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FULL OF REDS Only $3.95 July 2012

Chuck Uzzle shares details for locating and catching.


OYSTER RESTORATION TPWD Coastal Fisheries progress report. TIDE PREDICTIONS & SOLUNAR FEED TIMES INSIDE! To Receive Discounts and News Updates.

Ray Guard Shields

Pro Wading Belt Kit

Predator Boot

Pro Pliers

ABOUT THE COVER Hunter Cole of Pure Fishing Inc. made the trek to Port O’Connor’s Espiritu Santo Bay recently to conduct field testing of prototype Abu Garcia Revo Inshore rods and reels that will be introduced soon at ICAST. Berkley’s GULP! Ripple Mullet on Sebile jigs proved effective over shallow grassbeds, a favored habitat of mature specks during spawning season.




JULY 2012 VOL 22 NO 3

FEATURES Mike McBride Kevin Cochran Billy Sandifer Martin Strarup Chuck Uzzle Joe Richard



DEPARTMENTS 23 42 44 46 50 54 58 60 62 66 72

Coastal Birding Let’s Ask The Pro Boat Maintenance Tips Fly Fishing TPWD Field Notes Kayak Fishing According to Scott Youth Fishing Texas Nearshore & Offshore Cade’s Coastal Chronicles Fishy Facts


78 80 82 84 86 88 90

Dickie Colburn’s Sabine Scene Mickey on Galveston Capt. Bill’s Fish Talk Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays Hooked up with Rowsey Capt. Tricia’s Port Mansfield Report South Padre Fishing Scene

Dickie Colburn Mickey Eastman Bill Pustejovsky Shellie Gray David Rowsey Capt. Tricia Ernest Cisneros



98 2 | July 2012

Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-649-2265 PRODUCTION COORDINATOR

06 Catch and Release of a new Deadline 14 Strategies for the Sizzle of Summer 20 Midnight Express Part II 24  No Name Lake 30 Pumpkins in the Salad 34 A Toast to Tin Boats


Patti Elkins

04 76 92 96 98

Editorial New Tackle & Gear Fishing Reports and Forecasts   Catch of the Month Gulf Coast Kitchen

Billy Sandifer Jay Watkins Chris Mapp   Casey Smartt     Charlene Drake Scott Null Scott Sommerlatte Marcos Garza Mike Jennings Cade Simpson Stephanie Boyd

Linda Curry ADDRESS CHANGED? Email DESIGN & LAYOUT Stephanie Boyd Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine is published monthly. Subscription Rates: One Year (Free Emag with Hard Copy Subscription) $25.00, Two Year $45.00 E-MAG (electronic version) is available for $12.00 per year. Order on-line: WWW.TSFMAG.COM MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine Attn: Subscriptions P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, Texas 77983 * Subscribers are responsible for submitting all address changes and renewals by the 10th of the prior month’s issue. Email for all address changes or please call 361-785-3420 from 8am - 4:30pm. The U.S. Postal Service does not guarantee magazines will be forwarded .

HOW TO CONTACT TSFMAG: PHONE: 361-785-3420 FAX: 361-785-2844 MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, Texas 77983 PHYSICAL ADDRESS: 58 Fisherman’s Lane, Seadrift, TX 77983 WEB: PHOTO GALLERY: PRINTED IN THE USA. Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine (ISSN 1935-9586) is published monthly by Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, Inc., 58 Fisherman’s Lane, Seadrift, Texas 77983 l P. O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 © Copyright 1990 All rights reserved. Positively nothing in this publication may be reprinted or reproduced. *Views expressed by Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine contributors do not necessarily express the views of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine. Periodical class permit (USPS# 024353) paid at Victoria, TX 77901 and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, Inc., P. O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983.

EDITORIAL Grandpa is a


berkley® fishing Celebrates

75TH ANNIVERSARY Festivities Honoring Founder, Berk Bedell, Kick Off in Spirit Lake, Iowa

The legendary scene set in 1937 is known far and wide: teenaged Berk Bedell, of tiny Spirit Lake, Iowa, labors over a small table in his family’s home creating hand-tied hair flies to sell to the local hardware store. For his efforts, young Bedell earned spending cash for some weekend fun. Now, 75 years later, we appreciate how the high school student’s dedication to building quality flies became the genesis of the world’s most influential fishing tackle company. Berk Bedell flies were so popular that neighbors were hired to help fulfill the orders. Three years later, Bedell’s customers conveyed to the young entrepreneur another fishing product need – steel leaders – so the fly-tying young man created Steelon Leaders. Soon, ski rope and Hula hoops were added to the list. In 1959, the fishing industry experienced a quantum leap in product innovation with the introduction of Trilene monofilament fishing line, the world’s most popular and recognizable fishing line. Of course, the growth of the Berkley Company, as it became known, would continue new rods, reels and baits were added to the family. Berkley product names became synonymous with fishing: Trilene® XL® and XT®, Lightning Rod® and PowerBait® which led to FireLine®, Gulp! ® and, most recently, Havoc® and NanoFil®. Berk Bedell’s 75-year legacy will be celebrated throughout the summer 2012. The party kicks off in June via facebook and in Spirit Lake, Iowa, with festivities to honor the families and friends that have committed so much. To learn more about the very roots of Pure Fishing, Berk Bedell and scheduled celebrations go to 4 | July 2012

Being raised the son of an avid outdoorsman in a rural area with fishing and hunting literally in our backyard, some of my earliest childhood recollections are of my father returning from a day afield. I would howl with glee seeing whatever he was lucky to catch or shoot. I find it amazing that I can still recall the strange smell of a pheasant or rabbits plunked on an old newspaper just inside the kitchen door. I must have been a real pain, hovering too close as he “undressed” them. Standing on a chair, a mess of crappie or smallmouth bass in my mother’s sink are also distinct memories. And the aroma of that old electric fryer. Horribly afflicted at a tender age, I took to running every creek bank and pond I could find. Chubs and sunfish landed on willow sticks and any old piece of string with a rusty hook were my first go at angling. Sight-fishing in its simplest form, we tossed worms we found under cow pies as they swam by. But it was high adventure and it set the stage. Before long I was old enough to peddle a bicycle to fishing holes outside the immediate neighborhood and on lucky weekends Dad would load the whole family and sometimes some of my buddies for a day on the Allegheny River or Pymatuning Reservoir. Oar-powered jonboat strapped to the roof of a wheezing Ford Econoline. From there I graduated to Lake Erie and the Chesapeake. Fishing was important in my family, when we were not hunting. Like my father, I have loved and still love it all. Everything from coonhounds to retrievers, cottontails to elk, doves to spring gobblers, rainbows to muskellunge and eventually saltwater. If he was still with us he’d still be going ninety-to-nothing, that was his style, and that’s how he made me. Before I knew it I had kids of my own, and work brought me to Texas. Today my son is as afflicted as he can afford to be, not financially so much as career and his own family responsibilities. My nine-year-old grandson is now in the mould and he is in love with everything that swims, crawls, flies and runs. Handing down the love of the outdoors that my father gave me has become my newest passion. For a nine-year-old, every day in the field and on the water is a brand new adventure. Another opportunity to enjoy and learn and make memories. It’s awesome to look back on it all, my treasured memories in the outdoors, from tag-along pain-in-the-neck kid to grandpa that’s hunted and fished in so many places. I know that my father must be smiling. Passing along our love of the outdoors to wives, other family, friends, children and eventually grandchildren, is one of the greatest gifts we can give and a key player in the future of the sports of fishing and hunting. It is our job to keep the fire burning. Don’t wait until they are teenagers and, never put off a family fishing trip. They’ll love you for it. It’s great to be a kid again.


Well here we are again, another

glorious holiday weekend and the fishing conditions

are calling like mythical sirens. Unfortunately though, the outdoor conditions are a heck of a lot better than your own personal ones for the moment. Once again, as family and friends await with fine foods, festivities and rods and reels high at the ready, there you are – isolated and lashed to a keyboard in a dimly lit man cave, struggling against the ropes of another stressful magazine deadline. To quote Marlin Brando in Apocalypse Now, just after the machete swung home: “The horror, the horror…” The festivities and sirens will just have to wait, as for now it’s just an exhausted you, beaten up from days on the water and various other demands, with the English language as your only tool but with perhaps a small glimmer from hell you can actually use it to contribute something new for over the two hundredth time. Wait – what was that you said? You too wanna write about your fishing passion, to become a wordsmith of tales and personal tribulations? Well OK then…. just come on in and let’s go there! Many folks tell me they dream of sharing their own fishing observations and experiences in a public forum. Sure, that can be very rewarding - but also quite demanding, especially if you do more than just a few, and especially if you’re like me and are not “really” a writer. (Hey, if I was…those deadlines wouldn’t be such a big deal, right?) The real truth is, and we’ve all seen it, is that there are a lot of people who can write, a lot of people who can fish, but very few who can do both as well as the other. We do have some great talent here at TSFM though; storytellers like Martin, pro-experts like Jay, real life doctors such as Billy Sandifer, passion players like Rowsey, realist bitches like Scott Sommerlatte, dedicated anal analyst ala Kevin, plus all of our knowledgeable guide writers who just tell it like it is. In this day of insatiable information hunger there is room for everybody. I can’t qualify as any of the above, but what I 6 | July 2012

If you want to write a “How To” piece, make sure you really know how to do it…and don’t be a blowhard! | 7

might be able to offer are a few suggestions for the newer hopefuls out there; based solely from reader feedback after entering my

It’s your content that matters. Words are cheap but experiences are usually not.

8 | July 2012

thirteenth year as a monthly gladiator in the glossy arena. My only true qualifications are being eaten up with fishing for over 45 years and trying to write about it going on 13, at least once per month yet there was a time where I did several more. There was once Professor Finn - a factual-based infomercial on the habits of speckled trout, plus a cartoon character called Capt. Buckethead (a wannabe guide we could all relate to in his failings), and even that tide/solunar chart you see here each month that I used to draw by hand just like we did for ourselves 30 years ago. In the meantime, much of it has come from strange scenarios; midnight boats with blinky laptops, in hospitals with IV in both arms, in other hospital waiting rooms waiting on people (Mother) to die, not to mention dancing around naked by a fire while painting myself blue just looking for inspiration. Just sayin - been there, done that, even if not in a true writer’s-guild acceptable sense. So, just cuz, here are a dozen basic tips from the back side of a reel; the passionate but not necessarily “scriptedly gifted” side, yet a

vantage point most real fisherman/readers might enjoy. A huge disclaimer is that most of this goes against most of the helpful suggestions from my paid, full-time writer friends, the true pros, or otherwise “English educated”. This is just about writing about fishing, so please pardon the pun, but there are really no straight lines here, just a true love of the sport and inspiring ways to convey what I feel. 1. First off, write about your passion, especially what’s immediately inspiring to you. What is important to you as a fisherman will probably be important to the readers as well. Take them there, and then set the hook with your excitement. 2. If you want to write a How To piece, make sure you really know how to do it, and are not just spewing out the same old stuff written for years. That’s just plain boring. 3. In fishing, never use the words never, always, or you need to, when talking about fish. Be very careful with, and always qualify your opinions. Nothing worse than demanding your subjective thoughts be taken as absolute fact unless you want to be embarrassed. (Ask Mother Nature). None of us really know what we think we know anyway…only trying to understand what we see. 4. Don’t let the grammar Nazi’s kill you. You can make up words if you want to, that’s a beauty of the English language, and sometimes there are no real words to convey thought more accurately anyway, so just do it. Just make sure the editor-hole gets it through Spell Check. Also, try not to get upset when an editor substitutes his own words above the ones you spent two days choosing. He is there to help…one way or another.

Supporting images are everything… they document ideas better than we can.

Write about your passion, especially what’s inspiring to you. What’s important to you as a fisherman will probably be important to your readers as well.

10 | July 2012

12 | July 2012

14. In the end, did what you write actually make people want to run out the door and go fishing? That is the ultimate and final qualifier. Just FYI, the word deadline originated from the line around a military prison beyond which soldiers were authorized to shoot escaping prisoners. I am escaping into my fishing for a few weeks until the next dreaded due date catches me unprepared…and you can bet I’ll be making photos and taking notes…promise! While I’m at it, let me say thanks so much for all the cards, letters and encouragement over the years. It has meant more than you know. By the way, our youth writers rock, real adventurers they are, so let’s live vicariously through their excited learning curve. Good luck guys, and write (and fish) like nobody’s looking!



5. It’s your content that matters, not your magical keyboard tricks (although that helps make for some good word pictures). Words are cheap but experiences are usually not. 6. If you use a thesaurus, try the nickel section instead of the quarter one. There is high merit to writing like you speak unless it’s a technical article like how to change a trailer bearing. 7. Don’t be afraid to write badly. Just let it flow and keep going. You can come back for a cleanup sweep later. Just get your thoughts down first. 8. An outline is critical to making things flow. I never could but maybe you can. 9. Find an inspiring place to write. I once asked Shannon Tompkins of the Houston Chronicle where he did his best work. He said in a boiler room with a hundred other typewriters. Unbelievable how he overcame. 10. Keeping notes helps. You never know when you will be smitten with inspiration, and some of the newer phone apps can help to be spontaneous. Save them or forget them. 11. As Everett says, supporting images are everything, and that’s where credibility lies. They can document ideas better than we can. 12. Find something new to talk about or, either make old things new or new things familiar. Most readers have read everything, the object is to inspire not imitate. 13. Write from your own heart, not from someone else’s idea of whom or what you should be. Once again, the reader will identify and appreciate, trust me.

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


956-746-6041 Three_MudSkateers.wmv





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A Texas summer sun

is fully capable of making bacon sizzle on a pickup truck’s dashboard. The summer of 2011 was a record-breaker. Here’s to the hope the warmest months of 2012 won’t set a new standard! Coping with such extreme heat and catching speckled trout on artificial lures requires thoughtful tactics and specialized strategies. One way to beat the heat is to fish in the dark. The best nights (and days) for catching are those close to strong moons, either full or new. Fishing under the wan glow of a full moon is easier, of course, but the bite can be every bit as good under a pitch black canopy. Choosing a night with relatively light winds is helpful, since noisy breezes inhibit communication and reduce the effective use of enhanced hearing ability. When one can’t see, the other senses come alive. On calm nights, it’s often possible to hear trout feeding, locate them and catch them. When hooked fish thrash around on the line, they all feel and sound bigger than in the light. This exaggerated effect adds to the enjoyment of night fishing by elevating the sense of anticipation as each fish is played. Anything which makes trout feel and sound bigger is certainly a bonus in the hot months, when catching an abundance of dinks is common. Certainly, gearing up properly for handling fish without the aid of sunlight is a necessary requirement for those looking to beat the heat by fishing at night. Carrying the proper lights and hook-extracting devices is a must. Additionally, those choosing to wade should never slide over the gunwale after sunset without 14 | July 2012

protection from stingrays. Wearing something like ForEverLast Ray Guards when wading should be done at all times, day or night. When rays can’t see waders and vice versa, it’s most important to place some kind of barrier between the stinging, poisoned barbs of the bottom huggers and the flesh of the feet and legs of the shuffling anglers. Another way to lower the likelihood of a disastrous encounter between man and ray in the dark is to walk around as little as possible when wading. The best spots to wade at night are those which require the least movement. Wandering around and covering large areas in the dark is generally not as effective as doing the same with the aid of sunlight. When covering large areas, productivity is usually enhanced by the ability to see into the water and focus casts around productive parts of the flat or reef, or at suspicious looking bait activity. Without the ability to see these things clearly, the effectiveness of such a strategy is reduced. Standing and casting around a proven, productive sweet spot is more effective in the black of night. Parking the boat near a drop-off of a sand bar, a set of rocks, a gap or other sweet spot in a reef, a grass mat or set of potholes along a shoreline, or along a well-known part of a spoil bank sets up a potentially productive nighttime wading excursion. Making a short walk toward a sweet spot and sustaining a | 15

focused effort in a relatively small piece of water is sensible and often ditches is to locate active schools of baitfish and to time the effort to outrageously effective. A high level of familiarity with the area helps coincide with the trout’s need to feed. This means working the area make things safer and more productive. when the water is moving if the spot is located near a strong tide Another way to make nighttime wading safer is to choose areas source, and fishing it early in the morning if it isn’t. which aren’t likely to lie in the paths of passing boaters. Walking The beachfront is another area having shallow water next to a deep around in running lanes is asking for trouble, to be sure. Setting basin. When winds are light and wave heights small, walking into up a wade in a treacherous area for boating, where no sane captain the ocean at the crack of dawn can provide summer’s best catching would reasonably run in the dark is smart. The features which make potential. Most savvy surf anglers focus their efforts early on the first such an area dangerous for boating likely also make them potentially gut or the drop-off seaward of the first sand bar. Topwaters are often productive for fishing. deployed first and foremost. Catching trout in summer can, of course, be done in the daytime Topwaters work well throughout the summer for trout, wherever too. Keeping rods bent in the heat means understanding how high and whenever the fishing effort is made. Generally, junior versions temperatures affect the trout’s movement patterns and variable of floating plugs catch more fish than larger ones. Fast, erratic feeding mood. These things first and foremost dictate choices related presentations definitely outperform slower, more steady ones, to the never-ending quest to locate fish. particularly when the trout aren’t actively feeding. Creating When water temperatures climb into the mid-eighties and stay numerous speed bursts with little, light plugs is much easier than there or higher, many of the trout will move “deep”, some preferring with larger, heavier ones. If conventional topwaters are working to make short forays into shallower water when it’s coolest, meaning well early and then the blow ups begin to become fewer, switching late at night and into the early morning hours. Some of the fish will stay put in the depths all the time. Consequently, Heading out extra early and fishing for a while before sunrise can be a summer trout fishing can be pleasant good way to beat the summer heat and catch some bigger than average and productive for anglers who enjoy trout, like this 29 inch specimen which struck a baby trout Skitter Walk. fishing from the boat. Certainly, targeting areas with deep, scattered shell and submerged reefs can be wise in the heat, as can fishing humps on shipchannel spoil banks. Finding concentrations of bait and slicks popping in areas like these can lead boating anglers to plenty of trout in hot weather. Employing soft plastics on relative heavy jigheads (three-sixteenths ounce and heavier, depending on depth and current velocity) usually produces well in areas like these. Fishing open water is best when winds are light and tides are moving, but not too strongly. Windier conditions sometimes dictate the need for wading, or at least fishing shallower areas offering more protection from the breeze. Summer wading is often most productive in places where shallow water lies close to deep basins. Early in the morning, trout often roam out of the cooler depths of these basins to feed, then move back into the “swag” to chill out again. The edges of ship channel spoil banks like those along the Sabine Channel, and those near Indianola and Ingleside all offer excellent potential when the weather is sizzling. Spoils along the ICW in both Laguna Madres and East Matagorda Bay can also be good places to target feeding trout in summer. The keys to locating fish on all these shallow humps fronting deep 16 | July 2012



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When it’s dark, five pound trout sometimes make noises which make them seem like real monsters. Sheldon Arey doesn’t look scared!

numerous dinks in deeper water and hoping for a big bite is a more sensible strategy for many. Whether fishing from a boat or wading, this often means using fast retrieves with topwaters and soft plastics early in the morning or in the dark, and fishing areas with deep water close to shallow shelves.

