Only $3.95 www.tsfmag.com August 2013
TIDE PREDICTIONS & SOLUNAR FEED TIMES INSIDE!
AUGUST 2013 VOL 23 NO 3
ABOUT THE COVER Five years waiting; TSFMag’s Pam Johnson scored her first Texas trophy snook at 32.5 inches and 9.5 pounds on a Kick-A-Mullet lure recently with Capt. Ernest Cisneros in the Lower Laguna Madre. Ernest says the snook started slow this summer but they’re beginning to make a good showing in mid-July. Ernest’s snook charters are all CPR; “Too precious to be caught only once,” he loves to say.
CONTENTS FEATURES 8
08 They Shoot Potlickers Don’t They? 14 New Book Takes a Long Look Back 20 How-To: Beach Travel Tips and Tools 26 14th Annual Port Mansfield Fishing... 30 Just Give ‘Em What They Want 34 Grouper ID Time
Mike McBride Kevin Cochran Billy Sandifer Martin Strarup Chuck uzzle Joe Richard
42 Let’s Ask The Pro Jay Watkins 46 Shallow Water Fishing Scott Null 50 TPWD Field Notes Zaida Faye Hagar 54 Fly Fishing Scott Sommerlatte 58 Youth Fishing Marcos Garza 60 Texas Nearshore & Offshore Mike Jennings 64 Kayak Fishing Chronicles Cade Simpson 68 Extreme Kayak Fishing & Sharks... Eric Ozolins 72 Fishy Facts Stephanie Boyd 103 Science & the Sea uT Marine Science Institute 104 Boat Maintenance Tips Chris Mapp
WHAT OUR GUIDES HAVE TO SAY Dickie Colburn Mickey Eastman Bink Grimes Gary Gray David Rowsey Capt. Tricia Ernest Cisneros
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06 76 92 96 98
Editorial New Tackle & Gear Fishing Reports and Forecasts Catch of the Month Gulf Coast Kitchen
vICE PRESIDENT PRODuCTION & ADvERTISING DIRECTOR Pam Johnson Pam@tsfmag.com Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-550-9918 NATIONAL SALES REPRESENTATIvE Bart Manganiello Bartalm@optonline.net REGIONAL SALES REPRESENTATIvE Patti Elkins Patti@tsfmag.com Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-649-2265 PRODuCTION COORDINATOR Donna Boyd Donna@tsfmag.com
78 Dickie Colburn’s Sabine Scene 80 Mickey on Galveston 82 The view from Matagorda 84 Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays 86 Hooked up with Rowsey 88 Capt. Tricia’s Port Mansfield Report 90 South Padre Fishing Scene
EDITOR AND PuBLISHER Everett Johnson Everett@tsfmag.com
CIRCuLATION SuBSCRIPTION – PRODuCT SALES Linda Curry Cir@tsfmag.com ADDRESS CHANGED? Email Store@tsfmag.com DESIGN & LAYOuT Stephanie Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine is published monthly. Subscription Rates: One Year (Free Emag with Hard Copy Subscription) $25.00, Two Year $45.00 E-MAG (electronic version) is available for $12.00 per year. Order on-line: WWW.TSFMAG.COM MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine Attn: Subscriptions P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, Texas 77983 * Subscribers are responsible for submitting all address changes and renewals by the 10th of the prior month’s issue. Email email@example.com for all address changes or please call 361-785-3420 from 8am - 4:30pm. The U.S. Postal Service does not guarantee magazines will be forwarded. HOW TO CONTACT TSFMAG: PHONE: 361-785-3420 FAX: 361-785-2844 MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, Texas 77983 PHYSICAL ADDRESS: 58 Fisherman’s Lane, Seadrift, TX 77983 WEB: www.TSFMAG.com PHOTO GALLERY: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRiNTEd iN THE uSA. Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine (ISSN 1935-9586) is published monthly by Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, Inc., 58 Fisherman’s Lane, Seadrift, Texas 77983 l P. O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 © Copyright 1990 All rights reserved. Positively nothing in this publication may be reprinted or reproduced. *views expressed by Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine contributors do not necessarily express the views of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine. Periodical class permit (uSPS# 024353) paid at victoria, TX 77901 and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, Inc., P. O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983.
tackle and gear JunkIes beware!
The TSFMag crew just returned from ICAST and I am pleased to report it was quite a show. American Sportfishing Association’s International Conference of Allied Sportfishing Trades is the granddaddy of fishing shows. All the latest and greatest products are there and the debut of much that will be introduced in the coming year is unveiled at the ICAST New Product Showcase; the highlight of which is a reception reserved exclusively for members of media and retailers the evening before the show opens to the general ASA membership. Highly-coveted “Best of Show” awards are garnered through popular vote of the invitees while the manufacturer’s employees and marketing representatives are excluded to preclude influence on the ballot. And I must say selecting the best new product in each category was a difficult task – there were that many great ones. This year’s event was the largest I have attended, held in concert for the first time with IFTD, International Fly Tackle Dealer trade show. Having opportunity to roam aisle upon aisle and see firsthand the offerings of both the conventional and fly-fishing tackle industries was enough to drive this junkie insane. Apart from the glittering array of goods and barrage of promotional hype, the ICAST is perhaps even important in other ways. Trade shows at this level are excellent indicators of the health and growth of industries they represent. And since anglers of all persuasions benefit greatly from ingenuity and innovation in tackle design, witnessing the willingness of tackle manufacturers to invest in R&D required to bring new and
6 | August 2013
improved products to market each year serves as a barometer to gauge where the industry is headed and how we as anglers will benefit. Also important is discovering the impact of regional markets on the industry. From what we saw I’d say the industry is healthy and growing, and Texas is receiving greater attention than ever. Clothing may be the fastest growing commodity right now, not only the fashion aspect, but function as well. High-tech fabrics are being developed specifically for fishermen and garment design has achieved a quantum leap past the old bellows-pocketed styles that made fishing under a midsummer Texas sun nearly unbearable. Advances in waders, wade-fishing footwear and jackets are equally impressive – and everybody in the industry is aware Texas is the epicenter of wade-fishing in coastal water. Texas-based ForEverlast Products won a Best of Show with their G2 Wade Fishing Net and wait till you see what Simms has in their 2014 catalog. For paddling enthusiasts, we saw more attention being given fishing kayaks and kayak fishing gear than possibly all previous ICASTs combined. Power-Pole won Best of Show honors with a shallow water anchor system designed expressly for kayaks and micro-skiffs. That tells me a lot. Rods, reels and lures were in profusion. Shimano hauled in a stack of New Product awards and announced a Chronarch with casting brake system so revolutionary it may well change the industry. I found ICAST 2013 exceptional; great news for Texas anglers.
THE COOLER YOU’VE
WANTED THE LAST YOU’LL
From Homestead to Houston “If you put all the coolers that I’ve bought end to end, you’d have coolers from Homestead to Houston... Now why would YETI come along and ruin a perfectly good consumer like myself?” – Flip Pallot, Legendary fisherman
Lifetime Investment “I used to buy coolers frequently as the lids would be destroyed and they would no longer hold ice. No more! I have a YETI now; a lifetime investment.”
Perfect Shape “I bought 3 YETI Coolers
– Tom T Rowland, Saltwater Experience
– Larry Dahlberg, Hunt for Big Fish
several years ago, and they’re still in perfect shape. Plus, they hold ice for days. Sure wish they’d been around 20 years ago, it would’ve saved me a small fortune!”
Day In, Day Out “As hard and as much
as we fish in the Florida Keys, I need a cooler that performs day in and day out. Other coolers would only last one season. My YETI is on its third season - it still looks and works like new.”
– Steve Rodger, Into The Blue
STRONGER! KEEP ICE LONGER!
YETI Coolers are roto-molded, ded, the same process used to make ke kayaks. So, they’re tough! With thicker cker walls, tion more than twice the insulation and a full-frame gasket, YETI’s ice retention is unmatched! ®
NeverFail™ Hinge System
YETI Coolers are certified bear-proof by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee! ®
BearFoot ™ Non-Slip Feet
The YETI “Don’t Worry” 5-year Warranty ®
If any part of your YETI malfunctions or breaks, simply contact us for prompt repair or replacement. Don’t worry, it’s a YETI ! ®
STORY BY MIKE MCBRIDE
Fishing should be a magical experience that remains long after the rods and reels are put up.
8 | August 2013
It was on a Thursday,
well before sunup, and theoretically, before a crowded weekend. I managed to thankfully pry up the last four bags of ice from the bottom of the freezer (actually more like blocks), but only after dodging several shiny high-lift golf carts on the way to the store. That sputtering propane procession had also stampeded a small herd of our local “stimulus corn” deer, but I managed to avoid them as well. Inside, the cash register was stacked with the normal bait bucket line, but also jacked up with some last minute fishing license buyers. Excuse me, but did you know you were going fishing today? Hurrying on to the boat slip I was soon blinded by high-beams of a rig backed down the ramp, honked at by a truckload of Columbia shirts still lit from the night before, then temporarily deafened from George Strait on blown speakers to the left dueling with a door-thumping rap tune to the right. Hooray it’s summer…let’s go fishing! Yessir, things have obviously escalated a bit on the bay, and King Ranches pulling 10-year boat notes are throwing a lot of shade on most public launch parking lots. That was bound to eventually happen but it’s not so much the actual crowd factor that raises a brow, but more so a seemingly different crowd in general. I guess when I first started fishing I was bitten by a different bug than seemingly prevails today. The main symptoms for me were visions of challenging nature on a personal level, beyond our understanding, trying to match wits with elusive linestripping creatures beyond our control. It was a fundamental and solitary craft, often sufficiently humbling to leave the biggest egos in check. However, whether catching or not, every experience was magical and lasted long after rods and reels were put up. In many respects fishing was something much larger than the act itself. Today though, it seems as though that simple act has transformed into something quite apart from the innocence of a Norman Rockwell painting. Being that technology has made us so much more efficient, to the point that the once elusive has become relatively easy, it’s also easy to see
We might as well dig in!
TSFMAG.com | 9
Quiet ponds still exist but they’re fewer nowadays.
how more people would naturally try. As crowds increase though, and because humans are all about maximum result for minimum effort, much of that yesteryear challenge now seems more about how to get in and get ‘er done! For so many nowadays, “gettin ‘er done” simply means getting a limit as fast as they can. There is no blame here from me; sadly though, we have seen a revered sport fish morph into something of a commodity and fishing results appear to be measured more often now in meat than magic. With more people sharing a resource competition naturally becomes fierce, and often more against other humans than fish. That can be frustrating for those with other visions, so we basically have two choices to make. We can either go home with our Rockwell idealism decaying to disillusion, or we can try to play better in a crowded sandbox. We might as well dig in because it’s just not going to get any better. Everybody grab a shovel! No, let’s don’t shoot the potlicker, and please try to forgive them for most know not what they do. However, there will always be those other people, the same ones who will cut into a ten-item express checkout lane with twenty things and rudely occupy a handicapped spot. It’s just that now many more of those people have boats, so we’ve little choice but to manage our expectations more carefully. If we go out expecting the worst, everything always seems better. We should simply expect to be cutoff and run over during the summer months. Heck, the only reason I even bother to look up anymore is to see if I am in immediate danger or whether there are bikinis in the boat. We can plan on having boats drifting into our wades and wading into our drifts. Rules of engagement have changed and we can expect there to be no rules, especially concerning crossing situations and rights of way. If somebody encroaches, and they will, we just need to learn to get over it, laugh and let it go. No, we don’t need to be a doormat, just the bigger person, and remember that on-the-water retaliation only perpetuates the cycle and fixes nothing. However, even though most fishermen are born polite, some get over it, so if a little discussion becomes unavoidable, all parties would be better 10 | August 2013
served to save it for the dock. Besides greater tolerance there are a few strategic things we can do to still have a great experience on the water. Believe it or not, things like launching a bit later can actually help. When we get “there” first, it often doesn’t matter because we can’t hold it anyway. It’s maddening to be first on a shoreline only to have to bob up and down in earsplitting boat wash for an hour as the rest of the weekend fleet hurries by. Anytime I cannot hear my topwater over a passing outboard, water rage is a looming emotion, and I usually don’t catch anything. On big tournament days, for another example, I’ve actually
We can still make some magic happen this summer.
Competition has become fierce with so many sharing a resource but the experience is still real.
let everybody go and get settled in, then quietly slip in later where the traffic might have pushed fish. It has worked surprisingly well! Also, seeing that most of the get-‘er-done types tend to be early quitters, the areas they broke their necks to get to first can be found wide open long about midday. It’s like playing chess out there – we can still win if we have a better strategy and stick to it. There is much talk circulating concerning the growing battlefield, but to summarize this summer, and probably the rest to come, there are simply a few realities we are going to have to suck up if we want to keep enjoying what we enjoy doing. First, it is not going to get less crowded, not for a while anyway, whether at the stores, ramps, parking lots, or on the water. And, like it or not, it’s a shared resource and none of us are entitled any more than the next guy. “My” spot is unfortunately also a public one. We can be miserable about it or we can just deal with it. A bigger reality is about what the sport will look like in ten years, and that is going to fully rest on our individual actions. We can either be part of the problem or be the good example to follow. Trust me, not everybody out there wants to be a Richard, and with good examples, some might eventually change their name. As for me, making fishing look easy is hard work, but if I try hard enough, I can probably still find a quiet pond in an expanding urban world. You can too but; hey, I would still suggest getting that ice early! See you there, but hopefully at a distance. BTW, none of this is new. A guy named Thomas Bastard (curious name for the quote) was also obviously frustrated when he said, “But now the sport is marred, and why you ask? Fishes decrease, and fishers multiply.” Mr. Bastard said that way back in 1598, so perhaps he DID shoot the potlicker…you know he wanted to!
12 | August 2013
Mike McBride is a full time fishing guide based in Port Mansfield, TX, specializing in wadefishing with artificial lures.
Skinny Water Adventures Phone Email Web
956-746-6041 McTrout@Granderiver.net Skinnywateradventures.com/ Three_MudSkateers.wmv
14 | August 2013
STORY BY KEVIN COCHRAN
I recently completed
work on a new book. The 191-page text is an anthology containing fifty articles previously printed in this magazine. During the process of going back over the articles, I realized I have changed my opinions about a few specific things related to the sport of lure fishing for speckled trout. I now place much less emphasis on the color of a lure than I did a decade or more ago. I’m often asked to give advice about color, and I do so readily. In fact, I have created charts on which I specify my preferences for colors in different conditions. I’ve also given recommendations for colors in print and on the DVDs I’ve created. As my fishing career has evolved, I’ve come to believe lure choice and presentation style are almost always more important than color when it comes to producing strikes. Most people place too much importance on color, or so it seems to me. The majority would be better off if they spent more time and energy trying to figure out which lure is best suited for the moment and how to optimally present it to the fish, instead of fretting about the specific hue of the lure. Studies show the eyes of spotted seatrout are different than human eyes. For instance, trout see colors within a relatively small range, when compared to us. They see blue best, and red and pink fall outside their range of discernible hues. To read more about how a trout’s eyes work, go to www.CaptainKevBlogs.com, click on the word Blogs in the banner, and check out the piece I posted about the topic on July 13, 2012. My opinions about other concepts related to the sport have changed too. I once considered large topwater lures to be the best to use for tricking trophy trout. Early in my career, I caught most of my big trout on full-sized Super Spooks, and considered them the main staple in my arsenal. While I still use magnum plugs on occasion and know they will produce bites from big trout, I now think of them as more of a specialty offering, rather than a “go to” choice. Especially in hot weather, when fast, erratic presentations tend to entice more
bites, smaller floating plugs will produce more big trout. Most importantly, I’ve come to realize all floating plugs have limited potential in many fishing situations. When water temperatures are in the low to moderate range, other lures in the quiver will produce more bites than topwaters. Though some of the best topwater sessions occur during the winter months, the productive use of floating plugs during Jack Frost’s months is dependent on several variables, the most important of which is the feeding mood of the fish. When trout are ravenously feeding in winter, they will often blow up on topwaters with reckless abandon. Most of the time, they are sluggish and reluctant or totally unwilling to rise to the bait. A trout is a trout, wherever it is found. This mantra rang true with me when I started publishing work in this magazine over fifteen years ago, and it still does to this day. However, after fishing all over the state, in various locations and bays, I’ve come to realize some patterns are bay-specific. Consequently, locating and catching trophy trout in different bays requires an angler to understand certain things about the bay in which the fishing is done. Trout on the Upper Coast of Texas behave in slightly different ways than do those in the Coastal Bend and the Lower Coast, as a result of the different environments in which they live. These variations in behavior are most extreme when one contrasts fish found in relatively shallow, hypersaline lagoons like the Laguna Madres and Baffin Bay with those in deeper, brackish bays like Trinity Bay and Sabine Lake. Because our bays are not all the same, our sub-populations of trout aren’t either. Anyone hoping to find and catch monster trout from the Louisiana Shoreline to South Bay will need to become versatile and skilled in a wide variety of ways. This idea has become more clear to me over the years of fishing and writing--a versatile angler has the best chance to be consistently successful. Anglers with the most thorough knowledge of the trout and the features of the bays have the best chance to keep their rods fully bent. TSFMAG.com | 15
Diane Jans caught these two trout on a hot day, using two of the captain’s favorite lures for summer trout fishing, one on a Super Spook Junior, the other on a soft plastic rigged on a light jighead.
During the last decade and a half, I’ve come to understand a couple of other important things. For one, I know the fishing rod is the most important tool affecting one’s ability to catch fish on lures. For another, I now know braided line is better than the monofilament I (and almost everyone else) was using back in the 1990s. The braided lines available to us today are far superior to those on the shelves back then, and all serious anglers should fill the spools of their reels with one of them. Going back over the feature articles I’ve written over the years reinforced some concepts like these, and was a fun process indeed. Below, I’ve included excerpts from the introduction and conclusion of the book as a way of giving more insight into what it contains. “In this text, I’ve selected fifty articles once published in the magazine. In doing so, I’ve chosen pieces which are crammed full The concepts examined in Captain Kevin Cochran’s Top 50 relate mostly to trophy trout fishing with artificial lures, but astute readers might find some information in the book helpful in the pursuit of redfish like this 11.5 pounder too.
16 | August 2013
of instructional information. I haven’t included any articles focused on socio-political concepts, or those which were written for a more aesthetic purpose. I have tried to compile a big portion of my best work into one document, hoping to provide a bounty of hard-core information within a neat and tidy package. Within each of the sections, I’ve arranged the articles in chronological order, starting with the oldest one. Some pieces are harder to place in a category than others, but I believe the organizational format I’ve created is meaningful. The reader will find many concepts repeated herein. This is a product of necessity; the truth does not change. Some of my opinions about these topics have changed over time, as astute readers may realize. I hope the recognition of my progression of thought spurs careful readers to formulate their own theories and opinions. I’ve made minor revisions and additions to many of the pieces, and have sometimes indicated the additions through the use of italics. Mostly, these works are reproduced as they appeared in the magazine originally.... While I was working on this book, a few things became apparent to me. I have, over time, developed some concepts quite thoroughly. In most cases, I have written about these tenets more clearly and precisely in recent years than I did a decade or more ago. Such a phenomenon is, I suppose, the natural result of growth through experience, both in the fishing arena and in the world of writing. I have strong convictions about many aspects of trophy trout fishing, particularly the features which define the gurus of the sport, and some of the specifics of the skill sets they share. With regard to some of the details, my opinions have changed over the years...
18 | August 2013
When the bays are crowded with all sorts of forage species, tactics for catching trophy trout can be different from times when food supplies for the predators are scant.
I had a blast going back over these pieces and reviewing them in order to make this book. The metaphorical trip to the past was a fun and enlightening one.... Producing a book like this reminds me of the magical connection between my writing and fishing careers. I could never have prospered in either one fully without the influence of the other. A kind of synergy developed between the pursuits. The process started soon after my work appeared in the magazine, when I realized I’d found a ready audience, a legion of anglers eager to soak up all they could about the sport we share and revere. So, thanks to you, my faithful readers, for fueling the fires which warm me from the inside out! I could not have developed these concepts so completely without your willingness to indulge me and read the work. To date, I’ve published perhaps a half a million words on the topic of trout fishing. I hope I survive long enough to script about a billion more!” I’d like to thank Everett and Pam Johnson for the hard work they do in publishing this magazine, providing me and others a forum in which to do something so rewarding and fulfilling. Truly, none of my books and DvDs would exist if not for the support they and others have given me. My new book is more than a review of some of my best work; it’s a tribute to the success of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine and to the people who helped build it into such a fine publication. Captain Kevin Cochran’s Top 50 can be purchased online at either www.FishBaffinBay.com or www.CaptainKevBlogs.com. A list of the titles of all the articles included in the book can be viewed on the blogs page of CaptainKevBlogs.com.
Kevin Cochran is a full-time fishing guide at Corpus Christi (Padre Island), TX. Kevin is a speckled trout fanatic and has created several books and dvds on the subject. Kevin’s home waters stretch from Corpus Christi Bay to the Land Cut.
TROuT TRACKER GuIDE SERvICE Phone Email Web
361-688-3714 email@example.com www.FishBaffinBay.com www.captainkevblogs.com TSFMAG.com | 19
STORY BY Billy Sandifer
Marco and Annette Vergara of Austin enjoying a day on PINS with Capâ€™n Billy throwing artificicials.
20 | August 2013
thIs Is another In our serIes
of Beach Fishing How-To articles and is dedicated to beach travel, one of my alltime favorite topics. For as far back as I can remember folks have been asking me, “Billy, what is the best way to go down the beach?” My standard answer is, “In someone else’s truck.” My guess is that I have probably driven more miles on Texas beaches than anyone else in history, so I guess that qualifies me to share some tips and advice on preparation and the equipment one needs to carry when traveling into the 4WD region of PINS. BuT - absolutely nothing will take the place of common sense and being both proficient and innovative with the tools and other items we carry and depend on to get ourselves out of trouble. I always enjoy it when a user on a fishing message board initiates a debate over which brand and which owner’s brand new $60,000 truck is superior for beach use. I never participate in these debates but always get a good belly laugh out of the fact that they see me in a very used $4,000 Suburban with over 100,000 miles making the same trip they make occasionally…over and over, day after day. Now there sure isn’t anything wrong with having a state-of-the-art vehicle if you can afford it but, if you are broke down or stuck, vehicle purchase price won’t matter a damn and high-end vehicles will rapidly lose their market value in the never-ending battle with salt and sand. More importantly, at least to me, is that expensive late-model vehicles tend to have more whistles and bells than you’ll ever need or use on the beach, and each successive year-model has more than the one it replaced. That is in direct conflict with what is the most effective on the beach. What works best in this incredibly harsh environment is the least complicated, fewest moving parts, greatest durability electrical and power train systems that have ever been assembled into an automobile. I notice interesting parallels on the beach. Most people who get stuck quite often have no tow strap, no highlift jack, and no shovel. They have made no plans concerning what to do in case of emergencies. They expect other beach travelers to have all the necessary items and to spend their day digging out your highcentered vehicle; jacking it James Clark was fishing on PINS recently. These are 14/0 long shank hooks. Can you imagine the tremendous power required to do this?
TSFMAG.com | 21
Wilson’s Phalarope - Phalaropus tricolor- Largest of the three Phalarope species, this is an elegant wading shorebird with a long thin bill. Feeds on the water and often spins like a top stirring up food. Females are 10% larger in standard dimensions, often weighing 30% more, and more brightly colored than the males. The males incubate the eggs. Breeds in the northern prairies of western United States and Canada. Migratory, winters around the central South American Andes, passing through Texas around March/April and again during September/October.
Length 9.25 inches Weight 2.5 ounces
22 | August 2013
up, putting blocks under its tires and towing them to safety. Simply put; in addition to being irresponsible, that’s not fair to others trying to enjoy a hard-earned day off on the beach. Vehicle operators are expected to have this equipment and to personally do the “grunt” shoveling and work of prepping their vehicle to be towed to good footing. When this is done, most passing travelers will pull you out of a bad spot. But when you do nothing but sit by waiting for others to do the work for you, many otherwise kind souls will drive on by – and who could blame them? Likewise; it seems folks with a dead battery rarely have jumper cables – those with leaking transmissions have no transmission fluid – the folks with overheated engines did not bother to pack a couple spare jugs of water. What’s up with that? I have friends who drive expensive tricked-out beach trucks equipped with an unbelievable number of tools and accessories capable of handling almost any type repair or emergency situation. But even these have their downside. All that equipment is heavy and expensive, it takes up a lot of space in your vehicle which could have been used for fishing or camping gear, and some of it is complicated to use. The other side of the equation is the person with no spare tire, tools or supplies of any kind, and probably wouldn’t know how to use them if he did. To me, the practical answer lies somewhere between those extremes. Think! Make a list and assign priority to each item, and then carry as many as possible and practical every trip. Whenever possible, travel in groups of vehicles and look out for and help each other. Avoid driving on the beach during high tides and at night. If it is necessary to travel in the dark, stay in the main rut and avoid the water’s edge. Oncoming headlights can be dangerously blinding so, when meeting other vehicles, slow down and be considerate. Slow your speed to a crawl when driving through camps at night. ALWAYS REMEMBER: THE NORTHBOUND VEHICLE HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY ON PINS. Remember that the more camping gear you bring the more time you’ll have to spend setting it up and taking it down and the less time you’ll have for fishing and other leisure activities. I’m going to give you
Now folks, this list is nothing special and by no means all-inclusive. I imagine its run of the mill for your experienced 4WD beach fishermen. If you are camping, no kit would be complete without a big bottle of Baby Powder for removing sand from your body. Gold Bond Powder works best on chafed areas, vinegar to take the sting out of sunburn, and acetone for jellyfish stings. Before ever taking others on a down-island trip always inquire whether they have any special medical needs, especially medications, and make sure they have a good supply. Even as I read this over I know there are items I’m overlooking and also items you’ll want to include that I’d never think of taking, but it’s a good start. See there – and you thought it was going to be complicated. What a Hoot! If we don’t leave any there won’t be any. –Capt. Billy Sandifer
ROY’S Bait and Tackle Outfitters Upon first impressions, the Stradic C14 posseses both ultra smooth and sleek panache yet resonates elements of aggression and power. Leave it to Shimano to create the ultimate combination of style and advanced technology! A rapid weight reduction is sure to set the tone for micro-sized spinning reels in the future, boasting up to 25% weight reduction to that of similar sized reels.
Introducing Shimano’s latest in comfortable and light weight footwear - the Shimano Evair Marine/Fishing shoes. The Evair features an ultra lightweight EVA material, meaning even after a full day of fishing or boating, your feet will not feel fatigued at all. Being an ‘open’ style shoe means they’re quick drying and allow your feet to breathe even in the hottest day time conditions. A non slip sole gives the wearer added confidence when navigating slippery decks.
24 | August 2013
a list of items you might do well to carry. My suggestion is to leave them in your beach vehicle all the time. fluids-coolants-fuel: Six quarts each engine oil and transmission fluid - one quart each brake fluid, differential gear lube, power steering fluid - five gallons water, five gallons gasoline treated with stabilizer spray can lubricating/penetrating oil. Engine-Transmission cooling Systems: Cooling system hoses (spare of each) and clamps - length of heat-resistant cooling system hose and clamps (to fit and repair cracked or broken transmission cooling lines), and a small steel-tubing cutter. Tools, etc: High-lift jack, three pound shop hammer, hatchet, funnel, SAE and metric wrenches and socket sets, two flash lights (one that can be worn on your head to keep hands free), two flat shovels (not spades), cheater pipe, hatchet, pair of wooden blocks or tire chocks, Channellock pliers (several sizes), vise grips, wire cutters, longnosed pliers, assortment of zip-ties, roll of re-bar tie wire, duct tape and Super Glue. Tire Repair, Engine Belts, etc: Portable air compressor, several cans Fix-A-Flat (will not work on sidewall puncture), tire plug kit (sidewall repairs), set of spare belts (and special tools) and learn to replace a serpentine belt. Towing: Stout nylon tow strap; NEvER uSE CHAIN. Electrical: Roll of spare electrical wire, electrical tape, and spare fuse kit. clothing, Survival, etc: Spare long trousers, windbreaker and slicker, First Aid kit, emergency food rations, gloves, hand cleaner, paper towels, insect repellant, tarp to lie on while working under truck.
Retired after 20+ years of guiding anglers in the Padre surf, Billy Sandifer (“Padre of Padre Island” to friends & admirers) is devoted to conserving the natural wonders of N. Padre Island & teaching all who will heed his lessons to enjoy the beauty of the Padre Island National Seashore responsibly. Phone Website
7613 SPID Corpus Christi, TX 78412 www.roysbait-tackle.com
The Shimano Torium range of overhead reels are built on tough foundations for saltwater fishing. The range comes in four models ranging from a smaller but very versatile and capable Torium 14 size up to the tough and larger Torium 30.
The Shimano Curado bait caster reel has been a leader in the field for over ten years now and is set to continue its winning ways. The iconic green Curado with it’s superior drag and casting ability has made it a favorite amongst kiwi anglers chasing large snapper, blue cod, kahawai, and kingfish with lures.
STORY BY MARTIN STRARuP
It ainâ€™t over yet! This is what a 27-inch trout does so well when she sees the Boga.
26 | August 2013
back In the summer of 2000
when a group of us got together for a few days of fishing at Port O’Connor, I didn’t think at that time that we’d make another year, much less still be getting together in 2013. And while some from the original group no longer attend, others have taken their place, and now fourteen of us make the drive down to Port Mansfield every year for five days of fishing, eating, and fun…and more fishing. Someone asked me why we drive all the way to Port Mansfield when there is so much good water to fish between where we live and there. There are multiple reasons why some of us drive 4.5 hours and why some drive 6.5 hours to get to the place we call Paradise. 1. Fewer people 2. Fewer boats 3. Beautiful water 4. Fishable water in 30 mph wind 5. Good friends who live in Port Mansfield All of those reasons are what make us pack up and head south, and why some of us make multiple trips, year after year. You get to know people much better after having fished with them and you get to know them very well after having fished with them for years. You learn what color baits they prefer to use, what type of line they spool their reels with, and you learn what they like to eat and drink. You will share experiences, discuss family, share tips that you’ve learned, and simply enjoy each other’s company. My son has been fishing with some of the guys in our group for
Son Sterling reviving a beautiful 27” Port Mansfield trip prior to release.
TSFMAG.com | 27
All wrapped in sun protection Sterling was mighty proud to release this trout.
Scott’s 27, skinny from spawning.
more than half of his life. Heck, he spent his seventeenth birthday belly deep in the Lower Laguna Madre catching trout and redfish. We’ve actually become more of an extended family than just a group of guys who like to fish together. This year, thankfully, there were no major mishaps. No hooks embedded in anyone’s leg, no fingers almost severed by sharp fillet knives, no bad storms to run away from or to be caught in, and no sharks feeding on anyone’s stringers. No one stepped off into a deep hole and almost drowned and no one was chased back to the boat by a large bull shark. This year there was only wind to contend with and trout and redfish to be caught. And we caught plenty of trout and reds. There were some trout over 27 inches caught and released and plenty of legal trout to 24 inches that wound up or will wind up being dredged in corn meal and dropped into hot grease. We caught a lot of redfish but not the numbers that we would have liked; but most everyone got to hear their reel drag sing when they connected with one of the brutes. We had some massive blow ups on top that by themselves would have made a morning wade worthwhile even without hooking up with a fish. Being out in the water with a Robert’s big red made rod and reel in hand while watching the drag sing! the sun rise over the Laguna Madre is one of life’s simple pleasures that I know I’ll never grow tired of. Enjoying the company of family and good friends and sharing those moments is simply priceless. And if the fish happen to cooperate and are fooled by the hunks of plastic that we throw at them, well that’s just a bonus we will gladly take. And so another trip goes down in the books. And while some of us will fish together again during what’s left of 2013, it will be a year before all of us are together again in one place for what will be our 15th annual trip; it can’t come soon enough for me. Henry David Thoreau wrote: “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” What an awesome statement. Be Safe.
Jeff’s dandy 26 – released!
28 | August 2013
Martin Strarup Martin Strarup is a lifelong saltwater enthusiast and outdoorsman. Martin is also a collector and dealer of vintage fishing tackle and lures, especially those made in Texas. Email
30 | August 2013
The little skiff came
down off plane and glided to a stop
as I did my best impression of a fat cat squirrel and climbed onto the poling platform to begin scanning the water for potential targets. My favorite fishing partner, my son Hunter, had already found his spot on the front casting platform and was launching a topwater plug by the time I readied the push pole to propel us along a shoreline. It didn’t take long before we started seeing multiple wakes crisscrossing the water in front of the boat. The early morning low sun made it a little difficult to see them but the wakes alone told us there were plenty of fish in the area. Hunter was doing a good job covering water with a She Pup but was having difficulty finding any willing participants. As we continued down the shoreline it looked like a muddy polka dotted dance floor as redfish after redfish would blow out and leave the telltale mud boil in the water for good measure as we approached. Hunter did what any good angler would do in that situation and that was switch up the offering. Out came the Stanley Ribbit, one of our absolute favorite baits for finicky reds, but it was treated with the same rudeness. It was time to do something different and the answer to our problem was right there in front of us, or should I say beneath us in the grass. The water we were fishing was full of gorgeous widgeon grass that was holding a healthy population of shrimp. Each time we would stick the push pole in the grass it seemed like we would scare up several and they
STORY BY CHUCK UZZLE would skip hurriedly across the surface. The numbers of shrimp had to be a reason there were so many redfish in the area so we decided to make a change in our tactics and offerings. A quick scan of the side pocket on my tackle bag revealed a handful of Double D rattling corks and that’s just what the doctor ordered. I tied the boat off to my Stake-Out Stick and swapped out the lures for rattling corks, 1-foot leaders, and Gulp 3” shrimp on 1/8 ounce jigheads. The initial cast took all of about three pulls on the cork before it got destroyed and took off across the grassy flat in the wake of a broad shouldered redfish. Hunter stood on the casting platform with a huge grin and said, “Well that didn’t take long.” As his fish was getting its second wind I hooked up with a solid red as well. Our change in tactics had been right on the money and we were certainly enjoying our good fortune as we quit spooking fish and began catching them. Situations like the one above happen all the time and as fishermen we are faced with a dilemma that could mean the difference between an enjoyable day on the water or an exercise in futility. I’ll be the first guy to admit that I have my own personal favorite ways to catch fish, just like everyone else. We all love to see a fish crush a surface pug like there’s no tomorrow. The big blowup that is the prelude to a fight with a fish of a lifetime, a fish you will tell stories about for years to come. Other times the subtle strike of a not-so-bold fish taking a bait in winter is enough to get your blood pumping. Still others favor the option of seeing a well-placed fly get gobbled up by a cruising or feeding fish on the flats. All of these scenarios are TSFMAG.com | 31
shrimp. There are times on Sabine that shad are more prevalent and preferred as bait, but not often. By paying attention to the forage in greatest abundance you can often get a better feel for what the blue plate special might be – especially the size of the bait. During the early summer when the clouds of small shad are rafted up it doesn’t pay to throw oversized lures when the forage fish are tiny. Yeah, I know big lures catch big fish, but that’s another article for another day. On a regular basis – If you want to consistently catch fish, you have to be throwing a lure or bait that most closely resembles the bait that fish are keying on…period. It’s just that simple. The hardheaded and stubborn angler who refuses to follow that ultra-simple rule usually has fast food for dinner instead of fresh filets. I guess if you had to sum it all up the single greatest key to being a successful fisherman is to be flexible. If you could catch them on the lure you love the most every time out it would eventually get old. It’s the times that you can’t catch them on your favorite lure that makes the times when you can that much better. Obtaining an appreciation for those special
great in their own way and they all produce fish at the right times. The problem is they don’t produce fish all the time; it’s simply a fact of life. Sometimes you just have to change in order to succeed. I know; I know – there’s that word again. The word change may Thomas Gay and as well be a four letter expletive the way fishermen shun it. We Burke Hutson with all hate to change; it’s human nature. But in some cases it can be a pair of beautiful a great thing. Take for example the change Hunter and I made, Sabine marsh reds. going to a rattling cork instead of a topwater. I don’t care who you are, every fishermen loves to see a cork go under. That moment of anticipation can take you back to when you were a kid, take you back to remembering how much fun it was to just catch a fish, any fish. Back when it didn’t matter what reel you used or clothes you wore, back when it was just fishing and fun. It’s amazing how a simple cork can do all those things. I guess it’s why I still love throwing it today. Now lots of folks will ask, “Why are you throwing that lure in particular?” My rule of thumb here is that I throw what I want to catch fish on, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try to throw what the fish want. The trick in most cases is figuring out what the fish want. In saltwater environments it’s awful hard to go wrong with a lure that looks like a shrimp because everything out there eats trips on the water when it all goes just right would never happen unless you have some days that are all wrong. It’s being able to make those subtle adjustments, regardless of the method, that will make the difference in your success. Keep that in mind next time you hit the The Stanley Ribbit water and it just might turn your casting practice into catching.
32 | August 2013
“creature bait” was designed for bass fishing but it will certainly also do a number on marsh redfish.
Chuck fishes Sabine and Calcasieu Lakes from his home in Orange, TX. His specialties are light tackle and fly fishing for trout, reds, and flounder. Phone Email Website
409-697-6111 firstname.lastname@example.org www.chucksguideservice.net
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STORY BY JOE RICHARD
Texas is blessed with a
great many grouper species
offshore, in sufficient numbers to pursue on a year-round basis. Ideally you need two conditions for grouper fishing: calm but deep water. Grouper living offshore don’t care about the seasons or whitecaps above, they’re well-insulated with all that water above them. Late summer generally offers flattened seas and that makes it easier to reach these fish. Grouper inhabit a wide range of depths from 10 to 1,000 feet of water, but really dominate the depths from 400 to 800 feet. That’s where you can expect to crank up grouper, though various other
One of the mid-depth grouper that frequents the Flower Gardens reef off Texas. This one was at Cerveza Rig, 155 feet down from the surface.
34 | August 2013
species share the same depths. Such depths are more easily reached along the middle and South Texas coasts, while anglers in Sabine Pass would have the longest run offshore. Probing the depths in 400 to 800 feet means the vast majority of red snapper, whose population has really exploded, should be inshore of these depths, although it’s likely some giant “sow” snapper may be found in 400 feet. These deeper depths do not offer a catch-andrelease fishery; one can expect almost 100 percent fish mortality. Gas inside each fish doubles every 33 feet as it rises to the surface, so a deep-water grouper (or snapper) will balloon and float. Our grouper caught in 900 feet typically have ruptured scales, their eyes bugged
This grouper is found in the eastern half of the Gulf, even Eastern Louisiana. Fond of deeper waters, such as 500 feet. Nick-named “Kitty Mitchell” grouper a hundred years ago, by Pensacola snapper fishermen. Named after a popular woman with freckles, from downtown Pensacola.
out and stomachs fully extended. All of these grouper range from edible to great on the table. Here are pictures of 16 species that should cover the entire Gulf lineup. I’ve left out tiger and Nassau groupers; none that I know of have been caught in the Gulf. We can thank NOAA for two of the grouper shown here, the speckled hind and graysby. The rest all came from my photo collection and web site, called Seafavorites.com. Black grouper: Smaller specimens grow up on the coral reefs of Florida and the Caribbean, and then move into deeper water. I’ve only heard of a few big ones migrating to Texas waters, where they’re occasionally caught around coral and rocks like the Claypiles off Galveston. This is a big, aggressive, opportunistic fish that has been known to follow boats and strike trolled baits on the surface in 100 feet of water, in the Florida Keys. Also
Black grouper in Texas waters are usually big but fairly rare, and favor rocky areas with coral in 100-200 feet. This one was caught from one of the Delph family guide boats out of Key West.
known to carry ciguatera poisoning, because of its affinity for eating smaller fish living around coral reefs, where the toxin is produced. Gag grouper: The gag has a much better reputation on the table, despite its name, and can grow to 60 pounds or so. This guy will follow and chase down trolled diving plugs, notably the Mann Stretch-30 plug, of which thousands were sold to boat crews along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Gags start their life in very shallow water, preferably grass flats, then migrate offshore. Years ago on Halloween we caught a stringer of 10 at the South Padre jetties, on 52M MirrOlures when the water was quite clear, and should have released them all. After all, why keep a pound-and-a-half grouper that grows to 60 pounds? They should probably be protected in Texas state waters. Today the bag limit is two, with a minimum 22 inches. It seems that gags have a population TSFMAG.com | 35
Gag grouper love deep-trolled plugs in fairly shallow water in the Eastern Gulf. (Here, a double-header). From Florida they migrate to Texas waters. Some are locally grown in Texas bays, where bay bottoms still grow seagrass.
problem, protected from harvest at certain times. Gags like to bunch up in a spawning aggregation late each winter, with hundreds of females and only a few males to mate with. Why only a few? Gags are hermaphroditic and all gags are born female. They have to live a long time to change, and become males. (Big males are called “copper bellies”, because of their coloring). Male gags are very aggressive, and if a boat, say a commercial boat, drops baits on a spawning school, the males attack the baits first. This makes for poor spawning success, and this scenario remains the gag grouper’s Achilles’ heel. The biggest grouper of all is the goliath. This one was caught at Port Aransas in about 1940, probably at the jetties.
36 | August 2013
Goliath grouper: Formerly called “jewfish” or (even earlier) “junefish”, these guys grow to about 800 pounds, yet inhabit depths of only 12 feet or so, on occasion. We’ve caught lots of them under shady mangrove trees in southwest Florida, where Naples is the center of the goliath grouper universe. Federally protected since 1990 Gulf-wide, their numbers are now such that they will attack hooked fish around the wrecks offshore in 30 to 50 feet, separating fishermen from their snook, permit, snapper and grouper, even blacktip sharks. It takes a mean grouper to eat a shark. This is a very common, Eastern Gulf species. None have been landed in Texas waters, that I’ve ever heard of. Commonly found in 50-200 feet of water.
TSFMAG.com | 37
Said to be the tastiest of grouper, scamp are caught on the snapper banks (rock bottom), usually on cut bait. Not common at all, though one day we caught a basket full, at a 180-foot rock about 30 miles east of the Flower Gardens.
This red hind (on the left) would have qualified for the Texas state record, years ago when we caught it near the Flower Gardens.
In Texas waters there should be plenty of goliath grouper—they’re protected by murky water, the Feds, and a general lack of knowledge by many of today’s fishermen. There are countless shrimpboat wrecks off the beach offering shelter to these giants, and Texas probably has the biggest series of fish-sheltering rock jetties of any coastal state. Best baits for goliaths are stingrays. If you really want to hook and release one of these giants, gig a dozen stingrays (save a wade fisherman) and use these rays with heavy tackle, each one pinned to a 20/0 circle hook, drifted around the jetties. Catch and release only, so don’t drag your goliath into the boat for a hero picture, it’s hard on the grouper’s vertebrae. Be sure to dump your extra stingrays in the rocks when you leave; it helps sustain the local population of goliaths, and they will appreciate the gesture. Graysby: More of a coral grouper, and visitor from The Bahamas, I’ve only seen one, a hefty specimen of eight pounds or so, at the Cerveza Rigs off Galveston. It was about 100 feet down and certainly a state record at the time, if we had caught it. The graysby is similar to the far more common rock hind, though the graysby’s head is shaped slightly different. Marbled grouper: This grouper always reminds me of a tripletail; it’s body shape is very different from more typical members of the The rock hind is very common around Texas Gulf platforms and can be seen on any dive. They prowl vertical pipes almost to the surface. A 3-pounder would be a good-sized one.
38 | August 2013
clan. The marble can change color in dramatic fashion, and prefers depths of around 180 feet or so. We’ve caught them at the Flower Gardens, and those I have dove with were about 150 feet down at the semi-permanent, deepwater rigs off Galveston. That’s where a great many tropical species can be found. It seems our planted, deepwater platforms in 800-900 feet have become population islands for tropical fish from The Bahamas and Caribbean. Misty Grouper: Commonly found in deeper waters along our Atlantic coast and The Bahamas. I haven’t heard of any in the Gulf, but Caught in 900 feet, here’s a double-header. The big one has inflated from gas expansion, while the smaller fish, which didn’t expand, shows true colors and features.
Red hind grouper: This is a coral reef visitor from the Caribbean, and we’ve caught them at the Flower Gardens at night, on cut bait. Overall, pretty rare in Texas. Small red hinds are thick in The Bahamas and fierce enough to hit trolled plugs as large as themselves. Rock hind grouper: Very common at Texas Gulf platforms, ranging a half-pound up to maybe three pounds. The state record is around six pounds. They’ll hit a small jig inside the platforms, if you pitch in back inside the pilings. Also called “strawberry grouper” because of their vivid reddish spots. Scamp grouper: Tastiest of all grouper, with the whitest meat. That means they don’t fight too hard, but they’re a serious bonus on any snapper trip. They frequent offshore rocks in 100-200 feet and seem to mix freely with red snapper. Snowy grouper: A deepwater fish, those that we have caught all come from about 900 feet. That means cranking up a lot of line, but a 50-pound “snowy” is always welcome in the fish box. I’ve talked to Florida Atlantic anglers who have never heard of snowies of that size, but I told them it was in Texas, where all fish grow larger. We caught ours on large fillets of blue runner—for some reason blackfin tuna strip baits didn’t work as well. Speckled hind grouper: I haven’t actually seen one of these in the Western Gulf, but a friend, Alan Reynolds in Port Neches, saw one landed in about 600 feet out of Venice, Louisiana back in early June. They were making grouper “deep drops” and caught a mixed bag. This is a coral-happy grouper common in the Bahamas, but it visits areas like the Texas Flower Gardens reef. This one was a Texas state record for several years, back in the early 1980s. This is the go-to big offshore Texas grouper, caught for many years on the snapper banks and around wrecks, but later discovered to live out to depths of about 1,000 feet. Population now stressed, only one allowed per boat.
don’t count them out. Easily identified by their vertical stripes. Their common depth is around 800 feet, according to “deep-drop” anglers I’ve talked to. World record is 80 pounds, so this is one of the higherweight grouper species. Red grouper: Extremely common off the Gulf Coast of Florida and in the Keys. I’ve never heard of one in the western half of the Gulf of Mexico. These guys are called “garbage mouth” because they’ll eat any cut bait. Also nicknamed “fire truck” because of their color. The yellowedge inhabits depths of 800 feet, in commercial-sized quantities where they can be trot-lined. Maximum size about 30 pounds.
40 | August 2013
Warsaw grouper: Big Warsaw, growing to 300 pounds or more, were once so common on the snapper banks off Port Aransas that Florida Roberts, who pioneered snapper fishing out there in the 1930s, reported having to pull anchor and move, when too many Warsaw showed up, eating his snappers off the handlines. Today, Warsaw populations are stressed and only one is allowed per boat. Smaller specimens are caught in perhaps 70 feet of water, and then the big
boys gradually move offshore out as deep as 1,000 feet. Most big Warsaw years ago were landed by the partyboat crews on the typical 80-200 foot snapper rocks during late winter and early spring, when these fish were spawning in (for them) shallow water. Yellowedge grouper: This is a deepwater fish and fairly numerous; commercial boats target them with long trotlines on the bottom. Also tasty. If you can find rocky bottom in 400 to 800 feet, trying drifting with big cut baits on bottom. If something The yellowmouth grouper is hard to distinguish from scamp, but seems to inhabit mostly Texas Gulf platforms that haven’t been dynamited or removed yet. This one was 100 feet down, at a rig sitting in 180 feet. bites, most likely it will be a yellowedge. Yellowfin grouper: Another mid-depth coral visitor from The Bahamas. They have two color phases, sometimes a mild brown with markings, other times a vivid red. Found in 100-200 feet off Texas, over rock bottom with coral outcrops. The specimen I caught in the picture hit around midnight, about 120 miles southeast of Sabine Pass. These fish are such reef hounds, that they’ve also been implicated in ciguatera poisoning, guilty of eating too many tropical reef fish. Yellowmouth grouper: A close cousin to the scamp, and the two are difficult to tell apart. Those I have seen were observed while scuba diving—I’m not sure we’ve ever caught one. They seemed to prefer living at middepth, half-way down on the Gulf platforms sitting in 180 feet or so.
One of many oversize reds off small scattered shell area with moving water.
J AY WAT K I N S
ASK THE PRO
New tricks from an old dog Hot would be the best one word description of fishing along the middle Texas coast in August. Oh…make that hot and calm if you need two words from me. In my daily attempts at fishing, it is all about working smaller more defined areas of structures that provide food-moving water-and quick deep water access. I know I probably sound like a broken record but I don’t think you 42 | August 2013
can repeat statements that contain vital information too many times. So with this said, let’s talk about catching them in one of the toughest months of all for lure enthusiasts. Early is the key to finding your bait and finding your fish. Many are the days that I find my bait early on a small section of scattered shell or the remote end of a sandbar
with a few grass beds but am unable to catch the fish I believe to be residing there. Paying close attention to the Solunar tables can aid us in being in the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME. August is the month I grind the most. Simple reason is that I know we need to work each potentially productive area completely before moving on. Couple this with the fact that feed periods can be short this time of year so you cannot waste time making long runs to areas that you think might be holding good fish – so in essence you’re fighting a double whammy this month. If and when you discover areas where fish are actually living, catching them is just a matter of being there when they decide to feed. It is important to never BURN your area. What I mean is that we need to fish around the EDGES of the area we believe the fish to be. By not penetrating the safe zone the fish remain undisturbed, which allows us to come back if we have become bored and left the area to look at some other spots. I often leave areas only to return later in the day when conditions have become more favorable. We did just that today as a matter of fact, and with great success. Waded an area along a small shoreline sandbar with scattered grassbeds. Bait was thick but water clear. With falling tide, and even with higher water temperature, I knew that a color change later in the day would cause the fish to pull up out of deeper water to feed in the off-colored stuff. Still amazes me how many supposedly good anglers run past dirty water covering the proper structure to fish similarly good structure with air-clear water. It seldom works as well as the dirty stuff. Anyway, we got back to the area and found the water color change and bait were right where we needed them to be. An hour wade produced a dozen reds to 34-plus and several trout to five pounds. So what that told me was…in the morning we were in the right place, but not at the right time. Moving water to me is a must if I am going to set up camp and make an honest try. I need to feel like the water is bringing me new targets on every cast. Predatory fish absolutely use the moving water to bring food to them versus them having to burn critically needed energy to chase it down. The extreme heat causes fish to have to use up a lot of energy just retrieving oxygen out of the hot water. This can stress fish on days when winds do not provide surface movement which is Mother Nature’s aeration system. The next time you’re on the water in dead calm conditions, take mental notes as to how active or not-so-active the fish are. I’ll bet there’s more times when it’s not-soactive versus the other. Speaking of predators, I love observing all of them. I have several very large Topwater trout off sandbar Texas spiny lizards that with moving water at sunrise. live in my yard and, talk about predators. I noticed TSFMAG.com | 43
not long ago that as I mowed they would come down out of the trees and run alongside the mower. It seemed obvious to me that insects disturbed by the mower instantly become visible. It took me a few trips around the two acres to figure this out. So - do you think fish might react to us in the same manner. How many times have you stopped the boat and within the distance of a few yards wading you catch a fish, and then the rest of the wade you catch nothing? Maybe, just maybe, when the boat moved the bait it triggered a predator reaction and, as Emeril would say…“Bam!” Who knows whether this is the case but I like to think it’s possible. I certainly have come up with plans in the past that involve other fishermen driving fish to me and that for sure works, and it works a lot! I prefer small scattered shell reefs where prevailing winds constantly provide water movement. Don’t care what the water looks like as long as it is moving and there is a food source available. In my area many of our reefs contain scattered shell that actually has grass attached to it. To me, this is the ultimate in shell structure. It’s good in all seasons due to the combination of shell and grass all in the same package. This past month I have had most all of my better days on this type of structure. And - when wind has been light and the water fairly clear it’s been much tougher. Expect tough fishing the rest of summer due to the continued drought and extremely high water temperatures. Today I marked 89° water temperature at 3: 00 p.m. in Mesquite Bay. We started the day at 84° so we gained 5° over about a six hour period. I monitor my water temperatures closely during the day. A swing of a few degrees along any shoreline can send the fish deeper compared to other sections
C O N TA C T
where for whatever reason it remains slightly cooler – wind direction and amount of surface chop can be one. If you don’t have a surface water temperature gauge on your boat you won’t be able to connect with this change, resulting in not knowing the reasons for the fish being where you’re catching them, or maybe not. You gotta know that the real reason, some are better at this than others, some catch more because of what they know and observe. Monitor your water temps at each stop and you’ll become a better angler. So I am about to get a bite to eat, rehydrate, and get to bed early again tonight. The heat is harder on me each year but I have a hard time admitting it to myself. Renee reminds me and keeps me straight. I know this month’s article was more of a fishing report and some oldschool knowledge from an old dog with a few new tricks. So if you find yourself struggling in the August heat, try some of the tactics I talked about here today, it can’t hurt. May your fishing always be catching. -Guide Jay Watkins
Jay Watkins has been a full-time fishing guide at Rockport, TX, for more than 20 years. Jay specializes in wading yearround for trout and redfish with artificial lures. Jay covers the Texas coast from San Antonio Bay to Corpus Christi Bay. Telephone Email Website
361-729-9596 Jay@jaywatkins.com www.jaywatkins.com
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Sometimes you just have to
lace up the boots!
I know this may sound sacrilegious to most Texas anglers, but the treads on my wading boots haven’t gotten much wear over the last ten or so years. Between kayaks, poling skiffs and knee-deep Galveston Bay mud I just don’t often feel the need to go pedestrian. However, there are times when the only way to get to the fish is to lace up the boots and bail out. 46 | August 2013
Just last week I ended up in one of those situations. I had been on some good fish during some really low tides. Customers were treated to plenty of reds cruising around with their backs exposed. The low tides had sucked the baitfish out of the marshes and onto the open shorelines where they became easy prey for the foraging reds. It wasn’t easy shoving the skiff way back there, but
it was well worth the effort. After a few days of putting other folks on these fish I had a day off and decided to get in on the fun. Unfortunately the tide schedule had shifted a bit and the activity only lasted about thirty minutes past dawn. The rising water sent the baitfish scurrying back into the marsh. The reds followed the bait and I followed the reds. This worked out great for a little while...until they got so far into the marsh that even the Fury couldn’t follow. It wasn’t a matter of depth, there was plenty of water under the hull. It was the width that became a problem. Reds can, and will, swim through some mighty narrow places. Once they gave me the slip all I could do was sit on my poling platform and listen as they heartily fed further and further away. Their constant crashing and splashing was driving me nuts. It was time to get wet. Wading through an upper coast marsh is best left to the gung-ho 20-something duck hunters, and with good reason. But I grabbed the fly rod and bailed off into a narrow winding no more than a few feet wide. The water was up over my knees and the incoming flow was surprisingly strong. Between the depth of the ditch and the height of the marsh grass I couldn’t see what was ahead, only hear it. Rounding a bend, the ditch opened up into a small marsh pond with three big reds cruising in and out of the flooded grass. One surged forward and crashed hard against the shoreline in a shower of bait. The other two headed towards the commotion only to be intercepted by a fly plopping into their path. The fight was a blast in the tight quarters, but it really upset the rest of the crew. The ditch continued on the other side of the pond and led to yet another and another and another...each holding at least a red or two. At the end of the road was a rather large and very shallow lake. I paused at the entrance to survey the situation and take a rest on a big clump of grass. Spread out before me was one of the coolest sights I’ve seen in quite some time. There were at least a dozen upper-slot reds slowly cruising all over the lake with their backs exposed up to their eyeballs. That alone was cool, but resisting the temptation to cast led to the best part. These fish were all separated and working different areas until one ran across a meal. The surging and crashing of the feeder immediately drew the attention of the others. They all headed in that general direction and the nearby baitfish were headed away. One or two of the closing reds crossed paths with the fleeing bait leading to more crashing. The others converged on the new commotion and the whole thing built to a frenzy. Then it all calmed down and everybody spread out going back into search mode. I watched this scenario play out three times. Amazing what you can learn if you don’t rush
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C O N TA C T
what’s in front of you. Eventually though, the fisherman overtook the nature watcher. Once things settled down I eased into position and waited for one of the cruisers to get close enough for a cast. The fly landed in the zone and the red ate. During the ensuing battle nearly every other redfish in the pond converged on us. I found myself squatting in the mud and freezing as they swam within easy reach. If not the coolest experience I’ve had while fishing, it’s definitely in the top ten. One more catch and the party was over. I screwed up. I got so preoccupied with putting a grip on the fish that I failed to watch my six. A red had slipped in close and as I reached out for the landing he spooked. The zig-zagging roostertail cleared the entire lake in a matter of seconds. A big muddy cloud was all that remained. It was at this moment that I realized someone had apparently moved my boat. There was no way I had walked that far. The skiff was just a little white spot way over yonder. The second revelation came about in the form of a very dry throat. I used to plan a lot better when I waded more often. Mother Nature and her ways never cease to amaze me. I’m lucky enough to observe a lot of it from my perch on the poling platform, but perhaps I need to get out and go for a little walk more often.
TEAM SALT LIFE Capt. JIMMY NELSON
48 | August 2013
Capt. Scott Null is a devout shallow water fisherman offering guided adventues via kayak, poled skiff, and wading. Telephone Email Website
281-450-2206 email@example.com www.captainscottnull.com
Angler interviews are one of the tools TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division uses to collect fisheries data and also user demographic facts. Photo credit: TPWD
B y Z a i d a Faye H a g a r CCA/TPWD Summer Intern | Aransas Bay Ecosystem | Rockport
FI E LD N O T E S
Harvest Monitoring & Estimation of Landings In 2011, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Coastal Fisheries Division estimated that more than 51,000 spotted seatrout and 34,000 red drum were harvested by anglers in the Aransas Bay ecosystem. Coastwide, those numbers jump to nearly 600,000 spotted seatrout and 235,000 red drum. Whoa, that sounds like a lot of fish! Where on earth do they get that number? How do they know that without seeing every single fish taken out of the bay? The TPWD sport-boat harvest monitoring program conducts fisheries surveys and trailer counts at boat ramps coastwide. As a summer intern working with TPWD’s Aransas Bay ecosystem team, I spent quite a bit of time at these surveys interviewing anglers and measuring their fish. Over the course of the summer, several people inquired about the purpose of our interviews and how their answers are used to manage the fishery. Their curiosity, combined with a few questions of my own, inspired me to find out more about how the program works and how the data we collect are used to estimate harvest. Survey sites are randomly selected in proportion to the amount of fishing activity taking place at each site. TPWD uses trailer counts (called a ‘rove’) to determine 50 | August 2013
the amount of boating pressure at each site. During a rove, a Coastal Fisheries employee counts boat trailers at boat access sites serving a particular defined area. The numbers of trailers per site are used to calculate the relative percentage of boating pressure each site contributes to the total activity in the bay system. Fisheries surveys are then conducted at specific locations to further refine the trailer count data by gathering information about the ratio of fishing to non-fishing boaters. Based on these pressure estimates, boat ramps which typically experience higher activity levels are surveyed more often than low pressure ramps. For example, of 26 total sites in the Aransas Bay system, three (Cove Harbor North public ramp, South Conn Brown public ramp, and Port Aransas public ramp) account for over 40% of the fishing pressure. Therefore, these three ramps are surveyed most often. TPWD greatly appreciates the cooperation of anglers during surveys, as you provide valuable data to the fisheries management program. The data collected includes: amount of angler effort (trip time X number of anglers) as well as the quantity, size, and species of fish landed that day. The general area where anglers captured their fish is also important. However, some
Now in graduate school, author Zaida Hagar has great enthusiasm for fishing and approached her summer internship with Coastal Fisheries the same way.
anglers hesitate, as they don’t want to give away their secret spot. Don’t worry! We’re looking for a broad answer here. Knowledge of the areas fished helps to determine how much activity at each ramp should be attributed to the different areas of the bay as well as to adjacent bays. Some people who launch at Port Aransas public ramps fish in Aransas Bay, some fish in Corpus Christi Bay, and others fish in the Gulf of Mexico. This information tells us where the ramp’s pressure actually occurs. The data are extrapolated to calculate estimates of the annual harvest of each species. First, data from a survey are expanded to represent the entire bay system. North Cove Harbor public ramp constitutes 17% of the fishing activity in the Aransas Bay system on any given weekend day. So if 50 spotted seatrout were brought in during a survey conducted there, we would expect those 50 trout to represent 17% of the trout caught that day in the entire Aransas Bay system. Therefore, it is estimated that a total of 294 spotted seatrout would have been harvested from the entire Aransas Bay system that day. The next step is to find the average number of spotted seatrout caught in the system per weekend day based on all of the weekend surveys, and multiply that by the total number of “fishable weekend days” in the year. For example, when Hurricane Ike made landfall and caused destruction in Galveston, the number of fishable days in that area was reduced to account for that. The end result is an estimate of how many spotted seatrout are caught on weekends. This estimate is combined with the estimate for weekdays to determine the total amount harvested in each bay system. The type of data collected as described in the above paragraphs is called fishery dependent data. These data are acquired from participants (i.e. the recreational fishing parties interviewed) in the fishery. Biologists rely on these constituents to provide information regarding their catch. Data that biologists collect themselves are called fishery independent data. For instance, gill nets are used by fishery biologists to obtain relative abundance and size of adult fish. Routine analysis of both of these types of data enable fisheries managers to monitor the populations (what’s being harvested and what is available) and adjust regulations as necessary to sustain them. Based on what they learn from years of sampling and massive amounts of data, the Coastal Fisheries Division of TPWD has the awesome responsibility of recommending changes in bag and size limits to sustain fish populations for us to enjoy now and into the future.
Check the TPWD Outdoor Annual, your local TPWD Law Enforcement office, or www.tpwd.state.tx.us for more information. 52 | August 2013
S C O T T S O M M E R L AT T E
F LY F I S H I N G
The right line for the job Over the years, choosing a fly line has become increasingly complicated. Every fly line manufacturer out there has their own version of this line and that line. So… I guess I will try to take some of the mystery out of choosing the right line or lines for fishing the Texas coast. But, before I get into the lines themselves, I would encourage you all to try to think outside of the box. Our Texas waters have so much more to offer the fly angler than just sight-casting the flats for redfish. The problem is, very few anglers care to explore the options, nearly too numerous to count, because they will not take the time to learn and master the various techniques necessary to achieve success. This is where different types of fly line come into play. For all intents and purposes, the only four types of line the Texas angler should be concerned with are the floating, sink-tip, intermediate and sinking. As far as floating lines go, just about every manufacturer produces a product called “Redfish” line. The redfish line is basically a floating line with a shorter head designed to load the rod sufficiently for the, more often than not, short quick casts we experience while fishing for redfish. Some company’s redfish tapers are more aggressive than others, meaning the head is shorter or even over-weighted a bit to load the rod even 54 | August 2013
quicker. For example; the Rio redfish line seems to have a short yet heavier head and loads the rod very quickly; whereas Scientific Angler’s (SA) redfish line has the same short head but is of a more standard weight. In layman’s terms- the Rio’s 8 wt redfish line is more like an 8 ½ wt and the SA redfish 8 wt line is exactly that, an 8 wt. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. For example, the Rio loads quicker and seems to carry heavier flies out to the fish better, however, it lands on the water much harder. To me, the SA version is more versatile in that is still aggressive yet, with practice, it can still be finessed to a fish. In fact, I have come to like the SA redfish line for just about all of my flats and back-country sight-fishing, no matter the species. The only problem I have with it is that they do not make an eleven or twelve weight version which would be ideal for back-country tarpon fishing. Okay, now for the condensed version – for sight-fishing the Texas flats, it is hard to beat a redfish taper. Moving on I would like to talk about the most versatile of all the fly-lines; the sink-tip. Sink-tip lines are floating lines with, usually the last 10-15’ being a clear, intermediate tip. This type of line can easily be used on deeper flats to sight-cast to fish where a little extra stealth is necessary but really excels in blind-casting situations. That is right folks, I used that dirty little phrase name…
56 | August 2013
like a dream and casters with less skill seem to do well with it because of the very aggressively tapered head. Last but not least is the full-sinking line. This type line is the probably the most difficult to utilize of all lines available. For one, most are built to be thrown like a shooting head which for many is a difficult task to master. And, for two, these lines are usually used in situations where there is a great deal of current. Strong currents tend to put a bow in the line while fishing which makes it difficult for the unskilled or intermediately skilled angler to stay in contact with the fly, thus making the manipulation of the fly and the hook-set unusually difficult. It is for this reason that I often choose flies tied on circle-hooks when fishing sinking lines. But, despite the challenges the full-sinking line creates, it is in fact a great tool in the fly-fisherman’s arsenal, especially when fishing in deep channels and offshore. Should you choose to go to this extreme, I highly recommend looking for someone who has experience to help get you started on the right path. Anyway, I know I have barely touched on the subject but, I encourage you all to take the time to learn more. Talk to the folks at your local fly shop about the different lines and how they use them. Be gude, and stuff like that….
C O N TA C T
blind-casting. But, I am here to tell you, if you ignore this technique, you are missing out on a great many opportunities. Anyway, for those who do blind-cast or are interested in doing more of it, especially in water 2-4’ deep, in my opinion, the sink-tip is tough to beat. It is like having a 20-25’ leader instead of a ten footer. The long and short of it is, you gain a little more stealth and it helps get the fly down to fish that might be hanging on the bottom, especially meatier, un-weighted patterns such as sea-ducers and deer-hair bugs. From the sink-tip we move a little deeper into the water column and further into the blind-casting zone by utilizing a full intermediate line. These lines are designed to be fished in deeper water for fish feeding just below the surface however, just like the sink-tip they also work well for getting flies down in 4-6’ of water by way of a slower retrieve. While many intermediate lines are colored, I prefer the clear lines for the extra stealth. And, while there are several companies that make what they call “clear” lines, they always seem to be more opaque than clear. Years ago there was an intermediate line known as a mono-core that was nicknamed “slime line” by tarpon anglers over in the Keys. This line had a single monofilament strand running through a near crystal clear coating and it was, and still is, one of my favorites for a great many fishing scenarios. Unfortunately, these lines are no longer made, however, in the somewhat recent past SA introduced a clear-tipped line in their Streamer Express series. And by all accounts it is a true, clear-tipped line that fishes very similarly to the old slime lines. The only difference is that it has a colored running section. I have to say that I do not leave the dock without one on a 7 wt rod for trout and redfish and also on an 11 wt for larger fish such as jacks and bull reds. Outside of the fact that it has a truly clear head on it, it casts
Scott Sommerlatte is a full time fly fishing and light tackle guide, freelance writer and photographer. Telephone Email Website
979-415-4379 firstname.lastname@example.org www.scottsommerlatte.com
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YO U T H F I S H I N G
The Second Day Fishing isn’t always good down here on the Lower Laguna Madre. Just like anywhere else, we have bad days on the water. This is just part of fishing. We have to accept it. All we can do is fish hard and hope for a good day. Sometimes the best day of a trip is the first day and sometimes it’s the last day, it really just depends on the conditions. On this past trip that I went on with my dad, it was the second day that the fishing was excellent. Ready to redeem ourselves from the previous day; Kelley, Chad, Mike, Bobby, my dad, and I left C dock earlier and headed to our first spot of the morning. It was about 9 o’clock and the water was crystal clear. We were spread out pretty good and everybody had a tight line, be it keeper or not. We strung a few solid trout and if I would have had a landing net with me, we would have strung a few more. It was too good to last as it seemed. We had arrived at the tail end of the bite. Capt. Ernest picked up and left, but Capt. Aaron and my dad stayed in this spot, we just moved over a little to the west of where we had started. My dad stopped the boat and put 58 | August 2013
down the Power-Pole. The guys waded downwind but I went straight into it. A few slicks had popped up behind us and I wanted to see if any of the fish responsible were still hanging around. They weren’t so I started back down wind. After about 30 minutes, we finally started to get into some fish. One of us would catch a trout here and there until we walked up on a large plot of grass lines. Once we were there, it all started to go down. Bobby was the first of the group to get a bite. He cast to the edge of the grass line, twitched his lure a few times and then his rod was doubled over. He fought the fish and finally got it to him. It was a red just shy of 20 inches so he let it go. A few casts later, Bobby had another red on the line but broke off. He re-tied and cast back out. He hooked another red and this time he strung it. This was just the beginning of what was to come. I was standing next to Bobby and the both of us were catching fish. He caught his limit of reds and I caught my limit of trout. We were catching so many fish that we were throwing back nice keepers. Soon it was my turn to hook
on to a red. I cast at a pothole in between two grass patches and as soon as my lure hit the water I was hooked up. When the fight started I knew that I had a big red on the hook. He fought hard but it was useless. He ended up in Bobbyâ€™s net and on my stringer. After taking some pictures, we got back into the action and I called Mike over but the action faded so we picked up and moved back to where we started the wade and had lunch. After we had lunch Capt. Ernest showed up with his guys and he and my dad started being the funny guys they are when they are together. When we were all done laughing, Aaron showed up with his guys and we all set back out again. All of the guys from the three boats lined up together and started to catch fish. I wasnâ€™t planning on getting back out but my dad sent me out to go help the guys if they needed it. I had no problem with it so I got back out there and almost immediately caught a solid trout. A few casts later I caught another. After a while I told Chad and Mike that it was their turn to catch a red. I was right, surprisingly, and a few casts later, both of them had caught some decent sized reds. We ended their trip on a good note and they all enjoyed it. I hope you all have a safe summer and tight lines to everybody.
T E X A S N EAR S H ORE & O F F S H ORE
“If the captain says ‘go’…
we’re going!” Early this June as I was running out a group of customers for a day of chasing red snapper and kingfish. I was making a whopping 15 knots, riding tall swells in a boat that is designed to cruise at about 30. It was one of those days, not that it would be truly dangerous by any means, but we were just a few minutes into a day that was going to see us earn every fish – no gimmes today; with plenty of sore leg and arm muscles tomorrow from the continuous effort to steady ourselves as the decks pitched and rolled on the waves. On days like this the conversation among the crew aboard usually sounds like a Roy D. Mercer prank telephone skit that ends with, “Just how tough an ole boy are ya anyway?“ As all the anxious questions died down and everybody settled in for a longer than normal boat ride, I began to think about our current situation and asked myself - Just exactly what in the world are we doing out here? Now you may think I’m talking about fishing on a rough day, but that’s really not it at all, at least not the entire issue. The thing that was going through my mind is how we have been squeezed into these short
60 | August 2013
seasons. Seasons that make us fish on days when we would normally be happier to drink coffee at the dock and watch the boats go by. These seasons are often referred to as a “derby” fishery – kind of like a race – get all you can while you can. We now have derby seasons on red snapper, gag grouper, greater amberjack, and even triggerfish. To top it off almost none of these run concurrently. From my point of view, when making a decision whether to fish or not depending on the weather – my foremost consideration has to be the safety of the people aboard my boat. Once I feel we can safely go, I explain the effects of rough water on the fishing. I do my best to be blunt and honest about what to expect out of the day and how it will take away from our ability to be as successful as I would like. The most interesting thing is that people will usually just look at you and say, “Let’s go for it.” So what is it that will make fishermen take a beating for a few red snapper or gag grouper? Well, you may think it’s because people are just plain crazy about fishing and they’ll go any day the captain will take them.
You may also think that it’s because folks just love fresh snapper and grouper fillets on a dinner plate. But the truth of the matter is, and sadly, something I hear all too often - “The season will be over if we have to reschedule.” All of those are typical thoughts and answers, but not a one of them is the correct one in my opinion. The correct answer to this dilemma we find ourselves in is that we are fishing days we normally wouldn’t because of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s absolute failure to manage a fishery in a way that not only benefits the fish, but also benefits the angler. And that sports fans, is the root of the reason we make decisions to venture offshore in tough wind to chase a fish that is off-limits all but a few days each year. Considering that mismanagement has consequences; one of the things that has stuck in my head over the last couple of years is hearing the Southeast Regional Director for the National Marine Fisheries Service state publicly, “Under the current management system I don’t see any way that you will ever see a six month season again.” That one statement makes me wonder why this fishery is still being managed in the same fashion that has failed us for more than twenty years. If top individuals involved in managing our fisheries can see the problem, then why is it not getting any better? Therein lies the $1,000,000 question. Especially when you take into account the many options available to the managers; i.e. fish tags, slot limits, no size limit but with requirement to keep only the first few caught, and possibly even a full catch
share fishery that could be publicly traded. The options and schemes could go on forever. All of these have their supporters and their detractors. Some have merit while others would be virtually impossible to implement. It also never ceases to amaze me just how divided people can become over some of these issues. Now comes the newest approach by the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council; Gulf Council for short. It’s being called Regional Management; wherein the individual states would have limited control in setting seasons and bag limits on federally managed fisheries. This very option is being actively debated among managers at the moment. When one thinks of states controlling their individual seasons, versus federal agency control, it all sounds great on the surface. To most, myself included, the initial reaction is to let the states do it; they can surely do a better job. But as reality sets in it begins to beg a serious question. Can they do a credible job of it or is this just another stall tactic cooked up during a couple of secret backroom meetings? The major problem with this “state control” approach is that the National Marine Fisheries Service still holds all the cards. They still control the amount of fish that can be caught. Another is that if one state or region abuses the system and severely over-fishes the resource (in NMFS’s opinion), it will cost everyone alike in all regions or states in the number of fishing days, regardless where you fish. Under this approach Texas would be a region all its own. As a region we could do everything right and stay within our allocation, and still
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62 | August 2013
would find reasons to point fingers at each other in ways we can’t even imagine yet. The fact that Regional Management does nothing to make any truly beneficial change to the way our fisheries are managed, along with the fact that the current management system has failed the fishermen for decades, lends to my being skeptical of the whole approach. All the while, the Gulf Council can spend yet another year ducking hard decisions and wrangling for reappointment to their seats at the table. As for you and me, the fishermen, we will just keep pounding out those smooth days offshore and rough ones alike, in pursuit of our favorite fish during ridiculously short derby seasons.
lose days because Alabama or Florida over-fished theirs. Regional Management as it is currently being debated seems to absolutely disregard the cries from fishermen for a better system of collecting fisheries data. Basically, when you dig a little deeper into the issue, all it really does is shift the bearer of bad news from the feds to the state or region, while changing absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of how our fishery is managed. That doesn’t sound like much of a fix to me. As a matter of fact, it sounds more like a larger mess that would help shift focus away from achieving any real progress. In short – all I see it doing is setting up a system for passing the buck rather than making the necessary hard decisions that would actually benefit the fisherman. How would it do that you ask? Well, look at it this way. With Regional Management in place, the National Marine Fisheries Service could simply duck their responsibility by pointing fingers at the regions as the problem. The individual regions could and probably would blame each other. No doubt some would immediately point fingers at Texas for holding a year-round state-water red snapper season. Others may point toward Alabama and Florida for overfishing to the tune of a million pounds a year. I have a feeling the Gulf Council
Captain Mike Jennings is a professional charter captain with more than 25 years offshore experience. Mike is the owner/operator of Cowboy Charters in Freeport TX and is known locally for running further and fishing harder for his clients.
Telephone Email Website
979-864-9439 email@example.com www.cowboycharters.com
The Hits just keep on comin’.
Come and experience The Saltwater Fishing Capital of the World.® bring your own boat or use one of our many charter services. With schools of speckled trout in abundance and countless redfish running the shorelines, the excitement never ends and the hits just keep on comin’. It will be your chance to land the big one that didn’t get away! Offshore, inland (marsh or bay) and fly fishing, all available with experienced guides
TSFMAG.com | 63
K AYA K F I S H I N G C H RO N I C L E S
Wade A Minute! I’ve said it before but I will say it again, there isn’t much in the angling world that is more fun for me than chasing reds in skinny water. Well another non-secret is that kayaks are tailor-made for fishing super-shallow water. What would you say then if I said my most recent trip involved fishing water that was too shallow for kayaks? As usual, seeking a fishing adventure, Cliff and I headed to the coast with our kayaks in tow. The launch and main leg of our paddle was relatively normal. However, we knew we were going to be met with super-shallow water once we reached our spot. Sure enough, it’s as if almost instantly, we went from easy paddling to dragging bottom. A look out in front of us brought smiles to our faces though as we were greeted with the backs of numerous redfish breaking the surface as they roamed the shallow 64 | August 2013
flat. Before I even grabbed a fishing rod, I grabbed my video camera to log a bit of the action. A few minutes of film and then it was game on. Cliff quickly abandoned his kayak, only carrying his favorite rod, and trudged across the flat chasing a wake. Cliff landed the first fish that he targeted with a
soft plastic lure. What a scene watching it thrash around in what was probably only four or five inches of water. Wanting to keep my still-photo and video cameras handy, I actually drug my kayak with me. I wasnâ€™t as mobile as Cliff but I remained effective nonetheless. I had decided that I wanted to try the floating version of the Rat-L-Trap and had it tied on for my first attempt at sight-casting the shallow water. It worked. Perhaps by the time you are reading this article I will have the GoPro video of me landing this specific fish loaded to Youtube. After landing a few fish with pretty much replays of the first I made the decision to shift into more intense photography mode. Chasing fish through the shallows landed me in a large pocket, back in the corner of the marsh flat. Approaching the area was a similar to the start of the day, where I could see numerous backs of reds breaking the surface. I slowly eased up one of the grasslines and noticed a couple of reds headed right toward me. Wanting the best angle I got down on my knees in the mud and inched forward. I was clicking off photos left and right as the pair approached. They just crawled along and probably got within six feet of me at one point. Never spooking, I observed them continue on in their prowl. I photographed a few more fish in this same manner before Cliff caught back up with me. Then it was time to shoot some images of Cliff stalking and hopefully landing a couple of fish. Got a few great shots out of the scene. All in all it was an action packed morning. Heck, we decided to call it a day not too long after 9:00 AM, yet I felt like we had been out there much longer. I will say this about wading/trudging around the marshes, you have to be cautious about oyster shell. There is virtually no shell present in the area Cliff and I were fishing so we were able to efficiently walk around the area without fear of stumbling and being cut by shell. If you find yourself needing to exit your kayak in order to get after some super-shallow fish, be sure to use good judgment. Loosing your footing and ending up on your knees or worse in heavy oyster clumps could be very dangerous! TSFMAG.com | 65
C O N TA C T
Reader Question: This month I got a call from a fellow Texas kayak angler, Mr. Frank, from down south. He asked me about my thoughts of the use of his particular kayak in the surf. He has a 12 foot model and had said that some others had questioned its abilities BTB. My viewpoint on the matter goes something like this…Whatever kayak you have to fish the surf is better than having no kayak. Sure, maybe there are more ideal models but who is to say that any one model is wrong? Think of it this way, regardless of the style of kayak fishing you are doing, if you are able to go out and enjoy yourself and accomplish what you wanted, then you have the perfect kayak. It is only the wrong kayak if you are truly not able to do what you want to do with it - safely. And I stress that safety consideration very strongly. In the case of the surf – before you commit a whole first day to fishing from any kayak in the surf and BTB – It would be a good idea to get some surf kayaking under your belt – and then go fishing. Furthermore, I encouraged that he get a VHF radio, and tether EVERYTHING to the kayak. I hope these thoughts and suggestions help you out, Frank. Best of luck on the water. -Cade Telephone email
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ER I C O Z O L I N S
Dark Encounters with
The allure of shark fishing from South Texas beaches is Having been deemed nocturnal, I look forward to each heightened through a magically thin sliver of a chance to setting sun aboard NYATI when the sight of deepwater land a rare and exotic specimen. Lost or perhaps roaming creatures drawn to the tuna lights can be awe inspiring creatures mysteriously appear from the vast biological and has allowed me to capture an I.G.F.A. All Tackle World network of which our nearshore Gulf is a part; like dusky Record for the elusive deepwater escolar species. and mako sharks, that I and a few fortunate others have Nearly every serious offshore captain is basically been so lucky to land from the sand. The presence against shark fishing or at least purposely provoking/ and landings of species that are simply not supposed luring of sharks to the boat. It is with good reason too as to be there will probably never be explained, but one unstable and sometimes rough conditions can lead to fact is certain – the chance to encounter firsthand the very real safety issues regarding the interaction between unexpected and unexplainable will always be the supreme man and beast should a crew member find himself “kap-pow” factor of the sport we love so dearly. overboard. Even YT himself prefers the avoidance of shark Most everybody that knows me or follows my website fishing on his boat and we abide and respect that notion. and blogs already understands the majority of my However, there have been times when these predatory adventures occur within or close to the surf-zone. Still, my creatures find US late at night. For me, each sighting in the curiosities will at times lead me far offshore if opportunity chilling darkness is an exciting experience regardless of presents itself. Many miles from land, where makos hunt size or species. A particular ghostly night comes to mind down bonito and tuna, the dark depths of the open ocean when I witnessed mature silky sharks DEVOURING other hide the masterpiece of nature - the thresher shark. It is smaller sharks right in front of me. Try to beat that for an also here where you find the enormously delicate and adrenaline rush! For most, sharks are a nuisance. For me, docile whale shark – the largest of all the world’s shark sharks are an obsession. species. And just like clockwork, around deepwater Oz toying with silky shark shrimp boats, daily culling of the catch can trigger during video shoot. insane feeding frenzies of massive schools of silky, dusky, and occasionally voracious tiger sharks. Even mythical hammerheads of unfathomable size have been photographed on the surface from helicopters bound to and from offshore oil platforms. This is indeed a very special and boundless ecosystem. I have been making a few trips aboard YT Brown’s NYATI sportfisher this summer, as I have been doing off and on for the past eight years. Mostly two to three day outings targeting daytime billfish, the trips also include opportunity for nighttime tuna and swordfish. 68 | August 2013
At well over 100 miles offshore in mile deep cobalt water, it is routine for the crew of NYATI to engage in tuna fishing at night. Only after we are done trolling for the day and the boat is resting adrift can we target the highlyprized yellowfin tuna. Methods can vary from throwing large topwaters, dropping erratically moving jigs, and sometimes live-baiting with flying fish. Another method that is often productive if the others are slow is chumming and fishing with cut baits. However, chumming can sometimes bring in larger predators. Out at those great depths, there are not usually a wide variety of shark species present, but the ones we see are notable. My This hammerhead first-ever sight of a dusky shark was took a swordfish bait. caught aboard NYATI years ago by my good friend Scott Nelson while tuna fishing. That 8-footer was wearing pieces of netting (possibly from a shrimper or even worse, a gillnet) wrapped around the gill and head section and the fabric had started to slice into its thick skin. We managed to cut the mess free and release the shark, possibly saving it’s life. Another species that have occasionally graced the lights with their presence are the makos. Streamlined to perfection, the fastest swimming of all sharks, makos are evolved over millions of years to become nature’s perfect aquatic predator. During a heavily wind-chopped night while tuna fishing several years ago, we had a couple makos make an appearance in the lights. Without thinking, I pretty much hand-fed an 8-footer a baited hook at the stern. I watched as it swam down, only to resurface after I engaged the reel. When it came back up it actually breached and nearly hit one of the outriggers. Close call and lesson learned. After a while I had the shark back to the boat and we had a safe and successful release. Makos are among the coolest of sharks that exist but are also some of the most unpredictable and most dangerous. Considering their reputation, each offshore mako sighting is pure coolness. On one of our recent adventures we came across a school of silky sharks. Silky sharks are a pelagic species, and while sharks of any species are not generally abundant this far out, we see silky sharks rather frequently beginning at depths of 100’ and on out to the drop-off of the shelf. On the night we found the silky school we were chumming/tuna fishing and hooked what surely didn’t seem like a tuna. After a lengthy battle and the miracle of the fluorocarbon leader holding up, we got in an 8 to
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9 foot silky. After the quick release it returned illegal finning or gill-netting, most species’ This silky hit one of our to the light field bringing four of its buddies. populations are at the lowest point they tuna and ended up hooked! Needless to say this immediately shut off our have ever been in the Gulf. We do not keep tuna fishing and, while we tried to escape sharks aboard NYATI, and in the event we do the pack, they would find us again in a short land one, it is released as quickly as possible time. By then we knew it was a lost cause and and we strongly encourage others to release decided to treat them to the rest of our chum, as well. While sometimes frustrating when a decision that set up an incredible photo and sharks show up to your party; it should also video session. be treated as a welcome sight. Even if I am Swordfishing at night is an entirely different targeting other fish and the end result is a ballgame. We have lost many baits to sharks shark, even though I might be frustrated at and we have also landed some as well. To first, I really do appreciate the encounter. do battle for over an hour, convinced it is a It is very possible that the world’s shark swordfish, only to bring it to the surface and populations will never rebound to what they see that it is a large scalloped hammerhead, once were. This fact alone should alert you is an odd feeling. Depending on the angler it to how vitally important their role in the could be a good or bad feeling, however, there ecosystem truly is and should also heighten are times when you get surprised by a true your awareness of how wonderful and gem – like a pair of encounters with oceanic magnificent they really are. whitetips. Once again Scott caught one, and For the past decade, Eric ‘Oz’ Ozolins has been a key figure promoting I too have landed one, both while seeking tuna at different deepwater catch and release with sharks and assisting various shark-research locations. For us, these whitetips are the rarest of the sharks we’ve programs. Oz is renowned in the kayaking world for extreme bigencountered. At one time they were a globally abundant species and game fishing and runs Kayak Wars – one of the largest kayak fishing now have a population decimated to nothing. While they still patrol the tournaments in the world. deep, scavenging on about anything, any sighting nowadays in the Gulf Email Oz@extremecoast.com of Mexico is deemed pretty rare. Websites extremecoast.com Sharks play a highly important role in balancing the ocean’s kayakwars.com ecosystem. Due to the massive slaying of these fine fish by way of
70 | August 2013
F I S H Y F AC T S
MINE! Hark to the whimper of the seagull. He weeps because he’s not an ea-gull. Suppose you were, you silly seagull. Could you explain it to your she-gull? ~Ogden Nash If you’ve ever had a picnic on the beach, chances are you had a few extra guests. Gulls are just about the greatest opportunists in the bird kingdom. They adapt to almost any condition, and in a world filled with poisons, jet planes, and bull dozers, they jolly well have to! There are over fifty species of gulls in the world (depending on the classifications of subspecies). They live in both coastal and inland habitats and are found on every continent near most large bodies water, both fresh and salt. Many species thrive in completely urban environments. Gulls have a fairly distinct look and are easily recognized. Most have broad chests and abdomens with very short tails and slender necks. Strong webbed feet with small talons allow gulls to take off quickly from water but still walk well on land. Long, narrow, tapered wings give them a powerful and easy flight; they can soar for long periods without a single wing beat. Bill shape can vary, but most are quite stout to take 72 | August 2013
advantage of a wide diet. They are omnivorous and will forage for any food source, including trash, carrion and vegetation, but they will also actively hunt live prey: fish, crustaceans, squid, mollusks, insects/bugs, small mammals, and other birds (including eggs and chicks). One population off the coast of Argentina has even added right whales to their menu; when a whale surfaces to breathe, the gulls dive in and take a chunk out of the whale’s hide. It has become such a problem for the whales that the government has considered declaring open season on the gulls. I guess ingenuity doesn’t always pay off like you expect. Gull plumage is not typically colorful, consisting mostly of white, gray, and black in adults. The legs and bill are often more colorful and are good tools for identification. Despite the lack of color, gull feathers were highly sought after in the Victorian era. In this “age of extermination,” many creatures were over-harvested, especially birds with pretty plumage. By the late 1800s, even the very common gulls were almost endangered. This fashion did collect its share of opponents. One man, in particular, began to attack the plumage market: George Bird Grinnell, one of the founders of the Audubon Society. He wrote, “A dead bird does not help an ugly woman look pretty, and a pretty woman doesn’t need a
dead bird for adornment.” Due in part to Grinnell’s efforts, a bill was passed in 1898 prohibiting the importation of plumes. Of course, that just meant harvesters had to look closer to home for their bounty. Duck hunters succeeded in having an amendment passed that exempted “web-footed water fowl,” so gulls were, once again, fair game. Whole nesting colonies were nearly wiped out before public pressure finally abolished the feathery fad. Luckily, and obviously, gulls have since made a hearty comeback. Gulls are distinct, not only in their appearance, but in their behavior, especially their vocalizations. While their calls are not so different between species, the classic “gull” call is easily recognized (though I’ve heard blue jays perform dead-on imitations). They’re noisy birds in the best circumstances, and downright cacophonous in flocks. While it can be annoying for us, they see their actions in a different light, literally. Gulls see in color, but not the way humans do. Human eyes are capable of detecting three primary colors: red, green, and blue (the additive primary colors; we won’t get in to the different sets of primary colors). Our brains can interpret all the color frequencies that exist around those three colors. Gulls see four: red, green, blue, and ultraviolet. In general, birds see more colors than humans. While we might not see a difference between a male and female gull, the difference is obvious to them. They also see a violet sky. Cool, eh? For some cultures, gulls hold more significance than loud parties on the beach. Old-time European sailors believed gulls were the reincarnated souls of drowned sailors. The California gull is the state bird of Utah because of its role in wiping out an infestation of Mormon crickets that threatened the livelihood of early settlers. (Fun fact: Mormon “crickets” are actually a species of katydid.) Even now, all gulls in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom are protected by wildlife conservation laws, so even if they are silly, mischievous, or pesky, they are still seen in many cultures as creatures worth having around. There are at least half a dozen species of gulls found (at some time of the year) on the Texas coast. The laughing gull has the distinction of being the only gull species to regularly breed here. They are a medium-sized gull, gray above and white below. Summer adults have a black head with white arcs around the eyes and a reddish bill. In winter, the black head becomes a gray mask. The legs are dark red or black. Male and female breeding pairs are monogamous and often stay together for several breeding seasons. The pair will build their nest together. If a male cannot find a mate, he may start building a nest in hopes of attracting a female. They nest in marshes, on islands, and on beaches, typically choosing a high spot to avoid tides or storm waters. Breeding colonies can be as large as 25,000 nesting pairs. Laughing gulls, like most other species of gulls, mature at two to four years of age; they can live up to twenty-two years. Franklin’s gull is a winter resident of the Gulf coast. Named for arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, who first collected the bird for science, this is a relatively small gull. In non-breeding plumage (which is what we would mainly see), the head is gray or patchy black with a white forehead and throat. The legs are nearly black, as well as the bill, except for a red tip. They have very similar breeding and nonbreeding colorations to the laughing gull. This species is a frequent social bather. Large, boisterous bathing events may last up to twenty minutes. In addition to more frequent bathing, Franklin’s gulls spend more time on the wing than most, make louder and more frequent calls, and is the only gull species that goes through two complete molts in both spring and fall. But their lifespan is only half that of the laughing gull’s. Bonaparte’s gull is another winter resident (though many just pass through on their way further south). In fact, all the rest of the gulls we’ll discuss are just using us for our warm winters. This is one of the smallest gulls in North America. It is named after French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a famous ornithologist in the 1800s. It has a white underside and breast, gray upper wings and back, black tips on the wings, a black bill with an orange lining on the mouth, and reddish-orange legs and feet. Unlike other gulls, Bonaparte’s gulls don’t scavenge for food at garbage dumps and the like. They have a more evolved palate… The ring-billed gull is a medium-sized gull: gray above, with a white body and tail, brown-streaked heads (non-breeding plumage), black wingtips with white spots, yellow legs, and a yellow bill with a black band around it (hence the name). This gull is sometimes called the “fast food gull” because of its habit of scavenging for food around fast food restaurants. Unfortunately, this diet is as unhealthy for the birds as it is for us. Fortunately, most don’t live exclusively on fast food. They have a wide variety of foraging methods, including stamping their feet in shallow water to uncover small invertebrates, snatching flying insects on the wing, and stealing the ripest strawberry from your unguarded plate. You can sometimes see adults playing, repeatedly dropping objects and swooping down to catch TSFMAG.com | 73
them, perhaps a move to hone hunting skills. While this is a common species on coastal beaches, many ring-billed gulls lead entirely inland lives, never setting eyes on the sea. Herring gulls are large with hefty bills and robust bodies. Adults have light gray backs, black wingtips, white undersides, dull pink legs, and white heads with dusky streaks. Chicks take four years to reach this adult plumage. They spend long hours loafing (a term behaviorists use to describe a bird that isn’t doing much of anything). You’ve probably noticed them standing on one leg; many bird species do this. Here’s the leading theory to explain this behavior: bird legs have a system of blood veins in their legs that minimize heat loss (so they stand on one leg to warm up a bit). It’s an imperfect theory. The fact that birds also stand on one leg in warm weather means that staying warm is not the only function. Other theories include camouflage, one-sided brain function while resting, yoga… When they do rouse themselves to find food, each gull has a specialty. Individuals often focus on a food type, and most choose marine invertebrates, such as crabs and sea urchins. Some have learned to bait fish by dropping bits of bread on the surface and attacking fish that come to feed on the bread. While herring gulls would prefer to drink fresh water, they can drink saltwater when they must. Like other gulls, they have special glands that allow them to secrete excess salt through their nostrils. Kind of like sea turtle tears. Lastly, the lesser black-backed gull. This is a medium- to large-sized gull with a white head and underside, dark gray back, black wingtips with white spots, yellow bill with a red spot near the tip, and yellow legs. This gull, to a slightly larger degree than other gulls, will vary its foraging strategy when other large gulls are present. It may choose to specialize in aquatic invertebrates or freshwater fish, dig up food scraps at dumps,
74 | August 2013
or plunge-dive to catch fish at deeper depths, if those are going to be the easiest pickings. And what’s easiest might depend on who’s waiting to steal from you. So the lesson here is, even with a ludicrous amount of creativity and adaptability, birds are no match for women who want feathers on their hats. Where I learned about gulls, and you can too! Folklore of Seagulls – Myths & Old Stories http://suite101.com/article/folklore-of-seagulls-myths-and-old-stories-a133385 SPW Books: Questions About Seagulls http://www.spwickstrom.com/gullfaq/ The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Laughing Gull: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/laughing_gull/id Ring-billed Gull: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/ring-billed_gull/id Herring Gull: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/herring_gull/id Lesser Black-backed Gull:http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lesser_Blackbacked_Gull/lifehistory The Texas Breeding Bird Atlas: Laughing Gull http://txtbba.tamu.edu/species-accounts/laughing-gull/ U.S. Geological Survey: Franklin’s Gull http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/infocenter/i0590id.html Animal Diversity Web Franklin’s Gull: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Larus_ pipixcan/ Ring-billed Gull: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Larus_
delawarensis/ Herring Gull: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Larus_ argentatus/ Wildlife Journal, Junior: Bonaparte’s Gull http://www.nhptv.org/wild/bonapartesgull.asp
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78 | August 2013
The combination of more wind than we are used to this time of year and scorching sun has made things a little tougher on Sabine. The reward for rising early and taking advantage of the pre-dawn bite, however, has still been well worth the loss of sleep. The post-spawn trout are skinnier than a month ago but we are still catching lots four to five pounders. I would like to think that more anglers practicing catch and release has something to do with the increase in the numbers of bigger trout. There still hasn’t been enough gull activity to tell if the school trout are larger this year as well due to the small size of the shad. There are enough shrimp to make that bite work when the wind allows but the real calling card would be the shad and they need to get just a little larger. Until that happens, or even after, there is no reason to abandon the flats bordering the ICW. You can wade or drift, but the key to catching these larger trout is stealth and long casts. On most mornings this is even more important than choice of lures. The best topwaters have been the smaller Spooks and She Pups in bone or chrome/black back once the sun climbs above the Roseau cane and darker colors while it is still dark. When they won’t just bury
a topwater we are switching to 4-inch Usual Suspect swimbaits or 5-inch tails rigged on a 1/8 head. When they prefer the vibration of a paddletail we are fishing the Die Dapper in roach, chicken on a chain or glow chartreuse, depending on clarity.
One of several nice trout caught and released on roach Assassin.
…and he put his big trout back to fight again!
When the added vibration doesn’t make a noticeable difference we are doing just as well fishing a Texas Shad, Trout Killer or Split Tail Mullet a little faster than the paddletails. If you aren’t already tying your tails on with a loop knot I would recommend giving it a try. Not only does it breathe life into your bait, but makes it much easier to free up when snagged on shell as well. When the shallow water action ends each morning we have struggled to extend the bite. Once the reds and trout start blowing shad out of the water in the open lake it will obviously be much easier, but for right now probing the deep water bite in the ICW has been the more productive option. A good tide movement is a must and locating
schools of suspended bait will shorten the search. When we have been fortunate to find the fish we are vertically jigging a Hoginar or Sea Shad on a 3/8 heads. The most cooperative schools seem to be suspended between 15 and 22 feet deep. I feel reasonably certain that by the time you read this it will be “game on” in the open lake and it will help reduce the fishing pressure on the smaller stretches of real estate. Virtually any tail fished under a cork will work, but the much ballyhooed VuDu shrimp will be my first choice because of its staying power. It will melt if stored with other tails, but it is incredibly tough otherwise and the fish won’t tear it up. You can find schooling redfish anywhere in the lake this month, but look for the most consistent schooling in the middle. There are a number of isolated shell pads in that area, but more importantly the shad hold tighter due to minimal boat traffic. When you locate a school of surface feeders, mark it on your GPS. The reds will be back, if they ever really leave, and it is a great reference for future trips. There is no doubt the ship channel from the Causeway to the end of jetties is serving up not only a more dependable bite, but a more diverse bite as well right now, but that is not my bag and anything I can report is secondhand. I have spent my entire life fishing both rivers from I-10 south to the Causeway and any trip further south is still an adventure for me. That stretch of water is far more weatherproof than the north end and usually more user-friendly for those that know how to fish it as well. They have had some solid weights posted in the S.T.A.R. thus far, but there is still leeway for more winners. Sign the kids up and give them a shot at a college scholarship. The entry fee is a bargain and the memories will last a lifetime!
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MICKEY On Galveston August can produce surprising results for any fisherman willing to be patient, pay attention to the tides, and put up with the heat. By the time August rolls around our bays have been replenished with tide-runners of various species that have entered Galveston through major passes and joined with resident bay fish. This not only increases the resident populations but also makes feeding schools easier to find. Quite often we find Mickey Eastman is a full-time fishing guide out of Baytown, TX. a collection of species that seem to Mickey has over 30 years guiding roam and feed more or less as a unit; experience on the Galveston redfish, speckled trout, sand trout, area bays and is the founder black drum, gafftop, golden (Atlantic) of Gulf Coast Troutmasters, croaker, and even an occasional shark the largest speckled trout or two when the action heats up. tournament series of all time. Find any one of the above and you may find all. Telephone 281-383-2032 Various methods can be used to target them; live shrimp under a popping cork or a Carolina-rigged
80 | August 2013
Family trips are a blast. Young Nathan shows off an incredible Trinity Bay summertime speck.
croaker along the bottom are popular summertime methods, although I still prefer the simpler method of chunking artificials. It basically depends on the skill level and preference of the angler to determine the way they wish to fish. What I enjoy most is putting people on fish with artificials and listening to their disbelief, especially those who have only used live bait when they start bowing up with reds and specks. “I can’t believe I’m catching fish on artificials,” they say, and I also hear, “This can’t be happening, but it is.” My favorite is when they say, “There’s no dinks, what’s up with that?” The most important factors to fishing success will always include being on fish to start with and a big dose of self-confidence. I’ve had several young anglers in my boat the past few weeks and they all
How about this for a toad – 25 inches and nearly 8 pounds!
caught quality fish on artificial lures. The key is putting in the work and being patient, the bite will eventually come – like when a strong tide flow sweeps bait along good structure. This time of year we quite often find the wind laid down with the water greening up everywhere. You can head to the Gulf beaches, make a run to the jetties, drift or anchor over deep and shallow reefs, work the well pads in the open bay – you name it. Pretty near every area is holding fish and comes into play when conditions are right. About the only adversity we have to contend with is the heat. I recommend lightcolored, loose-fitting clothing made from at least SPF-30 rated fabric and a good wide-brim hat to keep you cool when it counts because some of the best fishing can be found during the heat of the day. The entire Galveston Bay System is in great shape right now with an abundance of bait like shad, mullet, shrimp and plenty of fishable green water – sometimes too clear where you have to look for off-colored water or color streaks to get bit. A wide variety of lures are paying off. Super Spooks and Top Dogs when fish are running bait aggressively and willing to rise and feed on the surface; most any soft plastic in just about any color, your Tidal Surge Split-Tail Mullet, The Thing, MirrOlure Lil John and all the popular shad imitating swimbaits. It’s pretty much dealer’s choice right now. Some of the redfish schools we have found recently are just absolutely a bunch of toads with slot-sized fish weighing close to 10 pounds. Trout tend to get skinny in summer but their weights are holding pretty decent with all the forage that’s available; 25-26 inchers are pushing the mid-to-upper six-pound range. Some schools of trout have exceptional numbers of 20 to 25-inch fish, probably the best I’ve seen since the early-80s. We have seen and heard of some shad die-off around the area. What happens is the water’s dissolved oxygen potential diminishes when the temperature rises and with very little wind there is almost zero natural surface aeration taking place – so along comes one of those really big schools of shad, and fish in the middle of it become more oxygendeprived than those on the edges and they suffocate. No need for alarm, that’s just part of nature and a normal process this time of year. We have plenty of fish this summer but you cannot catch them sitting home griping about the heat. Wear good quality summertime fishing clothes, fill an ice chest with lots of water and Gatorade, and lather on the sunscreen. It’s on! TSFMAG.com | 81
THE VIEW FROM Matagorda
Bink Grimes is a full-time fishing and hunting guide, freelance writer and photographer, and owner of Sunrise Lodge on Matagorda Bay.
Telephone 979-241-1705 email firstname.lastname@example.org website www.binkgrimesoutdoors.com
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A slight switch in the wind direction means everything to coastal Texans. Southeast winds normally bring a lower barometer; and, falling or steady low atmospheric pressure is generally more conducive for the fish to bite. Light north wind flattens the summer surf, giving us miles and miles of guts and bars to work along the Matagorda Peninsula beach. Then there is the dreaded westerly flows - hotter than hot, milk chocolate water and low tides. Whomever coined the phrase, “Wind from the west, fish bite best, wind from the east, fish bite least,” never brushed salt from the bill of their cap here in Texas. The good news with an easterly flow is tides rise and push water to back lakes and estuaries nearly devoid of significant tide flow for most of the summer. To put it plainly, the bays get a shot in the arm when southeast winds blow. Then there is August. Many days we pray for wind. Sure, it’s hot, but if you
leave the dock a little earlier and head to the dock before it blisters, August can be just as profitable as June. When winds are light, we drift the middle of East Bay. Trout and redfish hang there all year, and slicks become more prevalent during August, especially for schooling redfish.
There are some good trout on the shorelines for waders as well. Again, it’s an early bite with the heat. We find those trout over the grass early, then they fall along the ledge into about 4-5 feet of water later in the day. Don’t be surprised to find birds working along the north shoreline with calm conditions. Since the ICW runs all along the northern boundary of East Bay, those shrimp running the “ditch” often enter the bay on the incoming tide. Likewise, the reefs along the north shoreline are a boon for waders
tossing topwaters on the incoming tide. Never underestimate the cuts leading to the bay on the incoming tide as well. Those fish enter and exit the ditch daily through the cuts. Growing up in Chambers County we frequented nearby Rollover Pass and fished up on the moving tide. The same principle applies here. The mid-bay reefs consistently hold good trout in August. We start out in waist-deep water on the shell drop then end up in chest-deep water on the end of the reef as the water warms. Know your tides. There have been many mornings I have arrived to find nothing, but patience prevails knowing the incoming tide will bring fish to the reef. Slicks popping in deeper water adjacent to the reef are good signs. August normally brings with it weak cool fronts that knock down the humidity, flatten the Gulf of Mexico, and usher in the first flights of blue-winged teal. We will work the surf and jetty on these days, concentrating in the first gut on the incoming tide, and tossing topwaters on the outer bars on the falling tide. Speaking of teal, the normal sixteen day season will run September 14-29 this year. The most exciting news we’ve received in a while is the long-awaited increase in the daily bag limit from four to six birds. During the special early season we will be hunting the morning and fishing the afternoon. If you are considering a guided teal hunt, don’t wait till September to book it. And, while you are at it, pray for rain. We, along with fish and fowl, need it badly.
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CAPT. GARY GRAY
MID-COAST BAYS With the Grays
Port O'Connor Seadrift
Captain Gary and Captain Shellie Gray fish year-round for trout and redfish in the Port O’Connor/ Seadrift area. Gary started his Bay Rat Guide Service 20 years ago. The Grays specialize in wade and drift fishing with artificial lures. Gary and Shellie also team up to fish many tournaments.
Telephone 361-785-6708 email Gary@BayRat.com website www.bayratguideservice.com
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Fishing in late June and early July has certainly had its ups and downs. Our full moon phase coincided with some pretty stiff southwest to west wind, which drops the tide levels drastically in our middle coast bays. If that wasn’t enough to change the patterns we had a north wind come through to drop the water levels to near wintertime levels. I would rather fish a low tide than one that is bulging any day, but…Man! It took me a little while to find the low tide groove but we eventually got back to some decent catching. One type of fishing comes to mind anytime someone asks where to go to catch quality fish in the month of August. The first words out of my mouth will be “the surf.” Granted there are some great fish to be had by wading the many dropoffs in San Antonio, Espiritu Santo and West Matagorda bays but the quality fish I am referring to will usually be caught in the surf – averaging eighteen to twenty-three inches – and you can bet we are heading there every chance. Now simply being in the surf is no guarantee, trout have tails and move up and down the beach daily, but if you put forth the effort and read all the same signs you use in the bay you should be able to locate solid action.
The first sign I look for along the beach is birds, especially my old fishing buddy – the brown pelican. Pelicans are great indicators of fish presence whether sitting at the water’s edge, at rest on the water, or best of all swimming in the first gut. Other birds that
Melissa Stone showing off her beauty of a redfish.
Anthony Andrews with his personal best trout.
can lead you to feeding fish are seagulls and terns actively working or resting anywhere between the first three guts, and I always take time to investigate, my go-to bird though is the good old brown pelican. If I can’t find birds within the three gut area of the beachfront I will be keying on bait fish. I look for them schooled in rafts or hopefully some type of fleeing or fast-paced swimming in the first gut. Just like in the bay, any type of bait action is a good indication our speckled friends or a group of rowdy redfish are in the area. Now you need an effective game plan. Some prefer staying in the boat and others cannot wait to wade. If you are going to wade the surf you need to be a little more skilled as an anchorman than is usually necessary in the bay. Pay special attention to where the waves are breaking. For wading, I prefer to anchor my boat so that it rests in the second gut. I drop the anchor on the third bar and let out line until the stern of my 24’ Shallow Sport is positioned right in front of the second bar. This allows for easy access in and out using my Coastline custom boarding ladder. Word of caution is in order here: Anytime you have waves crashing on the third bar it is probably too rough to be out there. I throw this in because I see many people trying to anchor in the surf when it is too rough and, believe me, they could find their boat swamped quicker than they can get the anchor up and get underway for its self-bailing features to work effectively. So use discretion when fishing the surf as it can be very dangerous when the wind or waves get up. My all-time favorite surf lure is the MirrOlure She Dog in either GCRRH or CHPR color pattern. Those are the colors I find to produce most consistently but there are days when any color will do. My next choices are the Bass Assassin 5” Saltwater Shad and the Vapor Shad. I will usually start with natural colors such as Baby Bass, Houdini, or Bone Diamond on 1/8 ounce Assassin heads. Another pair of favorites that often find their way to the end of my line in the surf are the tried and true MirrOlure 51MR18 and 51MRCH. These lures cast like bullets and the rattles definitely seem to draw more strikes than non-rattlers. I hope you will find these surf angling tips helpful. Bear in mind that weather and water conditions can change quickly in the surf and a great day of fishing can turn to disaster suddenly if you ignore early warning signs. Fish hard, fish smart! -Capt. Gary Gray
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HOOKED UP WITH Rowsey
It’s been a hot summer down here in the Coastal Bend. Heat index of recent days feels right up in the range where I prefer to pull a fat ribeye off the grill. My clients and I have a small out in that we are wading Upper and get to take a dip down into the bay for some relief. To each their own but, I cannot imagine sweating it Laguna/ out on top of a boat deck all day during this time of Baffin year. Another month after this article reaches your mailbox, we will hopefully see a front or two pass by us and gift us a little relief. The good news is that we are enjoying some outstanding lure fishing for all game David Rowsey has 20 years fish species during the heat wave, and there are plenty experience in the Laguna/Baffin of open dates to still get a few days in on Baffin. region; trophy trout with artificial Brown Tide Update: As mentioned in last month’s lures is his specialty. David has a article, the prevailing SE winds have done wonders for great passion for conservation and encourages catch and the water quality. The mouth of Baffin and west are release of trophy fish. still affected by the brown tide, however, areas from East Kleberg to Los Corallos and back east towards Telephone the mouth have been somewhat diluted by the influx 361-960-0340 of cleaner water pushing in from the Land Cut. By website www.DavidRowsey.com no means is the water green, more of a iced tea email color, versus what I call the dead nuclear-brown stuff email@example.com that was there all winter and spring. We are actually
HELP WANTED TSFMag is recruiting retail/route sales associates. • We offer established routes and lucrative commissions. • Must have valid Texas DL and dependable transportation. • Three to five days per month opportunity. • Greater Austin and San Antonio regions. Please contact Everett Johnson 361-550-3637 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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catching some solid fish in it now. Although the bite can be slow, there are some big trout being caught in that tea-colored water. Everything south of the JFK Causeway and on the east side of the ICW is green and fishy. This includes Nighthawk Bay, the National Seashore south of Bird Island, the Meadows, Yarbrough, and all of Rocky Slough. Areas west of the ICW, such as Emmord’s Hole, Boat Hole, and Corpus Christi Bay (up to Shamrock Island) are now feeling the impact of the brown tide. As the water has cleared down south we have been rewarded with some awesome days of catching many game fish of all species, as well as big trout. It’s imperative to get an early start during the heat of the summer. Regardless of moon phases, you can pretty much always count on a early morning bite, and this is typically when we are pulling in our largest trout (but not always). By the end of this month, the big trout will be prime for another spawn. All of the females have obvious, plump roe sacks in them now, which will only grow by the last day of the STAR tournament. With a 10.2# leading the lower coast, chances are going to be minimal
to top that, but it is possible. I would encourage anyone who is blessed with a big trout under 10lb that cannot top the current leader, to take a great photo and let her go. It’s hard for me to
imagine killing such a magnificent beast for a gift card. My pattern of fishing will continue with an early morning start, working shallow areas laden with bait before the sun cracks the horizon. As the day heats up I will follow the bait to transitional Brian Kiefer with a solid waters, and on out to deeper dropoffs if they decide to move 29" summer trout – 5 that far. Every day is different when fishing for the biggest inch Goldfish Bass Assassin did the trick! trout in the bay, and weather conditions are a big part of that She and three other trout scenario. Sunny, high pressure days moves us a little quicker to over 28" were released the belly deep water and beyond, while cloudy, overcast days on this same wade by can keep us up in the skinny for the better part of the day. Trust the group that day. your eyes and go with the bait. As it moves, you will need to follow suit to be successful. Topwater lures are pretty awesome in the morning but high pressure and clear skies has been killing the bite for us pretty early. As a general rule I am going on the small side of lures in calm conditions and then a larger, louder profiled lure when the water has some chop on it. The MirrOlure She Dog is a hands down favorite, especially in the brown water. Slow rolling a 5” Sea Shad by Bass Assassin in the brown water has been very effective, and has produced some summer trout in the 8 pound range. The 5” rat tail design by Bass Assassin is always my go to lure in the trout green water. Color choices vary depending on sun light, water clarity, and what kind of bait is moving around on the flats. Brown water calls for very dark to very bright patterns. More natural colors to solid white are utilized in the green water with great success. Remember the buffalo! -Capt David Rowsey
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TRICIA’S Mansﬁeld Report Another dazzling month has passed and I am happy to report summer fishing has been good to outstanding, and no one has been disappointed with the allure of the Laguna. If you have never been here or have always been intrigued, this is the season to do it...trust me, it will be love at first sight. The water is pristine Port and the scenery breathtaking, so even if you have a Mansfield slow fishing day, who cares? Don’t worry...you will catch fish and, with a little luck, some very good ones. Redfish have traditionally commanded the local show in August, yet at this time seem to be rather late Capt. Tricia’s Skinny Water showing in the numbers we expect. Quality trout have Adventures operates out of been the headliner! Low wind and cool mornings have Port Mansfield, specializing in been exceptional on the Lower Laguna, especially wadefishing with artificial lures. on less-crowded weekdays. Soft plastics and smaller surface plugs have pulled in plenty of small fish but full-size topwaters and suspending baits have been Telephone 956-642-7298 very effective when the time is right. When it is, large email mullet and assorted smaller finfish show themselves email@example.com escaping and darting, we then read the signs and website www.SkinnyWaterAdventures.com adjust accordingly. Top Dogs, Skittter Walks, MirrOlure Series III 94MR21 and Corkys can turn boils and swirls into take downs, and we have had a fair number of 27’s and 28’s fooled this way. We do not ever want to
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emphasize lure selection over angling skill, but over time we have found even the tiniest of changes can make a huge difference. I have to mention sharks. We have grown to expect a few encounters this time of year, even a few getting aggressive toward stringers, but this year they are in some areas they have not frequented in the past, and more of them. They can certainly cause apprehension and sometimes stop the bite, and I personally would like to understand why we are seeing more and more each year. Needless to say catch and release seems an Low wind and cool morning temperatures have been giving us some exceptional trout fishing opportunity.
attractive option, along with 25’ stringers on a quick-release snap. Redfish have been something of a mystery to me. Tough to pattern lately; hopefully that will change as July rolls into August. Superskinny sand near sloughs, spoils and eastside sand in the mornings, and then deeper grassbeds as the day progresses, has been the most consistent game plan. Running the flats on the eastside grass-sand transition has basically been devoid of redfish most days, and one has to wonder if the great number of boats zigzagging barely eight inches above the grass has pushed them all off for everyone. While on this subject I can’t help but mention the West Bank, aka King Ranch Shoreline. The almost unbelievable number of boats drawn to enjoy the bounty of the Lower Laguna, some coming through the Land Cut from Corpus Christi, could do all anglers a favor by showing a bit more courtesy. Please try stay at least two to three hundred yards from the shoreline while running to your destination,
Big trout have been the headliner, quite a few 27s and 28s released last couple of weeks.
and then slowly idle in to wading depth. This one simple act will give hundreds of anglers much improved opportunity compared to roaring along the shoreline. The west shoreline from the Land Cut to Port Mansfield is eighteen miles, and just a few of the many dozens of boats using it on any given weekend morning can absolutely ruin one of the most prolific fishing areas on the Texas Coast. August should bring some changes, although maybe subtly, condition-wise. We do know the tides will be super-low early in the month and then gradually increasing as it comes to an end; unless of course a significant tropical weather event comes our way. Boat traffic should lessen somewhat as school re-opens. Fewer boats and less traffic, along with shrinking playing field as the tides recede, could improve our odds for memorable catches significantly. Hopefully large schools of reds will return to the flats and remain there a little longer. Early morning shin-deep wades with exploding topwaters! I’m excited, you should be too; and I cannot think of a prettier place to do it. Tricia’s Tidbits: • Lots of hot jellyfish; wear long pants. • Single hooks on topwaters; floating grass will remain an issue until fall. • ICAST was held July 9-12 in Las Vegas; keep a lookout for exciting new products. • Rule of Thumb for CCA STAR trout anglers; during midsummer our trout are lean, a 27-incher might make six pounds, 28-inchers run six to seven, and so forth. Please carry a digital scale and practice CatchPhoto-Release if it will not make the leaderboard.
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CAPT. ERNEST CISNEROS
SOUTH PADRE Fishing Scene I was wading with a client and he asked, “Hey, what’s the bottom like over there? I noticed a lot of contour over yonder and right here it’s completely flat.” I mention this because in our shallow lagoon, where the average depth is only two and a half feet, we still have plenty of structure to attract fish. It’s not as defined as in a deeper bay system, but we definitely have structure. Some of it you would never notice unless you wade. Sometimes we find depth changes of only a few inches; surprisingly this can make a big difference. Potholes (slightly deeper sand spots surrounded by grass), the edges of oil field channels and the ICW, are excellent examples of structure that holds fish during the hotter and colder months of the year. Sand bars might have only slight depth changes, but it is still structure. And let’s not forget grasslines bordering vast sand flats. The edge of that grass is structure too. Even a color change should be regarded as structure. Structure is a fish magnet, add bait and current, and chances are you will run into fish. Currently, our most productive structure is potholes near the ICW, grassy shoreline edges that flood on higher tides, and spoil humps adjacent to deep water. Sandy, harder bottoms with bits of shell have also been
A rr oyo C olorado t o Port I sabel
A Brownsville-area native, Capt. Ernest Cisneros fishes the Lower Laguna Madre from Port Mansfield to Port Isabel. Ernest specializes in wading and poled skiff adventures for snook, trout, and redfish.
cell 956-266-6454 website www.tightlinescharters.com
VANISH at AQUADESIGN.com
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90 | August 2013
For sunny to partly sunny skies
Blends with trees Earth tones that and shoreline conceal in sandy, vegetation rocky areas
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good for trout in the early morning and late evenings. Speaking of trout, the bite has been pretty steady, but on a few occasions recently it has gone completely dead. I believe the causes to be slack tides during daylight hours and full moon. There have been numerous days when the greatest tidal flow occurred early before we launched, then at daybreak we catch only the tail end of it. A day like this makes fishing very tough and you must wait for the evening tide to move Pam Johnson is also a fan of FTU’s Green Rod APXL1 – 5.5 pounder on topwater – released; of course!
water for a consistent bite. The majority of trout have been slightly undersize to the midtwenty-inch range, but they’re all fun to catch when the tide is moving and bait is present. It has actually been fairly easy to catch nice trout in decent numbers so far this summer. I will add that the evening outgoing tide over potholes has been a good producer of bigger trout, and plenty of other action too, right at dusk. Redfish have been concentrated in smaller and fewer areas than trout – hard to find some days. They tend to move a lot and I attribute this to boat traffic; the pattern changes almost daily according to the amount of pressure they receive. Mid-week I usually find them where they should be and they’ll take a lure – weekends are another story. The best redfish lures, trout too for that matter, has been the Kelley Wiggler Justin marked one off his bucket list when he landed this Texas snook.
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ball-tail shad. The best color in “colored” water is still plum/chartreuse while the Flomingo works pretty well in all situations. Topwater action for both species remains rather slow on average. The flounder and snook bites are way off course. A few flounder are being caught on the edges of channels, but nowhere near the numbers we had the past several years. I hate to say it but the snook bite has been slow until just today we jumped fifteen and landed ten. Let’s hope it continues. I practice catch and release on the linesiders and like it when my clients enthusiastically agree to photo and release all snook when they book their trip. I wish more would follow. Snook are way too precious to be caught only once, and there are plenty of other fish to eat. For the last seven months I have been using the new splitgrip version of FTU’s Green Rod - 6’6” APL1 light action with recoil guides. I truly like the feel and action of this rod and most certainly recommend it. The split-grip makes palming my reel much easier with less fatigue during a long day, and the same as all the Green Rods, it is super sensitive. Even the finickiest of bites can be felt. The other rod I alternate with and also recommend is the Green Rod with standard grip in the 6’6” APXL1 extra-light action. Fishing Tackle Unlimited’s stores in Houston are the exclusive source and you can also shop online www.fishingtackleunlimited.com. I would like to add that if your catching is not where it should be – Don’t give up, be a seagull! Have you ever discarded a tiny crust of bread or a single Cheeto in the water? Seemingly out of nowhere a sea gull swoops down. They notice everything; a good fisherman does too. Use your eyes to become a better fisherman.
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Lake Calcasieu Louisiana Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268 Most of our fishing will be done in deeper water around the ship channel, at nearshore platforms, the jetties, and over deeper reefs in the lake. Tide is key in the month of August. Trout have developed strict feeding habits due to high water temperatures and their unwillingness to expend much energy to catch food. The fish we are going to catch will be laying in deeper, cooler water. Finding some break in the current is a key when hunting summer trout. Points on the channel, oyster reefs near the channel, the jetties, oil rig legs; all of these structures create eddies which in turn create great places for trout to suspend without using much energy to eat. Think of the tide as a conveyer belt bringing bait straight to the trouts' noses. Many times, trout will not move more than a foot to eat, depending on water temperature and strength of tide. Therefore, don't get too excited when you catch a fish. You have to remember exactly where your bait was in the water column so you can repeat the process and catch another one. Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag Silver King Adventures - silverkingadventures.com - 409.935.7242 Like others in the Galveston area, James says the fishing has been excellent lately, especially when the wind cooperates. “If it's calm, you can pretty much catch 'em in all the area bays. The deep reefs in both
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ORECASTS F from Big Lake to Boca Chica
East and Trinity Bays are holding lots of solid trout, plenty of four and five pounders. When it's calm, I've been catching steadily on a blue/ chrome SheDog. My customers are doing better on soft plastics. We're keying on slicks to find the fish. The schools of reds are there on lots of days under the slicks too. Most of them are too big, but if you do catch keepers, they will be big ones. I had a customer the other day land a 45 inch red on ten pound test line. It took a while, but he had fun. If it's windier, the only way to catch many fish is to key on some kind of structure like a well pad and fish it hard during the right part of the tide. I've got a couple of good spots like that. In August, we'll crank up the hunt for the tarpon. It's pretty much a guaranteed deal that when the surf is green to the beach, we'll be hooking the silver kings.” Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054 Jim says the weather is the main key determining the quality of the fishing in Galveston this summer. “When it's calm, everybody is really catching lots of solid trout from two to about six pounds. Most of the best action is in the surf and around the mid-bay reefs. When fishing the surf, the key is to be there early. Topwaters work great for a while on most days when the water is green to the beach. Out in the middle of the bay, finding the slicks is the most important factor. The fish will hang around in the vicinity of the reefs, but they won't always be on the shell. Sometimes, they will move around a little, and we will find them over a mud bottom several hundred yards from the reef. When
fishing out of the boat, we're throwing mostly Tidal Surge soft plastics. Lately, pink has been a good color. But mostly, it's all about location, and finding the slicks is the biggest key. There are some big schools of reds out in the middle too, and they tend to make mud slicks when they are ganged up and feeding. Overall, it's good and steady.” West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service 979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323 “I'm sure you are hearing this from everyone, but the surf has been on fire lately. On several occasions, we've been back at the dock early with full limits of trout. Out there, topwaters are working well, especially the One Knocker in pink and silver,” Randall reports. “Fishing in the bays is outstanding lately too. We're keying on deeper areas with scattered shell on the bottom and using soft plastics some days and live bait on others. The water is a little dingy, so Sand Eels and Sand Shads in colors like salty chicken are working best. Of course, the live bait makes it even easier to catch fast limits and stay close to the ice chest. I'm looking for the surf to stay good throughout August, since it is normally the best month of all for fishing the beachfront.” He also corrected me on something I reported last month. “My place is on Bastrop Bayou, not Chocolate Bayou,” he laughed. If anyone reading this ran up and down Chocolate Bayou looking for Randall's dock and his two JH Performance boats, I sincerely apologize! Matagorda | Tommy Countz Bay Guide Service - 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037 Tommy mentions the surf first when he gave this report. “We'll be in the surf every time the wind allows in August. The fish are thick out there right now. We like topwaters in the shallows early, then typically switch over to broken backs like the ED Special later in the day. When
fishing for trout in West Bay, we focus on the shoreline grass beds with topwaters early, then move out to the guts between the bars fronting the coves later. Sometimes, we move back to the shoreline and work the beds with soft plastics, using light jigheads and heavy worms like the Norton Sand Shad. The key is often a slow presentation, mostly just a swimming type of motion. Redfish are already schooling up, and they will definitely be in August. We like to fish drains going into the marsh when looking for them. We also fish the mid-bay reefs in East Bay when winds allow. And, we will still be targeting tripletail on most days. We've been seeing steady action on them lately, and that should hold up throughout the summer.” Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam www.palaciosguideservice.com - 979.240.8204 The full moon, low tides, and constant southwest winds have made for a tough bite the last week and a half. During the week prior to the full moon, we experienced some of the best fishing of the summer. We landed 21 tripletail from 8 to 25 pounds in a five-day stretch, which is about as good a run as I can remember in recent years. Most of these fish were caught on live shrimp rigged five to six feet under popping corks around structures in West Matagorda Bay. Our trout pattern has taken off when we can get to the rigs to fish. We are catching lots of good eating-sized trout from 15 to 18 inches. They have been hanging out below the wells out in the bay. Live shrimp freelined with a splitshot has worked best for us. The redfish bite has been good as well, since the reds have started schooling up in small pods on the shorelines, chasing grass shrimp and shad. Gold quarter ounce weedless spoons and pearl/chartreuse paddletails
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have worked best to catch them. Port O’Connor | Lynn Smith Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434 In August, Lynn plans to head out early to take advantage of the coolest part of the day. “It's gonna be hot, so we will fish early and try to get back early. We'll be hitting the surf any time we can, fishing the shallow guts close to the beach with topwaters at first light. If we find plenty of fish, we will usually try to stay with them later into the morning, and we often switch over to soft plastics as the sun gets higher. When fishing in the bays, the lures are pretty much the same. We throw the white/chartreuse head Spook Juniors and pink Baby Skitterwalks early, then switch over to Kelly Wigglers in colors like chicken on a chain later. We use both rat tailed and paddletailed versions of the soft plastics. Our areas of choice in the bays will be flats with grass and potholes close to the pass. We'll wade pretty deep and throw at some deeper edges. We also like to work shell reefs close to the ship channel in August too. Lately, the fishing on spoil banks like that has been good, especially when the tide is moving right.” Rockport | Blake Muirhead Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894 Blake says the fishing for trout throughout the early part of the summer is the best he's seen in quite some time. “I'm not sure where all these trout came from, but they don't seem to be going anywhere. We are catching lots of quality fish in most of the area bays, plenty of 22 to 24 inch fish. We've been having good luck wading and throwing soft plastics on reefs out in the middle of the bays. Some of the deeper reefs which can't be waded are producing well too. Of course, if the soft plastics aren't working as well, the live croakers are still keeping the rods bent. I'll probably be fishing similar patterns in August, especially the first half of the month, keying on drop offs on
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94 | August 2013
shallower reefs when wading and fishing the deeper ones out of the boat. I'll start making more of an effort to locate the migrating schools of reds later in the month, particularly if the tides get really low, like they do most years during that time frame. Working areas around the drains into the back lakes and also on the flats close to the passes is a great way to catch plenty of reds. Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut Robert Zapata – firstname.lastname@example.org - 361.563.1160 Yahoo! The water is clearing up in Baffin Bay and in some areas to the north and south. This has opened up more fishable water and this is great news! Fishing with live croakers and piggy perch is probably still yielding the better catches by fishing with them along grass lines, in potholes and along drop offs in two to three feet of water. Finding good concentrations of bait in the area selected to fish is the key to being successful, and wadefishing will also contribute to success. Naturalcolored MirrOlure SheDogs have also been attracting some very nice trout, up to 29 inches, in water that does not have too much floating grass. The Bass Assassin Die Dappers rigged on sixteenth ounce Spring Lock jig heads, in colors like salt and pepper, silver phantom with chartreuse tail and sand trout continue to be my go to baits. Sightcasting in ultra shallow water with the Die Dappers and shrimp flavored Fish Bites continues to gain popularity with me. I’m seeing more and more sting rays, so don’t forget your ForEverLast RayGuards. Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez – www.sightcast1.com - 361.937.5961 Joe says the clear water has moved into much of the area around the Land Cut and also around the front of Baffin. “Over the last few weeks, the water clarity has improved a bunch in lots of areas, and the fishing is great. We're catching plenty of trout by focusing on deeper rocks and grass beds in areas like Yarbrough and Rocky Slough. Topwaters are working well on some days, soft plastics better overall. The key
to catching is to find lots of rafted mullet and then make quality casts around the edges of the deep structures. Some of the trout have been big lately, and the percentage of keepers is good too. Not all the fish are deep, of course. Sight-casting opportunities are good when the fish are found in the shallows, now that the water is so clear. When casting at fish after they are spotted, it's best to work paddletail soft plastics close in front of their noses. Sometimes, they will charge at the bait from a few feet away, but at other times, placing the lures right in front of their noses is required to make them bite.” padre Island National Seashore billy Sandifer - padre Island Safaris - 361.937.8446 The upwelling of offshore currents and the muddy water conditions experienced last year returned and impacted the PINS beach in midJune. August is normally hot and calm with clear water. If this is the case, fishing can be very good for a multitude of species. If the muddy upwelling continues, catching will be poor. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, tarpon, large jack crevalle, redfish and speckled trout are present when the water is clear in August, and this is traditionally our best month for sight-casting to large speckled trout with artificials. Fly fishing also excels in August. A variety of artificials will produce and single strand wire leaders are necessary due abundant toothy critters. Mullet may begin to migrate into the surf, and if they do, live finger mullet will produce the best results. If the anchovy migration gets underway, untold numbers of skipjacks and Spanish mackerel will be feeding on them. The area of their greatest abundance is the target area for all species. Keep an eye on the sky, and an ear on the weather report. port Mansfield | ruben Garza Snookdudecharters.com – 832.385.1431 Getaway adventures Lodge – 956.944.4000 August brings opportunity for Port Mansfield anglers looking for
seasonal adventure. Ruben says, “This is the season for tarpon, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, and sharks on light tackle at the jetties, in the surf, and within a mile or two of the beach – weather permitting. When my clients are looking for something special I like to head toward the East Cut jetties at first light. Early morning is usually the calmest part of the day and we often find frenzies of kings, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle feeding along the rocks or just outside. The action can be phenomenal!” Look for pelicans and gulls working bait balls. Good lures are topwaters, 51 and 52 Series MirrOlures and large silver spoons. A short piece of wire leader is a must. Cast to the edges of baitballs and try to get your fish away as quickly as possible to avoid break-offs from other toothy critters swimming into your line. The flats adjoining the East Cut just inside the jetties make a great second stop for trout, reds and flounder. Lower Laguna Madre - South padre - port Isabel janie and Fred petty – www.fishingwithpettys.com – 956.943.2747 Fishing in early July has been just like the tide chart, full of peaks and valleys. One trip, we’ll limit on trout, catching three or four nice reds and an oversized, leaving us with high expectations for the following day, only to be disappointed. Freddy says, “Back in the day, you’d find fish in an area and count on at least four trips of consistent catching. These days, it’s getting totally unpredictable, and it’s better not to pass up anything that looks good, instead of running to yesterday’s killer spot.” We’re continuing to throw the Berkley Gulp! three inch shrimp on a Norton hook under a Cajun Thunder round cork. Usually, we’ll start out with the pearl and switch to a new penny later in the day. Some days, we’re nailing really nice trout up to twenty seven inches in clear potholes at three to four feet, but after a few boats cross the drift, it’s time to move on. We’ve had good luck in shallow water, but again, boat traffic is a major factor in making a successful decision to stay put or look elsewhere. Let’s put a stop to “open bay dredge disposal.”
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Marcus Minton Trinity Bay - 24” redfish
Richard Von Minden Rockport - 20” speckled trout
Stephen Wengler Laguna Madre - 40” black drum
Janna Arredondo Kemah Boardwalk - 20” first flounder! 96 | August 2013
Russell Hall Southside of Heaven - 29” trout
Derrick Vela Holly Beach - 23” trout
Juan Avalos Arroyo City - first snook!
Henry Greive Port O’Connor - 40lb black drum
Tyler Thomas & Debbie Broussard POC - personal best red!
Andrea Avalos South Bay - first red!
Jayden Cisneros Aransas River - first flounder!
Cherie Landry Moses Bay - 24” 4lb flounder
Kristopher Mund Rockport - 24” trout
BJ Buske Nine Mile Hole - 29” redfish
Dawn Canales first redfish!
Dylan Hoffman East Bay - black drum
Gerry Davis the cut - redfish
Louis Sorola Port Isabel - 26.5” trout
Joe Lopez Galveston - 29” trout
Nick Soto Arroyo - first redfish!
Jill Peterson Bolivar surf - 25” redfish
Kaylie Rainwater Rockport - 25" 6lb redfish
Rudy Trevino Brownsville Ship Channel - 28” snook CW Raetzsch the cut - 25” flounder
Armando Vasquez & family Arroyo City - 23” speckled trout
Please do not write on the back of photos.
Email photos with a description of your Catch of the Month to: Photos@tsfmag.com
Jimmy Marshall the cut - 29” 8lb trout
Drew Tully Rockport - 27" 7lb first red!
Mason Krueger Goose Island Pier - first red!
Mail photos to: TSFMag P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 TSFMAG.com | 97
GULF COAST Kitchen Welcome to Barkett’s Seafood Restaurant in Seadrift, TX! 321 Broadway Seadrift, TX 77983
Got ideas, hints or recipes you’d like to share? Email them to email@example.com or send by fax: 361-785-2844
Anytime you are passing through or maybe here to enjoy the great local fishing or waterfowl hunting for a few days, please stop in and enjoy our fresh seafood and sizzling steaks prepared to order. If you prefer, call ahead for a reservation. We’ll be ready to prepare and serve a great meal – everything’s fresh at Barkett’s, just the way you like it. The Barkett story began back in the late 1940s when Mr Barkett first opened for business. Barkett’s was sold to Frances Harding in 1978 and she kept the name because of the restaurant’s popularity. Forest and Amy Christy moved back to Seadrift in 2001 to help manage the restaurant and they purchased it from Mrs. Harding in 2007. Keeping with tradition, the name is still Barkett’s. Forest earned a degree from Texas A&M in wildlife management and Amy is a first grade teacher in Seadrift. They met while at A&M and married in 2000. Forest works in the kitchen most evenings, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when visitors from all across Texas fill the restaurant to near capacity, often waiting for a table, the food’s that good. Barkett’s buys their seafood locally whenever possible; shrimp, oysters, crabs, flounder, snapper, and other freshly caught varieties. The wait-staff are all local too, anxious to make a great impression every time you walk through the door.
Open for Lunch and Dinner, every day except Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 11:00am – 9:30pm Friday – Saturday 11:00am – till 10:00pm
Barkett’s Traditional Shrimp Dip Mix three 8-oz packages cream cheese (softened) 1 cup Miracle Whip 1 1/2 teaspoons horseradish 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce 2 tablespoon finely chopped onion (optional) 1 cup finely chopped celery 4 hard boiled eggs – finely chopped
Mix all the above together, then stir in 4 cups chopped boiled shrimp, mixing well and adding black pepper to taste. Chill and serve with your favorite crackers or slices of toasted French bread. Forest Christy IV Owner - Barkett's Restaurant
A banquette room is available for larger groups and private parties, business meetings, holiday get-togethers, and other special events.
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If you are having difficulty catching fish on a consistent basis, the clinic is designed for you. Learn Capt.Robert Zapataâ€™s secrets to finding and catching more fish from his 25 years of experience as a professional fishing guide.
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102 | August 2013
Science and the Sea
Real Wood for Real Life
A Vampire Squid that Feeds on the Dead You might think a creature called the vampire squid would suck the blood of an unfortunate passing fish. After all, other octopus and squid species hunt live prey. Instead of preying on the undead, however, the vampire squid simply feasts on the dead.
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A vampire squid using its arms to scrape food from one of its filaments. Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 2008 A vampire squid is the size and shape of a football, with a blood-red body, enormous blue eyes and eight arms, connected by a thin membrane that creates an umbrella-like basin around its mouth. But it’s the thin filaments extending from the squid’s body – about eight times longer than the body itself – that help the creature catch food. Living deep in the ocean with little light, the vampire squid’s sticky filaments catch the “marine snow” that falls from above: dead bodies of microscopic algae and other tiny animals, bits of krill feces, and mucus produced by zooplankton. After catching bits of corpses and debris, the squid pulls the filaments through its arms, extracts the food particles, coats them in mucus and then transfers them to its mouth.
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It took a while for scientists at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to learn about this diet. Examining the squids’ stomachs didn’t reveal much, so biologists viewed over 23 hours of vampire squid film footage taken from deep sea vehicles. They watched the squids feed themselves and even noticed remnants of dead animals, feces and mucus hanging from the squids’ mouths. Then biologists captured live squids to observe more closely in the lab and to examine their filaments under microscopes to identify the food particles. These fascinating creatures may look and sound vicious, but they actually just cruise along harmlessly, munching on the smorgasbord “snowing” down on them.
The University of Texas
Marine Science Institute www.ScienceAndTheSea.org © The University of Texas Marine Science Institute
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b o aT M a I N T e N a N c e T I p S
STEERING SYSTEM WOES
What do you do when the you turn the steering wheel and the boat does not respond? This article applies to hydraulic steering systems as the majority of medium-to-large horsepower boats are equipped with hydraulic versus mechanical steering nowadays. When this “lack of response” occurs, it has probably been growing worse over time and, quite often, complete steering loss comes suddenly…maybe miles from the dock. A symptom of impending steering failure is a subtle bump-bump-bump transmitted through the steering wheel. Your steering pump is getting low on fluid – Do not ignore it! The most common problem is air entering the system due to fluid leaking out and there are two main areas to inspect regularly. The steering cylinder on the outboard motor has shaft seals at each end. Though very durable, they are susceptible to wear and damage. Sand, salt, and other debris collecting on the shaft can act abrasively and destroy the integrity of the seals, possibly scar the shaft itself. Regular cleaning of the cylinder shaft and seal area goes a long way toward preventing this. The 90° fittings on the body of the cylinder are also common sources of fluid leaks. These fittings (and the
CAUTION - Tilting the engine to the extreme full-up position may cause contact with other components, resulting in damage to fittings and hoses.
hydraulic lines) should be inspected regularly. Quite often we find them damaged or loose. It is sometimes possible for the cylinder and/or fittings and hoses to come in contact with the transom or some other object (ice chest, opened hatch cover, jack plate, etc) when the motor is tilted to the extreme full-up position. Wiping your finger under each cylinder end cap will indicate a leak if a yellow film is detected. Likewise, any presence of fluid on fittings or hoses should be investigated immediately. The hydraulic fluid reservoir is located in the steering helm. There is a filler plug located just behind the steering wheel at the top of the housing. Removing this plug will allow the use of a threaded squeeze-tube container to refill the system with marine hydraulic steering fluid. Tilt and trim fluid can be used in a pinch. Carrying a spare container of hydraulic steering fluid is good insurance should you encounter steering system failure on the water. Steering cylinder shaft, chris Mapp | coastal bend Marine seals and fittings should be cleaned and inspected port o’connor, TX \ 361 983 4841 regularly for leaks. coastalbendmarine.com
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104 | August 2013
galveston tides & Solunar Table Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine August 2013
The BEST Choiceâ€Ś Any Place, Anytime!
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Tidal Corrections Location Calcasieu Pass, La. Sabine Bank Lighthouse Sabine Pass (jetty) Sabine Pass Mesquite Point Galveston Bay (S. jetty) Port Bolivar Texas City, Turning Basin Eagle Point Clear Lake Morgans Point Round Point, Trinity Bay Point Barrow, Trinity Bay Gilchrist, East Bay Jamaica Beach, Trinity Bay Christmas Point Galveston Pleasure Pier San Luis Pass Freeport Harbor
High -2:14 -1:46 -1:26 -1:00 -0:04 -0:39 +0:14 +0:33 +3:54 +6:05 +10:21 +10:39 +5:48 +3:16 +2:38 +2:39 +2:32 -0:09 -0:44
Low -1:24 -1:31 -1:31 -1:15 -0:25 -1:05 -0:06 +0:41 +4:15 +6:40 +5:19 +5:15 +4:43 +4:18 +3:31 +2:38 +2:33 +2:31 -0:09
For other locations, i.e. Port Oâ€™Connor, Port Aransas, Corpus Christi and Port Isabel please refer to the charts displayed below.
Please note that the tides listed in this table are for the Galveston Channel. The Tidal Corrections can be applied to the areas affected by the Galveston tide.
Minor Feeding Periods are in green, coinciding with the moon on the horizon, and the last from 1.0 to 1.5 hrs after the moon rise or before moon set. Major Feeding Periods are in orange, about 1.0 to 1.5 hrs either side of the moon directly overhead or underfoot. Many variables encourage active feeding current flow (whether wind or tidal driven), changes in water temp & weather, moon phases, etc. Combine as many as possible for a better chance at an exceptional day. Find concentrations of bait set up during a good time frame, and enjoy the results.
Te x a s S a l t w a t e r F i s h i n g M a g a z i n e l
w w w. t e x a s s a l t w a t e r f i s h i n g m a g a z i n e . c o m