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Only $3.95 July 2009

tide predictions & solunar feed times inside!

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009



July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009



July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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July 2009



July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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eDitor anD publisher Everett Johnson

j uly 2009 Volume 19 No. 3

general manager Pam Johnson



business / aCCounting manager

12 Alot of Stingray and a Little Crow 16 Finding and Evaluating Prime…

Kevin Cochran

20 “Mother Ocean Plays Hardball”

Billy Sandifer

24 Reflections

Martin Strarup

28 Alternative medicine…

Chuck Uzzle



21 Coastal Birding 26 Science and the Sea

38 aDVertising manager Pam Johnson Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-550-9918 national sales representatiVe

Billy Sandifer

Bart Manganiello

UT-Marine Science Institute

30 Let’s Ask The Pro

Jay Watkins

32 Fly Fishing

Casey Smartt

34 Offshore

Shirley Elliott

Mike McBride

CirCulation Debbie Dugan

Bobby Byrd/John Cochrane Design, layout & web maintenanCe

36 Conservation

CCA Texas

38 TPWD Field Notes

Robert Vega

42 Kayak Fishing

Scott Null

44 According to Scott

Scott Sommerlatte

46 Youth Fishing

Aaron Cisneros

48 Every Man’s Offshore

Ruben Villarreal

GRAPHICS BY DESIGN 361-785-4282 Jasmine and Jackson Gordon

subsCription – proDuCt sales Debbie Dugan ADDRESS CHANGED? Email

what our guiDes haVe to say…


58 Dickie Colburn’s Sabine Scene

Dickie Colburn

60 Mickey on Galveston

Mickey Eastman

62 Capt. Bill’s Fish Talk

Bill Pustejovsky

64 Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays

Gary Gray

66 Hooked up with Rowsey

David Rowsey

68 Capt. Tricia’s Port Mansfield Report

Capt. Tricia

70 South Padre Fishing Scene

Ernest Cisneros




$25.00, Two Year $45.00

Order on-line: WWW.TSFMAG.COM make CheCks payable to: Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine Attn: Subscriptions P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, Texas 77983 * Subscribers are responsible for submitting all address changes and renewals by the 10th of the prior month’s issue. Email for all address changes or please call 361-785-3420 from 8am - 4:30pm. The U.S. Postal Service does not guarantee magazines will be forwarded.

how to ContaCt tsfmag:


mailing aDDress: P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, Texas 77983

56 New Tackle & Gear

physiCal aDDress: 58 Fisherman’s Lane,

72 Fishing Reports and Forecasts

Seadrift, TX 77983 web: www.TSFMAG.COM

76 Gulf Coast Kitchen

photo gallery:

81 Index of Advertisers

printeD in the usa. Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine (ISSN 1935-9586) is published monthly by Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, Inc., 58 Fisherman’s Lane, Seadrift, Texas 77983  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.

about the CoVer Our cover angler is Michael Plitt with a monster Galveston speck. Check out his story on page 26. Just Keep Five

Free. Offer valid until 09.30.09)

E-MAG (electronic version) is available for $12.00 per year.

phone: 361-785-3420 faX: 361-785-2844

74 Photo Gallery–Catch of the Month

Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine is published monthly. Subscription Rates: One Year (15 months for 12 months; Get Three

Periodical class permit (USPS# 024353) paid at Victoria, TX 77901 and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send Fishing Magazine, TX 77983.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

address changes to Inc., P. O. Box

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Saltwater Seadrift,

July 2009


While we never planned that this issue of TSFMag would feature a fishing safety theme, it has certainly turned out that way. It all began with a letter from a concerned reader. Regular readers will no doubt recall the cover of our June magazine. Yours truly, celebrating an unexpected POC marsh lake prize, posed for the camera in lightweight camouflage shirt and pants. As soon as the issue hit the newsstands my phone began ringing. For the most part, the conversations that followed were filled with good-natured ribbing. One emailer, though, was not very happy. He took great exception with my attire. In his opinion, and rightfully so, camouflage duds have no place in wade fishing. Brighter colors would have sent a better message, in more ways than one. So, to the degree that I set a poor example, I want to apologize to our readership. I also want to remind everybody that being seen makes a far better fashion statement. Many times we wade long distances from our boats and shorelines. Brightly colored headgear and fishing shirts should be our first line of defense. Being recognized as a wade fisherman is highly preferred to being run over by passing boaters. Second on the list of safety related messages, our own Mike McBride was struck by a stingray over the Memorial Day weekend. Mike’s bad luck grew as the days passed and a very nasty necrotizing faciistis (flesh eating infection) set in. The early prognosis was pretty grim as the infection was threatening to spread. Luckily, Mike is finally back home and on the mend but faces a long and painful recovery. Mike was not wearing stingray protection which should be a lesson to every wade fisherman who reads this magazine. Saltwater is full of bacteria, especially during summer when the water temperatures rise. Streptococcus, staphylococcus, not to mention highly-dreaded Vibrio vulnificus, can be found in every bay and along every shoreline of the Texas coast. Recent information gathered by Texas A&M researchers indicate that fin clips from hardhead catfish can contain Vibrio bacteria in an astounding 90% of the samples. If the wound incurred during a stingray strike is not enough of a problem, the infections that follow can be devastating, even life threatening. Stingray protective footwear and leggings can make all the difference. Don’t be a hardhead…wear ‘em! Safety concerns and safety protocol should extend into every facet of our fishing activities. Just recently, well-known Texas angler, Larry “Flakman” Flak, perished in a boating accident in Louisiana. Larry and four friends were running a channel in darkness when they struck a barge. Sadly, all five men were killed instantly. Nighttime navigation is serious business, even when you know what you are doing and where you are going. Never take chances and never trust your GPS alone for safe nighttime navigation. Slow down, use a powerful spotlight, and wear your PFD. Larry Flak will be missed by all who knew him. Kayak fishing is serious business too, especially when paddlers venture onto rough seas in their plastic boats. Rick Underbrink shares a harrowing tale of offshore adventure this month and it certainly hit home with me. Without exceptional athletic ability and strong survival skills, Rick’s trip would have surely ended in disaster. This is a “must read” for all kayak fishermen and all who aspire to become. So, even though we never planned a fishing safety theme, recent events and circumstances turned it into one. Please allow these reports and messages to become a part of your standard fishing plans. Fishing is important, but not nearly as important as remaining healthy and alive to enjoy it!


July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


a reaDer writes Dear Mr. Everett Johnson 5-31-09 Since I already own a U.S. Reel SuperCaster 230SX spinning reel, I enjoyed your positive field support article highlighting the positive advantages. However, I wish you’d address one of the major problems that I am having… wind knots. In addition, please go into detail relative to putting Power Pro #20 braid on the reel with the clip-on arbor spacer in place to eliminate filling the deep reel with line. At present, I place mono line on initially, then tie on braided with the triple surgeon knot to fill the reel to capacity. I use the Berkley Portable Line Spooling Station. How close to the lip of the spool should I fill this reel? After casting I always close the bail by hand, never by simply turning the handle. I am contemplating using a small Spro swivel to reduce/eliminate line twist. I sold my Shimano top of the line spinning reel since U.S. Reel advertised the no-wind-knot features of their reels. I have been wade fishing on the coast for the past 15 years throwing Shimano bait cast reels; I presently have two Chronarch 50-MG reels. I carry the 230SX to throw on windy days thus eliminating backlashes. Jay Watkins teaches that throwing into and across the wind keeps the lure in front of the fish, rather than bringing it up from behind them. Many thanks, Bob Beckett - TSFMag Subscriber

Dear Bob Beckett, Thanks for writing. While I am no spinning reel guru; I do use them often and I did stay at Holiday Inn recently, so I’ll take a stab at your questions. First; let’s discuss those nasty tangles you call wind knots. These can occur during any cast when line unfurls from the spool at a greater rate than can be funneled through the first guide, especially when the line is twisted. Snappy casts are the worst offenders, slinging the lure with more of a sidearm motion promotes smoother line flow. Line can become twisted for various reasons. A primary source of twist can be traced to the way you fill your reel with new line. Winding line around any stationary arbor induces twist. Believe it or not most packages of line contain some amount of twist from the factory. Now to clarify the stationary arbor statement: Try rolling a 50-foot electrical cord around your elbow and between your thumb and forefinger. Long about midway the portion you have not rolled takes on the appearance of an angry slinky because you are rolling twist forward as you work. The same happens when winding line into your reel. Unless you take action to cancel the curls as they pay-off the filler spool they will become multiplied on your reel. When installing new line, try reeling in the first twenty wraps with the filler spool positioned ten feet from your rod tip. Without winding further, bring the rod tip toward the pay-off spool. A belly of slack will hang between the roll of line and rod tip. If it hangs limp, showing only slight curling; you are installing the line correctly. If the curls in the slack portion of the line do the angry slinky thing you need to flip the filler spool over and reel the line from the opposite face. 10

July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Wind in another twenty wraps and check again to make sure. During repeated casting and retrieving a certain amount of twist is unavoidable and accumulates in the working portion of your line. Given that the U.S. Reel SuperCaster 230SX is US Super Caster 230SX equipped with a greatly oversized spool compares other reels in its class, fewer wraps are required to retrieve any given cast and the probability of line twist occurring is greatly reduced as well. One way to discourage accumulation of unmanageable line twist is to give it a place to go. I have found that attaching a small, high-quality split ring and barrel swivel to the jigs, Standard spool size. spoons and plugs I throw with spinning gear will allow the twist to work itself out of the line. Notice that I used the words small and high-quality. The addition of too much weight can affect the action of your lures. Lay in an assortment and select the smallest size and strength rating that will do the job. You mention the Spro brand. They make good gear! Another source of line twist can be found in the manner in which lures and other terminal rigs behave during the retrieve. Any straight-bodied soft plastic can twirl when not rigged correctly. Ditto spoons; if you wind them back quickly enough, most will twirl and twist your line. Floats such as the Mansfield Mauler and the snap-on varieties ala the Alameda Rattling Cork can also twist your line with each pop of the rod tip. Always rig with a quality swivel! I have discovered a couple of easy ways to remove twist from fishing

…Continued on page 82

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July 2009


Incisions were necessary to relieve swelling and to debride necrotic tissue.

n MY Last writinG i toUchEd on thE wondErs of wearing modern stingray protection. Actually, we wondered which might be worse; perhaps taking a hit once every ten years without them, or perhaps surviving the oppressive mud and gnarly grass with them. Upon this writing I can safely say that a decision has been reached. No matter how uncomfortable stingray boots may be for some, trust me, they will cover your rear end considerably better than a hospital gown. Yes, I was recently tagged by a healthy stingray. No, I wasn’t wearing protective gear. Yes, I can eat some crow if I want to, and it actually doesn’t taste all that bad with a little habanera sauce on it, which is, I think, the same stuff smeared on that ray’s tail by the way it burned into my ankle. Much was learned during this ordeal, but ironically, the most impressive lessons were older ones passed down from the ancients. We all might do well to occasionally reflect upon such wisdoms, especially the more prophetic. Two come to mind; “What goes around comes around.” And; “Always remember to wear clean underwear.” I thought I’d share the consequences of breaching both. The bottom line is that if you wade fish in Texas; you are wading amongst stingrays.


July 2009

If you are not then you are probably not wading amongst fish either. It’s just part of the experience, but according to published studies, the good news is that relatively few encounters go beyond the “Hey, gimme another beer,” stage. Supposedly, of the 750 “stings” per year nationwide, few require follow up after initial treatment. Well, let’s publish another study of our own, an updated one straight from our own backyard, but first let’s review this experience… just for sensationalism if nothing else.

36 hours into the ordeal, a massive infection was brewing.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

I suppose the setting could have been worse. I might have gotten hit while trying to push a boatload of overweight lawyers off of a sandbar, yet fate was merciful this time and I was actually trying to photograph one of Capt. Tricia’s clients with yet another 28-inch trout. Curiously I was standing still at the moment of impact, but obviously there was enough wallowing going on to spook the critter into slinging its barb deep into the top dead center of my ankle joint. It was a good hit, delivered with enough force to actually move my foot back. This is the third time I’ve been blessed, and each time the stick never felt “clean.” Perhaps because of the serrations along the barb, the feeling has been more rasp-like, as though a tiny round bastard file was being hastily jerked

It is about a changing world, and perhaps how we may be forced to change with it.

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TIP OF THE SPEAR In getting down to business, the real story here is not about an individual encounter with a bumpy-eyed bottom dweller sporting a sharp stick on its tail. It is about a changing world, and perhaps how we may be forced to change with it. In reality, the stingray barb was just the tip of the spear for the real threat, which is an extremely aggressive bacterial infection called necrotizing fasciitis; commonly known as “flesheating disease.” That’s what bought me that unexpected hospital trip, and also where the clean underwear comes into play. I didn’t leave for eleven days. In the marine environment this stuff is still relatively new but we are hearing more about it each year. Supposedly around 25% of those who get it end up dying from it. The main reason could be that the early symptoms look like so many other minor afflictions; a great number of cases are misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late. This stuff is bad, way bad, in fact. Had I been immune compromised or waited much longer, the outcome may have been quite different. If the infection goes systemic, i.e. into the blood system, you are in deep trouble. It can only take a few short hours after inoculation to become life threatening. There are several types of bacteria that

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Two weeks later, it is going to take a long time to heal!

can cause necrotizing fasciitis, the most common being variations of streptococcus, staphylococcus, the widely infamous Vibrio vulnificus, or perhaps a combination. They probably always exist but thrive in warm, brackish water, with salinities between 15 and 25 ppt seemingly ideal. I was wading the mouth of a muddy, brackish slough south of town. And indeed, most cases we have heard of were contracted in areas experiencing freshwater runoff. We don’t know the exact bacteria in this case, but what we do know is that warm brackish water and open wounds are not something to fool around with these days, especially if immune compromised. That the world is changing is fact. With more people living inland more organisms flow seaward. Whatever happened to “Saltwater cures what ails ya?” This stuff does seem to be on the increase, so awareness and prevention certainly seem more important. Don’t let this stuff freak you out; and certainly don’t let it stop you from wading if that’s what you enjoy. You can get this from a shrimp spine prick in a bait bucket, so you don’t even have to be in the water. What we should do is upgrade our first aid kits to include antimicrobial solutions such as HIBICLENS® to immediately flush any skin breaks occurring

Texas Saltwater Fishing

on the water. What we should do is cover any open breaks with a type of liquid bandage or even breathable waders no matter what time of year, especially if wading in high risk areas such as in the influence of freshwater runoff, and especially if immune compromised with diabetes or liver issues. As far as gear goes, what we should do is shut up and wear it. Unfortunately, ill-fitting boots and guards can quickly cause chafing and blisters, which can be bacteria catchers as good as any stingray hit, so tall neoprene socks are recommended. Above all, if there is any question at all, just go to the darn doctor. Timing is of the essence, and according to available literature, mortality risk increases five-fold for patients who are hospitalized more than two days after symptoms develop. Once the infection takes hold, antibiotics are not enough and surgical intervention is the only way. Take proper precautions, make good and timely decisions, and continue to enjoy the wonders we are privileged to enjoy on the water. Just keep that water off any skin breaks and don’t wonder about stingray protection any longer — wear it and be done with at least one tip of the spear.


through stringy muscle tissue. Can you feel it? The next sensation is predictable, which is total muscle lockup on the order of the worst Charlie Horse you can imagine. This followed by nauseously sharp pain, followed immediately by a quick suck of the thumb and a sharp yelp for mommy. I took the standard action back at the house and soaked it in the hottest water I could stand for as long as I could stand, with a measure of bleach splashed in for effect. The pain relief was instant, the swelling appeared normal, and it did not look like anything worthy of a holiday weekend road trip. I let it ride, “…to be evaluated mañana.” All was good until the next afternoon, and that’s when the swelling went show time. Black and blue flesh erupted with explosive blisters laced with red streaks. Thanks to Capt Tricia, it was a twisted-ear trip to the ER.

mike mCbriDe

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

July 2009



July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Texas Saltwater Fishing


July 2009


storY & photos bY kEvin cochran

ost inshorE saLtwatEr anGLErs rELY on a self-made catalogue of prime fishing areas, or spots. In fact, anglers in search of many species of fish, both fresh and saltwater, learn and return to revered fishing holes time and again. When fishing is done in tiny ponds, there is no need for knowledge of spots, but

in larger lakes and bays, even on the open ocean, some areas will produce better than others. Successful fishermen recognize the need for learning as many spots as possible on the body or bodies of water they frequent. The wisest are constantly searching for new, productive places in which to catch their favorite fish. In areas like the vast coastal estuaries in which I work, there are more fishy looking spots than anyone could possibly learn in a lifetime of shaking a sensitive graphite stick. Still, not all likely looking spots are created equal. Some are consistently more productive than others. In fact, all fishholding spots are different, though most possess some common characteristics. Defining a good spot starts with the recognition of several different things,

This impressive catch and release double came from a go to spot I fish many times throughout the year. It has all the attributes which define the best spots; it's near a main bay point, with shallow sand bars and rocks close to deep water and lots of grass and potholes. 16

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

two of which share prominence—the angler’s preference for style of fishing and species of fish. In my ongoing search for more spots in which to wade and catch trout approaching and exceeding thirty inches, I have come to some conclusions with regard to how to locate and judge them. For years, I started by studying bay maps, picking areas to screen for sweet spots. Scrutinizing topographical images with accurate contour lines and depth readings is still a good way to begin the search for premium places. Utilizing satellite images like those found on Google Earth has taken in-home research to a whole new level. It’s often hard to determine the depth of water from the pictures though, so cross-referencing with a dependable map is helpful. Printing satellite images and carrying them and the maps on scouting excursions is an effective way to learn the details of new areas. Hiring a local fishing guide and asking for help in documenting spots is another fine way to improve one’s knowledge of an area. A pointed conversation with the guide about such a trip must be had before booking; some guides have no interest in helping their customers in this way, while others do it regularly. Of course, actually fishing a prospective

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This 7 3/4 pound trout was caught in a small, shallow sweet spot strongly influenced by wind and other weather conditions. It’s a fickle spot, but when it’s right, it offers a real shot at monster fish.

An optimal few of them are relied on regularly throughout the fishing year whenever I find a need for a fresh perspective in my search for monster trout. The sweetest of these honey holes is what I think of as a “fall-back” or “go-to” spot. For me, such a spot is the place toward which I’d point the bow of my Haynie if I were told I had to catch a fish in order to save my life. It’s not where I’ve caught my biggest trout, or even where I’ve caught the highest number of big trout, but it’s where I have supreme confidence that I can catch a trout or redfish most any time of day or year in most conditions. I also know there is a real chance I’ll catch big trout too. All of the best anglers I know keep just such a spot in their data banks. I return to mine mostly when the catching is slow in other areas which

It will be comprised of at least three of the following: an extensive reef or rock formation, sand bars, grass beds and potholes, guts and/or a channel and a prominent main bay point. It will also have shallow areas near deep water and be relatively impervious to the effects of the fickle winds that regularly sweep across the Texas coast. Some will undoubtedly notice that I have not here disclosed the exact location of any of my best spots which meet this description. I certainly wouldn‘t want to rob the readers of any satisfaction or feeling of ownership they might derive from locating and defining a honey hole to call their own! All kidding aside, I do hope this discussion of how to define, locate and evaluate sweet spots will help others find places where they can catch whatever kind of fish they like to catch a little more consistently.


spot is the last phase of evaluation required before adding it to the regular rotation of sites to be visited on subsequent trips. For me, this means wading around and learning things about the bottom contours with my feet, as well as carefully studying the area with my eyes. While analyzing the promise held by any newly found spot, I consider how it might potentially be affected by seasonal weather patterns, tide levels, water temperatures and wind speeds. Adding a spot to one’s catalogue by placing an anchor and/or fish icon on the GPS is smart. I place these in the exact locations where I want to leave the boat and where I think the fish will most often be found. That way, I can return to the area more efficiently and precisely in darkness and/or fog, knowing right where I am and where I need to go in order to contact the best fish-holding sweet spots and structures. Structure and cover are the key features that define fish-holding spots. These elements include reefs, rocks, sand bars, grass beds and/ or mats, pothole systems, drop offs and guts. The most dependable fishing spots are those which have two or more of these things in close proximity to each other. All consistently productive spots have some kind of structure or cover in them. I fish some spots which are “specialty spots” for me. Many produce exceptional trout occasionally, but are virtually void of fish much of the time. These are usually diminutive in size and highly dependent on certain variables in order to be productive. The variables are normally water level/temperature and wind direction/velocity. I have other spots which are much more reliable and productive throughout the seasons in diverse conditions. Those cherished holes are the bread and butter of my daily routine.

keVin CoChran

offer potentially greater success on a single large trout. Wherever I’ve fished in my life, I’ve placed a high priority on finding such an old reliable spot just for times like those. The sweetness of such a honey hole will be imparted by the ingredients which define it.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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July 2009


on thE niGht oF 20

MaY, Larry “Flakman” Flak and four other men were killed near Houma, LA when their 24-foot boat collided with a barge in darkness. Larry was a well-known petroleum engineer, currently living in Conroe. Larry was among the experts who battled the oilfield fires in Kuwait with Boots & Coots during the Gulf War. He was a longtime saltwater fisherman, always outgoing, who befriended many up and down the Texas coast. One of my favorite memories will always be Larry inviting me to join a small group and fish Lake Guri, Venezuela for peacock bass. It was an awesome experience that I could never have been able to do without his generosity. He will be missed and remembered by many. His family is in our prayers. Fair skies and smooth seas, Larry. Then David Rowsey calls and tells me about Brother Mike McBride being hit by a stingray and having very serious complications set in. Later I learn a second angler had the same thing happen the same weekend wading the East Cut at Port Mansfield and I think, “Well, Mother Ocean, you sure are playing hardball here lately.” And then I am instantly reminded that “here lately,” just does not apply. Mother Ocean has always played hardball and always will. I think this is the second time Mike has been hit. I’ve been hit three times. Mike cleaned the wound immediately and got some antibiotics as soon as possible but infection had already set in by the time he saw a doctor. He thought everything was going to be OK. I never went to the doctor and continued working the remainder of the day in two cases. I have some permanent 20

July 2009

scar tissue and nerve I don’t Story by Billy Sandifer damage in my left foot think Mike which troubles me now and then but I and I actually chose to was lucky and Mike wasn’t. live the life we live. It is a need to be on the water But I think there is more to it than that. I think that we cannot escape. I think we were born to it the danger from infection from such encounters and the same goes for many of the other writers increases as time goes on. While talking to Mike for this publication, many who read it and some on the phone this morning he asked, “Billy, what who may not. We are children of the sea and we ever happened to the time when we jumped are born to fish. It’s some primeval DNA thing, into the water to soak and help cure our injuries. but it does not come without a price. That price Saltwater soothed and helped heal wounds and is often paid when we grow complacent to the now it’s the exact opposite.” dangers we face. We forget that all of Mother He’s right, that’s the way it was in my youth but Ocean’s children must never drop their guard for I fear those days are gone forever. Texas water even a few seconds lest we become victims. temperatures rising three degrees in sixteen years Few fulltime fishing guides are in a financial in our bay systems could certainly be involved position to buy health insurance or doctor visits and there is no doubt agricultural and chemical every time they get hurt. We are not even going runoff into them has an impact but, the bottom to talk about the time a 100-pound bull shark I line is that it is totally out of the question to had tagged and released turned and charged, expose cuts or any open wound to the water hitting me at top speed while raking four front without running a grave risk nowadays. teeth from my ankle, up my leg, and all the way During the past eighteen years I have to my chin. I soaked the wounds with Epsom salt presented many seminars and lectures and one of for two nights and went right on fishing daily the things I always relate is how a guy once asked, until the wounds turned purple with red streaks, “What is the first thing a beginner needs to learn swelling to twice normal size overnight and to catch big fish the way you do?” beginning to seep. Naw, we’re not even going to I tell them of my reaction, looking him straight relive that memory. in the eye, I replied, “The first and most important We all know the many dangers of boating at thing you have to learn is that no matter how night. Anyone who hasn’t hit an unseen object is much you may love Mother Ocean, you must bound to sooner or later if they continue running realize that she couldn’t possibly care less if you in the dark. I already have, so I am now a good live or die. Every split second, all of her children deal more cautious than I once was. kill each other to survive and she doesn’t take As far as the stingrays; the first step toward sides. She cannot. For if she favored one over the reducing the probability of suffering a serious hit other, the system couldn’t function. So before you is to purchase and wear good stingray protective bite it off, you better make sure you can chew it.” footwear. Next is sliding your feet; even when Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Garry Wilson, Roy Thompson and Larry Wilson with some variety on a trip to PINS.


wearing the boots and leggings. Never drop your guard. Interestingly, Mike said he was standing still when he was hit. You should also carry quality antiseptic ointments and have antibiotics available. Use them immediately if you are hit by a ray or hardhead. Any open cut should be kept completely dry and out of the water. Some of us have little choice but to continue working with injuries, but you can rest assured that I immediately treat them and then apply a waterproof bandage coating. I make it a practice to re-apply the coating throughout the day and I am not sure they are 100% effective but this is what I do. Best thing to remember; do not wade with any open wound — period. Stingray wounds are extremely painful and the potential for infection can be life-threatening. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. The last week of May the phone finally started ringing with customer bookings for the first time this year and it was as long overdue as was the inch of rain we received at the same time. I came as close to going broke as one possibly can in mid-March due to a lack of charter business. During this period I had the occasion to speak with a lifelong pal who is a fulltime bay guide. He asked how business was going and I told him. He said, “Billy, I could book you twenty charters a month but you know what they want; they want to throw live croakers and keep full limits of trout.” Personally, I do not care what someone uses for bait. It’s the killing of ten solid trout per day per person that I cannot accept. I thanked my friend for the genuinely kind offer and that I appreciated it deeply. I promised myself years ago that I would Capt. billy sanDifer never make short-term personal gain a priority over the wellbeing of the resource. My impression is that we are going to see extremely heavy use of our resources this summer on both the bays and the beach. The number of visitors on PINS during weekends is presently overwhelming and truth be told is already crippling fishing success and I believe it will continue. It is so simple to me; the size of the pie Billy Sandifer operates Padre remains the same while the number of people Island Safaris offering surf fishing for sharks to specks and nature holding out their plates is skyrocketing. tours of the Padre Island National The only solution is smaller individual Seashore. Billy also offers bay and helpings. The bite is on and the weather has near-shore fishing adventures in his 25 foot Panga for many big moderated. Take time to enjoy it while it is game and gamefish species. here for this too shall pass. If we don’t leave any, there won’t be any. Telephone 361-937-8446 Website

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

Length: 8.5 inches Wingspan: 17 inches Weight: 2.1 oz

Stocky, relatively large-headed wading bird, with long drooping bill and hunchbacked in appearance. Wades in shallow water and probes on beaches and mud flats for food. Non-breeding plumage relative dark brownish-gray. Breeding plumage rufous on back and black patch on belly. Found in North America and Europe. Nests on northern tundra. In our area from November through May.

July 2009



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July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


Story and photo by Martin Strarup

i was a tad apprEhEnsivE aboUt MY First wadE FishinG trip after knee surgery but I needn’t have been. Everything worked as good as new and all apprehension vanished with the first cast of the morning’s wade. Oh how I had missed being in the water; moving, casting, hearing the sounds of baitfish being harassed by predators and seeing the bait mill nervously on the surface then scatter when something intent on making them breakfast got near. Reflections on the water and reflections in my mind opened a flood gate of pure happiness and those emotions stay with me still. We take so many things for granted and it’s not until you are unable to do what you truly love doing that you realize a huge part of your life is missing. As I watched the sun come up over the bay while fishing in the

company of my son and friends made me realize that I’m not me if I can’t be on or in the water pursuing speckled trout. I’ve written about wading the lonely shorelines and how nice it is to not hear sounds that are not made by nature other than the sound of your reel and maybe the rattling of favorite topwater baits. But the camaraderie and conversations that exists among fishing companions who know each other so well can’t be considered noise. Those special friends who know what to say and when, those who know what to do and when, those relationships are as special as the trip itself and they only complement each other. Ten years ago my friend, fellow fisherman and writer, Mike McBride, told me that it isn’t about the fish you catch; it’s about the fishing and the happenings that go with it. That’s absolutely true. As I fished that first trip since knee surgery his words came back to me over and over and I can only hope that everyone who makes a cast gets the meaning of those words one of these days. And for those of you who aren’t aware of it, Mike suffered a very bad stingray injury recently

and is recovering from it. I know that he would appreciate some kind words and you sending some prayers up for him. I’ve been hearing all sorts of stories from friends and acquaintances about the number of bull sharks in the bays lately. I’ve heard of stringers being taken away from fishermen, donets being ravaged and even one instance of being slapped in the face by the tail of one. We must all remember that when we venture out into the bays that we are in fact lowering ourselves in the food chain. I’ve had plenty of run-ins with sharks and (knock on wood) I’ve never been injured or harmed by one but I’ve lost a lot of fish, many stringers and once a fishing rod to them. Okay the shark didn’t take the rod away from me, I slapped one that came too close to me with my rod and broke it. I still blame the shark. In all seriousness sharks are always around, it just seems that lately there are more of them and you need to be alert and realize that you could have an encounter of the toothy kind. In his book “Plugger”, Rudy Grigar advised that you should never wade more than waist deep or deeper while wearing shorts and he advised to always wear long pants and long sleeved

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shirts. Rudy said that “a shark sometimes makes up his mind to run at something based on how it looks. Something that is white and meaty is inviting. So you want long sleeved shirts and long pants to make yourself look as much unlike dinner as you can.” Rudy also advised “if a shark gets too close and you have a full stringer of fish, simply give it to him.” The simplest thing to do if a large shark approaches you is to get out of the water as fast as you can. Seriously, bull sharks are very aggressive and you just don’t know what they’ll do, so get out of the water. I’ve been run out of the water many times by large sharks that came too close to me and my definition of a large shark is one that is over six feet long. If you have a stringer with fish on it and that’s what he’s after, take Rudy’s advice and let him have it. I’ve had them grab my stringers many times and I let them have the fish and the stringer. Later I’ve run the boat back to the area and picked my stinger up and found it still to be in good shape and in any case the float was still useable. Do not drape it over your shoulder to get it out of the water. There is nothing like some fish blood and scent dripping down your back and onto your legs to invite one of the toothy critters to take a bite out of you. You can slap the shark with your rod if one comes that close to you and that has worked many times for me. Be advised though that you can break a rod doing that…read above. Make some noise…not noise that a crippled fish makes like flaying the water; no, yell and stomp your feet on the bottom (sigh, watch where you stomp your feet…stingrays, remember?) So get out on the water; and into it too. Enjoy what some of us take for granted now and then. Remember to slide your feet even if you’re wearing some of the bullet proof stingray boots and remember to watch your six for those toothy critters. The ones Rudy Grigar referred to as The martin strarup Devils of the Sea. Be Safe.

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


michael plitt’s galveston bay monster i havE FishEd MY whoLE LiFE in and aroUnd GaLvEston baY. Each summer, Nathan Skinner, my life-long fishing partner, and I hit the water in search of that elusive 30-inch speckled trout everyone talks about. Over the years we have landed countless fish that were around twenty-eight inches and weighing in the seven pound range but never bigger. Our favorite way of fishing is with topwater lures in the shallows and drifting reefs with tails. Nothing beats that magical sound of a trout popping a topwater in the early morning and nothing is more magical than that fish weighing ten and one-quarter pounds! It all happened recently on May 15 with Nathan and his dad Noel. We were throwing Super Spooks in the worst fishing conditions possible. The wind was howling, the water was dirt brown and the tide was slack. If we were not catching fish I doubt we would have tried longer than thirty minutes but we were getting huge blowups and catching some nice three and four pound trout. About two hours into fishing I noticed that my topwater had disappeared. There was no blowup or swirl so I thought my lure might have become tangled in my line. As I started to wind-in my line began to scream off my reel. My first thought was a redfish and even when I saw the fish’s face I thought it was a redfish. However, as the fish made one last run it rolled on top the water and I was able to see spots. At this point I knew I had a big trout but was only guessing it to be 7 or 8 pounds. As the fish came close Nathan grabbed it with his Boga Grip and said, “This thing is ten pounds.” Not believing him, I took the fish and weighed it on my Boga Grip which read exactly ten and one quarter pounds. We quickly got the measurements which were thirty two and a half inches long and a girth of fifteen and one half. We hurried and made photos so we could release the trout unharmed. The fish was never out of the water for more than 30 seconds and I was able to revive her and let her swim away. Pictures and the fight were great but letting the fish go was the most important thing to me. A fish that big doesn’t deserve to die by my hand. There is no telling how many hooks it has avoided throughout its life. When the fish was released we all grabbed cell phones. The first person Nathan called was our friend Nick Dancsak who fishes with us but was unable to make this trip. When Nathan told him we had just landed a huge trout he thought he was lying and quickly got me on the phone. After we persuaded him that it was true he said I needed to send him a picture so he could help give this trophy fish the publicity it deserved. If it wasn’t for my friends Nathan and Nick and of course the Galveston Bay Monster, I would have never had this opportunity to show my fish on the cover of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine. Thanks guys!


July 2009

Michael Plitt

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


Story and photos by Chuck Uzzle n EvErY sport wE Find diFFErEnt LEvELs oF skiLL and accomplishment. In baseball you have rookie leagues, minor leagues, and then you have the guys in the majors who are at the top of the food chain so to speak. Far too many times in magazines like this one, writers take for granted that everyone out there fishes like we do. Nothing could be farther from the truth. No, I am not saying that I’m better or more accomplished than other people; I just have a little more time on the water than most and this allows me to make a few judgment calls. I often hear from fishermen hoping to learn certain techniques or how to use various lures. Each individual has their own comfort zone and for some the thought of fishing with a lure many of us take for granted is a daunting task. I remember when I was really into fishing freshwater lakes and all I could think of was bass. There were times during the year when I


July 2009

could catch fish with the best of them; throwing spinnerbaits and topwaters along with Texasrigged worms was right down my alley. Other times, though, my baits and techniques were not productive and I had a problem. For the life of me I could not fish a jig. The slow nature of jig fishing made me feel like I was suffocating. Finally, I forced myself to take only a box of jigs. This radical plan proved to be a good idea as I eventually became skilled in the art of jig fishing. I still don’t like it but at least I can do it. Saltwater anglers encounter similar difficulties. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me for my opinion on how to fish a Corky. For many situations just like this, there are some excellent alternatives that often times will work even better than the lure you struggle to master. For example: And we’ll use the Corky since we already mentioned it; the Corky is easily one of the most recognizable lures here in Texas where many place it on a pedestal. For all those who praise this lure for it’s fish catching ability there are just as many who curse it because they can’t get a grip on how to use it effectively. Well for all those who fall into the struggling category, let me introduce a remedy. Shallow running crankbaits, also known as stick baits, are just what the doctor ordered. For years these baits have been

Texas Saltwater Fishing

a staple of freshwater fishermen all over the country and they are famous for their subtle action that attracts vicious strikes from even the most finicky fish. Crankbaits are usually categorized by the depth they will run. Shallow models swim just under the surface and can be pulled down about one foot. Big-billed crankbaits will plow to depths of over 20 feet if need be. My favorites run at depths of one to four feet, are generally about four inches in length, and have a small bill that creates a tight wobble when reeled down or twitched. These baits are perfect for working shallow shell because they dive down to the shell and rattle around in there as they are being retrieved. Once you feel the shell you can stop reeling and the bait will actually back up and float to the surface. This is when you get a high percentage of your strikes. My go-to list includes the Slapstick by Bill Lewis, Storm’s Thunderstick, Smithwick’s Rogue, the Yozuri Crystal Minnow and the Long Cast Minnow by Rapala. These baits do not require a ton of finesse or secret retrieve to catch fish. Using basically the same rod tip action as with a topwater plug, you just point your rod toward the surface of the water and reel in with a constant speed or twitch

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without worry of saltwater intrusion or dropping parts in the water. The price on these reels leaves you plenty of cash for other fishing gear and the quality ensures you will have a great piece of equipment for a long time. Now before you get the notion that this is a paid advertisement; I bought mine and will buy more if that tells you how strongly I feel about the Quantum Catalyst reels. I recently put them to the test while pre-fishing the Galveston Jetties for the Redfish Cup and they worked marvelously on bull redfish to 40-inches and jack crevalle to 25-pounds. Check one out at your local tackle shop; they are the real deal and American made to boot!

ChuCk uzzle


with brief pauses. The action and sound emitting qualities are builtin and there is no wrong way. I remove the split rings and tie with a loop knot to retain action eliminate bill fouling that is common when tying to the rings. Hanging shell is not a problem as the plug usually floats free given a bit of slack. Even when you break one off it will float to the surface about 80% of the time and you can retrieve it. How’s that for a confidence boost? Another great alternative to slow sinkers is a Bass Assassin rigged weedless with an Owner Phantom Tube Hook. The tube hooks have a barbell weight attached to the eye. This is embedded in the soft plastic to complete the weedless rigging. The combination gives you weight to fish deeper water and make longer casts as well as being virtually snag free. I fish these hooks on a regular basis and they are stout, the points hold up well and they are extremely sharp. I really like this combination for fishing in grass or shell because you have the confidence to throw the bait in the cover where the fish are without worry of losing your lure. While we are on the subject of alternatives; I have a suggestion for your next reel. The Quantum Catalyst series reels are about as good as it gets. I have been fishing the CT 100 HPTS for several months now. This is a bona fide fishcatching piece of machinery sporting seven Hybrid polymer/stainless bearings making it silky smooth. Weighing in at just 7.5 ounces, the Catalyst PT utilizes a one-piece aluminum frame design protected with Quantum’s own Saltgard 6-layer corrosion protection so it looks as good as it fishes. The 7:1 gear ratio is a real bonus as well. I always subscribed to the idea that says you can always slow down but you can only go as fast as the reel will let you. The 7:1 retrieve ratio is great for making up line on a fish that’s running to you and the ceramic drag system is top notch in my book. The convenient side plate allows you to make casting brake adjustments

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


jay wat k i ns

aMaZinG thinGs can happEn in a Month’s tiME. In fact, amazing things can happen almost overnight. Since about January the trout bite in Rockport has been more down than up, almost depressing at times for an old trout guide. There were small windows in the past months that gave me a shot in the arm concerning the next day’s prospects. More often than not the pattern would not hold and the following days would be spent grinding, searching and coming up with excuses as to why we were not catching them. The truth is probably simpler than many of us would like to think. See, we have become a society of fishermen that believe we can MAKE things happen. How many times have you heard a coach tell his team to go make it happen? There are many things in life that we can make happen but pushing a pattern or seasonal migration forward to fulfill our wants on a specific day is certainly not one of them. Every year I get worse at trying to push things forward. I remember something my dad said to me a few days before his passing. It’s been more than 22 years and it still rings in my ears. “You’re going to have one major problem in the fishing business that I can see,” he said. “I brought you up to go out and make it happen. You think you’re good enough to make them bite everyday. Fish don’t feed everyday and there are stretches when they might not feed for days. Weather patterns will have a major influence on the day’s prospects as well. When you come to accept this and concentrate on controlling ONLY what you can control you’ll enjoy your job more and be a better guide.” Well Dad, after twenty-two years, I can say you were right. I’m not that good and they don’t eat everyday. Sometimes you just can’t make it happen; you simply have to let it happen. Thanks for some great advice at a time when life was being drained from you. Love is strong medicine. 30

July 2009

Beautiful catch and release trout by John Massengale out of large pods of mullet strung out along windward shorelines.

Patterns are seasonal but the seasons are subject to conditions that are constantly changing so they are undergoing change as well. If you listen to old salts many of them talk of how the seasons have changed over their lifetime of angling. I have noticed many changes in my almost thirty years of guiding. Through all of this the fish are having to adjust while still having to carry on the processes of maintaining their populations. A tougher job than we might think. A week ago our trout fishing could not have been tougher. …Cont’d on page 47 Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


YoU’vE FinaLLY dEcidEd to takE thE pLUnGE into saltwater fly fishing. You bought the rod, collected some flies, and practiced casting in the yard. And now after all the preparations and rehearsals you find yourself on a shallow flat staring at a writhing bunch of redfish 50 feet in front of you. This is it… pure adrenaline. This is what you dreamed of. But you quickly discover a big school of reds is a lot more intimidating than that plastic target in your front yard. No matter how equipped, practiced, and informed you are, a big fish waving at you in shallow water always puts you in your place. So let me offer up a few suggestions that have worked for me over the years. Hopefully they will help you streamline your game so you can make the most of your chances at redfish on the flats. CHOOSE THE RIGHT FLY There are about a million flies that will catch a redfish but the really great fly patterns have other things going for them. They are easy to cast in the wind, they don’t become twisted or tangled on the hook, and they are weedless. These are important characteristics because nothing is more frustrating than picking loose a tangled fly while you watch a redfish swim away. So when you select flies, think “headache-free.” Good staple patterns like Clousers, Weedless Spoons, Bendbacks, and Crazy Charlies generally won’t let you down. Another worryfree pattern is the popper. Small foam poppers like VIP’s or small hard-bodied poppers like East Cut Poppers are terrific flies because they land lightly on the water, float above the weeds, and an angler can watch the fish’s reaction to them.


MOVE CLOSER When it comes to casting, the bottom line is that most of us can’t cast as far or as accurately

But the problem with gear is that we become a slave to it. Rather than concentrating on fishing, we spend our time searching for something in

as we think. If you find yourself on tailing fish and your best casts are coming up short, don’t cast harder, just move closer. This means organizing your fly line, collecting your nerves, and quietly slipping 8, 10, or even 20 ft. closer. Yes… you might spook the fish, but you will definitely spook them if you hold your position and keep fruitlessly banging away with your fly line. Remember- putting yourself within range of your target is absolutely essential to hitting it. HEAD’EM OFF When fish are spotted at a distance, our natural tendency is to walk directly at them. But if the fish are moving, as they often are, we often approach from behind and default into a trailing position. This is a tough place to be because it requires us to make clean casts over their shoulders and retrieves right back in their faces. And, because moving fish always seem to continue moving, we are hard-pressed to keep pace with them. A better alternative is to try to swing around and ahead of distant fish rather than follow them. Get to where the fish are going and try to position yourself in their trajectory. It isn’t always possible to do this, but it is a great setup because once an angler gets in position he can lay low and wait for the fish to come to him. When the fish move within range, a fly can easily be cast ahead of the school for a natural presentation. LIGHTEN THE LOAD Let’s face it- gear is cool. We all love boxes full of flies, tackle bags brimming with spare parts, and wade packs stuffed with supplies.

the bottom of our gear bag or lamenting that crucial item left at the house. But the truth is you really don’t need much gear to successfully fly fish. If you are wading the flats you need even less. In fact, carrying too much stuff is a liability. It inhibits your casting stroke, makes you less stealthy, and becomes cumbersome and hot in a hurry. My suggestion is to make reasonably short wades and carry with you only what is required. For me, this is 3 or 4 flies, a spool of 12 lb tippet, a pocket camera, a pair of good pliers, and a cotton towel or bandana. That’s it. Everything I carry easily fits in my pockets. All the other crap stays in the boat or the kayak and I can concentrate on the fishing instead of fishing stuff. Remember, fishing is meant to be fun so make it that way. Know your physical limitations, put some thought into what you do, simplify your game, and enjoy yourself. Practicing these things will help you find your way to better angling skills and more success on the water.


C a se y sm a rt t

story by Casey smartt

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 casey’s Fly Fishing video Library at July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


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 34

lure rigging tips thE sUMMEr bLUEwatEr FishinG sEason is oFF to great start in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite a windy spring, many boats have been able to get offshore and catch some nice fish. Yellowfin tuna have been the main target with reports of moderate success including blackfin tuna. Weather has limited most boats to only a few days fishing so far, but the Memorial Day weekend provided some decent seas for Texas big game fishermen. Several boats have reported hooking up with big blue marlin and the dolphin and wahoo have been steady on some of the weedlines and rips that form this time of year. Many anglers ask us about lure rigging, so we thought we would cover some of the basics in this article. There are many lures available these days, choose the ones that you or someone you know has had success on. Some of the better skirted trolling lures

available are Black Bart, Pakula, Moldcraft, Joe Yee and Marlin Magic, but there are many lure manufacturers out there. Most of these lures will catch fish; the key is getting out there and using them! Remember…you can’t catch ’em tied to the dock! After experiencing some success, you will start to build confidence in which lures you like to pull and consistently produce fish for you. When selecting hooksets for lure fishing, we have found that simplicity works real well. A stiff-rigged single hookset pulls easily through the water and doesn’t overpower the action of the lure. It also provides easier hook removal on released fish and is safer for the crew when trying to get the hook out of a fish. Some anglers worry about a single hook not working as well as two hooks, but our experience has been that the single hook increases our catch rate on billfish and is about the same as double hooks on wahoo, tuna and

dorado. Your local tackle dealer should have a good selection of single stiff-rigged hooksets to choose from. Leader is another area of tackle rigging that is important when lure fishing. For big game fishing, you should use the largest leader possible when fishing with lures. When a lure is being trolled through the water at normal trolling speeds of 7 to 9 knots, you don’t have to worry about the fish shying away from the leader. The turbulence and lure action caused by trolling at this speed, combined with the lift created by trolling with outriggers, makes leader visibility negligible. The main limiting factor is the size of your lure. Larger lures can handle leaders of 600-plus pounds strength with no problem, but it may affect the action of a smaller lure. When lure fishing for billfish, match the leader with the lure. We would suggest nothing smaller than 300-pound leader, but bigger is better if you get a big

after experiencing some success, you will start to build confidence in which lures you like to pull and consistently produce fish for you. July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Seabrook office has an extensive inventory of brokerage boats and Fox is the exclusive Texas dealer for CABO Yachts. We specialize in sportfishing boats and motor yachts. Come by and get a great deal on your next boat. For more information contact Bobby Byrd at 281-474-4000 or John Cochrane at 409739-4827.


using a lure/bait combo, such as ballyhoo with an Islander lure in front. This popular rig can be used with a circle hook. Rigging lures is a lot of fun and is especially gratifying when you catch a big fish on something you rigged yourself. Choose a variety of colors to start with and see which ones you have the best success with. Our suggestion for color combinations would be variations using the main colors of purple, black, blue, pink and green. Lure fishing is a great way to cover a lot of area when searching for bluewater game fish. Use this technique in addition to fishing with natural bait. Every day is different, so it’s important to try different methods to find out what works best for any given day. Good fishing this summer and remember, No Slack — Keep your line tight! For more information on Big Game Fishing off Texas, buying, selling or rigging your boat, call us or come by Tops-N-Towers in Seabrook, Texas. Our Fox Yacht Sales-


fish on, especially if fishing a tournament. Flourocarbon leader is also not necessary for lure fishing because of the turbulence created when trolling, save it for natural bait fishing and especially when tuna fishing. When choosing hooksets, you have several options; hook size, hook style and the length of the hookset. The size of the hook is important and you should try to use the largest hook possible that won’t overpower the lure. Lure action is ultimately the critical factor when deciding on leader, hooks, outrigger height and boat speed. We have had the best success on hooks that have a slight inward bend, called a tuna bend. For best results, choose a hookset length that will put the hook as far back as possible. A good guideline is rigging the hookset where the point of the hook is even with the end of the skirt. Don’t bother using circle hooks with lures, they are made for bait fishing and the concept does not work well with a skirted trolling lure. The exception to this is when

Born in Galveston, Capt. John Cochrane has been a professional captain for over 25 years. 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


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in sEptEMbEr oF 2008, CCA Texas pledged $32,000 to Texas

thE tEXas oUtdoor writErs association (towa)

Parks and Wildlife game wardens for the construction of a floating cabin in the Lower Laguna Madre. Construction on the cabin, a new front-line for wardens enforcing game and safety laws and providing for public safety along the desolate stretches of water in south Texas is now complete. “The Game wardens in south Texas are to be commended for doing such a fantastic job on this floating cabin. Using the money donated by CCA Texas, they built this important facility by hand,” said CCA Texas Executive Director, Robby Byers. “Their hard work on this project as well as their unyielding drive to protect Texas’ natural resources and the people that enjoy them show a dedication in which all CCA Texas members can take pride.” The cabin will be anchored just south of the Land Cut in Kennedy County and will provide a central location for wardens to patrol Willacy, Kleberg and Cameron counties where the Lower Laguna Madre is located. “This cabin will allow wardens to patrol the Lower Laguna for extended periods of time, save money on fuel, and will increase the amount of time wardens will have to provide public awareness of their presence on these waters. They will also be able to react in a more quickly in case of emergencies.” said Byers. “Thanks to this cabin, the Lower Laguna will be a safer place for all who enjoy it.”

selected the CCA/Valero Rising Tide youth program as the winner of its Special Projects/Conservation award at its 2009 annual convention. At a time when far more kids are texting than casting, the recognition by Texas outdoor writers emphasizes just how critical the need is to get students more involved in protecting the marine environment. CCA and Valero Energy Corp combined efforts to create this multi-media youth outreach and education program. “Other than teachers, perhaps no one knows better than outdoor writers how difficult it is these days to get kids thinking about the world beyond their cell phones and video games,” said Patrick Murray, CCA executive vice president. “We are honored that TOWA recognized how valuable this program is to getting the next generation ready to assume its role as stewards of our marine resources. The beautiful thing about this program is that it can be accessed so many ways. With the newsletter, website and conservation lesson plan, we are able to bring the message of marine conservation and education to a wide variety of children in an even wider variety of locations.” CCA and Valero Energy Corp. teamed up in 2007 to promote conservation education and ethics in young anglers through the Rising Tide program. Valero’s generous support allowed CCA to devote more resources to the youth program than ever before, with particular attention given to the development of a newsletter, youth webpage and marine conservation lesson plan that has been made available to junior high school teachers, summer camps and home school programs. Through the lesson plan, students are tasked with identifying conservation problems in the marine environment, researching them, and most importantly, creating solutions to solve them. “We wanted to build on the fact that kids are capable of doing amazing things right now and develop a program that would tap into that potential,” said Murray. “Making students and others aware of the conservation challenges that face our bays and oceans and helping them be part of the solution lays the foundation for a lifetime of conservation. We are fortunate to have a partner in Valero that is committed to educating youth about conservation and coastal responsibility.” For more information about the Rising Tide program or a free copy of the Rising Tide newsletter or lesson plan, educators are encouraged to contact Patrick Murray at

July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Spin-tastic! 04 11 12 13 14 15

Weight: STRAIGHT Jacket™ — 3/8 oz. Weight: STRAIGHT Jacket™ Jr. — 1/4 oz.

Dave Workman, Jr.Pro Series



Colors: (04) Chartreuse

This lure has been tournament tested and proven to be a winner. Works best with a slow to moderate retrieve. Deadly on Trout, Redfish, Snook, Flounder and Striped Bass. STRAIGHT Jacket™ can be fished in the grass with confidence. The bright blade flash and tantalizing tail wiggle can produce line screaming strikes.

(11) Root Beer (12) Pearl (13) Clear/Blue Sparkle (14) Black, Silver Belly (15) Green, Silver Belly Available at your favorite tackle supplier.

Dave Workman, Jr.Pro Series © 2008 BOONE • Winter Park, FL • 407-975-8775

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


Field Notes

tEXas’ 2009 MarinE Fish stockinG proGraM has successfully started with captive hatchery red drum and spotted seatrout spawning millions of eggs. This year, almost one million red drum and 100,000 spotted seatrout fingerlings have been reared at Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) hatcheries and released into coastal waters. Stocking of coastal waters with hatchery-reared fishes will continue through the month of November with a target goal of 24 million red drum and three million spotted seatrout fingerlings. A significant accomplishment for the hatchery program this past winter has been the culture and subsequent release of several thousand southern flounder fingerlings into Texas coastal waters. However, methods to spawn captive flounder broodfish, and rear larvae in grow-out ponds on a large-scale basis are still ongoing. While working in collaboration with Dr. Joan Holt (University of Texas Marine Science Institute, UTMSI) TPWD hatchery staff have spawned adult flounder and reared the larvae to the juvenile stage (3 inches in total length). The Coastal Conservation Association has also played an

Figure 1.

Figure 1. TPWD biologist Courtney Moore implants a gonadotropin releasing hormone pellet into an adult female flounder. Approximately 72 hours after the application of hormonal therapy, the female flounder spawns her eggs while being stripped spawned (Figure 2). Figure 2. Strip-spawning eggs from a hormone implanted flounder. 38

July 2009

Figure 2. Texas Saltwater Fishing

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For a complete listing of our dealers log onto our website! 361.573.0300, 805 S. Bridge St., Victoria, TX

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


Field Notes Figure 3. Pre & post metamorphosis stages of larval southern flounder.

important role in helping develop protocols to culture flounder by providing critical funding for broodfish life support systems, water quality equipment, tanks at the hatcheries, and by supporting UTMSI’s flounder research. The primary goal of the hatcheries’ southern flounder program is to develop techniques for culturing this species on a large-scale basis to compensate for weak

Ultimately, TPWD must determine whether stocking juvenile flounder is a viable alternative to enhance the southern flounder population. 40

July 2009

year class recruitment that may occur in the bays. A critical challenge in the culture of flounder has been to consistently spawn the fish while in captivity. The traditional method of controlling photoperiod and water temperature to induce spawning of red drum and spotted seatrout has not worked very well for the southern flounder. TPWD biologists have had some initial success using hormone therapy to spawn captive flounder. Figure 1. illustrates the procedure used to help a female flounder spawn her eggs in captivity. Flounder go through very unique developmental stages as they grow. The most interesting is their metamorphosis from an upright swimming fish to the dorsalcompressed appearance of a flatfish. This phenomenon occurs within 30-50 days post hatching and this process is shown in the above figure. Ultimately, TPWD must determine whether stocking juvenile flounder is a viable alternative to enhance the southern flounder population. TPWD biologists are optimistic that within the next two to three years we will have the capability to rear millions of juvenile Texas Saltwater Fishing

southern flounder for purposes of stock enhancement in Texas coastal waters. Continued declines in flounder populations during the past decade has prompted TPWD to modify flounder fishing regulations. Beginning September 1st, 2009 the recreational daily bag limit changes from 10 fish to five fish; the commercial daily bag limit is reduced from 60 fish to 30 fish; and Texas waters will be closed for the take of flounder during the month of November except to recreational rod & reel anglers with a 2 fish per day bag limit. The minimum (14 inches) and maximum (no limit) size limits remain unchanged. And , it is important to remember that the hatchery program serves as one of the fisheries management tools utilized by TPWD; other tools such as the long-term independent fisheries monitoring program, fishing regulations, habitat protection, and the cooperation of conservation minded anglers are all necessary for Texans to protect and preserve our valuable coastal fisheries resources.

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story by Doug Bluntzer

Saturday morning to see what we could find. We arrived at the end of the jetties before the sun broke the horizon and bait was already getting busted up all over. It was a beautiful and calm day. We checked the current and anchored the boat where we could cast towards the rocks. We were fishing with our everyday trout and redfish tackle. I was using a Shimano Citica and my friend and his son were using Quantum reels of similar size. Shortly after anchoring, tarpon started to roll around us. That got our blood flowing and we immediately changed lures to anything we thought might trigger a bite. I decided to switch to a shallow water diving lure and got hooked up but it came off after a brief fight. Mark hooked up and broke off. We knew we were in big fish then. I hooked up again and this time managed to fight the fish in. It was a kingfish hooked in the corner of the mouth. We were somehow lucky enough to land the fish with only a fluorocarbon leader. We quickly took a couple of pictures and let it go. We had no wire leader with us on the boat so we cut up some popping corks and used the wire to fashion leaders in the hope that we might land more kings. The kingfish were nailing our lures aggressively. We had a couple that morning that actually jumped clear out of the water with our lures clearly visible in their jaws. We ended up landing one more kingfish Saturday morning and lost most of our trout and redfish lures hooking up with the kings. It was worth it, though. I want to tell you it was very exciting catching kings with our trout tackle. We decided to make a run to the tackle shop that evening and restock our lures and hopefully get Just Keep Five

some light leader wire to increase our odds. We were hoping we could repeat the successful trip. We picked up a bunch of inexpensive topwater lures along with some shallow divers and the thinnest wire we could find. We ended up with 33# wire. We rigged up several of our lures with a 10-12” length of wire attached to the split ring and then completed it with a haywire twist to a small barrel swivel at the other end. The only modification to our tackle was the wire leader. We were ready for Sunday morning. Anxious for another bout we got another early start Sunday. We arrived at the end of the jetties before dawn and positioned the boat. We decided to throw topwaters. We made sure not to work our lures too close to the boat as we didn’t really want them flying in the boat with us. Mark started casting his topwater a few times before we had much light and I told him maybe the fish just can’t see it yet. The second I said that, a kingfish rocketed out of the water nearly 10 feet and made all our hearts jump. It got off. We all started casting. Another one nailed Mark’s lure and got off again. We soon discovered that the kingfish were destroying the split rings and pulling the hooks from the lures we were using. Edward, Mark’s son, had a fish explode on his lure and it also pulled off. I continued to cast and received another explosion. Again, this kingfish took flight, leaping nearly 10 feet out of the water. This is pure excitement and this time the fish remained hooked. We landed the fish safely, got some great photos and then let it go, all before the sun broke the horizon. We decided we needed to beef up our rigging and switched out the split rings and hooks on a couple of the lures since we were loosing so many fish. This proved to increase our landing success. We continued fishing with topwaters as the sun started peeking up over the water. A kingfish nailed Mark’s lure and went flying less than 30ft away from the boat before it landed with an exciting splash. Our adrenaline was pumping. Mark hooked up again and this one decided to take off. Expecting we would probably have to chase some of the fish, when we set the anchor we tied a bait bucket to our anchor rope so we could let the anchor go quickly. We had to chase this one. We quickly let the anchor rope go and Texas Saltwater Fishing

gained some line back for Mark as the fish was very close to spooling him. The kingfish put up a great fight and we landed it snapping several nice photos and releasing it unharmed. We returned to our spot and got the anchor line re-tied. I decided I wanted to try a diving lure and the first cast brought another instant hookup. This fish decided to run for the beach. Mark and Edward scrambled with the anchor chores and got the engine cranked. We caught up just in time. Mark made a cast as I was fighting this fish and he also hooked up. We were dancing around the boat to keep the fish out of each other’s lines. We landed both fish and got some more photos. We continued this pattern of fishing for over an hour and released six or seven nice kings (hard to keep track in the excitement) before the bite started to slow. We pulled the anchor and began slow trolling with the diving baits about 30 feet behind the boat. Almost immediately, the kings found us and were fighting to get at our lures. One would slam the lure and miss and there would be five others to take its place. The water was beautiful. You could see the kingfish come up and nail the lures. All three rods started screaming. We grabbed our rods and managed to land one of out of the three. We continued trolling and had a fish hit an outside lure so violently that it cleared both the other lines being trolled and landed on the other side of our pattern; unbelievable fun. We had our best, most exciting topwater bite of all our past fishing trips and hope to be fortunate enough to repeat the trip in the future. Before we decided to call it quits, we landed close to 15 kingfish that day and lost many more during all the crazy double and triple hookups. All were released healthy and ready to fight another day. Not a single one had a hook in its throat. Catching kingfish on our trout tackle and enjoying the great fight they gave us, along with being able to release them unharmed, gave us a thrilling and a most enjoyable trip. We left Port O’Connor with great respect for such an awesome gamefish. Doug Bluntzer July 2009


gu est w r i t e r

Mark, his son Edward and I decided to head out to the POC jetties early

k a y a k

f i s h i n g

C a p t. s C o t t n u l l

w it JUst ME or did thE was wind rEaLLY bLow hardEr and LonGEr this sprinG than in past years? It seemed like every time I got a chance to slip out on the water during the last three months it was blowing nearly hard enough deserve a name. Well the spring winds have finally subsided and the fishing has busted wide open. I’ve had three straight weekends of perfect conditions and I hope the streak continues. Of course in another few weeks we’ll probably be wishing for a little breeze to break up the dog days of summer. During this nice run I got a chance to get out on the water with my good buddy Dean “Slowride” Thomas down in Aransas Pass. Between his busy guide schedule and my road warrior job we don’t get to fish together nearly enough these days. I was in the area when Dean called and said he had just gotten a cancelation for the following day. I wondered aloud why the heck anybody would cancel with a forecast for ice cream conditions. Typical Dean response, “I guess some folks prefer a challenge.” “Well I’m getting too old for challenges, I’ll meet you at Crab Man at 0530,” I assured him. For once the weather-guesser was dead on. The bay was mirror slick and the skies were


July 2009

clear. Dean brought along a couple of the new Tarpon 160’s. I’ve been contemplating retiring my old T160i in favor of one of these new models, but hadn’t had a chance to water test one yet. We loaded up and headed across the channel for the flats of South Bay on the edge of the Lighthouse Lakes. The sunrise was absolutely awesome reflecting on the mirror slick surface. I was just getting into the calming rhythm of paddling when the first wakes appeared out in front of us. There was no mistaking these broad-shouldered v-wakes for mullet, these were reds. Dean reached for his rod rigged with a Spook Jr and I reached for my camera case. Dean says, “Cool. You haven’t gotten to take my picture in forever.” His cast was perfect and the dancing topwater was twitching along a few feet ahead of a cruising red. I was watching through the viewfinder hoping to catch the inevitable explosion when the wake disappeared. What

wakes kept coming, but these fish didn’t want to play. They’d follow the topwater and make a brief appearance before turning off. We probably could’ve racked up an impressive tally with some soft plastics, but the allure of the topwater explosion often overrides common sense so we kept pluggin. That changed when the first glints of tails appeared in the distance. Those unmistakable mirror-like flashes trump waking fish every time. As we quietly closed the distance it became clear that this was a big school of reds happily drilling to China. These fish were completely preoccupied with the school of shrimp they had located in the grass and could not be troubled with our presence. It was the perfect time to get a picture I’ve always wanted. Dean got situated and un-holstered the fly rod while I eased past the fish in a wide circle to get on the opposite side. The rising sun was going to be at my back lighting up the tails with Dean in the

the heck went wrong? That was the perfect set up. I foolishly lowered the camera for a second. The fish emerged from behind the lure like a surfacing submarine and absolutely crushed it. “Fish-oooon.” Nobody says that quite like Dean and no matter how many hundreds of times I’ve heard it I still laugh. That’ll never not be funny. As we moved on across the flat the

background casting to them. I could already see the cover shot in my head. Just a couple more paddle strokes to go…and then I heard it, the sound of a fly line whipping through dead calm air. Like a kid on Christmas morning he just couldn’t stand waiting a few more seconds to unwrap his present. I swung the camera up in time to catch the water-bulging take followed by the zigzagging

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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k aya k f i sh i ng

roostertail of a hooked red. What the hell? All he could do was shrug his shoulders and laugh like a maniac. Through the laughter he says, “You took too long — I couldn’t stand it. Don’t worry, there’ll be more.” “Not if I see ‘em first,” I shot back. And of course there weren’t any more. We searched high and low finding nothing but a few cruising singles. But that’s alright, it was a great morning on the water with one of my favorite fishing buddies in one of my favorite areas. And, I got a good feel for the new boat. It looks like my trusty old steed will be put out to pasture soon. The new T160 is an impressive kayak. I’ve always been partial to the sixteen foot Tarpon and was willing to put up with a little water in the cockpit and tankwell because of its paddling efficiency. The new model paddles just as nice, but has a slightly higher floor and freeboard that keeps the cockpit and tankwell dry without affecting the performance. I weigh in at just over 200 lbs and loaded the boat with a fair amount of tackle, drinks and a heavy camera case. The water line was still well below the mid-point of the scuppers. Between that, the new easy access hatches, a more comfortable seat and a few other ergonomic improvements; I’m sold.

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


C a p t. sCot t som m e r l at t e

aFtEr a LonG daY on thE watEr,


nothing beats a good meal. You know, after sweating all day in the sun and after a sack lunch, a person needs some substance. Over the years I have learned that some of the best restaurants to be found are usually within a very short distance of some of the best fishing holes. I can still remember, way back in the early 80’s, the first time I visited Seadrift, Texas. We hunted ducks that morning, had sandwiches out on the boat, caught some redfish that afternoon and then that evening visited Barkett’s Restaurant for the first time. Back in those days I was a young high school football player trying to put on weight so the chicken fried steak seemed appropriate. I did not have much sense back then. Sadly enough, not much has changed except for the fact that I now reside in Seadrift and visit Barkett’s regularly after a long day of poling sports around the flats casting flies to cruising redfish. And, I still have no sense. Chicken fried steak, fried shrimp, gumbo and crab fingers — nothing is safe when I walk in the door. Oh, and did I mention my obsession with their fried pork chops. I of course have a couple of other favorites that I visit if not weekly, at least monthly. I truly have a hard time staying away from Toasties Sub Shop in Port O’Connor and, in the rare event that I kill a fish for a meal, if I am feeling too lazy to cook for myself, I drive the fifteen miles or so up to Carmine’s Cajun Kitchen and have it fried up about as perfect as it can get. July 2009

And, for the days that I get rained out or it is just too damn windy to even put the boat in the water, there is the Pelican’s Perch overlooking a harbor full of shrimp boats and San Antonio Bay in Seadrift. They do it up right. Back up near my hometown of Lake Jackson, we are not too far from Christmas Bay and the San Luis Pass surf. Many of days I have headed down to do a little fishing and stopped by Surfside Beach’s Red Snapper Inn for some gumbo and crabs at the end of the day. The food there is fantastic although it is a pretty nice place. By that I mean, it is alright to visit

let me tell you about one of the best burgers to be found anywhere. Last August, some of my buddies and I, at the recommendation of a friend, stumbled onto the little burger stand at the Bridge Harbor Yacht Club after a day of wade-fishing. Let me tell you — that is one heck of a burger. Add in a Corona or two and all that is left to do is take a nap. The only bad thing is that they are only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Of course, I have eaten at restaurants all along the Texas Gulf Coast and have found several others that I really like but, I have to say,

there after a day of poling the flats on a skiff but might not be the place to go if you have spent all morning standing waste deep in the surf casting to trout. For that occasion,

some of the best meals that I have had after a day on the water have been when I am abroad. Over the years I have been very fortunate to be able to travel all over not only sampling the fishing but also the wonderful cuisine to found in different parts of the country. One of my favorite places to eat is back at my home away from home — the Everglades. The Rod & Gun Club in Everglades City not only has an insane grouper sandwich, but is very rich in angling history and it is an absolute pure joy to visit. Nothing is quite like sitting there waiting for a summer storm to pass, having lunch and reliving the excitement of leaping tarpon from earlier that morning. Then there are places that the food was so

I do not have the words to even begin to describe how wonderful those meals were. Texas Saltwater Fishing

memorable but, I cannot, for the life of me tell you the name of the restaurant. But, I bet I could get you back to the table I sat at. For example, I know where the marina is that my buddy ties up his boat on Staten Island and I know there is a little pizza parlor there that serves these huge slices of the best hand-tossed pizza I have ever had. Then there was the little pub next to

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aCCorDing to sCott

the hotel I stayed at while fishing up at Cape Cod. They served a clam chowder that could warm the saltiest of souls. It was so good that I ate lunch there every day for an entire week. I did not have to look any further not to mention, it had one heck of a view. And, I just cannot mention all of these places without talking about the meals that I have had at a couple of lodges here at home that I have been fortunate enough to be guests at. If a person is all about the groceries, I suggest saving some pennies and booking a stay at either the Redfish Lodge in Rockport or the Falcon Point Lodge in Seadrift. I do not have the words to even begin to describe how wonderful those meals were. Anyway, there just is not enough room for me to tell you about all the great meals that have accompanied great fishing that I have been lucky enough to enjoy over the years. I can say, however, that while I have had some wonderful meals all over, I always seem to end up sitting at Barkett’s. A friend once said Capt. Scott Sommerlatte is a full time fly fishing and light tackle to me, “You didn’t guide, freelance writer and move to Seadrift photographer. for the fishing. You Telephone did it for the food.” 979-415-4379 You know, he might Email be right. Website


Texas game warden history is replete with legendary lawmen who dedicated their lives to resource conservation. Mike Bradshaw leads you from the birth of the agency in 1879 into the challenges of the 21st century. Today’s Texas game warden deals with backroom politics, gutless judges, deal making prosecutors, and drunken boaters—not to mention having to nab resistant game and fish hogs in flagrant crimes against wildlife. As you patrol shoulder-to-shoulder with game wardens you’ll go hand-to-hand in combat with thugs and spotlighters evading the law. Jailbreak shootouts, cowboy shenanigans and hilarious arrests—it’s all here. If you love Texas history, hunting and fishing, you’ll be fascinated with Bradshaw’s writing. A must read for Texas outdoor enthusiasts.

Publisher: Mesquite Bean Press Copyright © 2009

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


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

in this issUE i want to MEntion and share about an occurrence that can happen to any boat owner. If you read my last article, you know that my lower unit gave out and my boat was out of commission for a period of time. When my lower unit gave out, a kind-hearted man towed us in safely. Being stranded in the middle of nowhere when your outboard breaks down comes with the territory of owning a boat and spending time out on the water. If anything like this has ever happened to you, you’ll know the feeling. I have had a couple experiences like this while out fishing with my dad. When this mishap occurs, you will have two types of boaters around, those that drive by perhaps never seeing your pleas for help or in some cases just do not care. And then there are the ones that go out of their way to get you going like that old man did for me. There is a saying, “What goes around comes around.” Or like the scripture says, “You reap what you sow,” meaning a small favor can go a long way. Last year during a late evening of fishing, my dad and I were heading back when we came upon a stranded boater. We stopped and eventually towed his boat back to the dock. While towing him in we struck a conversation. He recognized us from TSFMag; he also mentioned

Benny scores with the first fish of the day.

how much he enjoyed reading our articles. After getting him back to his boat slip, he offered my dad some money. When my dad refused the money; he offered to fill up his boat with gas. Again my dad refused, but mentioned to him to return the favor if he ever saw us stranded. He agreed as we said our good-byes and parted. A year later my lower unit gives out. My dads immediately started looking for a used one, and guess who had one? None other than Benny Vasquez, the same person that we towed in. When he found out that I needed the lower unit, he was gracious to give us a heck of a deal on the much needed part along with many extras. My dad took care of the logistics, and I was up and running in no time. Being that our last trip was cut short because of the lower unit giving out; I invited the same friends that were with me when we broke down. The only ones who could make it were my girlfriend Melissa and best friend Mark Clive. From the minute we got there Mark started smack talking, saying how he was going to catch the most fish. Melissa and I just looked at each other and smiled. This was Melissa’s third trip out, and it’s been pretty cool seeing her improve every time out and equally rewarding to see her get excited when a fish slams her topwater. As for my friend Mark, he continued his smack talking only to be quieted down when Melissa caught a good size redfish. Melissa let out a burst of laughter that made Mark even quieter. As the evening was setting in, it was time to go; Mark was still fishless. He commented, “Last cast.”

Before a late evening thunderstorm the trout bite turned on.


July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

On that cast he hooked on to a big redfish. As he fought the fish, we kept asking him, “Do you need the net?” He never answered. We let him handle it all by himself, but not before Melissa said “I’m going to laugh if you lose it.” What happened next was so funny; Mark tries to grab the fish by the side of the boat. The fish rolls and becomes unhooked, slips in the water and gets away. Melissa and I could not stop laughing as Mark put his pole away, sat down ready to leave without saying a word. I could not wait for Monday to come so that I could let all of our friends know that Melissa out-fished Mark. Like the saying goes, “What goes around comes around” as Mark found out. Not long after that trip we arranged to fish with our new friend Benny. As we fished, he reminisced about the time we pulled him in. We both agreed how ironic we came to fish with each other a year later. We even caught a few fish and enjoyed our new found friendship. As the sun was setting and darkness coming quickly, we headed back after an enjoyable evening of fishing. What’s even more ironic about this story was when we approached the exact same spot where we towed in Benny a year earlier, give or take a few hundred yards, there was another stranded boater and family. We immediately began to laugh about the coincidence as we approached the stranded boaters. We ended helping them out by getting them back to the dock safely. All three of us wondered, “What was the lesson in all of this?” The moral of this story is “when you do good deeds, they will always return as good deeds.” For the reason we were able to help out Benny, a year later he was able to help me out. Because of his generosity my boat is up and running to enjoy fishing trips with my family and friends. Remember, when you’re out on the water, small favors go a long way. Help a fellow boater because you’ll never know when it’s going to be you left stranded out in the middle of nowhere.

Just Keep Five

…Cont’d from page 30


jay wat k i ns

Then as if by Divine intervention the trout suddenly appeared. In last month’s issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing I wrote about specific patterns that were productive at that time. By the way, thanks for the many e-mails and calls about the article, I am glad the suggestions worked for some of you. Here in June and continuing into July, our winds begin to let up at night, allowing for early morning wades along windward shorelines where tides and months of strong SE winds have bait stacked along shorelines. As winds lessen the bait strings up and eases offshore. As if by some act of magic, trout of substantial size show up along the edges and beneath the large schools of mullet. Most of the mullet are large and tightly schooled. This creates a scenario that I personally love. When the bait is shallow, say two feet or less, your dealing with calm and clear water most of the time. Break out a Bone Diamond, Opening Night, Cajun Croaker or Croaker Shad 5-inch or 4-inch Bass Assassin and cast along the edges as well as directly under the baitfish. I go with a 1/16-oz lead head on a 1/0 or 2/0 short shank Mustad hook. Light and short on the jig head seem to be a deadly combo in my waters. The sudden explosion of bait in the general vicinity of your lure will be followed by a distinct thump. If the fish runs straight at you leaving your line slack, you most likely have a sizable trout coming to see you. It has taken years of missing good fish to acquire the patience to simply point the rod towards the fish and crank until the rod begins to load. With the loaded rod now in a lower position you will have a larger hook setting range. I like to roll my rod to my right, almost flat to the water when I strike a big trout that has blown in close to me. I’ll let her swim past me as I crank if I feel she is looking straight at me. I like the fish to be on a slight angle before I take to hitting her. That first strike needs to be the one that buries the hook. If she comes to the top, get your rod tip down so you can keep her head down. Shaking and jumping is beautiful but not something we want them to be able to do. That is when bad things happen to us and when the stories of the one that got away get to flowing. David Rowsey saw me miss a terrific fish this winter in his home waters. I simply never got caught up and she got up top and spit the bait. Lost the fish and a little religion that windy morning way down south. As I write this article the above pattern is red hot in Rockport. Any shoreline, especially windward shorelines, where you can locate large pods of mullet strung out along the shoreline will have some 6-plus pound trout swimming near them. Trout of 18 to 20-plus inches have been very common for us the past few days. Reefs in the mid-bay areas that contain large concentrations of mullet stacked up right on top of the shallow crown will also be super productive. This pattern should hold for the next month or moon phase allowing you to catch and hopefully release a trout of a lifetime. We can’t MAKE IT HAPPEN but we can be prepared when it STARTS TO HAPPEN. May your fishing always be catching.

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


ru be n V i l l a r r e a l

it sEEMs LikE onLY YEstErdaY when I


won the kingfish division of the CCA Texas Star Tournament with a nice 56.11 pound smoker. What comes to my mind is what it takes to get there. So, my plan here is to give you my insight on tackle, planning and preparation, areas to fish and methods to use to become a better kingfish angler. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in offshore fishing is to be observant and always remain open-minded. The day I stop learning is the day I should lay my offshore rods down and take up another sport. Tackle talk: There are many variables to consider during reel selection and cost is obviously one of first. Next, on the functional side, we need to think about gear ratio, drag system, and line capacity. From the durability standpoint we will need to include materials used in construction of the frame, side plates and spool. Models such as the Torium and Trinidad from Shimano make superb choices in the star drag style and the Shimano Torsa is a top choice when it comes to lever drag reels. The Daiwa Saltist is another great choice when it comes to star draggers and it boasts a 6.4 to 1 gear ratio! Accurate and Avet make various models of high ratio single-speed reels and also offer excellent two-speed lever drag reels. Two-speed reels offer anglers the opportunity to gain line quickly in high ratio and also extra torque when needed in low ratio. Overall, nothing beats speed of line retrieve to insure line tension on charging kingfish and a smooth drag when they decide to run. Maintaining precise drag settings throughout the fight insures that hooks remain buried in their jaw. All-aluminum construction offers a rock solid platform with exceptional strength to weight ratio and excellent heat dissipating properties. All-aluminum frame and spool combine to offer greater line capacity than other styles which is another key attribute to consider. In my opinion, a good kingfish rod should July 2009

be between 6-1/2 and 7 feet length, light to medium action, with a soft to moderately soft tip. The foremost job of the kingfish rod is to serve as a shock absorber to prevent hooks from being accidentally pulled which happens often when the tip is too stiff. The length and action are also important when downriggers are used and also to improve maneuverability around outboard motors or bow of the boat. Line selection should match the recommendation of the manufacturer, generally within the 15 to 50# monofilament class. Braided super lines are gaining more popularity. When used, I would suggest placing them as backing with monofilament as a top shot for shock absorption. Kingfish have bony jaws. Due to the rod being light to medium action with a soft tip, razor sharp hooks in various types and rigged in various combinations help to achieve the primary goal of hooking the fish well. The leaders used with these hook combinations are made with single strand coffee-colored piano wire. Size #7, #8 and #9 multi-stranded wires can also be used with good results. Barrel swivels are used to connect your mainline to your leader. Good choices that add stealth to your setup are the 75# or 90# black Rosco brand barrel swivels and also the 80# black Spro barrel swivel. Planning and Preparation: Now that you have selected the right tackle, do not leave bait collection and preparation in the hands of others, take control. I like to catch my own live bait and I prefer have some variety; piggy perch, blue runners, small rainbow runners, large mullet, large croaker and big sand trout are all excellent choices. My dead baits of choice are Spanish sardines, Boston mackerel and ribbonfish. Areas to Fish: The areas to catch the pelagic kingfish vary greatly in distance from port of departure and depth of water. If you are fishing out of Galveston and it is a slick calm day you can take a bay boat out to the end of the jetties or to some oil rigs in sight of land and have successes. In fact the guys that are close in can Texas Saltwater Fishing

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TERMINAL TACKLE LIST  Spro black 80# barrel swivels  Rosco black 75# or 90# barrel swivels (225# for the balloon rig)  Gamakatsu 4X strong size-4 black treble hooks  VMC 4X strong size-4 gray treble hooks (ribbon fish leaders)  Mustad 8/0 O’Shaughnessy stainless steel hook (large live bait drift leader) KINGFISH REEL LIST  Shimano Torsa 20 or 30 lever drag  Shimano Torium or Trinidad star drag in either 20 or 30 sizes  Daiwa Saltist 40 or 50 star drag  Avet LX 6/3 or 6.0 lever drag  Accurate Boss 870 or 870 2-speed lever drag  Accurate Boss 665 or 665 2-speed lever drag KINGFISH ROD LIST  Shimano Tallus: 6-1/2 to 7 feet rated any where from 14# to 50# line  Daiwa Saltiga: 6-1/2 to 7 feet rated 15# to 30 # line  Fishing Tackle Unlimited Black Magic: 6-1/2 to 7 feet

e V e ry m a n’ s of fshor e

end up hooking and landing a very nice by-catch species, namely sailfish! The areas of choice out of Galveston include rigs and pipe stands, rocks such as Heald bank rocks, the barges and wrecks. When you are fishing at a rig or pipe-stand, make sure to have a pitch rod ready for a ling. These highly desirable fish sometimes offer only a few seconds before they disappear. If you’re going out of Freeport, rigs and pipe stands and rocks such as the 21’s, Tall Rock, Middle Bank, and Tony’s Rock are all good places to try your luck. Methods of Attack: Kingfish are caught many different ways but the most popular methods include trolling or bump trolling or drifting. Slow trolling live baits such as blue runners or mullet gives the angler opportunity to cover more water to locate fish. This is another place when that unexpected sailfish can pop up. Bump trolling (bumping the engine in and out of gear) allows the angler to spend more time to fish a specific area more thoroughly. Drifting with your motors off gives the angler opportunity to present baits in a stealthier mode through noise reduction. Outriggers are not a “must have” for kings but they do give the angler a chance to spread out the presentation which is very helpful when using large, frisky baits. Downriggers are worth their weight in gold. Working deeper in the water column can be a definite plus when the surface temp is really high during the heat of the day! Therefore when fishing for kingfish, have good high speed reels and rods of adequate length. Bait is one of the keys in catching the bigger kingfish and having a downrigger really helps. Read and study up-to-date reports of water conditions and currents. Hilton’s Offshore Atlas is an excellent source of information that can help you locate many great fishing spots in the nearshore Gulf of Mexico. Last but not least, have that pitch rod ready. You never know when that trophy ling will swim by.

it had bEEn a LonG daY and we were heading in. Our captain decided to troll a spot where he had heard some nice fish had been caught a few days before. We trolled several passes and were about to give up. “Fish on; right long,” I heard the captain yell. I jumped into the fighting chair and my dad quickly grabbed the rod and placed it in the rod holder in front of me. After a long and slow day of fishing one had finally taken the bait. The excitement that rolled down my spine made me speechless. I took the rod and started reeling and tugging as hard as I could. I started wondering what was on the other end of the line. I heard my dad cheering me on from behind the fighting chair the whole time. Sometimes during the fight the fish would be too hard to reel in. “Oh, there it is!” The gigantic body of the fish flopped out of the water and into the air. “It’s a bull mahi!” I thought about what it would be like to catch a big bull dorado all day before that. I said, “Man, I just want to catch a bull mahi-mahi, then I’ll be done.” That thought made me extremely happy. I’ve never caught a bull dorado so I couldn’t lose this one. In my mind, the thought of the line breaking made me shiver. If it did, I might have even started to cry. All of the sudden, I saw a glimmer of light in the water. “Here it is!” the deckhand yelled. He stuck the point of the gaff into the head of the mahi-mahi, and heaved it onto the deck. It gleamed green and yellow as the rays of the sun smacked its five foot body. Only then did I realize how big it was. The fish’s head was enormous and seemed to make up half of its weight. My dad said, “I’ve never even caught a fish that big, that’s got to be at least a forty pounder.” It’s hard to even try to explain how proud I was, let alone how proud my dad was for me. They could barely fit it into the ice chest. They slammed the door over it and took a sigh of relief. My dad smiled at me and said, “Nice fish.” At that moment, it seemed like I had just climbed Mt. Everest. From this experience, I’ve learned that family is important because they’re always there to cheer you on and they won’t put you down. My dad is the best because he does everything with me. Jeff Kiszkiel

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


k aya k i ng of fshor e

Kayaking in general, and kayak fishing in particular, have enjoyed explosive growth along the Texas coast. Recognizing the unique thrill of the plastic boat, some truly hardcore enthusiasts have applied their love of this sport to offshore adventures. In past issues, our kayak fishing editor, Scott Null, has written of his own offshore experiences. This story is from Rick Underbrink. Rick is a highly accomplished offshore kayaker and an exceptional athlete. He is also an excellent swimmer. Rick’s story was first published on the Austin Fly Fishers website and we want to thank them for permission to reprint in TSFMag. Our purpose is not intimidate or ridicule but to convey the dangers inherent. I found Rick’s story exciting and a great reminder that the ocean is no respecter of men and their fishing endeavors. -Editor

it was FridaY MorninG aboUt 10:00aM and I was heading down Padre Island National Seashore. I checked the forecast right before I lost all communication systems down the beach and the forecast was saying 2-4 foot waves with 10-15mph east wind until Sunday. A front was supposed to blow in on Sunday with NE winds at 30 knots would be expected. I thought to myself, “Cool…I’ll fish until Saturday night and get off the beach before the north wind blows.” So I head down the beach. Friday afternoon showed promise and with 3-4 foot swells as I paddled out to the oil rigs and standpipe east of the 4-wheel drive sign. Spent half the day out there and decided to come back in. My good buddy Yakmon was just heading offshore when I was heading in. The fishing was poor so I figured I would head down to the Mansfield jetties and get some rest. Saturday morning was pretty much the same story with 3-4 foot swells and no fish. The Mansfield channel looked like the Nueces River and I couldn’t even lose a live shrimp. About 12:00PM I decided to try some “special rocks” offshore further north. I bailed the jetties and reached my friends shark fishing in the 50s. I asked Oz, Kip, Bumpy and Curtis if they would watch my dog while I head offshore to some spots further north. I told them I’d be back by dark. I head offshore about two miles in 3-4 foot



by Rick Underbri to o h p d n a ry to S

July 2009

seas and get out to my prime spots. I managed to catch a few fish and decided to drop a cut bait for a shark or larger snapper. So I set that rod in a rod holder behind me and continued jigging with lures. Right about 5:00PM the wind starts whipping from ENE at about 25 knots. The seas immediately built to 6-footers with a 7-footer every 7th or 8th wave. I decided that I’d had enough and it was time to go in. Just as I say that, a medium to large shark picks up my cut bait and starts taking off. I had my jigging rod in my hand so I had to reel it in to grab the rod. Before I could get my jigging rod in, the shark had put some slack in the line and the heavy winds had twirled the main line around the tip of the rod. That shark was coming straight for the me and under the yak. Before I could get the rod out from the holder that rod worked like a lever and flipped me out. The line wrapped around the tip wouldn’t allow the drag to slip. Well, I have this habit of tying everything I own to the kayak with 1/4-inch rope. That shark was attached to my rod, which was attached to the rope, which was attached to my kayak. Texas Saltwater Fishing

That shark was taking off with my boat turned upside down and I was stuck bobbing in the ocean two miles offshore. Immediately I started swimming for my kayak in the six foot seas. I was only able to see my boat when I was at the apex of the wave and when the boat was at the apex of another. I pretty much swam into the open ocean blindly after my boat for about 75% of the time. After 20 minutes I was able to catch up to my boat because the shark had snapped the line, (most likely because of the tip wrap). However, I was physically exhausted. I have performed triathalons before and I keep physically fit by regular exercise and I was exhausted. If you have ever swam a decent distance wearing a life jacket you will understand. A life jacket is meant to keep your head back and I was trying to swim against that life jacket. At this time, my boat is full of water from being overturned and sitting in the ocean. It must have weighed 400 pounds and it was everything I could do to try and turn that boat over. It was not happening, and I was thinking I …Cont’d on page 53

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“The new Mirage Pro Angler maneuverability of a kayak, stability of a boat.”

— Hank Parker

tHe new Hobie Mirage

Pro angler

Length: 13’ 8” Width: 38” Hull Weight: 88 lbs. / Fully rigged: 138 lbs. Capacity: 600 lbs.

a revolutionary design breaktHrougH witH extraordinary stability.

Lightweight, efficient, and feature-filled, the Hobie Mirage Pro angler is everything you need to maximize your angling experience without sacrificing comfort, functionality or storage. Powered by Hobie’s patented MirageDrive™ pedal system, the Pro Angler allows you to enjoy fishing without the noise or expense of a gas engine. Protected horizontal storage for up to six rods and two additional vertical rod holders. Space for 13 Plano® tackle boxes, three in-hull storage compartments, plus an additional large on-deck storage area for an optional livewell or cooler. Fully-adjustable, breathable Cool Ride seat, work area/cutting board and replaceable mounting boards on each side to attach your fish finder, GPS, lights or downriggers.


ask anY LUrE anGLEr what thEY hatE most about braided super-lines and you are likely to get an earful about those pesky “tip wraps.” Tip wraps, as most folks refer to them, would be those nasty little knots of braided line that somehow affix themselves around the tip of your rod when you get aggressive with the rod tip action while working a lure. These tangles occur most frequently whenever you are popping a jig or walking a surface plug while facing either directly or slightly into the wind. A tiny “bubble” of slack is driven behind the rod tip by a puff of wind and once there miraculously cinches itself into a knot as slack is reeled up. Sometimes, when detected in the early stages, a deft flick of the rod tip will clear the offending wraps; others require finger work. The worst will send you wading toward a buddy to hold your rod while you mutter words you’d never want your mother to hear as you pick at the mess. Well, for every fishing problem, some canny fisherman eventually invents a fix. Enter Joe Meyer of Fishing Tackle Unlimited. Joe is a

Old Rod Tip

diehard wade fisherman and topwater chunker in addition to be being the chief design talent behind the FTU Green Rod. Joe got fed up with tip wraps and decided there just had to be a better way. Working closely with his rod manufacturer, Joe led a search of the industry to find a rod tip guide that would encourage the offending wraps of braid to unfurl harmlessly rather than tangle. After several trials, the search ended in a discovery that will bring a smile to the face of braided super-line lovers. The FTU Green Rod, both REC and Fuji Concept Alconite guide models, are now equipped with the Fuji Concept CMNAT rod tip. You will note in the accompanying photos how the brace angles have been eased and also how the wrappings and cement extend over the brace bases. The combination of the

assembly technique and the components themselves make a smooth package…smooth enough that the “tip wrap” we have learned to hate has all but disappeared for anglers wielding the latest version of Joe’s All-Pro Green Rod. Though a Fuji component, the CMNAT rod tip is available only as original equipment on the FTU Green Rod here in the U.S. market. If you have had it up to here (fingers across throat gesture) with your beloved braid tangling around your rod tip, stop by FTU and check out the new Green Rods. I have been using one for several months and cannot remember the last time I had a nasty tangle. Tell the sales team you read about it in TSFMag!

New Rod Tip


July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

…Cont’d from page 50

start bailing water. I am switching between both hands because my shoulders were getting tired from reaching over the boat and bailing water. The hatch on my Hobie is only six inches in diameter so my knuckles were scraping the rigid plastic on each bail. Knuckles bleeding and waves pounding, I somehow managed to bail at least half the water from my boat. I get back in and start to evaluate my location. I look at my GPS and find out that I have drifted six miles off course. The time is 7:45PM and I have fifteen minutes of daylight. I sat in the boat and thought well… this should be fun. I grabbed my camera to take some memoir shots of the ocean to remind me one day of the tragic events that have taken place. I start to head north towards my truck, into the NE wind. At 0.5 knots as an average speed, my GPS had estimated my time of arrival at 12:53AM. Hmm…this won’t do…just get back to shore. I followed the wind and current to the beach as quickly as I could manage. All the while thinking you can make it…just stay calm. It’s now 8:50PM and in complete darkness

I have to safely land my kayak and myself on the beach. All I could hear were the waves crumbling and I could feel each swell lifting me six feet up and down. I have done many surf reentries before however none were in complete darkness. With my nerves locking up every muscle in my body I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. With all of my senses in tune with the conditions at hand I followed the waves in without turtling in the surf. I pulled my boat onto the beach and immediately lay down on the sand with a sigh of relief. Whew!!! You made it! Today…..I write this story to provide all you kayakers out there with the information I have learned: 1) I am lucky 2) Please wear a life jacket 3) Purchase a manual bilge pump 4) Fish with one rod at a time 5) Marine radio would be a good investment 6) Go with a buddy

k aya k i ng of fshor e

am going to have to swim with my boat. Meanwhile the crest of each wave is barreling over the top of me and the boat from the heavy seas. Somehow, I managed to flip my boat over with the correct wave timing and all of my strength. I started to collect my thoughts and put my gear in the appropriate places. About that time, a sea turtle comes up for a breath of air with a large “Heeeth Poooff f !!” I turned to see a black mysterious object in the water and literally leaped from the water and into my kayak. With my heart throbbing in my throat and my nerves rattled, that turtle takes off into the deep. Immediately I start to collect my thoughts and assess my situation. The water line is literally at my waist line. I thought, my kayak is sinking and I’ve got to get out of this boat. I get back into the ocean and open the hatch to discover my boat is nearly full of water. I grab the only thing I had to bail with, a 12-oz Ozarka water bottle. Without thinking I dump the bottle into my hull and try to bail water. This was about as useless as tits on a boar. I quickly grabbed a knife and cut the bottle in half and

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

5/1/09 10:06:14 AM

July 2009


rockport marine service center

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boat ramp

Rockport Marine, Inc. is conveniently located just a few minutes from downtown Rockport on Hwy 35 South at North Cove Harbor Drive. We are the premier boat dealer in Rockport, Texas offering the best boats, motors, and parts in the area. Rockport Marine, Inc. carries boats from the following manufacturers: Ranger Boats, NauticStar Boats, Explorer Boats, Alumacraft, Sundance Skiffs, Cape Horn Boats, Hell’s Bay Boatworks, Yellowfin Yachts Skiffs and Bay Boats, and also a line-up of quality used boats. Rockport Marine handles consignments and brokerage boats and offers inhouse financing. Rockport Marine is a package dealer for Evinrude, Yamaha and Honda marine outboard engines. President, Russell Dunnam says, “Our philosophy is that the customer is our number one concern. Assisting our customers select the brand and model to best suit their needs includes ‘wet testing’ before making such an important decision. Our unique location allows launching a boat within a matter of minutes for a complete on-the-water demonstration.” Continuing with the “customer first” theme. Dunnam stresses that Rockport Marine, Inc. is made up of a team of professionals who bring many years of experience to the dealership. “In order to maintain and grow our customer base, we must make sure each customer has a positive and pleasant experience each time they visit the dealership. We are continually making changes and improving how we conduct our business. We want our loyal and longtime customers as well as first time visitors to our dealership to recognize our dedication to assuring their positive experience the moment they step through our front door.” Rockport Marine has been in business five years and has enjoyed exceptional growth. In 2008, the dealership was recognized as the fastest growing Evinrude dealer in the U.S. The service and parts departments help Rockport Marine in their pursuit of the goal of being the premier boat dealer on the Texas coast. Last year, the service department was expanded into a second building in Cove Harbor where the staff of three fulltime factory-trained technicians service Yamaha, Evinrude and Honda brands as well as all other outboards. Rigging services include installation of Power Pole, jack plates, trolling motors, GPS units, VHF radios, and marine stereo sound systems. Online shopping is available for their full line of parts and accessories. Rockport Marine is debt free and “on the grow,” a claim that few businesses can make in these troubled economic times. Stop by for a visit or check out the website: 54

July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


NEW Tackle & Gear fish Vision uV lure paint

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in “Texas Patriot” or “U.S. Patriot” this is sure to be the hit of the summer! The large redfish stands out proudly as the Texas Flag or the U.S. flag on the back and a smaller embroidered patriotic fish on the front. Show your patriotic colors with a high quality all-cotton, comfort fit square cut bottom shirt that can be worn in or out in style. Available in S, M, L, XL, XXL, 3XL and 4XL! Sale priced at $29.99. BONUS: Get a free matching CCA hat with purchase. Available at http://www.fishandhunt. com or visit our new Fish-N-Hunt retail store at 5829 West Sam Houston Pkwy North, Suite 501 in Houston.


July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

lure safety wrap fishing hats

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Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


not incLUdinG trips to caLcasiEU or traiLErinG down to the south end of Sabine, I wind my way through Orange in the pre-dawn Dickie Colburn is a full darkness, boat in tow, some 200 to 250 time guide out of Orange, Texas. Dickie has 37 years days in a good year. experience guiding on Sabine Oblivious to promising weather reports, and Calcasieu Lakes. I always check the plastic flags at the car lot halfway through town. Five blocks Telephone 409-883-0723 closer to the launch, I glance at the Website flag atop the courthouse. Following an unseasonable cold front, they finally hung limp the last Friday in May and the bite has been on ever since. Blessed to have the bayous and river to fall back on, I weathered two windblown months by capitalizing on pretty good redfish action and an incredible flounder bite. It was so good; in fact, that we were reluctant to take advantage of an excellent big trout bite. The future of the flounder has finally drawn some serious attention, but


according to my logs, it has been 16 years since we last experienced such a positive keeper to throwback ratio. We have not caught the numbers of flatfish that we caught back then, but we have caught only a handful of flounder under 16-inches all spring. Actually the weekend prior to the daily gusts subsiding, the trout went on a tear and they have not slowed down. The jetties kicked out a six-fish stringer averaging five pounds per fish in a local tournament and that kind of trout has been the norm rather than the exception for the past month. Most of the females are heavy with eggs and a 25-inch fish will easily push the six-pound mark. The closest thing to a guarantee this month will be the jetties and the short rigs. She Dogs and Skitterwalks lobbed up against the rocks at first light are deadly for bragging size trout. Later in the morning, MirrOdine XL’s and 5-inch Assassins fished a little deeper extend the bite. A large number of local anglers will abandon the rocks when the Gulf is flat and fish both live bait and plastic around the rigs. That bite can not only be fast and furious, but diverse as well. All the way from East Pass to Blue Buck Point, the gulls will usually be

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July 2009

Reflexions Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

s a b i n e Even the wind couldn't slow down a very good flounder bite in the bayous!

working over schooling trout and reds somewhere on the lake all day long. When they are not working, you can still score well exploring the potential of fresh slicks. Anything in the box will work on these fish when they are aggressive, but you can minimize the gaff top interference by sticking with a topwater lure. What began as a search for a more effective tool to dupe not only redfish, but big trout foraging in the submerged grass on the east side of the lake as well, has resulted in a love affair with swim baits. Two other guides that help me on a regular basis have been singing the praises of the smaller 3-inch versions for the past two years. I initially relied on Texas rigged weightless plastics, but that all changed after threading an Assassin 4-inch Swimming Shiner on a Mustad Ultra Point 1/8-ounce weighted hook. Because it is totally weedless, it will swim though darn near anything and the trout love it. I now have one tied on at least one rod regardless of the structure I am fishing. I throw it under the birds, fish it over shell, swim it through the granite rocks and not only catch reds and trout, but lose far fewer lures. I have also done very well fishing the weighted hook in the longer 5-inch Sea Shad. I think the thinner and softer Sea Shad not only translates to even more vibration, but results in more hook-ups as well. Remember……one cast can earn you a lot of money in the CCA STAR tournament this summer, but only if you take the time to enter!

tired of arriving at your favorite spot and hearing you should have been there an hour ago? Coastal saltwater fishing is all about being at the right place at the right time. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to plan your trips around tide conditions that historically have brought you success? Now you can! Plan your trip, analyze your success, tune your fishing strategies. Log your trips, uncover conditional trends by site & species. Understand your target species like never before..

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Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

1-888-361-2221 July 2009


thE waY FishinG has bEEn ovEr the past month makes my job pretty easy. Fishing is good folks. Here’s my rundown of the action and conditions in the Galveston area bays. If Mother Nature will continue to bring us the kind of weather we have been enjoying, July could make the fishing record book. TRINITY BAY - We took a lot of freshwater from local runoff and a bunch of inflow from the Trinity River. Redfish are getting the top billing right now and we are catching tons of them. I mean it is not uncommon to get two or three boats anchored up on the same school of reds in open water and each boat might catch fifty or sixty. These fish are running six to nine pounds and most of them are in the slot. These are awesome fish without a doubt and that is pretty much the norm over here right now. The water is still kind of fresh in Trinity Bay but along the east shoreline there


July 2009

are a few waders working over there catching a few good trout. There are occasional limits for the guys that stick to wading the shallow sand/shell mixed bottoms using soft plastics and a few topwaters. Topwater action for trout is not steady though; I think this may have more to do with prevailing water temps and feeding patterns than anything else. The ship channel is holding a lot of fish and as always you need calm days along the reefs and shell pads for best results. Fishermen throwing live croaker are taking lots of fish, the same as they do every year. Lure fishing along the channel spoils is decent; 3/8-oz gumball jigheads with any soft plastic that you want to throw will catch trout on calm days. We are working slicks over reefs and shell pads up and down the ship channel, some of the trout are in the four to five pound class and there have been occasional seven pounders. EAST BAY – The freshwater pushed a lot of fish around Smith Point and over into East Bay. Hannah Reef, Deep Reef, Pepper Grove Reef, Elm Grove Reef — all those deeper shell reefs are holding a lot of fish. Some of the reports I have received indicate there have been a few up to eight pounds over there. Most of the fish are running two to five pounds and there are just lots of them. There is some bird action down the middle of East Bay and, while the fish are generally smaller, you can get a ton of bites and some decent keepers if you stay with it. When we get a calm day and green tide

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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g a l V e s t o n through the middle of East Bay, the birds work it all day long from Hannah Reef all the way to Frenchie’s Reef. SAN LUIS PASS - We have reports of pretty steady action; fishing has been real good there. Wade fisherman on those bars behind the pass have been catching some really nice trout. Actually all of lower West Bay is offering good fishing at this time; it’s pretty much good all over down there at this time. CAMPBELL BAY - The little bay between West Bay and lower Galveston Bay has been pretty hot. Working slicks and deep water over scattered shell has been paying off real good with easy limits using soft plastics out of the boat. GALVESTON BAY – Fishing along the entire shoreline from Sylvan down to Texas City flats has been pretty good for waders. Parts of Dickenson Bay and along the outside of Moses Lake fishing is just excellent. When the winds are down, and we just experienced about a week of excellent calm weather, it can get absolutely stupidly easy, it’s just that good. SURF AND JETTIES - The surf action along Bolivar and along Galveston beachfront has been good. When they catch it calm and green they are spanking them pretty hard. They are catching a lot of trout and a few reds on spoons, M51 and M52 MirrOlures and topwaters. I can’t say enough about the Jetties, area anglers have been having a banner year. There are plenty of redfish and trout and a few Spanish mackerel are starting to show up. We had a lot of tournaments here lately and the slot reds from the Jetties have been leading the pack on weights. A good plan for jetty redfish is one of the deep-diving crankbaits in red or shad pattern and working them along the rocks, just barely skipping that bill down over rocks and then stopping to let it float back up. The redfish have been bumping them hard. WRAPPING IT UP - Live baiters are doing their thing and having fun but if there is anything better than lures right now I would be afraid to throw it, it’s just that good. We are having our bad days when the wind gets up making it hard to get on deeper fish and stay on them with a trolling motor, but overall I have to give the whole Galveston Bay region an A+ rating. We have excellent fishing and Average Joe all the way up to the top pros are scoring great catches.

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


wow, JUnE roLLEd in and so Far i havE to GivE it an A+ rating. The change the weatherman gave us was certainly welcome. After canceling most of my April and May trips because of faulty conditions, June has been a breath of fresh air. Visitors to area fish cleaning tables have been seeing some uncommon catches. Limits and literally dozens of huge trout have become commonplace on any given day. I cannot recall so many large trout in recent years coming to the tables and I mean fish anywhere from 27-30 inchers. These are coming from both the surf and bays, mainly off live croaker. I spoke with a local game warden who told me that he had never seen so many big trout in his experience. Those throwing artificials were able to bring in quality fish but most of the truly big trout

this past month came from live croaker. We were able to bring some decent fish from the surf with Bass Assassin’s Chicken-on-a-Chain, 10W40, and the Eddie Douglas Special Broken Back. EAST MATAGORDA BAY With the spotlight on July and warmer temperatures, my fishing plans will take me into the deeper reefs in East Matagorda Bay where you will find me wading with Bass Assassins, Skitter Walks, and Super Spooks in hand. Perhaps I will even drift those same reefs with the same baits. Historically, good trout catches have come from drifting East Matagorda Bay and chunking topwaters during the heat of the day so don’t think that topwaters are morning baits only. Remember to concentrate your efforts around active bait. Jumping mullet and shrimp, slicks and a few birds will the keys in July. TxMgcc7-09:TX MarGulfCoast ad


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m a t a g o r D a J July’s midday and afternoon heat can take a toll on fishermen as well as put a damper on fishing in general. Therefore, night fishing is definitely on my agenda for this month. When the conditions are right, night fishing can be a blast; recent years have proven this on many occasions. For the most part July brings light wind, especially at night. But if the winds kick up, a retreat to the south shoreline will be the plan where we will wade and throw topwaters. On the reefs your bait choice should include Roach or Morning Glory Assassins. For some reason over the past years, I have done better throwing plastics rather than topwaters on reefs. If you have never tried night fishing, give me a call and I promise you will have an adventure you won’t forget. Of course, we always have the surf which has been awesome thus far in June and I am sure the action will continue in July. You know when this happens where I will be because it is pretty much a given that you will get a pull from a trout, red, shark, or maybe if lucky, a tarpon. It happens every year. WEST MATAGORDA BAY West Matagorda Bay does not play much of a role in my normal July fishing plan. When I do head over that way I will be chasing after redfish in the shallows and occasionally venturing out to the wells and shell pads to catch trout and maybe a few tripletails. Remember to keep our bays alive, just keep five. Until next time; God Bless! rf with Capt.

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


Editor’s note: The following is an updated version of a surf fishing piece we published for Capt. Gary Gray in the July 2005 issue of TSFMag. The information remains very accurate and will serve any who aspire to become surf waders very well.

wakinG Up at 4:00aM daY aFtEr daY can be difficult especially

The first thing you will notice about trout in the surf is how much harder they will attack plastics or topwaters. There is usually no mistaking a bite; it is what most hardware chunkers dream about. I am certain that the highly oxygenated, cooler water you find in the surf is what makes the sleek super charged speckled fish less lethargic than their bay counterparts lying around in that 86 – 90 degree water. When fishing the surf you must still fish smart. Look for bait, slicks and birds. Redfish generally are in the first gut right where the beach ends and the water starts. I concentrate my casts parallel to the

in the dead heat of July; however, knowing I will be venturing out to the surf makes that early morning rise a little easier. During this time of year through September you will find the Rat Pack making our way to the surf when the weather allows. The water temperatures in the surf are somewhat cooler making it a little more tolerable for the fish. At the time I am writing this article the bay water temperature has been holding steady at around 85 degrees with the surf water being a cool 81 degrees. Doesn’t sound like a lot of difference to us but to cold-blooded fish this is a huge difference. The difference in temperature between the two bodies of water will only get greater when adding in the warmth of the shallow flats. These shallow flats are where we typically do most of our wading and the temperature can be much warmer by as much as ten degrees. To your average speckled trout 5 to 10 degrees could be the difference between eating and not eating until the cool air of night cools the bay waters.

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July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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p ort o'Con nor /se a Dr i f t Stingray protection is still a must while wading the surf.

shoreline casting into the breaking surf on the first sandbar. The trout start in the first gut early in the morning and move out deeper to the second and third guts later in the day. There are dangers associated with fishing the surf or near passes to the surf. The closer you get to the passes the harder the current will run down the beaches which makes for very dangerous fishing situations. I will never fish close to the passes for this reason. If someone decides to fish near these passes please always wear a PFD.

Another danger that we always think about is the dreaded shark encounters. I have seen huge sharks roaming the surf over the years but have had no real problem with them. One of several precautions you should take is using a landing net. I have a great fear of reaching for a thrashing trout about the same time a shark does. The use of long stringers is a must while fishing in the surf and the passes. And then of course there are always the ever present stingrays and Man O’War jellyfish. Another safety concern is weather. Pay close attention to wind speed and direction. Also keep an eye on the sky, inshore and offshore. Summer time squalls offshore are the norm but you can spot them many miles away. Do not wait until the wind picks up before you leave, it will be too late as the surf will be growing before the storm ever gets to you. These are all safety precautions we as fishing guides employ every day whether it be on the bay or in the surf. However safety issues become magnified when fishing the surf due to the fact that there is no nearby protection offered in the open surf. As far as what baits to use while fishing the surf, I use Saltwater Assassins exclusively. Be it Sea shads or Texas shads rigged on 1/16 oz Assassin jig heads. I pretty much stick to two colors of Assassins when fishing the surf. I call these my “Bling – Bling” colors, they are red flash and fire tiger. No doubt any color will usually work but these have been proven producers time after time and what I consider to be my confidence baits. I will always have Tidal Surge’s Crazy Croakers in pink and also pumpkinseed/ chartreuse thrown in my wading bag. Another good lure is the 51 MR series of Mirrolures, which used to be the standby lure for everybody in the surf but fear of big sharks or jacks taking your hard baits keeps us throwing the Assassins. Topwaters work especially well when the surf is calm making sure to work them over many different depths of water. I prefer Mirrolure She Dogs and He Dogs in the GCRBO (808) colors for all situations in the surf. If you have always been curious about the surf do yourself a favor and try it. It will be one of the best fishing experiences you have ever encountered. Fish smart, fish hard!

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


MothEr natUrE has coME throUGh in a LarGE waY down here in the Upper Laguna and Baffin area. We have been hoping, crossing fingers, and rubbing rabbit’s David Rowsey has 20 years feet for quality water, and we have finally experience in the Laguna/ gotten it. As a charter captain, I can not Baffin region; trophy trout with artificial lures is his specialty. express in words what it means to me to David has a great passion for have great water visibility where we can conservation and encourages see our structure. It is like the cliché, “Like catch and release of trophy fish. someone flipped a switch.” Everything has just turned on. The tide has been coming in from down 361-960-0340 south at a great rate, but by the time this article is in your hands, it will be slowly declining. No worries here, as the tide has brought much life to our bay systems, and we have steadily watched our daily catches go from fair to above average. Not only are we catching much better numbers, but our average size has increased along with our


hooksets. After a below average spring, we are finally getting to experience a taste of what Port Mansfield has been experiencing since September 2008. It has, truly, been a pleasure to be on the water, and the conditions will last throughout the summer. In all of the excitement that has been taking place, I have realized that I have gotten to be a bit relaxed on what I promote to clients. Not the catch and release part, as we are hard set on that, but what it takes to be a better fisherman and conservationist from the hookset to the release. As our water temperatures rise, the trout become more and more susceptible to stress. The stress sets in almost immediately after the Waterloo loads up and the Daiwa drag starts singing. It is always more obvious in the larger fish that we are bringing to the Boga Grip. Since I have started writing for TSFM, I have made it a point to take many photographs of all quality catches, releases, sunrises, videos, etc. I’m glad to do it, as I know the clients love to see them when they arrive home, but the truth of the matter is that when water temperatures are above 80 degrees, we do not have very long from the time we set the hook to the time that we release a good trout before she starts getting weak. To insure that fish are released healthy enough to fight another day in these warmer months, a few


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July 2009

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upper l aguna/ba ffin simple practices will go a long way. 1. Land the fish as soon as possible. 2. Use a Boga Grip or similar device to land the fish. Hard hand grips above the gills or rolling around in a net is bad news for fish that are to be released. 3. If possible, remove the hook with her still in the water, and able to breathe. 4. Leave the fish in the water once attached to the landing device, and keep her upright until you are absolutely ready for your buddy to snap a photo. 5. Take a quick weight, set her back in the water upright, slide back and forth to get the water flowing over the gills, and cut her loose. I am pleased to say 99% of my clients are pure sportsman, and are here enjoying Baffin for their love of the game and the chance to catch a personal best on a lure. When the opportunity presents itself, many just do not have enough experience at handling large trout, and the excitement easily overpowers the fish handling guidelines just mentioned. As Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We all have to start somewhere in gaining experience, and if you are serious about catch and release, these tips will help put you on the fast track. Speaking of experience, and catching fish; If you are not fishing 100 days out of the year, do yourself and the fish a favor, and utilize a good braided line. Yes, mono is cheaper, but this is about the only attribute it has over braid, and when you figure out how often you have to change it out due to memory/coiling, you will find that it really is no cheaper in the long run. The reason that I mention this is that I have had an unfortunate run of days on the water where clients were using mono and gut hooking large trout (above 25”). What does mono have to do with it? NOT FEELING THE BITE IN TIME. By the time the bite is detected with mono, especially under windy conditions, these large fish have swallowed the lure. Braid allows you to feel the bite many times faster than mono does. Of course, topwaters is a visual thing, and no big deal there, but any lure being worked under the surface should be with braid. It kills me to have to lay a good trout on ice due to her being gut hooked and really embarrassing when I hit the Marina and have to lay one down on the cleaning table. On those days I feel like a croaker that is about to be slammed. Of course, my guide buddies that use finfish are the ones doing the slamming.

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Capt. Morgan Overton from Thomas, Oklahoma, with a great summer time trout (29”) caught on a Bass Assassin. Released.

Fishing has not changed much from the last issue. We are seeking out areas that are laden with baitfish; and some preferable slicks to get us up tight and close to a specific area. The majority of our fishing has been in Baffin for the trout, and in the Laguna for reds. One point that I would love to drive home is that topwaters are great when the fish are hitting them, but you need to be willing to switch to a Bass Assassin, AKA, “The Worm,” when it slows down. This is especially important on high pressure, clear sky days. Yea, I can hear all of the diehard topwater guys saying, “I’ll fish them all day, no matter what.” Well that is fine and dandy if you are willing to get your butt handed to you on a silver platter by your buddy who has sense enough to understand that fish need to be caught the way that they want to be caught — and not the way that you think you can dictate them to be caught. “Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a large fish goes home through an alley.” ~Author Unknown Set ‘em Loose.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


We are still catching quite a few larger trout with a sprinkling pushing 30 inches.

FishinG rEMains consistEnt here in the Lower Laguna Madre. The area offers everything a fisherman could ask for, but predictably, a whole lot of people have been asking for it lately. Everything seems more prolific this season and boaters have been no exception. Regardless, if everybody continues to behave kindly toward their fellow anglers there are good times available for all this summer. Our trout are still stealing the show with good numbers of fish showing just about every place you might expect them to be. The 22nd annual Griffon Memorial Tournament held during mid-May provides strong testament to our good fortune this year. Historic weights were brought in across the board and my crew was fortunate enough to be granted top honors. The weigh-in, although extremely impressive, was

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shocking to many long time visitors here. Perhaps we can talk more in depth next month about tournaments in general, and how excellent goals might still be achieved but perhaps with a little lighter hand. Deeper grass beds have been producing excellent catches, especially during low-wind conditions such as we have been enjoying thus far in June. The setting was more August-like with calm winds early and soaring

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July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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port m a nsfielD temperatures late under clear skies. Lack of strong current flow and clear water makes deeper structures attractive, and although we enjoyed several days of serious topwater action, soft plastics on 1/8 ounce jigs have been the best baits. As is usually the case, lure color has been taking a back seat to location, depth and speed of retrieve. We are still catching quite a few large trout with several per week going between twenty-five and twenty-eight inches with an occasional thirty. As a reminder, TPWD regs allow only one trout per day over twenty-five inches. The CCA STAR Tournament is underway and with these 30-class trout showing it would be prudent to consider keeping that spot in your bag limit open. You never know when a STAR winner might show up. Keeping an eye on the leader board and an accurate digital scale on your boat is another good idea. Each year a fair number of fish are submitted which unfortunately, despite high hopes, will not meet the minimum eight pounds or otherwise have no chance at recognition. With as many good “eating” size trout we have, it just seems a shame to retire some of these coveted larger fish only to the cleaning table. Let’s all enjoy our current prosperity, but let’s remember that good stewardship by all of us will help it all continue. As exciting as the trout have been our redfish aren’t taking second place without a fight. We’ve started seeing schooling activity with several groups running in the hundreds. If you are fortunate to run across such a school, the key to success is a low impact approach. Unfortunately it doesn’t take many “eager” approaches to bust them up or drive them to deep water. Run past the school and circle wide back into their path. You can then drift, pole, troll

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or wade back into them. July is always a fun month offering lots of opportunity. An early start means you can beat the crowd and take advantage of fish that have moved way shallow during the night. Behind the grass line at first light can feel downright cold in this desert-like environment, and if the trout and reds are using it they can be as aggressive as any other time of year. Small topwaters can be a blast early on the sand flats, and traditionally, just follow the fish as they ease deeper with the rising sun and temperatures. It goes without further mention that the Lower Laguna Madre is enjoying a terrific cycle of both numbers and quality of fish. It also goes without saying that it is no secret, and the missing masses from last year have returned and brought their friends with them. It’s all good but it’s up to us to keep it that way. Miles and miles of open flats can make for some interesting crossing situations where numerous boaters are concerned, so it’s important to remember rules of the road as far as rights of way go. Many new boaters either don’t know or disregard who is supposed to give way when passing closely, so the prudent operator needs to maintain a wide berth from others whenever possible. With plenty of fish and plenty of water, there is no reason to encroach upon others or create dangerous situations. The object in all of this is to enjoy life to the fullest, so remembering to respect the fish as much as our fellow fishermen will go a long way towards enhancing that enjoyment for all of us. Good luck and safe fishing!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


FishinG on this End oF thE LaGUna MadrE is thrivinG. As I write, calm mornings have become the norm which can be a good thing when trying to locate concentrations of fish, but slick-calm conditions can also cause fish to become rather spooky. Small, single-hooked topwaters have been working well in the calm conditions for trout and redfish. This does not mean they crush the bait every day; we sometimes have to experiment with our retrieves to get them to take it. When the retrieval trick doesn’t work, the old reliable 1/2-oz gold spoon usually will. A spoon is easy to work, even in grassy conditions, and the hookup to landing ratio is always very high. It seems that we have been encountering an unusual number of stingrays. On a recent trip as I was dropping off my fishermen to start a wade when one asked, “Are there stingrays, here?” Naturally I replied that stingrays could be anywhere. Well let me tell you, about three minutes


July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

You can never be to old to wade fish. Seventy-five year old Richard Moore Sr got this one on a topwater.

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arroyo ColoraDo to port isabel (A PX L1) FTU's Green Rod ered liv de ce an perform er an this huge Jack aft e fight. hour and ten mintu

later I felt the ground shake. I literally felt the wings of a stingray flapping right at my feet and it shot out leaving a big mud boil between my legs. After catching my breath, I shouted to my fishermen, “Make sure you shuffle your feet and keep an eye open for what is in front of you.” We have seen the stingrays so thick in some areas that they have caused us to leave a good bite. Use extreme caution. Remember to shuffle your feet and wear some kind of stingray protection. At the present time I would say the fishing is as good as it gets. The flats on the east side from South Padre all the way up to the Port Mansfield cut have been very productive for redfish. If you like sight casting, this is the place to be. Trout have been easy to find hanging around potholes in the grassier regions and the best bite often comes as the wind increases. We may walk through an area and experience a great bite and then suddenly it’s like someone turned off the light. When this occurs, we usually go back around and walk through the area again, and behold, the “light turns back on.” It’s basically the same method fishermen use when drifting and one

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that wading fishermen would do well to employ more often. As the water temperatures continue to rise we will be targeting the shallows in the early morning on a rising tide and then dropping back into deeper water later in the day. The tides have been pretty high on average but come the month of July we should see them drop to winter lows. As the tide level drops, look for deeper holes or even slight drops in depth to hold plenty of fish. The evening low tides will stack the bait along these drop-offs. If you can find these areas, you will more than likely experience an awesome morning bite. Low tide levels will also help us find schools of tailing redfish. Always remember that sneaking up on them requires stealth and a low profile. Regardless if you like fishing shallow or deep, the opportunities will be there. If drifting is what you like to do, you might want to wait until the midday wind starts to blow or anchor along the ICW where flounder and trout can be found in the heat of the summer. Anything can happen when you are fishing and I have seen and experienced my fair share of unusual occurrences. On a recent outing Capt. Tricia and I were working with a group of fishermen in an area that was holding some nice trout and everyone was having a great time landing solid trout. I cast to a pothole and saw a silvery flash. The fish grabbed it and took off like a mid-night freight train, peeling line so fast I had to chase it to avoid being spooled. After about twenty minutes and running through our anglers twice I was making no headway. Capt. Tricia got in my boat and idled toward me and told me to jump on. The noise of the outboard seemed to push the fish deeper and further away from the other anglers. It dragged us approximately two miles and the fight made my arms burn. Finally, an hour and ten minutes later I landed a huge jack crevalle, the biggest I have ever seen or landed. July should bring a continuation of the excellent fishing we have been enjoying. You just have to get out there and experience it for yourself. Remember, keep yourself cool and protected under the summer’s scorching sun and be ready for the unexpected.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


Water temperatures are still in the mid-seventies, which is pretty chilly for this time

The action in the San Luis Pass area exploded in the calm weather in June, Randall

of year. Other than low water temperatures, other conditions have been great.

says. “It was awesome. We’d all have our limits by mid-morning. Best action was on

Since the winds have finally slowed down, we have been smoking the trout. July is

topwaters and Sand Eels. The best topwater has been a pearl white Skitterwalk. The

my favorite month to fish. All options are open; the surf, close rigs, jetties, and ship channel are at their best this month. Don’t forget about the lake though; it will still be holding lots of fish. Best lures for the summer are H&H Salty Grubs and Beetles, and Norton Sand Eels. Hot colors are clear with metal flake, chartreuse, smoke, and glow. Topwater lures will be good in the lake, better on the beach. Best topwater to throw varies from day to day; try all the Dogs, Skitterwalks and Super Spooks in all sizes. My favorite colors are bone, chrome/black, and chartreuse. The best hint I can give is to fish the rigs, inside the jetties, and the channel on weak tides. Fish the surf, outside the jetties, and in the lake on strong tides.

James says that the fishing in Galveston lately is close to being a ten on a scale of one to ten, especially when the winds are light. “When it’s not blowing, you can catch ‘em however you want to, wherever you want to. The surf and all the deep reefs and structures along the ship channel have been throwing out limits of trout, heavy limits too. The key is to be in the right place when the tide is moving. We’ve been using Bass Assassins most of the time, but the chrome and chartreuse SheDogs are good too. The reefs in the middle of East Bay are also a solid bet this time of year. Over there, birds will be working and popping slicks will direct you to the fish. As long as the wind doesn’t blow, we’ll be set up for lots of limits and a few big trout this summer. Every time the wind dies, we catch one or two around twenty seven inches. When it‘s windier, we tend to catch more of the regular two pounders.”

Jim reports excellent results in his area lately. “I haven’t been going too far. East Bay is full of fish and with the light winds, we’ve been whacking the trout. Had one about twenty nine inches the other day. Customer let it go, so I can’t say exactly what she weighed. I’d guess low eights. He caught it on a Super Spook Jr.. We’ve had some other big trout on topwaters lately too, especially when we can get in the surf. The key to catching the fish on lures in the surf is to get there the first day it clears. The big ones get a lot harder to catch on the second and third day after it clears. As far as fishing in the bays, I’ve been working open water reefs mostly, keying on bird activity and slicks. These patterns should hold right on through the summer. When it’s windy, finding areas with reefs which are sheltered from the blow and using bright lures will help. In the clear water, I favor darker lures when the sun is bright.” 72

July 2009

best Sand Eel has been the glow sickle color in the large version. I’ve been rigging the Sand Eels on light jigheads to keep the lures off the bottom. As long as it looks like it’s headed to the top, it gets slammed. Some of my guys have stopped trying to work them fast; they are catching them just throwing out and reeling straight in. The key to the topwater bite has been contacting the schools of ribbonfish. Seems that pearl Skitterwalk looks right when it’s among all those long silver bait fish.” Like others, he hopes to get in the surf in July. “We’ll be working our topwaters on the beach this month. Might even make some runs offshore in the new boat if it’s calm.”

Don says he’s still fishing East Bay primarily, drifting scattered shell. “We’ve been catching them on topwaters, soft plastics and live shrimp. I don’t use the shrimp, but when the water’s off color, it helps the customers keep catching. The size of the trout has been good; we’ve had some twenty six and twenty seven inch fish. The wind has to be fairly light for the drifting drill in East Bay, though. West Bay is better if it’s windy. We went out one afternoon last week over there and caught some quality trout wading the grass beds in the coves on the south shoreline. It’s easier to hide from the wind over there.” He mentions that the Oil Man’s tournament recently held there produced a tripletail that was nearly record size. “There was a thirty two pound tripletail caught. It made the eight and ten pounders look like bait!” He says that the fishing for those brutes should be steady right through the summer if the wind cooperates.

Fishing has exploded in the Palacios area. The bays, surf, wells, and area shorelines are loaded with bait and fish. The winds that had been blowing over twenty knots on most days for the past couple of months finally laid down and fishing has taken off. The West Matagorda surf (thirteen miles across the bay) has been steady for trout up to twenty seven inches, with lots of solid three and four pound fish filling stringers. Bone Super Spooks and Corky FatBoys in orange/black and pearl/chartreuse have accounted for most of these fish. Pods of small slot redfish have been abundant on sandy shorelines chasing shrimp and have been easy pickings with DOA shrimp in root beer and pearl. Tripletail have finally showed, with most fish averaging around thirteen pounds. Best rigs for them are still live shrimp rigged four to five feet under popping corks. I look July to continue to produce good fish, with the wells out in West Matagorda along with the surf our main go to spots.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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We finally got a break from those strong spring winds that blew for months. The lighter winds revealed that much of the water in the Upper Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay is in great shape. Many rocks, grass lines, potholes and drop offs are visible now, due to the better water clarity. The water temperature being in the low to mid-eighties is making for great wadefishing and this is what we have been doing on about half of my charters. The fish we have been catching have been in two and a half feet of water or less and that will probably continue during July. The wind blowing from so many directions is spreading floating grass all over, making it difficult to use topwater lures. There are some areas with very shallow and clear water that will be great for sight casting drum and reds with sixteenth ounce jigheads rigged with Assassin Blurps or Berkley Gulp shrimp. If floating grass is a problem, use soft plastics rigged on short leaders under Assassin Kwik corks.

Lynn says that the surf has already been productive, and he intends to spend as much time out there as possible in July. “When fishing the surf, I like to use topwaters, anything with chrome on it, particularly the SheDogs and Super Spooks.

Like others in his area, Joe reports that he likes the change in water clarity in the

The larger ones work best in the waves along the beach. Of course, we’ll be fishing

Upper Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay. “Fishing has been pretty easy since the wind

in the bays too. We like to focus on areas with grass and potholes and hard sand

died and the water cleared up. I’ve been concentrating my efforts mostly between

which are close to some deep water. Early in the morning, the topwater bite is nearly

Bird Island Basin and the mouth of the Land Cut. The best pattern is to throw at rocks

guaranteed. I’ll switch over to the Junior versions of the Super Spooks mostly when

which are close to deep water. The water all along the Kennedy Shoreline and along

fishing in the bays. As the day warms and the fish stop blowing up, we’ll switch over

the spoils on the east side of the ICW holds up well, even with moderate winds, so

to soft plastics.” He mentions that the “man in the gray suit” has already appeared

it’s easy to see the structures. I’ve been throwing all kinds of soft plastics, including

and will likely be making the rounds in July. “There are tons of sharks in West

Bass Assassins and Texas Trout Killers. Doesn’t seem to matter much in terms of color,

Matagorda. I’ve started keeping a cooler on a float with me when I’m wading. I just

if you can manage to control the placement of the lures and keep them close to the

put the fish directly on ice without stringing them.”

rocks or in the deep potholes. This pattern should hold throughout the summer, while the fish like to stay close to the deep, cool water. Sight casting reds and drum with flies should be available most days too.”

The fishing in the Rockport area for trout took a turn for the better over recent weeks, Blake says. “Seems we had some fish come in out of the surf. Where there had been little action, we started seeing migrating schools of bait fish, even some

It’s summer time and the fishing is easy. The pelicans and sea gulls are so fat; they

floating sea weed. The trout bite soon followed.” His best results lately have been on

pick up scraps from those cleaning fish. The water continues to clear, which is good

soft plastics, notable the purple/chartreuse Norton Sand Eels. The topwater bite has

and bad. It’s so clear there is no place for the fish to hide. The deeper grass beds still

been decent on some days as well. “I have been using bait some too. I’ll be looking

continue to produce plenty of nice trout and the occasional redfish. If you want to

to make as many trips as possible in the surf in July. We already had one good run

try some different fishing, the jetties will be the place to go. Kingfish and tarpon will

out there and should see some more action if the winds stay calm. In the bays, I’ll

be in good supply for the next couple of months. Kingfish on light tackle are a blast.

focus on some shell reefs in San Antonio Bay and also hard sandy shorelines with

You can throw topwaters for some real excitement; just add a little wire to your leader

lots of grass in Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays.. He says he prefers wadefishing, but

so that you don’t get cut off. Live finger mullet or croaker will catch everything. You

will do whatever it takes to catch what is biting from day to day. “Lately, it’s about the

never know what you will be setting the hook on when fishing the jetties; be sure and

trout; they have arrived and they are biting.”

take some extra line just in case. The bait stands have good supplies of live bait on a daily basis.

The speckled trout showed up in good numbers and size in late May and it is all topwater action. This action should continue throughout the month of July. We are starting with smaller presentations in the early morning calm conditions and then going to larger lures as the winds and seas increase. The fish are changing their color of choice every 2-3 days. When the topwater bite slows, switch to Mirrolure 7M and 28MR floating twitch baits as well as MirrOMinnows and MirrODines. Target areas with large amounts of baitfish. Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, whiting and palometa are usually in good numbers throughout the month and there is the potential for tarpon and kingfish. Bull and blacktipped sharks are available in good numbers some years and huge tiger sharks are a possible at night. Sargassum is at its lowest amount in 7 years but is still interfering with long rod and kayaked shark bait fishermen. Report turtle tracks and keep an eye on tropical weather reports.

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We’ve really been having exceptional fishing for this time of year. Even the lack of wind has not slowed the action. Schools of reds cover the east side, from the drum boats to the Intracoastal, allowing us to limit most days, unless they’re all oversized, which is not that bad of a problem to have! Trout fishing continues to be the best we’ve seen since the eighties and the flounder situation seems to be in better shape than a couple of years ago. Freddy says, “We’re seeing more shrimp, possibly due to all the fresh water from the hurricane last year, and the absence of commercial trapping has been a boom for the crab population.” The Cajun Thunder cigar cork with twelve to fifteen inches of leader and a Gulp three inch shrimp on a quarter ounce jighead is still producing best, but we’ve also had some excellent results in the herds with Precision Tackle half ounce gold weedless spoons or a white three inch Gulp shrimp on a jighead in schools of drum.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


Derrick Rosette Hard fought 23” red at sun set.

Alexander McDougal Colorado River redfish.

Joseph Roberts Black drum - Aransas Pass.

Stacy with her first big redfish! 74

July 2009

Austin Swafford 37” redfish CPR Surfside beach.

Jose Espinosa 48” red - Port Mansfield.

Trevor McManis 25” red.

Stacy Hall First slot red - Aransas Bay.

Jacob Guerrero 29” redfish - Arroyo City.

Alex Hernandez South Padre Island Jetty snook.

Mendy Blevins CPR 40” redfish - Port O’Connor.

Abel Deleon 28” redfish - Seadrift. Nathaniel Lira and dad Mario Nice catch!

Lauren King First wade trip East Matagorda. Texas Saltwater Fishing

Donna got a big red Galveston Bay. Jess Akin Nice redfish Surfside.

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Patrick Trask First Texas redfish CPR.

Randy Nicholson 18# drum CPR - Lower Laguna Madre.

Richard Garcia 33” red Victoria barge canal.

Marcus Stewart 42” bull red Upper Laguna.

Angela GriffinN ice redfish. Trinity Bay.

Cohen Hopper First redfish - Sargent. Robert Wang 23”, 5-pound flounder Freeport.

Edie O’Neal First catch ever! Holly Beach.

Bill Wiemann, showing one of many reds. Captain Richard Pevey 5.14 lb speck on a fly Matagorda Bay New Water Body Record.

Arthur Toscano 32” snook Packery Channel Jetties.

Ricardo Espinosa & his grandson Carlos 28” speck - Port Mansfield.

Please do not write on the back of photos.

Chris Blevins 41” bull red CPR POC Jetties.

Chad R. Fox Jack on a Corky Fatboy. Just Keep Five

Eliza Zapata First redfish! Aransas Pass. Texas Saltwater Fishing

Email photos with a description of your Catch of the Month to: Mail photos to: TSFMag P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 July 2009


2 cups bite-sized melon balls (seedless watermelon works best) 1 cup picante sauce (I prefer Pace brand) 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped Method: Scoop bite-size balls from seedless watermelon and place in colander for ten minutes to drain. In large mixing bowl, combine melon balls, picante and chopped cilantro. Stir gently until well mixed. Place in refrigerator for at least several hours, can be made one day ahead for best flavor mingling.

4 medium to large redďŹ sh ďŹ llets 1/2 stick butter, melted Favorite seafood seasoning to taste, Old Bay, Tony Chacere, etc. Method: Dip redfish fillets in melted butter and sprinkle with seafood seasoning. Place seasoned redfish fillets on grill. Grill each side approximately 3-5 minutes depending thickness and grill temperature. When they flake easily with a fork they are done. Spoon salsa over grilled redfish fillets and garnish with watermelon, avocado slices, lime slices and cilantro sprigs. Serves four.


July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just Keep Five

anYtiME wE brinG a toUrnaMEnt to a venue for the first time, we always wonder: “How will the turn-out be? Will big fish be brought to the scales? Will the crowds show up?” “Will the anglers like it?” After the Freeport stop of the Cabela’s Texas Redfish Series powered by Majek/Evinrude, we will never have to worry again. Bridge Harbor Yacht Club was the host venue, and between the hot burgers and cool swimming pool, we could not have asked for a better setting. Despite the fact that almost half of the teams had never fished out of Freeport, the weights and catches rivaled any other stop we have had. Bringing home the first place prize of a brand new Majek Boat powered by an Evinrude Etec on a Coastline Trailer were first time winners, 21-yearold Jeff Steckler of Rockport, TX and his partner 14-year-old Mason Lloyd out of the Houston area. The young team weighed in a massive two-fish limit of 16.35lbs which they caught on Texas Tackle Factory Killer Flat’s Minnows. Second place went to the team of Brian Hessong and Chuck McKinny who

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had never fished the area prior to the tournament. Third place went to the Port Lavaca team of Kurt Koliba and Mike Shimek of team TTF. In the Texas Kayak Series, newcomer Jeff Naylor won a brand new kayak along with a cash prize by bringing in a giant 8.71 lb redfish. Second place went to Jason Brew and third place went to Jay Odem. For the first time this season, the winds laid down for the kayakers who mostly fished the back marshes and creeks of the Freeport Area. One of the many exciting things that has come along with the partnership of the Texas Saltwater Series and Majek boats is the opportunity to help out with the first Majek Owner’s Tournament. Majek owners from all across Texas will meet at Bluff’s Landing in Corpus Christi to participate in a chance to win a brand-new Majek Illusion powered by Yamaha. The tournament will be held August 01, 2009 with dinner following the weigh-in. A Cajun boil and captain’s meeting will be held Friday night before the event. For more information, log on to We hope to see you there!

Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009


t e X a s s a lt wat e r f i s h i n g h o l e s

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Bluewater Offshore Fishing King / Ling / Snapper / Amberjack / Dolphin

Freeport / Surfside Capt. Don Miller 713.899.7598

Capt. Joe Gilleland 713.852.7317 Federal Permits & Licensed

MATAGORDA M ata G o r d a B ay Speckled Trout / Redfish

USCG Licensed Captain Stan Sloan 78

July 2009

832.693.4292 Texas Saltwater Fishing


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t e X a s s a lt wat e r f i s h i n g h o l e s

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EVERGLADES FISHING Join us for the BEST light tackle saltwater fishing imaginable! JIM CONLEY’S

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YOUR AD COULD BE HERE for rates call 361.785.3420 or email

“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 or by mail to TSF Capt.Mike Wilbur’s

Chaser Key West Fishing

Tarpon + Bonefish +Permit Fly-fishing and light tackle / 305-296-7201

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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. Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009




PLUS FREE E-MAG! TSFMag SPECKLED TROUT CATCH & RELEASE PHOTO CONTEST Order today and receive a 15-month subscription for the regular price of $25.00. Hurry and sign up family members and friends at the SAME rate!

WWW.TSFMAG.COM / 361.785.3420 Offer expires 09.30.09 80

July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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 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: For more info please email Everett or call 361.550.3637.

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Boats, Kayaks, Outboards

Anchor Marine of Texas.....................................Cover, 1 210.599.1415 Bernie’s Boats................................................................16 361.573.7809 Busha Boat Works.........................................................17 979.245.3369 Coastline Marine.................................................Cover, 1 281.291.0101 Dargel Boat Works....................................................... 67 800.749.2628 Flatstalker...................................................................... 58 361.813.8040 Gulf Coast Boats............................................................. 3 713.477.7119 Gulf Coast Marine............................................Cover, 1, 6 361.937.7800 Hobie Kayaks.................................................................49 800.HOBIE.49 Huff Marine................................................................... 25 361.991.0369 Kroll’s Marine.................................................................61 281.342.4461 Majek Boats..................................................................... 4 361.991.3102 Mt. Houston Marine..................................................... 37 281.447.7689 Rockport Marine...........................................................53 361.729.7820 Ron Hoover RV & Marine Centers.................... Solunar 409.935.7101 S.W.A.T., Inc................................................................... 33 281.296.2929 Sail & Ski Center............................................................ 21 512.219.2705 Shallow Sport Boats...........................................Cover, 1 956.233.9489 Shoalwater Boats..........................................................12 361.983.4134 Texas Marine................................................................. 60 409.832.2027 The Sportsman................................................... Cover, 1 956.399.5123 Boat Accessories

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

Texas Tackle Factory.................................................... 21 361.575.4751 TriggerX..........................................................................13 800.874.4451 US Reel.................................................................. Solunar 314.962.9500 Wade Aid Enterprises.................................................. 68 888.923.3243 Waterloo Rods......................................................... 37, 73 361.573.0300 Woodee Rods USA/Espandre.....................................35 281.723.4154 Yeti Coolers....................................................................13 512.394.9384 Yo-Zuri America, Inc.................................................... 20 772.336.2280 Z-man................................................................................9 877.797.2424 Fishing retail locations

Academy Sports + Outdoors...................... Back Cover 281.646.5000 Fishing Tackle Unlimited............................. Back Cover 281.481.6838 Roy’s Bait & Tackle..........................................................3 361.992.2960 Seaworthy Marine........................................................ 43 361.727.9100 Speedy Stop.........................................................Solunar 361.582.5100 Tackle Box......................................................................68 361.575.8700 Real Estate

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a reaDer writes

…Continued from page 10

line. One is to remove the terminal rig and trail the line behind your boat for a few minutes at moderate speed. Another method is to remove all terminal rigging and stretching your line across the lawn and then winding it back in several times. In both cases you will Line is being twisted. Flip the filler spool over! need to pinch it tightly between your thumb and forefinger when winding it back into the reel. Pinching the line between gloved fingers allows the application of greater pressure thereby “rolling” the twist toward the end of the line without friction burns. What is the proper amount of line to install on a spinning reel? I find that filling to within about .020-.030” from the lip of the spool works best for me. Filling the spool to the max seems to encourage loops spilling over the edge. These guys can create an array of problems, so let’s not go there. Of course it should go without saying that installing too little line will shorten your casts. Discovering

the optimum fill level will take a bit of experimentation as the width and angle of the spool lip itself varies between models and brands. Whether you use the arbor spacer supplied with the SuperCaster 230SX or elect to fill the spool halfway with monofilament followed by an 80 to 100 yard topshot of braid is up to you. Personally, I prefer the braid top-shot as it allows extra line you may find necessary to land one of those big ol’ jackfish that cruises the flats during summer. The triple surgeon’s knot is a good one for attaching mono to braid, especially when there is great disparity in line diameters. Always test your splicing knots before going fishing. Otherwise a lifetime fish may test them for you in less than desirable fashion. As for flipping the pickup bail by hand to eliminate line twist; I would have to say that while I have heard of this I have never given it a fair trial, so I will refrain from comment. In closing I would like to say that I agree 100% with Jay Watkins. Casting and retrieving your lure into the wind or at 45-degrees to the direction of the wind (rather than directly downwind) will definitely produce more strikes on windy days. Like Jay, I discovered this quite by accident and have been fishing this way for many years. Again, thanks for writing and I hope that my ramblings here may provide some solution to your fishing problems. EJ

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July 2009

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2009



Hopper Jigs

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Available in various lengths and lure weights.

The Black Magic is a great rod for tuna poppers. We recommend Strike Pro Tuna Hunter Poppers.


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

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

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

For other locations, i.e. Port 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.

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