Kevin Cochran Contact

over to a “prop bait” can keep the foam flying. As with dog-walking plugs, using propeller-enhanced topwaters most efficiently means changing up the speed, intensity and rhythm of the presentation to best mimic the movements of injured bait fish. Topwaters won’t catch fish at all times in the summer months though. For me, the second-best lures in the heat are soft plastics. Often, my daily routine is to work the topwaters until I can no longer find a way to make the trout rise to the bait, then switch straight over to bottom bouncing soft plastics. This change in lures also frequently coincides with a move to slightly deeper water, usually more than waist deep, off the edge of a flat, sand bar or spoil bank. In cooler water, my second choice of lures is often a twitch bait like one of Paul Brown’s Original Lures. Plugs like these will work year-round, but they are least effective in the hottest water. I believe this is most true because it’s difficult to work them in the proper depths at high speeds. Twitch baits more suited to fast presentations like 51 and 52M MirrOlures and broken backs like the Bomber Long A often work better in the heat. Some of the summer’s trout will go against the trend of the majority of their finned brethren and will stay shallow most of the time, even in the heat of the day. Many trophy experts prove this on a regular basis by pulling monster specks out of water less than knee deep by sightcasting when water temperatures approach or exceed 90°. My friend Jason King did just that in August of 2010, when he caught a 32 inch specimen weighing nearly nine pounds. Targeting these scattered, often lethargic behemoths is best done from a boat when winds are relatively light (but not dead calm), in water clear enough to allow the angler to see the fish. Because they are often alone, they can be exceedingly difficult to trigger into striking. Making numerous casts with subtly colored soft plastics on light jigheads and bringing the lures slowly past the fish’s nose within mere inches is often required to make them bite. This is why wading around in these areas and blind casting often results in no catching whatsoever, potentially leading anglers to falsely conclude no fish are present. Catching monster trout in the shallows when it’s really hot requires specialized skills and plenty of good fortune; culling through

Kevin Cochran is a full-time fishing guide at Corpus Christi (Padre Island), TX. Kevin is a speckled trout fanatic and has created several books and dvds on the subject. Kevin’s home waters stretch from Corpus Christi Bay to the Land Cut.

Trout Tracker Guide Service Phone Email Web



Several years before a freighter had sank in the

Windward Passage and the survivors made their way to Gitmo on French-made, doubled-ended, aluminum life boats. I bought one for $2,000 but it needed a complete rebuild. The movie “Jaws” had just came out and I was selling jaws and shark tooth necklaces as fast as I could prepare them and I quickly learned they were unbeatable bartering material for everything I needed to get the boat rebuild completed. The boat was 36 ½ feet long, 10 feet 11 inches abeam and drew 3 ½ feet of water. We installed an automobile engine as that was all that was available and completely rebuilt it via the J. C. Whitney catalog. Four pieces of three inch pipe ran underneath the bottom of the hull in four foot lengths forming a “keel cooler” fresh water cooling system. When finished I painted the name “Midnight Express” on the boat and sketched a large set of shark jaws on the outside of the cabin walls on both sides. It would be impossible for me to fight the fish on rod and reel, clear the anchor, get the other rigs in and give chase with the boat at the same time. Likewise should I succeed in bringing the huge fish alongside the boat at least one other man was an absolute necessity 20 | July 2012

to help with gaffing and attaching ropes to secure the fish and two men would be better. Problem was most folks weren’t into chasing sea monsters and I only targeted her when I had at least two people who weren’t scared to death of her. A pal who worked over at the airbase told me, “Sandy, you need a bucket of that foam we have to put out fires on the runway.” I asked why and he said, “Because it is concentrated animal protein which means concentrated animal blood.” Within a couple of days I had a five gallon bucket of it on the boat. A fella named Conley had been fishing regular with me and shortly thereafter we were approached by a married enlisted couple who said they’d like a chance to go on a hunt for this Midnight Express they kept hearing about. We loaded our gear and I took us out past the mouth of the bay to a point as far offshore as regulations allowed us to go. Beautiful 30-50 foot cliffs dropped straight off into coral reef with no beach present. The reef gradually deepens to 60 feet and then forms a sheer ledge that drops straight down into deep water. I anchored up in about 50 feet of water figuring the large fish most likely entered the bay skirting the outer edge of the reef. There was a very strong outgoing tidal flow. Caught between current and wind the boat rode smoothly on anchor

(Above) The author receiving an award from the base commander for winning a fishing tournament at Gitmo – 1974.

(Left) The “Midnight Express” shortly after renovation for fishing. | 21

Surf angler Scott Nelson landed and successfully released this 8ft-9in tiger shark from the PINS beach recently.

but broadside to the water movement. like that,” but even as I said it I realized he was describing the head of Conley and I tied a rope off to our bucket of concentrated animal a huge hammerhead shark that had swam directly up to the chum protein and I drove three holes in the metal bottom and we tied it off bucket. Its fins were hanging up in the keel cooler pipes extending amidships on the up-current side of the boat. I rigged baits on the beneath our boat’s hull and that was why the boat kept lurching and 14/0 and 16/0 reels and put a six pound blue runner off the bow on the 9/0. The 16/0 was off the stern the 14/0 was amidships and the 9/0 off the bow with Capt. Billy aboard the converted life boat that he christened the rod stuck in a rod holder affixed to the cabin “Midnight Express” in honor of the legendary hammerhead wall. About 10:30 the boat made a noticeable lurch that terrorized locals in the early 70s. against the anchor line and then did a 180 degree turn against its anchor line and a couple of hard jolts made all of us lose our balance. The couple with us immediately freaked out and the woman was screaming in fear. As I tried to calm them down Conley kept intently peering over the port side and repeating over and over, “Sandy, you really need to come look at this. What the hell is this?” When things get out of control I immediately take control. It’s just my nature. I grabbed the couple, shoved them down into the cabin and padlocked them in. The boat was spinning again as I headed to Conley and about then the 16/0 made a short, quick run and was cut off. When I asked Conley what he had seen he said, “It was boxcar shaped, 7 ½ feet long, 3 feet wide and had a huge protrusion at least four feet wide coming out of one side of its body.” I immediately and irritably replied, “Nothin’ looks 22 | July 2012

turning on anchor. Instantly I realized how extremely dangerous this was as this fish could easily tear them free of the hull and leave us with one hell of a hole in the bottom of the boat. Line began to unload off the 14/0 reel at a very fast pace. I picked up the rod and set its butt into the belly plate and tightened way down on the drag without snapping the reel into the harness. The force jerked me forward and both my knees were slammed painfully hard into the stowage cabinets built into the sides of the boat. I was in a crouched position braced in place by the pressure of my knees against the storage compartments and it was all I could do just to hold onto the rod. About 600 yards out the fish dove and cut my line on the coral of the sheer drop off and I fell to the deck when the line parted. I told Conley to raise the engine cover and see if we were taking on water and then told our guests through the locked door that if they would shut up and chill out I’d unlock the cabin. I let them out, we weren’t taking on water. As I took a deep breath of relief the forgotten 9/0 reel began to scream. I grabbed it and locked down the drag and when I did the force yanked me off my feet and I found myself laying stretched out across the cabin top and holding onto the rod and reel with outstretched arms for dear life. The only thing keeping me from being pulled overboard were my toes which were locked in place where the back wall and the roof met. The line was soon gone from the reel and it broke with the sound of a shot. There was total silence except for the muffled, sobbing of our female passenger as we returned to the dock in the darkness. I kept playing it out over and over in my mind and knew this one had me beat. Oh, I could come up with several underhanded, insidious methods of killing her but they were all lacking in honor and that’s not what this was all about. It would take a full sized marlin boat with a professional crew to stand any chance at all with her on a rod and reel. It’s interesting to note that a long-accepted part of the story of the Midnight Express was that regularly once or twice every night three one foot tall ground swells with white on top unexplainably came at an angle across the bay and lapped against the shore; even during completely calm conditions. It was believed these were the wake made as her huge body traveled across the water with her giant dorsal fin exposed. I encountered them regularly and on sultry nights they were accompanied by the overwhelming odor of a shark. To this day, on sleepless nights, I can lay there and see those three swells coming toward me across a slicked-off bay under a Cuban moon and I hear them as they lap against the hull of my boat. I smell her scent on the wind. They bring me peace and contentment and I fall asleep knowing all is right with the world.

American Avocet -Recurvirostra AmericanaLong legs and neck, a chunky body, small head and a long upturned bill characterize this wading bird which feeds by sweeping it bill from side to side through the water. Head and neck are rusty in breeding plumage. Present in Texas during August through November and March through May. Nests mainly in Northern and Northwestern United States. There are approximately 450,000 of this species known to exist worldwide. Our appreciation and apology for omitting photo credit to Cissy Beasley for providing last month’s photo of Franklin’s Gull.

If we don’t leave any there won’t be any. – Billy Sandifer


Billy Sandifer Retired after 20+ years of guiding anglers in the Padre surf, Billy Sandifer (“Padre of Padre Island” to friends & admirers) is devoted to conserving the natural wonders of N. Padre Island & teaching all who will heed his lessons to enjoy the beauty of the Padre Island National Seashore responsibly. Phone 361-937-8446 Website

Photo by Jimmy Jackson Length: 18 inches Wingspan: 29.5-32.5 inches | 23


Bodie Allen ran his boat in the pre - dawn

darkness at a little more than half throttle, cruising along in familiar territory. The twin spotlights mounted on the port and starboard of the bow lit the area up well enough to see anything that might bend a prop, ruin a lower unit or, poke a hole through the fiberglass hull. It was a very still morning and while there was a slight chill in the air, Bodie knew that when that big orange ball climbed over the eastern horizon it would warm up faster than he would like it to. Bodie had what is known in South Texas as a coyote grin upon his face. 24 | July 2012

At Haddon’s Place the night before Bodie, Tommy Meyers and Captain Red had been discussing a back lake that has been opened up to the bay during the blow and high tides of a recent tropical storm. “That lake has been holding some decent fish Bodie” Red said. “The best thing about that lake is that the bottom hasn’t silted in yet and it’s as hard as concrete and good wading Bodie” Tommy stated. Bodie told his two old friends that he had lost a really nice trout there that morning and was hoping to head back there the next morning and did either of them want to join him? Red said he

couldn’t because his wife wanted to make a run at some Louisiana casinos and leave at daylight and Tommy said he couldn’t make it either but he didn’t offer any excuse as to why. Before the storm the “lake” had been nothing more than a depression in the sand that would hold some rain water where deer, turkey, quail and other animals would congregate in the early mornings and late evenings. When the storm blew through the tides opened up a cut into the depression, deepened it and created the currently unnamed lake. “The way the tide flows in and out of that lake I think it’s going to stay open for a good spell” Bodie said. Red agreed but Tommy was busy ordering a chicken fried steak from Eloisa and another round of beer to have heard either man’s statement. When Tommy had finished with his order and was waiting on the cold beer he said, “I think that lake will stay open for a while because that tide really rips in and out of there.” Red rolled his eyes and Bodie chuckled and simply agreed with Tommy. Eloisa slid three icy mugs across the bar and Red said that he thought that the lake needed a name. “If it does stay open and it’s not just a freak of nature like Tommy here, then we need to give it a name.” Tommy spit beer across the bar then glared at Red who simply

smiled his “what are you going to do about it” smile at Tommy and then patted the right front pocket of his wading pants where Tommy knew there was a razor sharp long blade Big Chief pocket knife. “Hah! You won’t cut me Red, Bodie is right there and he’d just shoot you before you could do me any harm!” Tommy sneered. “I’m not wearing a gun Tommy but you two cut it out and let’s think of a name for the lake” Bodie ordered. Tommy moved two stools away from Red. “I vote we name it Tommy’s Lake” Tommy said. This time it was Red who spit beer across the bar which elicited a shout from Eloisa to knock it off or they would be cleaning the bar at closing time. Red offered his apologies to Eloisa and blamed Tommy, while Tommy beamed at the fact that Eloisa had yelled at Red. “You better shape up Red or Eloisa’s going to get hold of you” Tommy said with a laugh. Bodie caught Reds forearm as he was about to swing around and get off his stool. Red muttered something about throat cutting and bleeding out while Tommy had made it all the way to the east door. Bodie told Tommy to come on back and finish his CFS and then excused himself to go to the men’s room. Tommy was sawing on his CFS with a too dull steak knife when something shiny flashed by the left side of his face and he saw | 25

that Big Chief knife of Red’s slicing through his steak. Tommy fell backwards off of his stool and landed on his back with a thud and a groan while Red looked down at him and said “now here I was going to help you with that steak you were having trouble cutting and you go and fall off of your stool; can you chew gum and walk at the same time?” Later he would tell anyone who would listen that he felt the wind as the blade sliced a mere fraction of an inch from his ear and stabbed his CFS by mistake due to his lightening fast reflexes which allowed him to avoid having his ear removed from his head. Bodie came around the bar and saw Tommy lying on his back while ranting about the attempt on his life and, shaking his head sat on his stool, ordered another round for the three of them and said out loud, “I don’t want to hear about it.” Tommy sullenly made his way back up onto his stool and pushed his plate away. Eloisa asked him if he wasn’t going to finish his supper and Tommy muttered something about having almost been drawn and quartered ruining his appetite. To which, Red simply reached down the bar, grabbed the plate and helped himself to the chicken fried steak, potatoes and cream gravy. Tommy squealed and said he wasn’t paying for it and everyone in Haddon’s Place roared with laughter. Bodie couldn’t help but laugh himself. “Maybe we should have a contest to come up with a name for the lake? Everyone write their choice on a slip of paper, we draw a slip out of the hat and that name will be name of the new lake?” Bodie suggested. “Well if we do that then everyone we know is going to want to name the lake after themselves” Red said. “Yeah, what if Pasquale Pete wins the contest Bodie? I ain’t going

26 | July 2012

to fish in no lake called Pasquale because I’m pretty sure that is a bad word in some foreign language” Tommy whined. Bodie pondered on the subject while nursing his beer then finally said “Well we’ll figure something out but I’m whipped and heading to bed.” Red excused himself too while Tommy said that he was going to have one more before he turned in. Red went home as fast as his jacked up modified golf cart would take him and went straight to his shop. He pulled down a piece of plywood and a couple of two by fours, pulled some stencils out of a drawer and began painting the plywood marine white. He turned on two big electric fans that would help to dry the paint quickly snickering as he had a beer and started laying out stencils. When the white paint had dried he laid the stencils out and painted in bright red letters: El Lago Rojo which for those of you who do not habla means Red’s Lake. He screwed the plywood to the two by fours and when the paint was good and dry he used a Skil saw to cut the bottom of both boards in the shape of a V to make it easier to set the sign in the sand. Then Red loaded everything into his truck and headed for the boat lift. He had some late night business at a lake that used to not have a name. Tommy was cursing and nursing a smashed left thumb. He had rushed home to build a sign that said Tommy’s Lake and had whacked his thumb with a claw hammer. When the hammer had hit his thumb Tommy had fallen backwards onto the plywood that he had lain across two saw horses and had broken the board in two. Tommy didn’t have any more plywood and was trying to figure out what to do. A light bulb, okay it was more like a Christmas decoration twinkle light went off in Tommy’s head. What should have been a

that it was the lake that they were talking about naming but that Red had beaten them to it and named it El Lago Rojo and had planted a sign at the entrance with that name on it. Tommy’s beer went down the wrong pipe and he started gagging and choking and Bodie had to slap him on the back to keep him from dying right there at the bar. “Are you sure that’s what the sign said Bodie,” Tommy asked. Bodie assured his friend that he was sure and Tommy figured that Red had removed his sign and had replaced it with his own. “That old curmudgeon has some nerve making a sign naming the lake after him and sneaking around out on the water in the dead of night so we wouldn’t know about it. What a sneak. What a dirty rotten thing to do to us his friends.” Tommy yelled. “Now Tommy settle down, it’s a good name and besides he was just faster and smarter than we were is all; he got there first,” Bodie said. “First? First? Bodie I would never in all my days even THINK about trying to name that lake after myself what with you and Red being my friends and all why that would be lower than a flounder’s back,” Tommy cried. Bodie ordered another couple of beers in hope of consoling his friend when one of the local fishing guides walked up to them and congratulated Tommy. “What are you congratulating me for Leighton?” Tommy asked. “I was running by that stink hole Hardhead Lake this morning and saw this beautiful sign posted at the mouth that had Lake Tommy Meyers in big bright yellow letters” Leighton said. “And if I do say so myself Tommy, if anybody wanted to name a lake after you Hardhead Lake would be the one,” Leighton said with a belly laugh. Everyone was laughing now and Tommy had the red face. He knew what had happened. Red hadn’t removed his sign, he hadn’t had time. The hammer by the compass had him off course and he planted his sign at of all places, Hardhead Lake, and Bodie was staring at him. Tommy didn’t say a word, just kept his mouth buried in his mug of beer. “Tommy who would go to all the trouble to make a sign with Lake Tommy Meyers on it and put it in front of that muddy hole?” Bodie asked. “I dunno, maybe Red did it when he was sneaking around in the dark putting signs on other lakes.” Tommy moaned. Bodie just smiled and ordered two more beers. Be Safe.

Martin Strarup


thirty minute project turned in to a three hour ordeal. Tommy sweated over four 2x6s that he had cut to length and planed so they would fit flush when they were stood on edge. He then screwed 2x4s to the back of them for posts which made him a really nice but heavy sign on which he painted Lake Tommy Meyers in bright yellow thinking that Tommy’s Lake sounded too plain. Struggling with the weight he managed to get his sign into his boat and lower it to the water and headed out to what would soon be “his” lake. Red had finished planting his sign at the lake and was already in bed by the time Tommy started his late-night run across the bay. He was muttering to himself because his GPS wasn’t working and he had to hold a Q-Beam to light his way that required constant jiggling of the wires to stay lit. He had remembered to bring his hammer though and it was lying on the console right next to his compass, which was guiding him to the mouth of the lake. A moth flew into his mouth just as he was about to say something about Garmin and electronics in general and he gagged and coughed until he was able to spit the offending creature out and into the bay. Tommy regrouped and headed on figuring that he had about a mile to go. Soon enough he made out the shoreline and the cut that led into the lake. “Man the night sure can play tricks on a man’s eyes; that cut doesn’t look nothing like it does in the daylight,” Tommy said to himself. It took Tommy more than a few minutes to get the heavy sign out of the boat while trying to keep the behemoth out of the water. He finally got it hammered into the sand and as level as he could get it in the dark then got back into his boat and shined the Q-Beam on it. It was BEAUTIFUL! Tommy eased his boat away from the shoreline and checked the compass heading to get back to port and thought that it sure didn’t feel like the direction that he came from but oh well. Night plays tricks on a man. When he had left the bar Bodie had driven to Mr. Connor’s barn and utilizing a nice sheet of marine plywood and two by fours had fashioned a sign for the new lake himself. The name he had chosen was Los Tres Amigos and again for those of you who do not habla that means The Three Friends in Spanish - in honor of himself, Red and Tommy. The sign was done in white with dark blue letters and Bodie agreed with himself that he was no artist but it would do for sure and certain. As Bodie neared the lake laughing out loud at what the boys would think of his skullduggery a large white sign with bright red letters began to materialize in the dawn…El Lago Rojo. Bodie laughed so hard that he had trouble catching his breath. That old reprobate had beaten him to the punch and named the lake after himself. “Well why the hell not” Bodie said to himself. Still laughing he ran past the sign and back into the lake to make an early morning wade. That evening Bodie strolled into Haddon’s Place for a beer and found Tommy at the bar. “Caught enough trout for supper tonight if you want to join me Tommy Boy,” Bodie said with a smile. “Where did you catch ‘em” asked Tommy. “I caught them at El Lago Rojo,” Bodie said with a laugh. “What the hell is El Blago Rohoe” asked Tommy. “It’s El Lago Rojo, Tommy and it means Red’s Lake,” Bodie said while still laughing at being had by Red. “Ain’t never heard of the place,” Tommy muttered. Bodie explained

Martin Strarup is a lifelong saltwater enthusiast and outdoorsman. Martin is also a collector and dealer of vintage fishing tackle and lures, especially those made in Texas. Email | 27

LegaL notice

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Economic and Property Damages Settlement Providing Money to Individuals and Businesses If you have economic loss or property damage because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, you could get money from a class action settlement with BP Exploration & Production Inc. and BP America Production Company (“BP”). Go to for more information, including information on how to file a claim.

Who is included in the economic & ProPerty damages settlement? The Economic and Property Damages (“E&PD”) Settlement Class includes people, businesses, and other entities in the states of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, and certain counties in Texas and Florida, that were harmed by the oil spill. The website has detailed descriptions and maps to help you determine whether a geographic location may be included in the E&PD Settlement. Additionally, you can call 1-866-992-6174 or e-mail questions@ to find out if a geographic location is included.

What does the economic & ProPerty damages settlement Provide? The E&PD Settlement makes payments for the following types of claims: (1) Seafood Compensation, (2) Economic Damage, (3) Loss of Subsistence, (4) Vessel Physical Damage, (5) Vessels of Opportunity Charter Payment, (6) Coastal Real Property Damage, (7) Wetlands Real Property Damage, and (8) Real Property Sales Damage. There is no limit on the total dollar amount of the E&PD Settlement; all qualified claims will be paid.


get Benefits from the economic & ProPerty damages settlement


You need to submit a Claim Form to request a payment. You can get a copy of the various Claim Forms by visiting the website or by calling 1-866-992-6174. Claims can be submitted online or by mail. If you have questions about how to file your claim, you should call the toll-free number for assistance.

The deadline to submit most E&PD claims will be April 22, 2014 or six months after the E&PD Settlement becomes effective (that is, after the Court grants “final approval” and any appeals are resolved), whichever is later. There will be an earlier deadline to submit E&PD Seafood Compensation claims. The earlier deadline to submit Seafood Compensation claims will be 30 days after final approval of the Settlement by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (regardless of appeals). Actual claim filing deadlines will be posted on the website as they become available. Valid claims will be paid as they are approved, beginning shortly after the Court-Supervised Settlement Program commences. It is highly recommended that E&PD Settlement Class Members complete and submit their claim forms promptly. Please read the Medical Benefits Settlement notice because you may also be eligible for benefits from that settlement.

your other oPtions If you do not want to be legally bound by the E&PD Settlement, you must Opt Out or exclude yourself by October 1, 2012 or you won’t be able to sue BP over certain economic and property damage claims. If you stay in the E&PD Settlement, you may object to it by August 31, 2012. The Detailed Notice explains how to exclude yourself or object. The Court will hold a hearing on November 8, 2012 to consider whether to approve the E&PD Settlement. You or your own lawyer may ask to appear and speak at the hearing at your own cost. The Court will also consider Class Counsel fees, costs, and expenses including an interim payment of $75 million and additional awards equal to 6% of class claims and benefits paid. Class Counsel fees, costs and expenses under the Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement and the Medical Benefits Settlement Agreement jointly cannot exceed $600 million. Class members’ payments will not be reduced if the Court approves the payment of Class Counsel fees, costs, and expenses because BP will separately pay these attorney fees, costs, and expenses.


LegaL notice

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Medical Benefits Settlement Providing Benefits to Clean-Up Workers and Certain Gulf Coast Residents If you have a medical claim related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, you could get benefits from a class action settlement with BP Exploration & Production Inc. and BP America Production Company (“BP”). Go to for more information, including information on how to file a claim.


is included in the medical Benefits settlement? The Medical Class includes (1) clean-up workers and (2) certain people who resided in specific geographic areas in coastal and wetlands areas along the Gulf Coast during specific periods in 2010. The website DeepwaterHorizonSettlements. com has detailed descriptions and maps to help you determine whether a geographic location may be included in one of these zones. Additionally, you can call 1-866-992-6174 or e-mail info@ to find out if a geographic location is included.


medical Benefits settlement Provide? The benefits of the Medical Benefits Settlement include: (1) payments to qualifying people for certain acute (short-term) and chronic (ongoing) medical conditions occurring after exposure to oil or chemical dispersants; (2) provision of periodic medical examinations to qualifying people; and (3) creation of a Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, consisting of projects to strengthen the healthcare system. Benefits (1) and (2) will be provided only after the Court grants final approval and any appeals are resolved. does the

hoW to get Benefits from the medical Benefits settlement You need to submit a Claim Form to request benefits. You can get a copy of the Claim Form by visiting the website or by calling 1-866-992-6174.

Claims can be submitted by mail. If you have questions about how to file your claim, you should call the toll-free number for assistance. The deadline for filing a Claim Form is one year after the Medical Benefits Settlement becomes effective (that is, after the Court grants “final approval” and any appeals are resolved). The exact date of the claim filing deadline will be posted on the website. It is highly recommended that Medical Class Members complete and submit their claim forms promptly. Please read the Economic and Property Damages Settlement notice because you may also be eligible for a payment from that settlement.

your other oPtions If you do not want to be legally bound by the Medical Benefits Settlement, you must Opt Out or exclude yourself by October 1, 2012 or you won’t be able to sue BP over certain medical claims. If you stay in the Medical Benefits Settlement, you may object to it by August 31, 2012. The Detailed Notice explains how to exclude yourself or object. The Court will hold a hearing on November 8, 2012 to consider whether to approve the Medical Benefits Settlement. You or your own lawyer may ask to appear and speak at the hearing at your own cost. Class Counsel will ask the Court to consider an award of fees, costs, and expenses of 6% of the value of the benefits actually provided under the Medical Benefits Settlement Agreement. Class Counsel fees, costs, and expenses under the Medical Benefits Settlement Agreement and the Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement jointly cannot exceed $600 million. Class members’ payments will not be reduced if the Court approves the payment of Class Counsel fees, costs, and expenses because BP will separately pay these attorney fees, costs, and expenses.



The sight of redfish with their fins in the air certainly gets the pulse cranked up for any fisherman.

30 | July 2012

If you spend any

amount of time with a fisherman or

hunter it usually won’t take you very long to find out what they are all about, what really “winds their watch” so to speak. The sight of giant fish crashing a plug, a wide main framed 10 pointer strolling down a sendero, or possibly the regal outline of a bull sprig dropping into the decoys comes to mind. Any of the aforementioned will you get your heart pumping and pulse racing to be sure but, for me, the sight of a redfish standing on its head while rooting along the bottom in a shallow marsh pond is certainly near the top of my list. Seeing those tails and backs exposed above the surface of the water and oblivious to the surroundings is what shallow water anglers dream about. A willing and receptive fish

that offers the angler an opportunity to watch the whole episode play out right before their eyes in real time and clearer than HD TV could ever hope for is the “high” that keeps folks like you and me going back for more. This month will start a run of prime fishing for those “pumpkin colored” redfish in all of the marshes on the upper coast and across the Sabine River into Louisiana that will be unmatched during the rest of the year. I anticipate the good fishing we have now to just go off the charts the farther we get into the summer season. We were certainly blessed earlier in the year with some much needed rain which just absolutely rejuvenated the estuaries on Sabine and Calcasieu. Last year the salinity levels got so high we saw a big die-off of vegetation from cattails to widgeon grass and everything in between. Most all | 31

Tony Dallas of Orange is all smiles as he proudly displays a nice Sabine Lake redfish.

staying on good numbers of upper-slot fish by targeting these areas that support clear water and have a good population of crabs, especially those smaller ones that the redfish just demolish when they find them. Clear water certainly helps you see those fish but without good polarized glasses you will miss far more fish than you ever see. I recently stopped in at the new Fishing Tackle Unlimited and picked up a new pair of Smith Optics polarized fishing glasses and I absolutely love them. Smith Optics has made a name for themselves in the skiing and motorcycle world with their performance goggles that many extreme athletes have used for years. Their sunglasses seem to be carved from the same quality as the goggles. I was swayed to change from my old reliable brand once I compared them side by side due to the fact the Smith’s were much brighter than other brands which will be a real help in low light and overcast conditions. The ability to see in the low light conditions also plays well here on Sabine where the water is clear but still a much darker color than other venues on the coast due to the fact that we have very little sand to offer contrast. The muddy bottoms and

of the marshes I fish and hunt were absolutely void of any decent vegetation which changed the whole outlook. The lack of grass kept the clarity down in much of the shallow lakes and ponds which in turn made it much more difficult to see fish. Also the high salinity really did a number on the crab population and that made finding concentrations of redfish far more difficult. Fast forward one year to today and the situation has taken a turn for the better, a lot better. Over the past month we have just had an explosion of widgeon grass in the marsh and it’s not in isolated areas, it’s everywhere. The various species of grasses and bushes that line these ponds and lakes are lush and green like the backyard of a house that borders a golf course. Rosseau cane is also making a big comeback and that is important for erosion control as the vast root systems will strengthen levee’s and hold soil in place as the constant battle for real estate goes on between water and solid ground. Make no mistake the drought took a huge toll on the Good polarized glasses like these from Smith marsh and it will never be the same Optic are a must for successful sight-fishing. but that’s okay, the marsh is an everevolving world that very few spend enough time in to fully appreciate. No it’s not the same, but it could actually be better in the long run. So far this summer we are 32 | July 2012

small box with a few choice baits is all you need. Interpreting the fish and how it’s acting as well as being quiet upon approach are much more important than deciding if your “Swazzle Dazzle” worm has enough flake in the tail or is it just the right shade of a particular color. If you haven’t figured it out by now our redfish are not that picky. If you are in Florida where these fish get pummeled daily by every tourist in a flats boat then you may need to get a bit more technical. In Texas and Louisiana you just need to get the bait in front of the fish and not fall out of the boat, period. This is truly the beginning of the best time of the year to target redfish and more specifically to sight-cast to them. I can honestly say I get a bigger kick out of watching a customer or friend on the front deck of my boat catch a fish than if I had caught that fish myself. That feeling is definitely high on my list and I don’t think that will change for a very long time.

Chuck Uzzle


tannic water are almost an optical illusion as most anglers believe the water is dirty until they drop a white colored bait down and can see it clearly all the way to bottom. It’s this type of water that gives those redfish the beautiful color that makes them stand out from other fish caught in the lake. Those beautiful bronze and copper colored fish swimming through the grass look just like a pumpkin in a salad bowl, unmistakable. Now for several years I have written about my affection for the Stanley Ribbit, a plastic frog that is my go-to bait during the summer months when the vegetation starts to grow and makes fishing other lures nearly impossible. I still am a huge fan of these baits and will not leave the dock without a plentiful supply. I will also be stocked with a variety of spinnerbaits since they are so versatile and allow me and my clients to cover a ton of water. On days when the wind blows and clouds up the water you can count on a spinnerbait to help you dig out those fish as the vibration from the lure gives the redfish a target to seek out and in most cases destroy. If I have the option and enough water to fish them I will always tie on a small topwater even when I know I could catch more fish on a subsurface offering. The vicious strikes from an unannounced redfish are second to none and often leave everyone in my boat slack jawed and wide eyed. The smaller profile lures like the Flush Jr and Little Dummy from TTF are great choices since they seem to be the perfect size and you can cast them a mile. The She Pup from MirrOlure and Skitter Walk Jr from Rapala are solid choices as well. Perhaps one of the greatest things about chasing these fish in backwater lakes is the fact that it doesn’t take a boat full of tackle, a

Chuck fishes Sabine and Calcasieu Lakes from his home in Orange, TX. His specialties are light tackle and fly fishing for trout, reds, and flounder. Phone 409-697-6111 Email Website

First Light is Calling.


Delivering Reliability.

214-420-6440 ©2012 by Tohatsu America Corp.

First Light TSF.indd 1

3/20/12 11:47 AM

My assistant Miss Amy, with a keeper trout caught in May. What’s the old saying? Flatbottom girls, you make the rockin’ world go ‘round. Or something like that.

34 | July 2012


Lately I’ve heard angler commentary on “getting out of boating,” because owning a boat is no longer affordable in this economy. They’re selling the rig, dropping out and turning on to wade fishing instead, from the nearest beach or road. Or worse, giving up entirely. That’s a head-scratcher for me, but then I was raised within sight of Louisiana, where running cheaper johnboats is a way of life. With even a small tin boat, you can fish countless places beyond reach of shore-bound anglers, and without paddling grimly through afternoon chops in a soggy kayak. I go back to 1968 with tin boats in salt water, and still have one in the back yard today. At a tender age, my folks turned me loose on Sabine Lake, mostly alone in the family “flat-bottom,” as they called it. With that small craft, I learned weather and tides the hard way. Sudden storm? Figure it out. You quickly realize that wind is the enemy of tin boats. If you live way down in South Texas and fish the Laguna Madre where the wind

blows almost every afternoon, aluminum might be a bad choice, especially in 20-knot gusts far downwind from a marina. Though heck, from Jim’s Pier Marina you could still make local trout drifts on calm mornings, troll the nearby jetties for tarpon, explore South Bay, and cast for snook in the Brownsville Ship Channel. If you live further north where shorelines run in multiple directions or hold protective marsh, and study the wind, weather and favorable boat ramps, and know the safest routes back, you can venture far from the crowds. How far? Enough to make people wince: >We often fished offshore with these boats, trout-fishing platforms in 25-30 feet and climbing them if a summer storm arrived. And kept right on fishing. >Launched in the North Padre Island surf for kingfish offshore (don’t tell the rangers). >Fished the rigs in 100-foot depths off Mansfield and caught a

Jonboats easily run the surf on reasonable days, can float in inches of water while the crew wade-fished or waits for the truck and trailer. In a pinch, just run the boat up on the beach. | 35

Major league jonboat, a SeaArk built with heavy-gauge aluminum. These guys are fishing the marsh in cold weather.

boxful of amberjack, riding the August afternoon breeze back, cleaning them in front of amused guests at the Redfish Motel, who doubtless had never seen a jonboat with a 9.8 Mercury unloading AJs. >We often launched in flat High Island surf for summer tarpon, also catching big ling 10 miles off there and Sabine. >Fished Sabine’s inaccessible jetties for 15 years or so. If you bumped a jetty rock, the tin boat didn’t care. On our first venture to the Galveston jetties, we actually pulled my boat up on the north rocks, so we could walk around and cast —though that isn’t recommended for aluminum longevity. What can I say, we were so young, The Who repeatedly sang Tommy on A.M. radio that day. Too many years have come and gone, but my white-headed buddies (if they have hair) still have johnboats with their favorite 25-horse, two-stroke Mercury outboards, that cut so easily through marsh vegetation during our duck hunting heyday. Several of us now run 25 Yamahas as well, that can cover many miles of bay. But then, any small motor will push a tin boat a fair distance. Jonboats have always been popular, but with today’s leaner times, they’re even more so. Boat sales may be slow, but in some parts of the country, aluminum is now neckand-neck with fiberglass boat sales. Why? Fiberglass can’t compete with aluminum in the expense column. Weight is another factor: My 15-footer is towed behind a little Nissan truck that gets 30 miles to the gallon, while towing. I stay off the Interstate, of course. On a typical boat day, running to my current honeyhole about six miles across the bay, I’m using 2.5 gallons of gas. Oil mixture for my 25 Yamaha is 100-1, so my daily outboard oil consumption wouldn’t fill a chicken egg. 36 | July 2012

Trailer, tow vehicle and motors aside (you could rate them all as small), what sort of boat are we looking at, and can it be rigged to fish saltwater? Standard length for Jon boats for many years was 14 feet. Today many are built much bigger, with highergauge aluminum. Anyone touring the New Orleans boat show would see all sorts of johnboat designs and sizes. You will also see a few small 10- and 12-footers around, but anything under 14 feet on the coast is probably too small. After owning many fiberglass boats, I’ve scaled back to a wide, 15foot jonboat that runs like a spotted ape. It has more than 20 years on it and will someday be replaced with a heavier-gauge, welded model of 16 feet. I launch it and run off across the bay for a day of fishing, past fiberglass rigs at the boat ramp, whose price tags runs way into five figures. If you have access to a jonboat and motor, consider a few amenities before spending a day on salt water: Electric motors bolt on at the stern where the driver spends most of his time, moving the boat short distances if wind and current aren’t strong. If you have a bigger jonboat, you’ll need a bigger electric, bolted on the bow instead of the stern. A wood or aluminum push-pole about 12 feet long will shove your boat past rocks, oysters and sand, without risking a propeller. If using a 12-foot wooden dowel (compliments of Lowe’s), bolt a couple of wood scraps to the muddy end, for more gripping power on soft bottom.

Sam Caldwell in my 14-foot jonboat several years ago, with a feisty ling tethered on a trout stringer. Ten miles offshore.

LED Marine Lighting Cannan Light’s new 12 LED marine lamp disperses immense illumination in an engineered pattern at greater distances underwater. The all new low profile surface mount design creates a hydrodynamic light underwater, and fully functional out of the water. Illumination of your boat, yacht, or dock lighting enhances the water for both pleasure and sport fishing while combining the latest IP68 underwater protection with high intensity LEDs precision mounted with SMD technology. • Available Colors include: Red Jellyfish Wasabi Green Blue Ray White Lightning • 12 High Intensity SMD mounted LEDs • Precision engineered polycarbonate double lens technology Captain Bill Cannan, Port O’Connor, TX


If you’re 40 and over, that lower back can stiffen up by day’s end. (Try 50 and older). Attach boat seats where they balance the boat during running speed, and Author running the driver has a clear view of the water ahead. In a pinch, his jonboat across we’ve used canvas chairs for guests, though they tend to the bay on a calm sag in the middle, making it difficult to cast. A throwable summer day. flotation device is required on every boat, and I always carry one or two for guests to sit on or use as pillows during power-naps. A fold-down Bimini top is nice when you need it, keeping out sun and rain. However, it’s often in the way when folded down on the gunnel and hard to fish around. A beach umbrella works, so the wife can stay under it during mid-day. Since our PVC rod holders point out towards the water, I attached a small holder dead center on the middle seat, where the umbrella throws maximum shade. The back of the boat is still out in the weather, where someone can sit and fish several rods. The umbrella has a lower setting for windy rain, and an extender for tall shade. Set up all your rod holders on one side of the boat, and another boat may block them off, the wind may shift or the tide change. My boat still has four primary rod holders on the starboard side, ready to deliver a broadside of baits, but with two more on the port side. And it works: when conditions are right and I’m first to reach the honeyhole, we’ll anchor and fire off four rods, exactly where we want a spread of baits. Using circle hooks, you can take your sweet time about grabbing a bent rod; the fish will already be hooked. We’ve always protected our thin aluminum decks with 1/2 inch plywood deck boards. Cut them to fit, and double stern is far quieter, since even small waves will slap-slap if they hit coat with a light beige paint that won’t soak up the sun and burn under the bow, spooking shallow fish.
A bigger, primary anchor at your feet. Or blind you in the glare. If a 300-pound guy walks the bow insures the boat won’t get blown from a honeyhole at the around in your boat, maybe it won’t spring the rivets—or welding, worst moment, or won’t drag anchor and drift away while you’re off for that matter. Be sure not to use pressure-treated plywood, which wade-fishing. contains copper. Why? Copper and aluminum together cause If your jonboat develops a crack and needs patching, have it electrolysis, which eats through aluminum. And don’t lose pennies heliarc welded. Or if you have a small leak or two, put a little water under the boards. in the boat with a garden hose, climb underneath and watch for a If you can find a jonboat with hollow-seat storage, that’s a big telltale drip. Mark it with a red Magic Marker. Let the boat dry, and plus. There’s nothing like clutter in the boat to complicate the day. then patch the hole with J-B Weld. It’s good stuff.
 I prefer lots of gear, which allows for more comfort and fishing There are shabby-looking jonboats whose owners won’t paint options. Mine has a hollow seat that holds life jackets, gas tank, them, because they won’t buy a $15 quart of paint. That’s what it paddle, rope, anchor, motor oil, a few small tools and a small fire took to paint the inside of my 15-footer, though I didn’t go below the extinguisher, the latter required when your gas tank is enclosed. plywood deck plates. The finished job with two coats looks great. (I Portable navigation lights attach to the boat’s bow and stern used Rust Scat paint and their color code for olive drab is 8405). After and can be removed for simple day trips. They run on flashlight that, a half-quart put two coats on the outer sides. I prefer olive drab batteries, of course. You’ll need them for night missions, such as (OD) paint on my Jon boat, probably because we hunted ducks for flounder gigging or returning from a sunset tarpon trip. Keep a 20 years with these same boats, and that was the standard color. strong flashlight in the boat; you never know if you’ll be kept out When you’ve “got your last Klick” out of that jonoat, and it can’t after dark by a big tarpon. 

 be sold to another boat owner, consider a recycle center, where they If stealth is required, such as in shallow-water situations on will pay greenback dollars and convert worn-out aluminum into saltwater flats, keep a small anchor at the stern. Why the stern? The another shiny new jonboat...or beer cans. Either way, you’ve made driver can ease it overboard without getting up or making noise. somebody happy. Discarded jonboats, especially those crushed or You won’t need a noisy chain for very shallow water, unless the wind stove-in from fallen trees, should be hauled straight to the scrapyard is howling—though you should keep three or four feet of chain in and reborn. the storage seat for other situations. A jonboat anchored by the 38 | July 2012

124380_CDM-11154.2011_Texas Saltwater Fishing.indd 1

Job#:CDM-11154 L/S:150 Size:7.5 x 4.875 Pub:Texas Saltwater Fishing

5/19/11 1:24:47 PM | 39

Science and the Sea


A Swell Adaptation Puffer fish have one of the most dramatic defense mechanisms of any creature in the sea, thanks to bodies customized for inflating like balloons. When threatened, puffers puff themselves up by gulping down water and pumping it into their highly expandable stomachs, making their bodies difficult for predators to swallow. One spiny puffer species, called the balloonfish, swells to about 3 times its usual volume. Most of that increase is thanks to the stomach, whose many folds let it expand by 50 to 100 times! At the same time, hundreds of sharp spines all over its body stand erect. Not an appetizing prospect for a predator. There’s room for this ballooning because the puffer’s peritoneum – the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity – also has many folds that unfurl. Puffer skeletons lack ribs and a pelvis, and its flexible spine is able to curve over the inflated stomach. As the body becomes spherical, it engulfs even the puffer’s dorsal and tail fins, depriving predators of an easy grabbing point. These modifications seem extreme, but scientists think the inflating mechanism may have grown out of less dramatic behaviors seen in puffers’ modern relatives. Ocean sunfish, for example, will cough to eject inedible particles they ingested. Triggerfish blow jets of water to disturb prey. Like the inflation practiced by puffers, these behaviors involve “pumping” water into the mouth. The muscle movements in all these behaviors are remarkably similar – the only difference is that instead of blowing the water out, puffers force it into their stomachs. Only a few evolutionary tweaks led from coughing, to water blowing, to the truly amazing inflation feat of the modern puffer fish.

