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A Word On Winter Wahoo

September 5th, 2017

ilandhw A Word On Winter Wahoo

Ilander Heavy-Weights in Blue/White and Black/Plum.

winterwahoo A Word On Winter Wahoo

Jasen Gast with a monster 93-pound wahoo. Photo by REHAB Fishing Team.

Bring home some winter wahoo this season with advice from these pros.

 

REHAB FISHING TEAM

Owner Jasen Gast | Capt. Troy Day

Spread

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.

Tackle

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.

Tactics

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.

 

Also to Note:

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.

yozuribonitas

Yo-Zuri Bonita™ in Purple/Black and Orange/Black.

PATRON

captweigeltCapt. 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.

pwilander

Ilander in Pink/White.

LEGACY FISHING TEAM

captdeermanCapt. 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.

WINTER WAHOO RECAP

  • Yo-Zuri Bonitas & Ilander/Ballyhoo in your spread
  • Rig lures with multistrand cable like 49-strand
  • Keep lures out after strike for multiple hook ups
  • Best bite is very early in the morning

Memorial Day Weekend

May 3rd, 2017

birdsworking2 Memorial Day Weekend

Birds working. Photo by Kelly Groce.

The start of our summertime coastal fishing

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.

kent king Memorial Day Weekend

Polly Kent with Joe Kent’s 48 pound ‘smoker kingfish’ in 1972.

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.

The Kraken – Galveston’s Newest Artificial Reef

March 1st, 2017

galveston kraken coordinates The Kraken   Galvestons Newest Artificial Reef

GPS coordinates to the new reef are: 28 26.634 N, 94 17.168 W

kraken ship The Kraken   Galvestons Newest Artificial Reef

The Kraken prior to its sinking. Photo TPWD.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Artificial Reef Program sank a 371-ft cargo vessel, named The Kraken, earlier this year in January. Dubbed the Kraken after the mythical, squid-like sea monster immortalized on film and in literature, the vessel was sunk 67 miles off the coast of Galveston to create a new artificial reef (located at GPS coordinates  28 26.634 N, 94 17.168 W).

The Kraken began its journey in May 2016 when it was towed from Trinidad to Brownsville to be repurposed for its new life as an artificial reef 140 feet below the surface. Contractors with Cahaba Disaster Recovery LLC worked with the Artificial Reef Program to remove all fuel, oil and hazardous materials from the vessel in order to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s best management practices.

Over time, this sunken ship will become an artificial reef that attracts fish, coral and other invertebrates, as well as divers and anglers. Given its location, this wreck could become a hot spot for grouper, amberjack and snapper.

“The entire marine ecosystem benefits from artificial reef projects like the Kraken,” said TPWD Artificial Reef Program Leader J. Dale Shively. “The Gulf of Mexico has only a few naturally occurring reefs so whenever we are able to add a new structure like this, the whole area benefits from the added habitat and species diversity.”

For more information about the Texas Artificial Reef Program, please visit  tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/water/habitats/artificial_reef

Texas Wahoo on Bad Intentions

February 6th, 2017

texas wahoo sharked Texas Wahoo on Bad Intentions

Dr. Bob Rose, right, reeled in this huge wahoo that got sharked on the way in. The partial fish weighed 73 pounds on certified scales.

Texas wahoo are Texas-sized at the Flower Garden Banks

Photography and Videography by Brandon Rowan | brandon@baygroupmedia.com

Bad Intentions, a 64′ Viking owned by Debbie Conway, headed out to the Flower Garden Banks late January 2017 in search of BIG wahoo. The lines hit the water at first light but the wahoo bite didn’t begin until 10 a.m. and continued until late in the afternoon. The most successful baits of the trip were Ilanders rigged with ballyhoo and trolling weights, and heavy jetheads in purple/black or halloween colors. Watch the video above to see these hard running wahoo in action.

 

Texas Weedlines: A Blessing For Offshore Anglers

July 5th, 2016

texas dorado Texas Weedlines: A Blessing For Offshore Anglers

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.

ling Texas Weedlines: A Blessing For Offshore Anglers

Capt. Joe Kent and Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine Creative Director, Brandon Rowan with a 65-pound ling taken from a weedline.

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.

Texas Offshore Fishing in a Smaller Boat

July 1st, 2014

mahimah Texas Offshore Fishing in a Smaller Boat

Look for dorado under weed mats and floating debris.

Prime Time to Take Your Smaller Boat Offshore

shrimpboat 300x225 Texas Offshore Fishing in a Smaller Boat

Shrimp boats can inspire a frenzy of fish activity.

By Capt. Joe Kent

There are many anglers with boats capable of making offshore trips during periods of good weather; however, a large percentage of them are apprehensive about venturing beyond the jetties.  July and August probably are the two best months of the year for the smaller boats to make a Texas offshore fishing trip.

Barring an event in the Gulf, the weather is the most stable of the year and the winds tend to be lighter on average than most months. Just about every pelagic fish that visits the Texas Coast is within easy range of smaller boats with limited fuel capacity during July and August.

The conditions are good and the fish are there, so what is keeping you from making that first trip to battle a king mackerel, ling, Spanish mackerel, shark or Dorado?  For me, it was a lack of information on where to go, how to fish and what equipment would be needed.  Sure, the big boys with boats over 30 feet in length knew all of that stuff; however, for us bay fishermen with smaller boats we just did not know a king fish rig from a bottom rig.

In sharing some of my first experiences and frustrations with you, it is hoped that you will learn some of the basics of offshore fishing and, if your boat is suitable for a run of 10 to 15 miles out, you will give it a try.

JoeKentBonito

My first trip into the new world of offshore fishing came in late June of 1972.
The first big issue was preparing my boat for the trip.  We had all of the safety equipment required and a C.B. Radio for so-called ship to shore communication.  Several extra six-gallon tanks of gas were on board and we had a good compass.

Extra water was carried along and a good first aid kit.

While all of that was necessary, the one thing we did not think about was extra anchor rope.  Anchoring in 50 to 70 feet of water requires much more rope than at 12-foot depths.

Our biggest mistake was in the fishing equipment we chose.  Our tackle was too heavy.  We took “broom-stick” rods equipped with large reels filled with 80-pound test line.  After all we were fishing offshore and the fish are big and require heavy equipment.  That is not the case for the near shore waters.

Bait and riggings were the next big mistake.  We only had bottom rigs typically used for red snapper and squid and cut mullet were the baits we brought along.

When we anchored at a spot 10 miles out of Freeport called the Middle Bank, other small boats were fishing there also, some trolling others anchored.  We were close enough to other boats that we could see their fish and all were having a field day catching kings, bonito and sharks.   Our bottom rigs produced hard heads, small snapper and lot of other bottom feeders.
Little did we know that the action came from baits floating near the surface?

After that trip we started becoming knowledgeable about how to fish offshore and here are some tips to help you with your first trip.

First and foremost is safety.  Keep a close eye on the weather and if potentially threatening conditions are in the forecast, reschedule your trip.  There are a lot of days during July and August that are excellent for heading offshore in a smaller boat.

Next equally as important is the condition of your boat.  Regardless of size, is it seaworthy, does it have the proper safety equipment and fuel capacity?  As a general rule you should carry 30 percent more fuel than you estimate using for your trip.

Type I PFDs are a must also.

Now, let’s concentrate on the fishing.  If you have not been offshore before, it is quite different from inshore fishing.  A good trout rod will suffice if the reel can handle 20 to 30-pound test line.

Kingfish are common offshore. Drift a ribbonfish or sardine rigged on a wire leader to find them.

Kingfish are common offshore. Drift a ribbonfish or sardine rigged on a wire leader to find them.

Wire and coated wire leaders with either single 6/0 to 8/0 hooks baited with fin fish or two to three hooks for ribbon fish are needed.  Weights are used only if the current is so strong that the bait stays on top of the water.  Ideally the baits consisting of sardines, ice fish, cigar minnows or ribbon fish should be suspended just below the surface.

A gaff and a club are needed as a landing net will not work for kings and many other surface fish.

Areas within 10 to 12 miles that are best for newcomers are the wells and platforms.  One of the best ways to fish them is to motor up to the platform and drop your baited line overboard.  As your boat drifts away, the bait will stay just below the surface. Be prepared for a vicious hit as kings and other surface fish don’t nibble but usually strike hard at your bait.

When you gaff your fish, use a club or other blunt instrument to stun the fish by hitting it in the head.  This makes it easier to place the fish in the ice chest and avoids your catch flopping around on the floor of the boat and avoids damage to your equipment.

From mid-July on, anchored shrimp boats also are excellent spots to drift using the same technique as drifting surface structure.

Once you get a trip or two under your belt, other techniques will surface such as trolling baits or bottom fishing.  For the first trip or two, stick to drift fishing wells, platforms and anchored shrimp boats as other methods and techniques will catch your attention as you progress in offshore fishing.