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CONTENTS J ULY 2008 Volume 18 No. 3

FEATURES

28

12 Going Single

Mike McBride

16 Just Like Heaven

Kevin Cochran

20 Bodie and the Flounder Tournament

Martin Strarup

24 Circle Hooks

Billy Sandifer

28 Two sides to summer fishing

Chuck Uzzle

DEPARTMENTS 52

25 Coastal Birding

Billy Sandifer

30 TSFMag Reader Survey Results

Everett Johnson

32 Let’s Ask The Pro

Jay Watkins

36 Fly Fishing

Casey Smartt

40 Tournament Trails

Brandon Jenewein

44 Offshore

Bobby Byrd/John Cochrane

50 Hints and Tips

Everett Johnson

52 Conservation

CCA Texas

54 Science and the Sea

64

UT-Marine Science Institute

56 TPWD Field Notes

Dennis Pridgen

60 Kayak Fishing

Scott Null

64 According To Scott

Scott Sommerlatte

68 Youth Fishing

Aaron Cisneros

WHAT OUR GUIDES HAVE TO SAY… 72 Dickie Colburn’s Sabine Scene

74

90

Dickie Colburn

74 Mickey on Galveston

Mickey Eastman

76 Capt. Bill’s Fish Talk

Bill Pustejovsky

78 Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays

Shellie Gray

80 Catching up with Cliff

Cliff Webb

82 Capt. Tricia’s Port Mansfield Report

Capt. Tricia

84 South Padre Fishing Scene

Ernest Cisneros

REGULARS 6

Editorial

10 Letters to the Editor 70 New Tackle & Gear 86 Fishing Reports and Forecasts 88 Photo Gallery–Catch of the Month 90 Gulf Coast Kitchen

95

Index of Advertisers

ABOUT THE COVER Everett and Krissy Johnson, son and daughter-in-law of TSFMag’s editor and publisher, enjoyed a day of backcountry fishing on Matagorda Island over the Memorial Day weekend. “Reds” seem to run in the family! www.TSFMAG.com

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Well, I guess if you’re a regular reader and have gotten this far into the magazine you have already figured out that we pulled the trigger on the size change. Like I announced last month; recent increases in the price of gasoline, diesel and printing pushed us into a tough spot. Weighing the options, we decided to hold the line on advertising rates and the cover price, availing ourselves instead to every cost reduction opportunity we could identify before going cap-in-hand and asking our loyal advertisers and readers for more money. There is an upside in this, though. Adopting the new, smaller size will help the magazine grow in several important ways. Gaining premium display space will be easier and should boost circulation. Hopefully this will become a win-win for everybody. July is always an exciting month in the fishing industry. The American Sportfishing Association will be holding their ICAST Show in Las Vegas and we’ll be there. ICAST is the great annual unveiling of new fishing products and we’ll be anxious to give our readers the heads-up on all the new stuff the manufacturers will be introducing. Look for our ICAST Recap in the August issue. If you’ve been on the bay lately you have no doubt noticed that getting to your favorite fishing spots is easier. Saturdays on the bay during summer months have a reputation for looking more like an on-the-water boat show than somewhere you’d like to go fishing. This summer has been different. On a recent Friday I kept note of how many boats were on the water — only sixteen between Twin Lakes and the old Army Base along the San Antonio and Espiritu Santo shorelines of Matagorda Island. This included all I could see during a tour of Pat’s Bay, Corey Cove, Long Lake, Contee Lake, and Pringle Lake. Normal summertime boat traffic would be at least thirty, maybe forty when honking south wind sends everybody to that side of the bay. Suffice to say fuel prices have thrown a kink into lots of folks fishing plans. Area fishing guides and other coastal businesses are feeling the pinch; some say business is lagging last year by nearly 50%. From a fishing success viewpoint, this means you can expect longer wades and drifts without bumping into other fishermen so you should find more bites, which is good news, albeit in an unusual package. July means we’ll be celebrating 232 years of American independence. I would like to encourage everybody to show support for our brave men and women who are laying down their lives everyday in the Middle-Eastern desert, many on their second and third deployments. As you travel the highways and biways this summer and meet men and women in uniform, please take a second and offer a warm handshake. Thank them for their contribution to our freedom and continuance of this grand lifestyle the rest of the world can only wish to enjoy. A couple years ago it seemed you couldn’t drive a block or two without spotting a vehicle with a “Support the Troops” sticker. Sadly, we’re noticing fewer these days. Please fly the flag and make it a point to thank a vet this Fourth of July. In closing I want to say thanks to Ray Lopez, Benny Mikel, Tommy Gaines, and Ron Kendrick. I was running a fishing charter recently and developed mechanical problems that required being towed. Susan Whitten and John Krolczyk were my clients and good friends of Ray and crew, all six were prefishing for a tournament they would enter the next day. Drifting toward shore with a dead engine and only two boats in sight, you’ll never guess who we drifted into. Thanks Ray, Benny, Tommy and Ron for taking time out of your fishing day to drag us back to the dock. You guys made my day! 6

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

do not hesitate to contact me or any of our

Dear TSFMag,

E. Johnson - Editor

writers for fishing tips or help.

I would like to thank you again for your support of my unit during our recent deployment to Iraq. Our unit successfully re-deployed back to Fort Hood Texas and some of us have already got an opportunity to do some

Dear Everett, I have been reading

fishing on the gulf. Please do not send any more of the magazines over to

your magazine for quite

Iraq as they will come back undeliverable. Once again thank you as it was

some time and I love the

great reading your magazine and dreaming about the day we could get

information you bring to

back and get some fish of our own.

your readers. We have a

Sincerely,

place in Rockport and take

MAJ Mike Price

every opportunity we can get to spend time fishing

Dear MAJ Mike Price,

with family and friends.

Good to hear you made it back and also that some of your group were

I recently proposed to my girlfriend and we decided to spend some time fishing with my parents as a

lucky enough to go fishing so soon. We will try to redirect the magazine delivery to another outfit from

way to hang out as a newly engaged couple. We are having a new boat built

Texas. We pray that God will bless you richly for your valiant service.

and rigged right now so we decided to go out with a guide that we have come

Please stay in touch and be sure to send us some fishing pictures.

to know over the past few years. My fiancé has been fishing with me multiple

E. Johnson - Editor

times but each time she becomes more independent on the boat and has learned a great deal since we started fishing together. This past Wednesday Dear Mr. Johnson,

she blew me away with a 27 1/2 inch speckled trout... and a fat one at that!

I’ve been reading your magazine for

She hooked up with this monster on her bright pink American Rodsmiths

two months now. The reason I started

rod. As you can see by the pictures she has a slight addiction to pink. I would

was that I recently was lucky enough

love to get her picture in your magazine because I think it is a great way to

to land my first bull red. This is why we

encourage more women to go fishing.

load up our vehicles and travel long

Jason Jacobus

distances to find a body of water at 3:00 in the morning. You see I am 40 years old and have been a novice angler for

Jason, Fishing with the woman you love is truly something to be treasured.

40 years. This past October I landed my

Congrats on the engagement and hope that new boat works out for you. I

first bull red. I can’t describe the feeling

agree that stories and photos like this in the magazine can be incentive for

of finally being the one that all the other

lots of girls to join their men on the water… now how cool is that?

fishermen on the peer were looking at. The experience

E. Johnson - Editor

inspired me to start taking my casual hobby more seriously. The Good Lord saw fit to allow me to share that day with my family.

Dear Editor,

I had managed to convince my wife to come on this particular day. We

I just wanted to say thanks for being a sponsor of the Texas Redfish Series

headed out to San Luis Pass pier at 2:00 a.m. My 15 year old daughter

tournament that was held recently in Matagorda and more especially the

was pulling up small sand trout like a machine while my 8 year old son

Kayak Series. I watched the power boat anglers weigh in on Saturday and

was learning to bait his own hook. He’s a natural. I on the other hand only

fished in the kayak division on Sunday. I had a blast and I did weigh in a

caught one fish, but it was “the one.”

redfish but it took almost 7.5 pounds to get a check. It was a great weekend

I want to learn more about this stuff and your magazine is the most

and the guys and gals at SimRod did a wonderful job. By the way, the winner

informative source I have found and I just wanted to share this with you.

of the kayak division weighed in a 9 pound redfish.

If you put this picture in your magazine it will be a treasure for me and my

Perry Baumann - Katy, TX

family for years to come. Thank your and your writers for what you do and keep up the good work.

Dear Perry,

God Bless,

We agree; the folks at SimRod Outdoors have done a great job in the

Eric Jenkins - Alvin, Texas

presentation of their Texas Saltwater Series tournaments. Their live-weigh concept and dedication to sportsmanship and conservation of marine

Dear Eric,

resources are most admirable and we are proud to be one of their sponsors.

Congrats on your catch and kudos for taking the family. Reading your

Their television show is awesome, too. Good luck in the rest of the series…

letter reminded me of my daughter Tracey; she could reel them in like a

we’ll be looking for your name on the leaderboard!

machine at that age and made her brother and sister very jealous! Please

E. Johnson - Editor

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EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Everett Johnson Everett@tsfmag.com

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Our editor conducted a reader survey recently; not surprising was the number of requests for how-to content. Great, but personally, I have never been inspired to construct such. There are more patient minds out there and besides, half of the fun in fishing is figuring stuff out on your own. I’d rather, as a wise man once said, try to inspire more what-to-do thought, and then be amazed at human ingenuity. That being said, topics do come along that are worth sharing and using single hooks on plugs is one of them. For those inquisitive souls among you, here is everything I know about it; the why, how, and what-for of it all. They work. Treble hooks are just flat evil; in fish, in flesh, in landing nets and especially in floating grass. Beyond the obvious safety factor, by using single hooks we are able to get plugs on fish in conditions we had to walk away from before. A properly rigged topwater will negotiate most everything but a full-on grass mat. After a couple years experience, we believe our hookup ratio is every bit as good as it ever was on trebles. In fact, the hook-set is so solid on singles that pliers are needed to get the fish

A topwater plug rigged with single hooks will negotiate most everything but a fullon grass mat.

unbuttoned most of the time. I tried using single hooks several times over the years, mostly with marginal results. A group of our clients (John Regnier from Fishing Tackle

ERK IT OUT; DO IT NOW.” That was Capt. Tricia giving orders. While trying to land an aggressive top-

Although there are other styles, the Gamakatsu Live Bait hook seems perfect for the job.

her and drove the front set of treble hooks

Split ring pliers are a must.

deep into her waders below the knee. In trying to free herself; the second set of hooks found

we never looked back. styles that work, the Gamakatsu Live Bait hook seems perfect for the job. They are forged from heavy gauge wire and the weight seems to make up for missing barbs and helps maintain the

purchase in the first joint of her index finger. It

lure’s balance as intended by the manufacturer.

was shanked so deeply that it looked like the

In order for a single hook to function properly

tendons were pinned together all the way to her

in this application two rings are required.

tip of her fingernail. Even more uncomfortable

Otherwise, they will not align with the

was having to blow bubbles on each wave due

body of the plug. As for the hook

to the awkward position she was caught in.

itself, short shanks work best. Hooks

If that had happed to me, and no help was

with longer shanks can easily snag each

nearby, I think I would have just rolled over,

other or wrap around the lure’s nose.

floated, prayed, and vigorously sucked my

Rigging can be frustrating at first, but with

other thumb. July 2008

Charles Sandford) brought us the right stuff and Although there are no doubt other brands and

watered redfish, the silly thing torpedoed

12

Unlimited’s Katy Freeway store and his friend

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of its suspending action, it can be easily

fly, even while wading. Split ring pliers are a

controlled in that clear zone just below the

must unless you have iron fingernails, and

floating grass and above the growing grass.

even those won’t last long. Split rings should

It can also be worked very shallow, handy

be opened carefully to avoid bending and

for those windblown shorelines where grass

springing; push them too far and they will not

can stack up. Same with the MirrODine &

close properly, and some rings are better than

MirrOMinnow. For these, try 1/O size hooks

others in this regard.

on both hangers. For the Catch 2OOO &

The best split rings are those cut square on the ends of the wire, rings with angular wire ends will inhale your line at every

Jrs: Have no fear of loosing fish with single hooks on this lure.

rear works well. CORKIES. The Corky Devil with a single

chance, especially if spread a bit. Fortunately,

hook is absolutely deadly. Being honest, we

Gamakatsu also offers these hooks with a

quit throwing this bait years ago when we

welded ring already attached. This feature

knew we were on big fish. Due to its sleek

makes everything easier but, as always,

design, big fish always seemed to take down

expect to pay a premium for convenience.

to their stomachs and death rates were high.

Here are a couple of setups which work well

With singles, the hook almost always lodges

but, alas, do feel free to be creative.

securely in the corner of the mouth and

THE GET-DOWN-NASTY SHE DOG

releasing them alive is much more realistic. A

PRESENTATION. You know those days

number 2/O does well here and the original

when the wind is oppressive and the water

Corky does well with the 1/O size.

seems ripped beyond hope, where

There are at least as many ways to rig with

the floating grass looks like spinach

single hooks as fishermen have ideas. No,

garnish on a Yoo-Hoo chocolate

they are not for everybody, but if you fish in

shake? There are still good fish there,

Catch 2OOO: If there ever was a lure built for single hooks this is it.

Catch Jr., a 2/O on the front and 1/O on the

grassy areas they offer a serious advantage.

and banging them up with an obnoxious She

The safety factor is also real, and I’ve seen

Dog can be a good way to get at them. We

more than one hairy-legged full-grown man

can get these lures into areas where even

faint like an ice princess after getting shanked.

using a tail is difficult. As in all plugs this size

By the way, after Capt. Tricia’s encounter

(Top Dog, Skitter Walk, etc.), a 3/O hook on

she shied away from topwaters for quite some

the front with a 2/O on the rear seems fine.

time. Now she’s back in there. Y’all have fun

The smaller hook on the rear seems to loosen

and catch what you’ve been missing.

up the action. Facing the front hook forward gets through the grass quite well and hooking percentage is still high even when they just slap it. SUPER SPOOK JR. This little bait lends itself exceptionally well to single hooks and doesn’t seem to have much of a bad side to it. With a 1/O hook mounted front and rear, the plug seems to always find the

CONTACT

She Walk: hooking percentage is still high, even when they are just slapping at it.

a little practice you can easily do it on the

MIKE MCBRIDE

meatiest part of the mouth. Plus, these hooks will not straighten under the strain of a heavy Devil: Releasing them in good shape is a more realistic outcome when going single.

fish as the factory-installed #4 trebles have tendency to do. The weak spot is the factory’s split ring. We replace these with heavier

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

gauge and slightly larger diameter… just enough to allow the hook to swing freely. Have no fear of loosing fish with single hooks on this lure. CATCH 2OOO. If ever there were plugs built for single hooks this is one of them. Again, the hookups are solid, and because

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from the gear they carried and wore, and by the way they moved about and stowed things. When we exchanged casual greetings, one of them handed me a wad of cash, enough for the trip and a tip, then we made a quick exit from the harbor. I knew these guys had strong commitment to the work we’d do on the water. On the way to the first fishing hole, I noticed that the roaring, nighttime wind was beginning to subside. By the time I reached my destination and the boat and anchor icons merged on the GPS screen, the wailing wind had fallen to a asphalt down which

NA NARROW, TWISTING TEXAS HIGHWAY, somewhere between

he rolls. Instinctively, he swerves to avoid the dainty

feathery whisper of a breeze, precisely the kind that makes a topwater bite seem imminent. I started to tell the guys to try a Super Spook

creature, causing him to veer off the highway

or Skitterwalk, but I noticed when they picked up

and onto slick grass along its sides. His rig

their rods that they already had the plugs tied to

goes into a series of circles and slides, before

the ends of their lines. Politely, they waited for

the bayfront and his back porch, a respected

crumpling headlong into a stately, centuries-old

me to describe the spot, then slid almost silently

old fishing guide drives along in a trusted

oak tree near a bend in the road. By the time the

over the gunwales, shuffling off in the direction

pickup, pulling his boat behind him. Known

dust settles, the bloodied man is pinned behind

I sent them, casting with purpose, moving

for an enduring commitment to integrity and a

the wheel of his truck, barely alive.

steadily, with unhurried, fluid motions. Normally, I give some technical advice to

stirring strength of spirit, the captain has been

people on how to work their lures, but these

religiously true to his word and his God, and has always looked after the good of the people who

I remember turning the wheel when I saw

guys needed no help. In fact, one of the pair

the deer leap seemingly out of nowhere, and I

caught a fish mere yards into the wade, and his

remember losing control. While the truck was

partner stayed clear of him while he fought it, still

answer; gadgets of the modern world still remain

spinning, time seemed to slow. I’ve always

managing to move into position so that he could

mostly a nuisance to him, though he recognizes

heard that your whole life will pass before your

cast into the area where the fish had bitten.

their important role in improving the world and

eyes at times like those, but what I experienced

his business. He knows it’s dangerous to talk

was more like a dream, a mellow, soothing and

and drive, but he taps on the green button to

delicious dream. In it, I gained a glimpse of

connect with the caller anyway, after recognizing

heaven, a fishing guide‘s heaven.

fish with him. When the cell phone rings, he’s reluctant to

the number as that of his client for tomorrow.