The University of Texas

Marine Science Institute © The University of Texas Marine Science Institute

40 | July 2012



RESPECT Schools are out and the summer crowds are heading our way. This is the busiest time for fishing guides and most local businesses. From all indications the summer of 2012 will be a profitable one for these folks and this is good news as parts of our economy are still struggling. Texas is way better off than most so we should consider ourselves blessed. Recently on the boat we discussed the continuous learning curve that all fishing, salt or fresh, requires if you want to become proficient. There’s tons of information out there today for anglers of all types. If you are internet savvy you can find detailed information on just about every bay system or freshwater lake there is. Collecting information takes little effort; putting it to good use requires the opposite. Water time is big time and there is no substitute for days spent on the water. When I first started guiding in 1979 there were only a few guides in the Rockport area that took small parties of anglers to fish the shallow waters south of town. We had larger party-type boats that took bigger groups to the deeper reefs and oil platforms but, only a handful of guides ventured into the flats or along the beaches of our barrier islands. Very few waded; this was mostly done by more experienced local anglers. My first guided trip was wading, not because that is what the gentleman and his wife wanted to do, but because it was the best way to catch the best trout on Lapp Reef in Copano Bay. We had a ridiculously good morning and my career was born without me even knowing it. 42 | July 2012

Back in that day and time we had no cell phones, internet, or goggle earth, only a VHF radio and Loran C. I had a VHF radio. So how did we learn to navigate, much less pattern fish? I navigated by sight. Dark colors in the water were usually shell or grass, obviously shallow enough to see, so probably shallow enough to hit. White was shallow sand. Dark greens and blue-green represented deeper water of channels and guts. Pretty safe navigating with an 18 foot wooden skiff and a 70 hp engine. Some of the best reefs and sandbars that I still frequent were discovered after running aground. When it came to learning fish patterns I depended on the commercial fishing community, even though most of them were not aware. I knew almost all of them but would not say we were friends. We exchanged hellos at the dock or local stores during early morning fill-ups on fuel and coffee. Occasionally on bad weather days we would sit around a table at Kline’s Café and tell fishing stories. They probably did not realize how much they knew and that I was learning from them, none-the-less when a Rabbit or Leon Chandler spoke I listened. Rabbit’s son Robo told me of some trout he had found in Baffin one time while trotlining for drum. When I asked if he thought there were good numbers of them he looked at me with surprise and said, “Jay, I’m catching them on sticks!” His word for small slices of wooden dowel with a hole drilled so they will float on the hook to resemble a small crab. I still listen to them today when they are inclined to talk.

May your fishing always be catching. -Guide Jay Watkins

C ontact

The late Howard Brown taught me plenty. He was as colorful a character as the coast may have ever known, but when it came to knowing the patterns fish followed, he knew. I hated what happened to the commercial fishermen when the nets were banned, not that I thought or felt that nets should be allowed, it was just that commercial fishing was all some of them knew and many of them were forced at a not-so-young age to seek other employment. My boy’s grandfather Danny Adams was a commercial fisherman. I have a favorite photo of him sitting next to me and his daughter and she is wearing an early GCCA windbreaker. I learned a ton from this man and he gave it to me willingly and I have a deep respect for the knowledge he has of the bays. Commercial guys learned the hard way. A faulty set cost them a day’s wages, maybe two, and sometimes their gear. They learned from a lifetime of trial and error. They were plenty smart, smart enough to record mentally the time of year and the conditions in which the set was the most productive. Don’t think for one minute that setting a net or trot line is a no-brainer. If it would have been easy more people would have been doing it. I watched a commercial fisherman set trotlines many years ago along the windward shoreline of a small back lake where I hunted ducks often. We literally watched the line load up with large trout and redfish as an old-fashion Blue Norther pushed through during a morning’s hunt. It took several seasons of watching this to finally realize the whole windward-water dumping-fish pulling up to feed on the falling tide pattern. Now that’s a mouthful, and a brain full too, and all gained from watching a hardworking commercial fisherman. I religiously fish this area every winter during the brunt of the storms and catch them like crazy. On a recent fishing trip to Port Mansfield I was lucky to meet two commercial fishermen I have heard about for years. Roy Lee Evans was a commercial fisherman that now guides anglers to the productive fishing grounds of the Laguna Madre where he has spent his entire life.

His brother Bun Evans runs a shrimp boat and some drum lines down there providing live bait to the local bait shop and sells his drum in the local economy. Over a cold afternoon beverage I heard the waitress refer to the guy at the end of the bar to as Bun. The name reminded me of a winter fishing area the locals in Rockport refer to as Bun’s Hole. It’s not a common name and since there was a Roy Lee Evans in Port Mansfield I wondered if maybe this was Bun Evans. I asked if his last name was Evans and he asked, “Who the hell wants to know?” I introduced myself and explained my reason for asking and the tension decreased. After telling him my version of the story of how Bun’s Hole got its name, a story I have been telling for 33 years, he laughed and told me the real events and reason behind the name. Way better story than the one I was told. And, what made it so believable was the fact that I know the other party involved and had heard the story minus the name attached. After a while I let him know that I was in the process of leasing property in Port Mansfield with the intent of fishing some of my clients down that way on occasion. With this he informed me that I needed to meet his brother Roy Lee, and Roy Lee, “Was for sure not going to like me for nothing.” No matter, he insisted, we might as well get the introduction over and done with. All the while I was thinking, “Heck man, I don’t need conformation, I’ll just take your word on it.” Shortly Roy Lee shows up and is totally nice, blunt and to the point, but nice. We start talking fishing and before Roy Lee leaves he goes out and gets me a few of his favorite lures to throw. Very nice gesture, so you can bet that I will respect him as well as all the other guides, men and women alike, when it comes to fishing their water. This is where the respect for others must come into play. We talked for an hour or more about way back when and commercial fishermen we all knew. It was a good time, and again, I walked away with more knowledge. Not so much about fishing this time, but more about how fishing can bring people closer together. The deal here is that there is a respect that exists between true fishermen. It’s an unspoken thing, an atmosphere that develops when you come together; you can’t fake it. Fishermen recognize other fishermen and fisherwomen, we just do. For me its not the type of boat, fashionable clothing and sunglasses, but the firmest of handshakes from guys in their 60s and 70s, the sun-beaten leathery appearance of our faces, it might even be that desperado attitude, but it’s certainly something that suggests you’re in the presence of a fisherman.. In closing I’d like to thank all the commercial guys that have helped me through the years. There are many that I never met but watched; to them I am equally thankful. I would also suggest that the next time you see a trotline along a favorite stretch of shoreline, make a note of the conditions of the day, the angle of the set, its water depth and distance off the shoreline. Bet you’ll find that the fisherman in the old wooden skiff knows way more than you might have ever thought.

Jay Watkins has been a full-time fishing guide at Rockport, TX, for more than 20 years. Jay specializes in wading year-round for trout and redfish with artificial lures. Jay covers the Texas coast from San Antonio Bay to Corpus Christi Bay. Telephone Email Website

361-729-9596 | 43

Chris Mapp’s Boat Maintenance Tips We have seen numerous lower unit failures over the last few months and the reasons for these are varied but most, or at least 90 percent, have a common denominator. Collision with a submerged object would be the most obvious cause but, it’s not. Most failures are due to severe overheating, not engine or powerhead temperature, but gear case oil reaching temperatures and pressures it was never designed to endure, with the end result being metal fatigue and catastrophic failure. Gear oils today are better than ever. Manufacturers and aftermarket producers have developed additives that have stronger and more durable characteristics; the oil clings to gears very well, suspends contamination, emulsifies water, and has very high tolerance for heat. Imagine for a minute an offshore boat running fifty miles at an average rpm of 4200 to 4800. Translate this to 4800 revolutions per minute, 80 revolutions per second, and all this power is being transferred to a gear the size of your fist that internally meshes with another gear to spin the props and push the load. This almost sounds abusive but is normal in an everyday fishing trip for hours and hours on end. These gear cases are operating under the water, and with the correct loading and with outside water temperature providing cooling, they are designed to be very dependable. What awesome technology. Now imagine a center console tunnel hull boat with a jackplate

44 | July 2012

crossing a flat with the lower unit actually running several inches above the surface of the water at the same 4200 to 4800 rpm level and then add digging mud and sand, thus raising the resistance values or loads to levels they were never intended to handle. Running in the “jacked up” position, the cooling method is now via convection, a mixture of air and water, which translates to lots of potential for heat buildup. At this point the shearing taking place on the gears and oil are unbelievable and can often exceed the outboard manufacturers and gear lube design parameters . Collision is covered by your insurance but operating beyond the outboard motor’s design characteristics could have an adverse effect on insurance or warranty coverage, and can be very expensive for the owner. Change gear oil twice a year, pull the prop and check for fishing line behind the thrust washer once a month. Monitor the condition of lower unit lube by loosening the lower unit drain plug checking for water, a white milky fluid and/or metal slivers and fragments. Having a good preventive maintenance schedule in place can add years to your outboard’s life while saving you money and downtime. Have a great season Chris Mapp Coastal Bend Marine | Port O’Connor, TX 361 983 4841 |

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Pam with her first redfish – Pass Cavallo 1994.



THE PASS We have all fished or hunted in certain places that, for whatever reason, left an impression on us. Perhaps it was a ridge or creek bottom where wild turkeys roamed, or a point on a lake or beach where the fishing was especially good. It might even have been an old stock

video 46 | July 2012

Check out Casey’s Fly Fishing Video Library at

tank on Grandpa’s farm. One of the places that has left a distinct impression on me since my first visit there in the late 70s is Pass Cavallo at Port O’Connor. Pass Cavallo is not a place I have fished more frequently than others over the years, but it has never failed to provide me with a vivid

memorable experience. Like most passes, Pass Cavallo is temperamental. It is racked with sandbars, deep troughs, and powerful currents. But it also can provide some very good fishing and you are never quite sure what you’ll see or what will happen when you go there. For that reason, I always look forward to going back. In the Fall of 1990, I was fishing with my dad and a friend near Pass Cavallo. We had spent the day fishing in and around the old Coast Guard Station and Decros Point, and as evening approached, my dad was ready to head to town. My buddy and I wanted to keep on fishing. The boat was fairly well-stocked with food and water that afternoon, so we convinced Dad to drop us off for the night on the J-hook at Pass Cavallo near the beachfront. Our plan was to fish for bull reds and sharks while he got a good night’s sleep in town. He could then pick us up at first light a few hundred yards back down the shore along a protected sandbar. Dad thought it was a bad idea but, we assured him we’d be fine and he reluctantly agreed. As sundown approached, we packed gear out of his boat and onto the sand and he headed back to town. This was not the first time we had camped at Pass Cavallo. We beached our flat bottom boats there many times, resourcefully rolling the hulls up from the water’s edge on long PVC pipes which we then used as rod

No shirt, no sunglasses, no sunblock, no sleep, cut-offs, Pflueger Medalist fly reel, and a stringer of big trout.

Releasing a BIG redfish.

holders. It was a great place to fish. Stuck on the island that night, we listened to the rumble of the waves and looked back toward the distant winking lights to the north. In spite of it being a potentially hostile place, the narrow spit of sand where we set up camp was peaceful and relaxing. And aside from a few mosquito bites and coyotes digging through our stuff, nothing bothered us. That night we managed to catch some big redfish and a few sharks, and as the first glow of light appeared in the eastern sky we could hear the sounds of speckled trout and Spanish mackerel working the troughs near the beachfront, beckoning us to break out the fly tackle. As soon as it was light enough to see I noticed a boat approaching the shore from the direction of the old Coast Guard station. It was my dad with a nervous grin on his face. As he pulled up he said, “Well… you guys get any sleep?” | 47

48 | July 2012

sun set, I elected to run back out through Mitchell’s Cut and across to the cattle pen shoreline as a more protected route. As we exited Mitchell’s Cut and headed into open water the steering cable on my buddy’s boat broke and somehow took out the electrical harness with it, simultaneously killing the power and the controls to the motor. The boat died immediately and began to drift helplessly on the shoulders of the outgoing tide toward the Pass, which had grown angry and riddled with nasty standing waves. I frantically tried to find an anchor, but there was none. It had been inadvertently removed by one of the campers in our group. Eventually we managed to get the wiring harness hooked back up and got the motor started. But there still were no controls, so as I applied the throttle, my friend bear hugged the 90 hp cowling and steered the boat by hand. Somehow we managed to get the boat out of the grips of the Pass and back down the shoreline where we eventually reached our group near the foot of the Big Jetties. Pass Cavallo will always hold a very special place in my memory. Looking back on these trips reminds me of how many personalities it has, both good and bad. And how, over time, certain places can and will engrain themselves in your history.


That trip has really stuck with me all these years. Perhaps it is because I now have boys of my own and understand what must have gone through my dad’s head when he pulled away from that beach. He understood and shared our love of adventure, trusted us to make good decisions, and no doubt said a prayer or two as he motored back toward town. Another trip that really stands out in my mind is when I first took my wife Pam (who was then my girlfriend) to fish for redfish at Pass Cavallo. Pam had done a little fishing before we met, mostly freshwater. She was excited to try saltwater fishing so I suggested we try to catch some big redfish from the beach. We borrowed her grandfather’s old Lone Star v-hull boat, loaded it down with a few surf rods, and after a short boat ride from the Fishing Center in Port O’Connor, we beached it near the J-hook. It turned out to be one of those remarkable days. Throughout most of it, a large school of bull reds nestled in just off the shoreline and we landed many along the clean sandy shores of the Pass. These were big fish, many near or over 50 inches. Both of us got so sore from fighting them that we ended up using a spare life jacket as a cushion for the butts of the rods. In the months that followed I tried to remind Pam that saltwater fishing was not always that good. Another trip was not nearly as fun. We had been camping at the Big Jetties and one member of our group arrived a few days late. I agreed to make the run back to town to pick him up. After an uneventful trip back to the boat ramp, we loaded his gear in my buddy’s old flat bottom and headed back out. The end of the Little Jetties in POC had been a bit rough on the way in, so as the

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


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Oyster spat, small “baby” oysters, on river rock.

By Charlene Drake | Oyster Restoration Biologist TPWD Dickinson Marine Lab | Dickinson, TX



FOLLOWING HURRICANE IKE Hurricane Ike made landfall September 13, 2008 on the upper Texas coast. Visible damage was apparent everywhere. Over 80% of the homes on Bolivar Peninsula were destroyed, windows were blown out of downtown Houston office buildings, boats, vehicles and debris were scattered everywhere, and 34 people died in Texas. Damage to the natural resources was just as catastrophic. Galveston Bay was filled with 12 feet of water from tidal surges, depositing tons of debris and sediment into the bay covering and killing ecologically and historically important oyster reefs. In the US, the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) range from Maine to Texas and oyster reefs are an important part of any bay ecosystem. A single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water in one day, allowing for improved water clarification and water quality. Using this rate, at a minimum density of 10 oysters per square meter, 130 acres of reef would be capable of filtering approximately 260 million gallons of water per day. By comparison, in 2009, the city of Houston’s 39 wastewater treatment plants had a combined average daily wastewater treatment flow of 252 million gallons per day (Greater Houston Partnership, http://www. 50 | July 2012

utilities/index.aspx). Oyster reefs also provide habitat for vertebrates and invertebrates and are ideal destinations for recreational harvest of fish such as red drum, spotted seatrout, and black drum. Oysters in Texas have been harvested as far back as the 17th century (Karankawa Indians). Number of oysters harvested and overall reef sizes have been on a decline for decades for many reasons, including overfishing, shell mining, disease, silt overburden, extended times of flooding, and drought conditions. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) Oyster Restoration Program has staff and equipment dedicated to mapping the bay bottom with side scan sonar. Images were recorded in Galveston Bay prior to Hurricane Ike and after landfall. These data show that 60% of reefs in Galveston Bay and 80% of reefs in East Galveston Bay (8,000 total acres) were either damaged or destroyed by sediment deposition over the reefs. East Galveston Bay was closed to commercial oyster fishing November 2009 until November 2011 to allow oyster reefs time to recover from hurricane damage and allow TPWD time to conduct oyster restoration activities. The goal of oyster restoration is to provide a hard substrate (referred to as cultch), upon which the free

swimming oyster larvae will attach, grow and help repopulate the reefs. The preferred cultch material is oyster shell, but demand for oyster shell for other purposes has made its use in restoration cost prohibitive. Materials used today include limestone, river rock, or clean crushed concrete. Reef restoration work in Texas goes back to the 1940s, but the first large scale cultch planting took place in East Galveston Bay in September 2008. This type of reef restoration has been used for years along the Gulf and mid-Atlantic coasts, though it is a very expensive endeavor. In 2009, TPWD received a $7 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant for fishery disaster relief due to Hurricane Ike. Portions of the money were used to restore damaged oyster reefs in Galveston Bay. Sub-bottom profile surveys were conducted by Texas A&M University at Galveston to determine sediment depths over the oyster reefs. Detailed maps showing sediment depths were used to determine which reefs were better suited for bagless oyster dredging (less than 6 inches of sediment) and which reefs were better suited for cultch plantings (greater than 6 inches). Areas in central Galveston Bay had the least amount of sediment overburden while reefs in East Galveston Bay had the most. Some reefs of East Bay were buried with over 12 inches of sediment. Hurricane Ike restoration work was divided into two phases – bagless dredging and cultch plantings. Both phases were timed to take advantage of the summer/fall larvae set. Phase one began in June 2010 and ended in October 2010. TPWD hired commercial oyster fishermen from the Galveston Bay area who held oyster licenses and had verified oyster landings prior to the hurricane to pull bagless oyster dredges across designated reefs depositing the hard shell back on top of the silt. Several hundred applications were received, and one hundred sixty-six boats were utilized during five months. On average 1-2 reefs were restored each week and depending on the size of the reefs, anywhere from 5-50 boats worked each day. Over the five month period 819 “boat days” resulted in the restoration of approximately 1,104 acres of oyster habitat at a cost of $740 per acre. The second phase entailed hiring a contractor to place cultch

Barge offloading river rock cultch.

52 | July 2012

Galveston Bay oyster restoration sites, 2010-2011

material (river rock) on reefs that were covered in deeper sediment. Restoration work began in 2010 when permit applications were submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers and surface lease applications were submitted to the Texas General Land Office. Upon receipt of permits and leases, solicitation of competitive bids for the cultch planting were received and finalized in spring 2011. Over 56,760 cubic yards of river rock were “planted” on 139 acres of reef in Galveston Bay and East Galveston Bay during the summer of 2011 at a cost of $3,106,513 or approximately $22,000 per acre. The oyster restoration team will monitor these sites for the next two years to determine the level of success of the two restoration techniques. To learn more about oyster restoration, please visit the Texas Parks & Wildlife page on YouTube .com

Check the TPWD Outdoor Annual, your local TPWD Law Enforcement office, or www. for more information.

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Telltale gull action above a group of reds hustling shrimp in the marsh.



A NEW DIRECTION I’ve had the great pleasure and honor of providing you guys with kayak articles for the past eight years. In that time I’ve written more than a hundred, mostly devoted to kayak fishing in some form or another. Along the way I have met many readers of this magazine and have become friends with quite a few. I can’t fully express how rewarding it is when someone comes up to me to say how much they enjoy reading my musings. It has been a fun ride being immersed in the kayak fishing world. The pathways of life are interesting to reflect upon. While running my boat along the ICW on my first trip to Port Mansfield nearly 25 years ago my engine sucked in some grass and overheated. While waiting for it to cool my wife pointed towards the spoil bank noting a school of tailing reds. I had of course heard of tailing reds, but had never seen them. This encounter led to several years of hardcore wading followed by the purchase of a Shallow Sport enabling me to drift across the flats looking for reds. The urge to get into even skinnier water put me in a kayak. Standing up to pole that kayak got the attention of this magazine’s owner and produced the 54 | July 2012

The greatest challenge for most anglers is controlling the adrenalin rush.

A joyous moment!

subject of my first article. Poling that first kayak also led me to my first poling skiff. When this all started I was a Homicide detective, now I pole a skiff for a living. Twenty-five years ago I never dreamed things would go this way, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Recently the head honcho of this great magazine and I had a

Angling success makes a birthday trip complete. | 55

56 | July 2012

Making a perfect shot on a single cruising redfish yielded this hookup.

the packing will begin for a trip to Turneffe Flats Lodge in Belize. The flies are tied, the reels are oiled and a full arsenal of fly rods from 6 to 12 wt has been gathered. Hopefully upon my return I will have stories of bones, permit and tarpon inhaling my offerings. This is something I have wanted to do for years, the perfect vacation for a hopelessly addicted sight-fisher. So to all my loyal kayak fishing readers, I really appreciate you guys and hope you’ll stick around for the ride. On to the next adventure.

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conversation about a possible change in direction for my little corner of this place. Change is sometimes hard, but in this case I’m really looking forward to trying something new and I hope everyone will enjoy it as much as I know I will. Anyone who has read these articles for any length of time will certainly know of my obsession with sight-fishing. It doesn’t matter if it’s wading, kayaking or poling my skiff and I don’t care whether it’s with a fly rod or conventional light-tackle gear; I’m always looking for a target. Most often that target is a redfish, but it really doesn’t matter. Sheepshead, black drum, trout, tarpon and pretty much anything else that swims within view is fair game. There was even a full day of casting to gar last summer. As a youngster I recall my grandmother remarking, “That boy would fish in the toilet if he thought there was a chance a fish might be in there.” She would sure get a kick out of seeing some of the places I toss a line these days. I suppose sight-fishing captured me because it combines elements from two of my passions, hunting and fishing. Stalking through the shallows, spotting the target and then making the perfect shot can easily be compared with spot and stalk bow hunting. You often only get one shot so you better make it count. Even after watching hundreds of fish react to the cast and pounce on their fake meal it never gets old. These days I spend most of my time on a poling platform helping customers experience this same thrill. Directing the action from my perch is just as much fun as catching them myself. The drill often goes something like this, “Redfish at 2 o’clock and thirty feet, moving left to right. You see him? Good, lead him a foot or so. Now let it sit, give it a twitch, now another. He ate it!” Love it. As EJ and I talked about the new direction for this page my mind began to wander to the possibilities for future articles. Texas has much to offer the sight-fishing angler and I hope to inspire others to join in on the fun. While most folks associate sight-fishing with shallow water, it doesn’t always have to be. Tossing flies into a herd of raging jacks, throwing a lure at schooling kings or trying to connect with rolling tarpon all fit my definition of the sport. Thankfully EJ didn’t really set too many boundaries. You can expect to see articles involving wading, poling and of course some kayaking while employing both fly and light-tackle to chase a variety of species. At this moment the possibilities seem endless. In fact, I’ve already got next month’s article lined up. It won’t exactly involve Texas saltwater, but it will be all about what I hope will be some fantastic sight-fishing. As soon as I can wrap up this article

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


EL CAMPO BOATING CENTER 3598 W. BU 59S Hwy, El Campo, Tx, 77437

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THE ART OF POLING A SKIFF Using a pole to propel or maneuver a boat is a method that dates back to long before probably even hook and line fishing. I have read about Native Americans pushing dugout canoes around and even seem to remember seeing a depiction of Egyptians poling vessel made of reeds across the Nile. The fact is that the art of poling a skiff has been around since the day man first took to the water, however, over time, the craft and tools used have changed. We are no longer poling around in wooden canoes with a tree limb or stout piece of bamboo. Now we are using boats and push-poles that are made from space-age materials and state of the art manufacturing processes. The only thing that has not changed is how we do it. 58 | July 2012

It is pretty safe to say that the poling of fishing skiffs as we know it today was developed and perfected in the Florida Keys and Everglades. And, to say the least, we have come a long way since the days when Capt. Flip Pallot balanced himself atop a Mercury outboard cowling holding a fiberglass pole-vaulter’s pole. Heck, just look how far we have come since the late 60s when Capt. Bill Curtis urged Bob Hewes to include a poling platform on what is now considered the first modern flats skiff. And, it is important to know, these luminaries knew exactly where to place the foot of the pole if they wanted to slow the skiff and spin it to give the angler on the bow a 10 o’clock shot at a school of bonefish. Where the pole makes contact with bottom means

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everything when trying to control a skiff and, that is exactly what poling is all about, control. It does not matter how hard a person pushes, if the foot placement is not correct, control is lost. To better explain, you have to imagine four quadrants that extend out about two-thirds the length of the push-pole with the poling platform being at the center. These quadrants represent the areas which need to be known to control the boat. We will identify these quadrants as follows; port skiff, starboard skiff, port aft and starboard aft. Now, one of the first and most important things to know about poling a skiff is that the pole should always be on the downwind or down-current side of the boat (whichever has the greatest influence on the skiff ). An example of this would be, if you are poling along in a crosswind with the wind blowing at you from the left, the pole should be on the right of your body, especially when moving forward. The reasoning behind this is because, when pushing from directly astern, the bow will want to yield ever so slightly to the “influence” giving you better control. This of course also applies when poling diagonally, into or downwind. Moving on, it is time to understand how the quadrants I mentioned earlier come into play. To make it easier to understand we will assume that there is little to no wind or current. You will want to push or apply pressure on the side of the boat that is the direction in which you want the bow to turn. So let’s say you are sitting DIW (dead in the water) and would like to move forward while turning to the left. You would then place the pole in the port aft quadrant and push. Now let’s assume you are moving at a good clip and see a fish at the 12 o’clock position and need to turn the boat to give your right-handed caster a shot at it. It is not only important to turn the boat, but to also slow or stop as to not approach the fish too quickly. This is where you would move the foot of the push pole forward into the starboard skiff quadrant making contact with bottom and, rather than pushing, apply pressure and hold. This will arrest the forward momentum causing the back of the boat to slip to the left or more simply, turn the bow to the right moving the target to the eleven or ten o’clock position. It goes without saying that the exact opposite will occur by placing the foot in the opposite quadrant. Now comes the hardest part of poling and that is where in the quadrant the foot should strike. Well a good rule of thumb is, the closer the pressure or push is applied to the center (poling platform), the less effect it will have. An exception to this rule would be when the need arises to overcome a strong headwind or current to make the skiff move forward. To do this, you must make a long powerful push forward starting close but not too close to the platform. Remember, you are trying to propel the boat forward and if the foot is too close to the transom the push pole will be close to vertical and you will be wasting energy by pushing down (in effect, lifting the stern) rather than propelling the boat. Another way to look at is, if you want to slow dramatically or stop, the faster the boat is moving, the further away from the poling platform the pressure should be applied and held. If you want to move at a quicker pace, the further away the end of the push should occur. As for moving in a straight line, I again emphasize keeping the pole on the side opposite of the most influence or set (direction of wind/current) and push as close to the centerline as possible making small corrections in foot placement as possible. As in all aspects of poling a skiff, the biggest mistakes are made by over-correcting. I prefer to use as light a push-pole as possible (Stiffy Guide or Stiffy Extreme) outfitted with a “true” fork of my design. This choice allows me to be quieter when approaching potential targets. By utilizing a lighter push pole, the fatigue factor is reduced making it less likely for me to lazily drag or splash the foot around when taking it in and out of the water. As for the fork, the lack of what has been called a “mud bar” or “crotch”, allows it to be pulled from, and re-enter the water more quietly and without cavitation. In addition, it is less likely to get clogged with mud or grass which makes the end of the pole heavier, creating fatigue. Only with practice will an angler learn all of the subtleties of the art of poling a skiff. Be good and stuff like that!

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

979-415-4379 | 59

My dad with our best trout of the day that we released.



ANOTHER DAY ON THE WATER We met my dad’s customers, Richard and Carl Fisher, at the dock at around 6:30AM. Richard Fisher is a good customer of my dad’s; always rebooking every year and this is the first time I have had the chance to fish with him. This weekend, we were unlucky enough to have four tournaments blow through Port and we knew the fish were going to be “lip sore” from everybody fishing in the same area. Coming out of the harbor, we were pretty much alone because it was so early on a Sunday. This day seemed like it was going to start off great. We stopped at our first spot and hopped off the boat. A few reports had said there was a school of reds around our general area. After power wading for about 200 yards, Mr. Richard Fisher was the first of us to hook up. Because of the report, we were hoping it was a red but it was a good sized trout. A few minutes later, I hooked up on to another keeper 60 | July 2012

trout which I lost trying to string. Then I hooked another that I carefully, and successfully, strung this time. Right after this, Richard hooked up on a nice red that was about 23 inches; this would be our only red for the day. Suddenly, the bite stopped. Through all of this so far, my dad and Carl hadn’t landed a fish yet, but that would soon change. My dad hooked a nice, solid, fat trout that was 25 inches. We took photos and released this beauty back into water. This was the last fish of this spot but, we kept wading into deeper and deeper water. Soon it was to the point that I had to walk back to the boat, because I was in fear of drowning. Heading to our next location, we had no idea what was in store for us, our wade started off normal, we walked a few yards and someone got a hit. Soon, we waded into some deeper water and we started catching some fish. While living at Port, I

Careful! These guys are dangerous.

have observed how the trout like to stay in deeper water, but big trout are a different story. We waded about 350 yards from where we started and had to turn back to the boat but not because there weren’t any fish. Carl had hooked a decent sized stingray. This can cause a lot of problems when you don’t have the right gear or the knowledge to get them off without harming the ray or yourself. We were lucky enough that the boat was nearby, this meaning my dad could net the stingray and we could unhook it safely.

Now that I’m on the subject, I’d like to talk a little bit about stingray protection. It’s obviously not required to have a pair of ForEverLast wading boots or the stingray guards, but I would recommend that novice anglers purchase and utilize these items until you feel safe in the water and decide that you no longer need them. When hit by a stingray, the barb is thrust into the flesh and, in some cases, ripped back out and both are extremely painful. The bacteria that the ray secretes on the barb can cause infections at the site of the injury. Most likely your local tackle store will have a first aid kit specifically for stingray and jelly fish wounds. I recommend having at least one kit on your boat at all times because an accident could happen at any moment. Now that I’ve warned you guys about the dangers of stingrays, I’m going to get back to our story. After we released our dangerous “friend” back into the bay, we had all decided that it was in our best interest to relocate ourselves to a different spot. My dad had a feeling that a certain sandbar would be holding some fish. I agreed because there has been fish there most of the time I have been in the area. It turns out that we were both wrong because I got the only hit out of all of us. This wasn’t a hit I wanted though and I’m glad I didn’t hook it, I saw that I had cast straight to a skipjack. Knowing where we had caught the best fish of the day, we headed back to our first stop. This is where we finished off our trip, picking up another few trout and bringing our total to eight trout and one red. | 61

Legitimate tripleheader of nice snapper, all caught with Snapper Slapper jigs. Might as well keep it sporty.




SNAPPER SEASON Editor’s note: Joe Richard is doing stand-in duty for Capt. Mike Jennings this month. Mike is running charters daily to make the most of the 40-day red snapper season for his clients with no time between on-the-water responsibility and necessary maintenance to man a keyboard and share his experiences and insight. Leaving port at first light and working until well after dark leaves a man little time to recuperate for the next group who expect and deserve his signature product on the water, and Mike is the kind of captain that will settle for delivering nothing less. Mike will return next month with tales of great fishing and seafaring adventure. - EJ After fishing the opening weekend of this year’s derby snapper season, with only 40 days allowed during the windiest part of the summer, we returned at day’s end worn out and with our limits of two fish apiece. There were a lot of snapper offshore: Early on, one of the guys brought up two legal fish on his Snapper Slapper jig, and we joked “you’re done for the day.” We were far offshore in Alan Reynold’s newly acquired 38-foot Fountain, a

62 | July 2012

three-year old boat that had never seen a fish; it was used as a booze-cruiser on the ICW in Alabama. For the boat, it was time for more serious work: Seven of us, using jigs, hooked and released a number of big snapper until we had 14 big ones in the box, each weighing 10 to 22 pounds. As the last fish slid into the cooler, a 14-pounder then was landed and I tossed it overboard. All released snapper were carefully deflated and swam back down for the commercial harvest that will continue all year. Oh well. At least this June’s weather didn’t beat us to pieces offshore. Apparently the Feds can’t rely on a SW wind blowing 15-25 knots every June off Texas. It would seem that bad weather is another aspect of the recreational harvest plan. Commercial fishermen, several hundred of them, are allotted 51 percent of all red snapper landed in the Gulf. Since 2007 they’ve operated under a catch share system, where they can fish all year in good weather (or price spikes) until they catch their quota. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of recreational fishermen, allotted 49 percent of the catch, are required

A double-header caught on one jig drop. These jigs carry two hooks, and each held a snapper. Done for the day?

to fish in normally windy June, taking their beatings offshore, each for their two daily fish. When snapper are plentiful enough to be caught two on a single jig. Gulf charterboats must fish all 40 days to keep themselves in business during the slow times. Captains and boat crews work to the point of exhaustion, which no doubt affects public safety offshore. What’s wrong with this picture? The red snapper population has rebounded better than anyone expected, but bag limits are now so severe, its impacting angler participation. Perhaps attrition in the recreational offshore fishery is another aspect of the federal snapper management plan; it certainly seems that way. Their line of thinking may be that if enough boat owners sell their rigs and turn to other pursuits, the fishery will rebound even more. The financial impact of that to coastal communities and small business owners would be expensive, to say the least. Our recreational fishing interests have not been persuasively explained in Washington--- something has gone haywire up there. The same goes with the billions now being spent to harvest Gulf platforms, with more than 600 of these artificial reefs disappeared in the past several years. The big “rig killer” barge we photographed arriving in Sabine Pass around Memorial Day turned right back | 63

Happy angler with keeper snapper during the derby season opening weekend. And no whitecaps!

around in two days, towed back out for more grim work. They’re dynamiting platforms as fast as possible, before a moratorium is declared. You can bet there is serious lobbying going on, to keep that process alive. As one worker in the rig-removal business told me in May, “We just wrap each rig pipe with primer cord at the bottom, set them off in sequence, the big crane lifts the severed rig onto a barge, and it’s towed away somewhere. All in one day. They won’t let us take pictures of the floating snapper; and we don’t want to lose our jobs doing that.” One would think that acres of floating dead snapper might retard recovery of stocks, but if the recreational fishery is squeezed tight enough, the snapper population may recover solely from 64 | July 2012

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Crew member on a Galveston commercial boat pulls in another string of snapper, using “bandit” automated tackle.

recreational sacrifice. Snapper will bounce back, even if prime habitat is dynamited and removed forever. So goes the thinking in Washington. Texas has long allowed a four-fish snapper limit out to nine miles offshore, and that’s helped catch fish on a yearround basis, though the platforms within that range are picked clean during the summer season. That’s also created a loophole of sorts, where fish caught in federal waters are claimed as state-water fish. Game wardens can only head-scratch at the number of 15-pounders now caught within sight of the beach. The states are even contemplating managing all snapper landed in their ports, regardless of where they’re caught. Everyone knows that state-managed fish stocks are quite stable, compared with over-harvest, then drastic closures and tiny bag limits prominent in federal waters. Charterboat captains depending entirely on making a livelihood fishing in federal waters are walking on thin ice. At least Texas continues to mine data on the snapper catch, an ongoing program dating back about 30 years, long before the Feds began to buy a clue. With our tired crew on dry ground and boat resting on the trailer, a local team from TP&W, led by Jerry Mambretti, dug six of our big fish out of the ice, measured them and asked very pertinent questions. Ice digging duty and measuring was conducted by a cheerful, lovely intern from the Lake Charles area, who was no stranger to fish, apparently. Her sunny demeanor was enough to brighten our long, sunand-sea blasted day, after running so many miles offshore. (Sabine requires a long run to reach prime snapper rocks). We certainly didn’t have many fish to clean back at the house. It was tally up the day’s damage and awful fuel bill, take your two snapper and go home.

Captain Mike Jennings is a professional charter captain with more than 25 years offshore experience. Mike is the owner/operator of Cowboy Charters in Freeport TX and is known locally for running further and fishing harder for his clients.

Telephone Email Website


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The Yarbrough area of the Upper Laguna is a paddler’s shallow water haven.

C A D E ’ S C O A S TA L C H R O N I C L E S


Hi, I’m Cade. Like lots of folks that read this magazine, A shallow water bay named Laguna Madre separates I’m an everyday do-it-yourself fishermen with a great North and South Padre Islands from the mainland of passion for the outdoors and I love the adventure of Texas. I summoned the company of a few of my good learning new areas along the Texas coast. I have often friends and we loaded our camping gear for an extreme found myself a little lost when planning a fishing trip to weekend of Padre angling. I used HNL maps F115 (Lower a new area, so I do some online research and reference various maps and charts Bob Hall Pier just south of Corpus to formulate my plans. Break out your Christi offers some Hook-N-Line Fishing map and follow me of the best pier as I explore and enjoy the great fishing fishing in Texas. each area has to offer. This month’s adventure A 70 mile stretch of uninhabited coastal island, Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) hosts myriad species of wildlife and incredible year ‘round fishing opportunity. Padre Island begins at the edge of Corpus Christi, and follows the coast down to Port Isabel. 66 | July 2012

Laguna Madre) and F116 (Upper Laguna Madre) for this trip. When and Weather  My buddies and I made the trip to North Padre in early May. Over a three day period the winds ranged from 10mph up to a steady 25-30mph. Temperatures were very bearable, never exceeding the mid 80s. There is really no part of the year that you can’t find excellent fishing somewhere along Padre Island.

I am a lure chunker at heart but for offshore fishing, bait is the way. Crossing the HWY 361 bridge over the Laguna Madre as you leave Corpus, you will pass a few well stocked bait shops; Cos-Way Bait and Tackle, Red Dot Pier, Clem’s Marina, and Billing’s Bait Stand. Be sure to read the fishing reports before you embark on your trip to PINS to see what the fish are eating at the time. However a few large mullet, some ribbon fish, and cigar minnows should serve you just fine.

We found numerous speckled trout in the Upper Laguna near Bird Island Basin.

Tackle and Gear I honesty had more fun preparing for this adventure than I have for the majority of my recent fishing trips. Our goal was to paddle offshore and fish the oil rigs from our kayaks one day and fish the Laguna Madre the other. I spent several evenings prior to the weekend building offshore rigs, consisting of kingfish rigs, shark leaders, as well as other heavy duty rigs. I feel like I could write an article just on “do it yourself” offshore rigs. Use my contact info at the end of this article if you have any questions in that regard. My favorite offshore/surf setup is my 7’ Shakespeare Power Stick paired with an offshore Abu Garcia reel. I have it spooled with 30lb mono.

Hitting the water When fishing offshore in a kayak, safety precautions should not be taken lightly. Part of the prep in any offshore trip is watching the weather and wave activity. The website is a great tool to watch what the surf and winds are going to be doing on your desired day of fishing. For my trip, the forecast was good leading up to the weekend, but in the passing of one day the “tide” changed. We were met with 5ft seas and winds approaching 30mph from the east. This nixed the plan to go offshore. We did however launch the kayaks into the surf and practiced battling the rough water as well as offshore reentry techniques. With inshore gear in tow, we turned to the Laguna Madre and

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made the best of a windy day, fishing around Bird Island Basin. I was very pleased when my good friend Laurent found trout holed up in a channel running through the shallow water. He was throwing a 3” Gulp shrimp on a light jighead.

Getting away, relaxing, and catching a few – does it get any better?

Where to eat and where to sleep Padre is a great place to make a camp and fish adventure. Bring your tent and camping gear and enjoy the seclusion of the island. With no cell phone signal and a wide open natural landscape you are truly separated from the world as you drive farther down the island. Rake away the seaweed Camping on the PINS beach was a blast, even in the strong wind.

Tournament: July 26th-29th Awards: July 29th

and you have a perfect spot to throw up your tent, right on the beach. Some people choose to camp at Yarborough Pass next to the Laguna Madre, and others camp at Bird Island Basin where there is a more organized camping area with restrooms and the like. There is an additional fee for camping or parking at Bird Island. If camping is not your forte, Monterrey Motel and Passport Inn are conveniently located just as you are driving out of civilization. RV’s can be parked right on the beach. An RV spot can also be found at Balli Park near the Bob Hall Pier.

Tournament: July 26th-29th Awards: July 29th Registration begins July 26th @ the Chamber of Commerce Pavilion. Bay and offshore divisions for men, women, & juniors. Piggy perch division for the kids. Live Band Fri & Sat night: Lone Star Vaqueros SPONSORS: V.T.C.I. Kinney Bonded Warehouse Vaughn Construction Co. Budweiser WCND Bassler Energy Services Y-Knot Bayhouse Rentals Shepard Walton King Ins. Southern Marine Safe Floor

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WOMEN Anglers

Au g . 24th - 26 th

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Proceeds benefit the Women’s Shelter of Corpus Christi 70 | July 2012

! n u f e th n i o j Come

When camping, of course a portable camping stove or grill will be the perfect solution to cooking your meals. We cooked steaks and then put foil wrapped sweet potatoes over a bed of hot coals, making for one heck of a camping meal. The HEB in Corpus off Staples Dr. had all the groceries we needed. La Palma Mexican Restaurant, Johnny D’s and Island Italian Restaurant are within a whispers distance of the previously mentioned motels and are sure to soothe your taste buds if beach cooking isn’t in your plans. The Other Angles Padre Island really has it all. At the very north end of the island is the Bob Hall Pier. It is probably one of the best fishing piers on the Texas coast. Multiple locations along the beach allow access to the Laguna Madre for some serious skinny water bay fishing. Bird Island Basin is the first launch area you will come to as you enter the park. This is also a hot spot for windsurfers, so be ready to navigate through them as you get to your fishing hole. 15 miles down the beach and you will find Yarborough Pass, a land cut to Laguna Madre. 4wd is really a must for navigating Yarborough (or any of the island for that matter). In fact, the entrance to Yarborough was so sanded in, we actually weren’t able to fish this area. Continuing down the island to about the 60 mile mark is the Mansfield Channel, another spectacular spot for catching a number of game fish. With 70 miles of beach, it really doesn’t have to be said that surf fishing is plentiful. It is impressive seeing the true blooded surf fisherman drive by with their custom rigged trucks with rods and gear protruding from all angles. Wrap up Padre Island is an awesome area and very manageable for do-ityourselfers but do not come to PINS unprepared. Being more or less removed from society, it’s not worth getting stuck deep down the island with no backup plan or emergency tools. Here is my top 5 list of priority items beyond the obvious food and water: 1) First aid kit 2) VHF radio 3) Extra fuel 4) Spare tire(s) and jack(s) 5) Light source. I also recommend baby powder to combat the sticky/sandy beach feeling when going to bed. To me PINS is a camping/fishing destination. There are plenty of other places along Texas’ coast to get a motel room. Sitting around a fire under a clear south Texas sky with your buddies is about as good as it gets. The stories reminisced upon after the fact, such as raccoons taking your only loaf of bread are priceless and can not happen from a hotel room.  The Contacts: If you would like more information on PINS, visit

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Find me on Facebook to follow along in my outdoor adventures | 71

Photo credit: Michael-Ann Belin



GATORS Alligators and humans have shared the marshes, swamps, wetlands, rivers, and lakes of North America for many centuries. They are present in the stories of many Native American cultures, such as a Choctaw legend in which an alligator shares hunting wisdom with a hunter who saves the alligator’s life. There are even more modern myths of alligators living in sewers, a less than glamorous role. One species is responsible for every alligator tale ever imagined in North America: Alligator mississippiensis. The American alligator is the only member of the order Crocodylia occurring in North America. This order used to refer to both living crocodylians and extinct crocs dating back to the Triassic period (circa 245 million years ago). Recently, it was restricted to include the last common ancestor of the twenty-three living species of alligators, caimans, crocodiles, and gharials (going back about 80 million years) and all of its descendants.1 The family Alligatoridae appeared roughly 35 million years ago. Today, there are only two species of alligators in the world: the American alligator and the Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis).2 72 | July 2012

Spanish sailors arriving in America thought the unfamiliar reptile was a huge lizard and imaginatively dubbed it… el lagarto, “the lizard.” English sailors took up the name with their own flourish and called it allagarter. Eventually, it has evolved into the now wellknown alligator.3 A. mississippiensis is the largest reptile in North America. In the wild, females typically reach eight or nine feet; males about twelve or thirteen feet. While in captivity their lifespan can be as long as sixty years or so, in the wild, it’s usually only half that. Adults are very dark brown to black on top and off-white on the underside. Juveniles sport yellowish cross bands over their black/brown tops that fade with age. A gator has 74-80 teeth in its mouth at a time. They are continually replaced, and a gator may go through 3,000 teeth in its life. The front feet have five toes each, and the webbed hind feet have four.4 Like other reptiles, alligators are ectotherms (cold-blooded), meaning they assume the temperature of their surrounding environment rather than regulating their body temperature like birds and mammals. Unlike other reptiles, crocodylians have

four-chambered hearts, a trait shared with birds and mammals. It is thought that the increased mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood by a four-chambered heart enables crocs to dive for extended periods. This particular heart structure has led some scientists to theorize that crocodylians might have a common endothermic (warm-blooded) ancestor.5 Formerly an endangered species, the American alligator showed a remarkable comeback and was delisted in 1985. It is now classified as a protected game animal in Texas and cannot be hunted or collected without a special permit from Texas Parks & Wildlife. The species is also still federally listed as threatened because it looks like the American crocodile, which is endangered. Though there are a number of differences between alligators and crocodiles, the easiest way to distinguish between the two is their teeth. When its mouth is closed, the alligator’s fourth lower tooth does not show (actually, most of the bottom teeth don’t); the crocodile’s does (and so do most of its other lower teeth). So is an alligator a specialized crocodile, or is it the other way around? Neither, in fact, they’re both specialties of a common ancestor. The skull of a middle-Cretaceous crocodylian found in central Texas displays the alligator-like overbite towards the back of the jaw but the fourth lower tooth passes through a notch in the skull, just like a crocodile. Alligators lost the notch; crocodiles lost the overbite.1 The original range of A. mississippiensis extended as far north as New Jersey, southward to the South Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, inland to the merging of the Arkansas and Mississippi River, and westward along the Texas coast. Today, the alligator’s range extends east to the Carolinas, west to Texas, and north to Arkansas.6 Though they venture into salt water, they are better adapted for fresh and brackish ecosystems as they don’t have salt glands to filter out extraneous salt intake. Gators in Texas breed once a year. Courtship begins in early spring with lots of bellowing, head-slapping on the water surface, body posturing, snout and back rubbing, bubble blowing, and

pheromone signaling. Most of all of this is done by the male, both to impress the females and warn off other males. The females make their respective choices, and by late June, most of the males are back to guarding territory while the females begin their one- to two-year maternal duties. First up is nest building. The female constructs a large nest, usually on the water’s edge, of vegetation and mud. When complete, the female digs out a conical section from the top, lays anywhere from twenty to seventy cylindrical eggs, and covers the eggs up. The female will remain close during the incubation period, which is approximately sixty-five days, depending on local conditions, such as temperature. Temperature is also what determines the unhatched alligators’ sexes: above 93° F produces males, below 86° F results in females, and temperatures in between produce both sexes. When the young alligators begin to hatch, they emit high-pitched chirps from inside the egg. This signals to mama to start breaking apart the now-hardened nest. As they hatch, she carries groups of them in her mouth down to the water’s edge. The hatchlings form pods, sometimes including young from other females. Though mama won’t feed her young, she will protect them for up to two years, but even with her fierce vigilance, only twenty percent will survive to maturity. American gators are sexually mature when they reach about six feet in length, which, depending on living conditions, is reached anywhere between six and ten years. When a gator reaches about four feet, the only predators it has left are other gators and humans.3 Most of its predators as a youngster are now its prey. Alligators are carnivorous and choose their prey mainly by size and availability, which means anything smaller than they are (and even some things that are larger) is fair game. They’ll eat fish, frogs, birds, turtles, insects, snails and other invertebrates, snakes, small mammals, other alligators, white-tailed deer, wild hogs, and sometimes people’s pets. They primarily hunt at dusk or during the night. Though they can move quite fast on land and in water, they are ambush predators and only use such speed in short bursts | 73

to surprise prey, defend territory (including, especially, nests), and retreat from predators. A flap in the gator’s throat enables it to catch prey in the water without letting water into the lungs. Small prey is swallowed whole. Larger prey is stashed at the water’s bottom so that it can be later torn into manageable chunks. Alligator teeth are designed for crushing and for a strong grip on prey. They aren’t sharp teeth for tearing meat. Due to their ectothermic nature, crocodylians don’t have to eat as often as their warm-blooded counterparts. During the winter, they may not eat all all, preferring to hole up in “gator dens” they dig out of the mud.This infrequent feeding leaves lots of time for patrolling territories, garage sales, Monday night football, and sunbathing. To raise their body temperature, alligators bask on the banks of water bodies in the sun, where they are often observed by tourists and passersby. On hot days, they may be seen basking with their mouths open. This serves the same cooling purpose as a dog panting.7 Most anyone in “gator country” could tell you that if you approached sunbathing alligators, the gators would make a hasty retreat to the water, just like turtles off a log. Wild gators have a natural fear of humans, like almost all other wild animals, and most people can live alongside gators with no confrontations. It is extremely rare for alligators to chase people, but they can move quite fast for short distances, so you should never make the mistake of thinking a gator is slow or lethargic. A female protecting her nest or young can be very dangerous, and you should never approach pods of baby gators or anything appearing to be a nest. Males will be more aggressive during courting seasons. An alligator on land with no quick retreat to water will hold its ground when approached.

74 | July 2012

A gator that deems you are too close may hiss (a sign to make a slow back away). Gators commonly pursue top-water lures (they are attracted to them for the same reason the fish are). These are all normal wild reactions and well within the expected behavior of wild gators. However, there are occasions when an alligator becomes a “nuisance.” If you walk near the water, and an alligator comes straight toward you, especially if it comes out of the water (and it’s not a female protecting a nest), it’s safe to assume this is a nuisance gator that needs to be reported to TPWD. Gators that repeatedly follow watercraft and are not easily scared away may be nuisance gators, as might be gators that regularly leave water bodies to hang out near homes, livestock pens, etc. These are almost always gators that have been fed by humans, purposefully or inadvertently, and have subsequently lost their fear of humans and see humans as providers of a food source. While some nuisance gators can be relocated, sometimes that is not a possibility. Since, by nature, alligators are territorial, relocating often causes more problems.6 Alligators are apex predators in their ecosystems. They fill the important office of population control, but their prey species have other benefits from the gators’ presence besides preventing overpopulation. The gator holes dug for retreat from extreme temperatures is used as a watering hole by many creatures and often provides a source of water during drought which would not normally be available. Some species of turtles use the discarded nests of gators to lay their own clutches. We benefit from alligators too, economically. Gators are sustainably hunted and farmed both for their meat and skins in large-scale programs along the Gulf coast. This one species provides a multi-million dollar industry.8 And

as if there ecologic and economic importance wasn’t enough, they make great brain fodder for myths and legends. Here are some fun facts: • The longest recorded length for an American alligator is 19 feet 2 inches. It was trapped in the early 1900s in Louisiana (and there is some dispute about the truth of this). • The longest wild alligator harvested in Texas was 14 feet 4 inches. It was taken in Jackson County. • Alligators are not immune to snake poison, as is commonly thought; however their very tough skin and armored back may prevent snake fangs from penetrating. • Alligators have very good eyesight, and the position of their eyes on top of their head gives them almost 360° vision. The only place they can’t see is directly behind them. • Young alligators are agile climbers and have been known to climb fences to get to water or escape captivity. Fences should be more than 4.5 feet tall to keep gators from your pets.2 • Big gators shy more readily than small ones; that’s how they lived to be so big! • A. mississippienisis is the least aggressive crocodylian. • Alligator jaw muscles have little strength for opening the mouth, but the muscles that close the mouth have about 300 pounds per square inch.6 • Gators communicate territory by head slapping or jaw clapping above or beneath the water. Jaw clapping consists of biting the surface of the water, resulting in a loud pop and splash. • Adult gators can survive freezing conditions if they are in water.

They can submerge all but their nostrils so that when the surface freezes, they can still breathe (known as the icing response). They can even survive eight hours completely submerged in ice without taking a breath.8 Foot notes

1) Dr. Timothy Rowe, “Alligator mississippiensis, American Alligator,” DigiMorph, 29 May 2012 <>. 2) Elizabeth Swiman, Mark Hostetler, Martin Main , and Sarah Webb Miller, “Living with Alligators: A Florida Reality,” University of Florida, 29 May 2012 <http://edis.>. 3) Benjamin Schechter and Robin Street, “Reptiles & Amphibians: Fact Sheet,” Smithsonian National Zoological Park, 29 May 2012 < Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Americanalligator.cfm> 4) “American Alligator,” Herps of Texas, 29 May 2012 <http://www.herpsoftexas. org/content/american-alligator>. 5) “Alligator Facts,” Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, 29 May 2012 <>. 6) “The History of Alligators in Texas,” Texas Parks & Wildlife, 29 May 2012 <http://>. 7) “American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis),” Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, 29 May 2012 <>. 8) Adam Britton, “Alligator mississippiensis,” Crocodilian Species List, 29 May 2012 <>.

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DICKIE ColBuRn’s Sabine Scene We can only hope that we have anything left to look forward to this summer that can possibly match the catching we have experienced over the past month! The average size of the trout has just been incredible. Over a two week period, bank fishermen alone walking the north revetment wall caught four trout over 29-inches with the largest two topping the 10 pound mark. Three of those fish were caught on live shrimp fished under a popping cork while one of the 10s ate a Super Spook. Whether at the jetties or the revetment wall 29 miles to the north, the key to earning swings at fish over six pounds has been working the rocks. Swim baits and five-inch tails like Assassin’s Texas Shad or Die Dapper have accounted for an insane number of 5 to 7 pound fish, but the largest percentage of the sure enough bragging size fish have been fooled with a topwater or a crankbait. The Heddon Swimming Image and the River 2 Sea Cranky M have been lethal for anglers working the north and south revetment walls. When the fish are holding deeper the Catch 2000 and MirrOdine XL have also been hard to beat. Color hasn’t been nearly as important as determining how far off the rocks to concentrate your efforts.


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

Telephone 409-883-0723 Website

Occasional slicks will help with that decision but you never know if they are going to be crushing mullet tight to the rocks or suspended away from the structure. As the water continues to warm, bouncing tails off bottom at the base of the wall will become more productive. I don’t know that there is a better color for fishing this pattern in the dead of summer than opening night or violet moon. From the Chenier LNG terminal all the way to the end of the jetties, topwater lures have dominated the scene. Spooks, She Dogs, and Skitter Walks in bone, clown or chartreuse patterns have accounted for the lion’s share of the big trout on that end of the system. The redfish are prone to crash the party but for no obvious reason they have not done much thus far on the north end of the lake. This is the month to start your wades on the flats on the north end before the sun ever crawls out of the Louisiana marsh. It usually isn’t a matter of whether or not you will get bit, but only how big the fish will be. We catch some very good trout a short cast off the ICW, but even a two pound trout is initially a monster when it stomps on a topwater in the dark. When that bite slows down you can fill the rest of the trip drifting deeper water or chasing birds

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working over surfacing shrimp or schools of shad. The shad are already rafting up and once they cover the surface all over the lake it will be a literal food fight at some point every day for the redfish and they will hit anything that lands in front of them. A Hoginar can extend the bite when the schools go down. Most folks opt to cast the bladed lure and retrieve it like a Trap, but we do just as well loosening our drag and simply dropping it over the side of the boat. If you don’t loosen your drag, you are either going to break a rod or get it jerked out of your hands as there isn’t much stretch in eight feet of braided line! The majority of our keeper trout and redfish caught under the gulls are taken well after the birds have abandoned the scene. Plant your Talon or drop anchor and wait it out. Invariably the fish will come right back up in the same area minus the birds. While waiting them out, we switch to 4-inch Sea

Tanner Hunt caught this nice trout on his first cast on the first day of summer vacation!

Shads or Flats Minnows rigged under a Kwik Cork and call them up. I have been blessed to fish with a lot of 7 to 12 year old youngsters recently and there is nothing they enjoy more than chasing the birds or casting the Kwik cork rig to fish slurping shrimp off the surface. It is even more enjoyable when they are armed with a balanced spinning combination. I absolutely love my Laguna casting rods, but I haven’t found a better spinning rod for fishing the Kwik Cork set up than Titeline’s 7-foot medium action stick. I match it with a Shimano Sahara 2500 filled with 20lb braid and while it is rigged to suit my needs, I have never had a youngster that couldn’t cast it following ten minutes or less of practice. Even the smallest hands have no problem tripping the bail on that size reel and the drag system will adequately handle anything I hope to catch. Take the kids fishing and someday in the not too distant future …they’ll take you! | 79

mICKEY Eastman

mICKEY On Galveston


Mickey Eastman is a full-time fishing guide out of Baytown, TX. Mickey has 26 years guiding experience on the Galveston area bays and is the founder of Gulf Coast Troutmasters, the largest speckled trout tournament series of all time

Telephone 281-383-2032

Hello fellow anglers. It’s Capt. Mickey here and it’s that time of the month again to bring you a recap of what’s been happening around the Galveston Bays and take a look at what our fishing prospects might be for July. In a nutshell; fishing has been good when the weather is good. We have lots of fish but we got to have weather to get on them. We have several patterns coming together into what just might make a grand summer fishing season, good enough for the record books! Trinity Bay is kind of on everybody’s back burner at this time. As I have reported earlier, we had a huge flow of freshwater into Trinity that has not mixed just quite right, it will, but it hasn’t yet. Our fish just

haven’t really moved back up in here yet. The river had been down for quite a while but it is taking these fish some time to get back up in here from Galveston Bay proper. East Bay and Lower Galveston Bay seem to be the primary spots to catch fish right now. Lower Galveston Bay, East Bay, Jetties, West Bay, San Luis Pass and the Gulf surf have been offering much better trout action. Redfish too have been spotty but a few schools are starting to show up in Trinity and this encouraging as they are always the first ones to show up ahead of the trout during freshwater recovery. East Bay has been kind of a no brainer, an absolute ton of trout in East Bay when the weather allows. We got into a school of big old nasty reds on a deep mid-bay reef, the kind that win tournaments, and the guys had a ball with them.




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There has been decent to good action for wade fishermen along the south shoreline. Lately though, we have been pulling too many days of strong due south wind, a dreaded pattern across most of the Galveston Bay system. Forget about fishing the mid-bay reef and bar structures from the boat when it is blowing. To deal with it, you need to get in the water and wade fish and do the best you can along the southern shoreline and other protected areas of East Bay. The topwater bite been fairly steady for boaters on good wind days and waders in protected areas. As per usual, this an early morning and evening thing with switching over to soft plastics being necessary to stay with the bite when the sun is higher in the sky. Still talking East Bay here, I would say that the majority of the trout are already established in their summer patterns. We have been working slicks and nervous bait over deep shell in anywhere from 6 to 12 feet of water when we can. The deep shell along the ship channel has been paying off from around Hannah’s Reef all the way to the back of the bay. I ride around until I find some slicks and that lets me know there are some fish and we work it over. Timing is real critical right now. When the wind is down and the water turns green it is pretty much a no brainer. Same thing with the surf and the beach front all the way from High Island to San Luis Pass and even as far down as Freeport. When the green water hits the beach and surf lays down, it is a thing of beauty. All the dedicated surf guys have been catching nice speckled trout when it gets right. It can be a sketchy pattern though and it’s what we are dealing with right now. The dreaded strong southern winds just kill our fishing. It’s not that we cannot catch fish in strong wind - it can be strong out of the southeast or east and fishing can really turn on - but when it’s due south, it really puts a damper on things. I have been seeing a few fish up to seven and even seven and a half pounds. I have not seen anything weighed in yet for STAR on the upper coast but I am sure that will come. Watch what happens as soon as the wind lays; I’m predicting we will see a good number of heavyweights on the scales. Some of the well pads have a few fish but for the most part you have to be on shell or just off the edge of it. It’s good when it’s good and it’s bad when it’s bad. I don’t know of any other way to put it. Definitely summer is here, warmer temperatures for this time year. It should just get better and better with calm days and you can target these fish in open water over reefs. There has been a lot of dredging this year and it definitely changes the clarity for lure fisherman. The bait fisherman are doing fairly well but my motto is “Fool ‘em not feed ‘em.” Like it or not, the bait guys are enjoying better fishing than we are at the present time, and that’s just the way it is. That is pretty much where we stand. Deep shell, summer pattern, tide lines, artificial, live bait, slicks, mud boils. There seems to be an overabundance of ribbon fish in the bay this year. We also have a banner crop of hardheads. We have had several trout with small ribbonfish in their stomachs so that tells you the trout are running them. A lot of times you can be running the bay and you see ribbonfish jumping. Do not pass that up , position your boat and get in there and throw to ‘em. You should catch some trout and maybe a few reds. Hopefully next month we will be talking about how much the wind laid and how incredibly the fishing turned on.

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BIll PustEJoVsKY

CaPt. BIll’s Fish Talk


Bill Pustejovsky is a full-time guide at Matagorda, TX. Bill fishes year-round for trout and redfish in all the Matagorda Bays. Wading and drifting for trophy trout and reds are his specialty.

Telephone 979-863-7353 Email Website

July weather generally includes hot, muggy, steamy days with typical wind direction out of the southeast. If you have any experience on the water at all, you already know that sunscreen, polarized glasses, as well as sufficient amounts of water and Gatorade are a must. I recommend limiting any alcoholic beverages while out in the heat because of the capacity to become dehydrated which could lead to sun stroke. The results would put you out of commission for a while with long lasting effects that might create complications for you down the road. In other words, just not worth taking the chance. My fishing tactics will change in July as beating the heat will become a priority. I’ll plan to leave the dock before daylight 3:00 – 5:00 AM if I’m wading. Normally, the bite is early for trout. In past years we have hammered trout before daylight oftentimes throwing a Roach or Morning Glory Bass Assassin. Fish have no concept of day or night and can see a topwater or plastic in the dark, I assure you. Typically, if we catch fish on a reef before daylight, the bite will continue to midmorning especially on an incoming tide. Another tidbit to consider is the jellyfish and mano-wars. By wearing long pants you minimize dealing

Jim Fatheree with a big trout caught while wading West Matagorda Bay and throwing Bass Assassins.

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Catherine Ellis with a nice trout caught in East Matagorda Bay while drifting with live shrimp.

were back at the dock by 10:00 – 10:30. Hopefully, we will have a normal summer so we can get in more fishing time. July is also a great time to catch those rubber lips on the shorelines. It is firstrate to see schools of redfish that you can actually stand in one spot and catch your limit. Of course, if the surf is right, I’ll be out there as well. The surf is a different animal than the bay. It is nice to catch them early in the surf but we have also hooked limits in the heat of the day on topwaters, believe it or not. So you never know about the surf in terms of when the bite might happen. Surf fishing is fun but can also be dangerous especially if you wade around a pass or channel like San Luis Pass, Matagorda Jetty, or Pass Cavallo. Strong tidal movement can cause undertows and the passes mentioned have taken many lives, especially San Luis Pass between Galveston and Freeport. My advice is to wear an inflatable life jacket so if you do get into trouble, you can pull the cord. These life jackets are comfortable to wear with the added plus of keeping you safe and alive.

Sarah Heath landing a nice redfish on a wade trip to West Matagorda Bay with her family.

with the pains of these critters. If you happen to jump out of the boat with shorts on over in East Matagorda Bay, chances are you will spend the rest of your time in the boat. With a pre-dawn start to our day, when the morning bite starts to slow down, we usually pack up and go back to the dock around 11:00 – 12:00. Last year the heat was unbearable. Many boats with drifters

Until next time, God Bless. -Capt. Bill

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2301 N. Ben Wilson (361) 578-0907 | 83

CaPt. shEllIE GRaY

mID-Coast BaYs With the Grays

Port O'Connor Seadrift

Captain Gary and Captain Shellie Gray fish year-round for trout and redfish in the Port O’Connor/ Seadrift area. Gary started his Bay Rat Guide Service 20 years ago. The Grays specialize in wade and drift fishing with artificial lures. Gary and Shellie also team up to fish many tournaments.

Telephone 361-785-6708 Email Website

84 | July 2012

Summertime fishing patterns are in full swing. While we did have our fair share of wind in April and May, June has brought us better conditions and these should continue through July. Venturing into the open waters of West Matagorda, Espiritu Santo and San Antonio will hopefully be a daily occurrence. With so much potentially good water to fish, it can be hard to choose which bay system to concentrate your efforts in. With summertime heat it is really hard to beat wade fishing for comfort so I am going to talk mostly wading strategies here. I will not go into a long speech about gear but I will say that wading without stingray protection is just plain stupid. ForEverlast Fishing and Hunting makes two different set ups that can be used; one being a boot with guards attached or a two part system that offers removable guards worn with their shorter reef boot. I know some people complain about the expense of these boots but you have to ask yourself, “Can you really afford to be without them?” West Matagorda Bay has so much potential this time of year it is hard to fish elsewhere. Miles and miles of sandy shorelines with plenty of grass and guts offer baitfish the perfect hideouts. Fishing

the Gulf surf can also be hard to beat. So whether you decide to start in the surf, on a shoreline, or maybe the spoils on the east side of the Matagorda Ship Channel, it is important to note that the best numbers of trout will be caught out a little deeper than they were earlier in the year. Wading chest

Grace Coffman has come a long way since her first trip with Capt. Shellie ten years ago.

Grace made her wade fishing debut recently with deep is not everybody’s favorite but it is successful trip. Capt. Shellie and is hooked on throwing lures for where I usually end up with my customers. Lately my most effective lure has trout and reds. Surf fishing has really turned on but be been Bass Assassin’s 4 inch Sea Shad in forewarned it is not uncommon to have to pumpkinseed/chartreuse and also their 5 travel more than 15 miles east or west of inch Die Dapper in the Houdini color. Some Pass Cavallo to find a good bite. Keying in on days it’s hard to beat the Die Dapper. It feeding birds, jumping bait and/or pelicans is a larger bait but is more buoyant than diving or sitting on the beach is a necessity you would think and the tail action is to finding feeding fish in the surf. Speckled intoxicating to most fish. However, there trout can usually be found between the first have been days when I would get what I and second bars with redfish hanging in call “short strikes” and this is when a trout the first gut. Soft plastics and topwaters are would hit for a split second then spit it both effective baits to use while fishing in out just as quickly. Its times like this when the surf but make sure to use a leader of at the 4 inch Sea Shad comes into its own. I least 20lb test due to the many aggressive have also noticed that with warmer water and toothy critters you might encounter. temperatures we are finding more strikes in Tide movement can be important. With the lower part of the water column. Some two openings to the Gulf, the trout in West days we do better just barely bumping Matagorda Bay can become strongly tide bottom and I look for that pattern to oriented in their feeding. New anglers often continue through the summer months. do not understand that current carries the Being patient and fishing thoroughly bait to the predators and the ebb and flow through your wade area from waist to near of the tide creates the current that can make all the difference. Even shoulder deep is often required to find the bite during this hotter when all other conditions seem perfect, gamefish that reside near a time of year. We have enjoyed more rain year than we did in 2009 pass simply will not feed without current. On days with weak flows and 2011 and I believe it has lowered the salinity on average and and also during slack periods between tides I will move to areas like improved our fishing, but having said that, I would not be upset if lower Espiritu Santo and San Antonio Bay where the fish are not as God blessed us with more. tide oriented. A careful look at the tide chart can help you plan for a | 85


hooKED uP WIth Rowsey

“Brown water” is a good thing poured over ice cubes after a long day on the water but, fishing in it is more of a buzz kill than a relaxed feel. The brown tide has Upper prevailed over the Super Moon tides of May. Areas Laguna/ south of Baffin are holding decent clarity, despite Baffin the brown water found throughout Baffin and the Upper Laguna. Although we are working harder than normal for bites, we are still catching fish in the offcolored water. I believe the water clarity affects us as David Rowsey has 20 years fishermen more than it does the fish. In all actuality, experience in the Laguna/Baffin this may be Mother Nature’s way of protecting the region; trophy trout with artificial lures is his specialty. David has a species. God only knows that no one else is doing anything about it. great passion for conservation Fishing lures in the brown tide does take some and encourages catch and release of trophy fish. patience, unless they are just tee’n off on topwaters. Having dealt with this issue many times over the years Telephone I have learned a few techniques that give me the 361-960-0340 confidence I need to continue catching quality trout. Website Saying that, they are not necessarily my favorite ways Email to fish, but they are affective, and don’t croak.

86 | July 2012

Most all of us love topwaters, and if you don’t, you need to when fishing brown tide. The disturbance it makes on the surface and the loud cracking of ball bearings and plastic can be a lifesaver in the brown water. In fact, they can be even more productive than when used in clear waters, due to the poor visibility denying the trout opportunity to thoroughly check out what it is eating. The MirrOlure She Dog is far and away my top producer when drawing them up for a surface bite. I usually reserve paddle tail plastics for redfish, although trout eat them too as we all know. Growing up a bass fisherman, I fish them just like a mindless spinner bait - cast and reel. That technique works really well for reds; however, I use lots of stops and pauses when targeting trout with paddle tails. Bass Assassin’s 5” Sea Shad, and the Die Dapper are my go-to lures when I need a tail thumping vibration in the low visibility water. Because I have these lures in almost constant motion, I prefer a minimum of a

1/8 oz. jig head, and as large as a 3/8 at times. The heavier jig head really exaggerates the movement of the tail, even when you pause it. The first trout I ever landed over nine pounds was on a cork and jig. It was a good method then and remains to be one today. There are many styles to choose from but I have always been partial to the Mansfield Mauler or the Cajun Thunder (both in the slim cork design). There are some different trains of thought on how to rig them, but I’ll just pretend that my rigging choice is the only one that matters. I prefer a leader to be no longer than half the depth of water, and no shorter than a third of the depth. Like the paddle tail, I prefer a heavier jig head, minimum of 1/4 oz., and as large as a 1/2 oz. Long casts, hard rod whips in varying combinations, and pauses of up to ten seconds works best for me. You can fish just about any kind of plastic under it, as long as it is white! I prefer the 5” Bass Assassin. With so many lure choices on the market, this trick may surprise y’all, ‘cause seems like no one ever mentions it anymore. The silver

Kurt Burkes knocks off a personal best of 29” with a 5” Bass Assassin. Released!

spoon! Yes, the antiquated silver spoon gets some serious play time during brown tide cycles. I have already been laughed at and had fun poked by clients this year when I pull it out of the box but, the jabs usually turn into “Do you have another spoon?” before it is all over. The spoon can be fished like any plastic and jig combination or simply retrieved with short pauses. The old timers are not surprised as it was once the best big trout lure available but, it is rare that the new breed will ever have one in their wade box. One other thing about the spoon, rig it with a split ring directly to the spoon and a barrel swivel on the split ring. No mono leaders should be involved. This tip will save you a whole bunch of money and headaches from line twists. From the bottom of my salty heart, these are the tricks of my trade during brown tide blooms. They will work you as they do for me on a daily basis.

Remember the buffalo. -Capt. David Rowsey



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tRICIa’s Mansfield Report CaPt. tRICIa

Fishing remains “fishy” in Port Mansfield; still scratchy at times but, overall, catches have improved of late. July should turn things hot in more ways than one, and we certainly look forward to wading into some new opportunities. We have grown sick of wind but it won’t be long before we will beg for a breeze when the summer Port doldrums set in. It will be a time to get out earlier than Mansfield most other seasons, so being prepared before first light might be a “catchy” idea. Often, our best catches will be shallow early and perhaps short lived. We have already seen goodly amounts of floating grass, and Capt. Tricia’s Skinny Water as the days heat up the dead stuff will increasingly Adventures operates out of float to the top turning otherwise prime water into an Port Mansfield, specializing in impossible mess. Your topwaters can still work with wadefishing with artificial lures. accurate casting between windrows and swapping treble hooks for singles can help quite a bit. When they Telephone want a topwater the hookup ratio seems plenty fine 956-642-7298 whether with two barbs or six. Email Besides continuing SSE winds, hot little jellyfish (sea nettles) have made wade fishing with bare legs Website interesting, especially in areas near the East Cut. Bull shark sightings have been interesting as well. We haven’t seen all that many, but the ones we have seen have been quite impressive. Just the other day I rolled

88 | July 2012

one in my new Haynie Cat as I exited the old Bennie’s Shack cut to the ICW; thumping it with a sponson. TPW biologists report snagging several recently in their survey nets. They have never bothered anyone I know of, but still set the stage for an interactive adventure while wade fishing. We are also seeing lots of cow nose rays - comical to watch some clients “walk

Fishing remains “fishy” in Port Mansfield and catches have improved of late.

on water” when they see wingtips shredding the surface. Consistent trout catches have predictably come from the deeper grass beds. That pattern will continue, but we should also begin seeing them using the extreme shallows early in the day. Shallow water can almost feel chilly at first light and both fish and humans enjoy the break. Sight-casting, if anything last year, can be about more than redfish with realistic chances to catch a trophy trout – opportunity that most “production oriented” anglers overlook. Kelley Wiggler ball tail shads in Moon Beam and Sand colors on 1/16 ounce jigs are reliable offerings. Redfish? For the most part, we have been catching scattered fish out deeper rather than getting on those normally expected groups of fish milling up in the shallows. Makes one wonder if increasing shallow water boat traffic might be altering time-honored patterns. I can safely say that I have seen fewer tailing redfish in the past few years than what we would normally expect… far fewer. Most of our bigger brutes have come from nasty, grassy, waist deep potholes. Hopefully, for sight-fishing enthusiasts, we will see that change soon. As mentioned, it is wise to be prepared early during the upcoming dog days of summer. Besides a classic early fish bite, where all tackle and gear needs to be rigged and ready before

leaving the dock, there are other gremlins that can pop up and cause us to miss the day’s best action. As of now we have no waterside fuel in the Port. The gas lines at our Exxon Bait Shop out on TX 186 can be irritating, and it doesn’t take but a few thirsty offshore boats to drain the tanks dry for the better part of a day. Now that school is out and yellow live bait flags are flying, waiting in line to buy ice at the bait house can be frustrating as well. Curiously, I guess there will always be a certain amount of folks who still wait to buy their fishing license until the morning they go…sometimes dominating the store counters to where your Gator Aid gets hot while waiting on them. July should turn things hot There should be a fishing procrastination law for the good of the group. in more ways than one. In closing, we mourn the loss of our worldclass water-side eatery, El Jefe’s Marina and Cantina. Nothing lasts forever though; we just hope the rumors that a bulldozer will soon turn such a fun place into another row of condos are not true as we had only one such restaurant and already plenty condos. For now – be forewarned that the place is closed and we have no gasoline or diesel available except at the Exxon convenience store. Please be courteous on the water. And if a tasty fish dinner helps make your day on the water more complete, remember that a black drum is always better on the plate than a trophy trout! | 89

CaPt. ERnEst CIsnERos

south PaDRE Fishing Scene

A rr oyo C olorado t o Port I sabel

A Brownsville-area native, Capt. Ernest Cisneros fishes the Lower Laguna Madre from Port Mansfield to Port Isabel. Ernest specializes in wading and poled skiff adventures for snook, trout, and redfish.

Cell 956-266-6454 Website

90 | July 2012

Finally the wind has begun to diminish from the constant 30-35 mph and we can once again locate concentrations of redfish on the flats by the prominent wakes they make. Lighter boat traffic on the flats helps the schools to stay together better but we cannot always pick our days. During calm conditions in clear, skinny water; small topwaters such as the Heddon Zara Puppy have become some of my favorites for tricking redfish to bite. Redfish tend to be very skittish in shallow water, and the Zara Puppy without rattles does not make the surface noise like most topwaters. Instead, it acts just like a shrimp jumping which makes it great when targeting fish up shallow. I would like to point out that this past winter we used this bait to land several trout over nine pounds in calf deep, clear water. However, I do suggest taking off the weak treble hooks and replacing them with stronger trebles or, better yet, Gamakatsuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s single Live Bait Light hooks with rings - Size 1. As a matter of fact, surface grass is already becoming a nuisance so all of my topwaters will be rigged with Gamakatsu live bait single hooks with rings in 1/0 or 2/0 depending size of the plug. Our trout fishery continues to be outstanding in

numbers and size. We are currently catching lots of little ones and good numbers in the 16 to 22 inch range. Also, commonly mixed in with these fish have been some in the four to six pound class. The areas that have yielded good numbers have been deeper pockets along the ICW, around spoil islands, and any gut or similar area adjacent to flats where water tends to dump out on falling tides. Most of our trout are being caught in waist to chest deep water. Kelley Wigglers in plum/blue metal flake rigged on a Kelley 1/8 oz jigs have been steady producers. I I recommend that you check out Kelley Wigglers new jigs and their tough plastic baits; theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re hard to beat.

Former TSFMag Youth Writer, Jake Haddock and his brother Chad, took advantage of the window of opportunity by catching plenty of redfish on this wade.

suggest that if you haven’t tried the Kelley Wigglers jigs, you should. Not only are they extremely sharp but also last a long time without rusting or loosing their sharpness. My favorite is that they are made on short shank hooks that allow you to hide more of the hook in the plastic which helps get it through grass and also helps when fish are short striking. With July being one of the hotter months of the year, look for trout to go deep by midmorning. This time of the year targeting deeper holes during an evening outgoing tide can be very productive. Be on the lookout for trout slicks to pop early in the morning and late in the evenings, especially during a moving tide. Remember, the smaller

and rounder the slick is in shape, the fresher it is. We are catching flounder too. The population is on the rise and chances are good that if you target the oil field channels, the edge of the ICW, and also the Mansfield East Cut, you will find a few or perhaps even land your limit. I like to work plastics very slowly, barely moving the rod tip all the while slowly reeling in the slack. Most people will say to wait a few seconds to set the hook, but I like to set it immediately. It has been my experience that the key when trying to land a flounder is to keep the fish swimming at all times as you bring it close to the net, even if you have to turn several complete circles. Allowing it to thrash on a tight line at the surface is the reason many are lost. The other day it occurred to me that fishing is a big open window, but the catching part is often quite small. It’s up to us to plan ahead and maximize our efforts. Your fishing trip doesn’t start at the dock; it begins the day before. If you keep a log, take a look and see what the fish were doing in previous years. Study the weather; there are areas that remain fishable under certain conditions and others that fish better under a specific wind. Study the tides. It’s beneficial to not only know the tidal movement at stations near your planned fishing area, but also those at stations ten or fifteen miles north and south. When the currents get weak where I’m fishing I often run toward the Brazos Santiago Pass or the East Cut to catch up with it again. The general water level at my launch location often influences where I will start my day. And then you should also include the solunar tables in your homework. Like I said – for best fishing success – your trip starts the day before.

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Lake Calcasieu Louisiana Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268 July has to be one of our favorite months to fish. Trout are going to move to deeper water. Look for them to be on reefs more toward the middle of the lake. Top waters are very productive this time of year. At first light, the trout will be cruising the upper part of the water column looking up, until the sun gets high and hot temperatures send them down to cooler water. Also, look for them along the Ship Channel in seven to eight feet of water. They cruise the drop off, looking to attack the first school of mullet or pogies they come across. The short rigs, jetties and beachfront are going to be on fire this year. With all the fresh water we had this spring, I've got a sneaking suspicion a lot of our fish moved out of the lake and into the Gulf. Look for redfish to be in massive schools in the middle of the lake. Find them under birds and slicks and over mud boils. If you would rather catch them in the marsh, Oyster Bayou and the West Cove marshes will have nice schools wallowing in the shallows. The marshes behind the weirs should be the same way. Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag Silver King Adventures - - 409.935.7242 Like always, James says the fishing in Galveston has been really good when the weather cooperates, less good when it’s windy. “Overall, it’s been great. The average size of the trout I’m catching is better than I can ever remember for the hot weather. We’re limiting out without any problem on almost every outing. The best bite has been out in the middle, fishing out of the boat, close to deep water. I’ve had a good topwater bite when it’s been calm, especially on the little lures like a She Pup. Bigger ones work

92 | July 2012

ORECASTS F from Big Lake to Boca Chica


better when there’s a light chop on the water. Bass Assassins have worked well too, of course. The bays have gotten saltier and the water holds its clarity better as a result. I’m not having to go far from home to catch my fish most of the time. Lower Galveston Bay is full of fish, and they’re up and down the ship channel too. In fact, we just located and stayed on a really nice school of big reds out there. This pattern of finding fish around structure and slicks in the middle is here to stay for the summer.” Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054 Fishing has been steady and good in Galveston lately, Jim says. “We’re catching plenty of trout and redfish out in the middle when it’s not blowing too hard. The trout are an impressive size on average, lots of two and three pounders, and a few bigger ones, up to about seven pounds. The bite has been good on topwaters early, better on tails later. The keys out there are to stay around the slicks and mud boils, especially when reds are the target. The wading has been good too, as long as the tide’s not too low. We’re catching real good on topwaters while wading. And the surf has been hot quite a bit already. It’s a lot better than last year. The wind is cooperating more of the time, and the water has been green to the beach several times. When it’s right, the same lures are working great out there, topwaters and tails. The fish are stacked up good on the west side of the bay, way into the upper parts too, especially around Todd’s Dump. It should be a great summer if we get some consistently good weather.” West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service - 979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323 Despite some nagging southwest winds, Randall has had some good

success fishing lately. “We really smoked ‘em yesterday and today. The wind finally turned a little more out of the southeast, and the dirt fell out of the water. We started seeing lots of mullet fleeing for their lives and some ribbonfish doing the same. The topwater has been good at times, but we’re catching best on big Norton Sand Eels in red magic and bone diamond. When it’s windy and the water’s ugly, we’re switching over to live bait to keep catching. I expect the surf to kick in hard this month. We had a good shot at it out there a couple of weeks ago, and it was epic. My first three fish one day weighed about 17 pounds. Usually, July is a steady month along the beachfront. We’ll probably have the best luck on days when the tide is incoming early in the morning out there. Staying in the shallows of the first gut or maybe just offshore of the first bar is the best bet. When the surf’s not good, we’ll likely key on deeper areas of the bay with scattered shell bottom.” Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski Bay Guide Service -713.725.2401 As usual, Charlie outlines quite a few productive options for the Matagorda area in July. “We’re still catching plenty of trout out in the middle of East Bay. The fish over there don’t seem to want to pull onto the shorelines in good numbers. When it’s calm enough, the wading on the mid-bay reefs is good too. Best bite is on soft plastics on both those patterns. Topwaters are working better in West Bay. Mostly, we wade over there, keying on the coves and sand bars along the shoreline. The fish are smaller on average, but catching limits is often possible. The small lures like Spook Juniors and She Pups seem to work better than the big ones in the bays this time of year. Of course, what we really want to do is get into the surf. I believe some of the biggest trout in our area stay out there. I saw one a few years ago that was bigger than any trout I’ve ever seen. It’s part of what makes fishing the beach front so much fun, knowing that a giant fish might cruise by any minute. And out there, the big topwaters work like a charm.” Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204 Over the past few weeks, we have been experiencing some of the best

fishing I can remember. When the winds subsided, many fish were caught in the surf, out on the rigs, over deep shell, and in the river. It was amazing! We’ve had quality trout coming out of the surf up to twenty five inches, mostly on Super Spooks in bone/flash. We’ve had trout up to twenty inches on the rigs in West Matagorda biting free-lined shrimp. We’re also catching plenty of trout to twenty inches over deep shell on chicken-on-a-chain paddletails. The tripletail bite has been crazy too! I have never personally caught as many tripletail (9) in one trip as we did one afternoon last week. I believe the key to the awesome bite we’ve been experiencing is the tremendous amount of bait in the bays. We have tons of menhaden, shad, and shrimp, the most I remember seeing in a long time. If this amount of bait stays consistent throughout the summer, it could be one of the best in recent memory! Port O’Connor | Lynn Smith - Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434 Lynn expects to be fishing close to the Gulf of Mexico in July, when he’s not actually fishing in it! “We are always looking to get to the surf as much as possible in July. When it’s right, it’s some of the best fishing of the year for trout. Just recently, we had a couple of good days where we could get out there, and it was awesome. On one of the days, the early bite was not too good. I only had 8 trout by 10 o’clock. But when the tide moved a little in the middle of the day, the bite turned on. In the next hour and a half, we finished our limit, and they were all solid trout, up to about 24 inches. You’d hook one on a topwater and be bringing it in and look underneath it and there would be four or five more solid trout following. Of course, the surf is not always right. When we can’t get out there, we’ll be wading areas with lots of sand and grass close to the Pass. Finding lots of rafted, nervous bait in shallow water close to drop offs will be a key to catching in the bays. Topwaters and tails will be the main lures in the bay and in the surf.” | 93

Rockport | Blake Muirhead Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894 Blake says he’ll be doing his typical summer thing in July, fishing various patterns, mostly by wading. “I like to key on sandy, grassy shorelines early, using topwaters like Super Spooks with some chrome on them. We’ve been having some steady action lately in knee to waist-deep water early fishing that pattern. Later in the morning, into the middle of the day, we’ll be following the fish out away from the shorelines, throwing mostly Norton Sand Eels in colors like pumpkinseed/chartreuse and plum/ chartreuse at the deeper grass beds. That pattern has been producing really well lately too. I also might spend some time wading on the reefs in San Antonio Bay. There have been a bunch of trout and redfish up that way. And we might make some runs out into the surf if it gets right. I haven’t really had much of a reason to do that lately with the excellent action we’re finding in the bays, but that can change as it gets hotter and stays that way. Out there, we’ll look to fish with topwaters, staying close to the beach for the most part.”

94 | July 2012

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut Robert Zapata – - 361.563.1160 July is a great month for fishing. There are a variety of ways to go after speckled trout and red fish in the heat. One of my favorites is to drift or wade in twelve inches of water or less and sightcast at redfish, black drum and trout. I will cast an eighth or sixteenth ounce jighead rigged with a Bass Assassin Die Dapper in natural colors if I’m spotting many reds. I will use a three inch Berkley Gulp! Shrimp in new penny or pearl or an amazingly productive, shrimp-scented, chartreuse-colored Fishbites, which I also rig on the jigheads. The finicky black drum really like the Fishbites. The reds will be schooling, and this is good time to locate them by running slowly while looking for the schools as they create big boat-like wakes while moving away from your engine noise. My favorite lures to cast at the redfish schools is a half ounce weedless spoon or the Assassin Die Dappers rigged on eighth ounce heads. A medium speed, steady retrieve with the Die Dappers and spoons while drifting in clear, shallow water will also produce trout and reds.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez – - 361.937.5961 With water quality improving throughout the area, Joe expects to be fishing in various places during the hot weather in July. “I’ll be fishing in Baffin some. We were sightcasting reds in the shallows there yesterday. The water is looking better lately, so that’s become more of a daily possibility. I’ve also been fishing further south some, along the Kenedy Shoreline. The water over there is clear most of the time. When it’s hot, it’s good to stay in the boat and use the trolling motor to stay out away from the rocks and cast sideways toward them. Early in the mornings, topwater lures have been working well. Yesterday, we had a twenty seven inch redfish and a twenty four inch trout within the first fifteen or twenty casts. Later in the day, soft plastics fluttered around the edges of the rocks and short-hopped closer to the bottom usually work better. As long as the water stays clear like it has been, fishing soft plastics around the rocks is pretty easy, since it’s possible to see them. I also like using the same lures around spoil banks in July.” Padre Island National Seashore Billy Sandifer - Padre Island Safaris - 361.937.8446 July has became one of my personal favorite months to fish in the surf of PINS and that could well be because I treasure our topwater fishing for speckled trout and the peak of this action is mid-June through 10 Aug. The fish can be very selective in color selection of lures so bring lots of colors and work your way through them till you find one that works. Upon occasion many different types of lures may work but it changes from day to day and there are no shortcuts. You simply have to grind it out till you find a successful one. Whiting on fresh, peeled shrimp and Fishbites pink and green will be the mainstay of bottom fishermen. Speck rigs and silver spoons should be a blast on skipjacks and Spanish mackerel. Redfish may or may not be available. Tarpon are possible as are king mackerel. It’s going to be deathly hot midday so stay hydrated and spend your energy wisely. Shark fishing will be most productive at night on baits far from shore.

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal – 956.944.2559 Sitting here in the AC, it is hard to imagine how hot it's going to get. The night temperatures are already near 80s, doesn't give you much relief. Speckled trout should be holding in the deeper pockets with an occasional trip to the 3 ft to 4 ft depths looking for some bait coming off the flats. Even when you can find mullet working, it can get tough to locate any number of good fish. Offshore fishing should be very good with these warm water temperatures. There should be blue water right at the jetties soon. Kingfish will be working the bait balls just outside of the jetties and the tarpon won't be far behind. The new reef is producing good catches of snapper. No matter the conditions, be safe and enjoy the gifts of nature. One day fishing is great, the next is not so - but still should be enjoyed. An important side note: there is no fuel on the water in Port Mansfield; bring gas jugs and stop at the Exxon station. Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel Janie and Fred Petty – – 956.943.2747 Since boat traffic increased this spring, limiting on keeper reds has become a challenge. Trout are plentiful and occasionally quite large; however, the only one we’ve seen over 30 inches in the last couple of weeks was floating dead. The abundance of the grass on the west side of the bay is not recovering as much as we would like from the freshwater flooding of two summers ago, so the area stays very muddy whenever the wind blows. Freddy says, “When the water clarity is an issue, the best bet is to use the Cajun Thunder round cork or the new Back Bay Thunder with a fifteen to twenty inch leader and a Berkley Gulp! three inch shrimp in light colors rigged on a quarter ounce jighead. If the wind dies, a Precision Tackle eighth ounce gold or copper spoon works great.” Fishing is good in the shallows when the tide’s spiking, but fish don’t stay on the flats well when movement is sluggish. Avoiding running around on the flats may allow for catching fish that aren’t actively feeding. And last, please help us fight the Open Bay Dredge Proposal!


With its unique rattler chamber, the Rockport Rattler ™ jig acts like a dinner bell. The light reflecting eyes work well in both clear and muddy water. High quality black nickel hooks are corrosion resistant and radiate the sound out of the soft plastic bait body, resulting in a much louder rattle sound that can be heard by fish from further distances. Just add water to your favorite soft plastic bait and call’em in! 6 unique color/eye combinations in weights of 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 oz and hook sizes of 1/0, 2/0, 3/0 and 4/0! LunkerMAX swim bait hooks

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Steve Koziol Matagorda - 5.5lb 25” trout Cris Castillo South Padre - 29” snook, first fish! CPR

Megan Bravo Port Isabel - 29” first redfish!

Jacob Linford Christmas Bay - 23” redfish

Garrett Melton Matagorda - 44” bull red

96 | July 2012

Marisa Bravo Port Isabel - 29.5” first keeper red!

Enoch Mendez Victoria Barge Canal - red

Shawnee Michael Sabine River - 28.25” 10lb red CPR

Steve Garcia PINS - 62” 70+lb cobia

Drayl Llanes POC - 40” red

Esteban Mendez Port Lavaca - 27” redfish

Mike Morales PINS - 62” 70+lb cobia

Bobby Mills Galveston - 28” 10.75lb red

Kellen Opela Port Bay - 26” trout

Amanda Perez Arroyo City - 26” first red!

Manny Perez III Arroyo City - 27” first red!

Clay & Ashley Nunn Long Bar - trout

Aaron Ortega Baffin Bay - first redfish!

Manny Perez, Jr. South Bay - 31” snook

Johnny Pursell Aransas Bay - 40” redfish

Ryan Maza Brownsville Ship Channel - 36" snook

DJ Saenz Arroyo City - 26” personal best trout!

Chris Ritter Port Aransas - 20” trout

Brooke Sander Laguna Madre - 25” redfish

Lauren Pritchett South Padre - 28” trout

Michael Shanks Oyster Creek - first red!

Please do not write on the back of photos.

Dylan Trial Dead Man’s Hole - first flounder!

Alex Stimpson Baffin Bay - 29” redfish

Email photos with a description of your Catch of the Month to: Mail photos to: TSFMag P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 | 97

Pam Johnson

Gulf Coast Kitchen Dill Shrimp

Contributed by Ann Brownlee of Port O’Connor

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

Shrimp Preparation 3 lbs medium whole shrimp (remove heads, peel and devein) Juice of one lemon 1 teaspoon salt Dill Sauce 1 cup Miracle Whip 1/4 cup sugar 1 large red onion – thick sliced, separated into rings 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup sour cream 2 Tablespoons dried dill weed Salt to taste

Method In large stock pot; bring 3-quarts water to a boil. Add shrimp, lemon juice and salt. When water returns to boil, cook 3 to 4 minutes, until shrimp turn pink. Drain and cover with ice to stop the cooking process. Combine remaining ingredients in large mixing bowl with tight fitting lid. Add shrimp and toss. Place covered bowl in refrigerator overnight to marinate flavors. Toss before serving. This is a wonderful summertime recipe that can be served by itself with toothpicks or on fresh tomatoes as a salad.

SHRIMP SHOOTERS Contributed by Jessica Hanson of Port O’Connor

1 lb shrimp tails; peeled, deveined, boiled and chopped One bunch of green onions sliced thin 1/2 cup chili sauce 1/2 cup Absolut Peppar vodka 2-3 Tablespoons horseradish

Prepare shrimp – peel, devein, boil, chop. 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons Tabasco Sauce Handful chopped cilantro Juice of lemon or lime (to taste) Salt to taste

Combine shrimp with all other ingredients in mixing bowl. Refrigerate covered 2-3 hours for flavors to meld. Spoon into shot glasses for serving. Slurp and enjoy! Repeat as often as desired.

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Mr. Johnson, Just wanted to take a minute and say Thank You for the time and effort in producing and circulating Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine. My wife and I along with our married kids and spouses thoroughly enjoy each issue, especially all the great pictures that make your publication so unique. I’ve attached a photo of our team at the recent Babes on the Bay Tournament in Rockport. My wife and our two married daughters had a great time fishing as a team in a tournament for the first time without “the boys” and, believe me, it was extremely difficult for me to comply with the rules of not be able to fish! Our team, Dos Fillets, finished in the top ten of the Non-Guided/Any Bait Division. We will definitely do it again for such a great cause! Thanks again, Ronnie Melton (Dad & Captain—AKA Boat Driver)

Newwater Boatwork’s Curlew Chick’s 1ST PLACE NON-GUIDED/ARTIFICIAL LURES 2012 Jim Ehman Memorial – Babes on the Bay

The largest women’s saltwater fishing tournament in the world was held in Rockport, Texas on May 18 and 19, 2012. The tournament had a record 1301 women fishing on 367 boats. NewWater Boatwork’s Curlew Chick’s took top honors in the Non-Guided/Artificial division, with a total weight of 12.54 pounds. The ladies are allowed to weigh-in three trout and one redfish. Pictured left to right are: Kara Kelley, Leslie Clancey, Tim Clancey, and Kristi Kelley, all from the San Antonio region. Babes on the Bay is organized by Aransas Bay CCA Chapter with proceeds benefitting CCA Texas and Texas Game Wardens Association. Hugely popular and stilling growing, this 13th Annual running of the Babes tournament surpassed all prior records for participation by lady anglers of all ages. 100 | July 2012

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GALVESTON TIDES & SOLUNAR TABLE Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine JULY 2012

The BEST Choice… Any Place, Anytime!

To find a location near you, please visit us at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2012  

The July 2012 issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine