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Only $3.95 January 2009

tide predictions & solunar feed times inside!

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009



January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009



January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009



January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five


editor aNd pubLisher Everett Johnson

Ja Nua ry 2009 Volume 18 No. 9 geNeraL MaNager



Pam Johnson

16 Living Large at the Top

Mike McBride

20 The Hottest Cold Month

Kevin Cochran

24 Make good use of winter downtime

Martin Strarup

26 “Friends Of Padre and More”

Billy Sandifer

28 Switching gears for January success

Chuck Uzzle

busiNess / aCCouNtiNg MaNager Shirley Elliott advertisiNg MaNager Pam Johnson Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-550-9918

departMeNts 22 Science and the Sea




UT-Marine Science Institute

27 Coastal Birding

Billy Sandifer

30 Let’s Ask The Pro

Jay Watkins

32 Fly Fishing

Casey Smartt

34 Offshore

CCA Texas

38 TPWD Field Notes

Sarah Kahlich

40 Kayak Fishing

Scott Null

42 According to Scott

Scott Sommerlatte

44 Youth Fishing

Aaron Cisneros

what our guides have to say… 50 Dickie Colburn’s Sabine Scene

Dickie Colburn

52 Mickey on Galveston

Mickey Eastman

54 Capt. Bill’s Fish Talk

Bill Pustejovsky

56 Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays

Shellie Gray

58 Hooked up with Rowsey

David Rowsey

60 Capt. Tricia’s Port Mansfield Report

Capt. Tricia

62 South Padre Fishing Scene

Ernest Cisneros

reguLars Editorial

desigN, Layout & web MaiNteNaNCe GRAPHICS BY DESIGN Jasmine and Jackson Gordon Office: 361-785-4282 subsCriptioN – produCt saLes Debbie Dugan ADDRESS CHANGED? Email Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine is published monthly. Subscription Rates: One Year (15 months for 12 months; Get Three Free. Offer valid until 03.31.09)

$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

how to CoNtaCt tsfMag: MaiLiNg address: P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, Texas 77983 physiCaL address: 58 Fisherman’s Lane,

48 New Tackle & Gear 64 Fishing Reports and Forecasts 66 Photo Gallery–Catch of the Month 68 Gulf Coast Kitchen

Seadrift, TX 77983 web: www.TSFMAG.COM photo gaLLery: priNted iN the usa.

73 Index of Advertisers

about the Cover Aron Baggett of Corpus Christi is this month’s cover angler. Aron’s trophy came on a blustery January day in 2008 when he saw only two other boats on the water. The big trout taped 31 inches and weighed 9.5 pounds. We salute Aron for practicing catch and release! Just Keep Five

Debbie Dugan

phoNe: 361-785-3420 fax: 361-785-2844

46 Tips and Tricks


* Subscribers are responsible for submitting all address changes and renewals by the 10th of the prior month’s issue. Email 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.

10 Letters to the Editor


Bart Manganiello

Bobby Byrd/John Cochrane

36 Conservation


NatioNaL saLes represeNtative

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine (ISSN 1935-9586) is published monthly by Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, Inc., 58 Fisherman’s Lane, Seadrift, Texas 77983  P. O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 © Copyright 1990 All rights reserved. Positively nothing in this publication may be reprinted or reproduced. *Views expressed by Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine contributors do not necessarily express the views of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine. Periodical class permit (USPS# 024353) paid at Victoria, TX 77901 and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send Fishing Magazine, TX 77983.

address changes to Inc., P. O. Box

Texas 429,

Saltwater Seadrift,

January 2009


i drove dowN to the west eNd of gaLvestoN the other day to restock our retail locations that are back up and running. I think by now everybody has had a chance to view stacks of photos on the internet. Even though it’s been more than two months since Ike crashed ashore the devastation and debris is unbelievable and the folks who lost so much are still in my prayers. Our fishing industry is in disarray. Many coastal establishments and fishing related businesses remain closed since the storm and some may never make it back. Our major economic indicators are bobbing like yo-yos and it seems everybody needs a bailout or loan. Selling advertising has not been fun. Booking fishing trips is a couple times a month event at best. But still it occurs that we are blessed. Fishing is off the good end of the scale from Sabine to South Padre. We still have so many great friends. Just last week I was idling to the dock and met an old friend who was paddling. After handshakes and hugs it seemed only yesterday we shared all those good times. We were cleaning fish together when the discussion of business and the economy came up. My friend had an interesting view. “We haven’t been fishing as much as we’d like… money’s tight right now and we have to watch our spending. We split this trip three ways; motel, food and gas. We brought our kayaks rather than the big boat, we just couldn’t stay away with the fishing as good as it’s been.” That’s when it occurred to me how good we still have it. January marks the beginning of the boat and sport show season and according to the promoters and organizers all the shows will go on. Our friends in the boat and tackle trades are committed to making the shows exciting and fun and I’m sure good times will be had by those who attend. We might carpool to get there and maybe pack a sandwich but the spirit of sportfishing and hanging in good company will remain. I’ve given up worrying; Billy Sandifer told me I’d only get old before my time. Just yesterday I said, “To heck with everything, we’re going fishing.” The time on the water was refreshing and relaxing, not to mention the speckled darlings of San Antonio Bay were found everywhere we stopped. What more could you ask for? So it’s time to be out with the old and in with the new… New Years 2009! I have a new outlook and great hopes. I cannot change the economy but I can still find ways to enjoy life, even on a trimmed budget. I’m dreaming of exceptional fishing and all the great friends who love to share time on the water. I’m ready for the day when we can all look back and say it wasn’t so bad. Whatever the New Year brings make sure you include time to get out and enjoy our wonderful coast. Pack a picnic lunch and bring the kids. Rather than taking off as often, make the trips you take count in as many ways as you can. It’s darned good therapy, just like Billy said. After all, wasn’t it the love of fishing that brought us all together?


January 2009

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


Letters to the editor Dear Editor,

and it is too dangerous to do it on the

Top of the morning to you Everett;

highway. I wanted to

here’s a short story and a photo I

spend the precious

would like to pass along.

little time I had at

Sixteen years ago I married Bonnie Lee… knew I had something

home, not picking up litter.

special with her although I had no

Finally, she

idea she was interested in fishing.

pinned me down

I owned no boat at the time and

to a date and

consequently did not fish. She

time. She invited

would tell me how as a little girl

a friend along.

in New Harbor Maine she would

We filled up three

catch flounder with a string tied to

large trash bags

a stick, but I never put a lot of stock

with mostly plastic

in that. As time went on we got into

products near

fishing and over the years have

Fin and Feather

gone through several boats and

Marina in Aransas

many, many fishing trips. Bonnie is

Pass. Afterwards,

amazing. Beyond any shadow of a

I realized I wasn't

doubt she is the best deckhand I have ever

wasting my time

had on my boat. She can read my mind. Before I can think of what has

at all. We had

to be done it’s taken care of. As you can see she can still catch flounder,

quality time together.

but gone are the days of some string wrapped around a stick. She

Raine now calls it "litter day." She

landed this four-pounder in South Pass Lake on a very windy day. That

asks all the time; "When are we

little Sheltie didn’t get near as excited as Bonnie. A tribute to my wife on

going to have litter day again?"

our sixteenth.

So, after reading about the litter

Floyd Thiele

photo contest, on October 11, 2008, I took my daughter fishing and we

Dear Floyd,

brought trash bags with us. Fishing

Thanks for sharing your story. Congrats to Bonnie on that 4-pounder

was kind of slow, and she wanted to

and congrats to both of you on sixteen years. I know exactly what you

get litter. I discovered that you can

mean when you say Bonnie is an amazing fishing partner; Pam and I

find trash everywhere. Because you

began fishing together when we started dating and I feel the same about

get used to seeing it, you don't realize

her. We wish you guys many more years of happiness and fishing fun.

how much there is until you start

You’re right about another thing too; the Sheltie appears quite relaxed…

picking it up. Every now and again you also get a prize. We found 3

maybe waiting for a shot at the leftovers?

golf balls and a duck decoy.

Good fishing,


Everett Johnson

Marc Beckman Aransas Pass, Texas

Dear Mr. Johnson,

Dear Marc,

In June of this year, my 5-year-old daughter, Raine, started suggesting

Great story… and you're right about not having wasted time! Kudos

we go pick up litter along the road on our bikes and bring food and a

on getting outdoors with Raine and thanks for taking time to be kind

blanket for a picnic. I told her that was a good idea and went back to

to the shorelines. It is little things like these that make great memories

what I was doing. A week or two later, she brought it up again and I

and mould character. Good luck with your fishing endeavors.

reminded her we lived in the country so we don't have any sidewalks,

Everett Johnson

Send your leTTerS To: TSFMag, P.o. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 10

January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009





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January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


QuiNtiNg iNto harsh eveNiNg gLare, I could have sworn the plug “humped”

been more numerous and heavier than experience says they should be.

Unlimited works great. Braided line is a tremendous help in spanking this plug, a must-have at long

against the swirl of a large predator.

A few months back I wrote a piece that

Anticipation jumped even higher as

I titled “Size Matters” and touched on the

them all and nothing competes with Sufix Braid

what seemed a million ducks exploded from

benefits of downsizing presentations for more

in either 3O/8 or 2O/6. A double Uni-Knot

the flat. I let the big bait sit for a five count

consistent action. However, we should also

splices well into a rod length of Sufix 2Olb

and then thrashed it side-to-side three times.

remember, “to everything there is a season,”

fluorocarbon. A loop knot, which I rely on for

After another long pause it vanished into an

and despite all of that important finesse stuff,

everything I throw, finishes the setup.

unimpressive foam ring. Reeling frantically

I had forgotten how productive throwing a big

to catch up, still not sure what I had, the

plug can be. Autopsy reports (always a worthy

with big plugs is obviously to go where

headshake suggested the lure had slipped past

endeavor at the cleaning table) told me to go

they live. And while that can be

the brutal reds that dominated the area. She

bigger. The forage was shifting toward large

virtually anywhere, I prefer safer bets.

went about seven and a half pounds, one of

finfish with many specimens so ridiculously

Here are some guidelines that have

several good trout that day… life can be large

stuffed it was hard to understand why they still

worked well in this environment at this

in Port Mansfield.

took a lure. Out comes a dusty Rapala X-Rap

time of year.

When you’re searching for a topic, your current passion is always the best storyline.


Lower Laguna trout of this class have

Walk 13, the big boy of the Skitter Walk family. This bait measures a quarter of an inch

distances and in heavy chop. We’ve used

The first criterion for hunting big trout

Focus on shallow, broken bottom near deeper water, before and after

Right now it’s all about banging up big fish

longer than a full-size Spook, has a meatier

hard northers. Shallow is relative

with big plugs, the likes of which I haven’t

profile and weighs in at 1-¼ ounce, a big ‘un for

and here it means knee to thigh

enjoyed for years. For whatever reason,

sure. Being an inveterate tinker, I was OK with

deep near tapers or other drops.

and I’ll leave speculation to the scientists,

the 1/0 treble up-front but the feather-dressed

“Broken bottom” simply means

it’s been everything any big trout

rear hook had to go. A 2/0 Gamakatsu sans

variations of structure; little

enthusiast would call in sick or miss

hackle loosens the action quite a bit. It takes

moguls, depressions, and grass/

an anniversary for. Since September,

a rod with backbone to chunk this bait and

shell/sand or mud mixes. Big

the green All-Pro APM1 from Fishing Tackle

trout are different animals, and

January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

the conditions and it seems to work. I like to

The sport in all of this is the enchantment

“cover” with good escape routes. Depending on

make some exaggerated rod movements but

of the chase and thrill of fooling nature. Life is

weather, spoil bank edges, shorelines with good

only pop a little slack out of the line. With the

already big down here and will only get bigger

drops, and areas where back lakes taper into

rod tip up the head rises and I can get it to throw

as we go through the winter. Let us temper our

the Laguna proper are prime. Each of these will

water in a good 18O-degree chopping motion.

success as W.C. Prime urged way back in 1888,

have sweet spots within sweet spots depending

I’ll jack it like that a few times, moving it only a

“It is only the inexperienced and thoughtless

on conditions and getting on the right line or at

foot or so forward, then let it sit. It’s kind of like

who find pleasure in killing fish for the mere sake

the right depth is critical. I’ll zigzag back and

calling them up with some aggravation and then

of killing them. No sportsman does this.”

forth until I get a good blow, then concentrate

giving it to them. Most of my bigger fish have

on that level. If you’re a hunter you’ll feel it when

come on the pause, but there are certainly other

you see it.

opinions. The smaller ones will often crash it or

Yes we want to see mullet, but not necessarily

blow it three feet into the air, the truly mature

fish the biggest concentrations. I’ve had better

feeders often forego that nonsense and simply

luck on the edges of bait masses where there

suck it down. That’s why watching it is so critical.

are scattered pods or perhaps a few occasional

If you get a good swirl, but didn’t sting her, she

flips. A lot of times the dinks are in the bait

can still be caught with repeated casts.

masses and the bigger ones are hanging off to the side until they charge in to feed. Water clarity can also be anything but I do

As with any lure, the hookset is critical. The hardest thing to resist is the instinct to yank on the visual. When you see the take, just reel

like to see at least a few inches. Crystal clear

down to the weight, and if it’s there lean back

water works best during low light and sometimes

smoothly. If it’s not, you are still in the strike

where there is heavy cover. In areas that range from clear to murky to muddy, I’ll take

zone. With braided line a Bruce Lee move is not necessary. January potential, down here anyway, is no

the murky. One thing about big trout this time of year…where you find one you will usually find more. When you find them, though, you

be a matter of getting out there and going for

going hunting for more. Find what looks good,

fully understand the danger of talking a bunch

commit to it, and enjoy the results.

of smack, but I’m that confident. Don’t think that pitching a big plug has to be an all day grind for

has their favorites. With this mambo mullet-

a trophy either. The lesser fish are tearing it up

looking plug I’m pretty consistent no matter

as well; it’s just a matter of going through them.

Just Keep Five

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

of those big trout cycles, so it’s just going to it with the faith that it will happen. Trust me, I

MiKe MCbride

less than awesome. All indications point to one

need to keep quiet about it. Otherwise, you’ll be

Retrieves are subjective and everybody


if I’ve learned anything, it’s that they like a lot of

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009



January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


second half of the month,

Furthermore, I do more fishing in some of

numerous jumbo specks

the other months than I do in January. The

inhabit shallow locales, and

number of big trout I catch per hour of effort in

they’re susceptible to the

this frequently frigid span is easily three times

efforts of patient pluggers.

as high as in most other months. When the line

I’ve had some incredible

is pushed closer to the thirty inch threshold, the

catches under Valentine’s

stats are even more impressive; nearly twenty

moons. It’s the easiest month

three percent of my trout over twenty nine inches

for me to completely book,

came to hand within this thirty one day period.

given my reputation as a

Thinking back over my best January outings

persistent trophy chaser. But

brings to mind two contrasting trips. One

some might be surprised

occurred last year, on a dreary, drizzly day which

to know that January, not

might easily serve as a prime example of what

February, is statistically my

we trophy freaks typically think of as optimal

most productive month for

winter fishing weather. A passing Pacific front

catching trout reaching or

had low clouds racing overhead, and a north/

exceeding twenty seven

northeast breeze around fifteen knots made the

inches in length.

low-fifties air temperatures feel even colder.

I don’t think of twenty

For most of the morning, the fishing was

seven inch trout as true

tedious. My client, Keith Montague, and I

trophies, and my customers

stopped at two spots which had been producing

and I don’t keep fish of that

big fish for the previous two days, but we were

size at all. Trout in that class

having little luck. He’d caught just one twenty

are not really “wall worthy”

four incher when the clock neared ten a.m..

in my estimation, but they

Corkies thrown at shallow potholes on the bank

are worth remembering, and

had been doing the trick all week. On that day,

I’ve drawn the line there in

though, the bait in the spots was conspicuously

my record-keeping habits,

absent, and the wind was mucking up the water

over the Last few years,

having documented an accurate count of how

some and scattering floating grass where the

many people who fish for trophy trout in the

many big trout I‘ve caught ever since I started

fish had been.

Baffin Bay/Upper Laguna Madre system have

catching them. Certainly, trout stretching to

developed what I call a “February obsession”.

twenty seven inches and longer are more fun to

of shore, and while we anchored, we both

This attitude is borne of more than myth and

hook, land and handle than are smaller fish!

noticed mullet jumping all over the area, close

legend; real, significant factors spur developing

In my career, more than seventeen percent

So I made a move to a more protected stretch

to the bank and in deeper potholes farther out.

novice and expert anglers to make annual

of the trout over twenty seven inches I’ve

I told my client to take the inside, and I waded

pilgrimages to this area during the calendar’s

personally caught were landed in January.

out, so we’d have a better chance to find fish.

second month.

The second most productive month is February,

For another solid hour, we got no bites, but I

with just under sixteen percent. Those figures

remember saying, “We ain’t going anywhere;

trout living in these bays lurk among the rocks

are significant, given that the law of averages

there’s no floating grass in here and there’s just

and grass, ready to pounce on passing plugs

would suggest a figure slightly above eight

got to be some big fish around all this bait.”

under morning mists which commonly blanket

percent, if all months offered equal trophy

the area in late-winter. Particularly during the

catching potential.

Fishing reports reliably reveal that monster


January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Eventually, working my red shad Fat Boy through some barely visible potholes, I felt a

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they are found. All of our trout

month is ripe with potential for some of the best

that day came from a slender

outings of the year for those of us who love to

set of potholes lying parallel

tussle with the old yellow-mouthed sows.

to shore, well away from the

The weather on such unforgettable excursions

bank, much farther from land

might be blustery and downright nasty, or it

than the places the fish had

might be meek and mild. These days are often

been on prior days, though

defined by a contrast between relatively long

the water temperatures were

lulls and short-lived frenzies. Mostly, we recall

much the same. The bait did

the cool sensations that adorn the hot bites. Our

help us, correctly indicating the

minds record the thumps, the whacks, the slurps

presence of fish in the general

and the splashes, along with the silvery flashes

area, but without leading us

we glimpse when the prized fish rise and thrash.

straight to them once we left the boat. In terms of the bait leading us to the fish, last January’s

And of course the laughter which inevitably accompanies such rare and precious flurries. Yes, we’ll remember the wide smiles and the laughter; like elixirs, they warm our skin and

banner trip reminds me of one which occurred

soothe our souls, blocking out the numbing

seven pound, twenty eight inch trout. We smiled

several years ago, on a day with much milder

effects of the cold and temporarily erasing the

and congratulated ourselves for showing such

weather. On that occasion, warm air and light

memory of the slow stretches when we could not

patience, then proceeded to focus all our efforts

onshore winds preceded the arrival of an Arctic

coax a bite.

on the chest deep sandy pockets. Over the

front, and a grand bite broke out when the winds

next three hours or so, we hooked, fought, lost,

first shifted. We’d been fishing around a thick raft

caught and released an impressive number of

of bait all morning and were reluctant to leave

long, dappled and seemingly ravenous trout.

the area, though we’d caught only a few dinks

I can’t say exactly how many fish we hooked

and keeper trout. Then, while a moderate north

or landed, but I know that eleven of them were

wind blew for about an hour after the front hit,

measured and shown to exceed twenty seven

things changed and the big trout became almost

inches; eight of those weighed over seven

easy to catch.

pounds. My best ten fish weighed sixty six

They were chewing readily on topwaters;

pounds. Once located, the trout were not at all

I caught several bruisers on my bone Super

hard to catch; in fact, I hooked two while I had

Spook, including a thirty incher and three

my rod tucked under my arm taking pictures of

others over twenty eight. During the flurry of

Keith’s fish. Many of the bites were signaled by

aggression, big specks lined up on a subtle

shockingly strong thumps; a couple of the fish

mud/grass contour, repeatedly snapping at the

threatened to loose the rods from our numb,

starting and stopping plugs until they became

gloved hands. We tried topwaters a couple of

pinned to their lips.

times, but quickly switched back to dark Fat

floating lures with reckless abandon in January

we also gave soft plastics a shot, but the bite

as they did on that day. On other occasions,

seemed slower on them too.

Corkies and soft plastics will reveal the

is much more difficult than catching them once

Just Keep Five

KeviN CoChraN

Sometimes, whopper specks will attack

Boys when the blow ups didn‘t come easily, and

The trip illustrates that often, locating the fish


hard whack and caught my first fish of the day, a

presence of trophies when they won’t rise so high to take the bait. Either way, this mid-winter

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009



January 2009

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


Kay — first My apoLogies for Not beiNg abLe to complete my “Nostalgic” article in time to meet the demands of our slave-driving Editor. I have excuses, none of which you would want to hear but trust me it will get done. I know this because the “Boss” said he wants to go along with me and take pictures and fish with some of the old gear. Yes, that means I’ll have to endure another day on the water catching fish, telling stories and enjoying his company. I’ll survive… somehow. If you haven’t run your boat in a while, let’s hope you’ve put some form of fuel stabilizer in the fuel tank. I had an outboard motor mechanic tell me the other day that in as little as 30 days the gasoline that we’re buying today can start to degrade and cause problems for your outboard. He also reminded me to not only add the fuel stabilizer but to keep the tank full during down time to help prevent condensation build up in the tank. Every year I try to write an article with tips that will help you get through the winter months when a lot of outdoorsmen have put their rods and reels away in favor of a rifle or shotgun and the deer stand or duck blind. I’m not changing my ways; here are some more tips. In addition to the fuel tips above, grease the hubs on your trailer and check the tires. If you haven’t changed the bearings and seals in the wheels for a season or two, now’s a good time to do it. You’ll be ready and won’t have to be concerned about sitting on the side of the road scratching your head and wondering how you can leave you boat unattended while you go to town and try to find the right bearings, races and seals. Are the lights on your trailer working? Is the winch still in good shape and the strap that attaches it to your boat? How about the boards? Are they rotting and in need of replacing? And speaking of lights, do the running lights work on the boat? Have you looked at the junction panel under the console lately? You know, that board with all the fuses where all the wires tie in? A little bit of Corrosion X will go a long way there. Something else to think of is the vehicle you tow your boat with. A lot of trucks seem to fare better with synthetic oil in the differential than with regular gear lube. You might ask your dealer or mechanic what they think. How’s the radiator and hoses? Are the belts or belt in good shape and have you changed the oil lately? Lots of things to check on and we haven’t even gotten to your fishing tackle, rods and reels, yet. Are any of the hooks on your topwater, slow sinking or other plugs rusty and in need of changing? A pair of split-ring pliers, new split rings, hooks and a little time will have your favorite lure ready to go. When was the last time you stripped your reels down to the bare bones and cleaned them? If you get on that now and find you need to


January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

replace some bearings or other parts you’ll have time to go get them or order them and get your reels working like new again. You will also want to check your rod guides for nicks or cracks and get those replaced. The last thing you want is for your line to become frayed or otherwise compromised while fighting a fish and losing both the fish and the lure. Trophies don’t come on every cast; winter downtime is perfect for taking care of these. There are all kinds of things that need to be done to all of our equipment that we know of but either put off for another day or conveniently forget about. But if that equipment fails on us we’re not going to get much done and we’re not going to have much fun on a trip to the water.


Be Safe.

MartiN strarup

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


appy New Year everybody! I've been thinking

debris I have ever seen on the shoreline of PINS.

of ways to expand the services I offer in

PINS park personnel, Sunny Beaches. Org, and

the Ruth Phar Sparks Foundation, helped

my guide business. I wanted something

other organized cleanup events have the first

purchase last year's event t-shirts, helped us

that would be fun and productive and

Hurricane Ike deposited the largest amount of

Shell Beach Cleanup. Mr. Leon McNinch and Jim Mayo, representing

15 miles looking pretty good but the volume of

battle the formal paperwork for forming the

offer new ways to enjoy the outdoors. I'm now

debris south of there is absolutely overwhelming.

group, and later donated $17,080.00 to our

a member of the pro staff for Jerry B's Kayak

It makes me sad and I tell customers, “This is not

general fund. Of this donation, “Friends of Padre”

Sales in Flour Bluff and am doing half and full

trash; this is the wreckage of people's lives.”

wrote a check to the Sea Turtle Science and

The sand is rapidly covering items in some

Recovery Program on March 28, 08 for $15,480.

waters. My plan is to ferry kayaks and customers

areas but large plastic objects won't cover easily

These funds were added to other donations and

in my 25' Panga for trips to Baffin Bay and Nine

or quickly. In the Big Shell area they won't cover

used to secure significant matching funds from

Mile Hole in addition to the other services I offer.

at all due to the amount of shell mixed with the

a federal grant program to support the turtle

Fishing from kayaks during winter and spring in

sand and also due to the higher elevation of the

program this past season.

Baffin will give “grinders” an opportunity to fish

beach there. The upcoming Big Shell Cleanup on

locations too muddy and too deep to wade and

March 14, 2009 will face the toughest challenge

used to support the Big Shell Beach Cleanup.

the results could be phenomenal. There are

we’ve ever came up against. Toughest will be

I'm strongly considering hiring operators with

some places I've wanted to fish for years that

the size of the debris and the plastic and metal

appropriate vehicles and large trailers to haul out

should be a piece of cake using kayaks. Visit

items that are simply too large to put in bags.

as much of the big debris as possible. Availability or my web site for details.

It's going to require lots of plotting and planning

of funds will determine if this is possible. To do

this year and it's already keeping me up at night.

any real good we have to figure out how to haul

One thing I can't get out of my mind is how much

out a greater volume of debris than we ever have

of this stuff is recyclable and still usable. I will

before. Then — PINS administration is going to

be meeting with our PINS coordinators soon to

have to figure out what to do with all the material

get firm commitments concerning what we can/

we are able to get hauled out.

day kayak fishing and birding trips in nearby

cannot do during the cleanup. For years I have been concerned about the

January 2009

and execute and it's going to be even more demanding this year. Anyone wishing to

Longtime friend, Steve Naylor, of Round Rock

donate to Big Shell Beach Cleanup, the mailing

and I came up with the concept of forming a

address for “Friends of Padre, Inc.” is P.O. Box

nonprofit C3 group to support the cleanup.

1420 Round Rock, TX. 78680. Donations are

Steve volunteered to fight the mountain of

tax deductible. Board members receive no

paperwork required to form such a group that

compensation and all funds will be used “to get

was 100% “street legal” and also to serve as

it done.” We need any and all support we can

secretary/treasurer as long as I agreed to serve

get this year and any companies that might have

as president.

trucks and large trailers available to assist would be invaluable. There is a website coming for

of Biology at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and

Friends of Padre, Inc. but with a tight budget and

longtime co-organizer, Tyler Thorsen, to accept

nobody getting paid it might take a while; please

positions as vice presidents and the four of

bear with us.

us comprise the board of directors. The group


This event has never been simple to plan

long-term future of the Big Shell Beach Cleanup.

I asked Dr. David McKee Ph.D., Professor

Ms. Geneva Greene of Wichita Falls with a lure-caught 15lb Jack Crevalle; 26 Nov 08.

Funds donated this year will likely all be

To surf fishermen, 2008 will be remembered

was named “Friends of Padre, Inc.” and was

as the toughest fishing and least catching of our

founded on 18 February, 2008. The purpose is to

lives. I just shrug it off and tell folks, “Well, there

undertake activities that will protect, improve and

has to be a worst year just as there is a best

restore Padre Island with our primary activity

year. So, ‘08 is the worst and we've lived through

being to use funds collected to execute the Big

it and now we can get on to some better years.”

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Dan Gilmet of Traverse City, Michigan and Jimmy Jackson of Beeville, Texas with a red and Spanish Mackerel; 28 Nov 08.

A combination of weather patterns and climatic events resulted in this “Worst Year” scenario but in reality the recurring upwellings of cold water impacting the PINS shoreline did the most damage. It kept water abnormally off-colored and cold for the better part of the year and took a terrible toll on our catching. There seemed little rhyme or reason controlling the arrival of the upwellings and some lasted for three weeks. During the brief periods when the water cleared, catching was fine but in the murky and cold water during the upwellings it was as tough as it gets. Interestingly enough the upwellings didn't impact as much on Mustang Island and the northern end of Padre Island and very probably the fishing was better there than on PINS. Another first in my lifetime. channel (East Cut) was completed as of around 20 Nov. and the jetty is once again accessible to vehicles. The channel was dredged to a depth of 22 ft. and we have a wonderful beach extending far out to the east along the channel. At the same time there is already a sheer ledge forming where


The dredging of the Mansfield

Capt. biLLy saNdifer

length: : 10 inches wingspan: 24 inches weight: 6.5 ounces

Small, dark, compact falcon. The

the new dredge material is being swept away and in a few years we'll be right back where we were. Life is like that. As far me, my thoughts are on winter makos, sandbar sharks and Baffin trout. Here’s to a better year for all of us in 2009. Life's a hoot. Instead of spending all your time worrying about the future use some of it to go fishin' now and then. It'll pay off big time. Be Careful, Be Considerate, Be Kind.

Just Keep Five

merlin is powerful and very 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 Texas Saltwater Fishing

aggressive for its size. Wings are short and pointed. Lacks the bold mustache mark of other falcons. Feeds on birds and insects caught mid-air. Present in our area October through April. Found along river bottoms, oak woodlands and prairies.

January 2009


Elevated casting platforms allow anglers better opportunities to catch more fish.

o the CasuaL observer the sight

while all we could do was shake our heads. At that point you have a decision to make; you

room seemed to be holding all these giant fish

of a fishing boat during January is

either get with the program or get passed

and they were hungry. The strikes were violent

a cry for help; somebody has lost

An area about the size of your living

by. Needless to say we unpacked our duck gear

“no doubter” strikes where you either hooked the

their mind and needs psychiatric evaluation. To

and got in the water, things haven’t been the

fish or had the rod jerked from your hand. These

the hardcore fishermen pulling that boat, all the

same since.

fish were so amped up that we started throwing

traffic on the highway means less on the bay and that brings a smile to their face. For many years fishermen on the lower coast have known what kind of magic can happen when the mercury dips and the crowds go

“Who had the bright idea to come out here

topwater plugs just to see what would happen in

today?” I asked as my partner, Aaron Hommel,

the sub-50-degree water. Those fish crushed the

and I exited the boat into chilly water.

surface plugs. The melee continued for nearly

“Whoever it was needs their head examined”

an hour and then died as quickly as it started. We caught some excellent fish that January

he replied.

elsewhere. This kind of thinking gains more and

A couple of cold hours later it happened, a

day, one just under ten pounds, a dream trip

more popularity on the upper coast every year. It

solitary slick popped. “No way that’s what I think

to say the least. Now this wasn’t by accident

wasn’t too terribly long ago when folks on Sabine

it is” said Hommel as he lobbed a Corky Devil

or a random lucky draw because there was a

and Calcasieu never entertained the thought of

toward the fresh sheen.

pattern involved, one that has held true for me

winter fishing, much less winter wade fishing. I can remember several years ago when we

The cast was met with a violent strike; the

during winter. It is essential during cold weather

huge trout came to the surface and suddenly

months to pay attention to tide movement, water

first started seeing waders, we thought they were

we weren’t quite as cold. A quick follow-up cast

temperature, and bait concentration.

nuts because there was no way any trout could

resulted in another hookup, two stud trout on at

be left in Sabine Lake thanks to the cold and

the same time in the absolute nastiest conditions

angler you need to use that to your advantage.

freshwater run off. That notion was quickly put to

and not another boat in sight. Both trout pushed

Also be sure to scan the area for warmer pockets,

rest as we sat one afternoon with binoculars and

eight pounds and they were not alone, not by a

drains coming from shallow marshes or muddy

watched a line of waders catch some huge fish

long shot.

protected shorelines. These areas hold heat


January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Tidal current triggers fish to feed, so as an

Just Keep Five

better than others and that is a key to finding active fish. It goes without saying that the presence of bait is a must, the bait doesn’t have to be running for its life but it helps when bait is in the area. If you can combine all these

"Cadillac" casting platform from Espandre Marine, room to roam and then some.

factors you will greatly increase your odds of success during the winter months. Now if you don’t want

to wade this time of year there is another method that is often overlooked; sight-fishing works really well under the right conditions. During winter you can find some unbelievably clear water, sometimes almost too clear. Folks on Sabine and other Upper Coast bays are not accustomed to this, so the thought of actually sight-fishing or seeing the fish before you cast is foreign to say the least. Believe me it can be done and it can be incredible. You need to do a few things, though. High quality polarized glasses and some sort of elevated spot to work from. The glasses are easy, you can pick from a ton of great manufacturers. My pick is Maui Jim brand, they have great lenses and they fit me more comfortably than other brands. This piece of equipment is truly a personal choice, try on as many brands and styles as you can to find the best fit. Select a lens color that will be an all-around good choice for your style of fishing, I personally love the amber lens as it works well for both fishing and hunting. Again this is a personal choice and your pick may not be the same as mine, just make sure you are happy and you can see and you can’t go wrong. Now the elevated spot to work from is a more open subject. I have seen guys fishing from atop everything from their center console to a step ladder and they all get the job done. The main problem with these improvised platforms is comfort and safety; you need to be an acrobat to hook a fish from there and not take a swim. The traditional casting platform is a much better option for this style of fishing and you will not believe the things you can see when you increase the angle of your gaze. Now most platforms on skiffs are on the small side, not much room to move around and you need to avoid any sudden movements. I took these factors into account when I ordered mine, I wanted it fisherman friendly with plenty of room. Gary Robertson at Espandre Marine Products


all I can say it’s awesome. The larger platform gives you room to move and fight fish without feeling like you are balancing on top of a tin can. My clients have been impressed with the comfort so far and I can’t say as I blame them. The new platform is wide enough to accommodate two anglers which makes it perfect to swap from my skiff to my Century Inshore bay boat. With


designed and built the “Cadillac” version for me and

a trolling motor extension I can run the trolling motor from the elevated perch and never have to climb up and down. It really makes fishing much easier and more productive, try it and see. As long as we are talking about January we all know the boat shows will be here before you know it. Take advantage of the time and get a look at some of the new goodies out there, I am sure there is something out there you just can’t do without. Come by the Texas Saltwater Fishing booth and visit with all the gang, we certainly look forward to seeing you.

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


now about working to fix it.

the winter feeding-up pattern to heart so some

yellow-mouthed spotted bombshells. Catching

10 per person, and the sizes were on the very

long wades in the mud are needed to knock

trophy sized trout might be the toughest trophy

low end of the slot. Again, this is my personal

off a few pounds. With the start of a new year I

of all in my opinion. You really have to put

observation and my clients are trying to catch

looked back and tried to think of one question

in some time and be on top of your game to

their fish on lures.

or topic that seemed to come up the most

consistently find and catch fish over 28 inches.

during 2008. The views I express in this article

It has never been easy but today it is tougher

promise but, I have for the past few years

are mine only and only reflect what I personally

than ever along most of the Texas coast.

tried to restrict my clients to take only five per

experience and see on a daily basis. I am asked just about everyday about the

I am a trout fisherman at heart. Love the

I had a day last winter with Glenn Hornsby from Austin that revived my love for the

During July and August of 2008 catching 10 for a group of anglers was tough much less

So what’s the answer? No easy one I

angler. Most are eager to comply but a few still feel they need the biggest bang for the bucks. Catching is not always completed with

status of our trout fishery. Understand that

majestic fish. Glenn actually took me fishing,

I come from the school of taking limits and

his boat, his spot, his fish. I caught a 10 ½

killing. With guide’s limits no longer allowed we

producing numbers to keep the revenue

pound fish that was as memorable as I have

are at least saving 10 per trip from previous

flowing. I am guilty of just about everything

ever caught. Glenn lost one that day that was

years but this alone is not going to be enough.

that a guide could have done wrong over the

well over 30 inches due to me trying to get him

“We as fishermen are gong to have to do it

past 30 years when it came to producing ego-

to get the fish facing me for the action photo.

ourselves,” is the message I am sending to all

charged boxes of fish at the cleaning stand.

We caught numerous fish over 27 inches that

of my clients.

It haunts me, knowing I am in some part a

day. You can view the photo of Glenn’s fish

The process, once started, is easy and it

part of the problem. I am also the originator of

via the photo gallery on my website. Take a

goes like this. Retain five trout of good eating

the Just Keep Five slogan, so I have evolved

look at the head on this fish. I mounted mine;

size. Release fish greater than 20-inches

some over the years. Sure, a large part of this

I like looking at that fish from time to time and

UNLESS the fish is not going to survive or

attitude is driven by the need to survive in the

remembering the fight and the guys that were

you’re going to have it mounted. Continue

profession I have chosen. No quality trout and

with me that morning.

catching and releasing fish or go on a scouting

my client base goes away. Lucky for me I have

I see the over-all trout population in pretty

run looking for new areas or alternate species. Here’s the greatest benefit of the process…

a new passion for the old redfish that we grew

good shape. It is the 18 to 20 inch and

up trying NOT to catch. Our management

greater class of fish that we continue to see

be happy doing your part to conserve your own

efforts with this species have been highly

in decline. It makes sense if you think about

trophy trout fishery as well as those who will

successful. I feel better about you knowing

it; our current regulations direct us to take fish

follow. May your fishing always be catching!

that I know; I am not without many faults when

between 15 and 25, with only one per day

it comes to the over-fishing issue. Let’s talk

over 25 inches. I am not sure what the TPWD survey numbers will be for 2008 but I do know their numbers showed decline in the 15 to 25 slot a few years ago. Fishing pressure slacked off during $4.00 gas days, Hurricane Ike and the downturn in our economy also reduced pressure, but prior to these developments the bays were very crowded. For the life of me I cannot


J ay wa t K i N s

i hope everyoNe has beeN eNJoyiNg the holiday season. I take

understand the status quo in trout regulations when we have seen drastic increases in fishing pressure and reductions in limits of most other gamefish species. 30

January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


cameras to gain wide popularity among

too many product reviews

fishermen, especially kayakers. The compact

here in the fly fishing section of

Optio WP offered a combination of quality

Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine. It’s not

and durability (waterproof to 5ft.) anglers

that I don’t like new cool tackle and gear… I

were thirsty for. I bought an Optio WP several

do. But, I generally would rather talk about

years ago, and after thousands of on-the-

first waterproof point-and-shoot digital

If I ever have to replace my Optio

fishing than fishing gear. This month’s article

water shots, it is still going strong. I love this

WP, I’ll look hard at the Olympus Stylus. It

though, breaks with tradition and showcases

little camera.

is a darn tough camera. Until then, I’ll keep

several items that have proven either through

The Optio WP is compact — about the size

versatility, originality, or sheer fun to be well-

and weight of a deck of cards. It fits neatly in

worth their purchase price.

your front shirt pocket and won’t interfere with

briNKMaNN waterproof go-Led MiNi-Lights

your casting motion. The controls and settings

I stumbled on to these lights in the hardware

are intuitive, and it is easy to review/delete photos on the water. The quality of the Optio

dunking, splashing, tossing and having fun with my old Optio WP.

FLY FISHERMAN’S GUIDE TO SALTWATER PREY, by aaroN J. adaMs, ph.d. Fly fishing literature needed a book like

section of a local Target department store

WP’s photographs is more than adequate

Aaron J. Adams’ Fly Fisherman’s Guide to

recently. According to the package, the button-

for 90% of the folks who are likely to use it,

Saltwater Prey. The book provides a simple

shaped lights were waterproof and had a

and for those who put a little planning into

catalogue of saltwater prey species and shows

continuous run-time rated at 170 hours. They

their shots, the Optio WP can turn out really

the flies that imitate them. Clear color plates

looked like they had potential as lights for the

impressive results.

are provided for each species listed along with

interior of a skiff or maybe a kayak, so I bought

In addition to still shots, the Optio WP

a summary of the prey’s habitat, range, and

records video. The built-in microphone is

size. Adams then matches popular fly patterns

pretty much worthless, but the quality of the

to the prey species and includes recipes and

and rear decks of my J-16 skiff with adhesive-

video is surprisingly good considering the

tying tips/comments for each pattern.

backed Velcro pads. Honestly I didn’t expect

compact Optio WP was designed primarily

Fly Fisherman’s Guide to Saltwater Prey,

much, but when I turned the lights on I couldn’t

to take still images. Some anglers take full

is a book that is destined to be used time and

believe how good they looked. The normally

advantage of the video feature and clip the

time again by readers, not just stuck on a

dark and cramped areas beneath the decks

lightweight Optio WP to their caps for a

shelf. It is a winning combination of science,

were suddenly bathed in a clear cool light. I

“helmet-cam” effect. And although it’s risky, I

art, and angling wisdom. Get a copy and enjoy

have since tried the lights inside my kayaks

have suspended the Optio WP below a buoy

it. ISBN 978-0-8117-3460-8.

and also in several tool boxes and they

and tossed it into schooling fish in clear water.

worked great. Although they are not designed

The results were cool.

a pack to experiment. Price: 6 bucks. I first mounted the lights under the front

for extreme environments, the Brinkmann

The latest version of the Optio is the option-

Waterproof Go-LED Lights are ideal for a

loaded W60, released by Pentax in 2008. I

variety of potentially wet situations where

have not had a chance to check out the new

hard-wiring is impractical or unnecessary.

Optio W60 firsthand, but have read mixed

Thumbs up!

reviews on it. Perhaps Pentax shouldn’t have

peNtax optio wp 5.0 waterproof CaMera

messed with a good thing. No doubt the W60

Priced around $250, the Pentax Optio WP 5.0 mega pixel camera was one of the


Olympus Stylus 1030.

January 2009


is up against some stiff competition, namely from the crushproof, freezeproof, waterproof, and more widely available


C a se y sM a rt t

NorMaLLy, you woN’t read

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.

check out January's Fly of the Month video at Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


your friends or family to the show and it makes

hard to get too fired up about running offshore.

to go fishing. It’s a great time to look at new

It’s 41 degrees and the wind is cranking.

boats, tackle and other products that you

Winter is a tough time for the bluewater

might just have to have. There are seminars

fisherman in Texas. Most of us are more

on fishing and displays from many different

concerned about going hunting or skiing and

manufacturers. It’s also a great time to get a

leave the big game fishing for warmer weather.

deal on a new boat, especially this year.

It’s also a good time to travel somewhere

you want to start getting all of your stuff ready

Times are tough and that has created a

where it’s warm and the fish are numerous.

buyers market. Many dealers have seen slow

In another month or so, the wahoo will stack

sales due to this global economic situation

up on the deepwater rocks and we can make

and it’s your chance to get a great deal on a

a quick run offshore for some hot action and

boat. Inventories are high, so there is a large

excellent eating.

selection of models to choose from. Financing

However, this new year will present us with

is still available, but a little more paperwork is

many challenges. Hurricane season, with three

involved to qualify for a loan. If you can, take

land-falling storms this year, has devastated

advantage of this opportunity and get a deal

parts of our coastline and many of us are still

on the boat you’ve been wanting.

to the Great Depression. On the bright side, fuel prices have been falling and are now better than they have been in a long time, but our economy is hurting. Depending on whom you believe, if anyone, this problem may be with us for a while. We can only wait and see what the new year brings and hope we get through this crisis as quickly as possible. Meanwhile… it’s Boat Show Time! The winter boat shows give us something to do when the weather is tough and get us

here are the upCoMiNg boat shows: houston international Boat Show Jan 2 – 11

yours. coastline Marine, the Shallow Sport For more information call Tops-N-Towers at 281-474-4000 or our Fox Yacht Sales Seabrook office at 281-291-0656.

Jan 15 – 18

Austin Convention Center corpus christi Boat Show

Jan 22 – 25

American Bank Convention Center San Antonio Boat Show

Jan 29 – Feb 1

Alamodome dallas Boat Show

Jan 30 – Feb 8

Dallas Market Hall Both of us will be at the houston Boat Show at the Tops-N-Towers booth in Reliant Hall. Come by and talk about fishing, hunting or rigging your boat. We’re always happy to visit or answer any questions. The Tops-n-Towers display will have a myriad of aluminum products to see and we will have information on new cABo and riviera yachts. Our

January 2009

we will be glad to help you find a boat or sell

Reliant Center Austin Boat Show

thinking about warmer weather. You can take


brokerage boats will also be on display and

Boats dealer will be there as well.

trying to recover. Our nation is in the middle of a major financial crisis that is being compared

Fox yacht Sales extensive inventory of

Texas Saltwater Fishing


b o b b y b y r d & C a p t. J o h N C o C h r a N e

LooKiNg out the wiNdow at a gray and dreary sky, it’s kind of

Born in Galveston, Capt. John Cochrane has been a professional captain for over 25 years and is now a full time yacht broker for Fox Yacht Sales. He concentrates his fishing efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, promoting big game fishing and billfish research. A native Texan, Bobby Byrd has fished the Gulf of Mexico since he was eight. In 1995, Bobby combined his love of fishing and boating into a business when he opened Tops-N-Towers in Seabrook, Texas.

Contact Fox Yacht Sales / Seabrook 281-291-0656 Tops-N-Towers 281-474-4000 Capt. John Cochrane 409-739-4817 Websites

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009



houstoN, tx – In a unanimous vote and strong statement for marine conservation, the Executive Board of the Coastal Conservation

tpwd CoastaL fisheries stoCKiNg NuMbers for 2008 were being finalized at press time. Robert

Association Texas (CCA Texas) recommended to the Texas Parks and

Vega says total production could exceed 27.5 million fingerlings, a

Wildlife Commission that changes in flounder regulations are necessary

great boost for Texas bays. TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division

to save the struggling fishery. CCA Texas is calling for the Commission

operates three marine hatcheries; Sea Center Texas, Perry R.

to close the flounder fishery to commercial and recreational gigging

Bass Marine Fisheries Research Station and CCA/CPL Marine

during the months of October, November and December and implement

Development Center.

a year-round reduction in the recreational bag limit to five fish and

Robert also had news regarding the status of TPWD’s southern

commercial bag limit to 30 fish in possession, with a minimum length of

flounder stock enhancement projects. “We are working with Dr. Joan

14-inches for both.

Holt’s team at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port

“The evidence presented in TPWD’s southern flounder status report is

Aransas to better understand flounder spawning and develop protocol

overwhelming and indicates a pressing need for immediate conservation

necessary for hatching and rearing.” Vega is hopeful that a large-

action to improve flounder stocks in Texas waters,” said Robby Byers,

scale stocking program for southern flounder could be achieved soon,

CCA Texas executive director. “We believe these science-based

possibly within three to four years.

management steps are what is needed for the recovery of southern flounder stocks.”

Does stock enhancement work? Vega says, “Yes it does, and DNA tells the story. The research teams at Texas A&M identify genetic

According to TPWD’s analysis, southern flounder population numbers

markers in our brood stocks; finding these markers in specimens

have shown a steady and dramatic decline for a quarter of a century.

collected from the bays tells what percentage of the population are of

TPWD’s seasonal coast-wide gill net catch rate has declined by more

hatchery origin.”

than 50% since 1982. Also, according to TPWD almost one hundred percent of flounder gigged during the months of October through

Next time you hook a big red or sassy seatrout, thank a marine biologist!

December are females. CCA Texas believes by allowing more flounder to escape and complete their life cycles, the better chance the species has to recover.

2008 red druM stoCKed: Aransas Bay


impacts of stocking efforts and a dramatic reduction in shrimp bycatch

Corpus Christi Bay


have helped, but clearly, that has not been nearly enough to recover this

East Matagorda Bay


stock,” said Byers. “We have a window of opportunity to enact sound

Galveston Bay


conservation measures that will help rebuild the flounder population. The

Lower Laguna Madre


scientific evidence is clear. As stewards of the resource, we have an

Matagorda Bay


obligation to do the right thing.”



San Antonio Bay


fish if we are going to get a real recovery,” said Mark Ray, CCA Texas

Upper Laguna Madre


Chairman. “Flounder are a beloved part of the legendary ‘Texas

Inland Lakes

“A number of measures have been put in place and the combined

“It is crucial that we do all we can to conserve the flounder brood

Slam’ and a vital part of our bays’ ecosystems. We did our part in rescuing redfish and speckled trout, now it’s time we do the same for southern flounder.” For more information on TPWD’s southern flounder status report, go to CCA Texas is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of Texas’ marine resources. With more than 55,000 members in 55 local chapters, CCA Texas is the largest. 36

January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing




2008 spotted seatrout stoCKed: Galveston Bay


Lower Laguna Madre



1,269,994 ToTAl


Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


Field Notes Cruising through the Texas estuaries, most anglers have heard the splash of a fish jumping out

all of them return inshore from January to May,

or olive colored back, and eyes with a gold spot

to seek shelter in the bays…

at the top of the iris. The feeding habits of both

Striped mullet prefer water temperatures that 57-94oF

of the water or caught a glimpse of a silver

range from

tail falling back into the waves. Often, these

fresh water to full marine waters.

airborne torpedoes are mullet. While the East

and have been seen in

that of the striped mullet. They feed primarily on vegetation material and also have a pyloric

Striped mullet are important to commercial

stomach to assist in the digestion of vegetation.

coast has nine species of this fish, only two are

and recreational fishing. The meat of the mullet

found along the Texas coast: striped mullet and

can have an oily taste and is not traditionally

April and June; though some collected off of

white mullet. Striped mullet (Mugil cephalus)

eaten by Texas anglers. However, fishermen

Texas were shown to have spawned during the

are more common than white mullet (Mugil

in Florida and Louisiana will sometimes smoke

early fall. When the larvae are hatched, they

curema), but both are used as bait for fishing

the meat. In addition, a commercial industry

lack mouths, fins, and eye pigments, but after

and play important ecological and economic

exports the roe (eggs) and gizzards to Asia,

32 hours, the missing body parts start to form.

roles in the Gulf of Mexico.

where they are considered a delicacy.

The larvae move inshore to the beaches and


White mullet are believed to spawn during

estuaries and live in protected marshes until they are a year old.

Striped mullet are identified by their

Since spawning tends to be triggered by

irregularly round bodies, dark longitudinal stripes on the sides, a darker bluish green back,

water temperature, their reproductive season

and a small upturned mouth, with small, closely

will occasionally shift in both spring and fall to

set teeth, and a yellow iris. As juveniles, mullet

when the water temperature is more suitable for

are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants

egg incubation. Once the water temperatures

and animals. They feed on zooplankton, dead

start to decline in the fall, the year-old white

plants and animals, and small invertebrates. As adults, their feeding behavior changes and they become mainly vegetarians; their diet

© Sarah Kahlich

Figure 1. Striped mullet front view.

mullet migrate into the Gulf’s warmer waters. White mullet prefer waters that range from 65-95 o F, with salinities from brackish to fully

consists of bottom-dwelling zooplankton, dead

marine. Juveniles along the Texas coast

plants and algae. Striped mullet have a pyloric

become sparse after October. It is possible that

stomach, meaning there is an opening between

the fish swim towards Mexico, until the following

the stomach and intestine that enables them to

spring spawning season. Mullet like all fish, have a purpose in the

grind large amounts of plant material.

bay ecosystem. These two species consume

Large schools of mullet migrate to warmer

vegetation, and, by becoming prey for other

waters offshore from late October to December

fishes, they help transfer energy through the

for spawning. Female mullet reach sexual maturity from 2-3 years or around 8-12 inches. They lay anywhere from 1 to 7 million eggs in a mating season. The eggs take 36-50 hours to incubate, depending on the water temperature. Despite the large number of eggs laid, most are eaten by predators, such as spotted seatrout, red drum, turtles, and wading birds, and few make it to adulthood. Of the larvae that survive, 38

juvenile and adult white mullet are similar to

January 2009

© Sarah Kahlich

Figure 2. Striped mullet yellow eye.

WHITE MULLET White mullet is the other type of mullet found

food web. They are an important food source for predatory fish such as spotted seatrout, red drum, southern flounder, hardhead catfish and gafftop catfish, and are often used as bait in the recreational pursuit of these species.

along the Texas coast and is distinguished by silvery sides that lack stripes, a typically blue Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


K a y a K

f i s h i N g

Between work and family commitments I haven’t

a bunch of guys who still insist on wearing

me even on the worst of days.

neoprene waders for warmth. I’ve found that

I start off with a base layer of Simms

while they are indeed warm, I get soaked

had many chances to get out on the water

WaderWick shirt and pants. They are made of

with perspiration after paddling for a while.

recently. But a few days ago I decided that I was

a very light-weight knit material that stretches

The neoprene doesn’t breathe and holds that

going fishing no matter what; I needed to get

easily and doesn’t bind with the constant

moisture in throughout the day. After sitting still

out. Guess I should’ve checked the advanced

movements involved in paddling. It is also

for a while I’m wet and cold. A feature that is a

weather forecasts before making that promise to

designed to wick perspiration away from your

must for my jacket is an adjustable neoprene

myself, it was brutal. Cold wind and misting rain

skin to keep you dry and warm. There are also

wrist cuff to keep the water out. There is

don’t generally go too well with kayak fishing.

many other options on the market such as Under

absolutely nothing worse than reaching into the

But it did get me to thinking, mainly because

Armour’s Cold Gear or any of polypropylene type

water to grab a fish and then feeling that cold

there was plenty of time to think while not catching

long-johns. Again, the key is the wicking factor.

rush of water run up your arm as you lift the fish

much. I can normally pick and choose my trips

Do yourself a favor, throw out those itchy old-

into the kayak. This top layer not only keeps me

to avoid going out on those miserable days. I

school long johns and try any of these options.

dry, it cuts the wind. That’s it. I know that three

realized that day how lucky I am because I know a

My next layer consists of synthetic fleece.

relatively thin layers don’t sound like much, but

bunch of folks don’t have that luxury. If you’ve only

Again, I went with Simms. They make some

I’ve found the combination of insulation, moisture

got one or two set days off per week and want, or

fleece pants with tight fitting cuffs that work great

wicking and breathability beat the heck out of my

need, to go fishing you either have to suck it up

for keeping your pants legs from riding up when

old method of wearing so many layers I couldn’t

or wait through another week hoping for better

you slide into your waders. They might look a

move. And the best part is you won’t have to

conditions on your next break from the grind.

little silly, but the convenience factor outweighs

find a place to store all those layers as the day

the fashion faux pas. There are quite a few fleece

warms and you start shedding clothes.

The good news is that with the availability of today’s technical foul weather gear you can

sweatshirt style tops available in the athletic

venture out in most any conditions and remain

apparel market. Be sure to check the label and

kayak fishing in winter requires a heightened

relatively comfortable. And you can do so

confirm that it is synthetic and not cotton because

level of caution. Submersion in even moderately

without looking like the Michelin Man. The key

they look virtually the same. On really cold days

cold water is a dangerous situation. Please wear

word in selecting your clothing is “synthetics.”

I prefer a hoodie to keep my neck and head

a snug wader belt to help prevent water from

Avoid cotton at all costs. I know that big hoodie

covered and found one made by Under Armour

filling your waders and always wear your PFD.

sweatshirt feels great, but wet cotton will

that is great.

Also keep a spare set of clothes stowed in a dry

Safety is always a concern on the water, but

stay wet and cling to your body while sucking

For the extremities I stay the course with

every bit of heat you can produce leaving you

socks made of a synthetic wicking material, an

susceptible to hypothermia. The right synthetic

insulated fleece beanie and some good gloves. If

clothing will wick the moisture away while still

you’re like me, keeping your hands comfortable

you most comfortable. Effective fishing is all

providing insulation. None of us intend on getting

is probably the most problematic part of the

about concentration and you can’t concentrate

wet, but kayak fishing is a watersport. Be it from

equation. I’ve tried everything and have a

when you’re only thought is paddling back to the

rain, paddle splash or the dreaded dunking; the

stockpile of various gloves in the closet from

truck and firing up the heater.

chances of getting wet are present and it is best

failed experiments. For a while I just gave up and

to be prepared.

toughed it out with bare hands. Then I tried a pair

Layering is the key to staying comfortable

of the Simms WINDSTOPPER fold-over mitts.

while still being mobile enough to paddle and fish

They’re the best solution I’ve found for those

effectively. Everyone’s definition of comfortable

bitter cold days. The design allows you to have

is different. My wife starts to shiver if the

the full coverage of mitts while paddling, but you

thermometer dips below 70 degrees. I’m good to

can fold the mitt back exposing just the tips of

about 50 degrees as long as the sun is out and

your fingers while fishing.

the wind isn’t howling. Given that, it is difficult to provide a definitive system that will work for 40

everyone, but I’ve come up with what works for

January 2009

I top it all off with breathable waders and a breathable waterproof wading jacket. I know Texas Saltwater Fishing

bag with you in the kayak. Those dry clothes could be a lifesaver in a bad situation. The bottom line is to find what works to keep


C a p t. s C o t t N u L L

weLL foLKs, LooKs LiKe oLd MaN wiNter is upon us.

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


aCCordiNg to sCott Over the next year or so I continued to study the art of fly-fishing and after I finished school I decided to become a guide. For years I studied what other successful fly-fishing guides like Chuck Naiser, Chuck Scates

C a p t. sCot t soM M e r L at t e

and Eric Glass were doing and modeled my

i have aLways

airboats from him. Oh, and did I mention that

business practices based on what I learned

liked to attribute my

he also likes to chase redfish in the shallows.

from each of them. Over the years, they have

success to hard work

Over the years he took me to different flats

all contributed greatly to my successes and I

and dedication but, I can’t

all along the Texas Coast where I honed my

consider each of them not only good friends,

help but acknowledge the fact that I have had

skills stalking redfish on the flats by foot. By

but mentors.

a lot of help along the way. You see, there is

the time I was out of high school I was guiding

no way that I could have ever made it as far

the occasional duck hunt and wade-fishing

foot and got myself a poling skiff. I thought I

as I have without the support of friends and

trips. I of course blame Burt!

was doing okay with the whole poling thing

Back in 1998 I abandoned stalking fish on

family and the guidance of

right up until I had the

few mentors that, over the

opportunity to take

years, have been willing to

Flip Pallot fishing and

share their knowledge and

film an episode of the

experience and point me in

Walker’s Cay Chronicles.

the right direction.

Needless to say, the fishing was horrible

In my early years in the outdoors, fishing was my

that week due to very

passion. My father was of

inclement conditions

course the one who got me

and we barely were able

started and he cultivated

to get a show done but

and supported my love of

there was a bright side

both fresh and saltwater

to it. I had the chance to

fishing. But, over the years

learn poling techniques

he had less and less time to

from one of the pioneers

spend with me and then my

of light-tackle fishing and

passion expanded to duck

from one of the guys who

hunting which is something

helped develop what is

that he had never done. For

now known today as a

a couple of years I wandered

poling skiff. Since then

aimlessly, learning a little

he has been kind enough

here and there but was

to share his knowledge, thoughts and ideas about

limited to hunting in spots that were not all that productive. It was


Some time shortly after high school I

fishing and has greatly influenced the way I

then that I met a gentleman by the name

somehow got the fly-fishing bug but only

approach fishing. And, I have actually had the

of Burt Moritz.

dabbled in it from time to time however, the

chance to share a few more days on the water

Now, many of you have been reading this

bug grew bigger as the years passed. The

with him absorbing all that I could. A daunting

column for quite some time and know- I am

passion was of course fueled by watching

task for my simple mind I might add.

pretty ate up with the dumb-butt about fishing.

a show called The Walker’s Cay Chronicles

Well, you want to see someone who has got

(more about that a little later). In time, I

not be the angler, guide or even person today

it worse. Meet my friend Burt and start talking

hooked-up with an old school buddy who

without the help and guidance of those who

ducks. Anyway, Burt loved to hunt ducks

was also getting into fly-fishing and we taught

came before me. I just only hope that I have

and I loved to hunt ducks and a friendship

ourselves the sport. By the time I was getting

the chance to pass on to others what they

was forged. Burt spent all of his weekends

out of the Coast Guard, I had become rather

have taught me over the years.

and vacation time chasing fowl and most

proficient (which means far from great) with a

of the time had me in tow. I learned most of

fly rod and in November of 1995, I had caught

what I know about blinds, decoys, guns and

my 100th redfish on fly.

January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Anyway, I can honestly say that I would

And by the way — Happy New Year and stuff like that!

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


a a ro N C i s N e r o s

Just reCeNtLy i had the tasK of CLeaNiNg out

of my best friends. No way could I erase the

them how to fish artificials was a bigger task

image of my friend running out of the brush

than cleaning a thousand garages, but when

our garage, and in doing so I had to arrange

with a wild hog in pursuit during a break from

I finally saw them catching fish on their own,

and put away lots of fishing gear and tackle.

paddling the Old Arroyo Colorado.

it was certainly very rewarding. I also sadly

I took my time in completing this tedious

As I continued cleaning, I ran across my

remember kayaking right after Hurricane

chore and at some point it felt like I fell into

Hall of Fame lures that had been put away for

Dolly and seeing the destruction it created

a trance that got me reflecting back at 2008

some time. Although each one had a story to

and observing the absence of predator fish

and what fun I had fishing this past year. I

tell, I paid particular attention to a white and

everywhere we paddled.

will never forget the big trout that January

chartreuse plastic bait that reminded me of

of 2008 brought into my hands! A wonderful

an epic day of flounder fishing. As a matter of

at the boat my dad had given to me. The first

feeling arose knowing that those big trout

fact, one of the flounders I caught landed me

thing that came to my mind was the day I took

were released to carry on their life process

a place on the STAR leader board a few years

out the boat for the first time and the mishap

of making more speckled babies. If someone

ago. This led me to remember that I had never

that occurred on the side of the road. A driver

was watching me they would have thought I

been flounder gigging until this past year. I was

had jumped into our lane causing us to swerve

was crazy, laughing

able to gig my first flounder and it was a blast.

into a ditch causing minor damage to the

out loud at the

I am presently a junior in High School, and I

As I walked over to the trash can, I glanced

trailer. I dreaded that early morning phone

memory of

am qualified to say that being a teenager now

call to my dad, but I made it anyway. After a


days is rather difficult with all the distractions

barrage of words of correction, he gave me

my sixteenth

and temptations every teenager faces. I for

the okay to continue our venture. I’m so glad

birthday on the

one have allowed sports, especially fishing,

he did. I got to experience what it was like to

to captivate my mind. I have found that

sit behind the wheel and make decisions as

water with three

fishing brings a sense of tranquility and allows me to push away the things that are bothering me and keeps me focused on things I need to achieve.

to where to fish. We did catch plenty of fish on that trip which was an added bonus. Taking longer than expected I finally finished cleaning the garage, but the reminiscing did not end there. I thought to myself what great

During the reminiscing I

moments 2008 had allowed me to experience,

caught myself slacking off on

and then my thoughts transferred to what lies

the garage cleaning, but how

ahead in the coming year. I know that this

could I forget all the good

coming year I am going to focus on getting

times I had while out on

more of my friends into the sport of fishing. If

the water? How could I not

I can make a difference in their lives through

recall the fun fishing trips

the sport I love, it would make me very

I took with my friends and

happy. On our school campus my close knit

being able to get them hooked on fishing? I think teaching

group of fishing friends all sport the same fishing emblem on the back windshield of our vehicles. I expect that number to rise this year. In 2009 I also plan to teach more in the conservation of our precious Laguna Madre. Most importantly in whatever you do, learn to

Author with an oversize redfish, a sign of big things to come in 2009. 44

January 2009

make a difference to those around you.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


tips a Nd tr iCKs

b y

e v e r e t t

J o h N s o N

this is Not a fishiNg KNot, but as most fishermen

as easy as it goes together. Even when placed under tension great

are also boaters we thought it would go well here. The bowline

enough to stretch the line in which it is tied the bowline un-ties

(pronounced bo´-lin) is perhaps deserving of the title, Crown Prince of

in seconds.

Knots. It’s that useful.

A friend once told me, “A man who cannot tie a knot must tie a lot.”

The bowline has been around since the days of wooden ships. If you

He was of course referring to that conglomeration of overhand knots

learn to tie only one knot in your whole life it should be this one. The

and half-hitches the hapless knot tier is forced to untie with a butcher’s

bowline has more uses than you can shake your high-modulus graphite

knife. Hence the term, “butcher’s knot.” I have towed many boats broken

rod at and it is dead-simple to tie.

down on the water and pulled dozens stuck high and dry with my airboat.

Perhaps the greatest attribute of the bowline, apart from its strength and very secure holding ability under load, is that it comes apart almost

I have always used the bowline to rig the lines and never needed a butcher’s knife. If I can do it, anybody can. STeP 1: Maybe you’ve the tale of the little rabbit


coming out of his hole. The hole is formed by rolling a loop in the standing line thus. STeP 2: The tag end of the line is the rabbit. Bring him up and out of his hole. STeP 3: The rabbit runs around the tree. STeP 4: The rabbit goes back in his hole. STeP 5: Work all the slack out of the rabbit’s path and seat your knot. STeP 6: To unite the bowline, slack is created easily by “unbuckling” the strand of line that “runs around the tree.”



noTeS: A bowline that is under no load can come untied. You might want to secure the tag end to one side of the loop with a double half-hitch. Interlinking bowline knots is a great method for joining two lines. 46

January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

b y

e v e r e t t

J o h N s o N

fisherMeN Love to teLL taLes aNd Most include little quips

minute anyway before turning to go head back. The

and sayings to enhance them. One oft heard tidbit

get in the boat and rest for a while.

declares, “Ten percent of the fishermen catch ninety

half mile mud wade had taken its toll; I just wanted to Peering at the tiny instrument as if it was a crystal

percent of the fish!” And while it may be true that

ball, Mike said, “There’s warm water running out of

not everybody “whacks them” every day, if you hang

that drain, chunk that floating Devil (Corky) up there

around guys whose luck seems better than average

and wag it real slow.”

you will soon notice they go about things differently than those who get lucky once in a while. Take for example winter wade fishermen who

The result was instant, a five pound trout mashed it, nearly taking the rod from me. Why there and not from the other drains and coves I’d tried, Lord

seem to do well on a better than average basis.

knows there’d been enough of them. Temperature!

Then narrow the field to a few hardcores who can

The tide had begun to recede and the skinny mud

find fish in even the most savage conditions. One

flat had warmed considerably in the afternoon sun.

quality will stand out; these anglers pay attention.

The water in this drain was 64-degrees, full of bait

Without saying, they have fished long enough to

and several heavy trout. Mike later told me the water

have memory banks filled with winter hotspots. But

we’d worked along that half mile of muddy shoreline

in addition, they are keenly aware of everything that

was a chilly 55-degrees. The drain and chance for

happens in the areas they select.

a temperature change told him to wade that extra

Anybody who can don waders and strap on a wade belt can find bait activity when it occurs above

hundred yards to check it out. Needless to say I began to carry a thermometer

the surface. Guys who learn to spot small wakes

after that experience. The other day I spied the

and ripples around structure and occasional baitfish

digital thermometer featured here at Fishing Tackle

flickers under the surface are the really savvy

Unlimited in Houston. This little ditty costs only

types. And then, having the faith and patience to

$24.00, a pittance compared with everything we

cast purposefully and repeatedly with slow-moving

spend to be better anglers. It is marketed by the

“mullety” lures separates the guys who catch from

William Joseph company and comes with a battery

all who try.

that will last almost forever, well the package says

I have enjoyed the uncommon fortune to fish

1000 hours. It is waterproof and shock resistant

with some of Texas’ best trout anglers; Watkins,

and delivers readings to one tenth of a degree in

Webb, Eastman, Cochran, Friermood, Pustejovsky,

seconds…what a deal!

McBride and Rowsey to drop some names. They

Even if your boat’s GPS and/or depth finder is

are all individuals and fish their own way but they

equipped with a water temperature sensor, you still

have common traits. They notice everything and

need a thermometer in your wade jacket pocket. I’ve

they know how to make the signs work. One good

tried food thermometers and several other styles, this

example is a raw winter morning in Baffin with Cliff

one is the bomb. If you are not already into monitoring

Webb. Four of us in the water and no bites for two

water temps to find winter fish you should be.

hours. Cliff noticed a baitfish flash under the surface and burned his Corky back with lightning speed. Firing it into the exact spot where the mullet flashed, it barely sunk from sight…slammed by a six pound trout. No doubt these guys have spent careers honing their skills and we cannot fish with them everyday, so we must learn from them when we can and apply it to our own endeavors. Mike McBride taught me a little trick years ago and I use it on every winter wade. Mike pulled a tiny thermometer from his pocket and checked the water temperature. I would have bet it was more of his “McTrout” hocus-pocus but I paused for a

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


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baitfish wake for gamefish to zero in on. Great for coastal flats and backwaters over shallow grassbeds.

Dargel Boats has raised the standard in

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fish-N-huNt Lady wader fishing belt

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corrosion resistant VMC

available at Academy.

round bend treble hooks. H2O Xpress Hard Baits are available exclusively at Academy Sports & Outdoors; retail from $2.99-$3.99.


January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Laguna rods

extreme wader 1 & wader 2

stake-out stik boat stik



New for 2009 Extreme Wader 1 & Wader 2 Series Rods. Rod features include:  Available in spinning and casting  Split grip handle  Lightweight, 2.6 oz.  The lightest rod available on the market.  Most importantly, it’s ALL customized to your preference; color, components, etc.

Our redesigned Boat Stik features

strike pro america el Magnifico EL MAGNIFICO - Definition: (The

the same solid one inch diameter

Magnificent One) The El Magnifico is a

composite shaft as previous models.

new and improved edition of a classic

With the newly added Spike and

trophy trout lure. The broken back

Pushpole foot the Boat Stik is the

design provides tremendous wiggle

perfect boat positioning tool. Use your

and the deep knock rattles attract the

Boat Stik to stake-out or push your

attention of hungry trout. With its

boat in and out of areas. The Boat Stik

suspending action, the El Magnifico

comes in the original 8' length and is

works great over structure, grass beds,

recommended for all boats up to 26'

and potholes up to 3 foot deep. Use a

in length. Life-time warranty of all

twitch and dead stop motion during the

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winter months to deliver the ultimate

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Features VMC 2X strong,

Quality rods built one at a time for Quality Fishermen!

black nickel, wide gap treble hooks and stainless steel split rings to hook the big ones. The lure is 4-1/2" long, 3/4 oz, dives from 1.5' to 3', suspends, available in 17 colors and retails for $9.99.

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009



we are baCK to worKiNg a LittLe harder foLLowiNg

waders with cold water if you fail to check the depth prior to exiting your boat! The popular stretch of real estate between Madam Johnson’s and the

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

two months of incredibly easy fishing

Gator Hole on the Louisiana shoreline was also devastated by Ike. It is

under the birds, but the crowds are thinner

easier fished from a boat than attempting to wade through the mounds of

and the fish are larger. Very little rain and

mud and marsh grass.

simple for folks fishing on Sabine Lake all

consistently catching fish this month is being more concerned with the

Telephone 409-883-0723 Website

the way through mid-December.

presence of bait than the structure or water clarity. If the tides and the

an elevated salinity level made it all too

Most of the shrimp have exited the marshes and our water temperature has dropped steadily with the passage of each front. Mullet are now the number one

warmer hours of the day coincide, consider it a blessing, but the absence of bait fish makes for lots of practice casting. We have also discovered that there is now more exposed shell on the flats on the north end of the lake and that the trout are spending a lot of

entrée for the heavier trout that shop the shallow flats during the warmer

time hustling meals where the mud meets that shell. We wasted a great

hours of the day.

deal of time fishing the middle of this new structure only to figure out that

If you have fished Sabine in past winters, or more importantly, if you have waded these waters during that period, you may have to re-learn your favorite spots. The bottom has washed out in many areas leaving it mercifully harder, but the water is deeper. Familiarity could fill your


Aside from getting a lucky draw with the weather, the key to

January 2009

the fish were hanging on the edges. The most productive shell for us is located in 3 to 4 feet of water. When the surface temperature hovers around the 50-degree mark, Catch V’s, 2000’s, Corkies, and the Crazy Croaker are all hard to beat.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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s a b i N e Ryan Pittman was just a little bit excited about catching his first slot red!

During the warmest hours of the day, the MirrOdine XL, She Dog, and the smaller Skitter Walk are effective choices as well. When the fish are aggressive enough to hustle the topwaters, we also do very well swimming an Assassin Texas Shad rigged on a one eighth-ounce head. The water will dictate our color choices, but pumpkinchartreuse, glow-chartreuse, or red shad will usually get the first shot. The wild card for a really big trout this month could be figuring out how to exploit those debris covered flats on the Louisiana shoreline. We caught some nice trout as well as good numbers of redfish drifting through all of that rotting vegetation this fall and the fish are not going to leave as long as the bait is in there. Last, but certainly not least, be especially careful running the Louisiana shoreline between Coffee Ground Cove and Willow Bayou. I haven’t torn anything up after hitting several of the submerged mounds of matted grass and mud yet, but they will bring you to an abrupt stop!

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


Mickey on Galveston weLL here it is Late

almost stupid. East Bay,Trinity Bay, Upper Galveston ,Tabs Bay, Burnett

December already and not much has

Bay, West Bay; I mean it’s going on everywhere. The shrimp have gotten

changed on the Galveston area bays.

real small and that’s a signal that the migration is just about over. I think this

That good report I gave last month; you

is probably the last batch to leave out and once we get a real hard smoking

can pretty much just put ditto marks on

norther it’s going to dump our water and that will be the end of the whiskers

it. The only significant development has

and eyeballs.

been some scattered bigger trout moving

trout diet. Larger fish will show in even better numbers along shorelines and

and West Bay. Even some of the smaller

deeper guts and channels that lie near muddy flats and reefs. Usually in the

bays likes Tabs and Burnett, if you get real

coldest part of winter the mid-bay will be home to smaller trout, nearly all less

shallow and work the soft bottom patiently

than 20-inches and lots of males. The forage species around these reefs

with Corkies, you might find trout up to

tends to be smaller in size and that’s what smaller trout will be feeding on.

28-29 inches. There are not a lot of them

Our fish shows signs of having it pretty easy with lots of good feed

so don’t get your hopes up for numbers.

available. The trout have been weighing heavy for their length and the

But if you go in there and wade and

reds are too. Some days we can work a school of trout and come up with

scratch you can land 4-5 really solid fish

three or four hefty slot redfish that would be perfect for tournaments. I’m

and maybe a trophy to boot. If wading and

talking beautiful fish, shiny as new pennies and weighing nine pounds easy;

throwing Corkies or other slow-sinkers

too bad the tournaments are done for the year. When you hit fish like this

isn’t your thing then just pull out deep somewhere and look for the birds. There are birds working everywhere, it’s so easy some days that it’s


January 2009

When the shrimp are gone, mullet and shad will become the staples of the

into the shallows of Trinity Bay, East Bay

without targeting them it’s a real bonus and an indication of how good things are right now.

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g a L v e s t o N Right now you can fish just about any way you like, wading or drifting, and lots of different lures are working. Topwaters and soft plastics are killer under the birds. Speaking of birds, there are some nice fish under there, but you have to get past all the pencils to find them. A big ol’ 3/8 ounce gumball jighead with whatever your favorite soft plastic is will work if you let it go to the bottom and work it back slow. This is how we’ve been

Corky Devil

pulling the better quality trout and all the redfish under the birds. If you try

upper Texas Coast after all we went

to work it up high you are going to catch a lot of throwbacks, sand trout

through this summer with the hurricane

and 15 to 16 inch specks.

and it feels good to be a Texan again. What’s going to happen when it

For the most part there are just tons of fish everywhere and there has

gets colder is anybody’s guess and we’ll just have to wait and see when

been since the hurricane. We are beginning to see them stage in front of

the patterns will emerge. We could have full-blown winter conditions settle

the bayous and marsh drains and that has been one of the keys to finding

in any day and the bird thing and slicks peeling off the reefs will be pretty

the heavy ones. Waders should target points and other structure around

much over. When this happens we will be keying on mullet over scattered

any kind of drain. It doesn’t have to be but three feet wide, you can find

shell and mud and depending water temperatures the gamefish will be in

them in the mouth of it. Anytime you’ve got a current from wind or tide

two to eight feet of water and holding tight to the bottom.

moving water around a point you can find a hot spot, this is a no-brainer. Sometimes these little hot spots will hold a lot of small trout and reds

With all the silt layer left from the hurricane I do not expect to see that air-clear water this winter in Trinity and East Bays. Not to worry though,

mixed with heavier ones and when we find it like this I prefer to throw

this can be a blessing in disguise as it lets us get closer to the bigger trout;

tails. I think this is the best way because you can get them in and release

they sure can get spooky when it gets real clear you know. As long as

them real quick and you don’t hurt them as bad unless maybe if they

the water clarity will allow a foot or so of visibility I think we’ll do just fine.

swallow it deep.

Fishing is great right now and we are primed for a great January here in

All of the Corky lures including the Corky Devil are working good as

the Galveston Bays. Happy New Year!

are 51M MirrOlures, Catch 2000 and Catch 5. It’s good to be living on the

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


NoveMber aNd deCeMber have produCed some of the best stringers I’ve seen since the 1989 freeze. Yes folks, fishing has been that good and I’m betting amidst the weather fluctuations January will provide some very productive days as well. You’ll need to remember that the cooler water temperature causes the bite to slow as these fish adapt to the change. Despite the drop in water temperature and infrequent bite, undoubtedly someone will land a trophy trout… happens every year. By the time you read this all of our shrimp will have migrated from the backwaters and bays to the Gulf of Mexico, so mullet imitating baits like your slow-sinking MirrOlures, the Corky lures, and of course Bass Assassins on lighter heads will be hot items. Eddie Douglas’ Broken Back Special, modified version of a timeless favorite, will be another great bait to throw and you can bet it will be part of my daily arsenal. As I mentioned, falling water temperatures means slower bites, so whether in East or West Matagorda Bay I’ll be looking at 5-8 bites a day on the average; that is unless we have an unusually warm January causing our water temperature to rise. As we’ve talked before, trout and redfish are cold-blooded and their feeding sprees revolve, for the most part, around water


January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

David Niles; Colorado River with Capt. Bill. Huge drum on Bass Assassin (released).

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M a t a g o r d a temperature. The colder the water the less active they will be. Expect your

bars, and grass beds. You might even get lucky and

bigger trout to feed, on average, only once or twice a week and then they

catch a monster trout as is oftentimes the case. From

will lay on the bottom until they get hungry again. When they do feed, they

Oilfield Cut all the way down to the Point of Greens are

will become very aggressive with mouths akin to vacuum cleaners.

good starting places.

Any time the water is cold, and especially during January when it can become quite cold, you will need to adjust retrieve speeds to get bites. If

CoLorado river Unless we get an overflow of rain the Colorado River will be another

you think your retrieve is slow enough and you’re not getting bit, double

choice fishing location for January. A lot of trout were pulled out of the

check — you may need to slow it down even more. If you do happen to

river during November and December and these trout should remain there

land a trout, try to remember your retrieve and copy it on your next cast.

into February if the river stays salty. I’m sure weather conditions will push

east Matagorda bay

me into the river every now and then during the upcoming month. This is

You’ll find me in East Matagorda Bay mainly hunting big trout. I’ll be

another big trout spot as recent years have produced plenty of 28-30 inch

wading in mud and shell and also drifting out in the middle of the bay

trout from the river. Use the same baits in the river as you do in the bays.

on scattered shell and mud. I can’t stress often enough that your ticket

Here again, you will need to adjust your retrieve.

for a successful wade or drift fishing trip at this time of the year will be

Hope to see you at the Greater Houston Boat Show beginning

the presence of finger mullet in the area. No baitfish usually means no

January 2nd and running through January 11th. Mark Talasek, Charlie

gamefish. Also of great importance will be those occasional slicks out in

Paradoski, and I will be in Booth 668-669 along with a huge display of

the middle of the bay if you happen to be drifting over scattered shell. Use

Bass Assassins on one 10 foot section. We will be answering any and

your trolling motor or make wide circles with your outboard to repeat your

all questions regarding Bass Assassin lures and I’m sure we will have

drift and cover the area thoroughly.

something new on our display that will tickle your taste buds. Stop by

west Matagorda bay

and check us out. Until next time, keep those Shimano reels cleaned and oiled. God Bless!

There should be plenty of redfish in West Matagorda Bay along the south shoreline especially after a hard-blowing cold front. When conditions are right you should be able to spot their wakes and sometimes with their backs sticking out of the water. Fish those guts, shallow sand

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


eveN though we are briNgiNg in the New Year, strategies for fishing in January will be just about the same as they were in December of 2008. Fishing in December was excellent but with the constantly changing weather we were forced to change our game plans almost on a daily basis. When the wind wasn’t blowing too hard we were able to fish the many reefs in San Antonio Bay with great results. If the water was below 60 degrees I found the fish to be a little deeper than chest deep making it difficult to reach them while wading without water spilling over into my waders. Drifting was not a good option because the schools seemed to be


January 2009

Cindy Ramon and Sharon Stewart show off some of their catch while drift fishing with artificials.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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p ort o'CoN Nor /se a dr i f t holding tight in small areas and scattered easily with any disturbances. But

Jerk Shad in the smelt color will be some of my

when the water was above 60 degrees the trout would move up closer to

choices. Unlike some areas our grassy bottoms are

the crown of the reefs making them easier to reach without getting water in

here year round, and while it is not as thick as it is in

my waders.

the spring and summer, it can still be a nuisance when

As usual soft plastics worked best rigged on a 1/8 oz. jighead. The

using soft plastics. When the water temperatures drop, try tying your

colors that were producing the best were Bass Assassins Texas Shad in

plastic onto a mauler to help slow down your presentation for the more

Plum/Chartreuse, Texas Roach and Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom with

lethargic, frigid fish.

chartreuse tail. Working the lure in a yo-yo pattern gives the best results.

My second choice will be Mann’s Bait Tidewater Waker in the croaker

This method allows the lure to travel through the full water column allowing

color. The Waker is very easy to work and produces great results. I will

you to find out if the fish are feeding higher or lower in the water on that

let the fish dictate whether to retrieve it slowly or speed it up. If the hooks

particular day. Once you get that bit of information then you can change

become tangled with one another too often simply remove the front hook to

your retrieve to match that of the feeding fish.

alleviate the problem.

Now if the wind picks up our options will limit us to one of our many back

My last tool in the wintertime arsenal works well for both trout and

lakes due to the fact that our fish have moved off our sandy shorelines in

redfish and it is a favorite among many lure chunkers. The Super Spook

search of warmer muddier bottoms that cover our back lakes. Wading these

Jr. is a smaller topwater plug that yields big results. It is easy to work and

muddy bottoms doesn’t rank high on the list for many anglers but luckily

has a low pitch rattle when walked side to side. While this lure may not

drift fishing produces good results.

get as many hookups as the lures mentioned above, it seems to entice

While we know our lakes contain good numbers of trout, it is the redfish that dominates the shallows. When trying to entice these brutes I will My first go-to lure to use when I fish for redfish will be a weedless soft plastic. Bass Assassin’s 5-inch Saltwater Shad or Berkley’s Gulp 5-inch

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with confidence. In closing, Gary and I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

change my lure selection as follows.

the larger reds and trout, and the many blow ups will keep you casting

May it bring everyone promises of new dreams to come true, new goals to reach, and new joys to discover.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


DAVID ROWSEY David Rowsey has 20 years experience in the Laguna/ Baffin region; trophy trout with artificial lures is his specialty. David has a great passion for conservation and encourages catch and release of trophy fish.

soMe of the Largest, heaLthiest speCiMeNs

cannot see it; hence, the excitement about the water clarity on my part.

we'll see all year will come from the

clients just to cast and trust me as to the location of the targets. This

first month of the year. The trout from

was a routine that became problematic in the brown tide, as it is hard

this time of year are brutes with big

to explain what you are doing without the visual aid of seeing the

shoulders, bad attitudes, fat leavened

target. More often than not we were rewarded with success, but that is

bellies, gorging on mullet up to fifteen

attributable to being in the greatest trophy trout fishery on the planet and

inches, and even small trout if they

patience and trust that the clients had placed in me when we sometimes

should get in the way. January holds

went hours without a bite.

many great memories for myself, clients,

Just thinking about it, and writing it down makes the hair stand on the

and friends, and this looks to be a

back of my neck. Although pleased with the days we found success, I

banner one.

would trade one in here and there for consistent clean water, and not have

The number one thing that has me 361-960-0340

Last year found us covered up in ugly water, and found me asking

to deal with the brown tide.

excited more this year than those of

No doubt, the fish in the Upper Laguna and Baffin have switched into

recent memory is the water clarity. I

winter mode. Late November and early December gave us obvious signs

can actually see the structure to which

of what was coming, as the shoulders on the trout became thicker, and the

we are casting. Growing up as a bass

infamous Corky was moved up to "Plan A" . Further signs have been the

fisherman, I learned early-on that reading structure is the most critical

bait fish and trout staying much closer to muddy bottoms as the average

element in whether you will be catching fish or just casting for the chance

daily water temperature hovers in the mid to high 50's. For the winter trout

at a fish. Dissecting a piece of structure is pretty near impossible if you

fishermen, this is GOOD STUFF!


January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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upper L aguNa/ba ffiN The number one lure in the area is the 5� Bass Assassin. Day in and day out I find myself completely dedicated to this lure until I start getting the solid bites that we are looking for. Once that takes place, I quickly switch to a Corky to try and taunt the biggest in the area. Bait fish are not as prevalent in January, but that can be a positive if you look at the cup as half full instead of half empty. Find any type of flittering movement on the right structure, and you have most likely stumbled into some presence of predators. In the colder winter months my time fishing is often found in areas that show minimal signs of bait activity. Literally, three or four flipping mullet, over an hour or two, may be all that it takes to keep my feet planted to the right structure for hours. When only a few mullet are above the surface, pay very close attention to what they are doing as they come out of the water. Not every mullet is created equal. I can hear it now, "What the Hell do you mean? A mullet is a mullet." I assure you, it is not! A keen eye will detect a loping mullet from a scared one. If the bait fish looks like a rock that was just skipped across the water or lands on its back, instead of its belly, you had better be casting in that area. One faint cast will not do the trick on most occasions. Stay still and try up to ten casts in the immediate area. Keep your feet planted, and your patience often pays off. Russ Nor wood with a great December trout on a Corky Fatb oy. RELEASED, of course!

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Please avoid running those boats on the shorelines that others are fishing and please practice catch and release.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


the fishiNg iN the Lower LaguNa just keeps getting better! November and early December were Capt. Tricia’s Skinny Water Adventures operates out of Port Mansfield, specializing in wadefishing with artificial lures.

awesome, not only did those big trout we had been seeing on the flats start to feed better, copious numbers of upper slot reds came together in force. With good weather January should be even better, especially for anglers searching for their personal best trout. Trophy trout won’t be the only draw though, some of our absolute best redfish adventures are also just now beginning. Winter, in all respects, Jim finally said he just couldn’t take the abuse any longer.

is where it’s at for the sportsman. We have enjoyed excellent weather since I wrote last so the overall patterns have not changed much. Apart from a few great episodes in the skinny white sand it has been mostly about shallow grassbeds. Two sessions stood out above all others and might lend some clues as to what this Laguna truly has to offer. One was an exceptional red fish trip and the other a near banner trout day. Jim Dennett, long time and favored client, arrived on extremely short notice to do what many others love to do here, and that’s sight-fish for big, shallow reds. The fish were already there when we lowered the Power Pole at first light and as the morning wore on pod after pod of upper slot to oversized reds began moving in. Without exaggeration, we


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January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing / 361.785.3420

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port M a NsfieLd estimated that we watched fully ten acres of fish mill about us like it was

also strawberry blue with white tail seems to catch fish in any water color, so I often tend to rely on these and

a company picnic. We sightcasted for more than six hours until Jim finally said he just

not worry about it. What we did notice was that both

couldn’t take the abuse any longer. The conditions were perfect; the

trout and reds started eating larger finfish, so upsizing

day after a norther when the barometer started dropping and the air

lures has been fun. Going from a midsize topwater to a full-size plug has

started to warm. Fish, like all other creatures, enjoy basking in comfort

been explosive on most days as the topwater bite has been consistent if

and feeding at will. It was an epic day.

not exceptional.

A great trout day came with Bobby Barbour who brought U.S.

January can bring a totally different scenario and who knows how

Marshall Russell O’Riley, Mike DeLong from Ronnie’s Marine and

severe the weather might be. Farmer’s Almanac and other sources are

friends. Again, the conditions were near perfect; a calm day just after

predicting a cold one; so let’s keep our fingers crossed. Tide levels will be

a light norther and water pushed up by the north wind began to drain

at their lowest by the end of the month and that usually makes patterns

through a narrow trough on a quiet shoreline. We all lost count of how

more predictable.

many trout we had over five pounds and several weighed more than

There are many small depressions on the flats, along the shorelines,

seven. I managed one right at eight and a half on a tail but most came

and in backwater areas. Target the shallower ones on tide dumps and

on Corky Fat Boys.

warming days and the deeper ones when it’s overcast and colder. I hate

As for patterns, on colder mornings we’d usually start a bit deeper,

to admit it but it is often that simple. During longer periods between

say upper thigh or so, but as temperatures rose we’d be right back in

northers, look for fish just like you would here the rest of the year. Water

those knee deep shallows over heavy grass. Watching baitfish and

temps in the Laguna can rebound to the mid-70s even during the dead

birds give the signal on where to start and on calmer days we often

of winter.

see our fish while running. Wakes and mud boils are hard to miss, and

Whatever you’re life is consumed with for the moment, if you love to fish, it’s time to readjust priorities. If it gets any better we’d be in Heaven.

that’s another wonderful and unique aspect of this system. Water clarity has been good so natural-colored baits have been

Sometimes I think we already are!

effective. The Devil Eye from Brown Lures in plum and chartreuse and

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


it’s hard to beLieve that aNother year has

articles, I talked about where you might want to start and things you should

passed, and I am happy to report

and areas will continue to hold true in the month of January. Remember to

that 2008 left with a bang. Through

pick your times accordingly. If the morning is really cold but the afternoon

November and December the fishing

promises to be sunny, take a late start and let the water warm up and allow

was just phenomenal. In November

the fish to get acclimated.

when the winds came to a standstill,

look for in the winter months. For the most part those same techniques

At the present time fish have been very predictable in their usual

finding tailing reds in shallow flats and

winter hangouts. Some of the key points we have been honing on is tidal

getting them to bite topwaters was a

movement and water temperature. The closer you get to the Brazos

common occurrence. December was

Santiago Pass, the stronger the water movement will be. Likewise, in

no different during the warming trends

the northern reaches of our bays the flows will be weaker. Taking this

before or after periods of cooler weather.

information into account we tend to start the day on the southern part of

The major difference in December was

the Laguna and then work our way north to areas where the tide is still

the bigger trout that started to show up

having an effect on a particular flat.

on a more consistent basis, and from my

Recently, I fished with a group and waded a stretch of water that offered

personal and recent observations, I have seen bigger trout this winter than

little bait activity. The bite started off slow, but we continued casting hoping

I did during the same period last year.

it would turn on. I noticed everyone drifting closer to the ICW. I also noticed

January will bring more frequent cold fronts that don’t last very long in

that the current was moving faster as we drew closer to the channel. The

South Texas; nevertheless, the short duration of cooler blasts of air do

fisherman closest to the ICW got into the bite we were looking for and the

have an effect on fish and the way they pattern. If you read my last two

rest of us followed finding an excellent trout bite. It was just a matter of


January 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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arroyo CoLorado to port isabeL finding the right conditions, and water movement was the key to our success. Water temperature is also critical this time of the year. Mud tends to hold the warming energy of the sun and it can be said that muddy bottoms can be your ally when water temperatures plummet. During the days between fronts we are finding big trout lying over soft mud in knee deep water. During the cooler days we tend to move a little deeper concentrating on deep grass lines and pot holes. Dark-colored Sea Devils on 1/8 oz jig heads and Pearl Corky Fat Boys continue to do the trick. From the catches and observations on the water, I would say the trout population is in a healthy state and they have definitely put on some nice weight. Redfish continue to be found in good numbers and they can easily be spotted this time of the year by the mud boils they create as they are spooked. In between trout and redfish trips we are experiencing some world class snook fishing that would rival most snooky places on this planet. Quality eyewear is necessary to spot all the signs and also to protect your eyes from harsh sunlight. I would like to point out that I have been very pleased with my new Maui Jim’s sunglasses in the Maui Rose color. Not only do they provide great protection with lightweight frames, they have also been useful in pointing out fishy structure. In closing, I would like to say a special thanks to all the wonderful people that I’ve met and fished with in 2008. No doubt fishing has allowed me to meet many great individuals. I expect a banner year in 2009 and also look forward in seeing some old friends This winter snook took a bite out of a Brown Sea Devil - 33 inches 9 1/2 lbs.

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and meeting new ones at the Houston Boat Show. Remember to pay attention to the little things because they can make a world of a fishy difference.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009


January is a good month to get out and try to catch a monster trout. They

Randall had positive things to say about the fishing in his area, as always. “We

should still be found on the flats on the north end of the lake. Good places to try

have been having good luck lately, on all but the windiest days. When the tides

are the pocket on the west bank, south of Turners Bay, the shoreline between

are really low, we are fishing the deepest water in the area, mostly in the bayous.

Pelican Point and the Old Settlement, and the shorelines in West Cove. Twitch

The fish in there will be easiest to catch on relatively heavy jigheads, like three

baits such as Corkies and Catch 2000's are great baits to start with. If those

eighth ounce. Bottom bouncing is the trick. Best color for that drill lately is a

don’t work, try a big Sand Eel on an eighth ounce leadhead. The Industrial

Baffin magic Sand Eel. When the tide is a bit more full, we’re heading into the

Canal north of the ICW should also hold both trout and reds, especially if the

main bay, still working pretty deep water, say four to six feet, in areas with a mix

cool temperatures persist. Fish can be found on the shores in depths from

of mud and shell. Fishing is a little slower out there, but the fish are better quality

ten to twenty feet. They’ll also suspend at the same depths so work the entire

in general. Redfishing has been outstanding,” he says. “We had a quadruple

water column and make some casts away from shore. Soft plastics will be your

hookup on topwaters just the other day. It was a hoot. One young fellow about

best bet: Sand Eel Jr., H&H Cocohoes, and H&H Salty Grubs in colors like

ten caught a thirty five incher. He also had one in the slot that had twenty two

glow, chartreuse, avocado, LSU, and black.

dots on it. What a thrill for him.”

“It’s lock and load around here lately. You know what I always say, if you can’t

Fishing the Colorado River has been saving the day on some of Don’s recent

catch ‘em right now, you don’t have gas in the boat or a rod and reel that works.

trips. “We keep getting the fronts back to back pretty close and it’s keeping the

I’ve been catching them in all the bays on recent trips. Trinity is good, but it’s

water in the bays pretty messed up. Luckily, the river’s holding salty water and

kind of crowded. The key over there is birds, of course, scattered mud and

the trout are in there pretty good. We are catching limits or near limits most of

clams if they aren’t working. In West Bay, there are some birds working too,

the time, though we are having to cull through some marginal fish to get what we

and the areas with scattered shell off Green’s will produce when they aren’t

are keeping. Some days, the topwaters are working, mostly early in the morning,

working. The Upper Bay has birds too. East Bay is too treacherous for most

or on colder days in the afternoon along the west shore where the water warms

people, with all the junk from the hurricane, but the fishing is good over there.

up fastest. Mostly, it’s a soft plastic thing. We’ve been rigging up with three

People who want to fish there should consider going with a guide who’s been

eighth ounce heads and letting them sink all the way to the bottom, then slow

over there and mapped some of the junk. We are catching our fish best on the

hopping them in the mud in the middle of the river. Of course, we will keep

old standby lure — the 51 series MirrOlure. I like to just throw it out and reel it

working this pattern on windy days in January, but also we’ll keep our eye on the

in really slow. Depth can be controlled by counting down after it hits the water.”

mid-bay reefs and scattered shell in East Bay when it’s calmer.”

Fishing in Jim’s area has been consistent lately, he reports. “I’ve been finding plenty of trout under birds in Trinity Bay mostly. The fish are of all sizes, up to maybe four pounds. Some of the schools in the shallowest water are holding a few bigger fish. There are redfish mixed in with the trout too. Doesn’t matter much what you throw at them if you can contact the school quietly. Guys that are wading are catching some big trout, up to thirty inches. Most of the best action wading is right at dusk.” Fishing isn’t the only option in coming weeks. “Both the dove and duck hunting should be outstanding. We have just recently gotten a bunch of new ducks and I’m seeing lots of doves on my fields, so the hunting should be productive too.” He also warns that East Bay, particularly the area around Rollover Pass, is full of dangerous debris, things as large as whole roofs. He does plan to relocate to Bolivar and fish more in East Bay soon. 64 64

January 2009 January 2009

A winter pattern has emerged in fishing in the Palacios area. Trout are staging over mud and shell in areas close to deep water. Corky Fat Boys in dayglo, pink, and pearl/chartreuse have been the best colors so far. The best action for the lures is to slowly bounce them over the shell and wait for the trout to pounce on them. We still have a few shrimp in the bays, and there are still birds working, but most of the fish under them seem to be on the small side. One bonus to the birds is the size of some of the sand trout; we have been catching some good ones up to seventeen inches. Redfish have been holed up in guts, drains and bayous along area shorelines. New penny and pearl Gulp shrimp along with small topwaters such as bone Spook Jrs. and orange/blue baby Skitterwalks have been the hot lures for the reds. Happy Holidays and a great new year of fishing to all of you readers of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine!

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Our speckled trout and redfish populations in the Laguna Madre are in good shape! I have been coming in with very good numbers of trout, up to 27 inches. The redfish have also been so plentiful that we have been catching limits of them on almost every trip. Most of the reds have been slot sized, with quite a few being oversized, some up to 33 inches. The air temperatures, water temperature and level will drop this time of the year. This is one of my favorite times of the year to fish for trophy speckled trout. With the wind blowing hard from one direction and then turning and blowing hard from a different direction the next day, dead grass will be suspended or brought up to the surface, creating problems with some lures. One solution is to rig a “Kwik Cork” or Cajun Thunder with a quarter ounce jighead and a Bass Assassin Blurp four inch shrimp or five inch shad in pearl, new penny or electric chicken. “I’ll be throwing a lot of slow sinking lures come January,” Lynn predicts. “Of course, I’m partial to the Corkies, and I’ll be using them a lot. I also like the new baits made by Spro. They have some pretty topwaters and also a killer slow sinking jointed bait. It’s more realistic than a live mullet, I believe! And it’s got an incredible lifelike action to it. You have to see it to believe it. The key is that it comes in a floater, a slow sinker and a fast sinker, so you can cover all the bases that are necessary in winter fishing. Sometimes, the fish are really active, on the warmer days, and they’ll strike on top. Most days, the slow sinkers are the best bet. In the toughest conditions, the fast sinker will come into play, since you can keep it closer to the bottom. Dragging a soft plastic slowly on or near the bottom will often be the best on the really tough days. Low and slow can be the only way to catch the fish on the coldest days.”

duck hunting and then fishing on most days in January. We have lots of ducks already, so it should be good next month. This is one of the best times of year for catching redfish too. The fish get stacked up on the dropoffs and in the deeper holes in the drains, especially when tides are low like they normally are. We’ll also be targeting some of the larger trout, which we seem to catch more often in the cold weather. The drill for the trout is to focus on areas where the drains come out of the marshes into the main bays. Look for potholes with soft bottom in the vicinity of those drains. I also like to fish areas with muddy bottoms and scattered shell mixed in. Suspending baits are best for the trout; I love my Corkies. Topwaters will work at times too, but it’s hard to beat the old Sand Eels much of the time. Same colors as always, dark with chartreuse tail.”

Sandbar sharks should be in good supply with lesser numbers of bull and blacktipped sharks available. Cownose and stingray seem to be prime winter bait and most fish are caught in late afternoons or at night. Kayaked baits will produce best. Pompano should continue in the best numbers of the year with fresh-peeled dead shrimp and pink or green “Fishbites” producing the best. Pick wide deep guts and make long casts for pompano. A cut through the outside bar is a perfect location. The pompano require light wind conditions and green water. Whiting, sheepshead and black drum will be present along with oversized and slot reds. Some days the reds want cut mullet and other days shrimp work best. Shrimp will work on the other bottom species. Some Atlantic bluefish may be present and if the winter speckled trout are going to make a showing January is a prime month; typically using 51M MirrOlure twitch baits and a very

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of trout and reds biting most every day. “There are birds working up and down the ditch, mostly south of the causeway. Under them, you’ll find a lot of small trout, but the patient and persistent people will be able to cull some better trout and reds out of the bunch. The key is to use a jighead that’s heavy enough to get down to where some of the better fish are holding. Using heavier heads also allows for maintaining contact with the edge and secondary ledges. Sometimes, it’s better to stay away from the main bird activity and work sections where the dropoff doesn’t go all the way to the bottom directly, but where there’s a secondary ledge six or eight feet deep.” Though the birds will likely stop working in January, lots of fish will still relate to the deep waters of the ICW because or their instinctive fear of freezing in the coldest month.

January is the last hurrah for the cast and blast season for Blake. “We’ll be

slow retrieve. Beware of NE winds which will push tides high.

Fishing around the ICW has been very productive recently, with good numbers

Bruce says that recent trips have been productive on big trout in the Port Mansfield area. “We’re seeing some positive results from all the changes in our area, including the dredging of the channel and the lowering of the trout limit. Our fishing has been good already and should be throughout the winter for trophy trout. Tactics in January will be much like the ones we use in December. We’ll key on deeper, muddy potholes in close proximity to drains or other connectors between deep and shallow areas. Slow presentations will be favored; we’ll throw suspending baits like Catch 2000s and the Money Minnow by Pradco. It can be rigged so you can pause it in a likely spot and it will suspend. It has a tail that gives a lot of flutter and vibration and it’s realistic looking. Of course, we love topwaters and will not hesitate to throw them if we see bait jumping. Many days, we’ll leave the dock later and come in at dark.”

We haven’t seen fishing like this since the early ‘80s. The LLM is full of big trout and redfish that are biting even during double tides and calm winds. You’ll just be sitting there in shin-deep, clear water and the fish swim up to the boat begging. We’re still getting the best results with corks and Gulp shrimp. The color doesn’t seem to matter much, unless the wind’s out of the north, pushing brown tide into limited areas, then glow and pearl white are definitely an advantage. Check with Kyle at Johnny’s True Value for the correct way to rig up. We’re fishing shallow, but some deeper pot holes on the East side are holding beautiful trout; the reds are moving around, so they’re a little harder to keep track of, but there’s usually a big herd hanging around south of Gas Well. Freddy says, “Now’s the time to go out and get that personal best trout. Take pictures and release her back to fight again; fish under 25 inches eat best.”

Texas Saltwater Fishing Texas Saltwater Fishing

January 2009 January 2009

65 65

Barrett Blevins can’t help but grin as he holds a 28" trout at Loyola Beach.

Fishing right after a front came thru Rockport was the right time for Robert Grenet to catch this 43” 50 lb drum.

Amy Kyle is a true sportsman who released the redfish to Wade fishing was a good plan for fight another battle. Trevor Mahavier and dad in Matagorda where he caught this 28" red.

Proud angler, Emanuel Lastra “Daddy flounder, it’s a is ecstatic with his first keeper flounder!" Kameron Hinojosa trout measuring 20". shouted with joy as she landed her 1st ever flounder.

Hector Luna & and son, Ryan landed this magnificent 41” 25lb bull red. Persistence pays off says the duo!

Kevin Cooper and friends caught these monsters, one 45" long, none were under 40". All released to fight another day. 66

January 2009

Drifting the flats of the Lower Laguna Madre using techniques from the magazine proved well for Yvette Morgan pictured with a 28” red.

Fishing the mangroves paid off for Jimmy Pape as he caught this 35.25” 14lb snook at the Everglades National Park.

Rachel Stevens, fishing in Port Isabel used her skills to catch this trout.

“It’s a beauty,” remarked Minnie Flores of Harlingen, TX after catching this 23” 4lb. trout at Port Mansfield.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

This 31.5” redfish was enticed by 11 yr old, Coco DeLeon’s, Berkley Gulp!

Bradley Bues and a 42" bull red caught night fishing in the POC big jetties.

Monica Pulido did well on her first fishing trip! She caught a 27 1/2" trout in Baffin Bay.

Looks like Dad has a new fishing partner. Michael Garza is ready to get out on the water!

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Fred and Bob Grantham on a recent Florida trip doubled on peacock bass in Miami.

Kris Harless fought this 44 inch 49.5 lbs bull red for 30 min off her dock in Omega Bay.

Copano Bay was the right spot for The Bahamas was an adventure for Ricky Irby shown here with a 24" trout. Cooper Cogdell ready to be pictured This 28" redfish was snagged with his catch. by Sergio Salinas fishing in the Laguna Madre.

Jeff Schaberg of Houston, TX used a red shad Trout Killer to seize this 30”, 9.5 pounds speckled trout.

Cliff Wilkins of New Braunfels caught this snook near South Padre.

Rockport was the spot to fish for Mark Gonzales as he holds his 26" redfish. Chris Best with his first redfish caught out of the bay of Corpus Christi.

What a pro, Joy Sandifer and a double on Pompano!

Michael Gonzales obtained this Peyton Usoff of Victoria was 20" flounder on a recent fishing trip in Rockport. thrilled to reel in this 23” red fishing in Port Lavaca.

Please do not write on the back of photos.

Max Cole knew how to Gates Jenkins, 3 yrs old, on his present a Trout Killer to this first fishing trip in the boat Brian Blankenburg and a nice red fishing in Port Aransas. showed all how to land ‘em! flounder caught in Chocolate Bay.

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email photos with a description of your catch of the Month to: Mail photos to: TSFMag P.o. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 January 2009



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“Be Kind to Shorelines” is about leaving a piece of shoreline better than you found it. When you happen upon an unsightly mess on your favorite shoreline; clean it up. Have a fishing buddy snap a photo of your clean-up effort and another of the trash being disposed of properly. Submit photos via email to Everett@TSFMag. com or by mail to TSF Magazine – PO Box 429 – Seadrift, TX 77983. Categories for this contest will be Greatest Haul, Most Unusual, and Most Helpers. The contest will run from October 2008 through Memorial Day 2009. For more details go visit

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WWW.TSFMAG.COM GET THREE MONTHS FREE! Order today and receive a 15-month subscription for the regular price of $25.00. Hurry and sign up family members and/or friends at the same rate! Offer expires 03.31.09


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TSFMag SPecKled TrouT cATch And releASe PhoTo conTeST All you have to do is catch a really good speck and release it alive‌ and send us some photos! Photos will be judged on photographic quality, artistic merit, demonstration of conservation ethic and, of course, you must include a shot of the release. The winner will be featured on the cover of TSFMag and receive a high-quality rod and reel combo. Four runner-up prizes will also be awarded. Fish must be caught and released Jul 08-Dec 08, photos must be received on/before Jan 15 09. Fish must be caught in Texas waters and TPWD regs apply. Make sure your camera is set to capture high-quality images. Photos become property of TSFMag, employees and writers are not eligible. Submit entries via electronic mail to:

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galveston tides & Solunar Table Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine january 2009

The BEST Choice‌ Any Place, Anytime!

To find a location near you, please visit us at

Tidal Corrections Location Calcasieu Pass, La. Sabine Bank Lighthouse Sabine Pass (jetty) Sabine Pass Mesquite Point Galveston Bay (S. jetty) Port Bolivar Texas City, Turning Basin Eagle Point Clear Lake Morgans Point Round Point, Trinity Bay Point Barrow, Trinity Bay Gilchrist, East Bay Jamaica Beach, Trinity Bay Christmas Point Galveston Pleasure Pier San Luis Pass Freeport Harbor

High -2:14 -1:46 -1:26 -1:00 -0:04 -0:39 +0:14 +0:33 +3:54 +6:05 +10:21 +10:39 +5:48 +3:16 +2:38 +2:39 +2:32 -0:09 -0:44

Low -1:24 -1:31 -1:31 -1:15 -0:25 -1:05 -0:06 +0:41 +4:15 +6:40 +5:19 +5:15 +4:43 +4:18 +3:31 +2:38 +2:33 +2:31 -0:09

For other locations, i.e. Port O’Connor, Port Aransas, Corpus Christi and Port Isabel please refer to the charts displayed below.

Please note that the tides listed in this table are for the Galveston Channel. The Tidal Corrections can be applied to the areas affected by the Galveston tide.

Minor Feeding Periods are in green, coinciding with the moon on the horizon, and the last from 1.0 to 1.5 hrs after the moon rise or before moon set. Major Feeding Periods are in orange, about 1.0 to 1.5 hrs either side of the moon directly overhead or underfoot. Many variables encourage active feeding current flow (whether wind or tidal driven), changes in water temp & weather, moon phases, etc. Combine as many as possible for a better chance at an exceptional day. Find concentrations of bait set up during a good time frame, and enjoy the results.

Te x a s S a l t w a t e r F i s h i n g M a g a z i n e l

w w w. t e x a s s a l t w a t e r f i s h i n g m a g a z i n e . c o m

January 2009  

tide predictions & solunar feed times inside!tidepredictions&solunarfeedtimesinside!tidepredictions&solunarfeedtimesinside! Just...