I observed myself driving up to a dock in

“Good fish?” I asked when I saw a great foamy ball erupt before the man. “Aren’t they all?” he replied, without turning to look back at me. It wasn’t a sideways comment; it carried no ill tone. Obviously, he was utterly

darkness, where I could see two clients waiting

satisfied to be attached to the fish. Patiently, he

bit disappointing out there today. Wind got up

for me, already clad in waders. They carried

played the trout to his side and deftly pinched its

from west of due south. Mucked up most of the

every essential thing and nothing they did not

lip with his Boga Grip. Lifting it clear of the water,

spots I was fishing.” He’s hoping to give subtle,

need. Though they were certainly anxious to

he said, “Five and a half pounds, maybe twenty

negative hints, so that he might persuade the

get out on the water, they neither hurried me

six inches. Nice starter.” His friend nodded in

guys to postpone the trip.

nor attempted to board my boat until I had it

approval as he pushed the trout forward and

launched and secured.

released it from his grip. Both stopped moving

“Just getting off the water,” he says. “It was a

“What’s the weather forecast?” the voice on the other end asks. But before the wrinkle-necked, sun-seared

I’d never fished with them before, but somehow I recognized them, or at least I had

captain can reply, a whitetail doe suddenly

the strong sense that I knew their type. I judged

appears before him, bounding across the lined

instantly that they were experienced, both

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July 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

and began casting toward where he‘d hooked the fish. “You guys wanting to keep some eaters today?” I asked as I entered the water and www.TSFMAG.com

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headed over to join them.

mouth to comment about what I was seeing,

corner of the bait camp, it occurred to me that

when I watched the arm of one of my clients

I had never really gotten a clear look at the

replied. “As long as they are small enough. We

rise and point, indicating to the other that they

countenance of either man. In spite of that fact,

don’t like to eat the bigger ones.”

were seeing exactly the same thing I was. Their

I shared a sincere kinship with them. We were

“Probably just a couple each,” the closer man

performance provided evidence of supreme

brethren, our souls forever connected by a

whoosh of a trout’s mouth cupping water as it

experience, as though they were old as the tide

similar passion for the same kind of fishing.

attacked one of their floating plugs. In seconds,

and moon, but they slipped through the water

both of their rods were bent. Beyond them, I

with the grace and ease of youth.

At that moment, I heard the unmistakable

could see salty spray anointing the air to honor the antics of the fat trout they fought. For a solid two hours, the scene repeated

We three began a slow and nearly silent

When they were gone, I relaxed at the helm of my boat, contented, in no hurry to go home. The hull softly swayed and my gaze moved out

march toward where the fleeing mullet indicated

over the wide waters of the bay on which I made

feeding trout and redfish next to shore, tying on

my living. The sun in reflection danced on the waves.

itself time and again; they seemed hooked up

floating Corkies along the way. I didn’t have to

almost constantly, as was I. Most of the fish

tell them to change the type of lure they were

Sparkling rays seemed to leap like sprites

we caught were trout between twenty four and

using, since the water was barely knee-deep;

off the water. I got the sense that I was being

twenty eight inches, though a few upper-slot

they just seemed to know what I was going to

approached by angels. And then all was light,

reds joined in the melee, tricking us into thinking

say. Furthermore, they had exactly what they

and all was right, and everything faded to white.

we might have a true trophy trout. We also

needed in their boxes.

caught a smattering of smaller trout, perfect

My dream continued to evolve in this soul-

for the frying pan; though I tried to give mine to

satisfying way, with us catching fish the whole

them, the men shook their heads and refused.

morning. Some of the trout weighed upwards of

in bad shape, but he was still alive,” the highway

“No worries, boss. We’ll catch our own.”

eight pounds. The two astute clients were amply

patrolman first on the scene relays to the crew

satisfied with the results of our efforts, though

of a local news station. “He had this gleam in his

fewer and fewer, and before I could tell them

neither acted as though it was anything unusual

eyes. It reminded me of my retriever. She gets

to do so, I saw the two almost simultaneously

to catch so many fish and big ones at that. They

that same look on her face when we’re calling a

reach for the wading boxes they carried. I said,

released everything they caught, except for a

flock of ducks into the spread. I know the old boy

“You might tie on a Corky now,” but before I

pair of eighteen inch trout each strung and kept.

must have been in grave pain, but he seemed

could finish the statement, both showed me that they had one already in hand.

When we climbed back into the boat at the

that we might save him, but he passed away before we could extract him from the vehicle.”

“Oh, by the way, Paul sent some Fat Boys for

the Power Pole and cranked up the Opti Max,

you. We put a bag of them in your leaning post,”

intending to head to another spot, feeling like

one said.

we’d given sore mouths to most of the fish in

“Cool,” I replied. “Be sure and thank him for me when you see him again.” As with the topwaters, I was preparing myself to give them lessons on how to work their

the area. I suspected that the catching wouldn’t likely be as easy the rest of the day, after the intense morning bite. “Let’s just head on in Captain,” a voice behind

Corkies, when first one, then the other hooked

me said. “We like to quit while we’re ahead. Why

a fish.

ruin the magic by pushing too hard when you’ve

“Dedoink!” I heard one say. The other chuckled, and I realized I’d never gotten a

already had enough fun for three days, much less one?”

good look at their faces. As I began to move

I could appreciate the wisdom of what he

around to where I could see them better, they

said, so I swung the bow of my Haynie toward

shifted in response, seeming to want to stay out

the harbor and home. As soon as I tied off at

of my way. Wherever I went, they maintained

the dock, the two men gathered their gear and

a respectful distance, adept at avoiding my

stepped off the boat, stringers in hand.

glance. Eventually, I gave up the effort. “A man can get addicted to that doink, that’s a

KEVIN COCHRAN

“Wait, boys. I’ll clean those fish for you,” I offered. “Not necessary, Captain. We’ll just gut and

fact,” I heard one say. His friend answered, “Yeah, for years, I only got that thrill from a blowup, but now it’s the

gill ’em ourselves,” one said with a shake of his head. Then the voice of the other, “We’ll be back

same with my Corky.” Later, when the bite slowed in the waist-deep potholes into which we were casting, I began to notice more and more frantic bait jumping tight to the nearby shoreline. I’d just opened my www.TSFMAG.com

deeply at peace with himself. I was thinking then

end of the wade, it was about lunch time. I lifted

CONTACT

Predictably, in time, the blowups became

“When we got to the truck, I could see he was

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here at the same time tomorrow.” “Yes sir,” I stammered. “Thanks again, and have a nice evening.” As I watched them disappear around the Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Tommy saw Bodie walk in so he ordered two. “Bodie can you that are here… can you,

little green around the gills but you’re down

huh, can you?” Tommy

right surly!” were running through and said, “Oh, it’s nothing

there is for the Haddon’s

Bodie, I was just hoping for some better weather

Cup Tournament, can

is all.”

a sort of disgusted look

couldn’t see the red buoy that marked his trophy but then saw it bobbing in the waves. Tommy pulled the trap and the flounder was flapping and flopping around and Tommy breathed a sigh of relief. The fish must have been eating well because it didn’t look like it had lost any of its girth. Satisfied that all was well, Tommy dropped the trap back into the water and headed to the house. Haddon’s was jumping all right. The place was full and the parking lot and both sides of the street in front of the place had cars and trucks lined up as far as you could see. Old Red Childers who had retired from being a fishing guide was charging folks a buck each to give them a ride to the front door in his golf cart and it looked like he would clear a couple hundred bucks or more for the night. Old Red knew too that he’d make more than that if he waited around for the patrons to want to go back to their vehicles but he really didn’t want to stay up that late if he didn’t have to, and besides those meddling Deputy Sheriffs would be around by then and make him get his golf cart off the street. The customers at the bar were two deep ordering beers and every table in the place was full. The pool tables were all busy and, in spite of it being a little chilly outside due to the norther that had blown in, the patio was crowded as well. Tommy was seeing dollar signs everywhere he looked. Tommy looked around for Bodie but didn’t see him so he waited in line at the bar to get a beer. About the time that it was his turn to order,

20

July 2008

Tommy just looked ahead at the cut they

more people here than

Bodie gave Tommy

He panicked for a moment when he

asked. “You’ve hardly said a thing since last night and this morning you not only look a

you believe that?”

his boat up and ran to his “secret” spot.

“What is wrong with you Tommy?” Bodie

believe all the people

stammered. “Why there’s

ARLY THE NEXT MORNING TOMMY FIRED

as he did being on the water at night.

“There’s nothing we can do about the weather, so let’s just try to have a good time.” Bodie said. Bodie and Tommy anchored next to a slough

and said, “Well of course

with a strong current running and some bait

there are more people

milling about. They fished for a while and made

here for this tournament, Tommy, it’s the Crab

note of some crab traps they would pick up when

Trap Clean Up weekend. Old man Haddon is

they were through fishing. No fish were found

holding the tournament now to try and get more

so they started the outboard, pulled anchor, and

people involved in the Clean Up and to sort of

idled around pulling traps.

reward people for their time and trouble…but you knew that Tommy,” Bodie said.

“What say we see if there are any traps in your “secret” spot Tommy,” Bodie asked.

Tommy looked like he was going to be sick

“Uh, there ain’t none Bodie. I was there not

and the last time Bodie saw his friend look that

long ago, not a trap in sight, no sir, not a one of

way he had just eaten some whipped goose liver.

them.” Tommy muttered.

“I forgot, I seriously forgot they were holding

“Well, let’s have us a look anyway since we’re

the cleanup this weekend Bodie, I thought it

so close and besides, being out of the wind there

was next weekend. Oh my Lord, I plum forgot,”

might get a little fishing in to boot,” said Bodie.

Tommy cried. “Settle down boy, no need to get all upset over that, I’ll be off tomorrow after all so you and me,

“See Bodie, I told you, not a trap in sight, no sir, not one, not one trap here so you ready to go now?” Tommy asked.

Tommy Boy, we’ll see about catching us a big old

Bodie looked around and sure enough there

flounder and we’ll pick up our share of traps too;

were no crab trap floats to see but he did notice

that make you feel better?” Bodie asked.

some bait milling around some grass so he

Tommy wanted to throw up.

thought they should fish a little while they were

Tommy didn’t know what to do. It was too

there. Just as he was about to tell Tommy what

messy outside to try and make a run for his

he was thinking Bodie saw a boat that belonged

trapped flounder tonight by himself in the dark

to Gary Messer, one of those Houston boys,

and Tommy didn’t really like being out in the dark

heading towards them loaded down with traps.

anyway. If Bodie expected him to be with him

“Bodie ya’ll ain’t going to find any traps in here

in the tournament tomorrow there would be no

today, we checked it first thing and only found

way that he would get a chance to pick up his

one and it’s the strangest thing you ever did

winning fish. All he could do was wait until after

see,” Gary offered in greeting.

the tournament, head out, turn the fish loose and just go about his business. The next morning the weather was as nasty

“What’s so strange about a crab trap, Gary?” Bodie wanted to know. “This trap had a red trotline buoy attached

as it had been the night before; cold, windy

and had the biggest flounder you ever saw

and miserable. Bodie said that he thought they

inside. It was rigged so that no crabs or anything

should just fish where they would be protected

but little fish could get in or out of it,” Gary

and pick up traps when they saw them. Bodie

replied. “If I didn’t know better I’d think someone

didn’t want to cross a lot of open water in

had planted a ringer in that trap so they could

this weather and that was perfectly okay with

win the tournament old man Haddon is putting

Tommy. Tommy liked rough water about as much

on,” he added.

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that you found in the trap Gary, ya’ll can’t keep it? You know that would be illegal!” Tommy said. Gary chuckled and told Tommy, “Don’t worry about it Tommy, we let it go where we found the trap, right here in your “secret” spot!” Bodie and Tommy could hear them laughing even as they were speeding away in their boat as Bodie wondered aloud, “Now who do you think

we do.” Bodie said. Bodie had to tell him to reel in three times. Bodie and Tommy didn’t bring in the most traps that day nor did they place in the flounder tournament; Tommy couldn’t help repeating over and over to himself that cheaters never win. “What are you muttering about Tommy?” Bodie asked. “I uh, I said, that cheating’s a sin Bodie,

martin strarup

you know that flounder in the trap and stuff.” “I know what you mean Tommy Boy and I can

would have done such a thing as to try and win

tell you that if I ever found out someone was

this tournament by cheating, Tommy?”

cheating in a tournament that I was fishing in and

Tommy pretended he didn’t hear; he had

contact

Just before Gary left Tommy choked out a question, “What did ya’ll do with the big flounder

I could sure lay my big hands on that fella. Let’s

already baited up and cast his line to the spot

just say it wouldn’t be a pretty sight, not by a long

where he thought he had left the trap. Now with

shot,” Bodie assured him. Tommy didn’t have much to say the rest of the

any luck...! “Reel in Tommy, we’ve got traps to pick up and

night there at haddon’s Place.

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23


T AMUSES ME HOW MY FISHING CUSTOMERS and even

“set the hook” in traditional fashion. Instead he

some experienced fishermen and guides

simply points the rod at the fish and tightens the

react when I talk about circle hooks; they

drag on the reel and starts cranking line. The

seem totally unaware of their existence and

hook sets itself with the fish’s help and then the

When using circle hooks the angler does not

angler brings the rod up to fight the fish.

have little or no idea how to use them.

When tarpon jump, it is tradition for the angler

I mention the conservation value of circle hooks to guides who use live bait, stressing

to, “bow to the King.” In common terms, this

how effective they would be in saving countless

means the angler points the rod directly at the

undersized trout from gut-hooking. The reply

tarpon on each jump so that it doesn’t fall on a

is always the same, “Oh, they won’t work

taunt leader and break it or the main line. The first time I ever saw circle hooks in use in

with croakers.”

Jason Segrest with a 6 1/4 lb. speck.

the surf was around 1990 when three longtime

hooks are fashioned from heavier gage wire.

they’ve worked for me with live finger mullet

shark fishing pals started using them on long

In the picture included in this article look at

over the past decade. Truth is — circle hooks

rods. They had some success but eventually

the difference in gap between the top row of

have been around for thousands of years and

gave up. They were fishing with the rods in

traditional designed circle hooks and the bottom

are one of the oldest designs in existence. They

heavy rod holders and the drags tightened down

row which is the new wide gap design.

were designed to catch fish with no help from an

to help set the circle hooks. Several hooks broke

angler such as on a limb and other set lines.

from the shock of hard and sudden strikes.

This amazes me and I always reply how well

Currently, motivated to conserve the resource,

In modern times, circle hooks first became

This new design should work wonderfully well on a wide array of gamefish. The wider gap Mustads come in 2 models. 39948D is available

popular with snapper fishermen as they have

sharkers are renewing their efforts and having

in 8/0 through 12/0 and Mustad 39951BLN is

greatly reduced tendency to snag underwater

some success with circle hooks but also are

available in #6 thru 10/0. It is the black hook in

structure than other hook styles. Anglers

losing a number of larger sharks as the hook gap

the pic. Gamakatsu #12053 Big Eye Circle is

seeking trophy tarpon soon realized that jumping

doesn’t seem wide enough to get a good bite in

available in 6/0 through 12/0 but is much more

fish on circles stayed hooked more frequently

the thick jaw structure of larger specimens. I’ve

expensive. Eagle Claw L204ELG is available in

than with traditional J-hooks.

had the same results as everyone else but have

7/0 through 10/0 in black and 197G is available

always had high hopes of some day finding the

in 2/0 through 12/0 in tin. The two unusual

to side during the jump which often results in

right circle hook for the job because I feel sure it

hooks to the far right of the photo are Mustad

J-hooks being straightened or dislodged from

would decrease the number of sharks that end

Appendage Circle AP39960D and are available

their bony jaws. The circle hook, however, works

up gut-hooked on J-hooks.

in 10/0 through 16/0.

Tarpon shake their heads violently from side

differently. It is designed to catch and hold in the

While talking with Chris Phillips one day

corner of the mouth as opposed to finding a less

about tarpon hooks he mention a new series

reliable grip in some other part of the mouth.

of circle hooks

When a tarpon goes through it’s jumping and

Mustad, Eagle Claw

headshaking routine the circle hook does its job

and Gamakatsu

superbly. Awful cool deal.

had came out with which had a wider gap. The Mustad and Eagle Claws

The reason for their unusual appearance is a wire permanently attached to keep smaller

Assortment of circle hook and “Billy rigged” tarpon lures.

were also made of thinner wire for better hook penetration. The Gamakatsu Paul Knowles with a 6 1/2 lb. speck which he caught and released. 24

July 2008

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Darrell Atkins with a 29” speck — CPR on Wednesday May 21, 2008.

bottom fish from becoming hooked when seeking larger snapper, grouper, amberjack and other bottom dwellers. Is that cool or what? Mustad has been one of my treasured sponsors for years and I’m proud of these innovative designs. The lighter gauge wire may well not be appropriate for heavy shark tackle but should hold up to 50 lb. Photo by Jimmy Jackson.

class tackle very well and 80 lb. tackle as long as the angler remembers what that drag was put on his reel for. The lures pictured here are “Billy versions” of Coonpop lures for tarpon fishing. The hook is cut off the heavy jig at the bend of the shank. The lure is inserted onto the remaining shank of the hook and two split rings are attached to the eye of the jig and an appropriate circle hook is attached to the top split ring via a small zip tie. Tarpon most often throw the hook by using the weight of the lure itself as a fulcrum. With this setup the lure breaks away when the tarpon tries to throw the weight and the circle hook catches in the corner of it’s mouth, it is solidly hooked and the caught vs. lost ratio goes up dramatically. Likewise, tarpon are quite fond of swim baits but the hooks they come with are too weak for tarpon. So, my friend and co-conspirator, Capt. Curtiss Cash of Port O’Connor set up one in Coonpop fashion as shown. What amazed both of us instantly was the greatly increased swimming action of the lure when rigged in this fashion and I bet it becomes a longtime favorite producer. I’m sitting here now speculating how a smaller version could really prove deadly on speckled trout and bull reds and be near weedless at the same time. Can’t help always trying new things and techniques and trying to come up with a better mouse trap. Just of the fun in fishing. Had some good bay trips recently wading with artificials but the trout have shown up in the surf and tarpon are being seen so it’s time to concentrate my efforts on the beach and nearshore. I know all y’all think of me as a surf

Weight: 1.5 oz.

CONTACT

my nature and to me it’s a very real part

CAPT. BILLY SANDIFER

gulls by pointed wings, bill shape and the water after prey. Terns feed on fish and large insects. The least tern in the smallest tern in North America. It has a short tail. Bill is yellow with black tip; long and slightly decurved. Least tern has black cap and nape, white forehead. Fairly common along on East and Gulf of Mexico coasts March through September. The least

more versatile than that and am not guide in bay systems during winter and spring and certainly for big game fishing in the nearshore Gulf of Mexico in the Panga. I would ask that you keep that in mind when looking for a guide for these agendas other than the surf. Be Careful, Be Courteous, Be Kind.

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All terns are distinguished from their feeding technique of plunge-diving into

fisherman/guide but actually I am a bit with out adequate skills as a lure fishing

Length: 9 inches Wing Span: 20 inches

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

tern is less common and declining inland and on West Coast. Colonial nester on beaches and spoil islands April-August. Least tern Winters in South America. Fishes hard in any and all weather conditions and only eats what it captures. Their presence feeding often indicates high numbers of very small fry and anchovies in the immediate area.

Telephone 361-937-8446 Website www.billysandifer.com Texas Saltwater Fishing

July 2008

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or many of us the summer months mean different things when it comes to the sport of fishing. There are those who can only dream of clean blue prop wash, flat seas at dawn, and an endless expanse of gulf as far as the eye can see. For others the thought of rushing into a melee of working birds and fleeing bait gets their heart pumping in anticipation of hungry trout and redfish by the bunch. Still others look forward to the quiet solitude of anchoring on their favorite “hole” with a livewell full of fresh bait, a cooler full of cold drinks, and their best buddy in the seat next to them. All of the above sound inviting and each group would be hard-pressed to change their tactics because in their world, their pattern or mode is just right and that’s what summer fishing is all about. On every end of the fishing spectrum there are two different types of anglers with one common goal, they just go about achieving that goal in different ways. Both groups enjoy the sport and all that comes with it, they just apply varying methods. You have the high profile folks who attack their sport with a passion that borders on obsession. Tournament anglers fit into this category since they know no boundaries when it comes to chasing their favorite fish. These folks study charts, maps, and graphs like they’re trying to earn a degree. In a very short time these “machines” can decipher nearly any body of water and know it as well or better than the locals; it’s amazing how good some of these folks are. Case in point, the anglers who fish the Oberto Redfish Cup are easily some of the best anglers who ever fired up an outboard. The lengths they go to in order to pattern fish in new locations is nothing short of mind-boggling, I am continually amazed at how they consistently find fish in foreign water. Let’s back up a minute and look at the folks who go about things differently, the weekend “pleasure” fishermen. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some really good fishermen in this group too, they just choose to fish for fun instead of dollars or notoriety and there is definitely something to be said for that. Nothing ruins fishing for some folks quicker than making it a contest or putting pressure on a relaxing event. Some of the very best times I have ever had on a boat were sitting at anchor drowning shad or shrimp in the Sabine River with any number of friends or family. The social interaction and low stress atmosphere is at times exactly what the doctor ordered. On this end of the spectrum is where you find the family fishermen and kids, this is probably why I like to hang out on this end the best. Kids and summer fishing is a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned. It really doesn’t make a difference what the fish is as long as it bites for the most part, just ask kids and they will tell you as long as it pulls it’s good. I wish more folks would subscribe to that theory, we could all learn a little bit from kids. Thus far my summer has been full of both styles of fishermen and they have all been enjoyable. The recent Oberto Redfish

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WE WANT TO THANK ALL WHO PARTICIPATED in our reader

many they planned to fish this year, 44%

survey. We learned a lot about who you are,

hoped to fish more, and only 9% planned to

how you like to fish, what you’d like to see in the

fish fewer. How will the price of fuel affect

magazine, along with a host of other valuable

fishing plans for 2008? Responses were: not at

tidbits. You can bet we paid attention as the

all – 34%, somewhat – 50%, quite a bit – 16%.

information was arriving and being tabulated

In response to, “Other members of household

and we’ll be incorporating much of what we

that fish in saltwater,” 7% said none, 54% said

learned to direct the content and flavor of this

one, 19% said two, 14% said three, and 6% said

reading TSFMag, 22% said less than one

magazine. The response was way beyond what

more than three.

year, 19% said 1 to 2 years, 35% have been

said they plan to fish the same number, 47%

Conservancy and DU. When asked how long they had been

we dreamed we would get, you folks are great.

Where do TSFMag readers shop for tackle

If you will recall we offered a drawing with

and gear? General outdoor stores – 52%, tackle

more than four years. 36% said this is the only

$100 Gift Certificates redeemable with for goods

stores – 36%, internet – 8%, department stores

magazine they take, 36% take this and another,

or services with any of our advertisers. The

– 4%. The average spent for tackle and gear

16% take three, 6% take four, 6% take more

lucky winners are:

was $663.00 during 2007.

than four. 76% declare TSFMag to be their

 Dennis Flamez – Round Rock, TX

When asked whether they fished mostly

reading 2 to 4 years, 24% have been reading

favorite fishing magazine, 22% rate it as good,

 Joseph Marfin – League City, TX

inshore or offshore, 80% said inshore, 8% said

2% say they find it to be average compared

 Tim Giesler – Alvin, TX

offshore, and 12% listed inshore and offshore.

with other publications.

As for preferred fishing method, 42% prefer to

HERE’S SOME OF WHAT WE LEARNED: The average age of our readership is 46

On the topic of saltwater fishing guides, 53%

wade, 38% would rather stay in the boat, 16%

of respondents use fishing guides and 47% do

like to fish from kayaks, and 4% prefer the poled

not. Of those who use guides, 74% take 1-3

skiff method. Where do our readers fish most

guided trips per year, 23% take 4-6 trips, 3%

years, 98% are male, 83% are married. You are

often? The responses indicate 18% fish the

take more. When asked their general opinion

a fairly well-educated bunch, when asked to

upper coast, 42% fish the middle coast, 21%

of the number of saltwater fishing guides in

declare the highest level of schooling they had

fish the lower coast, 12% are surf fishers,

Texas, 29% said they like guides and would like

attained, 22% said they were high-school grads,

and 7% fish offshore. As for preferred style of

to see more, 24% said we have too many, 47%

35% had attended college, 29% held college

fishing, 43% say artificial lures are their favorite,

expressed no opinion.

degrees, and 14% had studied beyond college.

another 43% say they use bait and lures, 9%

Competitive fishing is popular among our

Fishermen need money to enjoy their sport

use bait, and 5% say they are fly-fishers or do

survey group, 57% hold a favorable opinion of

some fly-fishing.

tournaments while 11% do not, 32% expressed

and it appears that our readers do fairly well in this regard. Average household income

When fishing for speckled trout, 33% keep

no opinion either way. When asked their

was reported to be $104,000 per year. Boat

a limit when they can, and 66% keep some for

opinion of C&R tournaments, 76% approve, 6%

ownership within those households came in at

dinner. On the C&R questions, 36% said they

disapprove and 18% expressed no opinion.

49% owning one boat, 19% owning two, and 6%

release big fish and 8% said they release all.

with three or more. 26% said there is no boat in

When asked their opinion of speckled trout limits

when we asked if they would like to see hunting

their household.

north of the Lower Laguna Madre, 41% said

content in TSFMag. A whopping 85% do not

leave it alone and 59% said they’d welcome

want it!

As for fishing background, we are a rather

Our readers sent a resounding message

seasoned bunch of salts with average

reduced limits if TPWD’s data said they could

experience stated to be 24 years. Here’s the

catch bigger fish. On the subject of minimum

of what you gave us here can be used to further

breakdown… less than 5 years – 16%, 5 to 10

length for specks, 56% said leave it alone, 26%

improve and expand this publication. Some

years – 9%, 10 to 20 years – 17%, 20 to 30

said increase it to 16 inches and 18% said they’d

respondents went into great detail to describe

years – 22%, 30 to 40 years – 21%, 40+ years

like to see it increased to 17 inches.

the type of instructional and how-to content they

– 32%. With our average age of 46 years, it

Our survey indicates that 91% of respondents

would appear that most readers have a lifelong

are members of CCA-Texas and 69% fish the

saltwater habit!

CCA-STAR tournament. Other conservation and

Our survey says our readers fished an average of 38 days last year. When asked how 30

July 2008

Thanks again folks, your input is valued. Much

would like to see and we take these to heart. And to our lucky winners, we’ll be contacting you to arrange the delivery of your gift certificates.

political action groups mentioned in the survey results were SEA, SALT, IGFA, NRA, Nature Texas Saltwater Fishing

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J ay wa t K i n s

Releasing a solid trout off shallow mid-bay sandbar to fight another day.

Big trout in headshake mode; note the water clarity.

July, what more needs

would have allowed us to actually get out on

to be said when this month is mentioned

the bars and fish.

among lure enthusiast. This is especially

and humps. My feet become my eyes and

true if you’re a trout chaser. Add to this the

in fact it can be down right dirty as long as

over the years I have associated the colors of

want to catch upper-slot trout and you might

the bait is present. Along most of the Texas

the water with the water depths. Deep green

find yourself scratching your head at the end

coast the sunlight can penetrate deep enough

to almost blue is the deepest, green is mid-

of a long hot day. I actually have many trout

to allow for some submerged grass growth.

range stuff, sandy green is more shallow,

anglers that book me during the month of July

Submerged grass, active bait, tidal movement

clear to white is down right shallow and black,

and August knowing it is a tough stretch for

and deep water access for mid-day sulking

well that be the grass.

catching quality trout on artificial baits. When

periods makes the bars extremely attractive

asked what I do I simply reply that I head for

to upper-slot sized trout. In my portion of the

is an absolute must. Be sure to pay attention

the bars. Those that know me understand that

world, tidal movement is a key ingredient for

to where the strikes you receive originate,

I am not referring to a saloon. Can’t say that I

a successful morning of bar hopping. In some

without this knowledge it is almost impossible

have honestly ever spent much time in one but

areas to our south, tidal movement is not as

for you to repeat the process. This process

I have spent countless numbers of days and

critical simply because tidal flow is minimal

also sets up the pattern for this bar as well as

nights on shoreline and mid-bay sandbars.

due from being so far from a gulf pass.

others that are in the same area. What’s good

July is a month when the winds lay and

With all the pieces of the puzzle in place it

Casting to all of the above mentioned areas

on one is probably good on similar bars on any given day.

the tides drop along the Texas Coast. These

is time to discuss your tactics for fishing such

two conditions allow knowing anglers; of

areas. I wade about 99% of the time and I feel

which you will be after reading this article, the

this is the best way to fish the sandbars that

many anglers overlook the bars due to a

ability to capitalize on these conditions and

have water depths that allow us to comfortably

lack of navigational markings. Many anglers

put yourself in some pretty darn good trout

go to work. I am about 5’ 7” so if I can wade,

also fail to read and interpret each type of

waters. One of the things I have preached to

so can the majority of the rest of the men in

structure. This most often results in one

my boys about fishing these sandbars is the

the world and a lot of you ladies will be safe

simply fishing the drop-off along one side or

simple fact that for more than nine months

getting out as well.

the other. More times than not this will lead

the weather conditions prevent anglers from putting too much pressure on such areas.

I like to position myself a little offshore of

Another attraction is the simple fact that

to poor results which leads to lower

the actual crown of the bars and work the

confidence. The less confidence you have

perimeter, casting to shallow grass beds or

the less time you spend fishing, less time

windy about six months out of the year to fish

guts early and then working the deeper beds

fishing is usually equal to fewer fish, and

these unprotected bars. In the winter, the

and edges of the drop-off as the sun rises

this leads to the sandbar never getting the

water gets too cold and the trout start looking

higher. Bigger trout will stage right on top of

attention it deserves.

for shallow mud. So even when the conditions

the bars UNDER the bait or ON TOP of the

are right, the trout are often absent. Right now

grass beds themselves. Edges of guts created

this time of year whenever the conditions will

is when you need to take advantage of the bar

by tidal current and wind are maybe one of

allow. I catch lots of good trout on these bars

scene. For the past five months there have

my most favorite structures along the bars I

and I catch them on every type of structure on

been MAYBE five or six days when the winds

frequent this time of year.

the bar at various times of the day. Mid-day for

Wind is the major factor, it is simply too

32

Water clarity does not have to be great;

It is important to make mental notes of bottom contour and the severity of the drops

July 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

I spend the majority of my time on sandbars

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33


instance is one of my favorite times to fish the shallow

Big trout, midday, mid-bay sandbar.

grass beds along these bars.

a sK t h e pro

Upper-slot sized trout will many times cruise to the shallowest structure during mid-day hours hoping for an easy feeding opportunity. The lack of water depth over the structure shrinks the strike zone, making it easier to capitalize on opportunity. Two of my lifetime best trout have come mid-day and on just the type of bars and structure we are discussing. What to throw? You know me, I am an odds player and I go with two types of lures, Bass Assassins and slow-sinking MirrOlures. Now before the topwater chunkers get all swelled up, this is just what I have the most confidence in. I know plenty of you have more luck and confidence in the surface approach. That said, I like the 5” shad Bass Assassins and the suspending Catch 5, Catch 2000 Jr, 38MR, and the new MirrOdine baits from MirrOlure. I want to make it as easy as I can for the fish. I am of the opinion that big trout like it easier than the young and eager portion of the population. Why is it that we can always catch 14-inch fish? Well the way I see it, they are trying to eat their way up the food chain. Bigger trout like it easy, trust me. I like light-colored baits for this type of fishing. Bone, silver, clear and any combination of these colors will work. Most of the bait around the sandbars will be mullet or menhaden. These baitfish have lots of shine as they move through the water. Glinting is what I call it. As a mullet or menhaden swims it twists from side to side allowing its scales to reflect, thus showing a glint of silver. Get your lure of choice to work erratically enough to glint from time to time and you’re dancing the right steps. You can actually see the mullet glint and the gills of the trout flare as she inhales the baitfish on calm clear days. In most instances there are no surface clues to this type of feeding. Only a keen and attentive eye picks up the flash and the glint. I remember my early days fishing with my dad on Lap Reef in Copano in July. This underwater sight happened so many times in a morning that you could not count them all. Silver spoons with yellow bucktails were the weapons of the day and boy were they effective. Can’t say that I have thrown a spoon and a bucktail for trout in many a year. Stupid is as stupid does! As our water temperatures rise our windows of opportunity will surely be decreased. What makes the bar scene so attractive to me is the fact that the trout; once settled in on the bars, will not leave as long as the food source remains reliable. They will move from shallow structure to deeper structure but that is about it. It makes good sense that we as we can if we are intent on catching better trout. I have always been a student of fishing where fish live, its more predictable. The next time you find yourself not catching fish on one of the many other types of bay structure, head for the nearest bar and have yourself a look. You might be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the

contact

should spend as much time in these areas

fish you catch. May your fishing always be catching.

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July 2008

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c a se y sm a rt t

With so many options, choosing the right fly tackle can be tough.

selecting and purchasing your first fly fishing combination can be both exciting and tortuous. There is an abundance of quality fly tackle available these days and it has never been more affordable. That’s a good thing. But there are so many options and so much hype it’s often tough to narrow down the choices, especially if you are not quite sure exactly what tackle you need to get started. You need some good advice to cut through the fluff. A good place to start is at a reputable brick and mortar fly shop. Fly shops offer several advantages over online retailers. Good tackle shops are staffed with experienced anglers who understand the equipment they sell and recognize the needs of their customers. They know the difference between quality and value (there is a difference), and they won’t try to sell you more or less than you want or need. At a fly shop, you have the opportunity to try out the rods and compare the feel of

casting. But you’ll quickly find out casting is

as casting instructors. This is done through a

different tackle combinations. This is a critical

a tough skill to learn on your own. Although I

series of exams, evaluations, and certification

step in choosing tackle. The staff at a good fly

have always preached the benefits of self-

steps. To become a FFF Certified Casting

shop will listen to your questions and they’ll

teaching, fly casting is one arena where

Instructor, individuals must have exemplary

do their best to guide you to a rod, reel, and

lessons (at least a few) from a qualified

casting skills and they must demonstrate

line that fits your expectations and budget.

professional are extremely helpful.

their ability to teach others these skills. The

They’ll also follow through after the sale.

for a few lessons from a competent casting

still buy nearly all my tackle fromfly shops.

instructor is absolutely worth the money in

There are many quality fly shops scattered

understand the mechanics of fly casting and

area, you can visit Fishing Tackle Unlimited,

help you develop your core casting stroke.

IFLY The Anglers Edge, or Creative Feathers

These fundamentals get you off to a solid start

Studios. If you are up in Austin, talk to Ted

and make growth and improvement over the

and the staff at Sportsman’s Finest. Farther

long term possible.

south, try Gruene Outfitters in New Braunfels

So where does one find a casting

or Tackle Box Outfitters in San Antonio. These

instructor? The Federation of Fly Fishers

shops are staffed with good folks with the

(FFF) is a place to start. You can visit them at

experience needed to steer you straight and

www.fedflyfishers.org .

When you finally get your hands on your new fly fishing rig, you’ll be thirsty to start July 2008

FFF places emphasis on a candidate’s ability to teach.

the long run. A good instructor will help you

across the state. If you live in the houston

get you started right.

36

It may seem frivolous at first, but paying

These things have value, and they are why I

The FFF is an organization that, among other things, tests and certifies individuals Allen Crise doing what he loves — teaching. Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Chip Evans and Ted Mendrek trade ideas over the vise at the Texas Fly Fisher’s Fly Tying Festival. There are FFF Certified Casting Instructors all across Texas. One of the most well-known instructors is Allen Crise. Al owns and operates Hawk Ridge Tackle & Fly Casting School

The Redfish Book,

near Glen Rose. At Hawk Ridge, Al offers customized fly casting and fly tying seminars

by Frank Sargeant

for groups large and small. He also travels throughout Texas, conducting fly casting

caught my eye

and fly fishing seminars at different locations to anglers of all ages and all levels of

several years ago

skill. In addition to teaching fly casting, Al helps train and certify future FFF casting

on a bookstore

instructors. Al is as friendly as they get, and I guarantee you he can help you improve

shelf. I bought a

your cast. You can reach Al Crise at (254) 897-2045 or at flysoup@itexas.net .

copy and began to skim over it that

After acquiring fly tackle and learning how to cast, many anglers become interested in learning to tie flies. Fly fishing and fly tying compliment each other perfectly, and

night. I quickly

the only thing more rewarding than landing a fish on fly tackle is landing a fish on a fly

realized that

you tied. It’s a creative side of fishing that’s really cool. After nearly thirty years of tying

although there was

flies, I am still as mystified and challenged by the promise of fly tying as I was the day

a chapter devoted

I started.

to fly fishing for reds, The Redfish

If you are interested in learning to tie flies, this is a good time to start. There have never been more tying resources, books, videos, and demo’s available. You can begin

Book had far

with a few books that cover the basics of fly tying. They’ll show you the fundamental

more information

tools, materials, and techniques used to create flies. But a more valuable way to learn

geared to

is sit across the table from someone who is tying flies at a demo event. This way you

anglers using conventional tackle.

can watch, take notes, and ask questions. Where are these events? One place to look is at a local fly fishing club. There are

I also noticed that the book was published nearly 2

fly fishing clubs in every major city in Texas, and a bunch scattered in-between. Nearly

decades ago, so some of the tackle and the photos

all sponsor monthly tying nights where club members get together and trade their

were a bit dated. But I as worked my way through the

latest fly patterns and tying techniques. If you are thirsty to learn more about the tools,

book, I liked what I read. And I liked the fact the photos,

materials, and skills required for tying flies, there’s your chance.

techniques and tackle were representative of the time

The Texas Fly Fishers organization in houston sponsors a one-day tying event each year called the Fly Tying Festival. There are fly tyers and speakers from across the country at this event. If you have never been, you should go. It is a great

the book was written — when redfish stocks were rebounding after years of uncontrolled harvest. The Redfish Book covers conservation, redfish

opportunity to watch, ask questions, and learn. Another resource is the fly shop. Many

biology, tackle, and angling strategies. Each chapter

fly shops hold monthly fly tying seminars or sponsor annual fly fishing events featuring

contains solid information that anglers, especially

guest fly tyers. At these events you can watch flies being tied and purchase the tools

newcomers, will find entertaining and useful. As much

and materials to tie them yourself.

as an informative guide though, The Redfish Book

If you are interested in fly fishing, improving your casting skills, or learning to tie

struck me as a snapshot in time. I really like this about it because it shows how the actions of concerned anglers

available to help you. Some are

and conservation groups made a significant contribution

around the block and others are only a phone call away. Many of them are free. Nearly all the fly anglers I know are willing to help out newcomers to the sport. They remember their first fly rod and the exciting possibilities it held. And they understand that

contact

flies, there are plenty of resources

to securing the future of a fishery. And it reminded me that not too long ago, things were very different than they are today.

The Redfish Book By Frank Sargeant 149 pages

everyone has to start somewhere.

Larsen’s Outdoor Publishing iSBn: 0-936513-12-8

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July 2008

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f l y

o f

t h e

m o n t h

f l y

f i s h i n g

6

7

The Magic Crab is a lightly weighted crustacean pattern made from a mix of dubbed craft fur

8

fibers and flash materials. Banding and shading on the fly is created with permanent markers. The natural fluid movements of the synthetic fur fibers bring this pattern to life, and the mix of colors gives the fly depth and a juicy look that critter-crunching predators find hard to resist. The real beauty of the Magic Crab lies in the action of the craft fur fibers. They wiggle and wave in a seductive manner. Even at rest, the body of the crab pulsates in the subtle currents beneath the water’s surface. This gentle “breathing” action is often just right for tricking cautious flats fish that see the fly but move in for a closer inspection

4

9

5

10

before they commit to eating it. The Magic Crab can be tied can be tied in a variety of colors and sizes to match resident crabs. I prefer to tie this pattern on a #2 hook (shown). The Magic Crab rides in the inverted weedless position and it is tied with a mason hard mono weed guard for additional resistance to rooted or floating vegetation. This pattern is relatively lightweight so it lands gently, but it is also compact and easy to cast in the wind. It is a good fly for fish cruising and rooting the flats in search of crabs and crustaceans.

Hook: Gamakatsu SC15 or equivalent 1/0 to #4 Thread: Clear nylon mono

Eyes: Burned 40lb mono

Weight: .030 Lead wire

Whiskers: Red craft fur

Antennae: Orange Krystal Flash

Body Flash: Hairline’s Ice Dub

Body Fibers: Mix of tan and chartreuse craft fur Color Accents: Permanent markers

Weed guard: 16lb Mason Hard Mono

Cement: Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails

38

Done!

1. Tie mono eyes at the base of the hook bend and wrap the hook

The twisted dubbing loop will look like this. 6. Pick out the tangled

shank with lead wire. Do not crowd the eye of the hook with lead wire.

fibers with a strip of Velcro hook, then make several strips down the

Coat wraps with cement. 2. Add a small clump of red craft fur and two

center with an orange permanent marker. 7. Palmer the dubbing loop

2-inch strands of orange Krystal Flash to top of hook shank. 3. Form a

forward, brushing the fibers rearward as you go. Tie off loop slightly

4-inch long loop with the thread, wrap it down tight on the hook shank,

behind eye of hook. 8. Tease out the craft fur fibers with Velcro and

and move the bobbin forward to the eye. 4. On the tying table, lay

snip the top (will become bottom of fly) short. This ensures the fly

out a mixture of tan and chartreuse craft fur and pearl Ice Dub flash

rides in the inverted position. 9. Rotate fly and tie in a 16 lb Mason

material. Carefully inset the mixed fibers and flash between the strands

Hard Mono weed guard behind eye. Coat thread wraps with cement.

of the dubbing loop. 5. Spin the loop with a dubbing twister (weighted

10. Color three wide bands on the top of the fly with a Prismacolor

hook) until the loop becomes tight and shortens slightly. Don’t overtwist.

permanent marker (Mocha Dark #200 shown). Done.

July 2008

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brandon Jenewein

t o u r n a m e n t

fellow fishermen often asK advice for gaining sponsorship for their fishing team. I have been fortunate to be associated with some great sponsors and am by no means an expert, but I will share some things that have worked for me. It is no secret that competitive fishing gets expensive and with gas prices rising faster than this year’s redfish weights, sponsorship can be a godsend. In one of my earliest articles in TSFMag I discussed how to build a resume. One of the key items to consider in resume preparation is how to make yours stand out from others. Potential sponsors are approached from all types of people looking for money for their cause, and not all relate to fishing. Auto racing teams to little league teams, everybody is looking for financial support. The shear number of requests mean the majority will get turned down. So right from the get-go,

The Redfish Cup has a Net Gains Program to help anglers give back to the community. A great opportunity to promote sponsors.

40

July 2008

t r a i l s

an angler is at a disadvantage. So why even bother? It’s simple — If you

every angler offers to wear a custom jersey or wrap the boat with a sponsor’s logo. These

can convince a businessman that he can

are pretty basic so I will not go into detail, but

increase sales by investing in your enterprise,

I will say that anglers need to convey how

you can get sponsorship. Even though lots

displaying their logo will translate into sales or

of anglers get turned down; there are teams

exposure for their company. Who, where, and

getting new sponsors every day.

how many people will see the logo; what are

When approaching sponsors in today’s

the demographics of those seeing the logo?

competitive market, just sending a resume

how will people that see the logo increase the

may not create the kind of impact that gets

company’s sales? These are some things a

you noticed. Put yourself in a sponsor’s

good marketing proposal should contain.

place and consider what you would want

What can anglers offer? Fishing trips. The

to see; fishermen’s resumes asking for

sponsor can use guided trips for entertaining

money because of all the great finishes

clients, rewarding top sales people or

they’ve achieved, or a marketing proposal

giveaways at their store. Again, the key is

emphasizing how a fisherman is going to

don’t just say, “If you sponsor me, I can take

increase sales?

you fishing.”

Whatever is sent to a potential sponsor

Give the potential sponsor ideas on how

should make them say, “This is unique,” or,

they can use the trips. Maybe the sponsor

“This sounds interesting.”

is not interested in fishing. Well, you can

There are some basic things that most

take them or their clients on nature tours,

every fishing team

birding tours, or evening cruises. Think

can offer sponsors.

outside the box.

Advertising in the form of

What other types of exposure can be

displaying the sponsor’s

offered to potential sponsors? Let’s face it;

logo is something

no matter how good you are you cannot win

anyone can offer. Almost

every tournament. It would not be right to

Attending a “Meet the Pros” event prior to a tournament.

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41


tournament tr ails

(Left) Helping out at kids tournaments is a great way to give back to the sport.

(Right) The Texas Parks and Wildlife Angler Education Program teaches others the basics of fishing and how to be an ethical angler.

say you are going to have media exposure when you win. The best exposure is to have something that is constant and not wholly dependent on winning. Living in a small town, I started writing articles for the local newspaper when my team finished well. Local papers appreciate having articles submitted. You can represent the sponsor on the internet, there are plenty of outlets from chat rooms to online fishing articles. There are fishing magazines. Hey, I started by submitting articles to the Bay City Tribune

Helping out at trade shows comes with any sponsorship.

and thought I might as well try to write for the best saltwater fishing magazine in Texas, and

it also gets the sponsor’s name in

here I am. I may end up being knocked out

front of the buying public. Maybe you are good at computers and

tournament, always do my best, be myself,

can build websites, maybe you can create

be honest, and what is meant to be will fall

computer graphics or are good at fixing things.

into place.

A proposal can offer your skills in return for

Ok, enough about ideas on how to take

something. Nothing is off the table; if you are

over my place here every month. Let’s touch

thinking that a sponsor would not go for your

on some other ideas for sponsor exposure.

idea, think again, it may well be the new idea

Sponsors need help. Make a proposal to help

a business is looking for. Who knows, maybe

the sponsor at tradeshows, fishing shows,

that deer sausage you process each year

boat shows, etc. Tell how your presence in the

would be something you could use to work

booth or at a store can draw customers and

a deal.

increase sales. Offer assistance with moving

Last, the internet is loaded with information.

in, setting up, and tearing down the booth

Snoop around and learn what good proposals

during shows.

look like, learn marketing terms and the lingo

Look for things you can learn to make

does not have to work its fingers to the bone

Texas Angler Education Instructor. The Angler

to be successful; it just has to work harder

Education program through Texas Parks and

than the other teams, kind of like the bear in

Wildlife is a great way to help teach the next

the woods. I don’t have to run the hundred

generation and interested people about our

yard dash in 9.0 seconds, I just have to run

great sport. The Angler Education program

faster than you.

business. It not only ends up teaching others,

July 2008

Wrapped boats can be displayed at business to promote sponsors. sponsors whose products you use and believe in. It really is transparent when someone is trying to say how great a product is and their heart is not in it. Don’t give up, there are plenty of closed doors and dead end trails, but like fishing, the more you learn, the better you get and pay dirt will eventually be struck. Keep the bottom line in mind. What is your proposal doing to increase the sponsor’s sales.

of businesses. A successfully sponsored team

yourself more marketable. I am a certified

can be presented at a sponsor’s store or

42

What special skills do you have?

better or offers more; but I just treat it like a

So is there any canned success formula? No — find what works for you and approach

Texas Saltwater Fishing

contact

by a fellow tournament fisherman that writes

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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

well, we hope some of you have managed to get offshore this spring, but it has been tough. The wind has really been blowing. Now that summer has started somebody needs to remind the wind that it needs to relax. When it does, before you decide to head for deep water, check your tackle and make sure you are prepared. This month we thought we would go over a complete tackle list that you might want to have on board for bluewater fishing. Not everything is essential… until you need it! Seriously, this is a comprehensive list and we have started with the basics, and continuing to more advanced gear. here goes. Your local tackle shop should have most of these items.

 Mono Cutters: For cutting monofilament leaders, line, etc.  Cable Cutters: Felco C7 or Hi Seas brand.  Stainless Scissors: Easy to find at your local office supply.  Crimping tool and assorted size crimps matching your leader.  Loop Protectors: Protects monofilament from chafing.  Fishing Pliers: For twisting wire, cutting, de-hooking and more!  Stainless Hook-Out Pliers  Tool kit: To include pliers, crescent

 Safety Lines: Prevents loss of rod and

 Flashlight

reel overboard.

 Bait knife  Waxed string: For rigging natural and live baits, bridles to hook, etc.  Dental Floss: Johnson and Johnson Dentotape for securing skirts on lures.  Snap Swivels: Heavy-duty w/stainless ball bearing swivel 200 – 400 lb. test  Stainless Ball Bearing Swivels: 400 lb.

 Outrigger Clips: Assorted types.  Tag Lines: For lure fishing.  Rubber Bands: In sizes #33, #64, #105 – from any office supply.  Large Permanent Marker: For marking bait trolling positions on your line.  Drag Scale: Up to 50#.

test, black for tag lines, teaser lines and

 Teasers: 1 large, 1 daisy chain.

wind-on leaders

 Gaffs: 4” standard gaff (two), 6” heavy-

 Cork or plastic stoppers for rigger line.  Gloves: For handling leaders, gaffs

duty tuna gaff, 8” flying gaff.  Ballyhoo Wire: We prefer 14” Monel.  Emergency cutters: Bolt cutters to cut

and fish.

large hooks.

wrench, screw drivers, Allen

 hand Towels

wrenches, etc.

 Tip Savers: Protects rod tip from snap swivel.

 Sabikis: For catching bait.  Small feathers: For catching bait.  Tuna Hunters: Blue, silver, green, black.  Wahoo Hunters: Black/purple, black/pink.  heavy-duty split rings  Split ring pliers  Assorted egg sinkers and other lead weights  Rigged Lures: Various sizes and colors, we like Black Bart, Mold Craft

Assorted lures and colors. 44

July 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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 Assorted Hooks: Live bait, lure, circle, bait, and heavy-duty treble for Tuna hunters.  Hook File: Nicholson Handy File is the best!

Jou r na l

 Harness: Fighting belt/shoulder harness

Keep your cockpit clean and organized.

and seat harness.  Reel Protectors: Prevents salt spray from entering reels.  Fish Bag: Keeps whole fish fresh.  Assorted plastic bags  Reel Lube: Reel X brand  Corrosion X  Super Glue: For knots, lure repair, etc.

blu e wat e r

 Electrical Tape: Assorted colors for hooksets, skirts, tagging and identifying gear, etc.  Leader Material: 650#, 500#, 400#, 200#, 150# and 80# Fluorocarbon, SS cable and/or wire.  Extra Fishing Line: In case you need to

holding a large blue marlin.  Tagging Stick: To deploy scientific tags used to study fish movement.

and get a great deal on your next boat. For more information call our houston sales

 Livebait Needles: For rigging live bait.

office at 281-291-0656 or check out our

 Small Rope: For securing various items.

 Sewing Needles: For rigging dead bait.

website at www.foxyachtsales.com or

 Tape Measure: For measuring leaders

 De-Boner: For removing bones from

www.byrd-cochrane.com.

and fish.  Rods: 30 lb. up to 130 lb. class tackle – personal preference.  Reels: Shimano, Penn and Avet most popular.  Butterfly Jigs: Also diamond jigs and other iron.

dead bait.  Knot Tool: For tying certain knots.  Swordfish Tackle: Special tackle for special fish.  Cyalume Sticks: For swordfishing.  Underwater Lights: For night fishing.  Tuna Tubes: For keeping bait tuna alive.

 Fishing Log: Keep track of it all!  Tackle Box: Keep it organized!

 Planers: Gets your line deeper when catching bait  Kite: Designed to present your bait with the leader out of the water.  Balloons: For those days too calm for a kite.

Most major tackle stores can take care of the basics. For some of the items you

 Helium: To fill balloons.

will have to go to Walgreen’s, Office Depot,

 Dacron Bridles: For attaching hook to

Home Depot, your local hardware store,

live bait.  10” Flying Gaffs (two) – for gaffing large marlin.  Heatshrink Tubing 3/8” & 1/2”: For making hooksets.

welding supply, or the internet. If you have any questions about some of the tackle we’ve talked about or want to find out more about big game fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, visit us at our Fox Yacht Sales office at Tops-N-

 Heat Gun: Shrinks the heatshrink tubing.

Towers. Fox Yacht Sales has an extensive

 Billfish Bag: Large fish bag capable of

inventory of brokerage boats as well as

July 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

contact

re-spool a reel.

46

new CABO and Riviera Yachts. Come by

Born in Galveston, graduate of Texas A&M, Capt. John Cochrane grew up fishing and diving the Gulf of Mexico. He’s been a professional captain for over 25 years and has fished all over the world. At Byrd & Cochrane, he and Bobby specialize in yacht sales and sportfishing consulting. John now concentrates his efforts on big game fishing and billfish research in the Gulf of Mexico. A native Texan, Bobby Byrd began fishing at the young age of eight, when he was a deck hand on his Dad’s boat. He fished with his father in the Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas and Mexico for many years of his life. In 1995, Bobby combined his love of the water and boating into a business when he opened Tops-N-Towers, a custom aluminum fabrication business in Seabrook, Texas. For more information you can contact Bobby at www.topsntowers.com.

contact Byrd & Cochrane 281-291-0656 Tops-N-Towers 281-474-4000 websites www.byrd-cochrane.com www.topsntowers.com www.foxyachtsales.com www.stingercustomlures.com

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b y

e v e r e t t

J o h n s o n

feeding aggressively will sometimes blow up or slap a plug several times before finally becoming foul-hooked or deciding to eat.

a reader wrote recently to say that while he

few feet and then let it rest for a couple of

Setting the hook is always a tough decision.

seconds. Another good technique is banging

A sharp jerk can free a foul-hooked fish, and

enjoys our magazine, some of the topics and

the heck out of it and then reeling slowly

one that has the plug in its mouth is probably

discussions were just a bit over his head.

without chopping or twitching for a few feet.

already hooked securely… your call.

“Please give us some intro-level lessons,

If a fish boils or slaps at it… stop! Twitching

especially with topwater lures. My brother and

over a curious fish will sometimes produce an

line. Quite often all or most of the hooks are

I have been live bait fishermen all our lives

explosive strike.

exposed during the fight. Should the fish

and we have just recently begun to catch a few

Vary your casting angle. The obvious

roll back or wallow on the line it can snag

fish on soft plastics. Topwaters are a puzzle

temptation is to wail the plug straight

the hooks. A stout section of twenty or even

to us. We know they work but so far we’ve

downwind and then work it headfirst back into

thirty-pound leader material can prevent

had no luck. The guides in your magazine say

the chop. Throwing across the angle of the

exposed hooks from cutting the line and

throw this lure or that, but can you please tell

wind and letting the plug surf on the face of

freeing your fish.

us more?”

the swells works too. Some very good anglers

here’s a quick list of surface plugs I use

I fish with believe the cross-wind presentation

regularly and they cover a wide range of

having done so already. I would by no means

is more natural as a wounded or stunned

fishing conditions. This is by no means an

classify myself as an expert, but I’ve learned

baitfish would be less inclined to swim straight

attempt to preclude any other great ones on

a few things along the way. here’s a few tips

into the chop.

your tackle dealer’s shelves. As for lure color, I

Well yes we can, and we apologize for not

that just might help put some fish on the end of

Long casts are often the key as fish will

gave up telling my fishing customers what they

sometimes follow a good distance before

should and should not throw years ago. Yes,

striking. Any fish that strikes close or under

there are definitely days when color matters

to help it swing freely. The basic presentation

the rod tip is tough to catch, not to mention

but I’m reminded often of Roland Hubenak.

is called walking-the-dog and is accomplished

the spook factor when you lure them up close.

Roland fished Troutmasters for years and

by making chopping motions with the rod tip

When I have a fish following curiously and

did well with a white Top Dog on his line and

during the retrieve. The more vigorous the

getting close I take the plug away, cast beyond

a spare of the same color in an Alka-Seltzer

chop, the wider your lure will step left to right.

where I last saw it, and start over. I try to

bottle tucked in his wade belt. he always said

Retrieve slowly, just enough to gather the

mimic the same rhythm and speed that drew

if they wouldn’t hit Ol’ Whitey then he just

slack. I describe it as a hobby horse, rocking

their attention the first time.

wasn’t going to catch them.

your lines. Let’s start with presentation. Begin by attaching the plug with a loop knot

like crazy but not going anywhere. Fish have moods. When you find them feeding aggressively they will hit anything,

Resist the temptation to set the hook! I cannot even begin to count the times I’ve watched excited anglers take the plug away before the fish was hooked.

sometimes it takes a little finesse.

Fish that are not

Try walking the lure a

excalibur spit-n-image

mirrolure she dog

It’s name says it all.

The She Dog is one of the most productive baits for calling fish up from deep water and is an excellent choice in just about any depth in heavy chop. The first thing you will notice is the signature voice. Sometimes too

This little 3-inch floater

rapala skitter walk One of my personal favorite surface lures.

imitates small finfish perfectly with its sideto-side wobble. Not a clunker or clacker; this tiny plug’s voice is a soft clicking sound, perfect for shallow water trout and

loud, but it can always be slowed to soften

A versatile floater, works in range of depths

redfish. Has a subtle splash-down. Can

that incredible clack. Mike McBride calls it

and surface conditions, moderately loud,

be delivered sidearm and skipped across

obnoxious, but is just as quick to say there

medium-pitched voice, makes more of a clunk

the surface; I’ve had fish slam it before

are conditions when nothing else will draw

than a clack. Comes in two sizes and

it stopped. Very shad-like when twitched

more strikes.

a rainbow of colors, I like the bright ones. The

slowly. Great for sightcast presentations

full-size Skitter Walk is 4.38 inches long and

on shallow flats. Single hooks improve

the “baby” is 3.12 inches. I find the short

versatility, especially with floating grass

model works best in depths of two feet

present. Never believe a big fish will not eat

and less. The one pictured here has seen

this tiny plug, I’ve seen it happen a bunch

a lot of action. 50

I prefer a stout leader attached to my main

July 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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CCA TEXAS VOLUNTEERS AND STAFF MEMBERS HIT THE WATER with Texas Parks Wildlife Department (TPWD) on May 22, 2008 to take the next step in the on-going efforts to develop a viable stock enhancement program for southern flounder. Southern flounder have shown a steady decline for years and this effort led by TPWD, with assistance from University of Texas Marine Science Institute, shows promise for the declining southern flounder in Texas. In the summer of 2007, six boats, including

the fish. “These two events have played a large role in the preliminary

two guide boats and four volunteer boats, fished Sabine Lake and

stages of TPWD’s goal in achieving a large scale stock enhancement

secured between 60 and 70 southern flounder and twenty four

program for southern flounder,” said TPWD biologist Shane Bonnot.

speckled trout for the hatcheries. The southern flounder were then strip

Shane added, “With the help of all the volunteers and our partners at

spawned and the resulting spawn is now residing at Sea Center Texas

UTMSI and CCA Texas, the future is bright for a successful and long

in the research tanks.

term enhancement program for southern flounder.” With a continuous increase in fishing pressure up and down the

CCA Texas volunteers, TPWD employees and CCA Texas staff hit the water again on May 22, 2008.

This trip included four local

coast, TPWD must take proactive steps to ensure viability of the

guides and their boats and over

fishery for years to come. “Flounder is a species that has been getting

10 volunteer boats. CCA Texas

a lot of attention,” commented CCA Texas President Bill Schwarzlose.

once again picked up the fees

“This interaction between TPWD, UTMSI, local guides and CCA Texas

for the guide boats and the local

volunteers speaks volumes about the commitment of all the active

chapters and others supplied the

parties to see that the southern flounder remains a viable fishery for all

volunteers to go out and catch

users of the resource.” CCA Texas Executive Director Robby Byers commented, “Our hatcheries in Flour Bluff and Lake Jackson as well as the CCA Texas funded Marine Larviculture Center at UTMSI in Port Aransas, are all working on spawning flounder in captivity. The hope is to one day assist Mother Nature with a flounder restocking program much like the redfish and speckled trout. These brood fish that we are collecting from Sabine Lake will provide our Lake Jackson hatchery with needed stock to continue their work with this important species.” CCA Texas is proud to be a part of this far-reaching enhancement project that will help restore southern flounder to its once bountiful population. “I’m really proud of CCA Texas volunteers and members and their desire to help the flounder fishery,” said Schwarzlose. “This project and others, as well as proactive approaches to fisheries management, will be the key to future generation’s opportunities to enjoy coastal fisheries for years to come.”

For more information about CCA Texas, please visit www.ccatexas.org. 52

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field notes

Part I (June 2008 Issue) of this series gave the basics of Texas Parks and Wildlife

seagrass regulation utilizes several of

the determination of precise locations of

the latest scientific tools associated with

items in the field, such as transects and

Department’s (TPWD) “No propeller scarring

geospatial technology to help assess the

scars. Geographic Information System

of seagrasses” regulation in the Redfish Bay

extent of scarring over large areas. Remote

(GIS) captures, analyzes, manages and

State Scientific Area (RBSSA). The regulation

sensing enables the collection of information

stores data and information that has spatial

went into effect May 1, 2006. A brief history

about land and water areas from a distance,

references to the earth surface. GIS helps

of seagrass protection activities, as well as

such as aircraft or satellites. To date, TPWD

locate reference points and analyze large

education and law enforcement efforts were

has acquired high resolution aerial digital

amounts of map-based data. This will enable

presented. The article detailed one technique

imagery data sets for a major portion of

TPWD to analyze specific scar data and give

in which biologists annually swim transects to

RBSSA in March 2007 and March 2008.

us the ability to make estimates of total area

obtain propeller scar counts from year to year

Global Positioning System (GPS) use

damaged by propeller scarring.

and determine scar recovery over time.

satellites and devices to compute various

A second technique to evaluate the

positions on the earth’s surface. GPS enables

Recently scientists from TPWD, the

These aerial images from RBSSA are being used by biologists to examine the extent of propeller scarring damage in the area and assess the effect of the “NO prop scarring” regulation.

NOAA imagery February 2007. 56

July 2008

TPWD imagery March 2007. Texas Saltwater Fishing

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tpw d field notes 58

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric

and again in March of 2008, TPWD shot

the analysis process. Preliminary review of

Administration (NOAA), and the Harte

imagery of 7,800 acres covering the area

the photographic proofs from 2008 imagery

Research Institute (Texas A&M University –

from Estes Flats to Terminal Flats and Hog

seems to indicate less scarring than the

Corpus Christi), collaborated on a process of

Island, at 4 inch resolution. The average prop

same areas in 2007.

developing a benthic habitat map for Aransas

scar is about 13 inches wide. This area was

and Corpus Christi Bays. NOAA funded the

chosen because it is highly vegetated and

to data acquisition by remote aerial

acquisition of aerial imagery of the entire

heavily utilized by boaters.

photography, many techniques are being

RBSSA in February 2007. The digitized

The hard work begins following acquisition

From hands-on and face-in-the-water

employed to assess the effectiveness of the

imagery was used to create a habitat map,

of the imagery. Significant numbers of

seagrass protection regulation in Redfish

showing areas of bay bottom which have

ground truth samples must be taken in the

Bay State Scientific Area. Boater responses

seagrasses, bare bottom, oyster reef, fringing

bay to verify that what appears as a feature

to the regulation seem to be positive and

Spartina marsh, and mangrove marsh.

or scar on the photo-map is actually a scar

perhaps they have altered some of their

TPWD is using this benthic map to help

or something else. These data are used

practices to help preserve seagrasses. This

analyze our own imagery.

when scars on the photo-maps are counted

is what the regulation and scientific studies

individually (very time consuming even for

are all about: protecting the habitat.

Aerial imagery is expensive so the best conditions are sought each year for

a trained professional) or sophisticated

acquisition in order that the most accurate

software is employed. The latter requires

and quality data are photographed. The best

“training” the software to recognize

time to do this is on a calm sunny day during

characters that are scars and discount things

low tide following passage of a cold front,

that are not scars, as determined during

when the water is at its clearest. Low tide

ground-truthing. The benthic map developed

conditions and good water clarity enhance

by NOAA has been used in differentiating

the ability to see underwater features as

vegetated versus un-vegetated areas of

small as propeller scars. In March of 2007

the TPWD photos. This has helped speed

July 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

For more information, go to the TPWD website and follow the links. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/ landandwater/habitat/seagrass.

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

K a y a K

f i s h i n g

it seems liKe every time i’m on the highway i see

denominator; no PFD. I’m not

more and more kayaks strapped atop SUV’s

wearing of a PFD. I’ll be the

and sticking out of the beds of pickups. As

first to admit that I don’t always

someone who’s been involved in kayak fishing

wear one when I’m kayaking. For me, common

of the growing popularity of inflatable PFDs.

for many years it is amazing to see how our

sense dictates practice. When I’m fishing a

There are several models on the market in

sport has grown. I recall a few years back

shallow flat in good weather the PFD is stowed

both manual and auto-inflate styles. The

hearing that this was a passing fad. Many old

within easy reach. I reason that if it is a place

manuals require you to pull a rip cord while the

salts didn’t seem to think it would stick. Well

I would comfortably wade, it is reasonable

automatic varieties deploy upon submersion.

not only has it stuck, it has grown beyond

to think that I could handle an unplanned

Both use a CO2 cartridge. They are very

what most anyone thought it would. And with

dismount. In almost all other situations you’ll

comfortable and easy to wear on a hot day.

the price of gasoline these days I fully expect

find me wearing one. There are simply too

I’m just not so certain I want to trust my life

to see more anglers turning to kayaks as an

many things that can go wrong. Yes, I know

to one. There’s something about a blow-up

economical way to hit the water. In my opinion

that things can happen in shallow water too.

PFD around hooks and other sharp objects

that’s a good thing.

And if you are in poor physical condition or

that makes me uneasy. Should you choose

have a medical condition that would warrant

to use one you need to be aware that by law

new kayakers come to the sport without

extra caution I would certainly suggest

you must be wearing it for it to count. That’s

much boating experience. Their knowledge

wearing one at all times on the water.

right; a stowed inflatable does not count as

Yet at the same time I’m concerned. Many

of fishing may be up to par, but they’ve either

PFDs come in all shapes and sizes and a

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also make mention

having a PFD in the eyes of the warden.

relied on a buddy with a boat or they were

good fitting model built specifically for paddling

Also, try inflating it while you have it on. The

waders and bank fishermen. A good number

is your best bet. These are designed with

replacement cartridges are cheap and an

have never been the guy in charge of the trip.

larger arm openings to allow for unimpeded

emergency is no time to find that it rides up

They haven’t had to concern themselves with

movement during normal paddling activities.

over your head upon inflation. A friend recently

weather conditions, navigation, or preparing

Spend a day paddling in a poorly designed

deployed his by accident and discovered he

the safety gear. Nothing wrong with that but,

PFD and you’ll be reaching for the Gold

didn’t really like the way it felt.

from a safety and preparedness standpoint, I

Bond when you get home. Eventually an

think a few things need to be addressed.

While the PFD is probably the single most

uncomfortable PFD simply won’t get worn.

important piece of safety equipment, there are

Whereas with a comfortable and well-fitting

other items to consider. My personal list varies

You put the kayak in the water, sit down, and

PFD you’ll soon forget you even have it on.

depending on the kind of trip I’m preparing

start paddling. The simplicity seems to breed

My favorite model has no flotation on the

to make. Obviously a quick outing to a local

a certain amount of false bravado. There have

lower back and allows me to sit comfortably

marsh for an hour or two doesn’t merit the

been several recent incidents in the news

against the seat of my kayak. Your PFD should

same planning and forethought involved in an

illustrating this point. Young men in good

fit snug, but not bind when you simulate a

overnighter across the bay. Similarly, the list

physical shape have been lured into situations

paddling movement. To further test the fit,

will be different when I’m paddling past the

they weren’t prepared for and the results

place your thumbs under the shoulder straps

surf into the gulf.

land on the local news and internet message

and lift up. The vest should stay put. If it slides

board second guessing. Given the ever-

up, readjust the straps or try another model.

carry on every paddling venture. A first aid kit,

increasing popularity of the sport the number

When the time comes that you really need a

flashlight, visual and audible signaling devices,

of serious incidents is quite small, but even

PFD you don’t want one that slides up over

and some form of communication are simply

one is too many when it could have easily

your head inhibiting your movements in the

must-haves, even when I’m within sight of the

been prevented.

water. Try on several models and find one that

truck. Longer trips will have me packing all

feels good and fits properly before you plunk

sorts of extras, just in case. A GPS with spare

down your money.

batteries, a compass in case the GPS fails,

Kayaking is really a pretty simple activity.

It seems that every fatal incident, whether kayak or power boat, has one common 60

one to preach on the constant

July 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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It happens. Should you decide to forego the VHF, at least program the numbers for the USCG search and rescue into your speed dial. The Galveston sector office covers the upper coast. Their emergency number is 713-671-5113. For the middle and lower coast the Corpus office is 361-939-6349. The 8th district SAR coordination center is based out of New Orleans and covers the entire

62

to the Mexico border. It can be reached at 504-589-6225. Of course you could always try your luck with 911, but I’d prefer to be in immediate direct contact with the folks coordinating my rescue.

extra clothes in a dry bag, a butane torch for

carry three waterproof boat flares, a battery

starting a fire, and an extra knife are all good

operated flashing beacon, and a CD for

things to have in case things go south. I’m

reflective signaling. Flares aren’t required

elect to bring with you for your peace of mind

sure you can come up with a laundry list of

by law in a kayak, but if something goes

won’t do you any good if you can’t find it or it

convenience items, but the above are pretty

wrong and you need to be found there is

gets soaked. In the event of an emergency

much the essentials to get me through most

nothing better than an aerial flare. An audible

you need to instinctively know exactly where

any situation I might encounter.

signaling device is required by law. I’ve found

each item is located. Make it a habit to always

All of these items and whatever else you

small air horns unreliable. I used to carry one,

pack your kayak in the same manner for each

available at most pharmacy and department

thinking that it was a good idea. After a few

trip. Pack any items you need to keep dry in a

stores, but you might want to add a few items

months in the kayak I decided to test it out

waterproof container even if it is stored inside

or go to a sporting goods store to pick up one

and was surprised to find it no longer worked.

your hull. Every important piece of equipment

designed specifically for outdoor adventures.

I now carry a couple of those extra loud

on my kayak is tethered in some way whether

Given my personal history of mishaps I opt

whistles available at marine supply stores and

it is inside the hull or riding in the tankwell.

to put a few extras in my kit. With somewhat

paddling shops. One is attached to my PFD

I don’t want to open my hatch and find that

limited storage you obviously can’t prepare for

and the other is stored in my first aid kit.

my first aid kit has slid to the inaccessible

Adequate ready-made first aid kits are

reaches inside the hull. I learned that one the

every eventuality, but you can cover most of

For communication during an emergency

the bases if you think it through. Waterproof

you really can’t beat a VHF radio. The USCG

hard way years ago when I found the toilet

bandages and tape are a solid choice to

and all commercial vessels monitor channel

paper was lodged under my seat at a very

replace the wimpy band-aids found in most

16 for distress calls. I know we all carry cell

inopportune time.

packs. Other additions to consider would

phones these days, but anyone who has

The bottom line is every individual needs

include tweezers, scissors, and a bottle of

been fishing with a cell phone knows that

to carefully consider their physical condition,

that new liquid bandage stuff. I also carry a

even a brief dunking can render it useless.

the environmental conditions they might

large bottle of peroxide to thoroughly flush

Given that most emergencies on the water

encounter, and any situation that may occur

any open wounds. Something else to consider

will likely involve some level of getting wet,

during the trip and plan accordingly. You may

is a good pair of side-cutter pliers capable of

I don’t really want to trust my safety to

also want to check out the Red Cross and

cutting hooks. Nothing is worse than gnawing

such a fickle piece of equipment. Handheld

American Canoe Association websites for

on a hook buried in flesh with some rusty

waterproof VHF radios aren’t really all that

courses in basic paddling and first aid. Be

old needle nose pliers. Knock on wood, I’ve

expensive compared to the money we spend

safe out there and remember that no fish is

never been stuck beyond the barb but I’ve

on our rods, reels, and other gear. There’s

worth your personal safety.

been present when it has happened to others

a good tip I recently picked up regarding

and they’ve been very thankful when the

cell phones that I’d like to pass along. With

side-cutters cleanly clipped the dangling lure.

more and more people choosing the higher

Spend a little time researching hook removal

priced Blackberries and iPhones, it only

techniques and get comfortable with the idea

makes sense. Either keep your old phone

that you might one day have to perform the

or go buy one of those cheaper pre-paid

task on yourself or a buddy.

phones from your service provider. Switch

The flashlights I carry are waterproof and

out your SIM card to the cheap phone and

they float. Both characteristics are critical in

carry it while fishing. It won’t hurt nearly as

a watery environment. For visual signaling I

bad when (not if) you submerse your phone.

July 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

contact

K aya K

f i sh i ng

gulf coast region from the Florida panhandle

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t o

s c o t t

c a p t. scot t som m e r l at t e

a c c o r d i n g

it is hard to believe that i have been fishing the coastal water of Texas

pleasure of meeting Eric Glass who, to this

anglers and would put up against anyone.

day, I consider one of the best guides in not

Now that a few years have passed, I have

only Texas, but in the country. The thing that

for well over three decades now. I can still

come to a few realizations. One is that I did

amazed me about Glass is that he spent the

remember my first trips to salt with my father

not know nearly as much then as I thought

majority of his time on the poling platform

and I can still remember the first lure I ever

I did and some of those ‘Old Salts’ were not

of his boat rather than wading and when he

chunked into Christmas Bay on an old red

as skilled as I used to believe. Do not get

did wade, he was standing right beside his

Ambassador 5500. Where I am going with

me wrong, they were good anglers but, their

customer pointing out fish and not with a rod

this is that — I have seen a lot of change in

success came more from fishing fertile and

in his hand casting to them. This was not

thirty-five plus years of fishing our coastal

unpressured waters than from their skill

the first time I had seen this, in fact Chuck

waters. One of the biggest changes is the

and knowledge.

Scates had been poling sports around the

introduction of the technical poling skiff and

Now days, I realize, that had I swallowed

Lower Laguna Madre for years and Chuck

my ‘Texas Pride’ way back then, I might be

Naiser was well known for walking beside

twice the angler and guide that I am now.

his customers for miles while pointing out

getting very, very upset when I heard a very

Fortunately, I did not wait until now to figure

tails, wakes and cruising fish at incredible

well known and respected Florida guide and

things out.

distances and helping them get set up for the

rise of the ‘skiff guide’. I still remember, about fifteen years ago,

angler tell me, “You Texans may know how

64

Salts’ that I held in the highest of regards as

Back twelve or thirteen years ago, I was

perfect shot.

to run a boat in skinny water, but you do

working and living down in South Padre for

not have the first clue how to fish it.” This of

the Coast Guard and upon completion of

the exception of when I had fished in Florida,

course hacked me off because at the time, I

that particular assignment, I was going to

all the guides that I had ever fished with

considered myself a pretty skilled angler for

take my part-time guide business and make

were either at the front of the boat or wading

my age and, I knew quite a few ‘Old Texas

it a full-time gig. Well that summer I had the

somewhere nearby at best, chunking lures

July 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

All of this truly amazed me because, with

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accor di ng to scot t

for me, i can honestly say that fishing from a skiff has become a way of life. and helping everyone fill their stringers. In fact, as a part-timer all those years ago, that was exactly how I did it. Wow — have things changed. After experiencing the way Glass, Scates and Naiser were doing things I made a choice right then and there that there was no other way to do it. Well, long story short, about two years after I started guiding full-time a new type of boat showed up in Texas — the technical poling skiff. Do not get me wrong, the poling skiff had been around for years in Florida and a few had made their way to Texas. Case in point, both Glass and Scates ran Hewes Redfishers for several years before the introduction of the technical poling skiff. The difference between what was once considered a flats skiff and what is now called a technical poling skiff is that the newer version is built lighter by utilizing special construction processes and by using materials such as carbon and Kevlar. These boats are also built with less deadrise in the hull creating a flatter bottom than the traditional flats boats. The combination of the lighter hull and flatter bottom created a skiff more suited for fishing the extreme shallows of the Texas Coast. Once we discovered these skiffs here in Texas, just about all of us ‘fly- fishing’ guides gradually made the switch over and we are slowly become known, as they are in South Florida as — ‘skiff guides’. This is not so much a title as it is a state-of-mind, or way-of-life. You see ‘skiff guides’, at least the ones that I know and respect, all hold themselves to a higher standard. By this I mean that you will not find them burning up the flats or trying to sink the boat with dead fish. Most believe that the flats and lakes are made for fishing, not running a boat through or over and religiously practice catch and release fishing. All and all I would say that there are very few truly reputable skiff guides on the Texas Coast. I have of course already named Glass, Scates and Naiser but there are few more such as Ethan Wells, Billy Trimble, Tom horbey and myself. But, what truly amazes me is that what I once thought would never catch on, is even spilling over into the general fishing populace. By this I mean, more and more anglers are choosing to pole the flats rather than run them and the fishing public, which mostly consists of wade-fishermen, is getting fed up with anglers tearing up the shallows in tunnelhulled skiffs and many are becoming more conservation minded. For me, I can honestly say that fishing from a skiff has become a way of life. In fact, I cringe at the thought of getting in the water to wade-fish. I’m not saying that it is not a great way to fish but, it just is not for me. In fact, I do not even like getting out to take do. Anyway… Flip Pallot once looked across the dinner table to me and Chuck Scates and asked the simple question, “Why would anyone get out of a perfectly good boat?” Well all of these years later I finally have a good answer. “Flip, the only reason I can think of is

contact

a picture although I sometimes

— to put it on the trailer.”

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when simrod outdoors announced the new format for the 2008 Texas Trout Series sponsored by Cabela’s and powered by Blue Wave/Suzuki, the idea was to attract the best trout anglers in the state with a smaller field and bigger payouts. The plan worked as the “best of the best” turned out to fish. Big names in trophy trout fishing like Watkins, Webb, Rowsey, Basci, and Taggert, to name a few, strapped on their waders in search of the monster trout that South Texas is famous for. When the smoke settled after three events, the team of Aaron Loomis and Glenn hornsby put the icing on the cake by winning the final tournament and team of the year with a kicker trout weighing over nine pounds. We caught up with Aaron and Glenn a few days after the tournament and asked them what they considered the keys to their success. Texas Saltwater Series: (To Aaron) How long have you and Glenn been fishing together? Aaron Loomis: A little over four years. TSS: How many days do you pre-fish for a big tournament? Al: We usually spend three days. TSS: If you had to name one lure that held the key to your success in the trout tournaments, what would it be? Al: Corky. TSS: When you are fishing for trophy trout, do you wade or fish from the boat? Al: We waded the whole time. TSS: What are you looking for when you decide to fish a spot? Al: Knee-deep water with grass and lots of baitfish. TSS: (to Glenn): You and Aaron also fish the Texas Redfish Series, and you are doing well in it, too. The two of you are sitting in 16th place in the Team of the Year race against 147 other teams. What are some of the things you do to transition from trout fishing to red fishing? GH: We fish from the boat more because we are learning to sight-fish. In Matagorda, we were sight-casting in a foot of water. Down south, we actually fish deeper for the redfish than we do trout. The bigger redfish seem to hold next to deeper water. Our choice in lures changes from Corkys to soft plastics and topwaters. Other than that, our style is pretty much the same. TSS: What are the similarities in the styles of fishing? GH: Although we fish out of the boat for redfish, we also like to get out and wadefish. We fish shallow water for trophy trout and redfish and we look for the same type of water, structure and bait movement. We never find fish until we find bait. Glenn Hornsby is the owner of G&H Steel out of Austin, and Aaron Loomis is a full-time fishing guide out of Corpus Christi. To book a trip with Aaron, visit http://www.aaronsguideservice.com.

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a a ron c i s n e ros

A bright light on a summer night attracts lots of bait and plenty of trout as well.

(Below) Having the right equipment makes it much easier when gigging for flounder.

right before school was let out for the summer i got invited on a flounder

up here in the Lower Laguna Madre. You

gigging trip. It sounded like lots of fun and it

been an exception; some good numbers of

got me into thinking that gigging for flounder

flounder are being caught and gigged along

would be something that I would truly enjoy. It

the Arroyo Colorado and sand flats out in

so happened that our good friend Capt. Eddie

the bay. Those who are fishing for flounder

Arenas was planning a trip to his cabin on the

specifically are doing very well.

ICW; and this was a perfect opportunity for

would hear of a few good catches, but they were far and in between. This year has

As soon as we arrived at the cabin,

us three to get out in the dark and chase door

everyone got busy preparing dinner, setting

mat flounders.

up lights to attract night prowling trout, and

Last year the flounder never really showed First flounder of the night — Capt. Eddie assisting.

getting the gigging equipment ready for my first-ever gigging excursion. During our dinner

wouldn’t cloudy up the water. The waterproof

conversation my dad mentioned that it’s been

light allowed us a good view of the sandy

over twenty–five years since he last went

bottom. We saw crabs, small pin fish, lots of

gigging, and for Eddie it had been a span of

stingrays, and about a dozen flounders.

more than five years. As for me, I had never

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July 2008

The moment had finally arrived; I spotted

been gigging and the moment could not come

my first flounder and wasted no time in

soon enough.

applying my newly learned skills. I was able to

We anchored on a spoil island near the

gig my first flounder. The rush of excitement

ICW, one with a hard sandy bottom. As we

was everything and more of what my friend

waded in eight to ten inches of water, Eddie

had shared. Now I know what he was talking

coached me on what to look for and how to

about when he mentioned how much fun

stick a flounder. The shoreline was full of

spotting and gigging flounder really is. After

small bait which was a good indication that

stringing my first flounder, I was ready to find

our bottom dwelling quarry might also be

some more. And that I did, even my dad got

there. We walked into the current so that we

to gig one.

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Author displays the right technique in handling a flounder.

flounders and dragged them around as

precious catch. I look forward in the near

we searched for more. Along the way

future to doing it again. With good numbers

we even bragged about how much

showing up this year you actually have a

good eating they would be. In our

good chance of spotting some of these

thoughts we must have prepared them

camouflage doormats.

a hundred ways. As I gigged our fifth

If you’re like me, someone that gets excited

flounder, I reached for the stringer,

when a new outdoor experience presents

and it felt too light than before. I

itself, then gigging for flounder would be

brought the end of it; the flounder and

something you would truly enjoy. Starting with

float were gone. The end knot came

the right equipment is a must. A good under

undone, and the flounder slipped

water light powered by a battery, a good set

away. We felt terrible especially

of eyes, a sharp gig, and a stringer that will

after all our hard efforts. Searching

not come undone is always important. You

frantically as we retraced our steps, no sign

might even want to consider a pair of stingray

how shallow these flounders could be found.

of our harvest or the stringer float could be

protectors. The best part about flounder is

I imagined them being harder to spot, but

found. The happy ending was that we were

that they are delicious any which way you

actually it was very easy to distinguish their

able to keep one flounder for the grill. Oh well,

prepare them. The summer months are

color patterns against the light colored sand.

an educational but costly experience.

perfect opportunities to get out there and

The thing that surprised me the most was

The stingrays were harder to spot as they

I also got a chance to fish under the lights

chase these camouflage creatures. So what

buried themselves on the bottom, and there

on this trip and that is always fun catching

are you waiting for, get out there and go get

were plenty of these feared creatures around.

trout after trout until your arm becomes

some. You will have a blast!

The whole trip was a blast, but there was a sad twist to it. We strung four good size

exhausted. I can say I learned a lot about gigging flounder including how to lose your

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71


Two nice trout that could not resist Texas Roach Assassins.

that threaten to spool your favorite baitcaster are the norm over the next two months. It is not unusual to be done by mid-morning! The Redfish Cup Tournament anglers introduced two new techniques for catching big reds off the deep granite that could salvage a tough day. They relied on deep diving crankbaits and Carolina rigged plastics to probe the deeper rocks and hammered the redfish in less than perfect conditions. Remember to be especially careful with the fish that you catch and release as both heat and handling them reduces their chances of survival!

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Two nice trout that could not resist Texas Roach Assassins.

that threaten to spool your favorite baitcaster are the norm over the next two months. It is not unusual to be done by mid-morning! The Redfish Cup Tournament anglers introduced two new techniques for catching big reds off the deep granite that could salvage a tough day. They relied on deep diving crankbaits and Carolina rigged plastics to probe the deeper rocks and hammered the redfish in less than perfect conditions. Remember to be especially careful with the fish that you catch and release as both heat and handling them reduces their chances of survival!

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IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN. THE WIND

stacking on every towhead and reef. There have been nice catches made when the wind allowed with good numbers of fish to six and seven

has laid down and the fishing

pounds with an occasional eight pounder showing. There have been a

is busting loose. Shorelines

couple of nine pounders caught in this area but unfortunately that was

being pummeled relentlessly by

before the CCA S.T.A.R. opened on Memorial weekend. As far as big

high wind and high atmospheric

fish go right now, reports indicate that Rollover Pass and San Luis Pass

pressure were the main culprits,

are the best bets and the few days that have brought decent conditions

concentrated fishing effort on

have also brought good surf fishing. Rollover has produced four trout

the few protected areas had the

weighing over ten pounds that I know of so far this year. San Luis has

schools chopped up, thankfully

had a couple of tens too. Normally it is hard to fish the surf but when

that all seems to be behind

the surf lays down and stays green it has given up some really great

us, at least for now. We knew

stringers of fish. In the early morning they are caught on top waters and

every time we made a rough

then later on in the day we are using spoons and soft plastics.

bay crossing that the reefs were probably covered with fish. The wind laid down now for about three or four days and kabaam! It is pretty

SUMMARY If the wind stays down and we can get this summer pattern going it’s going to be a great year. We have more trout in the Galveston Bays

much anyone’s game. The majority of the fish are deep over shell and reefs in anywhere

than I have seen in many years. On a recent swing through East Bay

from four to eight feet of water. The shell is definitely the key. There have

on a calm day there were more flocks of gulls working than I can ever

been a few schools of reds in open waters like that right now too. This

remember. Shrimp were being chased to the surface and trout were

pattern usually starts clicking during late June through July; August is

right there with them, free-jumping and chasing the bait.

when we really start getting on open water reds. Right now trout are the

Gas prices are at all-time high but we’re still seeing lots of boats on the water. Lots of fishermen are still going out and doing their thing;

bonus in the Galveston Bay Complex.

Memorial weekend was busy along this part of the coast. The boats

TRINITY

were so thick you could stir them with a stick and the business owners

My home bay is trying to get back to normal. The water is still a little

were certainly glad to see it. Hopefully with the weather becoming more

fresh but it is improving every day. When the winds stay down the water stays pretty green; until we are back to normal salinity we will continue

summer-like the bite will continue to improve. In rating the prospects for July fishing in the Galveston Bay Complex,

to see it go off-color even in moderately windy conditions. Fishing for

(minus Trinity,) I would give it an A+ given the shape our fishery is in at

both trout and reds has been improving. There are more reds here

this time. Right now I would have to give Trinity Bay a D. It is pretty poor

naturally with the fresh water. The bonus coming up next is going to

fishing there right now. It could be good at times but it has to be pretty

be working the reefs and spoil banks along the Ship Channel and also

calm for that to happen.

working the mid-bay reefs but it’s looking like that will be a few more weeks in coming.

That is about it for this report; have a great one and talk to ya next month.

EAST BAY East Bay is getting the nod right now. Every time Trinity gets inundated with freshwater it moves the fish down toward East Bay and that’s what we’re seeing at this time. Beginning at Smith Point and continuing to Hannah’s Reef and Bull Shoal, fish are

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WELL IT’S ABOUT TIME! EVERYONE

any good soldier

has been expecting a balance

routine training

with our weather and fishing

missions and start

patterns and fortunately I believe

catching trout again.

continue with our

the time is just about here. I say

Jonathan Miller caught this 22” trout with a Roach Bass Assassins.

Currently our

that and just this morning my

fish are on shell for

people met me at the dock about

the most part and

5:30 AM and our anticipated drift

tossing plastics,

fishing trip blew away with the

MirrOlures, and

30+ mph winds we observed. Our

topwaters are your

mutual decision sent both parties

best bet. Mid-

back home to wait for another

mornings have

day. With those strong winds and

found me packing

small craft warnings it was a no-

up to take a cruise

brainer even though my clients

over the center of

had traveled from Nebraska and

East Matagorda Bay

Fort Worth. Normally, I would

looking for slicks

have cancelled the night before

which, by the way,

after determining the predicted

had a nice pay-off for a couple of those days. We managed to pull in

weather report but sometimes

some nice solid trout up to 25” on those slicks while pitching our Bass

they just don’t get it right. After

Assassins. Even guides using live shrimp under popping corks caught

living on the coast for the past

limits with some trout caught and released up to 28”. Our little fishery is

15 or so years and spending

starting to pattern and we’re looking for July to improve even more. The

a tremendous amount of time

following are guidelines to use for fishing East Matagorda Bay in the

previous to that fishing these

month of July:

waters you’d think I would be a

 Wade fish reefs 30 minutes to 1 hour before daylight.

better weather predictor but alas,

Recommended baits are Roach and 10W40 Bass Assassins along

even though I do my best, I’m no

with MirrOlure She Dogs.

match for the powers that be.

 Mid-morning, drift fish while looking for slicks out in the middle of

One of the reasons that wind

the bay. Recommended baits are again Roach and 10W40 Bass

is a deterrent here in Matagorda

Assassins but with heavier 1/4oz lead heads. Popping corks are

is because of our mud bottoms

also effective in the middle of the bay.

which dirty up East and parts

 Mitchell’s Cut in Sargent can be a hotspot by wading the cut on

of West Matagorda Bay when

the west side and also the surf on an outgoing tide. Recommended

combined with strong winds.

baits are topwaters, MirrOlures,and spoons.

Other areas south of Port

WEST BAY

O’Connor with grass and sand bottoms can remain clear on windy days unlike that which we see in our area. My practice is to explain the conditions to my clients letting them know what I think our chances for catching fish might be and let them make the final decision. If they still want to go we gear up, load up, and head out to give it our best shot.

Fishing has been good over in West Matagorda Bay from the Cullen Houses to the Point of Greens. Personally speaking, we had limits of trout 15-20” for several days with Chicken-on-a-chain and Roach Bass Assassins. Bink Grimes, Mark Talasek, Tommy Countz, and Lee Warmke all had full limits as well fishing West Matagorda Bay. Most all of these fish came from grass beds and sand bars with plenty of shad

EAST BAY

and mullet in the area.

With some recent good days starting out wading reefs 30 minutes

76

Joel Dooley- 26” redfish caught wading East Matagorda Bay

In July, I’m sure things will remain basically the same with perhaps a

before sunrise and chunking Roach and 10W40 Bass Assassins on

minor hike in temperatures. Normally in late June through July the wells

1/8oz heads my clients and I experienced excellent fishing conditions

out in West Bay will produce some good fishing with Bass Assassins,

and results. After honing in on a pattern from morning to morning we

MirrOLures, and live shrimp as top bait choices. Half-moon reef, Shell

would get the routine down only to be blown off the water for the next

Island, and the Government reefs close to Mad Island Cut in the middle

couple of days. We would be back on the same reefs later and like

of West Bay will have some solid trout as well. The reefs around Mad

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www.tsfmag.com Brant (son) and Charles (dad) Shields caught this pair of trout drifting East Matagorda Bay. Charles Shields had never caught a speckled trout (25” trout).

Island Cut on the bay side are another good place for fishermen tossing live bait. To sum up a few tidbits for fishing over in West Matagorda Bay you might try some of the following ideas: zz Wade grass beds and sand bars on an incoming tide. Bait choices should include 10W40, Chicken-on-a-chain, and Roach Bass Assassins on 1/8 oz lead heads. Focus on areas with bait activity such as mullet and menhaden. zz Fish the Wells in West Matagorda Bay and Half-moon Reef. Bait choices might include 10W40 Bass Assassins and live shrimp. zz Look for redfish over in Oyster Lake or Crab Lake. zz Don’t forget the surf. If luck comes to town and the wind stops, the surf should get green to the beach. Woohoo, that’s where I will be with a She Dog on my line, for sure! Until next time…God bless…

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I DON’T HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT

resume your fishing later in the afternoon. Another advantage to fishing the late afternoon is that there will be fewer boats on the water. The areas of water Gary and I will be targeting in July will be the

summer is here because we all feel the heat. You know it is

reefs in San Antonio Bay and the outside surf in Port O’Connor when the

hot when you step out at 5:00

wind allows. If redfish are what anglers want to catch then fishing sandy

AM and the sweat starts to drip.

shorelines in Espiritu Santo Bay should produce good results.

Fishing during the heat of summer can be somewhat daunting for all of us anglers but can be productive if we change our game plan just a bit. It is no secret that getting a very early start can improve your odds of hooking up but you may want to consider going out later in the afternoon as well. Our summer days stay bright until about 8:30 p.m. each day, so starting your trip at 5:00 p.m. still allows you four hours of good angling time. For the hardcore angler who just can’t get their fix with a four hour trip you may consider fishing early then getting off the water by 11:00 a.m., grab a bite to eat, take a nap, then

It was a pleasure to fish with future Pro Angler, Beau Benson, who is 10 years old. This young man has more knowledge and “know how” than most anglers three times his age.

Bait selection will depend on where I am fishing and how deep. Typically, in July I will be wading deeper water from waist to chest deep. On these occasions I will almost always be throwing soft plastics. My top three colors will be Bass Assassins salt and pepper silver phantom, pumpkinseed or roach all with a chartreuse tail. I rig these lures on a 1/16 oz Bass Assassin jighead attached to an 8 to 10 inch 20 lb leader. The leader is very important when fishing in the surf or on the reefs. The fish in the surf are very aggressive when they feed and it is not uncommon to hook up with a toothy mackerel so a strong leader is a must. Also when fishing over oyster shell like the reefs in San Antonio Bay you have to expect to get a few nicks in your line from the shell’s Robert Mauro with his 24 inch trout, the smile says it all!

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July 2008

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Beau knows how to talk smack and can back it up. Here he is landing a nice redfish using a Super Spook Jr.

While I am discussing lure selection you will remember back in March I wrote about a couple of lures that have earned a place in my tackle box. Mann’s Tidewater Mid 1-Minus and a Texas rig paired up with a Berkley Gulp 5” Jerk Shad in the sardine color are at the top of my list for shallow water fishing. I also mentioned I would be trying out Mann’s new Tidewater Waker and getting back with my opinions of this new lure. Well, I tried it out and I can honestly say I am addicted to this new lure. The action is very similar to the Mid 1-Minus but this lure dives only 3 inches deep when reeled fast. The “wobble” action of this lure is irresistible to almost every redfish I offered it to. While I have not tried all the colors, I am most fond of the gold/black, croaker and the clown. What also makes this bait attractive is that it is a great lure for beginner anglers. If someone can cast; they can fish this lure with ease. Simply reeling this lure back to you is all the effort that is needed to make it perform. The number of hook ups it produces will keep everyone going cast after cast. Does it work on trout as well? I have to admit I did catch some trout while using this lure in deeper water but I had more hook ups using soft plastic so I would be more apt to say this lure produces best results in skinny water. My only concern with the Waker is that on long casts the front hook will sometimes hang on the front lip or the hooks will entangled with each other. I modified the lure by replacing the front hook and with a smaller one and haven’t had this problem since. While you are out there fishing this summer don’t forget to apply lots of sunscreen and remember to drink plenty of water. Terrible sunburn or possible heat stroke can be avoided if you take the right precautions.

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CLIFF WEBB

THE WEATHER AND FISHING HAVE

pounds and had ten spots. Later in the day we moved out deeper and

definitely improved in the upper

action kept up and produced several more good fish. The best was

and lower Laguna Madre. We

a thirty-inch trout that was skinny and weighed a bit less than seven

finally got a break from those

pounds. She was probably an old fish of nine years or so and the stress

relentless winds of the past

of spawning had taken it out of her; more so than a younger fish of that

three months. This has allowed

length as I saw the next day. All the fish were released.

with the help of the sun I could make out the shadows of the rocks. The

The following day, Cody Schuchert of D&C Fence Co. came over

me free roam of the whole bay system. I’m happy to report that

and he brought two of his relatives, Cliff and Doug Buendel. The four

we have clear water in most

of us continued with the same pattern on the rocks. The topwater bite

of Baffin Bay. It’s clear and

was a blast early on the shallow rocks with trout and reds blowing the

beautiful from the back of Alazan Bay to Penascal Point and south to the Land

Left to right, Cliff Buende l, Doug Buen Schuchert, w del, Cody ith Doug’s 30 -3/4 inch trou t.

Cut, including Yarborough Pass. The whole east side at Bird Island has been clear, too. I haven’t seen water like this in a while and it has definitely improved the lure fishing. This time of year, my favorite fishing comes from the deep rocks of Baffin Bay. We can actually make out the rocks and are able to work the lure around them without getting hung up all the time. The past few days we’ve caught two, thirty inch trout out of the rocks. One was with Dr. Wayne Laster. We started early in the morning on the shallow rocks throwing topwaters. The bone and silver Top Dog has been hot all month. We caught several trout in the four to six pound range. There were also several big reds mixed in. One red weighed ten

Dr. Wayne Laster with a 30” trout – released.

lures out of the water. I never get tired of seeing this. Later, we moved with the trolling motor to the deeper rocks. We switched lures to the plum and chartreuse five-inch Bass Assassin. The two biggest fish of the day came off the deeper rocks. Doug hooked a big trout that came to the top and made several headshakes and ran under the boat, nearly tangling the drift anchor. This is typical of big trout. Doug put his rod down in the water and went around the front of the boat to clear the trolling motor and was able to unwrap from the sea anchor and landed her. She was 30 3/4, inches long and weighed nine pounds, his

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Cody Schuchert with 33” redfish.

personal best. Cody quickly backed it up with a 33-inch red that weighed 14 pounds. Now the pressure was on Cliff and he did it, catching a nice 27-inch trout. On big fish days you hope everyone in the boat has a chance to catch one. On this day everyone went home happy. In working the heavy structure of the rocks, the key is to get the big fish out as quick as you can. They will turn back into the rocks and break you off if they get the chance. I’m using the Waterloo HP Slam Mag, 6’6” with the 20 lb. Power Pro braid and 20-lb mono leader. With this great equipment, we’re able to pull out a lot more big fish from the rocks. I talked to Art Morris, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. He filled me in on several interesting occurrences in our bay system. The net samples are as good as last year, with a lot of trout and redfish. He said we are benefiting from the rains of a year ago. Especially, with a better number of flounder than we had last year. There are excellent numbers of shrimp and crabs, too. The net samples are showing more bonnethead sharks and small tarpon, species we didn’t see before Packery Channel was opened. There are some changes going on with the seagrasses of the Laguna Madre. Before 1980, we only had a few types of seagrass, with an abundance of shoal grass. Now, the manatee grass is showing up. It is being brought in with our currents coming from the south. These grass seeds are getting swept up north as far north as the JFK Causeway. The manatee grass looks different, it’s long and grows up to the surface. It looks like a fish slick on the top of the water. It’s hard and matted. You can hardly reel a lure through it. It doesn’t hurt our bay system, it’s just different. In fact, the bay bottoms with the heavy grass are much more productive. We need to do all we can to protect our seagrasses. We can use the trolling motor or pole out to deeper water before taking off with the big motor as not to rip out grasses in the shallow water. The summer months are promising. I’m going to be working the deep rocks of Baffin Bay as long as the pattern lasts. When the trout bite turns off from the summer heat, I’ll probably be fishing the Intracoastal and the Land Cut, working the deep channel edges. There should be trout and flounder down deep when the heat is on. Also, sightcasting redfish will be an option with the light winds of July and August.

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Capt. Tricia’s Skinny Water Adventures operates out of Port Mansfield, specializing in wadefishing with artificial lures.

LATE MAY AND EARLY JUNE WERE

much of the flats can still hold good water and some great fish. A

pretty much on track here in Port

consistent pattern during small craft advisory days such as this is

Mansfield. As predicted last issue,

simply to find flipping baitfish along color changes and get in there with

One aspect about the Laguna Madre is that even in extreme blows,

it was a good “get

them with a dark plastic

bit” period despite

tail on a 1/8 ounce jighead.

several of those

When you decide to go

grinder days we all

fishing and the weather

experience. Winds

doesn’t cooperate, it is what

were often more

it is, so just do it.

than wished for but

No new news as far as

overall catching

lure selections go, but as

rated high as the fish

we go into deep summer

usually don’t mind getting tossed around near as much

we will see the timeless

as fishermen. At this writing, the wind is sustained over

1/4 ounce weedless spoon come into play more often. Long wades on the flats with a spoon will usually get you your reds. We will often start early in the sand or right along the first grass line, then fall off with the fish towards deeper water as the sun pushes them down to shadier depths. A variety of lures can work from topwaters to tails, but usually a subtle presentation is best in Get in there with them with a dark plastic tail on a 1/8 ounce jighead.

calm, clear water. There will also be opportunity for some great trout on summer’s shallow

sand, such as this chunky twenty-six incher shown being released by Charles Sandford. Our skinny water cools rapidly overnight in this desert-like environment, and stepping out of the boat at first light can feel cool even during July and August. The fish like it too, so find bait in

Baron Ungebahen with a 33 inch red. If the bait is up and active try topwaters.

the sand early and you’ve also most likely found fish. We have grown sick of the wind lately, but we will soon beg for even

82

thirty and gusting over forty, but we still managed to have a good trip.

the slightest breeze as the summer doldrums set in. Calm water is

Pictured is Baron Unbehagen with a thirty-three inch red caught today

great for seeing big herds of reds pushing wakes, and we are excited

on a Super Spook Jr. in less than knee deep water in a semi-protected

about that, but that same slick surface can also make fishing quite

area just as the wind started to honk. No matter what the conditions,

difficult. A stealthy approach is critical. When you run across a big

a go-for-it attitude, a good eye, plus a wet lure is what puts fish on

school of redfish it is far better to keep going and circle wide behind

your line.

them rather than to simply crash them as is so commonly done. That’s

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A go-for-it attitude, a good eye, plus a wet lure are what put fish on your line.

called “torpedoing” and it messes it all up for everybody. Overly excited summer boaters can keep these fish nervous and moving which can make them almost uncatchable. Please consider others and either drift, troll, or wade into these schools. Please give waders a wide berth on the flats. No matter how high fuel gets, burning a little more to go wide around them is worth giving others the best shot at that special experience they came for. Often traffic doesn’t hurt

fishing as much as we’d think, but in clear shallow water, even a nearby passing boat can put already skittish fish down or move then in a hurry. In July, while many of our reds will be found shallow, except for early mornings, most of our better trout will be on deeper structure. Submerged points on the west shoreline and deeper breaks, bars, and spoil banks throughout the system will usually hold fish. If the bait is up and active try topwaters. If not, drop down with a 1/4 ounce tail and probe until you find the right depth and speed. Never believe

Dr. Manny Sanchez pulls an oversized red from a windy, knee deep mud hole. Expect more big reds in July.

heavy trout cannot be caught during summer. Boat traffic down here has been lighter than normal. Fuel costs and the new five trout limit probably play major roles. We are already seeing more mid-range trout between eighteen and twenty-four inches. If you are after a quality experience rather than one of quantity, this is good news. Another interesting positive is that despite dismal Texas Parks & Wildlife gill net results, we are all strangely catching more flounder than in recent years. The bay is healthy, clean and clear. We will soon see large schools of cruising and tailing reds using the flats early and murky depressions later in the day. Trout will be mostly smaller than we saw in winter and spring. Still, those big ones we all covet are here too. Despite the heat, summer fishing can be hot as ever. We are excited about the summer of 2008.

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THE MONTH OF JUNE CERTAINLY

J.P. Joseph caught this specimen wading deep sand pockets, midday.

did its part by bringing the usual hot and muggy temperatures. As hot as the temperatures have been, our fishing has been equally red hot. As I reported last month on the healthy numbers of redfish in our bay system right now, our redfish catches have certainly reflected that they are in great shape and should remain in great shape in the years to come. As the new five trout limit is well into its first year of implementation, I see nothing but continued success for the trout population in the Lower Laguna Madre. I see a few minor changes in finding fish during the month of July. For the most part June’s patterns will continue to hold true also for the month of July; except July promises to be even hotter.

Down here in the Lower Laguna our water temperature tends to stay in the mid to high eighties throughout the summer. One way to find

As the air temperatures climb well into the high nineties and push

cooler water during this scorching period is to fish near a pass where

toward the one hundred degree mark, finding the right depth of water

cooler gulf water flows into the bay system. Fishing near or around the

will be a key ingredient in finding fish. As I write, water temperature is

South Padre Island Causeway or Brazos Santiago Pass can have its

in the mid-eighties. What does that mean? During the month of July I

benefits. Daily, cooler gulf water floods the nearby flats before the sun

recommend an earlier start and targeting the shallows before the sun

has time to heat it up. Early morning would certainly be a good time to

hits these areas. Shallow water cools rapidly when the sun goes down

focus on areas near these tidal zones as everything is sure to be active

and baitfish as well as their predators will flood into shallow grassbeds,

and hungry.

sand flats, and shorelines to get a late night snack or perhaps an early

Another way to avoid the heat is to fish late into the evening. In the

morning breakfast, so wading or drifting some of these shallow areas is

summertime, late evenings often means super low tides. If fishing in

where you would want to be early in the day.

the evening is your choice, be sure to checkout guts, deeper holes, drop offs, or main channels that feed into

Bag of chips or not these fishermen got a tow back to the ramp.

flats. Find areas where the tidal flow has its Andrew Raffety hooked this redfish wading deep in the middle part of the day.

maximum potential. Remember, if you have found a late evening pattern where the fish are exiting a flat as the tide drops, these fish will more than likely return to the very same flat early the next morning when the tide floods back in. The fish will generally remain in this pattern and continue their daily movements unless something like too much fishing pressure or lots of boat traffic chases them away. As the sun climbs high and penetrates deep into the water column it is natural for trout to head to deeper water. In the middle of the day I like to fish areas with depths of five feet or more. Good bait choices in this

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Six year old Trey was so excited about his catch that he forgot to open his eyes for the camera.

situation will be Brown Lures Sea Devils in darker colors like plumtreuse or morning glory rigged with 1/8 oz jig heads. Gold spoons are always good summertime baits for redfish no matter what depth you find them. Our best outings of late have required good planning and good timing. Sometimes we know the fish are present but seem to have lockjaw and this is where planning and timing comes into play. Pay careful attention to tidal movement, fishing pressure, water conditions, and wind. Time your efforts accordingly. A small change such as a fewer boats using the area, a drop or rise in water level or water temperature can sometimes encourage the fish to feed very aggressively. Regardless of how much effort and expertise you invest in maintaining your equipment and handling your boat, problems can jump up at any time and I recommend that you always carry a big bag of chips on every trip. Where am I going with this? Well, you would think that with more boats out there during the summer months it would be easy to find help if you need it… maybe, maybe not, let me explain. One late summer evening I was stranded out on the water by myself. Everyone that passed by seemed to be looking the other way as I waved frantically for someone to help me out. No one seemed to want to lend a hand. Suddenly I got this great idea and drifted nearer the ICW and began throwing potato chips in the water. Naturally this attracted a big flock of sea gulls. I then proceeded to step on my fishing line and with my rod fully bent in the middle of all this bird activity I appeared to be on school fish in the channel. This desperate act attracted two boats to the scene. The first to arrive figured out my ploy to get someone to tow me back to the dock. He cursed me for fooling him like I did and left the scene as quickly as he arrived. The second boater was more generous and offered to tow me in as darkness was approaching. His exact words were, “I am going to tow you in only because you really fooled me and I admire your creativity; you deserve that much.” So next time you stop at the store on the way to the boat ramp, grab yourself a bag of chips and store it in the boat. It doesn’t matter what kind or brand you buy or even they get stale; seagulls are not picky at all. May you enjoy the summer fishing with the family and certainly don’t forget the bag of chips.

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July is a great month for large numbers of trout. They can be found on the

Randall’s outings have been limited by the wind over recent weeks, but fishing is

beach, at the Cameron Jetties, around nearshore oil platforms, and in the

good when he can get out. “This new JH Performance boat I’m running is quite a

shipping canal. July is a time when the winds calm and we and are able to get

ride. It takes rough water well and is easy to get in and out of. On days when I’ve

offshore to some explosive trout frenzies. Most of the time, we throw shrimp

been able to leave the dock in it, we are catching some quality trout. Best lures

imitations. Clear, glow, smoke, and avocado Sparkle Beetles are always a

have been the larger Norton Sand Eels on heavier heads, up to three eighths

good choice. Sand Eels and Stingray Grubs in the same colors also work

ounce. We use the heavier heads to maintain good contact with the lures and

well. Topwaters will work really well on the beach early in the morning. Most

to ensure that we are bumping the bottom some. Light colors like bone diamond

of the time you can get a good topwater bite at any proven spot early in the

and pearl/pumpkin have been best.” Like the rest of the Galveston guys, he’s

morning. You can hit these spots on your way out of the lake, then head to the

champing at the bit for calmer weather. “The surf is close again to being ready.

nearshore fishing holes. Some of our best trout limits come at this time of year

If this wind will just lay a little, it will be on fire out there. The water in the rivers is

because oftentimes the fish you catch at these platforms or on the beach are

in good shape too. As soon as we are able to fish wherever we want to, we’ll be

much larger than the schoolies caught in the main body of the lake.

limiting out by ten o’clock.”

James speaks in both positive and negative terms about the fishing in

Don says that the wind is hampering most efforts lately, making it hard to drift

Galveston lately. On the bright side, he says the bays are loaded with “as

open waters and keeping the tripletail safe from pressure too. “Our best luck

many fish as I’ve seen since 1983. We whacked the trout real good last time

on recent trips has been while we’re wading. In both East and West Bays, there

the wind stopped blowing. One afternoon, drifting slowly over deep shell in

are places to find clear water if you are willing to wade. The drifting has been

East Bay, I and one client had a steady topwater bite for three solid hours.

basically impossible much of the time. Best bite has been on live bait, though

Caught at least 20 over five pounds. It was awesome. Also had a good five

the Berkley Gulp are producing just about as many fish on some days. I’ve been

day run wading shorelines in East Bay during one relatively calm stretch.

on some decent fish in the river, and it’s a good choice on the windiest days.

Limits every day, up to nearly six pounds.” On the bad side, he says, “This is

During the Oil Man’s tournament, we caught some solid trout and reds in there.

some of the worst fishing weather I’ve seen in years. We just lose so many

You have to move around to find them; the other day we hooked a big blacktip

days to the wind. If it’s blowing 15 or more, you’ll be lucky to scratch out 9 or

shark in one stretch that had been holding some fish, so we had to move maybe

10 fish all day. What we really need are winds under ten miles an hour, then

a half a mile to find them again. Once this wind lays, we’ll be looking to throw

it will be on. If I’m able to get on that north shoreline of East Bay any time

topwaters in the surf and also chasing the tripletail.”

soon, I’ll make ‘em cry!” Jim’s report echoes others from the Galveston area. “Fishing is totally

Fishing has been hit or miss lately depending on the wind. Redfish have been

dependent on the wind lately. When winds are light, it’s about as good as it

our staple this past month with most fish coming on area shorelines in three feet

gets, but they aren’t light much. We have had good success in a variety of

of water or less. Bone Super Spook Jrs., pearl Skitterwalks and bone/chrome

areas on the calm days, mostly on the mid-bay reefs. We had one stretch

SheDogs have been the best topwaters as of late, while quarter ounce weedless

there where we were catching trout over five pounds in decent numbers.

gold spoons and Gulp shrimp seem to be working best when the fish don’t like

Nothing over about 7 pounds, but nice fish. Also had some solid fish while

the tops. The trout bite has been tough to figure out. Some days they are are on

wading shorelines on some of the medium wind days on which we were still

shallow grass and and some days they are out on deeper shell. Glow Gulp rigged

able to go. In the murkier waters, I like to throw the Stanley Wedge Tails.

about two feet under corks have accounted for our best trout. Schools of Black

When it’s calmer and the water gets greener, I’ll go to the Bass Assassins

Drum ranging from sixteen to twenty two inches are numerous in the bays this

in plum or red. The surf has been on fire when it gets green to the beach.

spring, and they are a good eating fish. Tripletail have been hard to come by. We

I’m still hearing of a few monster trout coming out of the Rollover area. Right

have had a couple of days of hunting, but have come up short so far. I look for

now, it’s all blown out, but the next time it clears, watch out. It will be Katy bar

July to be a good month to hit the surf.

the door.” 86 86

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The fishing continues to improve! Despite the strong winds that we’ve been having, trout numbers and size have been on the increase. We’ve been catching many trout between 22 and 28 inches long and a few reaching 30 inches. The leeward sides of the islands and Kennedy Ranch shorelines have been holding beautiful water. I believe that once the winds settle to less than twenty miles per hour for a few days, big portions of Baffin Bay will holding beautiful water. My intentions for July are to look for grass lines and potholes in two feet of water or less and fish with natural colored Mirrolure She Dogs and Top Dogs or Bass Assassins in bone diamond and plum/chartreuse rigged on sixteenth ounce jigheads. After the fish move off of the shallow flats, I will probably be casting live croakers into deeper water along drop offs and grass lines. Wade as much as possible, but don’t forget your ForEverlast RayGuards. Like many other Upper Coast pros, Lynn is eagerly awaiting a break in the winds so he can get into the surf. “As soon as this wind lets up a bit, it will be a feast

“The water has cleared up nicely around here and I’m loving it,” Joe says. “I’m

along the beachfront. Until then, we’ll be targeting sandy pockets along area

able to fish a bunch of different areas and sightcasting opportunities exist in all

shorelines with deep water close by. Strong morning incoming tides are best.

of them. We’ve been seeing and catching mostly big reds on Bass Assassins

We are catching decent numbers on topwaters, mostly the smaller ones, mainly

and Gamblers on recent trips. A couple of days ago, I had a client Kyle and his

Super Spook Jrs.. With these bright skies, the light and flashy ones work best. I

son. They caught and released fifteen or eighteen reds between them. It was a

like the blue/chrome, pearl with chartreuse head and other lighter colors. When

blast. We’re also seeing quite a few big trout on some of the flats. They are a little

we shift to bigger plugs, the She Dog in blue/chrome is hard to beat. When

harder to catch than the reds most of the time, but the clear water

things slow on the topwaters, we mostly move right down to the soft plastics,

definitely helps. I’ve been working areas north of the JFK, as well as spoil banks

targeting deeper grass edges, grass beds and isolated potholes closer to the

and ledges south of Bird Island. A few times, I’ve run all the way down to Nine

drop offs. Again, what we really want this time of year is to take our topwaters

Mile Hole and caught fish too. It’s not really necessary to go that far from the

into the surf. I’m sure the trout are waiting for us out there!”

dock, though. With the brown tide disappearing, you have potential to catch a bunch of quality fish without making such a long run.”

“We’ve been catching some big fish for the last couple of weeks,” Blake reports, “both trout and reds. I’ve had several trout between about 25 and 28 inches.

“Typical summer patterns are in full swing in Port Mansfield,” Bruce says. “The

Decent weights too, up to seven and a half pounds. Today, we had some

reds are up on the sugar sand and are easy to catch early mornings on

monster reds, up to 36 inches. Most of the reds are coming off shell, but the

topwaters. The trout are hanging around the deep edges of the grass flats.

trout like the sand and grass. Even though it’s windy, our water in all the bays is

They’re biting topwaters too, but soft plastics are more effective later in the day.

green. Copano, San Antonio and Aransas are all producing nice

Haven’t been able to get offshore much at all with the winds, but once we are

catches. I’ve been throwing everything from topwaters and Sand Eels to the

able to do that, we’ll be targeting snapper a few miles out early, then returning to

Berkley Gulps and even croakers. As the summer wears on, we’ll be sticking

the beachfront areas for bull reds and tarpon. Inshore, I’ll be looking to do some

with the same plan, throwing topwaters if we can and switching to whatever else night wading around the full moons next month, four days before and four days after. It’s a great way to beat the heat and the crowds.” He mentions that Pradco we need to after that. I’ll still be targeting sandy pockets in the grass beds on most days, also checking the reefs more and more. And of course we want to

has some new stuff headed to the shelves in tackle stores. “Super Spooks will

head to the beachfront if winds allow. That should be good in July.”

be made in a more durable material and will be available with two different types of rattles. They also have a soft plastic minnow that is killer.”

July is traditionally the best month for speckled trout in the PINS surf on topwaters and Bass Assassins. The topwater bite MAY last all day and we can often sightcast to them. Typically Spanish mackerel and large schools of ladyfish are available and tarpon and king mackerel are present in varying numbers. Shark fishing is more productive at night than during daylight. As a rule the farther the bait is placed offshore the better the results; although we are at times able to sightcast to cruising bulls and occasional blacktips from the beach at midday. Whiting will be the mainstay of light-tackle bait fishermen using shrimp and “Fishbites.” Calm conditions and clear water is the norm. Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nesting season concludes early in July but green and loggerhead turtles will be nesting at night; be careful when driving the beach in the dark, keep speed down and report fresh turtle tracks to 1-866-887-8535. Good fishin’. www.TSFMAG.com www.TSFMAG.com

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This month started out slow, with tide movement in the mornings mostly nonexistent. We are still bringing in reds, but it can take half the day scouring the flats to get our limits. Trout are hanging with the reds early, then gradually easing into deeper water as the sun comes up. Although we don’t usually target flounder, we’re seeing better numbers than last year. The bait of choice continues to be Berkley Gulp three inch shrimp under a Mansfield Mauler in new penny or glow (check with Kyle at Johnny’s True Value). The time of the year to fish off the Convention Center on the East Side is almost over; however our tides are not as high as expected, so conditions aren’t normal. Look for the fishing to start popping in potholes south of Gas Well. Freddy says, “Get out your weedless spoons and topwaters because the Lower Laguna is the perfect place to experience sport fishing in unbelievably clear, shallow water.”

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Margaret Moore of Elgin snagged this 11# red at Rockport Pelican Bay Resort Pier.

Elnora Redgrave-Grenet caught and released this 20” red in Copano Bay. Christin Daniels of Cedar Creek caught and released her largest black drum to date.

Sean Phillips snagged this catfish in the last ten minutes of a tournament which won him first place.

Jessica Hudec proudly displays her 22 1/2” red. Barbara Stagner hooked this 21” red in East Galveston Bay.

Blayde Carrol and Allison Carson have a double hook up of reds while surf fishing at San Jose Island.

Tiffany Tidwell tackled this 10# red while in Port Mansfield. 88

July 2008

Alex Jiminez lands his first red on his first fishing trip to Seadrift.

Dewayne Dutton landed this 28” trout while in Port Mansfield.

Sydney Crowder smiles big while fishing with her dad. Texas Saltwater Fishing

Bryan Taylor caught and released this monster while fishing in Rockport.

Parker Connolly tricked this trout while fishing in Port Aransas.

Kathy Hudec boated this 27” red that won her first place in a tournament.

Kerry Rea caught and released this 29” red in Port Isabel.

Marcus Defosset landed this snook while fishing the POC Jetties. www.TSFMAG.com

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WE HAD SOME FRIENDS OVER FOR DINNER, one of which was Matt Bell. Matt offered to bring the salad… and what a salad he put together. Matt began by whipping up a bowl of Crab Pico de Gallo (see recipe). This salad was so good I couldn’t help but think about more ways to use Matt’s tasty Crab Pico. So again Matt; thanks for the delightful salad and also for sharing so many cooking lessons and ideas.

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Boats, Kayaks, Outboards

For more information about these advertisers visit: http://www.texassaltwaterfishingmagazine.com/contact_advertisers_product.html

Boats, Kayaks, Outboards

Adventure Yamaha and Marine.........................33 281-484-7200

Anderson Marine...............................................81 800-416-9003

Bernie’s Boats..................................................14 361-573-7809

Big Boyz Toyz...................................................65 956-686-9600

Busha Boat Works............................................47 979-245-3369

Canoesports.....................................................61 713-660-7000

Coastal Backwater Marine................................41 409-927-1462

Coastline Marine.........................................Cover 713-614-2057

El Campo Boating Center................................. 55 800-843-2201

El Pescador Boats...............................................58 361-983-4832

Flats Cat............................................................35 281-342-3940

Flatstalker..........................................................22 361-857-7074

Gibbs Marine.....................................................27 713-526-4349

Gulf Coast Boats................................................3 713-477-7119

Gulf Coast Marine.............................................. 6 800-622-2449

Hill Country Boats.......................................Cover 512-342-2622

Hobie Cat Company......................................... 61 1-800-HOBIE-49 / 1-800-462-4349

Huff Marine.......................................................26 361-991-0369

JH Performance Boats..................................... 75 979-233-1852

Kroll’s Marine................................................... 59 800-882-4461

LMC Marine Center.......................... Solunar, 8 , 9 888-797-9805

Lone Star Yacht Sales.......................................18 281-334-3500

Majek Boats.......................................................4 361-991-3102

Marshall Marine................................................43 361-552-1870

Mt. Houston Marine...........................................39 281-447-7689

Pathfinder Boats......................................... Cover 888-Shallow / 888-742-5569

Rockport Marine...............................................15 361-729-7820

Ron Hoover RV & Marine Center........................ 4 800-545-8818

Sail and Ski........................................................19 210-734-8199

Shallow Sport Boats....................................Cover 956-233-9489

Shoalwater Boats.............................................96 361-983-4134

Skeeter Boats.....................................................1 800-753-3837

Sport Marine....................................................53 281-238-0060

Texas Marine....................................................73 409-898-7632

Espandre......................................................... 51 281-543-1230

Gulf Coast Trolling Motors................................. 61 281-481-6832

House Of Fiberglass......................................... 65 361-853-2541

Jet Dock........................................................... 96 361-972-2122

JL Marine - Power Pole....................................... 5 888-442-4900

Safe Floor Company......................................... 65 281-435-5904

Salt-A-Way....................................................... 27 714-550-0987

South Texas Trolling Motors...............................77 361-939-8970

Specialty Aluminum Works.................................14 361-575-1477

Stick It Anchor Pins........................................... 77 941-815-6875

Tops-N-Towers.............................................Cover 281-474-4000

Academy..........................................................48 888-922-2336

Blue Water Ships Stores...................................14 281-334-7583

Boater’s World................................................... 7 800-826-2628

David’s Tackle Box........................................... 75 281-342-9669

Fishing Tackle Unlimited........................ Cover, 19 281-481-6838

Gander Mountain............................................... 45 800-282-5993

American Rodsmiths.......................................... 2

Tackle Box....................................................... 81

713-466-7849

Batson Enterprises, Inc..................................... 53 360-681-2381

Bimini Bay-Tsunami............................................79 800-688-3481

Bio Bait - Big Bite Baits.................................... 35 877-222-7429

Boone Bait Co...................................................33 407-975-8775

Brown Lures........................................................67 877-460-4619

Costa del Mar.................................................... 27 386-677-3700

D.O.A. Lures..................................................... 61 877-362-5873

EZ Drainer.........................................................77 281-224-9766

Fish Gillz...........................................................31 713-855-5885

361-992-2960 361-582-5100

361-575-8700

Victoria All Sports.......................................... 65 361-575-0655 Real Estate

ERA Realty....................................................... 77 361-572-3333

South Padre Island Golf Club........................... 49 888-943-3622

Tidewater.......................................................... 75 512 659 4754

Troy Giles Realty.............................................. 57 956-761-2040

Waterview Home Magnolia Beach......................54 281-330-3342 / 512-738-0456 Tournaments / Outdoor Events

CCA Star Tournament.......................................66 713-626-4222

Fish Slick.......................................................... 75

Port Mansfield Fishing Tournament................... 22

Fishbelly Lures..................................................59

Texas Deep Sea Rodeo....................................31

718-232-2634

Foreverlast...................................................... 85 361-798-1530

H&H Fishing Rods.............................................15 713-875-7827

Laguna Rods.................................................... 59 979-921-9910

Livingston Lures................................................. 83 210-857-8381

Luresafety Wrap................................................ 73 713-203-2829

Midcoast Products...............................................65 979-793-6766

Mud Hole..........................................................65 866-790-RODS (7637)

Okuma............................................................. 26 800-466-5862

Penn.........................................................Solunar 215-229-9415

Rapala................................................................. 3 800-874-4451

Cove Harbor Marina and Drystack.....................18

Strike Pro America............................................ 51

409-737-1136

800-274-4626 409-621-1126

Texas Tackle Factory................................... 41, 55 361-575-4751

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281-723-4154 Fishing retail locations

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

Shimano............................................................23

www.TSFMAG.com

361-573-0300

Woodee Rods USA.......................................... 47

512-394-9384 Fishing Products (rods, reels, tackle, etc.)

361-972-6629 Boat Accessories

361-552-2745

888-923-3243

Waterloo Rods................................................. 63

Roy’s Bait & Tackle...........................................39

Rods by Pepper.................................................75

361-790-5438

712-336-1520

Wade Aid Enterprises.......................................75

Yeti Coolers...................................................... 63

Trans Fiberglass Boat.......................................54

Eclipse Enterprises........................................... 57

Trilene.................................................................23

Texas Saltwater Fishing

956-944-2354 713-816-5004

Texas Hunting & Sportsmand Expo...................43 956-664-2884

Texas Saltwater Series.....................................67 210-385-3333 Miscellaneous

Aventura Jewelry................................................ 41 713-932-0002

Coastal Creations Taxidermy............................73 888-737-5452

Graphics By Design.......................................... 73 361-785-4282

Mission Wall Systems.................................... 53 888-572-0097

Pearl Products Crab Master................................81 850-994-4168

Russo Marine Financial........................................51 877-899-8166

Saltwater Fishing Clinics.................................. 75 361-563-1160

Texas Application Specialists..............................59 281-558-4696

Trident Funding.....................................................43 800-514-6946

TSFmag Store.......................................................91 361-785-3420

TSFmag Subscription Form................................. 69 361-785-3420

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July 2008  

The July 2008 issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine.