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ABOUT THE COVER Young Ash Peters, son of Stephen Peters who caught the redfish Ash is proudly displaying, spent a day recently on Galveston Bay with Capt. Jake Haddock. We think Ash’s expression says it won’t be long until he will be on the bow of a skiff casting to redfish.

AUGUST 2018 VOL 28 NO 4

CONTENTS

Ash and Peter practicing catc h and release. St art ‘em young!

FEATURES

DEPARTMENTS

8 Late Summer Strategy: Fishing Ledges 14 The Abundance Conundrum 18 Bodie Goes to England: Part 13 22 The Golden Rule 26 Tarpon Time

30 36 40 44 48 52 56 60 62 66 87

Steve Hillman Kevin Cochran Martin Strarup Chuck Uzzle Joe Richard

Let’s Ask The Pro Shallow Water Fishing TPWD Field Notes Fly Fishing Kayak Fishing Chronicles TSFMag Conservation News Fishy Facts Inshore | Nearshore | Jetties | Passes Extreme Kayak Fishing & Sharks... Plastic & Water Don’t Mix Science & the Sea

26 36

Jay Watkins Scott Null Ryan Easton Scott Sommerlatte Dave Roberts CCA Texas Stephanie Boyd Curtiss Cash Eric Ozolins Everett Johnson UT Marine Science Institute

WHAT OUR GUIDES

HAVE TO SAY

70 72 74 76 78 80 82

Dickie Colburn’s Sabine Scene The Buzz on Galveston Bay The View from Matagorda Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays Hooked up with Rowsey Wayne’s Port Mansfield Report South Padre Fishing Scene

72

Dickie Colburn Caleb Harp Bink Grimes Gary Gray David Rowsey Wayne Davis Ernest Cisneros

REGULARS 8 Editorial 68 New Tackle & Gear 84 Fishing Reports and Forecasts   88 Catch of the Month 92 Gulf Coast Kitchen

92

4 | August 2018


EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Everett Johnson Everett@tsfmag.com 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

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CIRCULATION SUBSCRIPTION – PRODUCT SALES Vicky Morgenroth Store@tsfmag.com DESIGN & LAYOUT Stephanie Boyd Artwork@tsfmag.com Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine is published monthly. Subscription Rates: One Year (Free Emag with Hard Copy) Subscription $25.00 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 store@tsfmag.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: photos@tsfmag.com 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.

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EDITORIAL

OUR GREATEST RESPONSIBILITY

Most of my friends are coastal anglers. When we get together we talk about fishing. Where we’ve been fishing, recent catching success, and fishing trips we will be making soon. We actively support CCA Texas and other conservation groups. We don’t think of ourselves as especially senior but our outdoor careers began in the 1960s and 70s. We’ve been around long enough to see many changes in our fisheries. During an Independence Day gathering we engaged in discussion of the state of Texas’ inshore fisheries. Of course Galveston’s seatrout fishery became a topic. Where are the fish, fishing pressure, angler attitudes, pending regulation changes…and so forth? A point many seem to overlook is that Mother Nature is in charge and nobody tells her what to do or when to do it. All man can do is react, for the most part. However, we should also strive to be pro-active in fisheries management. This brings me to population growth in Texas. Thanks largely to a mostlythriving energy economy since the 1970s, our population has grown like the proverbial bad weed. The 1970 census declared the population of Texas to be 11.2 million. By 2010 it had grown to 25.3 million. Projections indicate that we will top 30 million in 2020 and could reach 40 million by 2030. While the population continues to grow, the geographic area of Texas will remain the same. As development along the coast continues to boom, it would be fair to say the coast will actually shrink – at least in its capacity to support healthy estuarine habitat.

So, what about fishing participation? Today, with population pushing toward 30 million; TPWD says they sold 1.2 million saltwater fishing licenses in 2017 but have no data as to how many actually went fishing. US Fish and Wildlife Service reports 800,000 anglers plied Texas saltwater during 2011. Data through 2016 is expected soon. Do we have to wait for the report or is the handwriting on the wall clear enough? As the population of Texas rises, I believe the number of saltwater anglers will rise with it. Whether we have 800,000 or 1.2 million anglers today is hardly as important as the fact that we will soon have more. Where will they fish, and will the habitat support additional harvest? About all we say with certainty is that Mother Nature will remain fickle, our population is growing, coastal fishing will remain popular as long as there are fish to catch, and TPWD will be charged with regulating it. As anglers, we can sit back and continue to chew the good-old-day fat and wait for Mother Nature to smile again, or we can revise our expectations and proactively encourage more conservative regulations from TPWD. Me and my group will be enjoying occasional fish suppers while practicing way more catch and release. We will urge TPWD to listen to angler concerns about the Galveston fishery and continue to support CCA’s habitat restoration and creation projects. Our greatest responsibility in this is to conserve what we still have for future generations to enjoy. Take a kid fishing!

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Kim Johnson with one of many healthy specks caught on Calcasieu Brew Sea Shad Saltwater Assassins while working a shell ledge with an eccentric 2-foot drop-off.


STORY BY STEVE HILLMAN

Y

ears ago my family leased some land near Eastland, Texas for turkey and deer hunting. This region of the state is characterized by rocky rolling hills sprinkled with cedar and post oak trees. As would be expected, trees and vegetation were denser in the low-lying areas such as creek bottoms. I didn’t have a deer blind per se. Instead, I crouched on a folding stool behind a small cluster of post oaks on the side of a large hill. This vantage point provided me a birds-eye view of a heavily shaded dry creek bottom some 150 yards below. This creek bottom or valley as some would call it, had a small adjacent flat that deer, turkey and pigs would frequent. This flat was usually covered with fallen acorns and pecans, not to mention an understory lined with tender green vegetation. It’s no surprise that so many animals would ascend from the depths of the dry creek bottom to feed here. These creek beds and valleys were the main arteries on the property through which the majority of the wildlife flowed. Knowing when to be on the side of that hill and how long to sit there was the key to a successful hunt. Staying cognizant of solunar feeding periods proved to be advantageous as did knowing the effects of variables such as wind speed and direction. During periods of high wind the animals were skittish. They didn’t feed normally and were hesitant to come out of the creek bottoms. Many people have compared characteristics and strategies of hunting to fishing, but the similarities simply cannot be denied. The behavioral patterns that I witnessed while sitting on the side of that hill mimic what I see on the bay almost daily, especially this time of year. On the calmer days our trout are coming up on the flats near deep water to feed. However, they are not straying too far from the ledges or drop-offs. During high wind or strong current situations we find our fish on the deep side of the ledges where there is less turbulence. Current velocity varies depending upon the water depth. The deep side of the underwater ledge will appear to have a slower current velocity, but as the ledge ascends toward the flat the velocity will be greater. If you’ve ever gone tubing in the Frio, Comal or Guadalupe Rivers you’ve probably noticed how much slower you floated in the deep stretches compared to the shallow areas (aka rapids). Just like the deer that stayed down in the wind-protected creek bottom it’s been my experience that trout tend to avoid the turbulent situations as well. In addition, trout being the opportunistic feeders that they are, will typically stage just below the drop-offs waiting to ambush bait that is brought to them by the current. So, in essence, they can stay in their comfort zone and still get an easy meal. TSFMAG.com | 9


So where does one find the most productive ledges to fish during the late summer months? A good starting point would be a fishing map for the bay system(s) for which you are fishing. An up-to-date map will show where all of the major natural reefs are and some of the manmade ones. Most fishing maps will also indicate which reefs are better for the time of year you’re fishing. Google Earth is also a fantastic tool to zero in on deep guts along reef edges and shorelines. Once you’re on the water visiting areas that have piqued your interest

10 | August 2018

you can then use your GPS mapping software and sonar to fine tune everything. Most current GPS units will show contour lines and reef edges. This will get you in the right vicinity and then you can switch over to your sonar for a real-time visual topography of the area you’re trying to learn. Over time, you will get a mental picture of the bottom landscape and you will know which conditions will provide the highest opportunity for success. “It’s August. The water is hot so all of the fish will be near the bottom. Tie on a soft plastic rigged on a 3/8 gumball lead head If only it were and drag it on the bottom in 10 feet of water.” this simple. Despite the time of year, the ledges holding fish do not necessarily have to be deep. Even during the middle of the summer our fish are usually suspended. Instead of hugging the bottom they will typically find a thermocline which, in this case, would be a layer of cooler water. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve caught trout in 10 feet of water on topwaters and suspending plugs in the middle of August. Wading these ledges can be just as effective as drifting. On windy days it’s definitely more effective than (left) Reid Dawson enticed this solid trout to blow up on his Pink staying in the fiberglass. Skitter Walk in 6-feet of water! Wading steep drop-offs enables you to remain (left botom) Legendary Lake stationary and cast into Livingston guide Simon Cosper got to see what drifting Galveston concentrations of fish as Bay’s shell drop-offs were all about opposed to picking off when he fooled this one (and many random individuals while others) on his favorite MirrOdine. drifting at Mach 1 across a reef or channel edge. It (right bottom) Texas Custom Lures Double D Jay Watkin’s Series (by also eliminates hull slap MirrOlure) saved my day while which can scatter the casting into rafts of mullet along trout. Another advantage steep ledges near San Luis Pass. to wading is that your feet become your sonar, which takes all of the guess work out of the equation. Some of the most eccentric ledges (which in my opinion are the most productive) will be near the deeper channels such as the Intracoastal or the Houston Ship Channel. It just so happens that these channels along with our passes are the main highways carrying trout (especially tide runners) this time of year to various destinations along the way. The stronger currents near these areas tend to carve out sections of reefs, sand bars and mud flats creating those underwater shelves I refer to as ledges.


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TSFMAG.com | 11


Many cookie cutter 4 pounders fell prey to Borboleta’s LeLe on this day in almost 8 feet of water. One word…thermocline.

As August approaches, water temperatures will climb to their warmest of the year and many fishermen will comment on how difficult catching trout on artificial lures can be in the heat of the summer. While there are most certainly times when it can be a struggle, it’s not as tough if you know what to look for. Eccentric ledges with good structure such as jagged oyster shell are a great place to start. Furthermore, I truly believe that some guides just don’t give their clients enough credit when it comes to learning how to throw lures. It’s either that or they’ve fallen into that ever-socommon trap of instant gratification which involves catching a limit as fast as you can using any means possible and then getting home while there’s still dew on the ground. Sorry, but that’s not fishing in my book and those clients damn sure aren’t learning anything. Oh well. If anyone wants to learn how to trick trout while wading or drifting ledges you know where to find me. I’ll be sitting right here on my stool (leaning post) behind these post oaks (center console) waiting for great things to happen.

CONTACT

STEVE HILLMAN

12 | August 2018

Steve Hillman is a full-time fishing guide on his home waters of Galveston Bay. Steve fishes the entire Galveston Bay Complex, wading and drifting for trout, redfish, and flounder using artificial lures. Phone 409-256-7937 Email captsteve@hillmanguideservice.com Web www.hillmanguideservice.com


TSFMAG.com | 13


STORY BY KEVIN COCHRAN

A

s the dog days of summer drag into early-autumn, the abundance of life forms in coastal bays and estuaries reaches its yearly max, in terms of variety of species and total biomass. When targeting speckled trout surrounded by a veritable buffet of tasty treats, lure-chunkers face two challenging dilemmas: locating some trout and figuring out how to trigger them into striking something artificial. Solving the puzzles begins with a search for revealing signs present in large concentrations of forage species. Unlike in the cold months, when small numbers of mullet or other prey species can lead anglers to large schools of trout, effectively using the presence of “bait” to locate trout in hot water means searching for evidence of actively feeding predators. Several key observations can indicate such activity, all of which involve the movement patterns of the water, the prey species, other creatures, sometimes all of these. Take “working birds” for instance. Any marginally savvy angler recognizes the significance of laughing gulls hovering in flocks low over the water, dipping repeatedly to catch shrimp leaping through the water’s surface to avoid the jaws of trout snapping at their tails. The


feeding activity of the specks reveals itself through the movement of the shrimp, the ripples and sounds made on the surface of the water, and the acrobatics of the vigilant gulls positioned above the fray. Other types of feeding activity create similarly recognizable visual and audible signs. Mullet harassed by feeding specks huddle in tightly-packed schools atop shallow structural elements like rocks, reefs and spoil banks, or they move briskly, just under the surface, pushing wakes as they attempt to avoid their attackers. When under siege, members of these packs repeatedly jump out of the water in groups, several at a time, making long, lateral movements at a fast clip, while staying close to the water’s surface. Trout feeding on mullet can sound like natural bombs erupting beneath their hapless victims, their mouths blowing

holes in the compact schools of prey. Similarly, when hungry trout chase glass minnows and menhaden, numbers of the small fish sometimes spray out of the water like confetti plumes, or flee rapidly in rhythmic unison, like living water wheels churning the surface. Long, slender species like needle-nosed gar and Atlantic cutlassfish dance on their tails and twirl in circles when fearing for their lives, half exposed, half submerged, fully frantic and desperate. In hot water, all these signs indicate the presence of hunting trout at times, when copious amounts of marine creatures compete for space and fight for their lives. The old, reliable mantra, “find the bait, find the fish”, rings less true in the transition from summer to fall than at other times of the year. When water temperatures peak, all quadrants of our coastal waterways normally hold some forage species, so locating trout requires finding areas with high concentrations of bait, ideally showing signs of The by-catch for lure chunkers in pressure from predators. late-summer includes skipjacks, Once a captain identifies an area holding bluefish and jack crevalle - the plenty of bait and recognizes signs indicating strongest brutes in the bays. prowling predators, the second half of the catching game commences. Turning the trout’s eyes away from the plentiful sources of food around them and urging them to take something fake can prove frustrating. Ironically, concepts which conflict and create a kind of conundrum come into play in this challenging endeavor. One aspect of the paradox resides within the realm of another well-established and regularly repeated mantra: “the need to match the hatch.” This idea relies on assumptions related to the tendency of predatory fish to periodically become focused on forage species of particular types, sizes and shapes. Once locked into such a mind-frame, and actively feeding, speckled trout can become ridiculously difficult to coax into striking anything which doesn’t closely resemble the subjects of their recent obsession. Living in a house on a canal proved this point to me on many occasions. When blooms of small fry Super Spook Juniors work better hatched in the waterways, the resident trout than larger topwaters on many often gorged on them voraciously, scooping hot days, as Neal Laskowski whole mouthfuls out of schools which proved on a June outing. resembled clouds passing in front of the lights submerged in front of our piers and boathouses. As long as they had these easy food sources available to them, the normally cooperative predators became nearly impossible to catch on anything except a tiny spoon or fly, the only two things which plausibly resemble the diminutive, baby fish. I confidently assert this issue affects lure-chunkers in other places throughout the bays. If trout become accustomed to feeding regularly on species with unusual shapes, like large menhaden or ribbonfish, tricking them into striking lures probably requires the angler to present something which adequately mimics their shape and size. These truths dictate a need to carry a larger variety of lures around the time summer rolls into autumn, as a way of remaining prepared to match an offering to the type of forage abundant and available to the trout in a particular place. But here’s where the irony of the conundrum emerges. In some situations, when fish focus and feed intently on

16 | August 2018


one species, despite the presence of many types around them, matching the hatch sometimes backfires for lureThis long trout attacked a full-sized chunking enthusiasts. I’ve witnessed this in the Super Spook worked at a fast, aforementioned canals, and in other places, far from erratic pace on a warm morning lights, bulkheads and boat docks. Decades ago, when the bite proved sluggish. while wading the shallow sand flats behind San Luis Pass, I observed several large schools of redfish herding small shad and feeding on them. Supremely focused on their task, these hunters passed right by me several times, brushing against my legs as they went. I could see the objects of their feeding aggression – dimesized menhaden. After the schools succeeded in pressuring a pack of ample size into a tight wad, they’d rush into the midst of the tiny fish, gulping mouthfuls as quickly as they could. With a quarter-ounce silver Sprite spoon, I made dozens of casts ahead of and among the hungry reds without garnering so much as a weak strike from any of them. Frustrated, I put on a strawberry and white soft plastic and began catching one on nearly every cast. From this, I concluded the spoon was disappearing among the shiny shad, failing to capture the predators’ attention, while the worm stood out from the crowd and became an easy target. The contradictory truths related to the need to match the years ago. I’d experienced several occasions in the surf, when flitting hatch and the need to distract fish fully focused on a food source of menhaden rose to the top all around me, and I could see and hear a particular size and shape create complexity in the fishing situation trout attacking them, but could not make the specks strike anything for lure-chunkers, especially in the hottest months of the year. Solving in my box. Once I started throwing prop baits in situations like that, the dilemma related to what lure to throw at trout this time of year I caught plenty of trout in the most exciting way, teasing them into thus involves thoughtful experimentation and consideration of the violent attacks. To this day, I experience outings on which topwaters food sources available to the predators at the time and place, as well carrying propellers draw far more strikes than conventional, cigaras the feeding mood of the fish. Regardless of where they’re found, shaped plugs. trout regularly become finicky and difficult to entice this time of year, Sometimes prop baits attractively match the hatch, as in the after feeding voraciously for a while. situations along the beach when menhaden surface. At other times, When targeting actively feeding fish, anglers matching the hatch the slushing plugs draw the trout’s attention away from some other often produce plenty of strikes. On the other hand, when targeting available forage species and entice reaction strikes. In this way, inactive fish, triggering reaction strikes becomes necessary, regardless these lures play dual roles in the abundance conundrum, depending of the season, type of weather or water temperature. Earning reaction on the situation. strikes from fish surrounded by numerous forage species in hot water Accordingly, in the hottest part of the year, a wise way to solve requires specialized tactics. the presentation puzzle on a consistent basis involves working from When temperatures sizzle, negative trout react more aggressively top to bottom, starting with floating lures which closely match the to lures presented erratically, at high speeds, than to those moved hatch, presenting them rhythmically and at medium-pace, assuming more rhythmically and slowly. Consequently, lures with slender, the targeted fish feed actively. If signs indicate inactive predators, or streamlined shapes which facilitate the effective use of speed bursts if strikes don’t occur at an appropriate rate, presenting slender lures normally perform better in hot water than bulkier, fatter ones. My list at high speeds and in erratic movement patterns lower in the water of known producers in this category includes the Super Spook Junior, column makes more sense. the Baby Skitter Walk, the MirrOminnow, the 51M MirrOlure and the Johnson Sprite spoon. Rat-tailed soft plastics like the MirrOlure Provoker also perform well when retrieved at high speeds with lots of erratic movements incorporated. Lipped crankbaits float, dive and wobble vigorously, effectively Kevin Cochran is a full-time fishing guide at Corpus Christi (Padre Island), TX. Kevin urging strikes from finicky trout at times, when the mercury rises near is a speckled trout fanatic and has created the top of the glass. Ironically, so does a specialized type of floating several books and dvds on the subject. plug with propellers mounted on both ends – the MirrO Prop. This Kevin’s home waters stretch from Corpus Christi Bay to the Land Cut. stubby lure looks like a shad, but can’t be worked at high speeds, given the drag created by the metal blades rotating on its ends. It TROUT TRACKER GUIDE SERVICE does effectively mimic the flitting sounds created by menhaden Phone 361-688-3714 flipping at the water’s surface. Email kevxlr8@mygrande.net Web www.FishBaffinBay.com In fact, the ability of prop baits to closely imitate the sounds www.captainkevblogs.com generated by surfacing menhaden spurred me to try them many

CONTACT

KEVIN COCHRAN

TSFMAG.com | 17


Part XIII STORY BY MARTIN STRARUP

B

odie, Red and Tommy left the gun shop still reeling over the price of the double rifle that Tommy wanted. “Maybe another shop will have one that you like and can afford,” Bodie offered. “Nah, I’ve changed my mind about getting an elephant gun,” Tommy answered flatly. “Why’s that?” Bodie questioned, surprised. “Well, I thought it would be fun to shoot and hang on the wall, but did you see how pretty that rifle was? Why I’d have it all scratched up the first time I took it out to shoot it,” Tommy lamented. Both Red and Bodie nodded their heads in agreement and then Red asked, “Well, what are we going to do now?” “Maybe we could go fishing and catch some English fish?” Tommy suggested. “To be honest I’m a little hungry, what with breakfast sort of being a wash,” Red commented. “I could eat something, too” Bodie chimed in. “Let’s get some fish and chips then!” Tommy said excitedly. The three asked the driver to take them to the best fish and chips place and the driver said that he knew just the spot. In a while the driver pulled up to a place and announced that they had arrived at Fishers. According to the driver it had the best fish and chips in London. “Well, looking from the outside, I’d say it’s nothing fancy but I trust the driver that it will be good,” Tommy stated cheerfully. The three went inside and a man asked if they were ordering out or if they would be eating in. “Eating in,” Red informed him while studying the menu over the counter. “I think I’m going to have the cod,” Red said. “Would you like that traditional, grilled, or steamed?” the man asked him. “What’s traditional?” Red asked. “Traditional is deep-fried, sir. With our special batter and it really is very good.”

“I’ll take mine traditional then, with sweet potato fries,” Red replied. Bodie ordered haddock cooked traditional and, like Red, ordered sweet potato fries to go along with it. “What’s a skate?” Tommy asked. “I believe in your country you might refer to skate as stingray,” the man informed Tommy. “Oh, hell no, I don’t want any stingray. Just give me the large cod traditional with plain fries, please,” Tommy told the man. The boys found a table and took a seat while another man took their drink orders. “I think we’d all like iced tea; if you have it,” Bodie spoke for the group. It didn’t take long for their orders to arrive and it was so hot and fresh they had to wait just a bit before they could bite into the fish. “This is good stuff!” Tommy offered, talking with his mouth full. “I have to agree with the moron,” Red said. “It’s really tasty, that’s for sure,” Bodie added, flashing Red a dirty look. They were just finishing up when their driver entered the restaurant and said that Mr. Allen had an urgent phone call in the car. “Now I wonder what this is all about,” Bodie wondered as he headed quickly outside. The driver handed Bodie the car phone. “Bodie, this is Doug. I’m afraid I have a crisis at one of my companies in Houston and I need to fly home right away.” Bodie immediately thought of Pamela and their date but didn’t mention it. “Doug, me and the boys will head straight to the hotel and get packed. We’ll meet you in the lobby,” Bodie replied, trying not to give away his disappointment. “Okay, great. I’m really sorry to be cutting your trip short but I’ll make it up to you,” Doug assured him. “You’ve done more than enough already, Doug. And you certainly don’t need to make up anything,” Bodie said in closing. Bodie went inside, paid for the meals, and told Red and Tommy they needed to get back to the hotel as soon as possible. Doug has an TSFMAG.com | 19


20 | August 2018

occupied on the trip over to London. After a few seconds Tommy rose and made his way to the galley. “Who are you?” Tommy asked. “My name is Michael and I’ll be taking care of you on the flight into Houston,” the man replied. “Where’s…?” But before Tommy could finish, Michael said that she had taken ill and wouldn’t be accompanying them today. “Do you have some of those big shrimp?” Tommy was dying to know. “Yes sir,” Michael replied. “And I’ll be serving you a shrimp cocktail as soon as we make altitude and everything is leveled out.” The boys waited for Doug and finally Red asked, “Well, what’s taking him so long?” “I have no idea, Red. But whatever it is we can wait,” Bodie responded. A few minutes later Doug boarded the plane with a very pretty woman who everyone knew at first glance. “Pamela!” they greeted her in unison. “Boys, I want you to meet my new personal assistant,” Doug announced to the group. “Personal assistant?” Bodie asked. “That’s right, Bodie. I’ve been trying to hire her for over a year and she finally agreed. We have arranged all the paperwork for her to work for me in the States. Pamela holds an MBA degree in international business and will be a great help to me,” he said, winking to Bodie. “Of course she’ll be flying back and forth to represent my interests in London.” “I was packing when you called, Bodie. Doug was in such a hurry that I thought I would just surprise you rather than returning your call,” Pamela smiled sweetly. “Pamela will be spending a lot of time at our home, Bodie. So I would imagine the two of you will be seeing a lot of each other,” Doug added. “Hey, now you two can have that date right here on the plane!” Tommy said. “They serve the best shrimp cocktails!” Pamela took a seat across from Bodie. “Cat got your tongue, Mr. Allen?” she teased. “No ma’am, it doesn’t. But I think it’s going to be a very enjoyable flight home,” Bodie answered with a smile as big as Texas. “Do you like to fish?” Tommy asked. “Oh hush, you ignorant freak of nature,” Red growled. To be continued...

MARTIN STRARUP

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emergency and needs to get back to Houston pronto. “I know you guys are disappointed but we had a pretty good time here. So, let’s not let Doug get the impression that we’re ungrateful or dissatisfied in any way, OK?” “Well hell, Bodie, I’m ready to go home anyway…eat some good food and drink a good beer,” Red said. “And I’m ready to get on that plane and eat some more of those shrimp,” Tommy replied. “Sure wish we could have had a chance to fish together before we had to leave, though. “Not to worry, Tommy Boy. I’ll take you fishing soon enough when we get back to Texas,” Bodie assured him. Hustling into the car, Bodie instructed the driver of their situation and they made good time getting across town. “Okay, boys. Pack as quickly as you can and call for a bellman. I’ll meet you down here in the lobby,” Bodie instructed. “Maybe we’ll have time for a farewell drink before we have to head to the airport.” It didn’t take long for the boys to meet up in the lobby. Doug had already arrived and was upstairs packing while the boys had the bellman take their luggage to the car. That done, they headed for the bar. “I need to make a phone call boys, order me a drink and I’ll be right there.” Bodie said. Bodie went to the house phone and dialed Pamela’s number but there was no answer. Bodie left a message explaining the situation along with his Texas phone number, asking her to please be in touch – if she wanted to. “Bodie, did you call Pamela?” Tommy asked. “I did but she did not answer. I left a message telling her what’s going on and to call me in Texas.” “Probably a good thing anyway, Bodie. I mean talk about a long distance romance,” Red commented. Bodie looked at Red and nodded with a slight smile but Tommy could see his sadness and he was sad for his friend. The boys were considering another round when Doug came out of the elevator looking frazzled and asked if they were ready to get going. “The plane is waiting,” he told them. “Pardon me for asking Doug, but is someone ill?” Red asked. “The chief of operations at one of my Houston factories fell over dead at home and I’m needed to sign off on a contract that is worth a great deal to the company. He was handling the business in my absence,” Doug explained. “On top of that, the customer now has some feelings of uncertainty and wants to meet with me personally.” Bodie paid the bar tab and handed Doug the credit card he’d given him. To Bodie’s surprise Doug told him to hold onto it. “We’re coming back, Bodie. I was not able to conclude my business here and I hope you will be coming back soon with me.” “Tommy, why don’t you pour us I a generous portion of that wonderful Scotch during the drive to the airport,” Doug suggested. “Oh, I can do that!” Tommy chirped happily. “Tommy, if you’re pouring, I would like some bourbon,” Bodie said politely. Nobody had much to say on the ride to the airport, which was unusual since Tommy almost never stayed quiet more than a minute or two. When the car pulled up to Doug’s jet, he told the three of them to go ahead and board, the attendants would handle their bags. Bodie, Red and Tommy made their way to the seats they had

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

Trouthunter@swbell.net


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Plenty of redfish in the 14-18 inch class signify a healthy marsh.


STORY BY CHUCK UZZLE

Y

ears ago there was an incredibly popular ad campaign by the athletic shoe giant, Nike, that included the phrase – Just Do It! That catchy slogan remains entrenched in our pop culture mindset and in some ways represents the way people nowadays think they should act regardless of how it affects others around them. And, with that, the population of Texas is growing phenomenally, especially in coastal communities. Throw in the gravitational pull felt farther inland by vacation-loving tourists and our bays and beaches sometimes become very crowded places. Crowds are not exactly what fishermen want to think about when they head for their favorite destination, but it’s a fact of our now everyday life that has to be dealt with and there is zero relief in sight. Fishermen have two choices; deal with the intrusion or take up a new a hobby. If you decide to continue fishing, which I pray you will, you can be a positive influence upon other anglers by just following the Golden Rule – Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Being courteous and doing the right thing takes little effort in most situations and the long term rewards are many. Over the years I have witnessed some incredibly discourteous acts and I’m sure most folks who spend enough time on the water can relate to all of them. Recently I have noticed more and more personal accounts of rude behavior, discourteousness, and just general lack of fishing etiquette being shared on various social media outlets. I must admit that out of morbid curiosity I have a hard time not reading those threads. Unpleasant encounters between boaters, similar to motorists in traffic slowing down to gawk at an accident or another driver receiving a traffic ticket. Easily the most reported and discussed acts of poor manners center around someone feeling that another fishermen encroached on their space. When discussing what is “too close” you can expect myriad reactions and responses. Wade fishermen are probably the most interesting examples of this problem because they are found on both ends of the spectrum. On one hand, waders get their space invaded more frequently simply because they cannot challenge a boat. On the other hand, some waders believe they are entitled to an enormous amount of real estate and, if you get anywhere close to that imaginary line, you are in the wrong and should be punished accordingly. The easiest way to eliminate hard feelings though, is through

communication. A simple wave or gesture exchanged between parties will often result in an understanding where everyone will feel comfortable going on with their fishing. Simple acts of courtesy go a long way in defusing situations. Another highly-contested area is the space around a flock of birds working over a school of actively feeding fish. It would be so easy to write page after page chronicling the insanity I have witnessed under the birds. The excitement of impending good fortune that accompanies finding these fish can go south in a hurry when a discourteous boater wishing to join the action drives in hard with his outboard motor. The feeding ceases immediately and the fish scatter, leaving everyone involved with sinking thoughts of what could have been. Generally speaking, these encounters end with one boat grumbling to themselves about the lack of respect displayed by the offender as they motor away. Sometimes though, you can learn new and exciting expletives, or at least ways to express some you do not use or hear very often. I have heard combinations of anger laced with profanity that would make a sailor blush or roll on the deck in laughter. Perhaps the most extreme instances of confrontation included an invitation to settle the dispute on a nearby sandbar. Another included a pistol being waved – though not pointed at anybody – thank Heaven. No fish is worth all that. One of my personal favorite practices when approaching another boat working a flock of birds over feeding fish is to ask the other boat if they mind if I join in. I have actually done this with clients on my boat. We trolled up within earshot, not allowing my folks to cast until we got the OK. It’s amazing to see the looks on their faces when you approach the situation in this manner. And, for the record, I have never been refused when I asked permission politely. Quite often, two boats fishing cooperatively will result in more fish being caught than either could have accomplished on their own. That simple act of courtesy will more often than not result in the favor being returned when the roles are reversed, and you could end making a new friend in the process. I’ve seen it happen on numerous occasions, later in the day or the next, that same boat would approach me the same way. I don’t care what anybody says; courtesy is contagious and everybody wins in the end. Now, the Golden Rule does not apply only to interaction between TSFMAG.com | 23


24 | August 2018

CHUCK UZZLE

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fishermen, it applies equally to everything related to your time on the water. Easily one of the worst acts of disrespect I have ever witnessed didn’t even involve interaction between boaters or fishermen, it involved a guide with clients and a flock of seagulls. I was chasing birds with clients one afternoon on the south end of Sabine Lake. The shrimp migration was running full bore and flocks of gulls were numerous. On several occasions we were able to see shrimp coming up and skipping across the surface before the birds could get on them – that’s how good it was. Amid all this opportunity, the many boats in the area could each work their own flock with nobody even thinking of horning in on their neighbor. During a bit of a lull in the action I was close enough to observe an angler on another boat snag a seagull during the feeding melee. Anyone who has ever fished under birds has likely had this happen. It’s a pain when it does but that’s just a fact of life when things get chaotic. Now, this episode was playing out in plain sight of the folks on my boat while we stood at the ready for the school we were on to reappear. My group were chuckling rather quietly as we’d already been through such an incident a bit earlier. But what happened next caused them to go completely silent. The guide who was on the front of the boat, seeing the gull wrapped in monofilament fishing line and flailing helplessly on the water, instead of taking time to retrieve the bird and free it, he simply cut the client’s line and tied on a new lure for him to continue fishing as the hapless gull drifted away. I was absolutely stunned at the total disregard for the bird that by that time had become so hopelessly entangled that it could barely move. Unable to stand the sight of what had just happened, I trolled over to the bird, covered it with a towel to get it under control, and took the time to untangle and release it. The entire episode was witnessed by the offending boat and I hope they were ashamed of their actions. There is absolutely no excuse for that kind of behavior. Well, I guess I can climb down off my soapbox now and maybe give a little bit of relevant information concerning the fishing in my part of the world. It’s been a bizarre year so far on Sabine and Calcasieu. No matter what we try, the trout just refuse to cooperate. I have no clue why trout fishing has been so slow and I’m not alone in this. Theories abound but perhaps what makes the most sense is the enormous amount of rain we received during Hurricane Harvey, rearranging the migration and feeding patterns. What makes it even more difficult to understand is that the redfish program seems not to have missed a beat. Reds are plentiful anywhere and everywhere at the same time. Our marshes look better than they have in years and the herds of small redfish patrolling the banks prove that point. I look for shrimp to start dumping into the lake very soon and hopefully that will kick the trout into high gear and usher in some exciting schooling activity. The dog days of summer are just about here and we are inching closer each day to the magic of the fall season. Relish that thought as you try to stay cool in the meantime. Sabine and Calcasieu are both on the verge of hopefully breaking out and going crazy, so don’t miss a chance to be out there when it does.

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 409-697-6111 Email wakesndrakes@yahoo.com Website wakesndrakes.com


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STORY BY JOE RICHARD

C

oastal anglers consider catching tarpon a bucket list species, a lifetime goal they hope to fulfill. For others, tarpon are an obsession and that’s all they fish for. As that hunger grows, they sometimes travel to more southern latitudes to sample tarpon action there. This is a versatile fish, found from creeks to offshore at Gulf platforms in more than 100 feet of water. When they go on a feeding rampage it’s a sight to behold, worth the long days when they won’t cooperate. And they know that August offers the best shot at Texas tarpon. Over the years, we’ve caught tarpon offshore, at the jetties, in the surf, and while anchored in Pass Cavallo, back when it was deep and the currents strong. We put in a lot of time there and have fond memories of epic battles, with some beginning near sunset and lasting long after dark. On some trips we even spent the night in the boat, fighting big tarpon after midnight under strong moonlight. Several huge fish were finally lost that looked like possible state records. Called the poor man’s billfish, big tarpon can be caught even from jonboats, but it takes skill and luck and it isn’t really recommended. If a big tarpon jumps in the boat, you’d best jump out, unless the current is strong – like in Pass Cavallo. I know of one trout guide who was knocked unconscious there, when a tarpon jumped into his boat as he was landing a ladyfish. There is also the tragic story of a tarpon jumping into a panga off the Honduras coast, hitting a 20-year old woman in the neck with fatal results. Now that we’re fired up to catch a tarpon, let’s explore the options. There are different time-tested scenarios for catching these fish along the Texas coast. Offshore tarpon. Anglers look for visibly rolling schools that rise to the surface to gulp air. Certain stretches off the coast are better, and they’re nicknamed Tarpon Alley, often in about 30-40 feet of water. If you’ve been trout fishing the surf and see a cluster of boats out there, or rolling tarpon a mile offshore, refrain from running in and trying to hook 100-pound tarpon on trout gear. It’s difficult to imagine a tarpon in deep Port O’Connor anglers Marilyn Giessel and Amy water even responding to pressure from Richard land a tarpon trout tackle, much less actually

just off the surf zone. This one was easily handled and released.


being caught. If it ever happened, you can bet the tarpon died after a prolonged battle lasting one or more hours. It would be like pulling on a big shark gone deep, with a whippy rod. More on these offshore tarpon, later. Jetty fishing. Tarpon are one more reason why owning a cast net and knowing how to spot and catch mullet is a huge plus. Along with having a good live well. Bait shops don’t offer anything bigger than small live croakers, and big tarpon aren’t much interested in that. You want frisky baits of 10 or 12 inches long, like mullet and croaker, and somewhat smaller menhaden and pinfish, pinned live to a circle hook with 100-pound mono leader. Baits should be staggered behind the boat, often suspended under balloons. These fish can be down deep, at mid-depth in the tide, or rolling near the rocks. Small tarpon are sometimes caught deep by jetty guides anchored and waiting for redfish. Generally two or three feet long, these tarpon are very sporty on baitcasting tackle. (top) Walter Doss subdued this trophy jetty tarpon with spin tackle and without a boat. (middle) Happy anglers land a tarpon off Galveston. Photo by Mike Reed. (bottom left) Hooking a big tarpon up close is pure excitement.

28 | August 2018

John Milne about to grab the leader on a subdued tarpon caught by the author off Matagorda Island.


Dos and Don’ts If you approach a tarpon school with the boat, use an electric motor that will ease along quietly. Without electric power, one can position the boat 100 yards ahead of the moving school, and throw baits and jigs as it passes by. (Spin reels will reach farther out there without backlashing; with these, try using 65-pound braided line.) Refrain from running an outboard motor anywhere near these fish. Serious tarpon anglers have switched to using diesel engines, which don’t have a loud underwater exhaust. If other boats are seriously working a school of rolling tarpon, and you’re not equipped, don’t blunder through the school casting wildly with light tackle. These aren’t bay trout. The tarpon school will dive and disappear – and from nearby boats, harsh language and cruel advice will be lobbed in your direction. Use tackle heavy enough to subdue these fish. Fifty-pound mono line should be the minimum for fighting tarpon offshore. Don’t keep a light drag, but whip the fish in a timely fashion if at all possible. The longer the fight, the more exhausted that fish will be when released. You don’t want sharks finding your tarpon laying on the bottom. Always use big circle hooks that will penetrate a tarpon’s jaw. Using a J-hook and possibly gut-hooking a tarpon is very likely fatal to the fish, and Texas needs all the tarpon it can get. The current population

Tarpon roaming inside a

is apparently a small fraction of what Gulf platform off the coast of Port Mansfield in May. it was in the 1930s. Photo by Zack Giessel. Lip-gaffing a big tarpon and holding him vertically, half out of the water, may pop a vertebra, which can also be fatal to the fish. It’s best to take pictures of it in the water, alongside the boat, with the camera stationed up above. Refrain from dragging tarpon into the boat. They will make a mess, and thrash their lives away in the process. These fish are strong and can’t be controlled, except with a big gaff hooked through the tip of their lower jaw. Several times I’ve watched jetty boats catch little 3-foot tarpon by accident, while they were fishing for trout or reds. Triumphant anglers land the tarpon and hold them up for photos, of course. Invariably the tarpon will jump out of their hands three to five times, slamming onto the deck. Smaller tarpon can be held up by a firm grip on the leader, where the fish can’t beat itself against the boat. If at all possible, revive your tarpon by putting the boat’s engine in gear and dragging the fish for several minutes. While the fish rests, getting rid of built-up lactic acid, it will receive extra oxygen from water passing over its gills, greatly increasing its chance of survival. The tarpon is a special fish, known from West Africa to the Caribbean and Central America, up our Atlantic coast to Virginia, and the Gulf of Mexico. They’re very much worth that extra effort to hook and safely release them.

JOE RICHARD

Joe Richard has fished the Gulf since 1967, starting out of Port Arthur, but his adventures have taken him up and down the entire coast. He was the editor of Tide magazine for eight years, and later Florida Sportsman’s book and assistant magazine editor. He began guiding out of Port O’Connor in 1994. His specialty is big kingfish, and his latest book is The Kingfish Bible, New Revelations. Available at Seafavorites.com

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One can also walk the jetty rocks, a stealthy method for easing up on rolling tarpon. A quality fly rod with a butt is best; tarpon, even the biggest ones, have an affinity for small streamer flies. Hopping from rock to rock is hazardous, and we did that for many years, though we were after trout and reds on the upper coast. Landing an 80-pound tarpon from the rocks, without falling and winding up in the ER, is something of an achievement. It’s far safer to prowl up and down the jetties with an open skiff and electric motor, casting near the rocks. If a hooked tarpon decides to cruise off a mile, at least you can follow with the boat. If you’re stranded on the rocks, well, you’re spooled. Surf tarpon are often loners, though not always. Most of these are hooked by accident, often by wade fishermen slinging spoons and plugs. If it’s a big tarpon, the results are inevitable; they can spool a trout reel in 10 or 15 seconds. However, with smaller tarpon of three or four feet, the angler has a good chance of landing it.

TSFMAG.com | 29


Drew David with solid CPR trout this month.

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STRATEGIES FOR TOUGH SUMMERTIME CONDITIONS It’s raining and I cancelled my charter. Rainfall is nearing sixteen inches for this three-day event; good news for Aransas and surrounding bays. I will gladly take a day off, or even three, for summertime rain that benefits the bays. Fresh water will displace trout in some back bay areas but that is another story. It’s been super-hot along the Middle Coast. Afternoon water temps are approaching 88° in the shallows. At sunrise I’m recording 84 to 85° crossing the bay, with shorelines showing 82 to 83° in many places. This may not seem like much of a difference to us but very significant to fish. During my seminars I ask for a show of hands from attendees that have water temperature gauges on their boats. I follow by saying, “If your hand is not in the air you need to have one installed.” As the sun rises through the morning hours, so goes water temperature. If we have a falling tide between noon and early-afternoon, the water leaving backcountry marshes and entering the bays via drains will be noticeably warmer than the bay shoreline. Deeper waters, outside these drains, become my go-to pattern on hot 30 | August 2018

days. I will try to provide a good visual of the fishing strategy I have developed over 40 years. I started young with the “fish smart” mindset and it began with a comment from my dad. “I’d rather be lucky than good,” was the topic of discussion. My dad suggested that luck eventually runs out and, if I was going to depend on luck alone, I was going to have a tough go in anything I pursued in life. “Be good and strive to become great at what you do; luck will be a bonus,” he said. “The harder you work, the luckier you will appear to others with less motivation.” The fishing smart mantra was born that day and was heavily influenced by dad’s biology education. He held a master’s degree and loved discussing biology. He taught high school and coached athletics for extra income. He was a great coach but teaching was his greatest passion. While fishing, we would discuss WHY something occurred and WHAT the conditions were that likely caused it. I learned quickly to record these observations in a journal to enable my recall and apply them to future situations. I eventually got better electronics, better polarized glasses, and literally better everything else, but


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the full mental picture of patterns and learning to utilize them has been a work in progress for 40 years. So what are we to do when our pre-dawn run to our favorite shoreline or reef results in a bust? I look to the marsh drains along the miles of our barrier islands. I see them as river mouths, very small, but with the same hydrology at work. Satellite images reveal how water fans out as it flows from the mouth of a river. Quite often we see distinct color changes associated with that water movement. This correlates perfectly with runoff from the marsh to the bay. We need also to visualize the bottom structure and depth changes present in the drain mouth that direct the flow of water. In many of my favorite areas, the deepest water will be 5-feet or less, but still deep relative to the surrounding water. Next we have to understand current direction. Noticing the direction that off-colored plumes are moving or readings on your water temperature gauge help identify this. Strong wind can overcome or enhance tide flow. Watching current seams where moving water collides with water that is not moving is critical in the development of the mental picture. Where color changes and current seams meet water of greater clarity or water that is not moving, bait and predators will congregate on that line. This will be especially true when bottom structure creates ambush points. The ability to envision the complete picture beneath the surface depends on your knowledge of how baitfish and gamefish position themselves in these situations. I have a creative mind in this department – not so much in singing, dancing, or other things. Most every good angler I know has this same ability. So – when, where, and how do we position ourselves? First let me say that I use this pattern quite often during the hottest months. I feel that super-heated water exiting the marsh and entering the bay, flowing across ideal bottom structure that lies in deeper zones, has the possibility of concentrating good numbers of fish. With mostly small windows of feeding activity occurring during daylight hours in summer, it becomes extremely important to be in the right place at the absolute right time. Drain mouth patterns can allow us to recover from an early-morning mistake along a shoreline reef or point where singular small structures concentrate fish. Miss that bite and you’re in for a struggle - yours truly included. The deeper drain mouth pattern typically peaks during the noon to early-afternoon hours. A substantial bite can occur when numbers of fish are present in a small area. Fish tend to be greedy and will often grab a lure simply to prevent another fish from getting it. This behavior can lead to a short feeding frenzy. Patience is huge, actually bigger than huge, to fully exploit this pattern. Position yourself as far as possible from the target area. The ability to place long casts accurately is of great importance. Never wade into the strike zone. I lock my feet and try to move as little as possible once bites are received. I often remind clients how far they have moved forward after landing a fish. “Look where I’m standing; you allowed that fish to pull you toward the strike zone,” I tell them. Two or three fish later, some anglers will be standing way too far forward. They then declare the fish are gone. They’re not gone, you’re just standing where you need to be fishing. It is hilarious to me when a guy gets pulled by bites or yields to 32 | August 2018

Author’s summer pattern wade box.

wind and waves and ends up in the strike zone. “This one hit right at my feet!” he yells. Actually, she ate right where she’d been sitting the whole time. The exact spot he’d been fishing, ten minutes and twenty-five yards ago. The good news is that we can back off and the area will reload and catching can resume. In the repositioning process, I recommend a slow, wide angle out and away from the line where fish were being caught. Stepping backward out of the area is a great way to step on a stingray as drains attract rays as much as they attract fish. Billy Gerke with ForEverlast makes a great stingray guard and boot which I recommend highly. I don’t always wear mine but don’t let my stupidity be your reason for getting hit! In the lure department, I depend heavily on 5-inch rattail soft plastics. I can cast them great distances on light jigheads and have confidence in my ability to impart erratic action throughout the presentation. While I like lures with chartreuse tails, piggies and other baitfish play havoc nipping at the brightly-colored tails. If you feel you need the chartreuse advantage, try a chartreuse Bass Assassin Spring Lock head with a solid-colored bait. I use 5-inch Bass Assassins, MirrOlure Provokers, and Lil Johns in a variety of colors depending on water clarity and the amount of sunlight. It would be unrealistic for anyone to think successful anglers use only one type, color, or brand of lure. I have been fortunate to be


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34 | August 2018

C O N TA C T

able to choose lures that meet my seasonal, daily, and hourly needs. I am also a big fan of the new Texas Custom Double D by MirrOlure. This hardbait combines the old 7M MirrOlure technology with a new body shape and custom colors. Presenting this lure aggressively in areas holding not-so-interested fish can draw surprising reaction strikes. It swims down about 14-inches when retrieved aggressively and floats to the surface during a pause. Early morning, I like to swim it slowly just below the surface, where it wobbles enticingly across shallow grass near drain mouths. I have tremendous confidence in the lures discussed here. They have paid huge dividends and saved many a day over my fishing career, especially during tough summer conditions when the earlymorning bite didn’t pan out for us. 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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Chuck Naiser – legendary Rockport area fishing guide.

C A P T. S COT T N U L L

S H A L L O W W AT E R F I S H I N G

FLATSWORTHY I’m going to take a wild guess that since you are reading this magazine you tend to spend a good bit of time on Texas bays. And, given that, you have also likely observed some form or another of rude and inconsiderate behavior exhibited by fellow fishermen. Perhaps you’ve even done a few things out on the water that you aren’t particularly proud of. Be it cutting off someone’s wade, motoring just downwind of a drifting boat with anglers fishing, maybe jumping onto a shoreline ahead of a poling skiff, paddling your kayak through a group of waders, or my personal pet peeve – burning miles of shoreline a few yards off the bank. Unfortunately, these acts have become more common than rare these days. I know the vast majority try to do right, but it seems that the minority group of screw-ups (I really wanted to use another word but decided not to incur the editor’s wrath) has been steadily growing. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t witness at least one incident and most times there are multiple violations of etiquette and/or common sense scattered throughout a trip. If you are feeling particularly victimized, all you have to do is peruse the posts on social media to quickly realize you aren’t alone. One man with a very long history on our coast has decided to try and do something. Captain Chuck Naiser has been guiding fishermen in the Rockport area for more years than he cares to admit. He has seen a lot of changes on the water over the years, some good and some 36 | August 2018

not. Chuck was up to his armpits in the “redfish wars” along with the founding fathers of the original Gulf Coast Conservation Association. He understands what it takes to be “all in” for a good cause. If not for the tenacity of those men we likely wouldn’t have any redfish to worry about. His latest idea was to form a group known as FlatsWorthy - “A diverse group of anglers with mutual respect.” In his words, “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing but I know why I’m doing it. And I won’t quit. This is too important.” In the summer of 2015, at the request of Chuck Naiser, I was one of a diverse group of watermen gathered in a small cafe on the Lamar Peninsula. Attendees included fishing guides, recreational fishermen, and duck hunters. Quite a cross-section of user groups - waders, bay boaters, kayakers, poling skiff operators, and airboaters. It was a good meeting in which Chuck outlined his reasons for wanting to start a dialog amongst the various user groups. It was his hope that through communication, better understanding and education, we could reduce the conflicts among users occurring on the water. Grievances were aired among the groups and became the catalyst for the foundation of FlatsWorthy. I walked away from that first meeting thinking that he was onto something, but the problems and hurdles would be many and large. Changing attitudes and behavior isn’t easy. Based on that meeting as well as subsequent conversations, Chuck came up with a basic code of ethics to describe how one could become “FlatsWorthy.”


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Respect the Resources *Reduce your footprint to share the resource equitably. *Avoid damaging natural resources and fish habitat. *Support habitat restoration projects. Respect the Law *Know and obey fishing and boating regulations. *Report fish, game or boating law violations you encounter. *Participate in opportunities for public comment on proposals for new and revised regulations. In addition to these basic tenets, a more detailed explanation of ideas on how to better conduct yourself on the water can be found on the website www.flatsworthy.com. These can be found under the User Groups tab and has sections for poling skiffs, kayaks, waders, airboaters, shallow-draft boats, and also guides and tournament fishermen. It is a well-thought-out set of guidelines that if everyone followed, all of us could better enjoy our time on the water. Since that initial meeting the group has steadily gained traction, although the devastation of Harvey stalled progress for a while. Chuck’s home was literally in the eye of the storm. Now that things have gotten somewhat back to normal he’s running full speed and the organization is growing faster than he ever imagined. Chuck explained it well during a recent conversation. “I’m not trying to tell people what they can or cannot do, that’s not my place. I’m only asking them to think about what actions they are unnecessarily taking and how it affects others. They are making more boats every day, but there isn’t going to be any new water. We all need to learn how to get along before there is a critical incident that leads to some form of restrictive legislation that none of us want. I don’t believe new laws or regulations are the answer. The answer is education, understanding and cooperation.” But it isn’t all about the direct and obvious conflicts among fishermen trying to share the water, it is also about the fish, birds, other wildlife, and the habitat. Like it or not, we have changed the habits of our fish through our actions. Gamefish naturally feed on shallow flats. There’s a lot of groceries available there. It is also easier for them to capture that prey in shallow water where it has less room to escape. Chuck fondly recalls the heyday of redfishing following the banning of commercial nets, as do A younger Naiser I. Yes, we still have reds – sans facial hair. prowling shallow water 38 | August 2018

and sight-fishing for them is still viable, but it isn’t like it was. You simply cannot continuously run across shallow flats in large boats under full power and expect the fish to not change their habits. If every time you walked into your favorite restaurant someone drove a truck through the joint it wouldn’t take long before you found another place to eat. Our shallow water gamefish are adapting to the pressure. I see far fewer really large schools of reds up shallow in areas that get “burned” regularly. The scattered, smaller schools and singles I do find are generally much more alert to intrusions. Undisturbed and calm fish are becoming increasingly rare and, on busy summer weekends, you have to get well off the beaten path to find them. They either push further into smaller waters or drop off into the deep. Chuck summed it up quite well during our last phone conversation, “We can’t fix it all, but we need to fix what we can. There isn’t anyone to look towards but ourselves. We need to educate this generation so that the next will have a better understanding.” Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself; “Am I FlatsWorthy?”

This is what we’re all looking for – a school of undisturbed marsh reds foraging along a spartina grass shoreline.

Naiser releasing a client’s redfish.

C O N TA C T

Respect Fellow Anglers *Be considerate toward the space, time and efforts of fellow anglers. *Know before you go. Look for others before entering a fishing area. *Avoid taking needless shortcuts across flats, running shorelines, or otherwise disturbing fishing grounds

Capt. Scott Null is a devout shallow water fisherman offering guided adventues via kayak, poled skiff, and wading. Telephone Email Website

281-450-2206 captscottnull@gmail.com www.captainscottnull.com


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By Ryan Easton | Biologist, Port O’Connor Marine Lab

FIELD NOTES

THE BOTTOM-LINE ON TEXAS SHARKS Sharks: if you’ve spent time on the water in Texas bays or the Gulf of Mexico, odds are you have encountered at least one species of these cartilaginous fishes. More than two dozen species of sharks call Texas waters home for at least some of the year. Recreational and tournament shark fishing are popular in Texas, with nearly all species present in Texas waters landed yearly. Despite these landings, most of the information collected on shark abundance and distribution in Texas comes from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Coastal Fisheries Division’s resource monitoring program using gill nets in bays and bottom longlines in the nearshore Gulf of Mexico (GOM). These two gear types are used to collect data on the seasonal abundance and distribution of fishes (including sharks). In the shallow nearshore GOM, six longlines are deployed yearly, two each springsummer-fall season, off four areas; Sabine Lake (Zone 17), Galveston Bay (Zone 18), San Antonio Bay (Zone 19), and Corpus Christi Bay (Zone 20), as part of the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP)

Figure 1. Total species composition of sharks in TPWD SEAMAP (Zones 1720) bottom longline surveys. (Zone 17: 2015-17, Zone 18: 2010-17, Zone 19: 2014-17, Zone 20: 1992-2017; “Other shark” is the combination of multiple minor species).

40 | August 2018

partnership (Figure 1). Gill nets are used overnight in all Texas bays during the spring and fall. When we look at the two data sets (Figures 1 & 2), we see the same few shark species comprise much of the catch for both gear types; Atlantic sharpnose (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae), blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus), bull (Carcharhinus leucas), bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo), and spinner (Carcharhinus brevipinna). However, the proportions of each species encountered are very different between the bottom longlines in nearshore GOM waters (Figure 1), and the gill nets from the nearby bay systems (Figure 2). Multiple factors can lead to differences in catch rates for different shark species between areas including; interspecies competition, salinity, prey availability, water temperature, size, and proximity to a Gulf pass. Zone 17, waters off Sabine Lake and Louisiana, has a catch composition that is evenly distributed across multiple species, compared to the other three zones which are dominated by one or two species (Figure 1). Additionally, this zone has the greatest proportion of spinner sharks (30%) of any Texas GOM zone as well as


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a greater proportion of bull sharks than in other areas (Figure 1). When we contrast this with the gill net data (Figure 2), we see a completely different pattern! Sabine Lake (the adjacent bay and estuary system to GOM Zone 17) is almost completely dominated by one species. Bull sharks comprise 99.5% of the total catch, most likely due to the very low salinity nature of Sabine Lake (mean historical salinity 7.3ppt), and the high tolerance of bull sharks to low salinity. In fact, when we look across Figure 2, most of the bay systems that have higher percentages of bull sharks typically have lower mean salinities (e.g. Aransas Bay system 20.9ppt, San Antonio Bay system 17.8ppt, Galveston Bay system 15.7ppt, Matagorda Bay system 23.5ppt). Bull sharks are a coastal, shallow water, species with an affinity to murky water, an environment fostered primarily by river inflows and windy conditions. We also see some interesting regional patterns for the Atlantic sharpnose. Sharpnose comprise a whopping 73% of the total catch in GOM Zone 20 adjacent to Corpus Christi and Aransas Bay systems, followed by Zones 18 (56%) and 19 (35%) (Figure 1). Atlantic sharpnose prefer warmer, shallow, coastal waters and the surf zone, but are not uncommon in bays and estuaries, so you might expect to see large numbers of them in gill net data from bays adjacent to these high-concentration nearshore GOM zones. We don’t! Sharpnose represent just a fraction of the gill net catch, both in these bays, and coastwide (Figure 2). Atlantic sharpnose not being encountered by TPWD gill nets could be due to various unknown factors including seasonality, diet, habitat preference, interspecies competition, and hydrological conditions. The opposite pattern occurs with bonnethead sharks, a species that is nearly absent in bottom longline samples, but shows up frequently in gill net sampling (Figure 2). Bonnetheads represent more than half of the shark species encountered in the Corpus Christi Bay system, and a third of the species in the San Antonio Bay system (Figure 2). This disparity between gear types is due to the ecology and behavior of the species. Bonnetheads are a schooling species known to travel in groups of 5-15 or more individuals, meaning that it is likely for a single gill net to capture multiple bonnetheads. In addition, bonnetheads primarily feed nocturnally on crustaceans like shrimp and blue crabs in shallow water grass flats in bays and estuaries, exactly where and when TPWD gill nets sample. 42 | August 2018

Figure 2. Total species composition of sharks in TPWD gill net surveys (19822017; except for Sabine Lake (1986); “Other shark” is the combination of multiple minor species).

One final pattern to mention is how distinctly different the gill net catch composition of the Corpus Christi Bay system looks in comparison to the other regions shown in Figure 2. The Corpus Christi Bay system is a higher salinity estuary (mean historical salinity 31.3ppt) compared to most others along the Texas coast, due primarily to reduced freshwater inflows. This could potentially influence the high abundance of bonnetheads and scalloped hammerhead sharks in this bay system, as they are known to move to areas of higher salinity. Although sharks are an integral part of the Texas marine ecosystem, ranging from large apex predators like bull sharks, down to prey species like Atlantic sharpnose and bonnetheads, the species you are likely to be sharing the water with depends on whether you are in a bay or out on the Gulf, and where along the Texas coastline you are. Fluctuating freshwater inflows, increasing water temperatures, and modification of habitat will determine the future of shark composition and abundance across the Texas coast, and TPWD will be there routinely sampling to monitor these changes in the future.

Check the TPWD Outdoor Annual, your local TPWD Law Enforcement office, or tpwd. texas.gov for more info.


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#TexasBestBeach TSFMAG.com | 43


My three favorite flies. Top to bottom: Sommerlatte’s Spoonfly, Sommerlatte’s Shrimp Slider, Sommerlatte’s Flats Critter.

S C O T T S O M M E R L AT T E

F LY F I S H I N G

GET YOUR HOOK UP! Way back in the day when I first started writing for this publication, I basically asked that all of you (the readers) occasionally send me ideas for stories. Well this month I’m gonna fill one of those requests – What are your favorite redfish flies and why? First and foremost, I most definitely have a list of favorite flies, but for the sake of this article I’m going to limit it to what I consider my three absolute favorites. But before I do, I will tell you the most important characteristic of each is that they all ride in “hook up” orientation when being presented to a fish. Now this may not seem like that big of deal considering most flies tied for flats fishing, at least species that feed primarily on bottom – redfish, bonefish, and permit – are almost always designed to ride hook up. The trouble lies in the words, almost always.   You see, I have had fly rods designed as 7-weights that cast an 8-weight or even a 9-weight line better. And I’ve been in boats that were designed to pole quietly into the 44 | August 2018

wind but were louder than hell. I think you get the point. So the reason I am choosing the three flies below is that they are my go-to flies for at least 80-percent of my redfishing and I have caught numerous other flats and back-county species on them. What makes them so special is that not only are designed to ride hook up – they ALWAYS do. The reason for this is that each hook is bent and/or there is additional weight strategically placed within the fly to insure it always does. Sommerlatte’s Spoonfly When I set out to create my spoonfly, I had only one goal in mind. Create a smaller spoon than all those available, and one that was actually tied to a hook rather than just being glued to it. What makes it special is that it is remarkably weedless and does not spin up light leaders when casting, as so many others on the market are prone to do. 


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Note the bend in the hook… one of the keys to riding hook up during the presentation.

Materials: Wapsi 1/4-inch Flexi-Cord Size 2-1/0 bendable hook Thread 18 pound Knot 2 Kinky titanium wire for weed guard Epoxy

because I had a fresh package of experimental materials from EP Flies and the weather was horrible. The secret ingredients to cook this one up was the EP Flies Wooly Critter brush and a jar of rye. I was looking for a small, unassuming, soft-landing pattern that would ride hook up, that I could fish equally well both shallow or deep. I could not have been more pleased.

Sommerlatte’s Shrimp Slider Now for my favorite redfish fly of all time, the Shrimp Slider. You want to talk about the accident of all accidents in the world of fly tying. By the way – I have been called a mad scientist when I sit down at the vise and, call me crazy, but I find it flattering. And, in my mind, especially when the jar of rye is nearby, I find it to be true. This fly is a prime example of my insanity at the vise. So I mentioned my spoonfly above, this one quite accidently morphed out of an attempt to create a soft spoonfly made of yarn and ended up becoming the Shrimp Slider. Yep, you heard right, a spoonfly made of yarn. Talk about an accident at the vise. LOL. Anyway, what makes this thing so damned great is that it is remarkably weedless with no weedguard, and it has an incredible action that cannot be described.

Materials: EP Flies Wooly Critter Brush Arctic Fox Size 2-1/0 Bendable Hook Bead-chain or lead dumbbell eyes  Thread Epoxy 

Sommerlatte’s Flats Critter Now the Flats Critter is interesting in that it was created strictly 46 | August 2018

C O N TA C T

Materials: Rug Yarn (Aunt Lydia’s if you can still find it) Extra Select Craft Fur Coyote tail Ice/Crystal Chenille Bendable hook Lead Wire Thread

Now before I leave the keyboard I want to remind you that each of these flies requires a bend in the hook. In the past I always used a Mustad 34007 stainless wire hook. I have a huge stash of these but you might have a hard time finding them. The Mustad 3407 is often a suitable replacement as are many other hooks. I have had decent luck bending Gamakatsu SL12s and a few others. My best advice is to avoid forged hooks, if you can. Hope I’ve given you something to put to good use, and also hope you get to give a few fish a toothache!

Scott Sommerlatte is a full time fly fishing and light tackle guide, freelance writer and photographer. Telephone Email Website

979-415-4379 vssommerlatte@hotmail.com www.mangrovefly.com


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DAV E R O B E R T S

K AYA K F I S H I N G C H R O N I C L E S

HITTING THE SURF Fortunate for me growing up, my parents spent a significant amount of time with my brother and I at the beach. Any weekend that we were blessed with decent weather was a clear indication that we would be heading to the coast. As far back as I can remember, my brother and I would watch my dad throw a cast net to see if he could catch a few mullet to use as bait. He would then wade out in hopes of finding a few fish looking for an easy meal. Those day-trips would continue and would soon be replaced with Blaze and I throwing the cast nets to catch bait and all three of us would be standing waist-deep in the surf catching fish. Fast forward to now and things have changed greatly from where I started. The early morning workouts of throwing a net have been replaced with a sturdy pair of wading shoes and a long walk. While the mullet we used for bait has been pushed to the side and my rods are now rigged with She Dogs and MirrOlures. One thing that has not changed is the love of standing in a calm surf and catching trout!  It is no secret that I spend a significant amount of my time targeting redfish. I thoroughly enjoy paddling the marsh for them. However, when the conditions get right, my internal switch flips and starts pointing towards wading for trout. The element that triggers my switch is when the wind changes directions and starts blowing out of the north for a few days; this is when the Gulf surf fishing gets right! A little while back, I started my week like I typically do, sipping a strong cup of coffee while looking at the weather 48 | August 2018

forecast for the following six days. To my surprise, the wind was switching out of the north midway through the week and this is when I saw my window. I made plans so I could leave directly from work and be in the surf for the afternoon bite. When I arrived I was greeted with light swells and the green water was starting to move in. Easing into the water, I started off throwing a bone She Dog in hopes that a hungry trout wouldn’t be able to resist. I plugged away for a little over an hour with no luck. As the evening went on, I had a group of guys make their way out to join me. I noticed that every one of them had a MirrOlure tied on and it did not take them long to start reeling in trout. After watching them string up their tenth trout or so, I knew that I was not going to have much luck on my topwater; from my experience, when they want a MirrOlure, that is all that they want. And to top it all off, I know that I did not have any with me so I cut my day short. No worries though, I had enough time to run by Fishing Tackle Unlimited and pick up a few for the next day. I knew that the weather and wind were going to hold up and remain constant, so I planned on being back at daylight the next day. I got on the phone and called a few buddies to see if they wanted to join me. My friend Doug was the only one able to meet me and I assured him that the trout are indeed there.   As we arrived, the Gulf was much calmer than the evening before and I just had a feeling that it was going to be a good day. We rigged up and I eased the kayak out and anchored it in the surf. Having the kayak out in the water makes for a very convenient base. You can put a


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50 | August 2018

recently, the wind has been pretty relentless out of the south and has made surf fishing all but impossible. However, I know summer weather and it will change, sure enough. All we need is a few calm days or a couple of mornings with light north breeze to deliver a clean, calm surf. When that time comes, you can bet that is where I’ll be!

C O N TA C T

drink cooler on there and it makes for a solid platform in case you need to do some type of rigging. It is also handy having an ice chest to put your fish in. Sure beats having a stringer trailing behind you while wading and attracting unwanted toothy critters. Anyways, we made our way out and begin plugging away. We cast and cast and, again, zero luck. Remaining positive, I assured him once the tide started to move that it should turn on, just like the evening before. We kept grinding without a bite and after a few hours it seemed like it was not going to happen. Just before 9:00 AM we were joined by three older gentleman and the first one to reach us asked whether we’d been catching anything. I started to say, “We haven’t had the first bi....” but could not finish as I received a solid thump before I could get it out. Rearing back to set the hook, I looked over at Doug and he was doing the same. Just like that, it was on! Fighting those first fish, we compared thoughts and agreed that we were into some pretty solid specks. Mine came to hand first and while I was unhooking the 24-incher Doug looked over and commented, “Oh wow, that’s a big fish.” I got her measured against my rod and then let her swim away. Meanwhile, Doug gets his in and luckily I had my GoPro on me. We weren’t sure of the length but a quick check on the Boga Grip said she weighed 6.5 lbs. I got a few quick photos and we watched her swim off. That three minutes was well worth getting out of bed and the three hour grind without getting a bite.  We continued to fish and managed to put a few trout on the stringer. It was a beautiful morning to be plugging away in the surf. Here

Dave Roberts is an avid kayak-fishing enthusiast fishing primarily the inshore Upper Coast region with occasional adventures to surf and nearshore Gulf of Mexico. Email: TexasKayakChronicles@yahoo.com Website: www.TexasKayakChronicles.com


register online at www.speedystop.com This is an incredible event that gives kids the opportunity to get outdoors, try to catch some fish and spend some quality time with family and friends. Snack Packs & t-Shirts provided to the first 500 kids to check in. We Hope To see you this year!

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Volunteers receiving instruction during a spartina grass planting-marsh habitat improvement project. (Lisa Laskowski photo)

Story by John Blaha

T S F M A G C O N S E R VAT I O N N E W S

GRASSROOTS –

THE CORNERSTONE OF SUCCESS In 1977, it was the grassroots efforts of local recreational fishermen that came together with a common cause to form Gulf Coast Conservation Association (GCCA). While small yet fragmented groups were in existence already throughout the state, the founding members of GCCA brought desire, knowhow and political connections to the table to begin a sometimes intense yet necessary battle to turn the tide in the diminishing populations of speckled trout and redfish in the State of Texas. These early pioneers of marine conservation in Texas left an indelible mark on marine conservation that continues today.

Since that first meeting in a small tackle shop in Houston, GCCA has evolved into Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and has grown to 19 state chapters along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts, with more than 120,000 members. CCA Texas is the largest and oldest state chapter of the organization, with membership numbering 70,000 comprising 55 local chapters located across the state. Grassroots success is everywhere you look in today’s CCA and with this comes the energy and strength of the organization In Texas. In the advocacy arena, big victories CCA banquets provide the funding lifeline that sustains the organization and supports habitat projects. (John Blaha photo)

52 | August 2018


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Young volunteers participating in an oyster bagging-habitat reef creation project. (Lisa Laskowski photo)

Auctioneer at work during a local chapter banquet. (John Blaha photo)

were achieved with the passing of new oyster management policies and statutes put in place in September of 2017. CCA Texas played a key role in this effort by being an integral part of the process in the beginning stages and throughout the process. CCA Texas members sent in over 1,100 comments to support proposed changes to both the management policies and statutes that were put before the TPWD commissioners and legislature for approval. The San Jacinto waste pit site has long been a point of contention for conservationists and fisherman in the Galveston Bay area. After coming to a head with toxic leaks being documented into the Galveston Bay System as a result of erosion that occurred during Hurricane Ike, CCA Texas along with Galveston Bay Foundation and others launched a successful campaign to seek the removal of these materials. Although the initial plan was not what the organizations wanted, it was a start. Hurricane Harvey caused more damage and, in turn, the EPA finally ruled that all contaminated materials must be removed. CCA members submitted more than 2,000 comments to the EPA supporting the full removal of contaminated soil. CCA Texas’s Executive Director Robby Byers and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman, Troy Williamson, printed and hand-delivered every single comment in a meeting with EPA representatives in Dallas. This support by the membership was a crucial part in the actions taken by EPA. In the Habitat realm, grassroots efforts are evident everywhere. The efforts of Friends of RGV Reef and CCA members has created a one-of-a-kind nearshore reef in Texas state waters off the coast of South Padre Island. This effort, spearheaded by local recreational fishermen, was the key to the establishment of and the deployment of reefing materials into the Rio Grande Valley nearshore reefing site. The project is still being run by local volunteers and their efforts are setting the stage for similar efforts in Sabine Pass and other areas along the Texas coast. CCA and other volunteers are also key 54 | August 2018

participants in marsh grass planting and oyster bagging events up and down the Texas coast. The success of the CCA Texas fundraising efforts is deeply rooted within the local chapters. Without active and successful fundraising and membership efforts by local chapter boards, the advocacy and habitat success would not be possible. CCA Texas events range in size from 100 to 2,000-plus attendees, and these events raise funds up to as much as $1.2 million dollars during a single event. This continued success would not be possible without committed local chapter volunteers and supporters. CCA Texas leadership is born from the local chapters, and their longstanding support and belief in the CCA Texas model of marine conservation. CCA Texas is blessed to have this type of support as it continues to move forward in helping ensure the Texas coastal resources for present and future generations. Grassroots efforts in fundraising can also come through the help of local business support. Bay Flats Lodge, Building Conservation Trust (BCT), CCA’s National Habitat Program, and CCA Texas recently came together to create a habitat funding program that will benefit the middle coast of Texas. This effort by Bay Flats works by matching donations from lodge guests at a rate of 1:1 with a check written by Bay Flats to BCT once a month. The success of the program is already showing and Bay Flats Lodge, CCA Texas and BCT are excited to see what will come in the future. This effort is paying it forward for the restoration and creation of marine habitat in the central Texas coast. If you are a business and would be interested in a similar program, please contact Kim Philippe or John Blaha at (713) 626-4222. If you are interested in being a part of a committed team, contact CCA Texas at (713) 626-4222 and ask to speak with your local chapter representative. We welcome new people and fresh ideas and look forward to another 40 years of marine conservation in Texas.


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Texas Banded Bird Challenge SAN ANTONIO – Texas dove hunters will have the opportunity this fall to become wildlife research assistants and maybe drive away in a new Polaris Ranger UTV next year, courtesy of the Texas Dove Hunters Association. The Texas BB (Banded Bird) Challenge kicks off this year with a goal of conducting the first research project of its kind focusing on Eurasian Collared Doves – considered an invasive species found all over the state. Bob Thornton, founder of the TDHA, said the research project involves volunteer trappers attaching numbered leg bands on 300 Eurasian Collared Doves that have been captured and then released across the state. Hunters and outfitters entered in the TDHA contest who bag any of the banded birds from Sept. 1, 2018 through Jan. 31, 2019, will be eligible for a prize drawing including a Polaris Ranger UTV by Hoffpauir Outdoors of Goldthwaite; shotguns by CZ-USA; TDHA Frio coolers; Chippewa snake boots and TDHA memberships including lifetime and 3 year membership packages. There is also a First Flight high school division (14-years-old and older) featuring a prize of a $1,000 scholarship; a First Flight youth division (10-13 years old) with a prize of an overnight guided dove hunt for two; and a guide/outfitter division with a prize of a guided trophy trout fishing trip for two on Baffin Bay. The banded birds will have a band on their left leg stating “Winner! Call 210-764-1189 or go to www. texasdovehunters.com.” A TDHA number from 001 to 300 will also be imprinted on each band. Any registered hunter who harvests a TDHA banded Eurasian Collared Dove and reports the number to TDHA will receive a TDHA membership pack if they are not drawn for a top prize, if they are registered in the BB Challenge prior to harvesting the bird. They are also entered in to a drawing to win one of the many fabulous prizes, insuring that the research effort will be a win-win situation for everyone. Information gathered from birds harvested during the contest are such traits such as migration habits, climate preferences, ageing and to estimate survival and harvest rates. This information is recorded using the same methods as a current federal project conducted on white-winged and mourning doves. Unlike the heavily researched migratory mourning and white-winged doves that attract nearly 300,000 hunters to hunting fields each season, very limited information is available on the Eurasian Collared dove that can be hunted year round with no bag limit. Entry forms and a complete set of guidelines for the Texas BB Challenge are available on the TDHA website at www.texasdovehunters.com.

Eurasian collared dove, banded prior to release.

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Daniel Gallegos takes a moment to enjoy life’s catch.

STEPHANIE BOYD

F I S H Y FA C T S

SNOOK The fish we in Texas call snook is usually the common snook, Centropomus undecimalis, though there are a couple other species of fat snook that occasionally make an appearance. These species rarely grow to 24 inches, while the common snook can reach over 40 inches. Centropomus is the only genus in the snook family, Centropomidae. They are distinguished by having twopart dorsal fins, a lateral line that extends onto the tail, and frequently, a concave shape to the head. Common snook are a slender golden-yellow fish with a pike-like body, a protruding lower jaw, and a distinct black lateral line. Ocean snook tend to be more silvery yellow, and river specimens may be considerably darker in color. The meaning of their name, Centropomus undecimalis, is a bit tricky. According to the University of Florida, “centro” comes from the Greek, kentron, meaning point or spine. “Poma” refers to a cover, such as a gill plate or operculum. “Und” means wave, and “cimal” stems from the Greek, simil, which means to emulate. All together, wavelike spinygill? Snook are euryhaline, meaning they spend time in both fresh and saltwater – never far from seawater when they’re upriver and never far from freshwater when they’re in the sea. They live in a wide variety of habitats, 56 | August 2018

including river mouths, nearshore reefs, salt marshes, seagrass meadows, and along Gulf beaches, but have a preference for mangrove-fringed estuaries. Snook are tropical fish. They can’t tolerate cold water, not even for a couple days. The lower lethal limit for adults is 43° to 54° F, though they become lethargic once temperatures fall to 65° F and can begin to die at just 60° F. Unsurprisingly, temperature is a large factor in distribution. The common snook is by far the most abundant and wide-ranging of all snook species. They are found along the Atlantic coast of Florida south through the Keys. They occur infrequently between the Florida panhandle and Galveston, Texas, but are plentiful along the rest of the Gulf Coast. Most snook are opportunistic carnivores, feeding primarily on other fish, though they will also take shrimp, crabs, and mollusks. The specific diet of the common snook varies with habitat. Snook in seagrass meadows eat mostly bay anchovy, pinfish, and penaeid shrimp. They are ambush feeders and often stake out at the mouths of inlets behind bridge pilings, rocks, or other submerged structures. There are two daily feeding peaks, one about two hours before sunrise, and the other about two or three hours after sunset. The tides also affect mealtime, with a noted increase in activity following


USE CODE TEXAS TO GET FREE SHIPPING ON YOUR WIREMAN X! www.GetYourMojoOn.com

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standing flood or ebb tides. Common snook are, in turn, prey for dolphins, larger fish, and some birds, such as osprey and heron. Though common snook spend time in freshwater habitats, they can’t spawn in them, as the sperm only activates in saline waters. Spawning begins in June or July in and around Gulf passes, and peaks from August through October. Snook hatch 18 to 36 hours after fertilization. At hatching, they are about 1.5 millimeters long and eat zooplankton. Within thirty days, they’re approaching 1.5 inches long and beginning to roam a bit, searching for larger prey, such as minute shrimp. One-year-old snook are about 7 inches long. During this first year, juvenile snook utilize estuarine habitat in the mouths of streams and rivers, depending on the reliable freshwater inflows to maintain food availability and vegetation for cover. They gain another 7 inches in their second year. From two to three years, the growth rate slows to levels that will be more-or-less maintained throughout their life. In general, they reach sexual maturity the first time at about five years old; the second time at about eight years. Yes, these fish have the delight of going through puberty twice – first as a male, then as a female – because they are protandrous sequential hermaphrodites, meaning they are born male and at some point in their lifespan change sex to female. For common snook in Texas, this usually occurs between 30 and 34 inches in length. Through a study conducted by the Department of Natural Resources (Florida), Atlantic coast snook tend to grow faster and live longer than Gulf Coast fish, though the sizes/ages converge around ten years old, perhaps because the reduced number of fish that survive beyond age eight creates a skew in the statistics. There were no fish older than twelve years captured on the west coast of Florida (though there was a fifteen-year-old female caught on the lower Gulf Coast). Atlantic coast females regularly survive into their teens, and grow quite large. The largest, aged at eighteen years, measured 40.4 inches. However, these monsters don’t represent the limits of snook growth. The largest fish come from Central America, where there are never cold kills to wipe out the oldest survivors, and where the constantly warm waters produce rapid, year-round growth. There are reports of snook exceeding 60 and even 70 pounds, and lengths of better than five feet, being sold in Mexican fish markets. But none of these behemoths have ever been reported to the International Game Fish Association. The IGFA all-tackle record for common snook measures 54 inches, weighed 53 pounds 10 ounces, and was caught in Costa Rica in October 1978. In fact, six of the current IGFA records come from the Caribbean shore of Costa Rica, despite the comparatively minimal fishing pressure there… or perhaps, because of it. Snook maintain a certain mystique in Texas, mainly due to their historic abundance and more recent scarcity, except in South Texas, though even there the snook remains a less-than-common catch. From the late 1800s to the early 1940s, commercial snook landings were quite large, even reaching 230,000 pounds in Port Isabel in 1928. However, in the early 1940s, commercial landings dropped to token levels, and no landings were reported after 1961. Regulations were passed in 1987 that limited the catch of snook to rod and reel only. Several reasons have been suggested for the decline of snook: range limitations due to cold temperature, high pesticide levels, disease, overfishing, reduced freshwater inflows to bays and estuaries, etc. But the actual reason for the dwindling population was never pinned down. Likely, it is a combination effect. Because of 58 | August 2018

their protandrous hermaphroditism and low relative abundance, a bag limit of one snook per person per day was adopted in 1995. The combined size and bag limits aim to reduce fishing mortality for male snook, allowing more of them to get in touch with their feminine side, thereby increasing reproduction. And it appears to be working! TPWD gill net samples conducted in the Lower Laguna Madre showed a small increase in catch rates for snook in the 1990s through 2004. Some people ignore the regulations put in place to ensure survival of certain fish species, but in general, defiance is taboo among snookers. Maintaining habitat for adult and juvenile snook is equally important. Shoreline habitats, such as mangroves and healthy seagrass beds, and estuarine habitats in the mouths of rivers flowing to the Gulf are all needed for healthy snook populations. While abundance levels of the first half of the 1900s may not be seen again, even small population increases enhance the possibility of catching this elusive fish, and the occasional enjoyment of a snook fillet can be an acceptable culinary treat, even for the environmentally scrupulous.

Where I learned about snook, and you can too! TPWD tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/snook/ tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/didyouknow/coastal/snook.phtml tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/action/staterecords.php?env=SW&age_ group=all&list=0&browse=Go FishBase www.fishbase.org/summary/345 Encyclopedia of Life www.eol.org/pages/205157/overview Smithsonian Marine Station www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/Centro_undeci.htm IGFA wrec.igfa.org/WRecordsList.aspx?lc=AllTackle&cn=Snook,%20common

By Frank Sargeant Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission myfwc.com/research/saltwater/fish/snook/ Florida Museum www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/discover/species-profiles/centropomusundecimalis University of Florida hardee.ifas.ufl.edu/Newsletter/2015/11_November.pdf Florida Sight Fishing www.floridasightfishing.com/snook.htm Orvis www.orvis.com/news/fly-fishing/fishi-facts-common-snook-centropomusundecimalis/ PubMed www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21717854


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CURTISS CASH

I N S H O R E | N E A R S H O R E | J E T T I E S | PA S S E S

BEAT THE HEAT! August is easily one of the best months to fish the Texas coast. The heat is on and not just the air temperatures. Fishing is HOT for a variety of species. Some of my best trips of the year come this month, mainly due to the calmer weather. Calm conditions that lack cooling winds actually intensify the effects of heat. Since fish are coldblooded and immersed in water, they typically lounge and feed in cooler, deeper waters. The jetties are a great area to beat the scorching August heat, at least for the fish. The ever-present tidal exchanges from the Gulf of Mexico, and the deeper waters located along those rock walls, offer an enticingly cooler habitat for our finned friends. These cooler waters will often concentrate schooling fish and actually increase their appetite. Many of my August days will be in deep waters away from bay shorelines and near the gulf passes. BLUE CRAB MIGRATION Years with minimal fresh water inflow during springtime make for a magical crab migration in late summer. I’ll

be looking for swimming blue crabs on the surface, migrating to the gulf, riding the ebbing tide. I’m not looking to harvest them, being that it is illegal to possess (or use for bait) females with aprons detached. The fish do not follow these rules though. Many proteinrich egg-laden females will never make it past the jetty entrance to the gulf. Bull reds are the main species that hunt these tasty morsels. It is no surprise when a large tarpon, jack crevalle, or various shark species join the reds to partake of the bounty. The big reds often work in packs of 3 to 5 fish in a hunting party and attack with gusto. Quite often the attacks can be seen from a distance and even the sounds of reds crunching on crabs can be heard when in close proximity. This is definitely a sight-casting/hunting style of angling. Most floating topwater lures will work when you see these fish riding the tide lines searching for an easy meal. For accomplishing healthier releases of these bulls I recommend removing all but the rear hook on the plug, even changing to one single hook when possible. Coincidentally, that toothy patch in the throat Kingfish have been plentiful. Taking three-fish limits for all anglers aboard has been the norm this season.

Spec-Rigs and silver spoons are the standby lures for pompano, Spanish mackerel, and little tunny.

Spanish mackerel are a delicious bonus when fishing the surf.

60 | August 2018


of the redfish is designed for this type of dining. Try not to let the fish swallow the lure, set the hook the instant they grab the plug. I like gold or brown colored lures to better match the hatch. Fly fisherman definitely have an edge by being able to mimic the prey almost exactly with hairy creations.

SURF FISHING There should be plenty of days in August when we can run to the surf. Waiting on our arrival are plenty of predators searching for prey. Variety is the norm here and being rigged and ready for them is one of the primary keys to success. Trout, redfish, pompano, and Spanish mackerel are my main targets. Trout love a lively nose-hooked croaker or pigfish. Rig either one on a Carolina rig with a 6/O hook and a 1-ounce egg sinker. Fish in the second and third gut for best success. For slot reds, sling the live bait up into the first gut and hang on. For the Spanish mackerel and pompano, many of the same lures can catch both. Pompano prefer a lure to be hopped across the bars, spitting up puffs of sand as it is reeled. The Spanish like a fast moving lure near the surface between the guts. White or yellow colored tandem Spec-Rigs and silver spoons are deadly at the beach’s sand bars. These same lures are also effective when chasing Spanish mackerel and little tunny nearshore and near the jetty channels. If the fish are short striking at the lures, speed up the retrieve until you are hooking up. These fish have keen eyesight, a quick retrieve gives them less of a chance to look it over before closing the deal.

Cobia have been plentiful and of above average size this season.

NEARSHORE August is the month with the most species available in our nearshore waters. Many times the calmer weather conditions provide exceptional water clarity and offshore currents push closer toward the beachfront. Often true blue water will be found inside the Texas state water boundary. Offshore current seams are my favorite structures to target, you never know what you might catch. I like to troll deep diving lures and a spoon on the surface while working the current line with the clearer water. I troll the clearest water slowly while watching the surface for bait or feeding fish. Pelagic species make occasional appearances – sailfish, dorado and barracuda. No matter where you fish this month, please be safe and consider the effects of direct sun and elevated temperatures. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are very common on the water, remember to drink plenty of fluids and wear light-colored clothing.

C O N TA C T

OPEN-WATER STRUCTURE The bay water is most likely warmer this month than any other during the year. The thin skinned trout like cooler surroundings, so deeper waters oblige. Spoil islands near the ICW or any major channel can spell relief to the heat. Look for steep drop-offs near the channel. Some spoils hold oyster which is a bonus feature to the main spoil bank structure while others may Jackfish are fun to be only a shallow ridge. catch. Watching Deep oyster reefs in the several compete for a bays harbor cooler water with topwater is awesome. increased water flow around the structure. On windy days, fish farther away from the shell making long casts to keep the boat hull splash from spooking fish. Live croaker is king in these areas, free-lined or fished Carolina rigged with just enough weight to get the bait heading deep without getting hung in the shell. I typically start with an 1/8 ounce egg weight and adjust from there depending on current velocity.

Capt. Curtiss Cash offers charters in the Port O’Connor area; specializing in fishing the bays, passes, jetties, surf and nearshore waters. Species targeted include speckled trout, redfish, flounder, tripletail, black drum, bull reds, sharks, snapper, kingfish, ling and tarpon, when seasonally available. Phone

361-564-7032

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Thirteen-year-old Richard Gibson with 9-foot female bull shark – released.

E X T R E M E K AYA K F I S H I N G & S H A R K S F R O M T H E S A N D

ERIC OZOLINS

LOOKING AROUND THE CORNER Prior to the major flooding in South Texas that occurred in mid-June in the wake of nearly fifteen-inches of rain, fishing had been phenomenal. In regard to land-based shark fishing, it may well have been some of the best on our coast in many years – perhaps decades. All the necessary elements aligned to allow things to explode. It began in late-spring when the surf turned relatively calm with no rain for several weeks. The normally pesky sargassum that typically begins to arrive mid-spring and continues into mid-summer was virtually absent. With no sargassum, anglers were able to kayak and long-rod their baits with ease and leave them in place for hours. Shark fishermen came to the surf in droves and routinely produced incredible catches. There have been more big hammerheads, tigers, and giant bulls caught this year than perhaps the past several combined. As we close in on August we may experience another spectacular run of large sharks, especially if we make it through the month without significant interruption from the tropics. August has always been a very interesting month along the coastline. We usually have grease-calm conditions with flat surf, blazing temperatures, and modest tidal movement. Daytime surf fishing is often quite slow with the exception of days when baitballs are randomly pushed near the beach. 62 | August 2018

For nearly two decades now, August has meant two things to me. Either hit or miss nighttime tiger shark action in the surf or the optimal time to venture offshore. I have always found myself in the kayak straying away from the surf as often as I could, heading to deeper waters in search of kings, cobia, and snapper. Hitting any source of structure from the kayak; jetties, offshore platforms, or underwater obstructions, is usually an ideal way of getting in on action you normally cannot find elsewhere. While some local anglers prefer to hit the likes of Baffin Bay for trophy speckled trout, I’d rather be in the gulf in the kayak on a calm morning with the sunrise reflecting off the glassy water and watching a 40-lb kingfish go aerial as it destroys a topwater lure. August also means prime time for getting offshore aboard a sportfisher. I have been very fortunate to have friends and the ability to embark on some truly epic offshore adventures. Traditionally, this is the peak of marlin season off the Texas coast, with the primary targets on trips I have participated in being billfish and tuna. Trips aboard sportfishers can include single day, two day, and three day adventures. It is very soothing for the soul to be trolling the summer days away, a hundred miles offshore, jamming out to the radio and watching blue marlin launch as they hit a lure pulled in


the boat’s wake. Then, come nightfall, I am usually self-appointed to night crew duty and help run the boat. While most of the day crew are asleep, I and maybe a couple others stand watch, orbiting floating offshore oil platforms and wreaking havoc on yellowfin tuna with topwaters. This type of fishing ranks high on the list of avid offshore anglers and one I wish I could enjoy more often. How much time I will be blessed with to enjoy offshore this month and the rest of the season is very much up in the air. My beach charter book has been filling in nicely and I expect more last minute bookings as family groups hurry to squeeze in a trip before the kids have to be back in school. One of my greatest joys while conducting family shark trips on the beach is the opportunity to interact with youngsters; educating through nature and fishing lessons and putting them on fish. Capping it off with a first time, hands-on encounter with the magnificent species we are targeting creates excitement and happiness for both the youth angler and the guide that I cannot describe adequately with words. And it’s not just about the kids. I enjoy the full spectrum of adventurers – first-timers to avid anglers. Parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents, hoping to scratch one species or another from a fishing bucket list are all priceless to me. A fabulous example of a most gratifying and enjoyable kid-fishing adventure occurred earlier this summer when I had a gentlemen and thirteenyear-old son on an overnight trip. Young Richard and his father, while not newbies to the sport, wanted to try their luck at nighttime sharking. Their timing couldn’t have been better. During the day, Richard got into some blacktip action and also landed a large stingray that easily outweighed him. As nightfall enveloped the beach, little did we know that a truly epic event was coming his way. Richard found himself in a battle royal that stretched late into the night, clinging tenaciously to a large shark rig. I was convinced it was a tiger as he fought a massive shark for nearly an hour. Wading into the darkness to tail rope the beast, it occurred to me that something wasn’t right. Richard’s fish was not a tiger but a brute of a bull shark. The mature 9-foot female was among the largest I’ve seen of this species and covered all along her body with mating scars. No doubt the queen of the gulf and every mature male had likely been fighting over her. Richard, his father, and I were beyond smiles and amazement. Especially gratifying was that we were able to accomplish the successful release of such

Baitballs pushed near the beach are an August highlight.

Preparing for the release of a Gulf of Mexico marlin.

Offshore floaters offer incredible nighttime tuna action.

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C O N TA C T

an incredible specimen. With so much that has already happened this summer, there is one thing beyond all and any fish that I am looking forward to in a few months. This fall, my beautiful partner in life, Alexis, will be giving birth to our first child – a daughter. If she turns out anything like her mother, she will dressed head-totoe in camouflage prowling the South Texas brush in winter and wrangling sharks the rest of the year. We feel truly blessed and are extremely excited. For the past few years I have been very fortunate to share incredible experiences with a great many young anglers and made memories that will last a lifetime with each of them. Now I will be able to do it with my own child. Please join Alexis and me in welcoming the next generation of the Ozolins family. Life is a beautiful thing.

Closeup of mating scars on Richard’s female bull shark gives new meaning to love hurts!

For the past decade Eric ‘Oz’ Ozolins has been promoting shark catch and release and assisting various shark research programs. Eric offers guided shark fishing on Padre Island National Seashore. Also renowned for extreme kayak big game fishing, Eric is the owner of Catch Sharks Tackle Company. Email Websites

oz@oceanepics.com oceanepics.com | catchsharks.com

“We contracted the construction of the TSFMag office building with Farrell Jackson. Jackson also built my son’s bay house here in Seadrift. We were completely satisfied with both projects…a professional and trustworthy contractor.” ~ Everett Johnson Editor/Publisher, Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine

361-576-3825 Office | 361-576-3828 Fax 36 Hunters Circle, Victoria, TX 77905

Barndominiums • Metal Buildings • Boat and Mini Storage • Metal Frame Homes • Commercial Buildings 64 | August 2018

www.RafterJConstruction.com A previous owner of Circle J Enterprises, Inc.


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P L A S T I C & WAT E R D O N ' T M I X

EVERETT JOHNSON

GRAB THE BULL BY THE HORNS!

Before...

Our column this month recognizes the conservation effort of Houstonarea angler Brian Adams. San Luis Pass has long been a popular destination for fishermen from all across Texas. Boaters and beach anglers alike find uncommon opportunity for a variety of species – speckled trout, redfish, flounder, Spanish mackerel, sharks, occasional king mackerel, and more. Anglers can be seen almost shoulder-to-shoulder during the bull red run – that’s how good and popular the Pass is. Besides great fishing, one of the most popular things about San Luis Pass is the accessibility. Unlike other popular fishing spots, the pass provides free access to the public and you can drive right to the shoreline. You just don’t find that everywhere you go – nowadays anyway. Although four-wheel drive is advised, the short distance from the pavement at the Galveston side of the San Luis Pass bridge to the edge of the water can be covered handily with two-wheel drive anytime 66 | August 2018

...After

recent rains have tightened the loose sand of the two-track trails. Sadly though, it just might be the free and easy access aspect that brings out the worst in some of the people who fish there. Word got ‘round in mid-June that the pass was full of specks and Brian Adams paid a quick visit to check it out. Sure enough, the fish were there. But what he saw on the beach was very disappointing. Trash was everywhere, some freshly deposited, some older and partially buried by blowing sand and tide. Interestingly enough, some of the trash had been bagged but still abandoned. All manner of discards were in evidence – food and drink containers, broken lawn furniture, buckets, and even several E-Z-Up style shade canopies. Some places appeared to have been overnight campsites. While some of the trash may have washed in from the gulf, Brian says it was clear to him that the majority had been left behind by fishermen. Why anybody would treat such a beautiful place with horrible


disrespect can only be imagined. Brian took the insult very personally. His first stop was the popular 2CoolFishing internet message forum where he posted photos and sought help in organizing a cleanup project. Lots of good people on 2Cool. Next he made a call on the leaders of Boy Scout Troop 320 – Crosspoint Community Church, Katy Texas – Texas Skies District. Hoping to make an impact ahead of the July 4th – Independence Day holiday, Brian marshalled a squad of 34 volunteers (including Boy Scouts) to hit the beach the following weekend. Not much time to get everything organized, but as the old saying goes, “If you want a job done, assign it to somebody that’s already busy.” He hopes to able to give more notice and invest more planning for the next event he promises will happen soon. Bright and early Saturday morning June 23, Brian and his allvolunteer crew hit the beach running with rakes, shovels, trash bags, and desire to get the job done. The total area restored to pristine beauty measured out to a little more than 18 acres. And the trash, weighed at dump, totaled 3,240 pounds – much of it plastic! TSFMag offers mega-conservation kudos to Brian, Boy Scout Troop 320, Techline Pipe (of Montgomery, TX for donations of cash, equipment, drinking water, and work gloves) and all the volunteers from 2Cool and/or word-of-mouth who care enough about Texas coastal resources to join Brian’s team. As my dearly departed friend Billy Sandifer used to say of the volunteers who participated in his Big Shell Beach Cleanup – “You are my heroes.” Kudos and sincere thanks to all!

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NEW

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Sterling Silver and Black Enamel Slam Pendant featuring sailfish, redfish, speckled trout and flounder pendant.

Gone Coastal Jewelry Gone Coastal Jewelry, who recently celebrated their five year anniversary, is an online jewelry business that specializes in nautical and coastal jewelry. They are known for their variety of saltwater fish, fishing hooks, and all beach related jewelry, as well as costuming a special piece for their customers. They Ladies and gents sterling silver Fisherman's Snap Swivel and Barrel Bracelet.

have combined the love of fishing and protecting sea life with 25 years of being in the jewelry business to create a place to find the perfect gift for yourself or the favorite angler in your life. www.GoneCoastalJewelry.com

YETI Panga™ Submersible Backpack 28 The Panga™ Backpack is an airtight citadel merging the durability of the Panga Duffel with a tried-and-true backpack design. Its ergonomic DryHaul™ Shoulder Straps offer extra carrying comfort, while the removable chest straps and waist belt provide added stability and security while you trek. And no need to carry it over your head while you wade or blink an eye if left out in the rain, because it's a 100% waterproof gear fortress equipped to outperform any other backpack out there. MSRP: $299.99 www.Yeti.com 68 | August 2018


P R O D U C T S

PENN® Conflict® II The PENN® Conflict® II features stealthy cosmetics, a smooth HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, and a lightweight design, making it the lightest PENN reel ever designed! The RR30 Rigid Resin body and rotor are extremely lightweight and durable….20% lighter than the first-generation Conflict. Internally, the Conflict II is updated with PENN’s CNC Gear Technology and high quality stainless steel ball bearings, making it the ultimate PENN inshore reel. With the Superline Spool™ no backing is needed because of the rubber gasket that keeps superlines from slipping. KEY FEATURES: • High strength RR30 graphite body and rotor design • HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers • CNC machined aluminum gear system • Slow Oscillation – Leveline System • 7+1 sealed stainless steel ball bearing system • Line Capacity Rings MSRP: $149.99 – $199.95 For more information visit www.PennFishing.com. LET THE BATTLE BEGIN™

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Costa Sunglasses® Partners With Bureo To Recycle Discarded Fishing Nets Into High-Performance Sunglass Frames Costa Sunglasses, the leader in world-class performance sunglasses and the initiator of the growing Kick Plastic Campaign, is helping bring positive solutions to the growing issue of ocean plastic pollution through its new Untangled Collection—a collection of frames made entirely from recycled fishing nets. The collection will include four new frame styles made from 100% recycled fishing nets, each featuring mineral glass polarized lenses, recycled aluminum Costa logos, PLUSfoam recyclable temple and nose pads, and a unique tumbled finish. In addition, Costa’s lens technology reduces glare and eye fatigue. The Untangled Collection retails between $199 to $269. For more information on the new frames and Costa’s full line of sunglasses, visit www.CostaDelMar.com. TSFMAG.com | 69


DICKIE COLBURN

DICKIE COLBURN’S Sabine Scene

S ab i n e

Dickie Colburn is a full time guide out of Orange, Texas. Dickie has 37 years experience guiding on Sabine and Calcasieu Lakes.

Telephone 409-883-0723 Website www.sabineconnection.com

In a word, the catching on Sabine Lake can most accurately be described as T-O-U-G-H! Even after countless hours of practice casts and burning gas, we have still been unable to definitively put a finger on what the heck has happened to our trout bite and what the heck it will take for it to recover. The few guides able to do more scouting than guiding continue to share their findings but have come up with no good reason for the abysmal bite. Even the folks with Parks and Wildlife and local biologists have run short on theories as to the scarcity of trout all the way from the mouth of the Neches and Sabine rivers to the end of the jetties. We recently suffered through yet another brief rain event that once again flooded some homes just now recovering from Harvey, but insufficient salinity levels are not the culprit. I am seeing dolphins in the ICW on a daily basis, while nearby live bait fishermen cannot catch a single trout or even a gafftop. While I hoped that his comment was borne of frustration, I recently heard one of the most veteran and best trout fishermen in our area state, “If I would have known this would happen someday I would have kept every legal fish I

ever caught.” He was an advocate for catch and release when no one even considered that as a part of fishing. He offered to take neighbors and kinfolk fishing if they wanted to learn to fish but refused to save fish he caught for their next fish fry. While it has been hard on the bank account, the silver lining has been that it has been years since I have shared the boat with so many friends and guides looking for fish. We know what we are facing before we ever leave the dock, but it has rekindled my belief that there truly is far more to fishing than catching! None of this is to say that we draw a blank on every outing. The biggest problem from a guiding standpoint is that there has been no consistency at all and the trout that we have found have been small. When the wind allows, we are occasionally catching fifteen to nineteen inch trout wading at first light (that bite ends pretty quickly) and the same size trout under small groups of terns and gulls on the south end of the lake. Even Keith Lake, which serves as a safety net when all else fails, has been inconsistent at best. Hell of a crab bite, but slower than usual on both trout and flounder.

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The water in the marshes on the east side of the lake is beautiful and on any given day you can still catch both redfish and bass running together. Even at that, Capt. Chuck says that he is yet to see the brown shrimp that he normally sees every time he buries his push pole in the mud this time of the year. “It is weird,” says Uzzle, “I am so accustomed to hearing the clicking noise of those shrimp breaking the surface, but that hasn’t been the case so far and it is overdue.” To some degree, the Galveston area has suffered through some of the same problems and while they have apparently recovered much faster, I found it interesting that TSFMag’s Captain Harp reported experiencing a common finding in his column last month. His catching is obviously better, but he said that they were not finding their trout scattered all over the bays and that when you find them you would do well to stay put. We, too, have found our small schools of trout very concentrated. An area as small as a football field may yield ten to fifteen fish while you can’t draw a bite in the rest of the lake. Surprisingly enough, our redfish have been doing exactly the same thing. They have been mixed in size but tend to congregate along one short stretch of shoreline. When you catch that first one, bury your Talon and don’t assume that the same bite is taking place in all of your old haunts. I have most missed the usual amount of time spent fishing with kids out of school for the summer, but they tend to prefer catching over fishing. I have, however, enjoyed several unscheduled get-togethers where we have covered everything from repairing equipment to teaching Dad how to fish!

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CAPT. CALEB HARP

THE BUZZ on Galveston Bay

Galve s t o n

Capt. Caleb Harp has fished the Galveston Bay System since childhood and, now a charter captain and fishing guide, he uses his knowledge to enable clients to enjoy the excellent fishing the area offers. His specialty is the yeararound pursuit for trophy trout and redfish with artificial lures

Telephone 281-753-3378 Website harpsguideservice.com

72 | August 2018

Fishing the Galveston Bay complex has been spotty at best. The inconsistency in catching is due to the lack of habitat and lack of fish that we once had. Without sounding like a broken record, I will try to refrain from the same old lecture of how things have changed after Hurricane Ike, the drought, and then the past three years of flooding. We know the times have changed but how do you battle through this lull? We have to fish smart and conservatively! I have been getting a ton of calls and emails from people dumbfounded on why they cannot catch fish like they used to. The cold, hard, honest truth is that none of us are. I can sit here and act like it’s all good and we have millions of fish and give another positive report on where to go and what to do, but that won’t help much. We are in a rebuilding process and it is just going to take time for things to get back to normal. It’s easy to blame certain things for a day of bad fishing. In the spring we can blame high barometric pressure, low tides, high wind, glass minnows, and other aspects of the spring transition. In the summer we can curse the southwest wind, slack tides, and too many boats on top of us. During

these spells of tough conditions, we often dream of how many fish we are going to catch whenever the wind does lay down and the tide does get right. But here we stand in the primetime summer months and the wind is dying and the tide is moving and we still are struggling. We are out of excuses. All we can do is keep battling through. After all, it’s got to get better! By fishing smart and conservatively, we can still catch fish and save our fishery at the same time. Expectations and perceptions have to change. Gone are the days where we could go out and find multiple schools of fish slicking in the middle of nowhere and just pull in and get ‘em. We aren’t going to catch 40-60 trout a day up to 5-and 6-pounds like we used to. But we can still go out and experience a fun day of fishing. The times they are a-changin’ and we must change with them. By no means am I trying to be doom and gloom; I’m just trying to be honest. We still have some fish here and by no means am I saying that it’s over. We just have to readjust our tactics and mentality of boxing every legal fish we land. If you pick your days and hit the weather right, fishing can still be good. You just might have to reevaluate what “good” is in your standards. When I say to fish smart, what I mean is that we have


Redfish have been day savers…Thomas Francis releases a bull.

to slow down and dissect every detail of what’s going on to understand the reason why the fish are doing what they are doing and why they are where they are. Often times we get into a rush and want to power through an area or pull up to a spot and give it 10 casts, and then keep on rolling. You’ve got to really slow down and find out where the fish are and exactly what they want. Once you learn this, remember it, it will help you narrow down your choices and eliminate wasted time. I remember years ago on a wade trip with Mickey Eastman; we were wading a cove and I wanted to walk really fast, fan casting a topwater. After 30 minutes and not a bite, I told Mickey, “Let’s get out of here. They’re not here or they’re not eating.” To that he replied, “We aren’t going anywhere.” Two hours later and still no bites, we finally saw a slick pop and for the next hour we experienced a bite I will never forget. Three of the fish we caught on that wade weighed more than seven pounds. That day taught me a lot and stands as proof that it pays to slow it down. Once you slow down and really grasp what’s going on, you will fully understand all of the pieces of the puzzle that make this game tick and have a greater appreciation for the sport. In closing, I wish everyone the best on the water and I encourage everyone to try to fish smarter and learn as much as you can. The fishing will get better and we will be just fine. The slowest of days are usually when we learn the most!

TSFMAG.com | 73


BINK GRIMES

THE VIEW FROM Matagorda

M ata go r d a

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 binkgrimes@sbcglobal.net Website matagordasunriselodge.com

74 | August 2018

Normally we talk about August being so hot you can hardly stand it. However, since June and July were about the hottest I can remember, August is likely to be little more than business as usual. With tough winds so far this summer we haven’t had the chance to get on the beach. We are hoping August will change that, being that August is known for its mostly calm, balmy days. We regularly catch 4-to 7-pound trout in the surf on topwaters, MirrOlures and soft plastics. If you use live bait it can be pretty quick limits on live shrimp, and even quicker on live croakers. We are hoping for higher tides to pump new water into our bays from the low tides of July and June. That extra foot of water pushes trout right on the beach. I mean, you can literally cast from the beach and never get your feet wet and catch fish – like bank-fishing a bass pond. I feed them topwaters. Few blowups rival a surftrout banging a plug and it seems the best bites have come on chrome MirrOlure She Dogs and She Pups. Those baits are just bigger and noisier and I think the fish locate them amid all the gobs and gobs of menhaden, mullet and shrimp. Those Gulf fish are just

wired different – they have to be – they are not on top of the food chain like their relatives in the bays. It seems the bigger the trout, the more the sharks show up. You can try and reel fast and horse the fish to the boat, but a five-pounder with waves breaking on the end of a light graphite rod cannot be rushed. The guys in the far west reaches of West Matagorda Bay near Port O’Connor should enjoy the same action. Many are heading south out of Pass Cavallo and fishing the Darlington shipwreck and some are hanging around the jetty and walking the


rocks and tossing She Dogs, Skitter Walks and Super Spooks. East Matagorda Bay finally fired up in July and waders caught fish in unexpected places due to low tides. July is synonymous with low tides but I cannot remember a June with lower tides. We had to hunt trout in hot, dirty water, making for some frustrating days; however, when enough captains get together, share knowledge and work hard to find fish, good things happen. If we can ever put a week’s worth of good weather together I think you will see some amazing catches in East Bay. As far as redfish go, we are hoping for another shot in the arm like last summer when tides bloated due to low pressure in the Gulf and pumped another two feet of water into the bays and back lakes. There are lots of redfish in the surf. Most of the fish are right on the beach in the first gut. Those able to make a long cast from the boat

have nailed limits on live shrimp. The Surfside, Matagorda and Port O’Connor jetty are holding large numbers on pogies and table shrimp. Back lake areas in Matagorda, like Oyster Lake, Crab Lake and Lake Austin are good, as are the far east end of West Bay where the Diversion Channel dumps into the bay. Waders along the West Matagorda Bay shoreline are catching reds right off the grass line on live croakers, shrimp and Gulps. Don’t be surprised to find redfish under birds along the shorelines on calm days. While you are wiping sweat from your forehead, don’t forget we will be shooting blue-winged teal in little more than a month. In fact, the first migration of blue-wings should show by the end of August. The season runs Sept.15-30 and we will be hunting the morning and fishing the afternoons. Follow our catches on Instagram @ matagordasunriselodge, Facebook, and weekly on the Texas Insider Fishing Report on Fox Sports Southwest.

TSFMAG.com | 75


CAPT. GARY GRAY

MID-COAST BAYS With the Grays

Port O'Connor Seadrift

Captain Gary Gray is a full time guide born and raised in Seadrift. He has been guiding in the Seadrift/ Port O’Connor area for 28 years. Gary specializes in wading for trout and redfish year round with artificial lures.

Telephone 361-785-6708 Email bayrats@tisd.net Website www.bayrat.com Facebook @captsgaryandshelliegray

76 | August 2018

Generally speaking, at least in “normal” years, July and August weather patterns are very similar and because of this my July and August fishing strategies are very similar. Sure, lure styles and colors might change, but as far as the areas I target and daily tactics I employ, these do not really change very much. Notice the word normal in the first sentence. This summer, thus far anyway, has had its share of abnormalities. Starting in May and continuing through June, we experienced southwest wind blowing during the night that caused tides to drop to wintertime lows as the sun rose. Low tides are okay but long about mid-morning the wind would switch and howl from the south. This onetwo punch pretty much wiped out any chance to fish mid-bay reefs and sandbars, and totally shutdown any chance of getting into the surf. During July we desperately need green incoming tides from the Gulf. These tides are a wonderful catalyst

that help trigger fish to feed, especially along the major bay shorelines and near passes that I describe as “tide dependent” fishing areas. Well, finally, as I sit here to write this column, we have begun to enjoy our normal southeasterly winds the last few days and the surf along with the bays have flattened out. It is at long last game-on here Larry Taylor showing of a solid surf trout.


Craig Stanich had quite the battle landing this massive surf redfish.

along the middle coast. We have already been to the surf and the trout and reds have cooperated as we hoped they would. Out in the gulf, nearshore platforms and other structure have yielded everything from snapper to ling and kings. Now that we are back to normal tide schedules and the wind is back to its normal direction and velocity for this time of year, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of catching our speckled quarry. My top go-to location for catching quality speckled trout and reds during the heat of August is the surf along Matagorda Peninsula and Matagorda Island. Some days I will be headed east out of the jetties, other days I will be headed west out of Pass Cavallo. The direction I point the bow of my Shallow Sport X3 is totally dependent on where my clients and I have been catching the most and best fish. There are several ways you can fish the surf. Wading is one of my preferred methods. The real key to wade fishing the surf safely is where you anchor the boat. I usually try to anchor the boat between the second and third bar. In some instances, where the first gut is wide enough, I will anchor there. Wading is a great way to fish the surf but there are other options that we will also employ during calmer days. My boats have always been rigged with trolling motors. Even my first guide boat in 1986 had a transom-mounted trolling motor. Granted, batteries back then wouldn’t last all day but we ran it until it quit. Trolling down the beach and throwing She Dogs into the first and second guts is an excellent way to pass the morning. The explosions from angry tiderunners are second to none! Another option and perhaps the most popular nowadays is setting your anchor so that you can throw live bait toward the beach into the first and second guts. I am going to tell you right now you have to get your bait to where the trout and reds are. I see guys every day in the surf and they are anchored way offshore, outside the third bar. Some of the guys are casting further offshore and some just throwing toward the third bar. This is where you will pick up stuff like large stingrays, very large sharks, or any number of species besides specks and reds. You need to get the bait into the first and second guts! There will be days when it is not safe to anchor and fish near the beach and these are the days you should not try it. My rule of thumb is this: If the waves are breaking on the third bar, turn around and go back to the bay. Or better yet, if the marine forecast says the seas will be running two-feet or more, don’t even waste your time going out for a look. Stay in the bay. The surf can become a dangerous place very quickly. August can be a fickle month due to the legendary heat of summer on the gulf coast. Get an early start, pack plenty of patience and plenty of drinking water. Fish hard, fish smart! -Capt. Gary Gray TSFMAG.com | 77


DAVID ROWSEY

HOOKED UP WITH Rowsey

Upper Laguna/ Ba f f i n

David Rowsey has over 25 years in Baffin and Upper Laguna Madre; trophy trout with artificial lures is his specialty. David has a great passion for conservation and encourages catch and release of trophy fish.

Telephone 361-960-0340 Website www.DavidRowsey.com Email david.rowsey@yahoo.com @captdavidrowsey

78 | August 2018

Late June blessed us with some heavy rain. In fact, we had over 12 inches here in Flour Bluff. Too much in many cases as parts of South Texas experienced some devastating flooding. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who lost much. The flip side of the story is that the rain did a lot of good for the hyper-saline Baffin Bay and Upper Laguna Madre. To say things were getting “salty” down here would have been a gross understatement. Besides all the salt residue that lingered on equipment and made for many extra hours of combined maintenance to keep it all working, it had a direct affect on even what lures we could use. Sounds crazy, but the salinity levels had gotten so high that many of my favorite suspending lures, MirrOdine and Paul Brown Original Corky would not even begin to sink into the mid-range of the water column. Since the big rains, that has changed to some degree, but we are still a long way from our average salinity count and things being back to normal. The heat of summer and the salinity has been hell on the dedicated lure fisherman. One of the strangest attributing factors, in my view, is that the

usual rafts of mullet throughout the bay have been very hard to locate in traditional areas. There are some typical bait pods on the south shoreline of Baffin but, most other areas, especially the Upper Laguna, are suspiciously void of bait fish. I have had many head-scratching moments in thirty years of fishing these waters and this qualifies as another one. My thoughts tend to trend back to the salinity, as most of the pods I do find are located in very skinny water along leeward shorelines, which would be the least salty areas of the bay. Naturally, there are some sport fish there also, but not at the numbers you would hope to find them. After thirty years of pluggin’ these bays, you would think it would get easier, but Mother Nature is a beast when she decides it’s time to humble us fishermen. If you haven’t gotten the message, fishing has been a bit tougher than the norm. I have said it a hundred times and will again, “You have got to get out early for the best trout bite.” Do your shallow wading early for trout and moving out to deep structure as the sun comes up. Big drop-offs, deep rocks, and grass are your best bets during these hot months. As a 99.9% wade fisherman, the fish


Mrs. Karen Brady, AKA, Wonder Woman. One of many reds caught on this day. Karen and husband Brian are such a pleasure to share the boat with.

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FEATURING may get out deeper than we can wade in many cases. If you find this to be the case in your fishing, you’re just going to have to swallow your pride and do it from the boat with a trolling motor. Not my favorite thing to do, but whatever it takes to get the job done. I’m excluding live croaker, of course. The most common thing for me to do at this point on charters is to switch gears and chase redfish. Wading flats and sightcasting is truly about as much fun as any fisherman can experience. If you are stealthy and pay attention, you are also going cross paths with some very large trout. On a recent charter I had a client that was shocked at my excitement in locating a large school of drum around some deep rocks in the middle of Baffin. As I dropped the trolling motor I told him to come get on the front of the boat with me. We already had Bass Assassins rigged up and he asked, “Will the drum hit them?” I told him, “Probably not, but the trout around them will.” The school of drum were large and they had the 6-foot water turned off-color due to heavy rooting on the bottom. I have been blessed to witness this scenario many times, and in almost all cases, trout have been hanging out on the fringe of the big school, destroying whatever bait that spooked away. Luckily the pattern held true and my client was in awe of the quality of trout this strategy produced, along with some reds, and a few foul-hooked drum. One thing to point out if y’all ever run across these large schools of mid-bay drum – the results are not reliable when the drum are just suspending and cruising. The schools that will have trout in tow are the ones that are actively feeding on the bottom, and the dirty water is the best indicator of that. Remember the buffalo! -Capt. David Rowsey

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TSFMAG.com | 79


WAYNE DAVIS

WAYNE’S Mansfield Report

Port Mansfield

Captain Wayne Davis has been fishing the Lower Laguna-Port Mansfield for over 20 years. He specializes in wade fishing with lures.

Telephone 210-287-3877 Email captwayne@kwigglers.com

Greetings from Port Mansfield! Summer patterns arrived right on time but we also experienced exceptional rainfall. In mid-June we received almost 15-inches over a period of three days or so. I will admit we needed the rain but that much runoff in a short period of time created a challenge for fishermen. The heavy rains will help our waters over time; we just had to work through it for a short period, relatively speaking. I capitalized on this opportunity to gain knowledge on how to fish under these conditions in hopes it would pay dividends in the future as both a fisherman and guide. In short, I call it “creating wisdom” that will come into play somewhere down the road. Let’s touch on what the heavy rains did for the bay, but first we need to look at where we were prior to the flooding. Our tide levels were extremely low and we had been experiencing very weak daily tides. Once the rain hit we had water flowing in from the mainland in a big way. The Arroyo Colorado was flat out gushing tons of water into our bay system. The creeks south of Port Mansfield were also running bankfull, and fresh water was pouring from every

John Meade with a great summertime trout - personal best at 28-inches!

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80 | August 2018

PHOTO: TYLER WOOLCOTT


small drain up and down the Lower Laguna Madre. Daryl Zercher also If you happened to be scored a personal best fishing during this period speck recently – 29-plus! you saw the bay transform; water levels rose a foot or more, distinct color changes were spattered throughout the bay, and marine life could be found along these color changes. Albeit, it was challenging to catch fish from time to time, but if you remained persistent you would find the fish and eventually figure out the bite. I found three distinct color changes while fishing during this period. We had a clean/clear water line against murky water that was next to a brackish/runoff water line. Our best fish came in the murky water and fish were concentrated near either line (murky/brackish or murky/ clean). We figured out this pattern and managed to catch some great fish, even a couple personal bests for a few lucky anglers. As of this writing our bays are beginning to stabilize, water levels are getting back to normal, but our winds have been certainly holding their own. During these windy days we are having to deal with floating grass and we are having to learn to work through it because the fish are there. With this scenario in play I instantly reach for the KWigglers Willow Maker Jighead (1/16thoz) and pair it up with a Willow Tail Shad, (rigged weedless). With this setup you can stay in the fish, work through the grass, and have a shot at catching fish when you normally would not. A recent trip kept us in the spot while others would fish for about twenty minutes and then leave to look for “more fishable” water. Summer patterns should continue to stabilize, pending no unusual tropical weather events. This means fish will be found shallow early in the morning, cruising grass lines, and then retreating to deeper water after the temperature rises a few degrees. The fish out deep will hold along ledges near the Intracoastal and deeper potholes off deep flats. Locating bait is key and, once you do, try tossing small- to mid-sized topwaters to check willingness of trout to feed on the surface. If that works, stay with it. If not, switch to soft plastics such as the KWigglers Willow Tail Shad or 4-inch Paddle Tail with a light jighead, if shallow. Best colors in the Willow Tail have been Bone Diamond, Texas Roach and Red Shad Pro. In the 4-inch Paddle Tail, give Honey Gold, Strawberry/cool and Olive Red Metal Flake a try. As we move out deeper the KWigglers Ball Tail Shad in Laguna Pearl, Honey Gold and Pearl Hot have been solid fish-catching colors. If you are looking for a great rod that is light, sensitive and can be used with any lure, consider the Fishing Tackle Unlimited Green Rod. My favorite is the 6’-6” light action with a split grip and recoil guides. It’s super sensitive, light, and has enough backbone to wrangle any big bay fish to hand. In closing, we need to consider conservation on every front. A good friend gave me a little piece of advice that can be applied in a variety of life’s situations. “Short term gratification can often lead to long term consequences.” Something to consider the next time you think about tossing a 25-plus trout in the ice chest rather than back in the water. Until next time, stay safe and be courteous on the water. TSFMAG.com | 81


CAPT. ERNEST CISNEROS

SOUTH PADRE Fishing Scene Arr o y o C ol o ra d o t o Po rt I sa bel

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

82 | August 2018

A preview of late-summer’s wet weather hit us in June with torrential rain and flooding. We certainly needed the fresh water to balance the Lower Laguna’s high salinity. But, let’s keep in mind too much fresh water can have an adverse effect on bottom seagrasses as we saw in 2010. Not saying that’s the case with this event but we are just now entering the wet season, and the possibility of more tropical weather. Let’s hope we don’t see a replay of 2010. With that said, I expect water levels to rise much higher than they have been, which is standard for this time of the year. Tides will once again inundate backwater areas giving fish more territory to roam. Daily water and air temperatures will begin to decline as we enter the transition to fall with not only higher tides but decreasing hours of daylight as well. August traditionally delivers lighter winds, better water clarity between rains, and a welcome decline in floating grass.   June’s rains brought us more numerous redfish catches, still below par here in July.

Art Leyva was all smiles with his first-ever snook: 32-plus inches.


Redfish continue to be scattered in general but small groups are being found – no big schools yet that I have heard about. Better areas have been around spoil islands and shoreline coves away from boat traffic. Plastics such as the KWiggler Ball Tail in Plum-Chartreuse and Mansfield Margarita have accounted for many of the redfish we have caught recently. Have you ever made what you thought was a perfect sight-cast to a redfish and it scooted away wanting no part of it? Well, help is on the way. KWigglers has announced a limited edition of baits infused with 100% natural garlic to add extra appeal to your presentations. Look for the release of the first batch of Willow Tail Shads in Turtle Grass and Texas Roach coming soon. I Yours truly with a beautiful specimen of 33-inches. am excited to try these on redfish and big trout. Until then, don’t forget the 1/4-ounce weedless gold spoon that has been fooling redfish for decades.    Lower Laguna trout action for nice keeper-size fish remains steady and, of course, we’re catching lots of little ones, too. Most of our trout have been coming waist-deep in off-colored to trout green water. Fishing alongside the drop-off into the ICW has also been productive at times. Slicks are becoming more prevalent; target the platter-sized slicks as soon as they pop for best results. For some reason, maybe the summer boat traffic, trout have been lying lower than normal in the water column. The best baits have been plastics worked slow near bottom or bounced and dragged right through the grass beds.  I am still not convinced that our bait availability is as good as in years past. For whatever reason, I have not seen the amount of bait that should be in the areas we are fishing. Maybe it’s the fresh water and conditions will change for the better as the salinity begins to stabilize. One thing is for sure; the most productive trout waters have been areas holding concentrations of smaller mullet and pinfish. Keying on tide movements and waiting on the feeding periods has helped us recover from a slow start many days. I mentioned the water temperatures would be cooling down some this month, and that should help trigger a topwater bite that has been sporadic for the past couple of months. Cloudy conditions, which we expect this time of the year, could also contribute favorably. With all the wind we have been having, the afternoons have been great for finding birds working over trout gorging on shrimp. As our winds lay down this month, this will likely diminish somewhat. The trout, shrimp, or the birds will not leave. However, the birding action will cease as our windy patterns start their decline in August.   In closing, I would like to state that overall it’s been a tough year so far, well off the pace of populations and landings we enjoyed as recent as three years ago. We are having to work smarter, harder, and longer to find good concentrations of fish. Nevertheless, a day on the water is always fun and educational. If it was really only about fish to take home, let me tell you it’s much cheaper, faster, and easier to visit a seafood market. Looking at the bright side, I predict the fishing will get better this month as our air and water temperatures begin to decline, and reduced boat traffic will allow fish to become more concentrated and not so scattered.

The owner of Diamond J, James Rosalis, was a partner in Circle J Enterprises at the time our office and son’s home were built by Circle J. Workmanship and attention to detail were both excellent! – Everett Johnson, Editor/Publisher, Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine

TSFMAG.com | 83


FISHING REPORTS

ORECASTS F from Big Lake to Boca Chica

AND

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268 We will spend most of the month of August fishing deep water and flats close to deep water in areas along the ship channel, in the surf, and around nearshore oil platforms. With water temperatures rising into the mid-to upper eighties, even into the nineties, finding cooler water at depths above five or six feet is a necessity for catching. Fishing early in the mornings and late in the evenings often leads to catching better numbers of trout in August. However, catching them in the middle of the day is possible, as well. Paying attention to tidal conditions is very important, since fish feed when the tide moves and turns much better than when it's slack, especially in hot weather. Planning a day of fishing around the tide is an obviously productive idea, especially if one bears in mind that plans change. Locating herds of fish in open water can change plans, as can a slack tide. Beating a dead horse by fishing when tides are slack feels a lot like beating a dead horse and is often a way to get a sunburn rather than to catch trout and redfish. Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag Silver King Adventures - silverkingadventures.com - 409.935.7242 The action for anglers willing to look around in some of the deeper areas of the bay has been decent lately, James says, and he expects patterns to stay much the same as long as the weather is blazing hot. “We've got some fish along the channel right now. When we find birds working over some of the shallower spoil banks, the fish are generally better quality, mostly speckled trout. When the birds are working over mud and deeper water, the fish are mostly sand trout and tiny specks. Fishing around the deeper reefs in East Bay should be good in this hot weather, and there are probably trout around the rigs in Trinity Bay too. Guys at the jetties have been doing well when the current isn't too strong. And, we've got plenty of tarpon. I saw a bunch of fish on Memorial Day Weekend. Couldn't catch 'em, but they're here. If we get a good stretch of calm weather, we should be set up for a nice run on the silver kings. If they aren't biting on a given day, the action on sharks and smoker kings keeps the reels screaming.”

June, Randall wound up using live bait to catch fish on most of his charters. Moving into the middle and later parts of summer, he expects winds to calm, allowing for better productivity on lures. “We are hoping to get into the surf as much as possible. Last time we made it out there, the ribbonfish were jumping out of the water all over the place, and we did great throwing Norton Sand Eels on three-eighths ounce heads in colors like glow, silver/glitter and salt and pepper. Scenarios like this tend to be the norm in hot, summer weather. You need plenty of active bait around you at all times. So, we'll be keying on areas with heavy concentrations of mullet, ribbonfish, shad or other forage species as much as possible. Offshore fishing has been really good already, with easy limits of snapper on most trips. The key to doing well out there is beating the crowd, for the most part. Light winds should allow us to continue taking advantage of that opportunity.” Matagorda | Tommy Countz Bay Guide Service - 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037 Tommy provides some sage advice for anglers fishing the Matagorda area in August. “Since it's so hot, I advise slowing down and staying hydrated. We like to target trout and reds early, wading in West Matagorda, throwing at grass beds close to the shoreline, then move out to deeper guts and bars later in the morning. We like to work soft plastics really slow when the sun heats up the flats, and we like to wait a bit before setting the hook when we feel a bite, to give the fish a chance to take the hook. We also do a bunch of drifting in East Bay this time of year, in the areas around Raymond's Shoal. Fishing for trout and reds can be good over there, with the end of the month especially good for reds, as they begin schooling and chasing bait, which makes it easier to locate them. Tripletail fishing is good this time of year, using live shrimp six feet or so under a popping cork, thrown around any type of structure floating or sticking out of the water. And, of course, we spend some time in the surf when calm conditions send green water to the beach.”

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054 Like others submitting reports about Galveston, Jim says the productivity on his recent outings is not as good as the long-term averages. “Most of our trout have moved out in the middle, so catching them can get pretty tough when it's windy. As is usually the case, people willing to wade have a better chance at consistency. We just had a big rain again, and that might stack some fish up around Hannah's Reef like it has done before. If that happens, we might catch pretty good for a while. Mostly, I've been targeting trout for a few hours early in the mornings, then switching over to reds. If the tide is moving right for the first couple hours after daylight, we're doing okay on the trout. The reds are up shallow, so it's easier to target and catch them once the sun gets higher. They provide a chance at a productive trip on the days when the bite on the trout is tougher. I do have high hopes for the upcoming dove season. I've got the fields planted, and with all the rain, the crops should do great.”

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam www.palaciosguideservice.com - 979.240.8204 We just received thirteen inches of rain that flushed a lot of fish out of the river and Tres Palacios Bay into West Matagorda Bay. The well pads and deep reefs closest to Palacios have been loaded up with trout. We've been free-lining live shrimp on the well pads and fishing the deep reefs about four feet under popping corks for best results. The rain flushed out a good bunch of shrimp, and redfish have found them along the north shoreline of the bay. Redfish should continue schooling, with egrets and gulls chasing them down the shorelines. We've been using quarter-ounce gold spoons and DSL lures to rack up some good catches. Something odd for this time of year has been birds working in South Bay over some decent sized trout and reds. Seems the rain moved some bait out into the open bay, and the fish found them. Tripletail action has been spotty with southwest winds and freshwater pushing fish towards Port O'Connor and the surf. In August, I look for the surf to really turn on; we haven't had many chances to fish it yet.

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service 979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323 With nagging westerly winds muddying up the water quite a bit in

Port O’Connor | Lynn Smith Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434 Catching plenty of trout in the surf has been easy on calmer days lately. “In August, we'll be concentrating on flats close to deep water,

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because of the heat. We'll look for trout around grass beds and sandy pockets in water from knee to waistdeep early in the mornings, a little deeper in the middle of the day. Early, we like to throw topwaters a lot. I especially like the Super Spook Junior in white/chartreuse head. It's easy to see and the fish love it. Of course, on most days, the topwaters work well for a while, but the soft plastics start working better at some point, so we won't hesitate to switch over to worms on light jigheads to continue catching once the sun gets high in the sky. As we do every summer, we'll try to get into the surf as much as we can, on the calmer days. It's been good lately along the beach. In fact, I'm out here right now. We have been catching well in the shallow guts right next to the sand early on topwaters, then moving out and throwing soft plastics in the deeper guts later in the morning.” Rockport | Blake Muirhead Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894 In August, Blake plans on doing many of the same things that worked for him in June and July. “I'll be fishing a variety of patterns, starting with early-morning wades along sandy, grassy shorelines in bays like Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays, where the bottom is firm and deeper water is close by. I also like to wade reefs out in the middle of the bays. This works better when winds are light. As does fishing in the surf. August is almost always one of the best months for fishing the beach-front, since winds are typically light. We're catching well lately on live croakers, but have also had some success on topwaters like Super Spook Juniors and also on soft plastics like Norton Sand Eels and the split-tail Gulp! shads. August is normally a month in which live-bait fishing works better than lure fishing on a good percentage of days. I've also got my eye on the arrival of the dove season at the end of the summer. We've had lots of rain recently in the Coastal Bend, and I expect we'll have plenty of birds in the area come September.” Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut Robert Zapata – rz1528@grandecom.net - 361.563.1160 The warmer water temperatures in the Upper Laguna Madre are allowing the trout to move up into water depths of two to three feet for a few hours after sunrise. After the sun has been up a few hours, the trout have been moving into deeper water, about three to five feet deep. Free- lining live croakers and piggy perch has still been the best strategy but natural-colored Bass Assassin Die Dappers and Elite Minnows in colors like Houdini, meat hook and mama’s 14K rigged on sixteenth-ounce Spring Lock jigheads have worked well too. Areas with grass lines, drop-offs and deeper potholes holding good concentrations of bait have been my target places. I've been finding some schools of redfish on mornings when winds are light, along shallow shorelines and some of the spoil islands. Approaching the schools quietly from upwind is the key to catching multiple fish from a single school. Shrimp-flavored Fish-Bites continue to work on reds and black drum in ultra-shallow water for waders wearing ForEverLast RayGuards. Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez – www.sightcast1.com - 361.877.1230 In August, Joe plans to continue fishing in much the same ways he has all summer. “We have lots of reds schooling in the Upper Laguna Madre this time of year. They can be found in the shallows on calm mornings when they push wakes to stay out of the way of the boats. This works best when crowds are fairly light. In the middle of the day, if it's sunny and bright, with a little breeze, the schools can often be found roaming around in the deeper parts of Beacroft's and Emmord's Holes, also on the east side of the ICW, between Bird Island and Baffin. When found, they are usually easy to catch on a variety of lures, including paddle-tails, crank baits and topwaters. Trout tend to show up on the shallow parts 86 | August 2018

of spoil banks and rock bars early in the mornings, then move to the edges of these structures, closer to deeper, cooler water as the sun heats up the water. They bite topwaters aggressively on some mornings, but are much easier to catch on soft plastics in the heat of the day.” P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins 361-877-3583 | Oceanepics.com Surf action slows considerably as the doldrums of late-summer dominate the weather patterns. One of the highlights can be solid early-morning and late-evening speckled trout action when conditions align favorably. Favored lures include topwaters, twitch-baits and soft plastics. Finger mullet, piggies and croaker will certainly catch trout, and some less-desirable species as well. Seems nobody complains when the by-catch includes redfish or an occasional snook. Bait-balls will begin to range closer to the beach toward the end of August, attracting hundreds of screaming gulls and other birds. Watch for Spanish mackerel, sharks, and even tarpon taking advantage of the bounty. Sharks are often active in the shallows, sometimes beaching themselves as they harass dusky anchovies. Generally, anglers on the Upper Coast will have scattered daytime action on sharks, while the best action down south will occur mostly at night. Tropical events can dominate the weather pattern, so check marine forecasts regularly. Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza Snookdudecharters.com – 832.385.1431 Getaway Adventures Lodge – 956.944.4000 Winds in August blow mostly light, with nearly dead calm conditions on some days. Bay fishing can be pretty tough on still, slick waters. When this happens, I like to wade the ICW spoil banks or fish the dropoff in either the Land Cut or East Cut. These areas provide deep water access with regularly occurring tidal movements. KWiggler Ball Tails and Willow Tails on heavy heads (three-eighths ounce or more) are the ticket for probing drop-offs and ledges. Another place to try for trout and reds is along the East Cut jetty walls. Calm conditions typically send gentle swells washing onto the beach, so venturing to the mouth of the jetties and a mile or two into the Gulf present additional opportunities to catch king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, bonito, and sharks under diving pelicans and gulls. Wire leaders are a must out there to cope with the sharp teeth of these predators. Red snapper can be caught on calm days by those willing to venture farther offshore. Never pass a weed line when offshore – cobia and dorado love 'em! Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel Janie and Fred Petty | www.fishingwithpettys.com – 956.943.2747 Summer redfish are elusive so far, due to the heavy boat traffic and sluggish tides in the mornings. The majority of fish are feeding in the strong outgoing tide later in the day. Freddy says. “Us old people have to go out early so we can come in before it gets too hot! Missing the afternoon bite means working harder earlier.” We’ve managed to get limits of reds most days, because we are using the bulk of our trip targeting them on the shallow flats. We’ve caught trout up to twenty eight inches throwing Berkley Gulp! Live three-inch shrimp with an eighteen-inch leader under our FP3 corks, but the numbers on specks are down. If you check out Freddy’s video on fishingwithpettys.com Facebook page, he explains how to rig up your FP3 for maximum effectiveness. We haven’t been picking up many flounder this past month. When tournament flounder fishermen don't bring in many, you know it’s slow. When the wind dies, offshore fishing will take some of the pressure off the Lower Laguna Madre. Let’s stop open bay dredge disposal!


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Jellyfish for Dinner It’s not just humans who enjoy a snack that jiggles and wiggles like gelatin does. To the surprise of scientists, it turns out several penguin species enjoy a bit of jellyfish in addition to their diet of fish, squid, krill and crustaceans. More than 350 hours of video footage from small “penguin cams” in the wild showed that Adélie, yellow-eyed, Magellanic and little penguins eat a wide range of gelatinous critters while hunting for other food.

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Adelie penguins eat jellyfish while hunting for other food. Credit: NOAA Scientists in five countries attached small cameras about the size of strawberries to the backs of 106 penguins at breeding sites throughout the southern hemisphere. Each camera only recorded one trip out to sea per penguin, but the videos revealed penguins going after gelatinous prey almost 200 times, including 187 jellyfish. Jellyfish are just one type of gelatinous marine animal, but other “gelata” species unrelated to the jellyfish ended up as penguin dinner too. Little and Magellanic penguins gobbled up 11 comb jellies. The penguins did not seem interested, however, in salps, which are gelatinous filter feeders that consume phytoplankton. Despite the number of jellyfish consumed, they were not a big part of the penguins’ diet. They made up only about 1-2 percent of total calories the birds ate. Still, with jellyfish populations soaring in recent years, penguins’ affinity for jellyfish may offer an abundant alternative food source when other menu items are scarce. But scientists don’t know whether huge blooms of jellyfish alone would be enough for penguins to survive if other food sources disappeared.

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Ryan Cruz Palacios Bay - 27” first red!

Johnnie Casey Sabine Pass - 44” red CPR

Shaily Bonnerjee & proud Dad Matagorda - redfish CPR

Gage Goebel & Tessie Mayes Bowen redfish

John Moore Matagorda - trout 88 | August 2018

Kevin Bardwell Shamrock Cove - 27.5” redfish

Jordyn Layne Matagorda - first redfish!

Nathan Baker Galveston Bay - bull red

Miguel Guerrero Port Mansfield - 38” black drum

Ashlin Gordon Colorado River - redfish

Jason Harris, Jeremy Bernal Sr, & Jeremy Jr Bob Hall Pier - 38” redfish

John Miko East Bay - bull red

Maria Rodriguez personal best black drum CPR


Cody Hedgpeth Aransas Bay - 43” bull red

Margaret Casillas Estes Flats - 23” redfish

Gage Goebel & Mom, Kristi Port Aransas - redfish

Merlin Henry Bolivar Peninsula - bull redfish

Steven Faulkner Bolivar Peninsula - 32” redfish

Trenton Gordon Galveston - 32” personal best red!

Felix Gomez Rollover Pass - 45” red CPR

Jay Luce Matagorda - 27” redfish

Trevor Mote Matagorda - 25” trout

Dave Knowles Matagorda - 30” 8 lb trout CPR

Please do not write on the back of photos.

Email photos with a description of your Catch of the Month to: Photos@tsfmag.com

Mason Mikulec Baffin Bay - 29.5” trout

LJ Guilliote POC - trout

Mail photos to: TSFMag P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 TSFMAG.com | 89


Travis POC - 25.5” first trout! CPR

Penny Sea Rim State Park - first drum!

Tom Davis Magnolia Beach - surf red

Mike Hartner Trinity Bay - 30” trout 90 | August 2018

Johnathan Meadows Galveston - 14 lb redfish CPR

Robert Torres Laguna Madre - 42”+ first black drum!

Wojciech Bielecki Rockport - 22" redfish

Gene Mierow Packery Channel - 42” 18 lb jack crevalle, first big fish!

J.R. Burks Oso Bay - 30.25” 10.1lb speck

Lorie Kraus Rockport - first keeper red of 2015

Tony Sea Rim State Park - 42” first bull red!

Josh Kearns Baffin Bay - 8.5 lb trout


Joey Van Delden, with friend Buck Schott ICW - 40+ lb first black drum! CPR

Chris Mariscal Freeport - 36” 28 lb black drum

Courtney Kulcak 38” redfish

Nolan Denham & Cole Van Delden ICW - Cole’s first black drum! CPR

Ben Zeiger Galveston - 27.25” first redfish!

Edna Ramsey Sabine Lake - trout

Roy Polasek Baffin Bay - 30” trout

Jeff Fisher 5' barracuda CPR

Please do not write on the back of photos.

Email photos with a description of your Catch of the Month to: Photos@tsfmag.com

Fritz Mierow Port Aransas - 46” 41lb first black drum!

Crew Wright Hines Bay - 34” redfish

Mail photos to: TSFMag P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 TSFMAG.com | 91


PAM JOHNSON

Gulf Coast

Got ideas, hints or recipes you’d like to share? Email them to pam@tsfmag.com or send by fax: 361-785-2844

Purple Grape, Mango, & Peach Ceviche INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION

3 speckled trout filets, diced into small pieces

Place diced trout fillets in glass bowl and cover with diced white onions. Pour lime juice over fish and onions, enough to cover. Place in refrigerator for no less than eight hours.

Juice of 6- to 8 limes 1 small white onion, diced 1 cup seedless purple grapes, thinly sliced 1 large mango, peeled and cut into small pieces 1 peach, peeled and cut into small pieces 1/4 purple onion, thinly sliced and diced Large handful cilantro, finely chopped 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 cup Skinnygirl brand Poppyseed Salad Dressing

92 | August 2018

Remove from refrigerator and place in colander. When most all the liquid is drained, place back in glass bowl. Add remainder of ingredients and toss gently. Serve with HEB fresh tortilla chips found in the bakery.


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August 2018  

The August 2018 issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine.

August 2018  

The August 2018 issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine.