it easy for you to hunt hard. My clients are still high and dry in days of rain and 40 mph north winds

We usually hunt some big sets with over 250 decoys for a mixed bag and lots of action. We use smaller, more specific set ups for trophy birds and particular species. Advanced hunters are usually looking for their favorite species; this is a lot of fun hunting and setting up for that perfect trophy bird for the mount. It is sometimes hard to convince the wife to hang big deer heads on the walls. Beautiful birds go up easier in the house and office.

Ducks have some defining patterns that you must consider on the hunt. They eat, fly, rest, drink and roost. As a group, inside the region there will be some ducks doing all of these things at any given time. Ducks also trade places between the areas they do this. We hunt all day! Don’t be fooled into going in after 9 a.m! Many times you will be missing the best activity. Much like fish, the lunar feeding tables mirror their activity. They will be feeding at peak times, but traveling and landing in your decoys before and after those peak times.

Ducks always want to land with the wind in their face. Hunt where they want to be, and not were you want them to be. Birds of a feather flock together holds true. Species will land and sit with their own kind even in flocks of thousands. Motion decoys in your spread can make or break you, so don’t be set in your ways. Make changes with the actions of the birds. Calling can bring ducks in from afar, or scare them away. Soft calling is best. We don’t have a lot of loud and vocal mallards here on the coast!

This winter come experience the beauty of the Texas coast with some fins and feathers! We will be here to help you start off right and make every adventure a success. Hunt smart and safe and always be a good ambassador of the hunting community.

We can accommodate the smallest and largest groups, just like welcoming you into my home. Get out and enjoy the best hunting and fishing in the world, right here in Texas! Follow all our blasts and casts on Facebook AT JOEY FARAH’S BACKWATER FISHING or call 361-442-8145.

Cast and blast events are perfect for group entertainment! Photo: Joseph Farah

Meet Wildlife Artist Leslie McDonald, Jr.

September 1st, 2019

MG 3948 625x400 Meet Wildlife Artist Leslie McDonald, Jr.

Born in Victoria, Texas Leslie McDoanld, Jr. has been painting wildlife art for over 33 years.

Surf Wreck 625x400 Meet Wildlife Artist Leslie McDonald, Jr.

Surf Wreck

Interview by Kelly Groce

Where are you from and when did you start painting?
I was born in Victoria, Texas on December 22, 1943, a war baby. The Texas Gulf Coast was my domain. The warm waters of Matagorda Bay became my playground. My mother says, “Les was born in the water with a shotgun in one hand and a rod and reel in the other”. In 1954, when my grandmother died, the family moved from Victoria to Port O’Connor. I was 11 years old.

I started painting when I was in the sixth grade. As most artists starting out, I painted in oils and pencil sketches. One evening after a day of hunting, having finished dinner, I decided to sketch one of the ducks I had seen that day, a Pintail launching itself off the water into flight. I guess I was being too quiet and my mother came in and saw what I was doing. She looked at the scene I was sketching in colored pencil and said, “I didn’t know you could do that”. I said I didn’t either. She went back to the kitchen and I went back to my sketching.

In junior high school, I started entering local art competitions in the mall and the county fair. I immediately started winning awards and placing in competitions. I did take a few painting classes when I was in the 8th grade. The lady lived 19 miles away in Seadrift, so it was a chore getting to her class. There were no art classes in my high school in Port Lavaca, Texas. My senior year I was the editor of our high school yearbook. So, art was in my blood from the start. Then it was off to college where I majored in Commercial Art. I graduated near the top of major. I then went to Houston and got a job right off the bat as a production artist in one of the top advertising agencies. I was in advertising for almost 20 years.

I continued to paint, but mainly in oils. My studio was in a bedroom at our home. Without good ventilation, the oils, turpentine, linseed oil, etc. was driving me nuts. I made the decision to try another medium, watercolor. I immediately fell in love with it. It was so light and fresh, and you could do so many things with it. I never went back to oil paints. I find that you can do more with watercolor than all other mediums combined. You can paint drool, scratch, dab, mop, salt, plus a wide variety of other techniques. I mainly paint in high detail.

Tidal Flat Roseates

Watercolor is now my passion. I concentrate more on the outdoors, wildlife, birds, landscapes, seascapes, and sporting art. I do paint lots of birds, mainly from the coast. I like capturing their color, their action, their moods, and their subtle mannerisms.

I find myself working on several pieces at a time. Sometimes it’s out of necessity of having to let a piece dry, so I go work on something else for a while. I did try teaching classes for a while, but I found it to constraining on my time. I have done a couple of workshops, but that way I’m done in a week.

Many honors and awards have come my way down through the years. I was the Sponsor Print Artist for Texas Ducks Unlimited in 1992-’93, and Artist of the Year in 1993-94. Also, Artist of the Year for Waterfowl U.S.A. in 1990, 1991 and 1996, and the Sponsor Print Artist in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005. In 2002, Les was selected by Quail Unlimited as the stamp print artist for 2002, and The Dove Sportsman’s Society stamp print artist for 2003. I am in several art galleries and have exhibited with many of the nation’s top artists in national wildlife art shows across the country. Some of these shows include: The Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland, The National Wildlife Art Show in Kansas City, Kansas, The Southeastern Wildlife Expo in Charleston, South Carolina, Nature Works in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Florida Wildlife Expo in Orlando, Florida.

My painting “Alaska Crab Traps” has received honors everywhere I have entered it. It was a 5-month obsession where it was the only thing I worked on. I shot the original photo 20 years ago in Cordova Harbor in Alaska. I would run across that photo and say to myself, “One of these days I’m going to paint that thing”, so I did, and it was worth every minute. Getting into the American Watercolor Society International Show is a great honor. Hopefully there will be more to come.

Break Out

How did you get into painting wildlife and nature?
I guess growing up in Port O’Connor. I was surrounded with wildlife. Ducks, fishing and hunting, it was all my passion.

What is your favorite fish to catch?
Speckled trout is my favorite of all. There was an old man, Mr. Bradshaw, that had an old rowboat tied to a stake in the bay. He would fish almost every day and take his fish to Clark’s Seafood and sell them for $.10 a pound. We started fishing together. He taught me a lot. Many times I would give him my fish to sell. He taught me how to tie knots and rig spoons. A silver spoon with a yellow bucktail and a trailer about 10” long with a treble hook and a white bucktail. We caught at lot of trout.

Where do you mostly fish and with who?
I fish a lot with Hollis Forrester out of Sargent in East Matagorda Bay. Also with Steve Hillman out of Topwater Grill in San Leon in the Galveston Bay system.

Where can our readers purchase and enjoy your artwork?
My work is currently available on my website www.lesmcdonald.com. My artwork is displayed in some galleries such as Port Aransas Art Center, Lattitude’s Gallery in Rockport and the Gallery at Round Top. Also, they may come by my studio in Houston. They just need to call first and set a time. I’m in and out.

Taking Flight

How long have you been partnering with Laguna Madre Clothing Co.?
Just in the last month. Taylor is very excited I’m with his program. My pelican piece “Taking Flight” is featured on one of his performance fishing shirts.

Do you work with any organizations or foundations that you would like to tell our readers about?
I am a big supporter of many charities and conservation organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited, Coastal Conservation Association, Quail Unlimited, Waterfowl U.S.A, and many others. I was the Texas Ducks Unlimited Artist of the Year in 1993-94, and my print “Pintail Pair” was featured in all the Texas chapter banquets as well as on all the program covers. I was also a Sponsor Print Artist for Texas Ducks Unlimited in 1992-93. I’ve been the Artist of the Year for Waterfowl U.S.A. in 1990, 1991 and 1996, and the Sponsor Print Artist in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005. In 2002, I was selected by Quail Unlimited as the stamp print artist for 2002, and The Dove Sportsman’s Society stamp print artist for 2003.

Any other news or info you would like to share?
I get the opportunity to showcase in national wildlife art shows across the country. Some of these shows include: The Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland, The National Wildlife Art Show in Kansas City, Kansas, The Southeastern Wildlife Expo in Charleston, South Carolina, Nature Works in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Florida Wildlife Expo in Orlando, Florida.

For me, there is nothing more important than being in the great outdoors. It’s the inspiration that generates my desire to paint. When I’m not hunting or fishing, you can find me working in my studio.

Dragging for Bait

Which One to Choose

Texas Grand Slams and Trophy Trout

September 1st, 2019

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Capt. Andy Salinas with a lonestar linesider that fell for a D.O.A. 4” Shad Tail in 455 Texas Croaker.

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On his fourth cast of the day, Capt. Luis Flandes III landed this 28+ in. trout on a D.O.A. 4” Jerk Bait in 455 Texas Croaker. Safely released to fight another day.

Two days of fishing the Lower Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures results in remarkable fishing

Story and photos by Kelly Groce

DAY 1
After D.O.A. Lures creator Mark Nichols, Capt. Andy Salinas, videographer Johnny Lu and myself attempted to each eat a delicious breakfast burrito larger than the size of my head from Manuel’s Restaurant, we hit South Bay in South Padre Island in search of fish.

As Capt. Andy Salinas began to set our drift, I rigged up my go-to lure and color, which is a 4” jerk bait in the color 441 Figi Chix. I swear trout can’t refuse this lure, because it didn’t take long to start catching them. I saw jack crevalle hammering shrimp right behind the boat. I threw my lure towards the disturbance and got to have a fun fight with one. Next cast, a snook came speeding at my lure and my favorite sound on earth ensued… my reel peeling drag. I used 1 lure and caught 3 different species; trout, jack crevalle and snook.

Andy, Mark and Johnny all caught plenty of slot snook, redfish and flounder on 4” shad tails. The tail on those lures have amazing action that fish can’t look past.

We ended the day working a deep channel and catching black drum along the bottom. Between all of us, we caught a Texas grand slam which is a redfish, trout, flounder and snook. Not a bad day of fishing I’d say.

DAY 2
A summertime cold front blew through, so the day started out overcast and on the cooler side. On the ride out, Capt. Luis Flandes III, Mark Nichols, Cindy Nguyen and myself had all agreed that the surroundings looked like a winter day in Texas.

We began fishing a gin clear flat. On Capt. Luis Flandes’ fourth cast he hooked up to a stud 28+ in. trout. He was throwing a 4” jerk bait in the fish catching color 455 Texas Croaker. Winter-like conditions resulted in a trophy trout. After a fish like that, can the day get much better? Why yes it can. We moved to a grassy flat and Luis was plucking redfish out left and right using a Root Beer/Chartreuse jerk bait. Cindy and I doubled up on two pretty redfish, mine being the most orange colored red I have ever seen.

The fishing in South Padre is awesome. To get in on the action contact either one of these great guides, Capt. Andy Salinas or Capt. Luis Flandes III on Facebook. Thanks again for 2 great days of fishing. Tight lines!

Myself, Mark Nichols and Cindy Nguyen with 2 redfish we doubled up on using a 4″ Jerk Bait in Root Beer/Chartreuse and Texas Croaker. Photo: Capt. Luis Flandes III

Mark Nichols and Capt. Luis Flandes III enjoying a good day of fishing.

Capt. Andy Salinas with a black drum he caught on a D.O.A shrimp rigged backwards.

With one lure color, Figi Chix, I caught snook, trout, and jack crevalle. Photo: Johnny Lu

Capt. Luis Flandes had the hot hand this day of fishing.

I dare you not to laugh while on a trip with Mark Nichols.

 

Gear

September 1st, 2019

10154468 600x400 Gear

FOREVERLAST Flats Wading Boots – New and improved for 2019 our Flats Predator Wading boots provide a comfort fit while bare foot wading or with stocking foot waders. Now with 6 ports the strain and drain system will not allow rocks and debris to enter and lets water out keeping them lightweight and the EVA material provides comfort fit while hard sole provides traction and stability over structure. www.foreverlast.com

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LAGUNA MADRE CLOTHING CO. “Taking Flight” Fishing Shirt – Always at the dock at the right time. A familiar sight of all coastal anglers. “Taking Flight”, by award winning watercolor artist Leslie McDonald, Jr. on our UPF 50 Performance Shirt. Flip to page 40 to read our interview with the artist. www.lagunamadreclothing.com

Shimano Stradic – The new Stradic FK utilizes Shimano’s latest technology while drawing on ways of the past. Hagane cold forged drive gear gear combined with X-Ship provides a smooth, powerful and durable reel. The sleek G-Free body provides a better weight balance to reduce fatigue. Every part has been designed to improve the anglers experience on the water. www.fish.shimano.com

Lifeguard Lanyard – Effective Sept. 1st, Kali’s Law requires boaters operating a vessel under 26’ to wear an engine kill switch lanyard. Tournament redfish anglers, Marty Simmons and Keith McBride from St. Augustine, FL designed this kill switch lanyard with safety and comfort while operating your vessel in mind. The Lifeguard Lanyard can be worn on your right or left ankle or wrist and is designed to stay clear of the steering wheel and other components. Our mission is to promote boater safety awareness by making the Lifeguard Lanyard a part of your day on the water. Available at Fishing Tackle Unlimited, Matagorda Tackle Shop, and Rockport Tackle Town. www.lifeguardlanyard.com

 

Lone Star Guide Boga & Pliers Float – The easiest way to keep up with your boga and pliers. Stays tight in a small package and just the right length to hold a fish and use the pliers for hook removal. Made for the 15 lb. boga, but can work with a larger one. This is the original Lone Star Gear boga and pliers float, still made by hand in the LSG Garage. Works great with the LSG Wade Box too. www.lonestarguide.com

Laguna Salt Custom Rods – Laguna Salt Custom Rods is a family owned company where everyone plays a part into each rod that is built. Once the order is made, owner and rod builder, Michael Garza, will stay in direct contact with the buyer to ensure the components and colors are perfect. All blanks are American made and all other components are ordered in the USA. The buyer can choose any length they want their customized rod to be, choose the type of guides, grips, reel seats and colors they desire. Laguna Salt will even personalize any type of brand, name or company into the rod as well. The imagination is unlimited when it comes to the types and colors of wraps Mike and his family can personalize the rod with. A series of questions will be asked to ensure the right rod is being made for the type of fishing the buyer does. The rod featured to the right is a St. Croix SCV model 7’0” Medium Light/Fast Action rod with Cherry Picked cork rings, Fuji SIC guides and Fuji reel seat. The rod color and wrap were customized to the buyers’ wants. lagunasaltcustomrods@gmail.com

D.O.A. Lures Swimmin’ Mullet – The D.O.A. 5” Swimmin’ Mullet is a great cast and crank lure. The single upright hook allows you to get the lure down in the strike zone without snagging anything but the fish. Featured color above is 318 Chart/Silver Glitter. Made in the USA. www.doalures.com

University of Houston’s 12th Annual Cougar Saltwater Open is Huge Success

September 1st, 2019

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Kimberly Maraldo with some of the sponsors of the tournament; Triump Cabling, Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine and Lonestar Integra Insurance Services.

By Kelly Groce

On Saturday, Aug. 17th anglers fished the Galveston Bay Complex for the 12th Annual Cougar Saltwater Open presented by the University of Houston’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communications Alumni. Being a graduate from the school of communications, it was an honor to become co-chair and help organize this tournament with the guidance of Kimberly Maraldo. With the funds raised from this tournament going to scholarships for the communications school, Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine was proud to be the media sponsor.

Scattered rain showers and wind didn’t hold the participating fisherman down that included men, women and kids. Individuals and teams brought several nice trout, redfish and flounder to the weigh-in at Topwater Grill in San Leon.

Attendees enjoyed complimentary beer from Galveston Island Brewing and whiskey from Nine Banded Whiskey. Calavera Cookers served up some tasty BBQ and pulled pork as everyone visited and enjoyed the shady palapa.

Huge thank you to all the sponsors that help make this event possible; Okuma Fishing, Bombshell’s, Triumph Cabeling & Underground Services, Lonestar Integra Insurance Services, Essentia Water, Houston Sign Company, Calavera Cookers, Cavern Solutions Inc., FS&MG Frontier Sales & Marketing Group and Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine.

Also, thank you to all the in-kind donors such as; Traw Metalworks, Nine Banded Whiskey, Sugar Land Skeeters, Texas Rattling Rigs, D.O.A. Lures, Elaine Ebner, Cougar Pride, Patty Godfrey, Emilee Fontenot, Cathy Coers Frank, Ralph Morales, Judy Wheeler, Alan’s Swampshack, Saltwater Soul, No Label Brewery, Laguna Madre Clothing Co., Typhoon Texas, Raising Canes, Karbach Brewery, Kendra Scott Sugar Land, Leslie McDonald Jr. and Galveston Island Brewing.

Congratulations to all the winners and everyone that participated in this fun tournament. We will see you next year. Go coogs!

COUGAR SALTWATER OPEN WINNERS:

KAYAK/WADE DIVISION

Kayak/Wade Division – 1st place trout, John Liles

TROUT
1st John Liles
2nd Mike Brown
3rd Grant Justice

REDFISH
1st Jason Blackwell
2nd Grant Justice
3rd Rayfield Conley

FLOUNDER
1st Grant Justice
2nd Vince Rinando

 

BOAT DIVISION

Boat Division – 1st place trout, Mason Dees

TROUT
1st Mason Dees
2nd Rafael Pedraza
3rd Arturo Garcia

REDFISH
1st Audra Gould
2nd Mark Gould
3rd Mason Dees

FLOUNDER
1st Arturo Garcia
2nd Tracy Smith

HEAVIEST STRINGER
John Liles – 12.34 lbs.

SHASTA’S PICK
1st Bradley Brown
2nd Rayfield Conley
3rd Leslie Bandiera

University of Houston Alumni member, J.P. Groce supporting the tournament.

Go coogs!

Boat Division – 1st place trout, Mason Dees

Anglers enjoy the shade of the palapa at Topwater Grill.

Live auction of a Leslie McDonald, Jr. wildlife painting.

Future UH Cougars!

Nice fish!

Dolce Coco Wins Swordfish Cup in the Dominican Republic

August 13th, 2019

DulceCoco 683x1024 Dolce Coco Wins Swordfish Cup in the Dominican RepublicThe 1st Annual Swordfish Cup, a single-species tournament with a 24-hour global format, was held July 27-28, 2019, with 23 boats in the initial fleet. Paco Vela and his crew aboard Dulce Coco, a Hatteras based in the Dominican Republic, were declared the winners with a 381-pound broadbill. The Swordfish Cup was presented by Fly Zone Fishing and RJ Boyle Studio. Updates were broadcast on FaceBook every two hours during the 24-hour tournament.

Dulce Coco’s fish was caught on a whole de-boned and butterflied bonita near Isla Saona off the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic. The 95-inch sword was boated late the first night and was weighed at Casa de Campo in the early hours of the morning. Vela and his team won a cash prize and the $1,500 Hooker Electric Bounty for their efforts.

With boats fishing Grand Cayman, St. Maarten, Cancun, the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys and East Coast, competition was intense. Luna Tico brought a 291-pounder to the Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach at 11 am. Tournament sponsor and local expert RJ Boyle, competing aboard Hooked Up, brought an 80-inch 250-pound entry to the Lighthouse Marina in Pompano Beach around 6 pm.

Aussie Rules fished during the day off Cancun, Mexico and caught a non-qualifying fish. The minimum weight was 200 pounds. The crew reported a very low-key, fun and relaxing day of fishing, however. Because of the time-zone differences, many boats communicated with tournament control via text or WhatsApp.

In the Gulf of Mexico, The Duke captured some smaller swords along with a very large mako shark. Tighten Up, based on the Texas coast, went five for five on swordfish with the largest measuring 72 inches from the fork of the tail to the tip of the lower jaw. All line class weights were allowed. Anglers could only use conventional rods and reels, including electric mounted on rods. Weigh-ins were conducted at approved scales certified by governmental authorities within the last year.

Yellow Whip, fishing out of St. Maarten, staged a determined and late challenge. After the crew fished all day in extremely rough conditions, they returned to port to rest and eat. The boat went back out around midnight and hooked up right around dawn. After a battle lasting 2 hours and 40 minutes, they finally boated the swordfish which tipped the scales at 291 pounds.

“Everything went really, really well for a first-time event,” says Tournament Director Robert “Fly” Navarro. “I’m happy with the participation and the geographic spread. All the teams reported having a good time and the number of boats will only increase based on the feedback and inquiries. Congratulations to Dulce Coco and thanks to all the teams and our sponsors. I look forward to the second edition next summer.”

The 2020 Swordfish Cup will be held July 25-26, 2020. For more information, please visit www.swordfishcup.com

Relentless Pursuit Repeats as Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion

July 12th, 2019

Relentless Pursuit Triple Crown hi res 1024x819 Relentless Pursuit Repeats as Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion

Photo courtesy of the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship

In another close finish, Relentless Pursuit, a 95 Jim Smith based in Venice, Louisiana, was named the 2019 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion. This season marks the second time the boat has earned top honors, following a 2015 championship run. Relentless Pursuit is owned by Dennis Pastentine, with Capt. Robbie Doggett the boat’s long-time skipper. In addition to bragging rights for another season, the team takes home a custom Frank Ledbetter metal marlin sculpture and $31,625 in cash including optional entry categories.

The Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship is composed of the top five big-game tournaments in the region. The Blue Marlin Grand Championship is historically the last leg, but with Tropical Storm Barry moving west across the prime offshore waters, the tournament was cancelled for safety reasons. Done Deal, a three-time Triple Crown Champion, was tied with Relentless Pursuit before fishing started. Ties are determined by the largest marlin landed, which gave Relentless Pursuit the winning combination.

“During the Orange Beach Billfish Classic we left the dock at noon and ran four hours to reach 130 miles offshore,” Doggett explained. “Within 45 minutes we were already hooked up by the time other boats got there. The fight lasted an hour and 45 minutes. We slowly eased back in and weighed the fish the next morning.” That winning 658.2-pound blue marlin was caught on a trolled ballyhoo skirted with a pink Islander lure.

“We call it Stinky Pinky once the ballyhoo is added,” Doggett says with a laugh. “We strictly troll to cover more water and have an arsenal of 60 lures in various shades of blue, silver, purple, green and yellow. We run two rods each off the outriggers and two flat lines. We don’t have the patience to live bait, but we’ve been pretty successful with our style of fishing.”

In addition to the OBBC win, Relentless Pursuit won the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic with three blue marlin releases (no billfish were weighed) and earned series bonus participation points. Done Deal also finished with 625 points from second place release awards in the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic and the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, plus bonus points. Katie Gonsoulin was the angler on Done Deal’s big fish, a 535.5-pound blue, good for a second-place finish in the CCBC. Jason Buck is the boat’s captain and Jon Gonsoulin is the owner.

Fleur de Lis, a 72 Viking run by Capt. Scooter Porto and owned by Jeff Landry, was the third-place team in the 2019 GCTC standings with 500 points. The boat weighed the heaviest blue (602.7 pounds, angler Hunter Myers) in the CCBC, along with bonus points. Fleur de Lis is based in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

“This was a total team effort,” Doggett says of the 2019 Championship run. “This season was all about our former team mate, Dale Artigue, who passed away just before the holidays. His spirit was always with us in the cockpit. There are so many talented and hard-working crews fishing the Gulf that it makes competing against guys of this caliber such an incredible experience.”

Marking its ninth season, the 2019 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship was presented by Invincible Boats and Grander Marine. The five legs include the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic and the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.

For 2019 GCTC Director Scott Burt commissioned a commemorative trophy that will be on permanent display at The Wharf Marina’s Outfitter’s Store. Created by marine metal artist Frank Ledbetter, the perpetual trophy will sit atop a rotating base and will feature all previous Triple Crown Champions. Relentless Pursuit will now have to decide where to display its second GCTC Championship blue marlin.

“It was a tough season with all the weather issues, but Capt. Robbie, Dennis and Team Relentless Pursuit once again lived up to the boat’s name and came out on top,” Burt said.  “Congratulations to them and well done to all the competing boats. We look forward to another exciting finish as the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2020.”

Sorted Wins The 2019 Blue Marlin World Cup

July 12th, 2019

 Sorted Wins The 2019 Blue Marlin World Cup

Photo courtesy of the Blue Marlin World Cup

With an angler who flew halfway around the world to participate, Sorted, a 32 Luhrs based in Madeira, Portugal, claimed the winner-take-all $600,000 prize in the 2019 Blue Marlin World Cup fishing tournament. Sorted’s blue, caught by Craig Watson of Melbourne, Australia, weighed 541.2 pounds. Only one other fish was weighed, but it fell 23 pounds short of Watson’s entry.

Capt. Howard Williams is the Sorted’s skipper. The fight lasted 2.5 hours and the fish was caught on a one of Watson’s lures called a Bluedog Turtle. The boat was not entered in the optional $8,000 Big Blue Challenge jackpot, which would have boosted the overall payout to more than $1,000,000.

Mystic Blue, fishing in the Cape Verde Islands, caught the other qualifier, a 518-pound blue marlin. Female angler Aylin Karahan was in the fighting chair for that fish, with Capt. Giorgio Assolari at the helm.

The hook-ups of the two fish were only 40 minutes apart, but Mystic Blue actually boated their fish 20 minutes before Sorted. The lengths were very close, yet Sorted had the slight weight advantage. As the fishing progressed across the remaining time zones the other teams could see those entries were beatable. But no other boat managed to catch a qualifier.

“Mr. Watson flew to Madeira specifically to fish the World Cup and his victory really has a lot of folks excited in Australia,” said Tournament Director Robert “Fly” Navarro. He noted that the win was a significant milestone for the country’s fishing community.

The Blue Marlin World Cup is a one-day fishing tournament held around the world. Blue marlin weighing more than 500 pounds are the only eligible species and competing teams fish in their respective time zones from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The fish must be caught on conventional sport-fishing tackle with tournament-rated line with a breaking strength of 130 pounds or less. Entries are weighed on certified government scales in their respective locales. A total of 150 teams, competing in eight different time zones, made up this year’s tournament fleet.

Trouble Maker, fishing out of Kona, Hawaii, recorded the only eligible entry in 2018, a 760.5-pound blue. Done Deal, a 70 Viking based in Houma, Louisiana, earned more than $1 million in prize money combined with a 600-pound fish in 2017. The largest marlin ever weighed in World Cup history tipped the scales at 1,195 pounds. It was caught aboard Challenger in Bermuda in 1993. Two other “granders” or fish weighing more than 1,000 pounds are also in the World Cup win column. They were caught in Bermuda and Cape Verde.

The 2020 Blue Marlin World Cup will be held July 4, 2020. For more information or to register, please visit: www.bluemarlinworldcup.com

Barker Boatworks Announces New Direction, Expanding Line-Up

July 9th, 2019

BBW26Bay 300x191 Barker Boatworks Announces New Direction, Expanding Line Up

Photos courtesy of Barker Boatworks.

Kevin Barker, president of Barker Boatworks, today announced a series of organizational changes and expansion as the semi-custom builder embarks on a renewed emphasis to produce high performance sport-fishing boats. Barker Boatworks has been in business since 2014.

“We’ve just completed our re-structuring and with our new ownership, we are revitalizing and expanding the company,” Barker says. “With the infusion of capital and additional resources, we’re again building and delivering semi-custom fishing boats to buyers who demand yacht-like quality, attention to detail and exceptional performance.” Barker Boatworks will continue to use Michael Peters Yacht Design to develop new models.

Al Jarrell, owner of Strike Force 7 LLC, is the owner of the re-organized company. Jarrell also owns Canyon Bay Boats and Perry Composite Manufacturing in Perry, Florida. The business operations will be handled by Chief Executive Officer Ross Toepel. There will be several collaborations between the Strike Force 7 Companies as production of Barker Boats continues to ramp up.

“All the fiberglass components for Barkers will be built at the Perry Composite Manufacturing facility in Perry, Florida” Barker explains. “We are excited to have a world-class manufacturing facility delivering high quality fiberglass hulls, decks and components using the same materials and infusion processes as before.”  Barker continues, “We will then complete the manufacturing of the boats at our Sarasota location with our experienced team of finishers, assemblers and riggers.”

BBW26BayVertical Barker Boatworks Announces New Direction, Expanding Line Up

Photos courtesy of Barker Boatworks.

Toepel says, “There will be certain common parts shared between Barker and Canyon Bay, but the two lines will maintain separate sales and marketing efforts.” Kevin Barker will handle the production, sales and marketing of the Barker line. Models will include the 26 Bay, 26 Open and 40 High Performance Catamaran under the Barker flag, while Toepel and his Canyon Bay Team will produce the 18 Flats, 22 Bay, 24 Bay, 24 and 28 Hybrid Bay Boat. A 40-foot Barker monohull with a dual step V-bottom is in the design phase. A 41 Express and Walkaround based on the Legend hull will be produced as a limited production custom model with outboard power as well.

Since its initial launch, the Barker Bay has earned a loyal following for performance, impeccable fit and finish and thoughtful angling features. Both the Bay and Open hulls come with the Michael Peters’ Stepped-Vee Ventilated Tunnel design. Attributes of the low drag co-efficient hull include increased speed, better fuel economy and a soft, sure ride compared to conventional stepped hulls.

Barker Boatworks is an OEM partner with Mercury Marine. Yamaha and Suzuki Outboards will also be a power option. Garmin Marine, Simrad and Raymarine electronic packages will be offered.   Since each Barker is made to order, every one launched bears the owner’s preference and distinct style.

For more information about the Barker Boatworks line-up, the build process and future models, please visit: www.barkerboatworks.com and www.sf7boats.com

Fisherman’s Paradise: The Florida Everglades

July 1st, 2019

DSC 0693 1024x683 Fishermans Paradise: The Florida Everglades

Capt. Ruby Delgado with the first snook of our trip caught on a Savage Gear topwater. Photo by Kelly Groce

61106226 2474210565924667 2953527436114919424 n 300x271 Fishermans Paradise: The Florida Everglades

This is the view surrounding each key island in the Everglades. A school of tarpon swam by shortly after this photo was taken.

By Kelly Groce

The Florida Everglades is a dream land for any angler. Its pristine waters, remote location and wide range of wildlife will have any fisherman questioning their flight back home before the trip is even over. With no cell phone service and miles upon miles of crystal clear flats glistening with shark fins in the distance, the opportunity to catch a bucket list or fish of lifetime are around every corner. I left that day with a new species to add to my list; my first tarpon.

Cindy Nguyen, Capt. Ruby Delgado and myself spent the first few hours of the day catching snook and speckled trout on a variety of Savage Gear topwaters thanks to Sam Root who poled us around on his Maverick skiff. The sloppier we worked our topwaters, the more the snook couldn’t resist it. Fishing with a topwater has to be one of my favorite approaches, especially when it’s for snook.

Sam Root had to get in on the snook topwater bite from his poling platform.

After eating lunch with a breath taking view of gin clear water, Sam poled us around a small key island. I pitched my small swim bait next to the grass beds. As my bait starts to drop down, a couple of 30 inch tarpon emerge from under the beds. I slowly start reeling it in and one takes my bait. He did an acrobatic dance for me as I shouted with excitement and high fives ensued. The silver king is a stunning fish to see.

In one day we saw schools of tarpon, manatees, snook, speckled trout, redfish, grouper, mangrove snapper, barracuda, stingrays, alligators, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, and more. Exploring the Everglades is like something out of a Hemmingway book; pure adventure. Its untouched beauty should make it a top place for any fisherman to visit.

Cindy Nguyen’s first cast of the day resulted in this beautifully spotted trout.

Our morning greeting to the beautiful Florida Everglades.

Ruby suggested I work my topwater a little sloppier and immediately I caught this snook.

Retro Lessons In Summer Fishing

July 1st, 2019

farahtrout Retro Lessons In Summer Fishing

Big trout can still be caught in the heat of summer!

By Capt. Joey Farah

361-442-8145 Capt. Joey Farah’s Backwater Adventures

In the frantic rush of summer live bait fishing, many proven lessons for summer success are passed by. Those long days of our youth were filled with adventures and memories. Today it seems like a rush to get out and then get in. Slow it down and turn up the heat on your summer fishing this year! Here are a few not quite forgotten, but tried and true summer strategies to bring trout, reds, and flounder to hand!

Big Trout

First light is the best time to find big summer trout. Protected shorelines will be clean of floating grass, allowing anglers to dance top water plugs over skinny grass flats, shallow rocks and oysters. Big mature trout will be hunting their last meal before retreating to cover and deep water at first light.

A topwater bait imitates a wounded mullet or shad chased up against a shoreline by packs of trout during the night. Throw plugs that you can see at a distance; visual awareness is essential in timing your hookset, as well as aligning your technique with the soul of the ocean. Look for flats where there are signs of baitfish. Surface action, birds and good tidal flow are a good start. Later in the day, move towards deeper drop offs with smaller soft plastics like the 3”DOA CAL SHAD in natural color patterns, imitating pin perch for all-day action.

farahflounder Retro Lessons In Summer Fishing

Summer flounder are great targets around piers and docks, this flat fatty was jigged up on a DOA 3” CAL Shad glow/pink.

Flatfish

Fantastic summer flounder fishing can be as close as the dock you are standing on! Flounder are mostly a strategic ambush predator. They love to position themselves along the pilings of piers and docks. This is where small shrimp and minnows gather. They will lay just down current of the posts waiting for you to jig a small soft plastic along their sight path.

Step carefully so you don’t rock the dock and to keep your presence unknown. Flounder seem to be more aggressive towards bright colors. White, chartreuse, and pink have always been a coastal favorite. An old timer once told me never use a black net, always a green one! Black nets will send flounder on a bolting run as it looks like a dolphin. They seem to swim right into a green one.

Summer Redfish

Summertime belongs to the redfish! Chasing redfish during these long summer days can be an all day event. First light finds them digging and hunting the extreme shallows for crabs, shrimp and small baitfish. Before the sun gets bright and the shadows of birds spook surface mullet, anglers will find reds up so shallow that their tails will be cutting the surface, alerting us to their location. Walking side current will allow you to sneak up on them and project a perfect cast ahead of them.

My best baits are the DOA Shrimp and soft plastics rigged with a very light 1/16 oz. jig head, both for silent and natural sounding entry. Sight casting for reds will teach many lessons in how fish react to fishermen. At times you will watch redfish bolt towards lures at first sight, but most of the time they are very spooky and dart away from loud baits hitting the water. Cast well past the fish and bring the bait into their path. Redfish usually have a two foot sight awareness in front of them. They are used to scanning for food sources jumping up in front of their faces.

As the sun rises, switch to topwater plugs and make grid pattern casts over the flats. Scattered redfish will explode on the plugs, and allow anglers to cover large areas of water. Remember, redfish have bottom facing mouths. This means they must pounce down or turn over to get the bait off of the surface. I always let them bend the rod tip before I set the hook with topwater plugs.

The best and time proven bait for summertime redfish is the gold spoon! This lure perhaps dates back to the beginning of mankind, as bone and shell tied together to bring fish to hand and mouth. The flash and vibration of the glittering spoon awakes redfish from their resting places in thick grass. It imitates both the flash of perch and mullet, but mainly persuades them it is a fleeing crab, their favorite meal. I work my spoons with a fast retrieve with hard jerks and flutters. I adjust my presentation as needed to a light fluttering and stroking of the spoon over the bottom as well. You need to be loose and try new techniques to match the aggression and moods of the reds.

Target areas void of boat traffic, with grass and sand mixed bottom. Most redfish will be found in areas containing a good variety of bird life. Each species feeds on different things; a variety of birds means a buffet of redfish food!

Skip the bait stands and get a head start on your SUMMER FISHING! These lessons passed down from anglers of our past still hold true to our hearts and stringers here along the Texas Gulf Coast. Head out with a few pockets full of these specialized baits, concentrate on fishing and leave your stress on the beach. Summertime memories seem to last forever long past our last casts.

Gear

July 1st, 2019

P STRADIC CI4 1024x1024 GearSHIMANO STRADIC CI4+ – Striking good looks, light weight with a solid feel, and an ultra smooth reeling experience combine to win the hearts of anglers around the globe. Incorporating exciting concepts like HAGANE gear, G Free Body, CI4+, X-SHIP, Core Protect, and the totally new Magnumlite Rotor which allows a super light feel when you turn the handle, the new Stradic CI4+ is built to last. www.fish.shimano.comsalty crew 300x300 Gear

SALTY CREW HIGH SEAS HYBRID SHORT – Made of four-way stretch durable fabrication with hyper-dry performance. Men’s High Seas Perforated Hybrid Shorts are complete with a welded zipper pocket and utility plier pocket. Asymmetrical back pocketing for easy access options finish these shorts. Utility walkshort with multifunctional uses and rapid dry fabrication. Anti-microbial fabrication. www.salty-crew.com

WATERLOO ROD COMPANY HP LITE – Designed for the avid artificial fisherman whose arsenal includes soft plastics, top waters and spoons. Built on a high modulus medium light, fast action graphite blank with a light tip and moderate backbone. This rod is available as a spinning rod in length 6’7”, 6’9”, 7’0” and 7’6”. The HP Lite is also available as a casting rod in the same lengths. Order online to select custom preferences such as colored thread around the guides and handle type. www.waterloorods.com

COLUMBIA PFG SUPER TERMINAL TACKLE™ SHIRT – Keep the hot sun off your back all day long with this UPF-30-armed fishing shirt, featuring an über-light, quick-to-dry fabric in a standout print. www.columbia.com

ENGEL 65 HARD COOLER – Engel, the original high-performance cooler, is roto-molded for toughness and durability. It’s filled with a full 2 inches of insulation in the lid, on the sides, and on the bottom, helping to retain cold and ice for up to 10 days. The all silicone gaskets create a near airtight seal that is durable and will never lose it’s shape. Available in white, tan, grey, blue, seafoam and camo. Comes with a 10 year warranty. www.engelcoolers.com

SUNBUM SIGNATURE CLEAR SUNSCREEN FACE STICK – Our mineral based Signature SPF 30 clear sunscreen offers the very best Broad Spectrum protection to those who work and play hard in the sun. It will never bleed into your eyes, make your hands slippery or come off during the most rigorous activities in the water, wind, or blazing hot sun. www.trustthebum.com

 

D.O.A. LURES 5″ SWIM BAIT – 5” hollow soft body lure with a wide verticle paddle tail can be fished top water, suspended or on a jig head. Swim Bait is the right choice for any fish that eats a swimming bait in freshwater and saltwater. The color above is 408 Red/Gold Glitter. Made in the USA. www.doalures.com

MAGELLAN OUTDOORS WADER SLING PACK – With a strap system that lets you secure the pack to your back, the Magellan Outdoors™ Wader Sling Pack features lightweight polyester fabrication, a built-in plier sheath and multiple D-rings to attach accessories. Waterproof pouch with sunglasses cloth. Nylon zippers with Magellan Outdoors™ pulls. www.academy.com

Owner of Galveston Island Brewing Keeps the Island Vibes Alive

July 1st, 2019

tiki wheat 300x200 Owner of Galveston Island Brewing Keeps the Island Vibes Alive

Photo by Josh Olalde

Mark 576x1024 Owner of Galveston Island Brewing Keeps the Island Vibes Alive

Galveston Island native and entrepreneur, Mark Dell’Osso, whose love for craft beer and the Texas coast drove him start Galveston Island Brewing 5 years ago.

Interview by Kelly Groce

What’s your name and where are you from?

Mark Dell’Osso and I am from right here in Galveston, Texas.

What made you get into brewing beer and later start Galveston Island Brewing?

My love for craft beer and a need to stay in Galveston as well as along the coast.

How long has GIB been in business?

We’ve been brewing beer on location for 5 years now.

Which one of GIB’s brews would you recommend to someone new to craft beer?
Tiki Wheat. That is our staple and you can find it on many boats, fishing docks and all over the Gulf Coast.

Which beer is your personal favorite?

Tiki Wheat as well. Also, I have a side of me that loves IPA’s, so our Citra Mellow is a close second.

Do you have a favorite hop?

My favorite hop is citra. That is where our beer Citra Mellow comes from. It is 100% citra hops. So if somebody wants to get an idea of what that hops tastes like try the Citra Mellow, it is relatively rare for IPA’s to be a single hop variety because its harder to replicate year after year and get the same hops. It’s something happens organically and has grown to be our #2 best seller.

Photo by Josh Olalde

Besides brewing beer what else are you passionate about?

Boating, sailing and surfing.

So you surf?

For sure. In Galveston I longboard, but when I go south of the border I shortboard. Also, I’m a mariner and I have my captain’s license. I used to be a small tugboat captain and I’ve also been cruising around the islands on a small sailboat.

Where do you take most of your surf trips?

Primarily Costa Rica and Mexico. I make time to go to Costa Rica probably more than my coworkers would like (laughs). Now that I have little kids I visit Costa Rica more often than Mexico.

How many kids do you have?

I have 2 little girls, Zoe and Gia. They are 7 and 4. I’ve been married for 10 years. My wife is gainfully employed, which is important in the beer business.

Do you work with Galveston Surfrider Foundation?

Absolutely. One of our very first and longest running bartenders is the suto president, Jeff Seinsheimer of Surfrider Galveston. I actually was one of the original members of Galveston Surfrider way back when I was much younger. Its a great organization so we continue to support it. As well as all the local schools, better parks of Galveston. If its on the island or in our distribution area we are going to support it.

Are there any special events or new brews coming out?

Our spring seasonal Hefen-A is being released on May 20th, so by the time this article is out if will be available all summer and on store shelves. The logo is a play on the classic surf movie, Endless Summer. It’s a German Hefeweizen with notes of banana and clove. We actually get those banana flavors from a German yeast strain we bring over from Europe, we don’t use any fake flavoring. We stress the yeast and that gives it a wonderful banana and almost bubble gum note.

Where can people purchase your beers besides the brewery?

So our beers don’t go to Houston. You can find GIB beers up and down the gulf coast, similar to Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine. We distribute from Port Arthur and Beaumont down through Bolivar, all of Galveston County, Lake Jackson, and then we go further down the coast all the way to Victoria. You can purchase our beers at H-E-B, Walmart, Kroger, Randall’s, and of course a lot of bars and restaurants.

Do you do brewery tours?

We do. Every Saturday at 1 o’clock is a free brewery tour. We also have flights available so they can get 4- 4 oz. servings for $6, so that’s a good way to try a lot of different beers without having a bunch of full pints.

What makes Galveston Island Brewing different from other breweries?

Well, we’re the coolest (laughs). I think the biggest thing is that we grow at our own pace, we pride ourselves in what we are doing right here and we aren’t worried about large distribution or rapid growth. We could go to Houston tomorrow and flip a light switch to double our sales but we choose not to. We choose to spend time and be socially involved in our community especially here in Galveston. We’re a small mom and pop business that doesn’t move too fast to make sure our quality stays up. Our emphasis is right here close to home and I believe that there’s tons of room for breweries all through out Texas and there are some great breweries already in Houston. Volume isn’t the name of our game although we are constantly trying to increase volume in our backyard. We just do it on our time… island time.

 

Galveston Island Brewing

8423 Stewart Rd.

Galveston, TX 77554

www.galvestonislandbrewing.com

 

12th Annual Cougar Saltwater Open Fishing Tournament

June 30th, 2019

62446610 1386741711475365 6116945740687212544 o 1024x683 12th Annual Cougar Saltwater Open Fishing Tournament

Cougar Saltwater 12TH 01 300x292 12th Annual Cougar Saltwater Open Fishing TournamentThe Valenti School of Communication Alumni Association will hold its 12th Annual Fishing Tournament – The UH Cougar Saltwater Open, on Saturday August 17th at Topwater Grill. This event funds scholarships for students currently pursuing studies in Communication at the University of Houston.

Tournament is open to UH students, alumni and the public. We encourage full family participation.

Cougar Saltwater Open shall be an inshore tournament. There will be a boat and kayak division for each category.

Awards will be given in the following divisions:

  • Heaviest individual redfish (20-28 inches, no oversized) boat and kayak
  • Heaviest speckled trout (16-25 in) boat and kayak
  • Heaviest flounder boat and kayak
  • Heaviest stringer (3 fish) : any combination of the following three fish-trout, flounder and 1 redfish boat and kayak
  • Shasta’s pick: bring your big ugly (any trash fish) and the heaviest one wins!

Kids Division:

  • Biggest Fish, Smallest Fish, Ugliest Fish, Unusual fish, etc. (Multiple prizes will be awarded in this division)

Registration fee includes tournament t-shirt and meal at weigh in/awards ceremony.

Registration $65 per person. $20 per child (12 and under).

Weigh in will be from 2-4 P.M. at Topwater Grill. You must be in line no later than 4 p.m.

For more information please email info@cougarsaltwateropen.com or contact:

  • Kimberly Maraldo 832-264-3951
  • Kelly Groce 281-923-8860

To register please visit: www.cougarsaltwateropen.com or complete the form on the back of this flier with payment and mail to:

Fishing Offshore Weedlines

June 29th, 2019

bull dorado Fishing Offshore Weedlines

A well formed weed line is a favorite sight for many offshore fisherman. They are known best for holding Dorado (pictured) but ling, wahoo, sailfish and marlin can be caught here as well.

By Capt. Joe Kent

For the last 20 years or more offshore seaweed, which forms weedlines in the Gulf of Mexico, has been either over abundant or virtually nonexistent.  When abundant, many species of fish follow the sargassum, or seaweed as it is more commonly called, as the patches, clumps and organized lines reflect the basics of the marine food chain.

During lean times, such as offshore Galveston anglers have experienced for several years now, there is a conspicuous absence in the number of pelagic fish in the nearshore waters of the Gulf.  Most notably absent are the Dorado, Dolphin fish or mahi-mahi, as they are called interchangeably.

Dorado of all sizes hover around masses of seaweed and along with them are just about all other fish that roam the Gulf waters.

This year it appears that we may have more seaweed in our near shore waters and if so, look for a banner year of offshore fishing along the upper Texas Coast.

Seaweed attracts and is a refuge for small crustaceans and fin fish.  Watching carefully from close range are larger fish waiting for an opportunity to feast.  Behind those are billfish, huge Dorado, ling, wahoo, sharks and as mentioned earlier almost every species of pelagic fish in the Gulf.

Just about all marine life in the Gulf of Mexico waters can be found in the vicinity of this vegetation.

Now that we know what is offered in the way of fish around the seaweed, how do we take advantage of it and catch some of the fish?

chicken dorado Fishing Offshore Weedlines

Chicken Dorado can provide fast action on weedlines.

Dorado, especially the smaller chicken Dorado, are one of the most common fish hanging around the shade and protection.  Tripletail, small amberjack, king, ling, shark, wahoo and sailfish are others that are commonly found just outside of the masses of weed.

Anglers experienced at fishing the weed lines know that there are two ways to find the fish.  One is to quietly move close to big concentrations of weeds and toss out small pieces of squid or cut bait.  Any chicken Dorado close by likely will come out of hiding to pursue a quick and easy meal.

When this occurs, anglers using light to medium tackle will toss free-lined squid or other bait toward the seaweed and bingo, most of the time a group of small Dorado will inhale it.  While battling the small Dorado many others will follow close by and the key is to keep the fish hooked while others in your party toss similar baits into the water.

On one occasion years ago my group of four landed over 100 while employing this technique.

Once the Dorado have scattered, slowly maneuver your boat along the edges of the weed line and look for either more Dorado or tripletail.

Often at some point large Dorado and ling will appear searching for the same chicken Dorado you are pursuing.  Both ling and Dorado are curious fish and tend to check out noise.  One technique that works in getting their attention is to pound the side of the boat with your hands.

If no fish appear, move on to another clump or line or begin trolling. Trolling is another way to find the fish.  Try trolling the outer edges of the weed concentrations keeping enough distance to prevent the trolling lure for getting tangled in the seaweed.

The most active seaweed lines are going to be found in blue or blue/green waters.  Lines found in off color water are hardly worth the time to check out.

Most of the strikes are going to be near the surface and visible.  Every ling I have caught while working seaweed has come to the surface to check out the bait.  Sometimes they just smell it and take off, other times they take it.

One mistake that newcomers make when larger fish like ling first take the bait is to try to set the hook too quickly.  Free spool enough line that the large fish can take the bait and start swimming away before setting the hook.

For the chicken Dorado and smaller fish, setting the hook immediately is imperative.

One pointer for boats, especially those propelled by outboard engines, is that when working seaweed areas often the props get tangled in the vegetation.  When this occurs put the engine in reverse and it should remove the clutter.

Hopefully we will see a good balance of weed lines in the Gulf this summer and we can enjoy the bounties of seafood they offer.

Silver Kings and More On South Padre Island

June 29th, 2019

tarpon lee Silver Kings and More On South Padre Island

Capt. Lee Alvarez with a 100 lb tarpon caught near South Padre Island with Capt. Brian Barrera.

By Capt. Lee Alvarez

SouthPadreIslandFishingTrips.com | (956) 330-8654

“No, don’t hold too tight to the reel. Cause it’s a big one boy. It’s gonna pull you down now.”

That happens to be one of my favorite lines on the song Pull by Blind Melon.  It’s also exactly what was racing through my mind as a 100 lb tarpon made its first appearance on an epic jump while fishing with Capt. Brian Barrera on South Padre Island.  In an instant, with a perfectly embedded hook in its upper lip, the Silver King made its first run 125 yards parallel to the jetty towards the Gulf before another spectacular aerial show.

In the last issue, I concluded my article by mentioning the 2019 Shallow Sport Tournament on SPI.  This year, I had the pleasure of guiding Team Sportsman, consisting of Rob Youker, his 11 year old grandson McCaden Wolf, JR Torres and his daughter Crystal Torres Brice, all from College Station.  Rob is President of The Sportsman Boats in San Benito.  The Sportsman is the only authorized Shallow Sport dealer in the Rio Grande Valley and both companies have been honored as leaders in the boating industry.  Rob has led this 3rd generation company to a Top 100 Marine Dealership Award in North America for 14 consecutive years.

I met the team early in the morning at Jim’s Pier on SPI and we immediately began discussing the day’s strategy.  A few sips of coffee later and a couple of ideas traded back and forth and we were on our way to join the ant line of boats en route to check-in behind Louie’s Backyard.  We wanted to make sure we had good positioning before the 6:30 am shotgun start.  If you’ve never been in the midst of 250+ boats simultaneously racing off to their favorite fishing holes, then add it to your bucket list of things to do on the Texas coast.

Wind was a major factor this year as anglers dealt with stiff breezes in excess of 30 mph.  As I said in the previous article, I like me a little bit of gusting wind.  Team Sportsman member JR Torres also seemed to favor the breeze as he hauled in a 27 15/16” tournament winning redfish that topped the scales at 8.22 lbs and earned Team Sportsman a 1st Place finish in the Redfish Division.  This was JR’s first fishing tournament and we faced some heavy hitters as competition.  How cool is that?

Fishing on South Padre has been nothing short of exceptional as summer has officially kicked off.  Redfish action has been solid during the afternoon outgoing tide using a DOA 5.5” Jerk Bait in Texas Croaker on a 1/8 oz. jighead.  When redfish aren’t as eager to eat a lure, drift fishing the flats with cut ballyhoo has been productive.  In the cooler and deeper waters off the ICW, speckled trout can be found on both live and artificial baits.  Target visible structure while slowly crawling a lure on the bottom until you feel that thump. Black drum have been schooling up in the channels of South Bay and can make for an action packed day of fishing.  These herds of fish have been prevalent on both an incoming and outgoing tide.  At the jetties, kingfish are also beginning to show up and as I mentioned earlier, so are the tarpon.  If you’d like an opportunity at landing a Silver King on the Texas coast, give Capt. Brian Barrera a call!  Until next time, keep fishin.’

2019 Texas Billfish Classic to be the best yet

June 29th, 2019

tbc draggin up 2019 Texas Billfish Classic to be the best yet

The TBC continues to live up to its name as the fastest growing billfish tournament in Texas

By Brandon Rowan

In its fourth year of bringing highly competitive billfishing back to Freeport, the Texas Billfish Classic continues to grow, with the 2019 tournament promising to be the largest one yet.

Usually an August tournament, the Texas Billfish Classic changed dates to July 16-20 by popular demand. With the unfortunate cancellation and indefinite hiatus of Poco Bueno, many of the Gulf’s best fishing teams were still ready and hungry to fish those dates.

Those teams who have never fished the TBC are in for a treat. Tournament director Jasen Gast and staff produce one of the most popular and enjoyable tournament formats on the Texas Gulf Coast. Many participants appreciate the start time, which allows boats to leave during the day and avoid dangerous runs at night. The camaraderie of the kick off party, a spirited weigh-in and awards dinner are well known and anticipated events of the tournament.

Fishing was smoking hot last year. Draggin’ Up set a new tournament record by weighing a 514-pound blue marlin. The competition for tuna was tight with Smoker II’s first place fish weighing 93 pounds and $ea Dollar$’s 90-pound tuna nabbing second place.

“But one of the biggest success stories of the TBC is not the fishing, but what we are able to do on land,” Tournament Director Jasen Gast said.

The tournament works closely with three charities; the Billfish Foundation, the Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run and the Freedom Alliance, and has donated thousands to charity over the years. The 2018 Awards Banquet ended with Jasen and the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor presenting a donated all-terrain wheelchair to veteran Jacob De La Garza, who lost his leg in Afghanistan.

Don’t miss one of the year’s best tournaments and come on down to Freeport. The general public is invited and welcome to join the weigh-in.

For information on the Texas Billfish Classic and its schedule of events, visit www.TexasBillfishClassic.com or contact TexasBillfishClassic@yahoo.com

HB 4032 Texas Marine Industry Bill Is Approved

June 29th, 2019

yachting HB 4032 Texas Marine Industry Bill Is Approved

Sales tax for recreational boats in Texas has been capped to $18,750.

TMIC Legislative effort backed by grassroots support proves successful

In a major victory for Texas’ struggling marine industry, a long sought measure limiting the sales-use tax on boat purchases and providing for out of state vessels to utilize Texas waters, marinas and service companies is now poised to become law. After final passage in Texas House and Senate, and final filing by the Governor on June 14, 2019, HB 4032 will take effect on Sept. 1, effectively bringing Texas marine industry competitive balance with other coastal states that have had far lower boat tax policies.

The Texas Marine Industry Coalition (TMIC) was established barely one year ago to bring the Texas marine industry together and provide a strong platform and voice to promote and protect the interest of the industry and Texas’ boating communities. TMIC built a strong and effective coalition of members from the entire Texas coast and many inland boating communities. The group set the Texas Marine Jobs bill as its No. 1 legislative priority and spearheaded the efforts to pass this vitally important legislation.

“Thanks to a strong lobbying effort in Austin and incredible support from members of the marine industry and our communities, the Texas Marine Industry Jobs Bill is about to become law. The goal of TMIC and the result of this bill is to stem the flow of larger vessels, tax revenue, jobs and economic activity now going to Florida and other states due to those states proactive tax policies. The state of Texas can now return to its place among the nation’s leaders in boat sales and employment related to the marine industry,” said John Preston, President of TMIC and owner of The Boater’s Directory.

The Texas Marine Industry Jobs Bill sets a limit on the 6.25% sales and use tax for all taxable recreational vessels at $18,750, effectively matching the $18,000 tax cap that Florida enacted in 2010. It contains an additional provision to allow boats purchased for use outside of Texas to temporarily remain in the state to utilize Texas marine service companies for refit and repairs. Also included in the bill is a provision to establish a fee permit system for out-of-state registered vessels to return to or visit Texas waters for temporary periods of time and spend money in our communities to support the marine service industry. The intent and effect of each measure of the bill is to eliminate the incentives other states have been providing large boat buyers to purchase and/or take their boats and their business out of Texas. The boat sales tax cap and the additional provisions of HB 4032 will provide more boats, more boating and more business for Texas.

“We want to especially thank Senator Larry Taylor and Representative Ryan Guillen for their strong leadership as the primary bill authors. Thanks also to Representatives Greg Bonnen, Genie Morrison, Dennis Paul and Ed Thompson all of whom signed on as co-authors in the House. Representative Todd Hunter and Senator Lois Kolkhorst recognized the benefits of this legislation to their districts that are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey and provided tremendous advocacy for the Texas Marine Industry support to help achieve final passage of the bill,” said Randy Bright, TMIC Vice-President and broker with Galati Yacht Sales. He added “A special thanks to Joey Park and Billy Phenix for their hard work and effective professional representation in Austin. Getting this bill passed was no easy task and we are grateful that our legislators and the Governor were able to recognize the positive economic impact and the importance of it to the hard working men and women in the marine industry.

“The service sector of the Texas marine industry really needs this legislation”, said John Bowen, TMIC Vice President and owner of Elite Diesel Service. He added “The boats affected by this bill spend a great deal of money everywhere they go. We see the effects of this in our business as the Texas fleet has been shrinking thru attrition with replacement boats calling other states home. I’m excited that we can begin to return this business to Texas”

“We want to thank all our members and supporters who responded to our calls for action. They wrote letters and called legislators, gave money and made trips to Austin. Their efforts paid off for sure and proved that an organized grass roots effort is effective and can achieve great results,” said Jay Dee Jackson, Treasurer of TMIC and Texas Sales Manager for Galati Yacht Sales. He added, “We got such great support from so many people and organizations and we needed every bit of it. Thanks to that great collective effort, the Texas Marine Industry faces a brighter future today.”

For additional information or comments please contact any of the following members of the TMIC Legislative Committee: * John Preston 832/788-2860 * Randy Bright 713/816-2165 * John Bowen 832/226-2881 * Jay Dee Jackson 941/720-5081 *Email – tmicoalition@gmail.com or visit the TMIC website; www.tmicoalition.org

About TMIC

The Texas Marine Industry Association (TMIC) was formed by a group marine industry professionals to bring together Texas marine businesses, their employees, vendors and customers to create a strong platform and voice to promote and protect the interests of the Texas Marine Industry. TMIC’s Mission: To build a strong, organized and effective association of Texas marine industry businesses, employees, vendors and their customers for the purpose of providing strong advocacy to protect, promote and support the recreational marine industry in Texas. To be a strong voice of representation at the federal, state and local level on issues of importance to our members and our industry. To provide value to our members as a source of information and communication on issue and events important to their businesses and our industry.

Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record

June 25th, 2019

ECBCChamps 300x200 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record

totals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo credits: www.maximpactphotos.com

Sunday night couldn’t come soon enough for Nick Pratt and the crew aboard It Just Takes Time, a 62 Viking based in Orange Beach, Alabama. After weighing a 574-pound blue marlin on Saturday night, the crew had to wait it out to see if any other qualifiers would make it to the scales Sunday. None did. As a result, the team swept the blue marlin division, multiple optional entries and won the 2019 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, earning $596,025. That single team payout is the new ECBC record and one of the largest ever for a Gulf big-game fishing tournament. A total of 80 boats competed in the 17th annual event for more than $1.86 million in cash prizes.

“There are a lot of good boats in this fleet,” Pratt said at the awards ceremony at the Baytowne Marina. Pratt was the angler on the fish and also owns It Just Takes Time. It was the first marlin caught on the new boat and only the second blue he’s landed. “So we were very nervous today. We spent it fishing and actually released a blue and caught a dolphin. But everyone was clock-watching.” Capt. Chris Hood was at the helm during the fight, with mates Boone and Donnie Shear in the cockpit. Chapman Cook and Brandon Myer were the other anglers.

“We’re very fired up. Winning this kind of money is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Pratt added. “But I always believe in bet big to win big. This is the best week, by far, I’ve ever spent fishing and the ECBC is the greatest tournament ever!”

There was plenty of action in the billfish release division. Past ECBC champion Done Deal, with Katie Gonsoulin in the chair and Capt. Jason Buck on the bridge, won Top Release Angler, Top Lady Angler and Second Place Release Boat by letting three blues swim away. With optional entries, the team is taking home $163,939. Done Deal is a 70 Viking based in Houma, Louisiana and a perennial contender on the Gulf blue-water circuit. Capt. Clayt James and his crew aboard Chasin Tail, an 80 Weaver Boat Works, claimed top honors in the Release Division, also with three blues on time, for an impressive $229,145 payout. Southern Charm, a 63 Hatteras run by Capt. Bo Keough, was the third-place release team with two blues credited ($75,980).

Jeff Cultan and Triple Threat (Capt. Chilli Willams) cranked in the largest tuna for the week, a 167.5-pound yellowfin. That catch earned the team a $126,310 payday. Capt. Cricket Crochet, Christa Forrester and the anglers aboard Restless boated the second-largest tuna at 157.2 pounds, worth $47,872. Hunter Ryan, Capt. Bennie Goldman and Reelentless took third-place tuna honors with a 148.2-pounder, good for a $90,497 check.

Local team Mollie, with Capt. Jeff Shoults on the throttles, boated the largest of many dolphin weighed in Sunday. Mollie’s fish, caught by Hugh Flanagan, tipped the scales at 44.8 pounds, paying $25,600. Phen-Syn (Capt. Hall Bohlinger) and Arti Davenport whipped a 40.6 pound dolphin, which won $51,540, while Dennis Pasentine, Capt. Robbie Doggett and the Relentless Pursuit team pulled a 40.5-pound bull off a weed line to earn $127,015 with optional entries.

No monster wahoo came to the scales, but the top three fish still were nice money-makers. Captain/angler Kirk Ogren whipped the biggest at 55.8 pounds for $25,600 aboard Pair-A-Dice. Capt. Dusty Parrish, angler Chris Patroni and the Ultimate Lure crew earned second place honors and $23,550 for a 49.4-pound fish. Sage Mount, Capt. Dylan Gandy and the buddy team fishing on Dream’s Wake IV, a Yellowfin 36-foot center console, landed the third biggest ‘hoo at 42.9 pounds, for a $10,240 consolation prize.

ChampagneShower 300x200 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record

totals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo credits: www.maximpactphotos.com

In the unofficial “It Pays to Play” category, Squid Row took home a check for $84,285 for a 24.9-pound wahoo in a perfect example of why entering optional jackpot divisions can be so lucrative.

Jackson Moore, fishing on BuggyWasher, was named the top Junior Angler—Billfish by releasing a blue marlin. Logan “Mule” Reeder earned top Junior Angler—Game Fish honors by whipping three dolphin weighing 86.1 pounds. Reeder was competing on Cotton Patch, another previous ECBC tournament champion.

“The week started out crazy thanks to the weather,” said Tournament Director Adam Alfonso. “But it all worked out and another successful ECBC is in the books. Congratulations to the It Just Takes Time team and all the other winners. I’d like to express my gratitude to the entire fleet for participating and our wonderful sponsors for their incredible support. My fantastic staff and I look forward to welcoming everyone back next June for our 18th season of exciting big-game tournament action here at the Emerald Coast.”

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

About Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort:

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a major destination for all seasons and all ages and was named the #1 Resort on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The resort invites guests to a world of 2,400 acres and 30 charming neighborhoods featuring 1,300 vacation rentals, condominiums, villas, town homes and the best in hotel accommodations. As a member of Visit South Walton and Visit Florida, the resort features more than seven miles of beaches and pristine bayfront, four championship golf courses, 15 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 123-slip marina, a fitness center and spa, meeting space and The Village of Baytowne Wharf, a charming pedestrian village with events, shopping, dining and nightlife. Follow @Sandestin on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest events and news.