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EDITOR AND PUBLISHER

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Everett Johnson Everett@tsfmag.com

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VICE PRESIDENT PRODUCTION & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR

08 What is a Trophy? Mike McBride 12  Revenge Is Sweet Kevin Cochran 16  Good Day or Horrible Day... Billy Sandifer 20  Cold River Fishing Martin Strarup 22 A Giant Step Toward Angling Success Chuck Uzzle  26 Has the Speckled Trout... Larry McKinney & Greg Stunz  

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18 25 30 32 34 36 38 42 44 46

Coastal Birding Science and the Sea Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ask The Pro Fly Fishing TPWD Field Notes Conservation Kayak Fishing According to Scott Youth Fishing Texas Nearshore and Offshore

NATIONAL SALES REPRESENTATIVE Bart Manganiello Bartalm@optonline.net REGIONAL SALES REPRESENTATIVE Patti Elkins

Billy Sandifer UT-Marine Science Institute Jay Watkins   Casey Smartt     Colin Nash CCA Texas Scott Null Scott Sommerlatte Jake Haddock Mike Jennings

Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-649-2265 BUSINESS / ACCOUNTING MANAGER Shirley Elliott Shirley@tsfmag.com CIRCULATION SUBSCRIPTION â&#x20AC;&#x201C; PRODUCT SALES Linda Curry Cir@tsfmag.com ADDRESS CHANGED? Email Store@tsfmag.com DESIGN & LAYOUT Stephanie Boyd Office: 361-785-4282 stephanie@tsfmag.com

Dickie Colburnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sabine Scene Dickie Colburn Mickey on Galveston Mickey Eastman Capt. Billâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fish Talk Bill Pustejovsky Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays Gary Gray Hooked up with Rowsey David Rowsey Capt. Triciaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Port Mansfield Report Capt. Tricia South Padre Fishing Scene Ernest Cisneros

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Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine is published monthly. Subscription Rates: One Year (Free Emag with Hard Copy Subscription) $25.00, Two Year $45.00 E-MAG (electronic version) is available for $12.00 per year. Order on-line: WWW.TSFMAG.COM MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine Attn: Subscriptions P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, Texas 77983 * Subscribers are responsible for submitting all address changes and renewals by the 10th of the prior monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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 .

06 Editorial 52 New Tackle & Gear   68 Fishing Reports and Forecasts   72 Catch of the Month 76 Gulf Coast Kitchen 80 Index of Advertiserss

HOW TO CONTACT TSFMAG: PHONE: 361-785-3420 FAX: 361-785-2844 MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, Texas 77983 PHYSICAL ADDRESS: 58 Fishermanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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 Fishermanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Lane, Seadrift, Texas 77983 l P. O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 Š 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.

$%2877+(&29(5 This monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cover angler is Capt. Bruce Baugh. Former longtime resident of Houston, Bruce now lives on Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana where he operates a fishing guide service. Bruceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s specialty is wade fishing with lures for Calcasieuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legendary trout and redfish. Many thanks to Will Drost for sharing the photo. 4 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

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6 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

3DVVLQJ,W2Q I have been receiving some great emails and photos from readers telling of exceptional fishing trips with kids and grandkids, and we ading them and have been publishing these as space allows. Reading viewing the photos brings back memories of my youth; time spent with my father along lake shores and mountain streams, camping, fishing, and hunting. One of my all-time personal-best experiences was the two of us roughing it in a 1960 Rambler American, the kind with seats that laid flat. We spent nearly a week on a wild and secluded stretch of Pennsylvaniaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Allegheny River. We had a twelve foot aluminum johnboat but no motor. In my mind, Paul Bunyan could not have rowed that thing better than my dad. We spent our days wading and drifting for smallmouth bass and occasional walleye. We ate a lot of fried bologna, sardines, and fried fish. Baked beans or potted meat spread on a slice of homemade bread with a green onion was as good for breakfast as it was for a latenight snack. My dad said we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to take baths as we swam in the river every day and that suited me fine. The trip was all about fishing and being together. We fished day and night, slept only when we collapsed sometime in the darkness and arose at first light, catnapping in the warm sun. We waded the shoreline at night and caught soft-shelled crayfish in the glow of a Coleman lantern for bait. We dug under rotten logs for worms and grubs. We were wild on the river and didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want for a thing. A true Huckleberry Finn adventure. Over the recent Thanksgiving weekend, I took my son and eight year old grandson fishing on San Antonio Bay. Finding waders to fit the boy wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t easy, finding a wade fishing spot that worked for a guy about four feet tall wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t easy either. We got it done though. Tanner was doing his own casting and catching, four fat specks that made a fantastic batch of fish tacos. No bologna or potted meat for dinner that night. Wading the shallow edge of a deep gut with Tanner while my son waded off in the distance, my mind travelled back forty-eight years to the banks of the Allegheny. I have no idea if those who leave us and cross into eternity can still see us, but I sensed my fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spirit there with us. His son, grandson, and great grandson who all bear his name, fishing together, rapt in the wonder of nature, wild and free on the bay. I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t trade all the wealth on Wall Street for my memories. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m planning lots of fishing days with my son and grandson, praying God will bless them as he has me, and that they too will reminisce fondly someday, as I do now. Spend time with your kids. Get them on the water and into the woods. Help them understand the magic of a campfire. Teach them to hunt and fish with love and respect for the natural world. Memories are awesome.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


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While on a slow plane yesterday, scouting for high-potential trout water, I couldn’t help but notice a twinkle of morning sun reflecting from across the center console. The pearlescent band marking twenty-eight inches on one of my rods was taunting me like a schoolyard bully. “Challenge accepted,” I muttered, encouraged to work a little harder to find the just the right place for my guys. And then it hit me. I began to ponder what the term “trophy” actually means in the first place. Does it really start at twenty-eight inches? Let’s try to look a little closer, as many hopeful pluggers will easily push that mythical bar a couple of inches higher this winter. We can count on Joe Meyer, owner of Fishing Tackle Unlimited, as being one of those yardstick fans. While wading together one fine day, between long casts and short discussions about those cool Green Rods he twists up for us, Joe casually mentioned something along these same lines; “I’m thinking about putting a thirty-inch mark on our rods…whattaya think?” “Awesome,” I replied, and imagined how exciting it would be for wade fishermen to hold a trout against their rod and actually see it kiss that coveted mark. That is the ultimate goal, right? The absolute benchmark of trout success; the undisputed badge that confirms we are indeed the fishermen we think we are. Hey, if you haven’t caught a thirty yet you’re still a geek, right? If the truth be known, how realistic is our expectation that we can actually go out there and land a verifiable thirty-inch trout, especially on a lure? A twenty-eight inch trout is certainly do-able, but a “sho-nuff” thirty-incher eclipses that mark exponentially. In fact, some studies have shown that trout older than four years old comprise less than three percent of the entire population. How old then is a thirty, or even a twenty-eight for that matter…six, seven, maybe eight years? I ask myself how many thirties I have truly caught, plus how many we have seen from our clients after a huge number of determined man-hours in one of the better places on the planet. Sadly, I also began to think about that classic guy who goes home saying, “Yeah we had an awesome time and caught lots of great fish, but we didn’t catch a thirty.” That same misaligned angler might also say, “Aw man, what a bummer, it’s only twenty-nine and a half.” Should that fisherman really be disappointed? Who ever set that mark in the first place? I’ve just have to laugh sometimes. Do we really have a clue what kind of odds we’re up against? Do you still buy Texas Lotto tickets? The bottom line, despite all the embellishment and hype, is that many an accomplished hopeful has plugged hard for decades and has never come even close. Should we really weigh our ego against that stuffed thirty on the wall? Of course that will always be cool and we’re certainly always going to try but, me personally, I’d much rather be known for consistently catching solid fish in multiple conditions rather than a guy that made one lucky cast. However, even though a real thirty is extremely rare, there are indeed some basic and elementary steps we can take toward earning 8 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

I’ll never sneeze on a twentyeight, but go ahead Joe, put that thirty-inch mark on there!

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


that merit badge. Getting good at consistently finding mature fish is a definite pre-requisite, and after that we’re back to running on luck. Curiously, though, luck seems to strangely coincide with time spent on the water, and considering reality, it must also be some of God’s goodwill whether or not we are ever allowed to boast of our hero status. Let’s try to get as basically close as we can anyway. First on the list is to Aw bummer man, it’s only a twenty-nine. try hardest where epic fish are known to live. Like prime commercial real estate, it’s location, location, and location. Sure, a thirty can come from any saltwater puddle, but specific regions do seem to offer better chances. Obvious areas include East Matagorda, the Upper Laguna Madre, Baffin Bay, and the Lower Laguna. It’s hard to catch what is barely there, so let’s first go where they are. Second in the equation is to try hardest when chances are highest. Yes, a beast can come at anytime, but our efforts are best spent when bigger fish make themselves more easily available to us. We can’t get on them very well when they are suspended somewhere in twelve feet of water, but a few factors encourage them to move within successful wading depth. Basic examples would be during colder water periods when warming shorelines become attractive, and also during peak spawns when they are again using the shallows. Your “wish” calendar should have lots of dates circled between December and May. The record books and the logs Tricia and I keep seem to back this up. (By the way, we are not counting pitching live fin-fish into deep water during summer. Nothing wrong with that per se, but each technique brings its own set of odds and to each his own.) Next up is to target high-percentage windows during those higher-percentage seasons. Back to the record books, (whether for speckled trout, bass, or something with horns), success seems to occur most often during periods of big moons. Most suggest three or so days either side of a full or new moon. Without another story, my personal experience says I like the new moons better…unless weather factors intervene to offer better opportunity. During most cold water adventures, weather seems to play a much bigger role than the man in the moon. Other obvious opportune times include mid-week days with little prop wash. Good current flow also helps, whether it be wind or tide generated. “Where” is what most folks deem the most critical factor and no doubt the origin of the term “potlicker.” But in reality, the “where” changes from day to day with the weather and water conditions. Fish Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 9


and cast far. MirrOlures, topwaters, and of course Corkys, fit the bill. But interestingly enough, Capt. Tricia will consistently catch the same fish we do with a tail. Again, it’s mostly location, timing, speed, depth, and luck. We can tag anything we want as a trophy, but in my experience, it’s all relative and there are many days when a twenty-inch trout qualifies quite well. It’s more about the experience, but if we can actually beat these incredible odds, heck yeah plaster that wall! However, let’s don’t get blinded by some thin mark on a rod. There are many things that make for a great experience, so let’s get bit, have fun, and just take our best shot at greatness. Shooting for the stars is awesome but, I promise I’ll never sneeze at a twenty-eight. But go ahead Joe, put that thirty mark on there, it’ll give the folks inspiration to achieve their dream.

move, so it’s usually the angler who reads the water well who does best. However, targeting areas with heavy cover never hurts (little bitty areas I call trash holes), and “shallowing” slopes near deeper water seem to be consistent. “Shallow” to me smacks of high-percentage, simply because it places more finite limits on where the fish can lurk and feed. We don’t have to worry about exact depth somewhere in a water column, furthermore, big fish often use shallower water than we might ever imagine. Here in the Lower Laguna we often find them running skinnier than any boat can. The final factor is what to use to fool a bigger fish. To that I say there is no magical lure, and that it’s more about being on them plus speed and depth of presentation. However, a few classes of baits do seem to have advantages, mainly because they offer great versatility

Mike Mcbride

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I’d much rather be known for consistently catching solid fish in multiple conditions.

Mike McBride is a full time fishing guide based in Port Mansfield, TX, specializing in wadefishing with artificial lures.

Contact Skinny Water Adventures Telephone 956-746-6041

Email McTrout@Granderiver.net Website Skinnywateradventures.com/ Three_MudSkateers.wmv

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


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Author’s note: This is not a true and accurate account of real events. The details have been exaggerated and changed to protect the guilty! I offer this piece for a satirical and humorous purpose, and request that readers accept it in the context for which it is intended. I didn’t hesitate to book the two days after he phoned from another state and we thoroughly discussed the way I do things. From our conversation, I deduced the caller liked wading and lure fishing and was truly motivated to catch a monster trout. He understood we would not be making a meat haul. I directed him to go over all the relevant details with his one traveling companion. After assuring me he would, he said they’d both bring along suitable tackle. “Might need to borrow some Corkys, though,” he warned. “Can’t get those around here.” (This was before MirrOlure made Paul Brown’s lures widely available). The night they arrived, we had another discussion about their tackle. Again, he stated his confidence in their equipment. “Don’t worry; we fish all the time. You just show us where they are and what color we need to throw at ‘em, and we’ll catch ‘em.” When I picked them up the first morning, they saw the Longhorns logo on my burnt orange boat bag, and we wound up talking about college sports for a while. I learned they were alumni of a school which had recently beaten my beloved ’Horns in a major sporting event. I resolved to put my negative feelings about that aside; this was a fishing trip, not a college rivalry. As the Power Pole spiked the mud and steadied the boat at the day’s first spot, the new morning sun illuminated us and our gear. Both had brought two rods and reels, per

my instructions. One possessed a pair of fat fiberglass sticks over eight feet long, which carried bait casting reels better suited for king mackerel than speckled trout; the other’s ultra light spinning outfits were spooled with six pound test monofilament. Since I’d been twice told they had the proper gear, I hadn’t brought any loaner tackle along, but I didn’t say anything to discourage them when we started fishing. I tossed them some Corkys, picking colors I felt would work under the gray skies, and gave them a demonstration of how I like to work the lures. The first trout I caught weighed over eight pounds. Given the recent results I’d had at the spot, the catch wasn’t unexpected at all. Within the next hour, I caught a couple more four pound specks, but my customers had not a bite. I could tell they would likely struggle to make productive presentations with their equipment. The one with the bulky sticks was already tiring and shaking his wrist, and though the other shook his buggy-whip rods vigorously, he wasn‘t getting much payoff in terms of action in the lure. Maybe, I thought, if I keep catching fish and showing them what’s here, they’ll get lucky. Eventually, they decided the problem was the color of their Corkys and requested a change, so I made sure they had the same color I did, giving one the exact lure I‘d been using. Their frustration began to mount as I continued to catch fish on a different color while they made more empty casts. I told them it was about

People are willing to make interstate journeys on a quest for long, fat trout like this one. 12 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


Catching an eight pound trout just after daylight might be a good reason to grind the spot all day.

presentation, not color, and made several new attempts to help them improve their techniques. I also instructed them to crowd me and cast exactly where I did, all to no avail. Truth be told, I had a hard time getting bites that day too, though I did manage to catch ten trout on fourteen bites, moving around to three or four other spots in search of something easy. The total weight of my limit was forty three pounds. The total weight of the fish caught by my clients was about ten ounces. After an hour-long nap, the companion managed to catch one dink trout, which put quite a sharp bend in his noodle rod. The smell of the skunk was the bad news; the fact that I had loaner rods which I could bring along on day two was the good news. As we parted ways, I tried to keep the boys in a positive frame of mind, telling them things would be different,

suggesting they’d be amazed at the effectiveness of my Laguna rods. The next day, while still waking up to my morning coffee, I heard the companion client say, “We went out to eat last night and talked to some people from San Antonio. They caught a bunch of trout yesterday, some pretty nice ones too.” “Doesn’t surprise me,” I said. “I caught a limit, remember.” He continued, and I nearly choked on a bite of my breakfast burrito when I realized what he was insinuating. “They said they caught ‘em on soft plastics, somewhere way in the back of Baffin Bay.” He was actually suggesting I change my plan to chase after a fishing report gained at a local restaurant! “Are we going back to the same spot?” he asked pointedly. “Yessir,” I replied, clearing my throat. “I caught an eight pounder, and I’ve caught a bunch of other big ones there recently too. I should never have moved yesterday. Look,” I continued, “y’all said you wanted to try for a wallhanger. If you’re bored with that or your priority has changed, I’ll take you numbers fishing. Is that what you want?” “No, no, no. We want a big fish,” the other, more motivated man interrupted. “Do what you think you need to do. Don’t give up on the big fish plan.” Biting my tongue and reminding myself that the guide business is more about people than fish, I restated my confidence that the change to my Laguna rods would help them tremendously. And it did. All three of us began catching trout almost immediately once we got to the spot. I gave each one a Fat Boy in the colors of their college team and smiled, saying, “These ought to work for y‘all!“ The early bite was better than on the previous day, but the fish weren’t quite as big. We managed about twenty five trout between the three of us by eleven o‘clock, but the heaviest Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 13


14 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

“I’m just lucky,” I lied. “Either one of us could have caught those fish. Don’t give up ‘til it’s time to go in.” My last fish of the day stretched to thirty inches and pulled the Boga to nine on the nose; Bevo snorted when the Texas Cowboys fired Smokey the Cannon. After taking a few pictures and watching the old trout slip away, I dangled the bent, battered and fuzzy lure in front of him. “Thought they were scared of this one,” I grinned. He stammered, “They were….a little while ago.” I went to get the boat, telling him not to give up, “You can still get the job done.” In the end, he did not. It was all my fault. I should have done what the alumni from the hated school in a distant state wanted and searched all over the back of Baffin trying to figure out where the guys from San Antonio whacked ‘em. I’m sure I’d have a better idea of where to go and what to throw if I’d spend more time talking to strangers at restaurants!

Kevin Cochran

&RQWDFW

weighed only about four pounds. Heading to the boat to take a break, we talked about how much easier it had been for them to catch fish on rods with the appropriate weight, flex and feel. Then the main customer snipped the Fat Boy with his school colors off his line and announced he wanted something else. Puzzled, I asked, “Wait, you just caught fish after not getting a bite all day yesterday, yet you want to change?” “I didn’t catch as many as you did,” he asserted. Without uttering a word, I bit my lure off the leader, tied it on his line and put the one he’d rejected on mine. “I think Texas trout are scared of that color,” he chuckled. When we started fishing again, we all continued catching until the napper gave up early and sat in the boat for the last two hours or so. I and the alert client moved to a different part of the area, where I found some bigger trout. Though I tried to fight the urge and reminded myself this was not a college sporting event, I became fanatically motivated to take revenge on my rival. Fishing only a few yards from him, I caught two six pounders at the beginning of the final hour. He caught some similar fish too, and admitted one was his biggest trout ever, but his frustration over the fact he hadn’t landed one of our Lone Star Legends was clearly building. Staying close, I coached him on where to cast and how to wiggle his rod. I swear I heard cheers from the shore after I stuck a fat twenty eight standing on his right. Politely, I walked around him so he could cast where I had been. The band played our fight song in my mind while I landed a twenty nine to his left and we switched places again.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Kevin Cochran is a full-time fishing guide at Corpus Christi (Padre Island), TX. Kevin is a speckled trout fanatic and has authored two books on the subject. Kevin’s home waters stretch from Corpus Christi Bay to the Land Cut. Trout Tracker Guide Service Telephone 361-688-3714

Email KCochran@stx.rr.com Website www.FishBaffinBay.com

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


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The right rear corner of my exhaust manifold is broken and boy does that Suburban ever get loud when fighting its way through the Big Shell on the afternoon high tide. More important I know if I don’t get it fixed I’ll burn the valves in my engine. Also this feature article was due. Now it ain’t like those studs are going to just unscrew themselves from that rusty ol’ beach Suburban. A cutting torch and the drilling of holes will all add up to a very tedious experience before a new manifold is in place. Took me several days to find a victim, I mean mechanic, willing to even attempt the task. I had set up an appointment to work on it yesterday morning. I awoke around 6 a.m. and was sitting quietly planning out the day’s schedule when the phone rang. It’s Mark Hanson of El Campo telling me they are running a bit late for today’s charter. I said, “Mark, I’m not booked today, you have me booked for next Thursday not today. Wrong! So I called the mechanic and told him I had a charter and spent the next forty minutes at warp speed getting everything ready to take five people fishing. Just to make it more entertaining

I’m a bachelor this week and had to get my coffee and lunch made as well. I had Mark come to my house so they wouldn’t have to wait in some parking lot and actually we got it all done with little lost time. Now as you read this you know good and well a start like that could/would ruin the day right off the bat for the vast majority of people. But the Hanson family was enjoying the Christmas holiday together and intent on having a good quality outdoor family experience and I looked forward to taking them fishing one heck of a lot more than I did laying under that Suburban fighting that manifold all day. So everyone was laid back and as we started off I told them, “We are going to have an awesome day. Days that start off all messed up end up being the best days of the season IF you just go with the flow and don’t let unavoidable inconveniences spoil your day right off.” We didn’t and the conditions and day were absolutely ideal. A genuine work of art. So are the Hanson’s. Mark had fished with me before with a crew of hardcore grinders and told me this would be a family day trip and some family members lacked much experience. I grinned because I like this type of trip and I know the solution is tutoring and improving their casting skills and “Fishbites” and dead shrimp on the bottom. Mark was going to have to become a bottom fisherman for the day. The day before, the peak area of activity was down around the 42 mile beach so I went directly there on the wonderful morning low tide with lots of two-wheel driving time. We typically fish light eight and a half foot spinning rigs for the pompano. Long distance casting tackle will day in and out produce many more fish but it sure doesn’t give the pompano much of a fighting chance and they actually are very sporting using light tackle. The trick is to reach the pompano with the little tackle as they tend to hold farther offshore than most other species. I picked a

Martin Wolf, age nine, five pound pompano.

16 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


Bill Ross of Fort Worth; Catch-PhotoRelease 19 pound red on 10# test.

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ǁǁǁ͘ƉŝŶŬŵĂƌůŝŶ͘ĐŽŵ 75 yard area where the wade gut was absent and a wide, deep first gut came right up against the shore. I rigged up everyone’s tackle and walked out and cast for the girls. When I got back to the beach I turned around to look and both had bent rods. The pompano bite was going strong from the beginning and as everyone got more practice casting and made longer casts the pace quickened. I looked up as Rachel and Matthew came walking in with two pompano on each of their rigs and looked offshore to see two other family members were also fighting fish. Momentarily six pompano flopped about in the sand at my feet. Everyone was having a ball and life was good. Matthew took a swell over his waders and started fishing in his shorts amongst much teasing and laughter ruled the day. We chatted about how perfect and beautiful everything was and remembered the day’s gloomy and confusing start. Some were released, but they caught a total of thirty-four pompano weighing up to five pounds and averaging two and a half pounds. Then seventeen-year-old Sara catches the first redfish of the day and instantly the pompano are replaced by a school of redfish. The Hanson’s end up with eight redfish weighing five to seven and a half pounds. Mrs. Ruth comes up laughing and tells me, “Billy I like catching the fish but the best part to me is to watch my children catch them and having so much fun doing it.” Heck, that’s how it’s supposed to be; isn’t it? Moments before sunset a tired but happy and content family stood in my yard and laughed and recounted their perfect day as we stowed their gear and fish and the conversation turned to the possibility of making this an annual part of their Christmas family vacation. But see, here is the deal. All six of us were determined to make this a memorable and perfect day. Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 17


Ruth Hanson and daughters Rachael and Sara with pompano caught on the Christmas holiday PINS fishing trip.

Willet

We had made a like-minded decision to have a ball and we did. It would have been easy for us to have ruined the day at the very beginning when I was caught completely off guard and they could have quickly developed a negative attitude about that and tension could have ruined the day. But we all were kind and considerate and supportive of each other and the Creator and Mother Ocean must have approved of our decision and actions and blessed us bountifully. We were genuinely blessed however it required a bit of effort on our part to make it so. Think about it. I am not much on holidays but I tell you the truth; that day was my Christmas, not December 25th. Everything seems to intend to continue to run a month late in the surf right through till the end of 2010. On 22 December I saw several large jack crevalle feeding on finger mullet. I have never seen a large jack in the surf later than 12 December. Then on 23 December I saw a six foot tarpon free jump at the 42 mile beach and later another at the 40 mile. Things are changing in the great outdoors. There is a twenty pound black drum bit in half on the north end of the beach by a single bite. From the shape and size of the bite mark it took at least a ten foot tiger to do it. Have a good New Year and remember “Life’s a hoot.” Take time out to enjoy some of it. “If we don’t leave any there won’t be any.” -Capt. Billy L. Sandifer

Recently re-classified, all willets were originally known as Cataptrophorus semipalmatus. The current classification for the Western species we see in Texas is Tringa semipalmata inornata. The species that inhabits the eastern US, or Eastern Willet, is now known as Tringa Semipalmata semipalmata. A rather heavyset wader with a striking black and white wing pattern which is revealed in flight. Present year round in Texas. Some breed in our area. Common on beaches and marshes. Western’s are larger than Easterns and Easterns are darker, more brown in coloration than Westerns. A noisy bird, quick to give a repeated “kip” or “wrek” alarm. Feeds on small crabs and other crustaceans. Versatile in feeding habit.

Length: 15 inches Wingspan: 26 inches Weight: 8 ounces

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Capt. Billy Sandifer Billy Sandifer operates Padre Island Safaris offering surf fishing for sharks to specks and nature tours of the Padre Island National Seashore. Billy also offers bay and near-shore fishing adventures in his 25 foot Panga for many big game and gamefish species. Telephone 361-937-8446

Website www.billysandifer.com

18 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Photo by Jimmy Jackson

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Hunting season has for the most part wound down and folks who put their fishing tackle away are replacing line on their reels and hooks on their lures. Boats that haven’t been started since bow season started back in October are being seen idling in driveways with a garden hose attached to the motor while those that know are getting ready for some winter fishing. The colder months of January and February bring another kind of fishing to the Texas coast. The trout won’t usually be where they were caught during the spring and summer months, although, on some warm days, when the weather has been sunny and mild it pays to revisit some of your old summer haunts. Instead of going through the same old “fish areas closer to deeper water, the flats may pay off when the sun is high and the water is warmed up, mud holds heat longer than sand, and finding bait is the key,” I’m going to write about some alternative methods of fishing during the cold winter months. Something that we have a lot of in my area that pays dividends during the cold months when there isn’t a lot of rain, are the many creeks and rivers that feed into our bay systems. The three most frequented rivers in my area are the Colorado, Tres Palacios and the Carancahua. Once you’ve decided that you’re going to try trolling the rivers what lures do you use? I’ve trolled everything from Humps, Bingos and MirrOlures to bass baits, spinners, spoons, shrimp tails, cocahoe minnows and swimming shad and I’ve caught fish on all of them. Whichever bait you decide to use make sure that you use a swivel and 20 or 25 inches of good heavy mono for a leader…trust me. The Colorado, the largest and deepest of the rivers in my area is usually fished from the FM 521 Bridge down to the Diversion Channel, and the area south of the Diversion Channel to the Gulf of Mexico. Fishermen find the drop-offs near the sandy banks and toss plastics while using their trolling motors to maneuver their boat. I’ve caught some nice trout and redfish while plugging the Colorado’s riverbanks. Keep your depth finder on when you’re plugging… watch for deep holes and if you have a GPS, mark the spots when you find them. When it gets colder, go back to those holes and see if the fish are stacked up there in the deeper water. Down river, just past the River Bend Tavern, you’ll see shell on the opposite bank. Look for things like this while you’re working down or up river. I’ve caught a lot of nice fish where I’ve found shell on the edge of the 20 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

river and you shouldn’t pass a spot like that by. With many miles of river to fish, plan on spending several days just learning where some of the holes are and where the most productive and consistent spots are. It will be worth your time and effort. The Tres Palacios River is a smaller, narrower river that isn’t as deep as the Colorado, but still holds a lot of fish if the rains don’t keep it fresh. You can unload at the FM 521 Bridge that crosses it and go either up river or down river working the banks much the same as you would the Colorado. The Tres Palacios is harder to fish due to the amount of boat traffic that sometimes abounds there and due to the narrowness of the river. One thing that I have noticed about the people who fish there is that they tend to be courteous to other fishermen and I haven’t experienced many problems from other boaters there. Trolling is a big deal on this river with fishermen after trout and redfish. It isn’t uncommon to see boats with over four rods out trolling the cold water slowly up and down the river, hoping to see one or more of the rods bend when a fish hooks up with their lure. Here’s a good place to fish any surplus Hump Lures or old Bingos if you don’t mind risking losing them to the fishing gods. I wish I had one of every Hump that has been lost in the Tres Palacios over the years, there’s no telling how many have been sacrificed there. I’ve seen men trolling their baits behind the boat under corks, keeping the baits suspended so they won’t bump bottom and doing so with great success. I tried that once, but I just couldn’t get into it as I prefer to control the depth of the lure with the speed of the outboard. If you’ve never trolled for trout before, it can either be very boring, or very busy. Having all of the rods that are out bend over simultaneously isn’t uncommon and with two or three guys onboard, it can be a three-ring circus trying to get the fish to the boat without getting the lines hopelessly entangled. The Carancahua River feeds into Carancahua Bay and while there are some boat ramps upstream, without personally showing you where they are I couldn’t begin to give you directions. But you can unload off of Highway 35 and go up the river that way and there is a private ramp at Cape Carancahua as well. The river is deep in spots and has excellent high banks that slope down into the water; perfect for plugging the banks. Trolling is good in this river as well and if you travel far enough upstream you’ll find that the river forks. The West Fork of the Carancahua is narrower than the main channel

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

holes that we knew and trolled the deeper areas but for all the time we spent out in the bitter cold that day we only caught one trout. I’d say that if it’s freezing or below you’re better off indoors than on a river trying to catch some fish. So you don’t have to rely on the bays for your fishing fun this winter. The rivers and turning basins offer you ample protection from the hard-blowing northers that will come and go all winter and you won’t have to worry about crossing any open water that is really too rough to be out in. And if the weather is too nasty for you to fish in even these areas, well, there is always the television where you can watch folks catching fish in warmer weather. Be Safe, Martin

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but it often holds some really nice trout and redfish when the conditions are right. It is also more congested with trees and such so trolling is more difficult than in the main river. If you do get a hook up in whichever river that you’re fishing in and you stop the boat to bring the fish in, start plugging the area. Usually, you’ll pick up a few more fish before you have to start trolling again. Watch the banks for pods of mullet and key on that bait. Use your trolling motor and keep pace with them, fishing both the shallow bank and the drop-off. It’s a rare day if the water is pretty that you won’t catch your share of some nice fish in the rivers during the colder months. Don’t forget the many turning basins that abound in our area. Many a fishing trip that would have been a total loss as far as catching is concerned has been saved by these protected harbors and their deep water. Use your trolling motor to move in and out of the piers, plugging the area just as you would if you were drifting a sand flat in the open bay. Bulkheads and sloping banks can be fished just as you would in a river situation. Flounder, trout and redfish can be found in these harbors all winter long. Some turning basins that you can access easily are the ones at Matagorda, Palacios and Port Lavaca and I’ve caught fish in the winter months in all three. How cold is too cold to catch fish in the rivers? In 1989 Glen Luedecke and I were fishing the Tres Palacios when the air temperature was in the mid-teens and we had ice forming on our rod guides, rods, reels and even our line. We fished all of the deep

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Martin Strarup Martin Strarup is a lifelong saltwater enthusiast and outdoorsman.

Martin is also a collector and dealer of vintage fishing tackle and lures, especially those made in Texas.

Email Trouthunter@swbell.net

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 21


Winter weather and low tides expose many bottom contours that are not visible during other seasons.

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Getting out of the boat to go wade fishing makes as little sense as jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. “That just ain’t natural,” they say. Yet nothing could be further from the truth for those who like to get in the water. It seems like forever ago that I saw the first wade fishermen on Sabine Lake, a band of anglers waist-deep behind one of the barrier islands on the north end. I can remember it like it was yesterday because it was such a shock to see people out of their boat. Looking through binoculars with a grin, all I could mutter was; “Now look at these fools!” A few minutes of observation went a long way toward proving who the fool was, though. When the first rod doubled over I quickly called it luck, a wayward redfish that had no doubt wandered into casting range. That thought was quickly dismissed as the fish came to the surface with the ferocious headshake of a magnum trout. I looked on in disbelief as two more rods doubled under the weight of yet another pair of big trout. This display went on for quite a while until I could take no more and had to leave, all the while wondering if this was a fluke or were those guys really onto something. My suspicions were later confirmed as I made my first wade later that week to be rewarded with several of the best fish I had caught in quite some time. Now that episode happened over fifteen years ago and a few more like it changed the way we looked at fishing on Sabine Lake forever. Up until that time we basically left Sabine after Christmas and spent the next several months on Toledo Bend or Sam Rayburn believing every trout in the bay had left for the Gulf of Mexico. Those 22 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

early waders opened our eyes and made our own home lake brand new to us, we now could fish year around and catch bigger and better fish. The trend toward wade fishing took off like a rocket and soon everybody who was anybody was suddenly an expert. It was hilarious to see all the brand new pluggers, grinders, and hardcore waders step to the podium to claim their glory. Truth was, most of these folks had never owned a pair of waders in their life and the ones who did used them only for duck hunting. So now the whole world is convinced that the only way to catch a big trout is to get out of the boat and wade. It has grown so prevalent that even the Cajuns on Calcasieu have adopted the technique. These were the same guys who for a couple of years threw Super Spooks at the first waders over there to drive them off. Talk about a role reversal. Okay so we have established that the only way to catch a big fish is to wade, correct? In the words of comedian Ron White, “I don’t think so Scooter!” I will readily admit there are a bunch of great fishermen out there and some of them write for Texas Saltwater Fishing. They can fish circles around me and I have no problem giving credit where credit is due. However, and having said that, I can lay claim to landing four trout over thirty inches thus far in my career. I’m sure there are many who have landed more, and I respect that too. However, the thing that possibly separates my fish from theirs is that all of mine were caught from the boat. I have never caught a trout of double digit weight or thirty inches while wading. I know this may sound like blasphemy but you can actually catch big trout from the boat.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Solid winter redfish taken by Bryan Amman.

OK – enough of the sarcasm. I’m just trying to highlight a point that seems to be forgotten for whatever reason. Yes, I do believe that wading gives you a much better chance of catching not only a big fish but more big fish from an area that lends itself to the wading game. I also believe there is water out there where big fish lurk that is inaccessible to the wader and tailor-made for the angler who remains in the boat. Each method will produce and they both have their pros and cons to say the least. As far as wading goes the benefits are routinely chronicled in TSFMag so in order to keep you the reader from having to read the same stuff from me, I will be happy to leave that subject to the real experts like Jay Watkins and Mike McBride. These guys have the wade technique and mentality down to such a precise science it’s scary. The nuances these guys detect and key in on are mind-blowing; they are truly specialists in every sense of the word. Now I, on the other hand, will continue to play to my strength and share knowledge about subjects that I am comfortable with, which in this case is fishing in a little deeper water than what the waders use. During the winter months the opportunity for discovery is great. The clearest water of the year and lower water levels allow you to see things you would otherwise never know existed. In winters past we have uncovered some real fish magnets on Sabine, little patches of shell that under normal conditions lie at least half-a-cast out of range of wade fishermen. And since few boat anglers take time to explore, the few who know guard the knowledge closely and the areas see little fishing pressure. By taking care to keep hull slap and other noise to a minimum, a careful angler can position their boat down-current from these pieces of structure and cast to them in order to make a realistic presentation. Having your bait swim with the current is highly preferable since the predator will be facing into the current waiting on the next meal. There are plenty of areas just like this all along the Sabine shorelines and they will produce some impressive fish, especially in the coming weeks as we go through winter and head into spring. Perhaps the most important factor in achieving success in fishing from the boat Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 23


and the fish away from the shell in order to keep the area as undisturbed as possible. A little preparation and thought go a long way in situations like these. Each technique, wading or fishing from the boat, has its place and each one can be incredibly productive if done the right way. Give yourself the opportunity this winter to use both methods and not be locked into just one. By perfecting them both you can make yourself a much more successful angler and this will ultimately lead to a more enjoyable day on the water. he g in t untin noon. h d o r an go the afte in n me ys ca hing trip o c e s d fi e s h t u on on Frost g and a b in morn

is to be prepared to make a cast as soon as you arrive. Fumbling around the boat dropping hatches and stomping around on the deck will not cut it; ditto dropping a conventional anchor. Devices such as the Power Pole or the increasingly popular Stake-Out Stick are perfect for stealthy anchoring. All commotion must be kept to a minimum, even when fighting a fish. Let the tide or wind pull you

24 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Chuck Uzzle Chuck fishes Sabine and Calcasieu Lakes from his home in Orange, TX. His specialties are light tackle and fly fishing for trout, reds, and flounder.

Phone Email Website

409-697-6111 cuzzle@gt.rr.com www.chucksguideservice.net

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6WRU\E\'U/DUU\0F.LQQH\DQG'U*UHJ6WXQ]_+DUWH5HVHDUFK,QVWLWXWH IRU*XOIRI0H[LFR6WXGLHV_7H[DV$ 08QLYHUVLW\&RUSXV&KULVWL7; Texas has a world class spotted seatrout fishery, and there is no doubt about it. Our managers come armed with the best monitoring program and management strategies that are the envy of every state agency on the Gulf Coast. Decisions based on over thirty years of data are robust and have a long and successful track record with demonstrated results benefiting Texas anglers. An effective enforcement program has minimized illegal netting and keeps everyone else honest. Couple that with our productive estuaries and conservation-minded anglers, and it equates to phenomenal fishing. The question is, can we maintain what we have created? Unlike the situation in many states, Texas saltwater fishing is expanding. Angler participation and new recruits into the saltwater fraternity are growing by leaps and bounds. During 2001-2006 saltwater anglers in Texas reached 1.2 million anglers and the number of days fishing increased from 7.5 to 15 million. Many of the new 286,650 fishers were seeking the holy grail of saltwater fishing in Texas â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the speckled trout. It is almost impossible to imagine that our fishery can support this type of angler pressure, but it has done so for many years. The underlying question is, can the fishery support current and future levels of harvest? We are at an important crossroads about the fisheries future. First and foremost is the question of sustainability. We have proven tools to manage our fisheries, such as bag, size, and season limits, but there are also environmental issues as well â&#x20AC;&#x201C; adequate freshwater inflow, water quality, and habitat. The second and related question is what do we want our fishery to look like? It is the old question of quantity versus quality, which is admittedly a sliding scale and one subject to endless debate. We make the argument that moving the scale towards a quality fishery accomplishes several desirable goals: 1) a more sustainable fishery that can better survive extremes, like freezes; 2) a greater economic return for those economically dependent on recreational fishing; 3) insurance against almost certain future increases in fishing pressure; and 4) a more enjoyable fishing experience for the rest of us. Texas saltwater anglers have moved considerably along the quantity/quality scale over the years. After rebounding from commercial overfishing, recreational fishing in the late 90s and early 2000s was exceptional. The bays supported unprecedented numbers of fish reaching the new â&#x20AC;&#x153;troutâ&#x20AC;? benchmark of all-time high abundance between1996 -2004. With increased angling participation and effectiveness, trout were being removed at a record pace. Both quantity and quality definitions were met and often exceeded. Tremendous fishing pressure and a series of trout-killing freezes took their toll. The condition of the fishery appeared no longer to be as resilient and responsive as it once was. It became clear that coastwide regulatory regimes might no longer be a viable means of sustaining the fisheries we all desire. Even the best monitoring program takes time to collect, process, and analyze the data. Both fisheries experts and anglers can interpret the output differently and generally do. However, we are now seeing signs that these harvest rates may not be sustainable. Alarmingly, by 26 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

2009 spotted seatrout abundance had decrease by 60% in Aransas, 50% in San Antonio Bay, and 40% in West Matagorda from the 2004 peaks of what we know the bay can support. Thus, the trout pie is shrinking with more anglers participating, and clearly some measures need to be employed to avoid continued downward trends. Our review of the data shows â&#x20AC;&#x153;low recruitmentâ&#x20AC;? (supply of young) as the primary culprit behind these declines. Data showing low recruitment certainly raises the brows of fisheries managers, because we know when there are fewer spawning adults you get low recruitment, and the risk of overfishing the population becomes high. The solution is Fisheries Management 101: 1) a reduction in harvest will increase spawning adults in the population; 2) an increased number of reproductive adults equates to more recruitment; and 3) an increase in recruitment leads to rebuilding the population. History and experience tells us limiting take is the most effective and resource-minded tool to rebuild the populations. Thus, we suggest a decrease in the spotted seatrout bag limit from 10 to 5 fish per day per angler for the lower Texas coast from Matagorda Bay south. Managing Regional Fisheries The TPWD Coastal Fisheries monitoring program is widely acknowledged as the best of its kind in the world. A peer-review by an independent panel of nationally recognized fisheries scientists reaffirmed that status. Its comprehensive nature and 30+ year record makes it a powerful management tool. The outcome of management decisions based on this database over the years has proved effective and the result has been the restoration of a recreational fishery unprecedented in the USA. The monitoring program is robust enough to support a regional management approach and maintain the sound science base for decision-making that Texas anglers expect. Moreover, it was arguably designed to allow that option. Any questions about the effectiveness of a five trout limit and the ability to enforce it was answered in the Lower Laguna Madre. A 5-fish bag limit management strategy was put into place there in 2007. After several years the results are what was hoped for and appears to be an outstanding success story. Just ask any anglers fishing down south. There is a reason that the King Ranch Shoreline, Baffin Bay, Badlands, Yarborough, Rocky Slough, and the Land Cut are in the rear view mirror of many boats as they race to the Lower Lagoon to get in on the action. Ironically, anglers are landing more and larger fish, and the population is remaining stable. It is early, but all indications are very positive for trout populations in the Lower Lagoon. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Solutionâ&#x20AC;? Now for the bad newsâ&#x20AC;Ś the trout bubble has burst, particularly for the middle Texas Coast. The data and trends are alarming (see Graph). However, there is a silver lining. Trout are prolific spawners and fast growers. We have options, and it is not at all too late. There is a simple precautionary fix to return to the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Good Ole Daysâ&#x20AC;? of 1996 -2004 and

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


protect the future of the spotted seatrout, and we only have to do is: • Make the trout pie larger by increasing recruitment of young fish into the fishery, by… Reducing the bag limit from 10 to 5 fish These changes will result in increased spawning and future recruitment; thus, rebuilding the population. These new limits would theoretically reduce the per-capita share per angler but at the same time conservatively manages the fishery as a sustainable population. A word of caution… These data finally support what those on the water every day have been telling for some time. Clearly, we need solid science to support and base our decision, but we (scientists) need to pay close attention to those experiencing declines firsthand on a daily basis, and use this information to take precautionary steps that help to prevent us from going backwards in spotted seatrout management.

a reasonable amount of fish, but wise use of the resource can carry us a long way; plus, five trout still generate a lot of fillets. We also understand there are many from inland areas that don’t get the opportunity for fresh fish, and would still like to adhere to the meat haul mentality. There is room for that as well – just not with spotted seatrout. We still have redfish and black drum that are at all-time highs. Black drum will even readily take scented artificial lures for those in the know, and in our opinion, they are some of the best table fare of our inshore species. Some remain concerned about survivability of spotted seatrout after catch-and-release. Numerous studies from simple tagging to recent state-of-the-art acoustic tracking carried out at The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) have shown on average 90% of the released fish survive. Greg Stunz is leading an effort to establish a Sport-fish Research Center at HRI to continue to add to our knowledge in this regard and would welcome your interest and support. You can learn more about his work by visiting: www.harteresearchinstitute.org. It is time to take the next and necessary steps to sustain our world-class fishery here in Texas. All the information we need exists, and in Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) we have the expertise and capabilities to do so. What the TPWD Commission needs is our continued support and the best thing we can do right now is support a 5 fish limit for the lower Texas coast. ---------------------------------------------------------------

“A bright future for saltwater fisheries” There is a change of culture afoot. The quantity/ quality scale is moving in the right direction. Texas saltwater anglers have long supported conservative limits for red drum (even declining opportunities for increasing bag limits) and overwhelmingly reaped the benefits. This bodes well for a sustainable and quality trout fishery that will continue to generate billions of dollars of economic benefits for Texas. We hear and see other evidence of that movement all the time, and it is catch-and-release angling. Do not be misled, we wholeheartedly support keeping Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Dr. Larry McKinney is the Executive Director of The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. Dr. McKinney came to HRI from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) where he retired after 23 years of service as the former head of Coastal Fisheries at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Dr. Greg Stunz is an Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health and leads the Sport-fish Research Group at HRI with over 15 years of sport-fish research experience. More information about can be found at www.harteresearchinstitute.org. Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Watch our website for more updates. WWW.FISHINGTACKLEUNLIMITED.COM Contact Terry Jones or Danny Meyer at 281-481-6838 or terry@fishingtackleunlimited.com for more information . www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 27


<RXU3URS&RXOG%HWKH3UREOHP February is a great time of year. Hunting is over, boat shows are over, your new boat is on order and your looking forward to an awesome boat and great performance out of your new rig, or maybe you have repowered old faithful and are now ready to run for first time. And we have a problem â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the boat does not perform. It does not get up well, steering is hard, falls out in a turn, or maybe the engine revs up but the boat does not plane well. After the initial disappointment, finish the day as best you can and know the problem is very fixable. Manufacturers spend a great deal of time on prop development and each model from every manufacturer is designed to do a specific task. This subject could fill an entire book; letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s start with a little nomenclature. Diameter â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The distance across the imaginary circle that is made when the prop rotates. Pitch â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The theoretical distance, in inches, that a propeller travels forward during one revolution, i.e. 17-pitch equals 17-inches of forward movement. (Mercury Marine definition) Cup â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Cup assists in increasing the water-gripping capability of the propeller. Rake â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Represents the bladeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s angle of attachment to the barrel of the propeller. This is not to be confused with pitch, which is the measure of the twist or screw progression. (Power Tech definition) There are many other characteristics we could talk about, venting, through hub exhaust, over the hub exhaust, three blades, four blades, round ears, drag blade, and on and on.

The bottom line is if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t believe youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re getting full performance; do not hesitate to ask questions. Test running the boat with your dealer is the wise thing to do. Never let a salesman tell you, â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is what we have always done, it will be fine.â&#x20AC;? That is like someone from the government saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am here to help.â&#x20AC;? My point is if you are not satisfied with prop performance ask for a second opinion from some one who knows. How do I know who knows? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Ask your satisfied and experienced friends. We understand propping is the most important aspect of achieving great performance on many levels. There are many other professionals who understand it as well and some even better. Custom and specialty prop buildersâ&#x20AC;Śthey get it! In no specific order: Bauman Propeller/Louie Baumann - Houston TX 713-926-6908 Cross Roads Propeller/Jack Foreman - Port Lavaca, Texas 361-552-2789 Power Tech Propellers - Shreveport, LA 318-688-1970 Mike Hood Propellers/Mike Hood - Houston, TX 713-649-7508 Marine Propeller & Machine Works - Aransas Pass, TX 361-758-3281 Coastal Propeller/Chris Ortiz - Corpus Christi, Texas 361-888-8036 Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wishing everyone a great fishing and boating season in 2011! Chris Mapp - Coastal Bend Marine - Port Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor, Texas Phone: 361-983-4841 Email: mchrismapp@aol.com

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

&KLFN\7DFNOH&RPSDQ\//& +RPHRIWKH5RFNSRUW5DWWOHUÂ&#x152; Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 29


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February will find many of us chasing trophy trout along the middle to lower Texas coast. I assure you there will be plenty of articles in this month’s issue to satisfy your big trout appetite. I myself have been chasing the bigger fish to the south as well but have also been able to stay closer to home and experience some of the best trout fishing I have seen in many years here in the Rockport area. Back about twenty years ago I did a article on patterning winter trout in the Rockport area during a time when catching trout was simply a matter of being on the water. Even though trout numbers in those days must have been off the charts, one still needed to fish smart in order to stay with the fish. Twenty years later, it’s no different. There are still lots of good trout to be caught but they are not everywhere. It’s a matter of discovering the pattern and the pattern is a combination of water temperature, bottom structure, and the presence of bait. The absolute most important tool for this time of year is your water temperature gauge. Don’t have one? Get one! They are inexpensive, easy to install and will make a big difference in your ability to pattern the fish you find. I have owned only one boat in my entire guiding career that did not have this feature. I guess the fish were so thick back then it didn’t matter but, this is a different day and a different fishery. The water temperature gauge tells us where the warmest waters are in conjunction with the bottom structure that has been holding fish. Find the right water temperature and right bottom structure and you’ll usually have some bait activity sometime during the day. When the water temperature dips below 55° the water becomes very clear and we can see bait and bottom structure very easily. I have many anglers that continue to be amazed at Nice red caught over shallow mix of shell and grass, 53° water temp.

30 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Nice slot-sized trout while drifting/trolling over scattered shell in less than 3 feet of water.

the clarity of our bay waters during the winter months. With lowest of low tides typically occurring during February, clarity can reach all-time highs and even winds gusting to over 20-mph will not muddy it up too badly. This exceptional clarity does create catching issues at times but I promise there are times in the day and conditions that will allow for some fantastic action. I am typically searching for water temps above 52° with bottom structure being a mix of scattered shell and grass. I do not usually worry too much about current during the coldest months. Water temperatures below 50° will certainly create some decrease in fish activity and movement in my area. About the only areas that produce in these conditions will be the deeper dropoffs along the ICW in areas adjacent to shallow water. Even in these areas the bite can be slow when water temperatures drop to below 50°. I prefer to fish the ICW areas as the tides begin to slow or even become slack. Luckily we have very few days during a normal winter when water temperatures drop below this level. If they do, it is typically short-lived as daytime warming allows for quick recovery. Simply put, I look for the warmest water over the type of structure I believe the fish are using. Once located, my focus then shifts to bait. See one jump or flip and I am out of the boat or on the trolling motor. I promise, once you establish the water temperature in which the fish are the most active, over the right structure, you then Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


This is what the bottom structure of scattered shell and grass over sand looks like through polarized lenses. This is perfect late winter structure for the Rockport area.

May your fishing always be catching. – Guide Jay Watkins

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only have to repeat the conditions to establish the pattern. For instance, on a day when the average water temperature is reading 56° over scattered shell and grass, you find 58° water over the same structure with a few mullet working and I’ll bet the trout are there as well. I’ll go on record and bet that wherever you can repeat this pattern you’ll find trout there too. Here lately I have been able to drift the flats in southern Aransas Bay and Redfish Bay, monitoring the water temperature gauge while over scattered shell and grass. It’s not trophy trout fishing per se but it is productive and honestly easy to dial into the pattern and predict bites. Calling the shot for a client is a big time confidence builder for them. This also encourages the client to start looking

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. Phone Email Website

361-729-9596 Jay@jaywatkins.com www.jaywatkins.com

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

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INTO the water instead of AT it but that is a whole other article in itself. Water temperature, structure and then bait – work this trifecta and your on your way to a winning ticket. In closing I have to say that trout fishing in the Rockport area over the past several months has been better than good. It has bordered on unbelievable at times considering the lack of quality trout present in 2009. Rain no doubt has been the most obvious factor but I have to believe that the lack of spring and summer fishing pressure has provided some relief as well. Redfish seem to be absolutely everywhere and catching big numbers of slot fish has been a daily occurrence when conditions have been right. I look for some further help in 2011 from TPWD in the form of new trout regulations as well. If this comes to pass, in three or four years Texas could easily boast of the absolute best trout fisheries on the entire Gulf coast.


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Each of us has unique and special memories of time spent in the outdoors. The vivid images of the things we have seen and the places we have been stick with us. They shape our dreams, the decisions we make, and how we see the world. Some of us capture these images in photographs, others create them in art, and some keep them alive through stories. This month, I would like to share with you a few images I have tried to capture in art. Each rose from a vivid memory, vision, or experience that has stayed with me through the years. Migration Across the planet, creatures large and small embark on vast seasonal migrations. In flocks, herds, swarms and schools they travel unimaginable distances in search of food and brooding areas. On these epic journeys, the weak and the sick will perish. And while we have long understood these principles of natural selection, we don’t understand what guides these creatures on their journeys. How do they all know when to leave and where to go? The great migrations remain one of the Earth’s many divine and wondrous mysteries. As summer slips away the Gulf Coast experiences its own migration. Shorter days trigger an exodus from the bays and estuaries, and what begins as a late-summer trickle builds into a massive fall run. Inshore waters come to life as millions of writhing fish and crustaceans pour off the shallow flats, through deep passes and down the beach. Birds from above and predators from below show up to feast on the bounty. It is a compelling sight.

Years ago, I camped at Pass Cavallo on a bright October night. The moonlit water was dimpled with thousands of little bumps and ripples made by countless mullet moving through the pass on their journey to somewhere. It was a quiet night, with the lazy rumbling of the surf barely audible in the distance. But every few minutes the water would erupt as a hungry predator rose from the depths and grabbed an easy meal, abruptly

video

ending the journey of some unlucky baitfish. I sat and wondered what it must look like from below… the silhouettes of all those bodies in the inky water of the pass, backlit by the rising moon. Prowlers The redfish is one of North America’s most prolific and rugged saltwater fish. They thrive in a variety of places ranging from wild pelagic offshore waters to controlled inland reservoirs. But the redfish is perhaps best known for its presence in the shallow flats and marshes along the Gulf Coast and Southern Atlantic Coast. It is here the redfish cruises, roots, tails, and shows us all what he can do. And it is here redfish capture the hearts and souls of fly fishermen.

Sighting and casting to a redfish in clear shallow water is one of Southern fly fishing’s pinnacles. And although it is simple in theory, many factors come into play before the redfish makes his presence known. The water temperature and level must be right, food must be present, and the tidal currents must have signaled to him, “time to eat.” For these reasons, anglers often discover pursuing redfish in shallow water is a search-and-wait game. Several years ago, I spent an afternoon standing on an exposed sandbar waiting for the redfish to show up. Low tides had emptied the flats, but a strong incoming tide was near, and I expected it to push waves of baitfish across the flat. The reds would not be far behind. On cue, the tide and baitfish showed. As luck would have it, bands of redfish began to follow them in. At first, they patrolled the deeper water on the edge of the flat, waiting for an opportunity to venture shallower. I watched as the crimson pods of fish formed, broke apart, and reformed. In the clear waist-deep water they zipped left and right. It looked as though an Easter egg hunt was going on below the surface. Some of them cruised right by me with a focused look on their rubbery heads, on the way to shallower feeding grounds. In spite of the fact I had spent all afternoon waiting for these fish to show up, I was so taken with how they

Check out Casey’s Fly Fishing Video Library at www.TSFMag.com

32 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


swells of the waves and then turned their attention to each other. For a few moments it looked almost as though they were telling stories. And then with a few flips they zipped away.

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Las Tortugas Turtles and tortoises have fascinated me since a very early age. As a kid, I raised red-ears, snappers, soft-shells, sliders, and box turtles. We waded eyeball-deep in a particularly unsavory creek near our house to catch the water turtles, and dodged highway traffic to catch the box turtles. Good times… I still love turtles, and as I write this today there are two juvenile box turtles less than 20 feet from my desk. They are wonderful creatures… symbols of patience and perseverance, friendship and kindness. One memory of turtles has stayed with me vividly for many years. Early one morning I was fishing from the small jetties on Mustang Island. The rocks were empty except for a few gulls and a really rough-looking possum. I walked to the end of the rocks and cast out two large surf rods. The fishing was slow and I almost drifted to sleep, watching the waves build and roll around the end of the jetties one by one, pushing water up between the voids between the rocks. Then something caught my eye. It was a large turtle. The turtle floated on the waves with his head stuck curiously above the surface of the water. He looked around for a minute or two, with his large healthy-looking eyes blinking in the morning sun. His head and shell were chocolate brown on top and creamy tan on the bottom. He looked polished and clean. Moments later a second turtle, nearly identical in size and color, appeared and swam up in front of him. The two turtles drifted and spun in the

Casey Smartt has been fly fishing and tying flies for 30 years. When he cannot make it to the coast he is happy chasing fish on Texas inland lakes and rivers. Phone Email Website

830-237-6886 caseysmartt@att.net www.caseysmartt.com

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Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 33

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By Colin Nash | Summer Intern | Rockport, Texas

I was in Marine Ecology class one morning when my professor approached me afterward and invited me into his office. He asked me if I was interested in a summer internship with the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Without hesitation, I expressed my enthusiasm and fortunately, one month after completing the application, I got a call for an interview. I had been told that this was going to be a formal TPWD interview, so I was nervous for the few days leading up to it. When I walked in the door, I was like a deer in headlights. Facing me were three ecosystem leaders who took turns asking me questions. Apparently my interview went well as I was offered the position at the Rockport Marine Lab. The interview process turned out to be the first of many valuable experiences I have had as a Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) sponsored summer intern. I’ve always loved being on the water, so it was a dream come true to spend the summer working on two Texas coastal bays.

34 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Before this internship, I had very little experience on boats. During the internship, I spent anywhere from 10 to 20 hours per week on the water. For instance, on my first day of work, we went to Mud Island to collect a couple of bag seine samples and a trawl sample. Just before sunset, we cut across Aransas Bay and into Copano Bay to set two gill nets on the south shore. The TPWD Rockport Marine Lab houses two bay system crews. During the summer, I rotated between the Aransas Bay and Corpus Christi Bay crews. They use skiffs for shallow water sampling and larger research vessels (R/V’s) for bay and gulf sampling. The skiffs are powered with 150 h.p. outboard motors and are all about 21 feet long. The R/V’s are modified shrimp boats which have been rigged for research purposes. The R/V Copano Bay is about 35 feet long and is used exclusively for inshore trawling and dredging oyster reefs in the bays of the Aransas Bay Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


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ecosystem. Corpus Christi Bay ecosystem has the larger R/V Nueces Bay (about 54 feet long) which trawls both in Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and conducts longline sampling for sharks offshore in the Gulf. One of the more valuable lessons I learned was that weather plays a significant role in field sampling. Occasionally, it was better to wait and collect data another day rather than try to fight the weather. For instance, we had planned to go ‘long-lining’ for sharks. The prediction was for 2 to 3-foot seas, so we expected a nice day out on the Gulf. However, when we made it to the end of the Port Aransas jetties we encountered 6-foot. waves. The bow was pitching so far up and down it felt like I was floating out of my seat! It was so rough and choppy that we had to call the trip off. There were days where work didn’t require being on the water. The lab in Rockport is where we worked up all the samples that were brought in from the field, as well as cleaned up the recorded field data and entered the information into the computers. Learning about data input helped me understand why “they do what they do” in the field. This summer, I learned how the TPWD utilizes fisheries data to suggest regulations (such as size and bag limits on fish) to conserve our valuable resources. In fact, working with this much data was a real challenge for me. I had no idea there were this many different species of fish and crabs in our bay systems. However, since I spent the summer at Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Rockport Marine Lab, I have learned how to identify aquatic organisms down to genus and species using scientific keys. Outside of the data and scientific part of the job, there was a lot that had to be done to maintain the vessels and the gear. I have learned how to rig trawls, dredges, and long line equipment. Each one of these has their own set of ropes, pulleys and winches. This was a little intimidating at first, but it soon added to the fun. I have also learned how to change the oil in large marine diesels and perform basic checks on the R/V’s as well as the outboard motors. The experience that has affected me the most is the people behind the scenes. All of the technicians, biologists, and other TPWD employees I have worked with have shown me what it’s like to really work hands-on in the field. I believe this has been the most beneficial summer during my college career. The lessons I’ve learned while working at the Rockport Marine Lab have really brought to light a lot of what I studied in school. I really appreciate the opportunity Dr. McKee presented to me and the staff of the TPWD Rockport Marine Lab for teaching me what it’s all about to work in this field. I also would like to thank the CCA for sponsoring my internship and making this possible for me.

Check the TPWD Outdoor Annual, your local TPWD Law Enforcement office, or www.tpwd. state.tx.us for more information. Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 35


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Between 70 and 80 volunteers showed up on Saturday, December 4, 2010 to take part in a volunteer marsh grass planting day at the Nueces Bay marsh restoration project located between Portland and Corpus Christi along U.S. Highway 181’s Portland Causeway. This project, led by Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP), will eventually restore approximately 160 acres of lost marsh. CCA Texas’s habitat initiative, Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT), has contributed $24,000 to the project. These funds include $10,000 raised by CCA Texas volunteers in the banquet fundraising process, $10,000 secured by HTFT from the FishAmerica Foundation and $4,000 secured by HTFT from West Marine. This restoration project will help provide lost intertidal marsh that is a critical part of the bay ecosystem providing essential habitat for juvenile fish, shrimp and crabs and feeding grounds for bigger fish and other animals within the ecosystem. Studies have shown that this area has lost as much as 340 acres of marsh over the last 30 years. In the 1940s, causeway construction and related dredging resulted in the loss of about 180 acres and since then studies show that an additional 160 acres have been lost due to erosion and subsidence. “Public participation of this sort is invaluable. It not only helps make available funding go further, but also keeps the community informed about what we are doing and gives them a sense of ownership,” commented CBBEP Project Manager Dustin Cravey. CBBEP Executive Director Ray Allen added, “Protecting and restoring fish habitat is critically important. The CCA and CBBEP partnership on this marsh restoration project is the key to a keeping fish in the bay.” 36 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Construction on the restoration project began in mid-July and to date all the terraces have been completed and the outer terraces planted as part of the 76-acre Phase I. Contractors are currently working on the outer marsh protection berm with hopes of completing it by the end of December. Once the outer berm is completed, Phase II dredging will start and the 86acre open area between the outer berm and the outer terraces will be pumped with dredge material, resulting in up to 80% coverage of intertidal marsh with a lot of edge. “HTFT is proud to be a part of this restoration effort,” commented John Blaha, HTFT Director. “This project is another great example of partnerships at work to restore Texas’s coastal habitats and the involvement from the community was tremendous. We look forward to working with CBBEP in the future.” For more information about this project, associated photo requests or CCA Texas, please visit www.ccatexas. org or contact John Blaha at jdblaha@ ccatexas.org or (800) 626-4222.

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6L[WHHQWK%LJ6KHOO %HDFK&OHDQXS Mark your calendar for 19 March 2011. Volunteers should plan to meet at Malaquite Pavilion/Padre Island National Seashore no later than 7:00 AM. Sturdy clothing, gloves and hiking boots are suggested. Bring a snack, bottled water will be available. Fourwheel drive transportation is required. Transportation for volunteers without FWD will be provided. All work teams will be back to Malaquite by 2:00 PM where food and refreshments will be available. Visit www.billysandifer.com for more information. Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


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:0.5: A recent afternoon paddle through my favorite marsh had that chorus running through my mind. The marsh was absolutely alive with activity. Subtle wakes in open ponds to full-blown vicious blow-ups on the shorelines. There were tails tipping up through the surface and fish cruising shorelines with their entire backs showing. On occasion a gang of reds would form up to ravage a hapless school of mullet or work as a team to root the shrimp from the edges of the spartina grass. And when the reds weren’t revealing themselves, the baitfish or shrimp would betray their presence as they attempted to avoid becoming a meal. It p would have been the perfect time to teach a newbie what to

38 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

look for when pursuing redfish in shallow water. It was all there. I spent the first couple of hours happily slinging my fly rod and connecting on fish after fish. It was a no-refusal kind of day, one of those that keeps us coming back. As the evening approached I had completely satisfied my predatory urge and decided to put down the rod in favor of the camera. I’m constantly asked what to look for when pursuing redfish in the marsh and I’ve tried many times to describe what I see on these special days in the marsh, but written words fall far short of the mark. This month I will keep my ramblings to a minimum and make use of the extra space to hopefully teach through the accompanying photos.

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


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

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Phone 281-450-2206 Website www.letsgofishing.net

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 41


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Many people do not realize the influence we Texans have had and continue to have on our nation. I could go on about the Texas Rangers, that if it was not for their needs and inputs to firearms design, we may have never known one of the greatest handguns of all time, the Colt Revolver. Then there are of course little facts such as more Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Texas than any other state. How about the significant impact our state has had on energy and agricultural markets with our oil and cattle. Again, I could go on and on but will not. I will however get back on topic and that is, of course, fishing. Many do not realize the significant impact we Texas fishermen have had on the world of saltwater fishing. I used to scoff at a couple of legendary Florida anglers/guides when they said, “You might know how to run a boat in shallow water, but you Texans know nothing about fishing in shallow water.” Well, over the years I realized how right they were. Well, sort of anyway. You see, back 25-30 years ago there was a guide down in Port Mansfield who was developing one of the deadliest shallow water fishing tools of all time. It was a little orange, foam cork with beads that slid up and down on a stiff wire that angler’s would tie a short leader to allowing them to fish a soft plastic jig in shallow water just above the bottom. When retrieved erratically, the cork would slide up and down creating a clicking sound that attracted fish. In fact, I would say that Bob Fuston’s Mansfield Mauler has helped more beginning and lesser skilled anglers catch fish than almost any other rig outside of maybe a gold spoon. And, while it has been many years since I have actually seen the actual brand on the shelves at any tackle store, I have recently seen three or four different incarnations by different companies and, over the years, have seen them used by guides in every state along the Gulf coast. Moving on, I would have to say one of our most recent contributions made widely available to anglers nation-wide would be when Paul Brown’s Corky was picked up by the MirrOlure people. Sure, we Texans have had easy access to that magic plug for over 20 years but, until now, they were pretty hard to find outside of Brown’s garage or a couple of select tackle shops here in the Lone Star State. Now, fishermen in places like Calcasieu and the east coast of Florida will come to know what we have for years- big trout love Corkys. Oh, and did I mention, all those down in South Florida will find out what a few adventuresome traveling Texans have learned, big Everglades snook love them too! In addition to tackle, Texas has made pretty big splash in the marine industry by designing some of the best fishing boat accessories to be found anywhere. One of the best examples is a little company in Driftwood, TX known as YETI Coolers. The 42 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


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Scott Sommerlatte is a full time fly fishing and light tackle guide, freelance writer and photographer. Telephone 979-415-4379 Email vssommerlatte@hotmail.com Website www.scottsommerlatte.com

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 43

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brain-child of brothers, Roy and Ryan Seiders, Yeti ice-chests are not only built nearly indestructible, but keep ice for days on end. These characteristics, along with the fact that they just look damn good, have made these coolers one of the most sought after products to be found anywhere people fish. Now, on to my favorite â&#x20AC;&#x153;Look what we Texans have doneâ&#x20AC;? exampleâ&#x20AC;Ś a while back, a shallow water angler and master of fiberglass and resins by the name of Kevin Shaw designed a push pole down in Corpus Christi. The pole was built tough and became a big hit with the few anglers that were trying to pole boats in the shallows of our Texas bays. He thought it was a good product and took it to Florida to market to the huge population of poling skiff owners. It was here that he hit a brick wall. He was told that the pole was too heavy and clunky and that he would

never be able to compete with the companies that were starting to produce graphite sticks. Returning to the drawing board with a â&#x20AC;&#x153;We will just see about thatâ&#x20AC;? attitude, Shaw designed a push pole that was not only lighter than any of the others, but significantly stronger. Now, there are two sorts of skiff owners to be found in this country- those who have a Stiffy and those that want one. I have been pushed around flats from New York, down the eastern seaboard, in the Keys, all along the Gulf Coast and even in Hawaii and there is always a constant- the push-pole being used was not only designed in Texas, but it was made in Texas. Heck, that is even better than being â&#x20AC;&#x153;Made in the USA!â&#x20AC;? Now, thinking back through that whole â&#x20AC;&#x153;Texans not knowing how to fish in shallow waterâ&#x20AC;? thing, it occurs to me that we might be learning. I know that those Florida luminaries are thinking that very thing while they pole around on the flats using a Texas-made push pole. And, I am sure they are eating lunch off the top of their Yeti wondering- â&#x20AC;&#x153;What will those boys in Texas come up with next?â&#x20AC;? Until next month- be good and stuff like that.


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In February, with duck season over, I tend to refocus my efforts on fishing. February can be one of the coldest months, but it also has good warming trends. Fish will fluctuate with the temperate as far as what water depth they will concentrate in. When you are fishing in a warming trend, in-between fronts when temperatures gradually rise, the fish will sometimes be in shallower water than you may expect. This is especially true for redfish, but donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be surprised when you see that trophy trout right up there

with the reds. Another thing about this time of year is that with all the fluctuating temperatures and weather patterns, you may have a lot of clouded, foggy days. Some days may be really windy out of the south with lots of clouds, which are caused by an approaching front. These conditions can usually mean good fishing because of the low barometric pressure. Recently, I was able to take a trip down to Port Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Connor. You can guess what the weather might have been like. There was a cold front coming in, so we had lots of clouds, a stiff south wind, and the temperature was in the high seventies. I was with my older brother, Chad, and one of his longtime friends, Joe. With a decent game plan put together, we headed for the boat ramp. I had high hopes of catching some trout in a particular spot, but when we arrived there, we could see a boat parked right on it with a group of wade fishermen. Of course I was a little bit disappointed, but they had just as much right to the spot as I did so we pulled off and went to another area. We all got out and fished hard at the next

´$WWKLVSRLQW, ZDVMXVWPDGDW Ă&#x20AC;VKLQJHQHUDOÂľ spot, but caught zero. Upon entering the next fishing hole, I saw a redfish dart away from us as we shut the boat down. It was a somewhat shallow back lake and there seemed to be activity in it, so we got out and waded towards the windblown shoreline. It didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take long to figure out that the fish wanted a dark colored shad tail. Chad was the first to hook up with a good redfish. Joe was the next to catch a good red, however, I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even catch a cold. Since we were getting farther and farther from the boat, I decided to go get it to move it down to intersect them later in their wade. In the time I did this they had both caught another redfish a piece. I got out and started casting to catch just something. Instead, I got to watch my brother catch a huge redfish. Right after that, I actually hooked up with a fish of moderate size and almost had him in but he got off. At this point, I was just mad at fish in general. We continued throughout the day fishing hard and making long wades. I finally caught a few undersized fish but nothing to satisfy my craving. By the end of the day I had nothing to show for all of my hard work, while Chad and Joe had limits of 44 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


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solid redfish. I was trying to think of what I did different that day. All I could think of is that I wore a white fishing shirt. I usually wear a blue one. So, I came to the conclusion that it was bad luck; I was being a bit superstitious, maybe. The next day we only had about a half of a day to fish and I finally had a chance to redeem myself. The weather was typical heavy clouds and dense fog and the front that was on its way was stalled out over the top of us. On the first wade, Joe managed to catch a red. Now I was trying extra hard. Upon arrival

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

at the next spot, I got out and caught one red right off the bat. “Ah finally,” I whispered to myself. Then, I caught a huge, twentyeight inch redfish. I felt relieved and so much better about myself. We went to a few more spots that didn’t produce, but on the last wade of the day, I finished out with a red that I sightcasted to ten feet away from me. I ended my day in high spirits with fish in my cooler, while my brother caught nothing. He was wearing a white fishing shirt; just something to think about.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 45


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Wintertime offshore fishing off the Texas coast challeng can be challenging to say the least. Considering the major shift in most fish patterns coupled with the typical swings in our winter weather, lots of offshore anglers end up with a raging case of cabin fever, longing for warmer days and calmer seas. This brings us to the month of February and a time that we start looking to spring while still dealing with cold weather and

46 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

questionable sea conditions. 2011 is well on its way and this winterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fishing has been plagued with windy, rough weather and few windows with nice fishable days. The tuna fishing has been somewhat hit and miss and this has driven the larger headboats greater distances than in recent years to put their customers on the fish. Some of the Texas fleet have temporarily relocated to Louisiana ports to meet the demand. Personally I wish them much success and hope they return safely to continue the valuable service they provide to us here at home. Those of us relegated to the smaller boats have had limited opportunities to make good on our long-range yellowfin fishery. When the weather has cooperated the reports have been all over the map so to speak, with success being seen by many while others return wondering if the tuna no longer live in the Gulf. The reef fish on the other hand are just as they should be, offering a consistent opportunity to guarantee an angler doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t come home empty-handed. Vermillion snapper fishing has been fairly easy when the current allows you to get your baits to them and, as usual, anywhere you find them in decent numbers the amberjack are hovering just above looking for an easy meal.

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 47

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While the amberjack have been consistent and fairly easy to locate , the size has been nothing more than average. The one real issue has been catching live bait in great enough number for a dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s outing. Good, consistent blue runners can be a challenge at any time but it is typical for this time of year to see a larger portion of the morning spent just trying to fill a livewell before the real fishing ever begins. For anyone looking for fast steady action this time of year donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget about the ever-present kingfish. They are long gone from the near shore rigs and live bottom, but they are definitely not out of reach. Especially for anyone making a run for the deep water species mentioned above. The kingfish are thick on live bottom in excess of 150 feet and will readily bite just about anything that resembles a baitfish, making for one of our more consistent year round targets. With the winter fishing offering its usual ups and downs , most

of us look forward to warmer and calmer days ahead and the return to those familiar haunts that have produced for us year after year. All the while wondering what the Gulf Council will allow us to retain in our daily bag. A couple things to keep an eye on as we move into the next few months will be the possible closure of the amberjack season and the much-awaited red snapper opener. The Gulf Council is looking at a June and July closure of the amberjack season, if a closure is deemed necessary. The necessity of this closure is yet to be determined and is something that we may not know until the last minute. The thought behind the June and July closure is to spread out the fishing opportunity and have them closed while the red snapper season is open, then reopening amberjack to fishing in and about the time we end our snapper season . This decision, if enacted would help to avoid anther emergency closure like we suffered in the latter part of 2009. For the much sought after red snapper we are looking at another


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season similar to the last with one more twist. As if the whole issue isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t confusing enough, we now have the FWC (Florida Wildlife Commission) looking at reopening their state waters to year round fishing for red snapper. If this takes place the projected Florida state water catch will be entered into the fishery model prior to setting the season. If this occurs and considering that Florida has the lionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s share of the fishing effort, basically the majority of the fishermen in the Gulf, we may see a drastic cut in the number of days we receive to fish for red snapper in 2011. As we move into spring we will all expect to face the typical challenges posed by the fishery and Mother Nature. What we seem to find as of late is that the politics and uncertainty of our fisheries managers can pose the largest challenge. Rest assured that it will warm up, those southeast winds will return and that cabin fever will break. It just takes a good warm dose of salt air and tight lines.

48 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Gerry and Alexa are accomplished fishermen who have gone with me every opportunity for years. Gage and Belle are learning quickly.

We loaded up the boat, grabbed some shrimp, and headed down to the Land Cut to see what it had to offer. The weather was beautiful and we landed fish after fish. After boxing the fish we wanted to keep they began to catch and release until they were tired. I try to instill in them the tenet that this is a limited resource, one we all need to protect.

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

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“A remarkable product, easy to use and stores easily in my dry box.” Capt. Rick O. Victoria, TX. TR Coastal Innovations has other new exciting products on their website; we just released Pol-Soc, in 6 and 8 ft versions. Visit www.skeggpro.com to view or place order.

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

I have been using the ultimate wade fishing caddy since June of this year. It allows me the luxury of having perishable items while wading that before remained on the boat. This translates into more fishing time on the flats. My grandson started wade fishing with me this summer and the single caddy accommodated his gear as well. The draft on it is minute allowing an easy unassisted crossover of the reefs. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys wade fishing. Herb Tucker

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 53


',&.,(&2/%851·66DELQH6FHQH We haven’t eaten it raw yet but I am starting to feel like Forrest Gump and Bubba when it comes to cooking redfish. We have eaten ',&.,(&2/%851 them fried, broiled, baked, grilled on the half shell, added to seafood Dickie Colburn is a full time guide gumbo and slow cooked in a thick out of Orange, Texas. Dickie has court bouillon. The bottom line is 37 years experience guiding on that we are just covered up with Sabine and Calcasieu Lakes. redfish here on Sabine. Our winter thus far has been Telephone 409-883-0723 very mild and staggering numbers Website of redfish continue to prowl the www.sabineconnection.com shallow flats and shorelines. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the big trout that usually frequent these same flats. When we do find them, we are only able to catch a handful before the redfish crash the party. I have, however, had some good days on trout up to five pounds vertically jigging tails on the 15 to 18-foot breaks along the ICW and Sabine River channel. This bite will survive the coldest weather and continue to improve if we can avoid any major rains. Both Toledo

Bend and Rayburn are still very low, so significant releases shouldn’t be a factor. Not surprisingly, tide is still the key factor when vertical fishing the river. Get your bait on the bottom, move it in short twitches, and let the tide do the rest. A Hoginar is the most productive lure for exploiting this bite, but it is a redfish magnet. If you are specifically targeting trout, stick with a tail and a 1/4 or 3/8 head depending on the strength of the current. The water is unusually clear both in the river and the lake and we have been able to get our catching done most days with Texas Roach, plum-chartreuse, and Stinky Pink over the past two months. Oddly enough, plum-chartreuse has worked better in the five-inch rat tail style while the other two colors are deadly in both lengths. This time last year coastal anglers were buying every Corky they could find regardless of color. The folks at MirrOlure took care of the availability problem and most of us are back to fishing the Fat Boy and Devil a little slower knowing that a lost lure can be replaced the following day. At least to some degree, the same thing is happening with any Assassin tail in Stinky Pink. Over the years there have been and still are basic colors that you must include in your saltwater arsenal, but every once in a while there is a game changer and this is one of

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

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6$%, 1( Another big redfish caught and released.

those colors. Texas roach can at times be difficult to find as well, but good luck trying to find Stinky Pink. Over the past two months it has not only caught fish when other colors worked equally well, but continued to catch fish on those days when nothing else worked at all. Consistency is the measuring stick for any lure or color and it has passed the test. Assuming that the big female trout are going to show up any day now, I will spend much of my time on either the extreme south or

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

north end of the lake. Both areas have flats that are bordered by very deep water and tide changes move a lot of he baitfish. On the south end of the lake the n get very shoreline from Garrisons to Greenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s can fl t allll th hot while the same can be said for the flats the way from Pleasure Island to East Pass on the north end. Coffee Ground Cove can also turn on big time as can Old River Cove. Because it is very shallow and difficult to wade, most folks never give Old River a second look, but that is a big mistake. If the water clarity remains we will rely on lighter colors in the Fat Boy and Devil as well as the Catch V and MirrOdine XL. Electric chicken, pearl chartreuse back, day-glow, and pink patterns are very dependable with good water clarity. When they will eat a topwater lure, we do well with bone-silver and pearl chartreuse. Should the water dirty up, I will stick with the same lures in darker colors that offer a better silhouette. While it sounds crazy, we have fished Corkys under a Kwik Cork and done well at times the last couple of years, but this year I have done even better fishing a TTF Red Killer under the cork. It is a wider bodied paddle tail grub not designed to swim well on a steady retrieve, but it darts erratically much like the Corky on a slow descent. The Kwik cork provides a little noise and simply keeps it in the strike zone the duration of each cast. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t over work it! Catch and release is a most enjoyable way to lose weight!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 55


0,&.(<2Q*DOYHVWRQ Captain Mickey from Galveston – Happy New Year’s to everyone. Can’t believe this weather is hanging in there for this time of 0,&.(<($670$1 year. Really getting some beautiful weather between fronts Mickey Eastman is a full-time and water conditions are staying fishing guide out of Baytown, TX. Mickey has 26 years guiding good, pretty much ditto everyexperience on the Galveston thing from last month’s report area bays and is the founder of is still going on. Nothing has Gulf Coast Troutmasters, the changed all that much, fishing is largest speckled trout tournareally good for this time of year ment series of all time which is hard to believe. The only change that I’ve seen is that Contact Mickey Eastman’s the upper reaches of the rivers Guide Service and the bayous are holding a lot Telephone of redfish right now and some 281-383-2032 trout. A lot of trout are coming from the shell ledges off the river banks there in the San Jacinto River just north of I-10. Drift fisherman are catching them pretty good with heavier swimbaits. All you have to do is find the right depth. More than likely these swimbaits are producing well because they are easy to work in the six to nine foot depths where these fish are holding.

56 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

But on warming trends, when these fish pull up on the flats adjacent to the ledges, they are doing pretty good with Corkys and MirrOlures. Moving on down, Burnet Bay has been producing some good trout for the drift fisherman. San Jacinto Bay is doing about the same thing with the swimbaits and eel-type baits like Bass Assassins and Big Nasty Voodoo baits. Trinity Bay - Pretty much the same as I reported last month. There has been a lot of fish being caught in Upper Galveston Bay, Sylvan Beach, and Seabrook Flats. Drift fishing with swimbaits, MirrOlures and a few Corkys is productive here too. Over in Trinity Bay’s northend, like Jack’s Pocket out deep through the F-Lease Wells, a lot of nice trout are being caught. Nice trout up to five pounds! Drift fishing has also been good there with the three baits mentioned above. I think the most important thing right now is that whatever your confidence bait might be you can catch fish on it. On the flats, every time you get a fairly good warming trend and the water comes back up after a front, the wade fishermen are catching some pretty good fish up shallow. Areas like up in the back part of Jack’s Pocket and over near the Trinity River mouth have been particularly good. As far as the Trinity River goes, they are starting to catch quite a few, even the guys who are in there fishing for catfish are catching some reds and a few trout and they are not even trying too hard; they are after catfish. That ought to tell you something.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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* $ / 9 ( 6 72 21 1 Bayous like Long Island Bayou and Old River Lake, lots of redfish up there. I havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fished up there as that is not my gig, but they are doing quite well on redfish. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m told that some days they will see large schools of reds surfacing and hundreds of them will be swimming around right at the surface. They tell me itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pretty cool! The water is becoming exceptionally salty upstream, salinity levels in the bay are higher than normal for this time of year, so itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really no surprise that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re finding their way up there. As far as our reefs go, on the south end of Trinity Bay, they are normally good in the wintertime but for some reason they are just not producing like they should this year. You can catch a few fish there but your better fish and steadier action are in the northern ends of the bays. Same goes for East Bay, the upper end of Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge all behind Rollover pass, those flats become real good behind fronts when you get a warming trend and you can wade that soft mud and those scattered shell towheads all in the back end of that bay and do real good on Corkys right now . Just a tiny bit of bird action going on every now and then. The fish will find a school of really small whisker and eyeball shrimp and drive them to the surface and of course the birds get on them and have a field day. Believe it or not you can still catch a few decent fish under the birds and it is not often that we see thing type of thing going on this late in the season. Moving down around the Texas City area, the flounder run has diminished in the Galveston Channel but they are still catching a few

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on swimbaits, mud minnows and finger-sized mullet. Working right on the bottom along the ledges is the best bet if winter flounder fishing is your bag. West Bay fishermen have been doing real good. Drifting streaks over the shell beds between North and South Deer Island, south of there all along the old intracoastal has been paying off pretty good too. A lot of guys are drifting till they find them and then putting out a drift jug and pretty much staying with the same pattern. Tri-Bay fishermen are catching fish up in Bastrop and Chocolate Bayou along the shorelines. Trout and redfish have been coming steadily by working the points along the bayou edges with swimbaits and soft plastics. We had quite a bit of rain recently, as much as four to five inches in some areas, and it seems to have sparked a pretty good bite. We got a little bit of flushing action in the upper lakes, small bayous and drains. For the most part it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even phase the salinity levels so we could actually use a bit more rain at this time. As far as the open bays go, the fish are scattered and are definitely concentrating way up north near bayou mouths or in the bayous themselves and across deeper flats that lie close by. As a lot of these big northers come in a lot of those fish will come out of the bayous and hit the flats and everybody will enjoy good fishing.

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

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&$37%,//·6)LVK7DON It’s no secret that February can be a vicious month weatherwise. We see the coldest average temperatures and longest cold &$37%,//3867(-296.< spells of the year in February. Naturally then, given this weather Bill Pustejovsky is a full-time scenario, it can be tough to guide at Matagorda, TX. Bill play the hand we are dealt fishes year-round for trout and redfish in all the Matagointo a winning fishing strategy. rda Bays. Wading and drifting However, if you play your cards for trophy trout and reds are right, you might just walk into his specialty. some great fishing. If there is a bonus in what February Telephone throws at us, it would the 979-863-7353 predictability of trout Email and redfish patterns CaptBill@GoldTipGuideService.com Website and the weight of these www.goldtipguideservice.com wintertime fish. A few elements to consider include fishing locations with respect to weather in terms of winds and tides, choosing the right bait and color, while adding in a whole lot of patient, hard fishing. The Farmer’s Almanac projects a drier, milder winter and if this is the case, our

58 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

fish population should be more active and consequently feeding on a more regular basis than we saw last year. Wintertime fishing usually equates to somewhere in the vicinity of five to seven a bites a day, unless of course you get lucky and find them feeding aggressively during a prolonged warm-up. The best structure in the Matagorda Bays will be mud and scattered shell. Dark, mud bottom absorbs the sun’s energy and the water above it stays warmer on average than other bottom types. Shell creates natural refuge for bait and game species alike. The importance of some amount of bait, at this time of year mullet, cannot be overstated. Wading is my preferred method as it allows me to enter an area very quietly and work it thoroughly. In years past, we have found an occasional mother lode of big trout, twenty-five to thirty inches, while fishing this pattern. It doesn’t happen often but above normal temperatures in February can trigger these opportunities. Drifting East Matagorda Bay can also pay off. The keys here will be to avoid the gin-clear water we often see in February and every once in a while a

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0 $ 7$ * 2 5 ' '$ $ slick might pop along the edges of our many reefs. I tell everybody to work the murky to dark-green stretches and especially the edges of any muddy streaks you might find. Other telltale signs of fish activity will be small distinct mud boils, and of course active bait anywhere near a mid-bay reef. Both east and west ends of East Matagorda Bay have scattered shell and mud areas that can typically hold fish. Most February days will find me over in East Matagorda Bay but West Matty does have a few hot spots. The Colorado River and Diversion Channel may see me but that depends on the degree of any freshwater run-off. For those diehard redfish folks, West Matagorda Bay’s south shoreline can be a winner especially after a good hard cold front. The deeper guts with any amount of grass left in them and also any amount of scattered shell should fish the best. I know everyone has their favorite baits and I’m no exception. My passion for Bass Assassin lures is no secret and top picks for winter fishing include: Hot Chicken, Chicken-on-a-Chain, Fire Tiger, Space Guppy, 10W40, Plum with green tail, and Sweet Pea. I always use Bass Assassin Bang in Garlic on my baits as well. All selections will work at some point in time - certain days the fish want the 5” straight tail while other times the 4” sea shad, so I suggest stocking both on the

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boat. MirrOlure winners are Paul Brown’s Corky Fat Boys: Pearl Chartreuse—01 h and Mullet Fat Boy—10, both earl in floaters; Original Corky’s Pearl Chartreuse—01, Black Orange Gold—09, Black Chartreuse Tail—97, Pearl Chartreuse Gold—91, Silver Chartreuse Tail—07, and Pink Silver—08. Don’t leave out the infamous Eddie Douglas Broken Back Special. I will have all these baits on board at all times while fishing this winter. Water color is extremely important in reference to bait choice. Usually, off-colored water or overcast skies call for using a dark bait. Your clearer water and bright days warrant a clear, lighter-colored bait. I highly recommend using fluorocarbon line and, if you use braided line, like me, use a fluorocarbon leader at least three feet long. Like I always tell folks, big trout didn’t get that way by happenstance. Be extremely quiet. Avoid crunching shell with your boots. Slide your feet on the bottom like an eel. Make long drifts away from the areas holding fish before cranking your outboard to come back around. Wear good polarized glasses. Make notably long casts. Last but not least; fish and wade slowly. Hope all enjoyed a successful hunting season and looking forward to a bountiful 2011 fishing year. God Bless. -Capt. Bill

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www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 59


0,'&2$67%$<6:LWKWKH*UD\V Fishing in January between the cold fronts was nothing short of awesome. My time on the water was spent in a variety of locales &$37*$5<*5$< from back lake fishing and duck Captain Gary and Captain Shellie hunting on Matagorda Island to Gray fish year-round for trout wading the reefs in the middle of and redfish in the Port Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor/ San Antonio and Mesquite Bays. Seadrift area. Gary started his Bay The pattern for finding fish Rat Guide Service 20 years ago. The Grays specialize in wade and in February will not change a lot drift fishing with artificial lures. from your January escapades. Gary and Shellie also team up to You will still have to find an area fish many tournaments. with the correct structure with the number one ingredient Telephone still being bait. If you find bait 361-785-6708 holding on a sandy shoreline give Email it a shot if you want, although Gary@BayRat.com I must say sandy shorelines are Website www.bayratguideservice.com not the normal feeding zones of wintertime trout in middle coast bays. Normally, this time of the year, your quarry will be holding in muddier places. By muddier I mean anything from soft and relatively

firm to knee-deep goo. The bait will point the way. I sometimes read that wading mud is an old wives tale and fish can be caught on sand in the middle of winter. You might occasionally come across a trout sunning in the crystal clear shallows of an Espiritu Santo shoreline but your chances of catching it are slim to none. Every winter I see huge trout sunning on sand but I have yet to dupe one. Perhaps the answer to this riddle lies in the absence of bait. The fish are only there to get warm. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to come off sounding like a know it all, just stating what I have learned through trial and error. I hope this will save you some time and wasted efforts. I will let you in on one of my secrets for wading muddy bottom. I always tell my guys, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The slower you move the less energy you use John Davis tangled with this 35 inch brute in less than two feet of water.

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3 2 5 7 2 · & 2 1 1 2 5  6 ( $ ' 5 , ) 7 and you will catch more fish.” Stealth is every bit as important as conserving your energy. I also tell them that if you can hear yourself splashing you are moving too fast. This applies wherever you are wading, no matter the season. Grass holds lots of bait and is therefore a primary key to back lake fishing. In winter, though, much of the grass is gone. Quite often during really cold stretches I find the bait hanging in the cuts that lead to the back lake areas. The deeper cuts offer a place for the bait to snuggle into warmer holes until the sun warms the flats back up. You can bet the trout and reds won’t be far come feeding time. I have found that some of the deeper cuts that lead to a back lake can be fished from the shoreline edge (walking on land at the edge of the cut) and probing the depths without ever entering the cut itself. You might want to try this until you get to the mouth of the lake and then see where the bait takes you. The current, if any, will dictate which way your lure should be worked along the cut. The most natural presentation is to drag the bait with the Vince Stueve had a hard time controlling his excitement after landing this red.

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current, not against it. On really cold days n the fish will be on bottom, so slow it down and maybe try a heavier lure. The bite willl often be subtle and this is a place where braided line is worth its weight in gold. My lure selection usually depends on the area I am fishing. I will always have my MirrOlure Corky in glow/chartreuse and my MirrOdine XL in CFPR in my wade box. The lure I throw more than any other is the 4” Bass Assassin Sea Shad (paddle tail) in electric blue/chartreuse in dirty water and bone diamond in clear water. This bait versatile and can be just dragged along the bottom or jigged at any depth. I rig it most often on Assassin’s 1/16 oz head. There are occasional days when a topwater is called for and I then dig out my She Dog in CHPR or GCRCH. This article is just a glimpse into winter fishing along the middle coast. If you have questions I welcome your calls and emails. I always enjoy talking fishing. Something else worth mentioning is stingrays. That’s right stingrays! I had a customer look at me like I was crazy when he saw me donning my ForEverlast Ray-Guards. He thought the stingrays were gone for the winter. I reminded him that I have seen stingrays year round and I never leave the boat without my Ray Guard shields or boots. I also carry extra several extra pairs onboard my Shallow Sport for customers that have forgotten theirs. Fish hard fish smart!

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www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 61


+22.('83:,7+5RZVH\ If trophy trout fishing was defined by starting dates such as deer and duck seasons, I guess February 1st would be the much anticipated date '$9,'52:6(< to let the plastic fly from David Rowsey has 20 years high-modulus rod tips. I fish experience in the Laguna/Baffin for trophy trout year round, region; trophy trout with artificial including the heat of the lures is his specialty. David has summer, but I admit, if there is a great passion for conservation and encourages catch and a sweet spot in the calendar it release of trophy fish. is now. When Jim Wallace set a new state record on February Telephone 6, 1996 with a 13.69 pound 361-960-0340 beast from Baffin, the lore of Website February trophy trout fishing www.DavidRowsey.com was set in stone, even for the nonbelievers of inclement weather fishing. Yes, it can be cold, or the wind can pump from the southeast, too foggy to run a boat safely, but it is FEBRUARY and we go anyway. Before I go into what I think will and will not work this trophy trout season, I need to set the stage for what has taken place so for this winter. In a nutshell, this season has started slower than any

62 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

in recent past when speaking of trophy-class fish. I have been on the water many days through December and early January, and although our efforts have produced many landings, trout over seven pounds have been very elusive. This is not to say that we are not catching them, because we are, but for the man-hours my clients and I have spent in the salt, we should have caught many more. I have many theories on why, but the most obvious to me is the lack of structure in Baffin. Mixes of grass and mud are scarce this year. It seems that all the runoff during late summer played havoc with what was a gorgeous bay floor of grass beds and potholes in key areas that trout utilize for feeding. From the boat you can see what appears to be grass, but you soon learn that it is only where grass beds once grew, and it is what is left of the root system (that will hopefully grow back). The point of all of this rambling is to let you know the fish have been very scattered, with little structure to hold them in one area for a very long period of time. If there was ever a year to think outside of the box, this may be it. With all of that being said, how are we continuing to catch trout down here? Bait! Not live stuff on the end of our lines, but the kind flipping around, i.e., mullet. No matter what kind of structure you may are may not have, the trout still need a food supply. Find the bait, pattern the bait, and you will turn naked-structure fishing into catching. With so little grass to key on, I spend tons of time staring

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833(5/$*81$ %$)),1 into the distance watching for bait activity. Some days the activity will be on a deep break, other days will find it bordering a skinny flat or a depression in a flat. Wherever I find it is where I’m moving my party to, and 9 of 10 times where we will hook up. I have fished with Capt. Billy Sandifer many times Jay Ray Simpson of Corpus Christi on the Padre Island / 8.75 pounds / Morning Glory Bass National Seashore Assassin / Released / Personal best fish! and have learned a ton from him. The very first time I went with him I learned my most valuable lesson on surf fishing, “Lad, if you want to catch fish in my house you had better be looking ahead a half mile out of the windshield instead of my damn window.” He followed up by explaining to me the art of reading the surf by looking ahead instead of what was right at my feet. I utilize the same logic when

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patterning bait, to ultimately pattern the trout. Every possible scenario will come to fruition this month, i.e., spoil islands,, all ffin, rock shorelines in the Laguna Madre and Baffin, structures, etc. The trout will be on any (and all) at any given time, considering there is something for them to eat. The bottom line is that you need to be open minded and not worry so much about hot spots. Utilize that new Haynie boat for what it was built for… exploring, learning different areas, and catching fish that nobody else is aware of. After many years on these bays, that is what keeps me “mad at them” and coming back for more. In closing, this is a critical time of year as many fish are moving to the shallows for a number of different reasons. PLEASE be courteous to the fish and fishermen, and refrain from running and burning shorelines. If we do not act responsibly, and police ourselves, there are others out there who are already attempting to do it for us. Boat smart! “Too many Christians are no longer fishers of men, but keepers of the aquarium.” -- Paul Harvey “Set ‘em loose.” -- Capt. David Rowsey

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75,&,$·60DQVÀHOG5HSRUW February’s fishing prospects are always strongly weather dependent and of course we are hoping for the best. Winter patterns kicked in about &$3775,&,$ mid-December with trout and Capt. Tricia’s Skinny Water Advenredfish becoming predictable tures operates out of Port Mansin winter haunts. Depressions field, specializing in wadefishing and nearby ledges began with artificial lures. attracting quality fish as soon as the water temps slid into Telephone the lower sixties and dipped 956-642-7298 into the fifties a time or two. Email shell@granderiver.net It’s probably a combination of Website many factors, but one has to www.SkinnyWaterAdventures.com consider that our five fish trout limit has helped as well. TPWD says, “Overall, it appears that larger fish are being landed and the number landed per angler is greater than seen during the ten trout limit.” In my experience that would be an understatement. Of course nobody wants to see regulation changes unless warranted, but we have learned to not only live with it but also enjoy some fat results. For whatever reason, we do not have to look very hard for quality

64 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

fish anymore; we are back to looking for new and fun ways to make them bite. Fishing has been best immediately before and after strong northers and it seems the harder the blow the harder the fish tend to feed. The recovery period of two to three days following fronts have been providing some impressive action. Tails and Corkys have been dependable along with some sporadically strong topwater bites. Just last week, with water For whatever temperature at 52° and reason, we do not have to sunup air temperature at look very hard 48°, the first two hours were for quality fish explosive to say the least. anymore. So much for that old theory about sleeping in! After the initial norther recovery flurry, fish start to spread across the flats until we see another round of aggressive feeding right before the next norther hits. When they scatter it’s been all about the grass. Between strong winds the

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32570$16),(/' water clarity is usually good enough to or single hooks right out off see every little grass bed, and by wading the box. We are releasing a slowly and casting to each one, some lot of fish down here and the impressive fish have been picked off. single hook setup definitely upss the Drifters are doing OK but wading offers a odds of a healthy release. better shot at working areas thoroughly... As mentioned, February is going to depend on the weather. plus it’s more fun for me to get in there Predictions are for a warm/dry winter, but we never know, with them. When looking for best areas to do we? We’ll just hope for the best and continue to enjoy try, in the absence of feeding pelicans and each day on the water. I forgot to mention redfish, but when flipping bait, one or two seagulls resting talking about fish in general I really mean all of them as on the water can be all you need. Current they are all in there together right now. Reds are about as rips and color changes have been good fat as they could ever be and it’s hard to even get your hand too although these often require more around a mid-slot twenty-four incher much less a twentyconfidence and patience to dial into the eight. Standard forage, such as crab and shrimp, has been Reds are about as fat right presentation. tremendous after the flood and apparently these reds are as they could ever be. I have nothing really new to report on enjoying every bit of the feeding opportunity they have. bait selection. Large paddle tail plastics such as the Kelly Wiggler or When you find them you find a lot, and it’s been great fun getting TTF Big Minow are still high percentage baits. Pumpkin/chartreuse consistently harassed by them. in clean water and plum/chartreuse in darker water has worked as On a parting note, we often begin seeing roe beginning to well as anything. As for Corkys, day-glow or pink-silver along with develop in some of our trout toward the end of February and early Texas Chicken or the new pink-pearl-pink have been good bets in March. As heavy as they are now, how much more exciting will it be clear water. Heddon’s One Knocker continues to rule for surface to see that extra-wide belly roll up on a topwater? Remember the one work; Okie Shad or bone depending on clarity. Beware the factory trout over twenty-five rule and keep only what you need so we can all hooks though as we have had more than a few straightened by continue to enjoy what we are now blessed with. Good luck in having redfish and trout alike. I recommend changing to stouter trebles your personal best trip soon!

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6287+3$'5()LVKLQJ6FHQH Speaking of weather, February is the coldest and least predictable month, with the fewest heating days, and the greatest &$37(51(67&,61(526 difference between peak and A Brownsville-area native, low atmospheric pressure, Capt. Ernest Cisneros fishes (those who keep detailed fishing the Lower Laguna Madre from logs can verify.) Last February’s Port Mansfield to Port Isabel. average air temperature was a Ernest specializes in wading chilly 57° on the Lower Laguna. and poled skiff adventures for What does all this mean? To snook, trout, and redfish. me it means we have lots of Cell opportunity! Quite often, even 956-266-6454 a slight change in the weather Website can spark the fish into feeding www.tightlinescharters.com aggressively. Cooler weather will certainly bring colder water, so start thinking warm to find the fish. The coldest water temperature so far this winter occurred during the holidays when it dipped to 55° for two days, and that change brought some great results in muddy guts off the ICW. Those guts contained some deeper potholes – I call them fish saunas. Pulling out multiple fish from a single pocket was normal on that pattern. Keep in mind, fish will seek protection from the elements, and the change in depth that those

66 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

holes provided was enough to attract them. Right before I started writing this article, a perfect winter scenario came up. The water was a cool 62° and the barometer was dropping as a cold front approached. The skies were only partly cloudy, so the flats were warming up right before the front. I got off the boat to wade a flat along the ICW and was soon disappointed. I could feel nothing but grass under my feet; not even a subtle change in the bottom structure or depth. I continued casting and wading uncommonly quickly for a winter wade. Bait was surely present, but it seemed to be concentrated about eighty yards the other side of the boat. Changing

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A family affair is always fun Cindy, Jacob, and Matt.

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$ 5 5 2 < 2  & 2 / 2 5 $ ' 2  72  3 2 5 7 , 6 $ % ( (/ / direction and getting closer to Jason Westbrook had a field the bait my feet told me the day with the winter trout. bottom was changing, softer, and the water was becoming slightly deeper. Suddenly I came to a gut that I could not cross and in it I found all the four to five pound trout one could ever want to catch. The depth and warmth in that gut made all the difference in the world, a perfect example of a fish sauna. Currently, the fishing is as good as it gets on the Lower Laguna Madre. Thirty to eighty fish per day has been the rule. Our trout have really bulked up and in a couple months they will have bellies full of roe. We have had no trouble finding four to five pound trout mixed in with lots of smaller keepers, and they haven’t had any trouble finding our Corky Devils, Fatboys, or Kelly Wiggler ball tail shads. Many of the redfish we are catching have been in the upper slot to oversize range. They have schooled up in their usual winter holes, and it seems more of them showed up for the party this year. When the conditions have been right, their locations have been very predictable.

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When we have not been targeting redfish or trout, snook have been fraying our leaders, and some really good ones have come ing, there into our hands this winter. In fishing, aren’t too many experiences that will top catching a snook at night while wading under a full moon. We have been having great success throwing Corky Devils and Kelly Wigglers. As an added bonus to our winter snook fishing, trout in the six to eight pound class have been showing in the same general area. This winter, nothing has let us down. Like in any other body of Texas saltwater, a moving tide in the Lower Laguna usually equals an excellent bite. The best bite days have been around the full and new moon phases when the tides are at their strongest flows. The incoming tide has given us the best bite of the two, but never rule out an outgoing tide. As I mentioned above, it tends to stack up fish in the deeper holes. When February weather does allow you to hit the water, and you’ve done your homework during your downtime, your day can turn into a world-class experience, not only in the size of fish but also in numbers. This month, fronts will become more frequent, so keep an eye out for the weather and dress warm! Remember to work it slow, look for changes in the bottom that can attract fish (saunas), find the bait, and think big. Good luck in your chase!

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Lake Calcasieu Louisiana Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337 598 3268 February is usually the month that lets you know the end of winter is just around the corner. Flounder will usually start making their run inland around Valentines Day. They can be caught in any of the cuts leading from the lake into the marsh. The flounder seem to like feeding on an incoming tide during the early part of the run, then will bite on either tide later. Trout will still be found on shallow flats in the north end of the lake this month, as well as in West and Joe’s Coves. Twitch baits are still the best bets for the bigger trout. One of the hot baits for us this winter has been the MirrOdine XL by MirrOlure. Redfish can be found throughout the estuary. Some good areas to fish are the east and south banks of the lake and of course around the weirs. In February, fishing for reds can also be red hot at the Cameron Jetties. Soft plastics such as H&H Salty Grubs, Cocahoe Minnows and Norton Sand Eels are good lures for those who wish to target all three species on every cast. Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay - James Plaag - Silver King Adventures - www.silverkingadventures.com - 409 935 7242 James describes some excellent fishing in his home area of the Galveston Bay complex recently. “We’re already finished today, got 32 trout. Nothing real big, just solid keepers. We’ve been fishing out of the boat most of the time. I’m averaging 30 or so trout a trip and it’s usually not

68 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

taking long to catch ’em. Mostly, we’re throwing Bass Assassin Sea Shads in pumpkinseed or plum/chartreuse. The MirrOlures are working good too. Of course, I like the pink/gold and chartreuse/gold in those. There are fish all over the place in West Bay, I’m sure, but I’ve been keying on dropoffs on the shell reefs. Today, all our fish came off a little ledge where it drops off about three feet or so from shell onto mud with scattered shell. The weather’s been pretty cold, but the fish still seem to want to be shallow. The other day, we whacked a bunch of reds in less than three feet of water that was about 47 degrees.” He mentions that a change is coming. “I’m about to quit all this boat fishing and start wading. It is set up great for that around here.” Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409 996 3054 Jim was still duck hunting as of the time of this report, but that is all ending and he’ll be fishing hard in February. “It’s time to go after some of the big trout. One of the best ways to catch ‘em in East Bay this time of year is by wading late afternoon into the first couple of hours of the night. It works best on some of the breezy days just prior to the frontal passages, especially if there’s good tide movement in the afternoon. This month, I also do a lot of fishing out of the boat, focusing on deep holes in the marsh. Spots like that will hold a lot of reds and a few trout, and those fish can be caught out of the boat during the day. We also key on some drains on the shorelines when the tide is rushing out. If warm

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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water is flooding out of the marsh into the bay, fishing can be great in the current rip. But really, this month is prime time for the evening wades. I’ll be throwing the old standby lures, like Stanley Wedge Tails and Bass Assassins, along with some 52 MirrOlures and even some topwaters if conditions are right. Mostly, it’s about timing and location, not lures.” West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service - 979 849 7019 - 979 864 9323 Randall was riding home from a productive charter when we talked. “Fishing has been good lately. The water is clear and cold, but several patterns are working, depending on what the goals are. Yesterday, we went fishing for numbers and stayed in the boat, working deeper water in the open part of the bay with scattered shell and mud and caught limits of trout and were back at the dock by ten o’clock. Best lure for that type of fishing has been a black magic Sand Eel Junior. Today, I had a guy who wanted to go for a bigger trout, so we spent the day wading with Paul Brown’s Original Lures. Caught fewer fish, about ten trout total, but all were between four and six pounds. Best colors in this clear water have been the copper back and the emerald silver. February shapes up to be real good. The water temperatures and tides are likely to rise and that should make the wading opportunities even better.” He also mentioned that his new Laguna rod, an Extreme Wader 2, is working really well with the Fat Boys and Corkys. Matagorda - Tommy Countz Bay Guide Service - 979 863 7553 cell 281 450 4037 February offers up a mix of options typical to Matagorda, Tommy says. “The river kind of plays out this month. In the first couple of weeks, it might be worth a try if the water’s green and the wind is messing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

up other options, otherwise, fishing the bays is better. We do well drifting scattered shell in East Bay this month, throwing mostly soft plastics with paddle tails on three eighths or quarter ounce heads. I like bright colors like limetreuse, since we are usually keying on muddy streaks of water with some mullet present. We’ll also throw some 52 MirrOlures out there. The open water reefs can be good for wading too, if winds are light enough to allow for it. When it’s windier, or if the goal is to try to catch some of the biggest trout in the bay, wading the south shoreline coves is a great option. When trying that, patience and persistence are the keys. It’s slow walking, no talking, just fishing. If redfish are preferred, wading the guts and slow rolling weedless spoons on the south shoreline of West Bay is the best bet, especially if tides are low..” Palacios - Capt. Aaron Wollam www.palaciosguideservice.com - 979 240 8204 Winter fishing has been fantastic in the Palacios area. The local rivers and creeks have coughed up lots of numbers of redfish and trout, with a few big fish mixed in. The week before Christmas, we were wearing out redfish on local mudflats using small topwaters such as black/chrome and bone Super Spook Juniors. Soft plastics that were working good were lime colored Devil Eyes and purple/chartreuse Texas Trout Killers. Trout have been plentiful in the local rivers, biting white Gulp shrimp under popping corks and pearl/chartreuse Bull Minnows rigged on three eighths ounce jigheads slow rolled on the bottom. Night fishing at the local piers on First St. and East Bayshore have been producing keeper sized trout and some

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 69


fat sand trout on Spec Rigs in pink/glow. February should be another good month as long as we do not get too much rain. As always in the winter time, finding some bait in the area is one of the most important keys to locating fish. Port O’Connor - Lynn Smith - Back Bay Guide Service - 361 983 4434 “This is one of my favorite times of the year,” Lynn says. “We usually catch some of our biggest trout in February. I key on shallow flats with a mix of soft mud, grass and scattered shell. The flats with close access to deep water seem to pay off best, especially from the middle of the day into the late afternoon hours. Moving water in the afternoon is another thing that helps the bite. If it’s outgoing tide, we tend to key on drains from the shallow backwater marshes into the main bay areas, where warmer water is falling off the flats into the bays. On incoming tides, we tend to just fish the flats and key on potholes and other visible elements on the bottom instead. We throw a lot of Corkys and topwaters when wading for big trout. Since bigger trout like to eat other fish, the plugs that resemble small fish work best. Finding bait in some concentration can also be a big key this time of year. You don’t necessarily need a huge raft of bait, but the presence of some bait on the flat is definitely an indicator that the big trout might be there too.” Rockport - Blake Muirhead Gator Trout Guide Service - 361 790 5203 - 361 441 3894 Blake was finishing up a long day of casting and blasting when he gave this report. “The fishing for reds has been off the charts. We’ve had days of catching a hundred or more, lots of days like that in fact. They have mostly been staying shallow in the back lakes, so they’ve been easy to see and usually easy to catch too. The only days it’s been tough have been after strong morning outgoing tides. Seems they feed up all morning

70 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

while we are shooting at the ducks and then they are hard to catch in the middle of the day. Best lures for the reds have been gold spoons and Norton Sand Eels.” A change in tactics is coming this month for Blake. “This month, it’s time to target trout more of the time. I catch some big trout every year in February. I like to fish shorelines with soft mud and shell or grass in bays like St. Charles and Mesquite. I throw a lot of Corkys and topwaters at them, but I won’t hesitate to go back to the old standbys, the Sand Eels. The redfish will still be available in the marshes too if the trout bite is slow.” Padre Island National Seashore Billy Sandifer - Padre Island Safaris - 361 937 8446 Tides can be low in February but strong NE winds are common and to be avoided as they stack water high on the beach and make for dangerous driving conditions. Bottom fishermen will target Florida pompano, sheepshead, black drum, and redfish and there will be lots of good sized whiting. As always “Fishbites” and fresh, peeled, dead shrimp are the bait of choice. Sandbar sharks should be available and mako, bull, lesser blacktipped and several other small species of sharks are possible. As throughout the winter, target the second day behind an incoming cold front. Speckled trout are possible but not to be expected. February is one of the best months for collecting sea shells. Most of the larger sharks will be on kayaked baits. Rough conditions and muddy water can prevail throughout the month but some years it’s beautiful. It all depends from which direction the cold fronts arrive. North and NW are good; NE is not user-friendly. Don’t forget Big Shell Beach Cleanup is Sat. 19 March, 2011. Hope to see you there. Capt. Billy. Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut Robert Zapata – rz1528@grandecom.net - 563 1160 It’s time to find out how the waders holding up and don’t dare forget the ForEverLast Ray Guards because sting rays are likely to be in the same area as the big trout you are looking for. The colder water temperatures are driving the trout into deeper water as night falls, but as the sun comes up and warms the shallows the trout will come up to the shallow water

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


as well. The trout will be moving slowly and I will be moving even slower and as quiet as possible, being careful where I step and fanning my casts out in front of me as much as I can. I’ll be targeting my casts to pot holes and grass lines where the trout will be waiting for a slow moving bait attached to my length of fluorocarbon and Power Pro braided line. If the day is cloudy and the water is murky, I’ll be using a dark or chartreuse colored Bass Assassin. If it is sunny and the water is clear, I will be using natural or light colored baits rigged on an eighth ounce Spring Lock jig head. On calm, sunny days you’ll find me sight casting for reds with Berkley Gulps in a foot of water. Corpus Christi - Joe Mendez – www.sightcast1.com - 361 937 5961 Joe has been experiencing some easy fishing in the clear water close to the JFK recently. “I’ve been targeting reds mostly and catching some big ones in shallow water, less than three feet. It’s great for sight casting, especially when the fish are located where there’s plenty of bright bottom, which makes it easier to see them. I will continue to fish this pattern in February, targeting shallow grass flats when it’s warmer and focusing on channel edges and the edge of the deep open water when it’s colder. I’ll also probably make some trips up north to fish in Shamrock and the adjacent flats. Usually, this time of year, the grass is a little more scarce than usual, so it’s pretty easy to catch fish by focusing on isolated grass beds with soft plastics. On the best days, with clear skies and light to moderate winds, sight casting with flies is good for both trout and reds. The fishing is also good down south in the Land Cut this time of year. The drill down there will be to target the edge of the dropoff with heavier jigheads.”

summer’s tropical storms, no way was there going to be any saltwater critters left. Guess what? I was wrong again! I’ve seen the largest hatch of blue crabs ever and the same thing goes for the rest of the bait species. Mother Nature continues to work her magic, no matter how we try to mess it up. We’ve fished places where normally there’s nothing but, if there is some bait working, you are going to catch fish…unless of course they’re just not feeding. The next couple of months should be very exciting on the water. Naturally, though, you will need to watch the weather, especially the strong fronts. The second and third days after a north wind should be great. Remember to keep what you will eat and release the rest. Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel The Pettys – www.fishingwithpettys.com – (956) 943 2747 Even though the conditions, with lots of wind, low tides and muddy water, have not been the best, we’re bringing in some pretty decent catches. The reds are running more on the small side, with small slot fish literally full of tiny crabs. The trout we’re catching are continuing to be very nice, easily the best we’ve seen for many years. Until spring, we probably won’t see much in the way of clear water. The lack of turtle grass resulting from the flood of fresh water last summer, and the fact that what grass is left is dormant this time of year, is making it almost impossible for the water to clear. Freddy says, “We’ll be going on past experience instead of watching for movement, as we usually do when conditions are normal. You can still find fish under mullet and birds, but the rewarding drifts tend to be in the same spots that produce every year during the winter months.” We’re throwing Cajun Thunder round corks trailing Gulp three inch shrimp on quarter ounce jigheads.

Port Mansfield - Terry Neal www.terrynealcharters.com – (956) 944 2559 No one could have told me that we would have some of the best fishing that I’ve seen in years. The water conditions continue to improve to something that looks like mid-summer water. After experiencing copious amounts of freshwater runoff into the Lower Laguna Madre following last

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 71


Paris Buchanan POC - 27.5” redfish

Max Yzaguirre SPI - 12.25lb redfish C&R

Charles Ogburn Redfish Bay - largest trout thus far!

Ramiro Alejos Intercoastal Waterway 36” 24lb drum

Jillian Smith Port O’Connor - 40” red

Homer Ramirez III P.I.N.S. - 25” redfish

Austin Dean East Matagorda - 29.5” red C&R

Carolyn Dell Arroyo City - 19” trout

George Barajas Arroyo City - 25” speckled trout

Nicklaus Brawner Woodlands - first trout!

Austin Bennett Dana Cove - rat red

Philip Krull Redfish Bay - 24” & 23” reds

72 January February2011 2011/ /www.TSFMAG.com www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Garrett McLeod Galveston Bay - 27” redfish

Allegra Cantu Key Allegro - flounder

Owen Cartwright POC - 20.5” first slot redfish!

Chen Chiang Galveston Bay - 22” sea trout

Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!


Cliff Copeland Baffin Bay - 28.5â&#x20AC;? 6.5# trout

Gabi De La Fuente, proud Daddy, & Kiko Carancahua Bay 14.5â&#x20AC;? first fish-flounder!

Stacy, Rhett, & Rhyan McCaffety Surfside Beach - 27â&#x20AC;? redfish

Ruben Flores Copano Bay - 26â&#x20AC;? red

Kelsey Cudworth Copano Bay - first speckled trout!

Roel Martinez Malaquite Beach - 45â&#x20AC;? redfish

Rhett Fields San Jose Island - redfish

Dawn Johnston POC - 42â&#x20AC;? drum

Joel Dominguez Copano Bay - 18â&#x20AC;? drum

Leigh Ann Stumfoll POC - 40â&#x20AC;? drum

Alvin Steelman Galveston Jetties - 22lb redfish

Debra Steelman Galveston Jetties - 10lb redfish

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Charles Fritz Matagorda East Bay 28.75â&#x20AC;? 11lb redfish Please use our Texas spotted seatrout resource wisely!

Stevie Martinez II Allynâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Point - bull drum

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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www.TSFMAG.com www.TSFMAG.com // February January 2011 2011 73 73


Alonso Paniagua Jr. – Age 8 – 27 inch speckled trout – Lower Laguna Madre Catch and Release!

Dear Editor,

Dear Alonso,

I want to share a great experience of my eight-year-old son’s first fish caught on his own. It was on July 15, 2010 when my father and I took out our 21’ Shallow Sport to the Lower Laguna Madre for a trip off South Padre Island. It was a beautiful morning and my son and nephew were along. My son had just recently begun showing interest in going fishing with me. Arriving on the flats I took about thirty minutes to give some casting lessons with the Shimano spinning reel and St. Croix rod I had set up for him and he was soon casting and fishing on his own. About ten minutes passed when we heard a big splash and my son yelling, “I caught a fish – I caught a fish!” After fighting it for several minutes and through the yelling, laughing and encouragement, he reeled it to the boat. We were amazed to say the least when we realized it was a twenty-seven inch speckled trout. Everyone was excited. Speaking as a father, I knew instantly it was the best fishing day I have ever had. I wanted to share this with you because I buy your magazine on a monthly basis and enjoy all the articles. I was able to get pictures and after looking at them this one really stood out. The first thing that came to mind was my son’s picture in your magazine. It would be so cool for my son to see his first catch and release photo published. I know he would cherish it.

Thank you so much for sending this. As fishermen and parents, one of the greatest rewards life can offer is watching our children develop an interest in the outdoor pastimes that are important to us. I understand exactly what you mean, “the best fishing day I have ever had.” I recently enjoyed a similar experience with my son and grandson. As a parent of three and grandparent of six, the excitement began as I shopped for youth waders and the anticipation grew as we walked him into a slough filled with trout. Watching him land three nice specks on his own was one of the greatest joys of my fishing career. That we were celebrating his eighth birthday put the icing on the cake. To you and Alonso Jr., I truly hope commemorating his great catch here in TSFMag will add to your collective joy and pride. You are to be congratulated on the passion for the outdoors you are passing along and conservation ethic you have instilled. So, with great hope for many fine days fishing together, we are setting up a complimentary two-year subscription for both you and Alonso Jr. All anglers, regardless of age, deserve a copy of their own. Please keep the photos coming as we expect many great accomplishments from that fine young angler.

Proud father Alonso Paniagua Eagle Pass, TX

Yours in fishing, Everett Johnson - Editor

%RDW/LIWV 3:&/LIWV 0RUH 74 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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1 cup spicy tuna (recipe below) 3 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise 1 tsp. sesame seeds 1/4 cup green onions chopped 1 cup sticky rice (Oriental section at your grocer) 1 avocado, diced 1 medium cucumber, diced

This recipe makes an outstanding sushi-style appetizer for your dinner guests. Since none of us are sushi chefs and expert at rolling sushi, Julie uses a tube to form it. In this case she used a 4-inch section of 4-inch diameter PVC pipe. Sand the edges smooth and run it through your dishwasher first. If raw tuna is not your thing, any of your favorite seafoods such as smoked salmon, crab, or shrimp can be substituted. Spicy tuna: Dice fresh, raw tuna steak to quarter-inch cubes. Mix with 1 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce, 1 tsp. sesame seeds, a couple dashes garlic powder, and a dash or two of sesame seed oil. Marinate in refrigerator for two hours. Drain any excess sauce mixture before using. Prepare sticky rice per package instructions and let cool. Mix 2 T sweet chili sauce and 2 Tbsp. of Mayo together and set aside. Chop avocado and cover with lemon juice, chop green onion, and peeled/seeded cucumber, set aside until ready to assemble.

76 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

1 tsp. lemon juice 1/4 cup Wasabi tobiko (get at any sushi restaurant) 1 small can bean sprouts (Oriental section at your grocer) Soy Sauce Shredded ginger root garlic powder sesame seed oil Wasabi sauce

Begin building layers, rice first, drizzle with small amount of soy sauce, add small amounts of avocado, cucumber, shredded ginger, and tuna with a dab more soy sauce. Pack lightly and repeat to fill tube. Carefully push the layered stack through the end of the tube. Top with wasabi tobiko, chopped green onion and bean sprouts. Drizzle with sweet chili sauce and mayo mixture. Serve with toasted, seasoned bread slices or pita chips with a bit of extra ginger root, soy sauce and wasabi paste on the side for dipping. To save time - spicy tuna, sticky rice, wasabi tobiko and shaved ginger root can be obtained from a sushi restaurant and all you have to do is a little chopping and layering for an impressive appetizer.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com / February 2011 79


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ADVENTURES

Kresta’s Boats & Motors . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

FISHING RETAIL LOCATIONS

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Academy Sports + Outdoors . . . . . . . . . 15

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Majek Boats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Fishing Tackle Unlimited . . . . . . . . . . Back Cover

APPAREL

Marshall Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

Fish-N-Hunt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

Bass King. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77

Mt. Houston Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

Roy’s Bait & Tackle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

Montauk Tackle Company . . . . . . . . . . . 67

Sail & Ski Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

Seaworthy Marine Supply . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Peligac Offshore Gear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

Sea Fox Boat Co, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Speedy Stop Solunar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Solunar

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Tropical Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside Back Cover

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Salt Water Soul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

BUILDER & BUILDER PRODUCTS

Fishing Jewelry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77

AUTOMOTIVE

Building Products Plus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

General Motors Communications . . . . 5

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MISCELLANEOUS

Breakwater Marine Electronics . . . . . . . 74

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2Cool Fishing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

Coastline Trailer Mfg., Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Houston Fishing Show . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Braman Winery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77

Coveralls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

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Daniel Holt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

BOAT ACCESSORIES

FTU-RodBuilding Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

Fibertex & Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Gulf Coast Trolling Motor . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

FISHING PRODUCTS (RODS, REELS, ETC.)

Trout Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

House of Fiberglass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

Brown Lures-JB Outdoors . . . . . . . . . . . 61

TSFMag Subscription Form . . . . . . . . . . 25, 75

Power Pole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Fishing Tackle Unlimited Green Rod . . 43

Safe Floor Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

ForEverlast Hunting/Fishing Products 39

PLACES TO STAY

South Texas Trolling Motors . . . . . . . . . 71

Paul Brown’s Originals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

Baffin on the Rocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

Specialty Aluminum Works . . . . . . . . . . 24

Line Keeper Co . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

Bentley’s ICW House Rental . . . . . . . . . . 79

Specialty Aluminum Works . . . . . . . . . . 66

Marsh Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

Floating Cabin Rentals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

Stick It Anchor Pins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Mud Hole Tackle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

Serena Residences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

Okuma Fishing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

The Inn At Clarks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

BOATS, KAYAKS, OUTBOARDS

Reaction Strike . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

Bernie’s Boats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

Rockport Rattler- Chicky Tackly Co . . . 28

REAL ESTATE/RENTAL

Busha Boat Works. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Rods by Pepper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Rick BonGiovanni- Condo 4Sale . . . . . . 79

Coastal Backwater Marine . . . . . . . . . . . 62

Russelures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Solunar

Port Alto Waterview House . . . . . . . . . . 71

Coastal Bend Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Simms Fishing Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Dargel Boat Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

Texas Tackle Factory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

SERVICE

El Campo Boating Center . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

Third Stone Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Solunar

Art Republic of Tx . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

Flatstalker Boat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65

Waterloo Rods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Kevin Severance Insurance . . . . . . . . . . 65

Hobie Cat Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

Wiley X Eyewear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Coastline Marine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover, 1

Yeti Coolers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

SPONSORSHIPS

Gulf Coast Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover, 1

Your Fishing Pal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

Costa Del Mar- Sponsorship . . . . . . . . . 36

Shallow Sports Boats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover, 1

Zebco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

The Sportsman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover, 1

ZipVac . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

The Chupacabra Outdoors . . . . . . . . . . . 77

Tops N Towers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover, 1 80 February 2011 / www.TSFMAG.com

WEBSITES

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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GALVESTON TIDES & SOLUNAR TABLE Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine FEBRUARY 2011


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February 2011