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Only $3.95 June 2014


ABOUT THE COVER Smiling Capt. Bruce Baugh (Tideline Charters – Lake Calcasieu) poses with a fine specimen of a spring speck; taken on a Super Spook and released following photos. Hopefully June will provide lots of photo-ops for TSFMag readers. (Photo by Will Drost)

CONTENTS FEATURES 10 Fly Me Away 16 Two Bulls 22 Surf Species – Spanish Mackerel... 26 Bodie and the Smugglers 30 The Time is Always Right for... 34 Lightning Duck and Cover 40 The ‘Baffin Bay’ for Big Bonefish


JUNE 2014 VOL 24 NO 2

DEPARTMENTS Mike McBride Kevin Cochran Billy Sandifer Martin Strarup Chuck uzzle Joe Richard Joe Doggett

44 Let’s Ask The Pro Jay Watkins 48 Shallow Water Fishing Scott Null 54 TPWD Field Notes Paul D. Cason 56 TPWD Extra Zachary Olsen 58 Texas Nearshore & Offshore Joe Richard 65 Fly Fishing Scott Sommerlatte 68 Youth Fishing Marcos Garza 70 Kayak Fishing Chronicles Cade Simpson 74 Extreme Kayak Fishing & Sharks... Eric Ozolins 78 TSFMag Conservation News CCA Texas 80 Fishy Facts Stephanie Boyd 108 Science & the Sea uT Marine Science Institute


86 Dickie Colburn’s Sabine Scene 88 The Buzz on Galveston Bay 90 The view from Matagorda 92 Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays 94 Hooked up with Rowsey 96 Capt. Tricia’s Port Mansfield Report 98 South Padre Fishing Scene

6 | June 2014

Dickie Colburn Steve Hillman Bink Grimes Gary Gray David Rowsey Capt. Tricia Ernest Cisneros




08 Editorial 84 New Tackle & Gear 100 Fishing Reports and Forecasts   104 Catch of the Month 106 Gulf Coast Kitchen


EDITOR AND PuBLISHER Everett Johnson vICE PRESIDENT PRODuCTION & ADvERTISING DIRECTOR Pam Johnson Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-550-9918 NATIONAL SALES REPRESENTATIvE Bart Manganiello REGIONAL SALES REPRESENTATIvE Patti Elkins Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-649-2265 PRODuCTION COORDINATOR Donna Boyd CIRCuLATION SuBSCRIPTION – PRODuCT SALES 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 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 WHAT’S gOing On? I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard that question in the past couple of months. Of course I am referring to fishing, the same as the folks that posed the original query so many times. Winter lingered through spring, even folks who stay mainly indoors know that, and the central and western regions of Texas remain seriously drought-stricken. Here at my place in Seadrift we have received a paltry 3.1 inches of rain since January 1 – somewhere in the range of 75% below normal – and farther up the Guadalupe Basin they’re in worse shape. With no local runoff and but a trickle from the Guadalupe the salinities in the San Antonio/Aransas Bay Complex are well above normal. Not dangerously high yet but too high for this time of year. Lingering cool weather has not allowed water temperatures to rise – God I’m tired of waders – and seagrass development is well behind schedule. Grassbeds and grassy guts along leeward shorelines are traditionally a good fallback plan when chocolate foam laps at the edges of mid-bay reefs in late spring. But where’s the grass? Wind is probably the biggest source of fishermen scratching their heads bald lately. When’s it going to end? And…What’s up with southwest and west in April and May? Too many days we end up fishing where we could, instead of where we should. My hope is that with all the tougher than normal catching

8 | June 2014

conditions there will be lots of fish available when the dust settles. But – here we go again – that’ll take some rain. My best advice is to go fishing every chance. Even if you have never been in the habit of making a fishing log this would be a great year to start. You see, the way fishing works, we become fixated on big catches. Every bite does not have to be a trophy but, darn it, we like bites. Trouble is though; on days when bites are plentiful at every stop, how much did you learn? So much goes into becoming a proficient angler, one that finds and catches his quarry on a better than average basis. And as much fun as big numbers days can be, scratching out a few on a tough day will always provide the best learning opportunities. Take for example a tough day Pam and I had recently. Years of experience told me where they should be but I guess they never got that memo. So off we went, look here, and look there. Look for favorable depth over available structure in clarity that should produce, with some bait activity. It took the better part of three hours but we finally landed in the back of a cove I probably hadn’t tried in five or six years. Finally – pay dirt! Three fat twenty-inch trout and a grilling-size red sent us home, happy with our day’s work.

Turns out, there is actually a time and place for thick crayon-colored line.


I’ve certainly been dreaming

about that very thing lately, getting a boarding pass and escaping to somewhere people don’t understand English or comprehend silly-looking fishing shirts. However, reality is sometimes real, so although I haven’t flown away yet, I did get blown away recently. By a couple of fly-fishermen, of all things. I think it’s a story worth telling; yes, even for us “gear-heads” who’s comfort zone can’t seem to leave the thumb bar of a level wind. It started with a call from my childhood Cuban (and now Cuban cigar smoking) friend. “Hey Mike,” cried an excited Julio. “The guys I’m bring down are amped up and wanting to bring their fly rods. That OK?” “Well sure it is,” I snickered. “It’s only going to honk 25 south the first day and 25 north the next, with little sun and even less water clarity.” Besides the poor conditions we were facing, especially for fly fishing, it seems that about 99.99% of those who tell me they can—unfortunately can’t. Nearly all of my fly guys (I have other names too), even with 30 years experience, usually have about 30 years of just “mending the line” in a little ten-foot wide creek, just happy to catch a twelve inch rainbow-colored fish that matches their river-runsthrough-it rainbow attire. It’s demandingly different along the coast, and most outof-state fly boys I’ve met can’t handle anything below perfect conditions or imperfect fish. So, for this trip I naturally assumed that their long rods were going to be “also rans” yet again, just expensive ornaments destined to stay dry in the front hatch inside cute little monogrammed tubes. We pushed the throttle over the next morning, searching for some precious opportunity not granted on dry land. As predicted, there was little to be found. The water was again funky brown and the wind was close to blistering. Soooo…, I dropped them down in the only worthy area I saw; some shin-deep potholes high on the eastside sand where we had recently been doing well. Nature often says we fish where we can—not where we want to. Anyway, giving them credit, they did exit the boat—for about 5 minutes. They humbly expressed their concerns, and then I learned that fly fishing isn’t going to be an option, it was simply what they were going to do—regardless. On the hunt we go, and it was fully 20 miles later that I finally began to notice mud puffs in potential number. I cut the key and not so humbly, said… “Out! This is what we have, so y’all go flog your little silly-string hearts away.” I put them out near a shoreline, but low-low tide left about 100 yards of lung sucking mud to reach it. Julio and I had to drift for quite a ways to where we could jump back up, but it wasn’t very long before the binoculars said, “Wow. One of your ballerinas is already hooked up. And well heck; would you believe the other | 11

I went out and bought everything they suggested, the rod and reel are on order.

guy is bowed up as well?…. Cool!” The story is, that despite we two level-winders seeing plenty, and getting plenty of follows, swirls, knocks and slaps; I caught one redfish. Julio caught zero. So he just lit another Cuban. Having enough of nothing, I idled as close as I could to pick our loopy-boys up, and became very curious to see them struggle from dragging stringers back through the mud. Actually they were not really stringers at all, more like dress shoelaces they had secretly wadded up in their little fishing packs. “Well those were easy limits,” wheezed one of the brothers. They were Rod and Cliff Ziecke, Cliff being a 25-year veteran steelhead and salmon guide from Idaho. Julio just smiled while struggling to re-spark his toby in the wind. Mind you, it was easily blowing 25 knots. Not only did they stick five or more reds apiece in short order, several were tournament class; approaching twenty-eight inches. That was torturous for me, but we need to remember that steel sharpens steel, and sometimes we just have to bow to the stronger edge for the moment. What I had assumed totally impractical, especially for the conditions, actually became the most productive and for several reasons; I think. For one, the cleaning table later showed bellies full of very small critters, mostly dime-sized or less translucent crabs and tiny little “minners” that I could not identify. Many times fish can become very target specific and they were simply throwing a more appealing size than our regular old tops and tails. Cliff was throwing a little crab pattern and Rod was using a simple little Clouser. He said it was almost like cheating. 12 | June 2014

Their recap revealed that the fish were moving toward them down the shoreline, and the way the wind was blowing, it was pushing their mud tracks into the shoreline at an angle. Every fish that hit a mud trail turned to cruise right down the edge, effectively swimming right into an easy presentation. Another reason why they excelled, and probably the biggest, is that despite adverse winds, these guys were masters at their work and could easily place an offering exactly where it would not be refused. A strike zone can be anywhere from 6 feet to 6 inches depending, and their success was measured in inches. These fish were just not going to eat our conventional stuff, but they weren’t going to pass up a little face-fed morsel. Anyway, combine the elements of a focused hunt with the practiced draw and release of an expert archer. Add the mechanics of a mastered golf swing. Then mix it all in a saltwater aquarium and the idea of the game starts to unfold. For me, hope sprang eternal. I started thinking of other worthy alternatives, especially concerning some of these big trout we often see so shallow it’s near impossible to catch them on what most of us are used to. Suffice to say I went out and bought everything they suggested. Equipment and set up can be everything, and they had the right stuff. I’m not exactly a “mend the line” slouch (I was vigorously taught by one of the best, our old fly fishing writer Bill Gammel); however, I was able to throw their set-ups with ridiculously less effort than anything I had imagined. Among the possibilities I haven’t really been taking advantage of, one of the most compelling, is looking into secluded areas, more like some of our bigger fish seem to be doing, those of considerably less pressure. Trust me, where these guys were they weren’t going to get run over and the fish weren’t going to get spooked by anything but booties. There should be plenty of opportunity in some non-descript areas where big trout are laid up bathing in a backdrop of bone-colored sand. How cool would it be to catch an otherwise non-catchable hog trout on their own turf, eyeball-to-eyeball, and with basically nothing

I’m thinking there should be plenty of opportunity in some non-descript areas of considerably less pressure.

Fishing for me is a gift to help understand why the world turns. How we approach it is our choice, with many options available. Hey; if you want to do it with thick crayon-colored line and it works— why not? No, you smart alecks; you can’t throw a croaker with an 8-weight, but if set up properly, fly fishing can be so easy that even a gear-head can do it. Now about that boarding pass; for some reason I’m thinking about Idaho…even if they do wear funny shirts. Cliff’s recommendations: (River Guide Cliff Ziecke – 9-foot 8-weight G Loomis Crosscurrent (3 piece), Ross reel, Scientific Angler Redfish Taper line.

What I had assumed totally impractical actually became the most productive.

14 | June 2014


but a long peach switch attached to a reel with one moving part. This may sound like pointing a bat over the fence, but I’m also thinking about a couple of tournaments coming up. Yeah, I’ll take three reds over twenty-seven inches and perhaps even a kicker trout or two. We’ll see, but I’m definitely going to try more with a Wanda Wand very soon. There may also be a few general lessons in life here as well. Things that look wrong might be right, shallow thoughts can actually be deep, and tunnel vision is a good thing—if you’re in a tunnel.

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

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16 | June 2014

In some people,

youthful impulsiveness gives way to a more patient, persistent attitude as time passes. A famous joke about two bulls poignantly depicts the evolution in demeanor. Because the version I’ve heard is somewhat crude, I’ll tone it down a little here. Two bulls arrive at their new home pasture, riding in a cattle trailer towed by the ranchers who recently purchased them at auction. The larger of the pair, an aging sire, has seen many of his offspring sold off to slaughter houses. The other, a promising young specimen just entering the prime of his productive life, narrowly escaped the hammer, bought by the owner of a vast herd for breeding purposes. When the trailer’s gate opens and the two hefty gents hop onto the soft, fertile ground at the top of a hill, they survey their surroundings. Both notice a couple dozen cows standing at the bottom of the slope, many of them casting curious glances uphill, slapping at flies with their tails and chewing their cud. Immediately, the young bull’s frisky nature expresses itself; he begins kicking up his hind hooves, announcing his presence proudly with loud snorts and grunts. The venerable one stands still and silent, reaching out to pluck and sample fresh, delicate strands of grass under his feet. Excitedly, the inexperienced one approaches his elder and says, “Just look at all those pretty heifers! Let’s run down there and introduce ourselves to one!” The veteran patriarch raises his head slowly to gaze on his new harem. He, too, likes what he sees, but he has a radically different idea. “Nah,” he counters, “let’s walk down there and introduce ourselves to all of ‘em!” Remembering the old joke started me thinking about the sport of fishing as I’ve come to know it. To bring the content of this piece back around to our magazine’s topic, I offer a tale of two anglers, an old salt and a young gun, who wind up together in the same boat for the first time due to unexpected circumstances. The story starts when the old man’s boat breaks down and strands him on the water; the young one responds to his distress signal and tows him back to the dock, not so much because he possesses a kind and generous spirit, but because he recognizes the disabled boat and its famous operator. The old captain’s reputation as a big-trout guru reaches deep into the fishing network. The youth at the helm of the “go-fast boat” has a plan. When they reach safe harbor, the elder one tries to give his rescuer some cash, a customary gesture in such a situation. But the other one shakes his head and refuses the money; instead, he states a request. “Let me take you fishing some time. I’d like to pick your brain and watch how you do things,” he says. The aged one stands silent for a long moment, with arm extended, his fingers wrapped around the folded currency. Before answering, he halfheartedly raises his hand, hoping the other will take the money and forget about the two of them fishing together. Finally, some time after the silence becomes awkward, the crusty captain lowers his arm and reluctantly agrees, saying, “Okay. Let’s meet here at daybreak a week from today. Thanks again and see you then.” Mostly, the old dude fears getting into the “bullet boat” with the hot-shot captain. Once the boat manufacturers started obsessing on building faster and faster boats to appeal to the needs of the current generation of tournament anglers, guys like this elder statesman began predicting disasters. “Nobody needs to be zipping around on the water like that,” he laments. “Eventually, somebody’s gonna get killed.” | 17

The older crowd sneers at the helmets and goggles, and wonders how the guys can see where they are going, hunkered down so low behind the console. They cringe when they hear one of the speedy craft coming, scoffing at the high, white rooster tails they throw into the sky behind them as they pass. Essentially, the boats symbolize a clash of two cultures. The young guns seem impetuous and hasty to the salty veterans in the older crowd, who prefer safer hulls and slower engines over the flashy speed boats with all their bling-bling. A week later, when the two anglers depart from the dock in the low-sided sliver of a hull, the venerable one takes firm hold of the arms of the bucket seat in which he rides, readying himself for the long trip. The young captain has announced his intention to venture far to the south, into a shallow area famous for sight-casting opportunities. While they ride, the sky and horizon seem to whiz by supernaturally fast, and the old man’s lids peel away from his eyeballs. Bowing his head, he grits his teeth and holds on tight, hoping the other one knows the way well enough to avoid colliding with something solid. While the wind whistles in his ears, he thinks about the younger crowd, and the way they do things. “Wonder how many times they blow right by the mother lode on the way to some distant destination?” he muses. “How could anyone tell what might be on that shoreline over there or behind that spoil bank while shooting over the water at speeds like these?” He contemplates asking the driver to slow down so they can get an idea of the potential in a couple of spots along the way, but quickly thinks better of it. “You really don’t want to teach this guy anything important,” he tells himself. “Just let him zoom off to wherever he wants and keep your mouth shut.” After a ridiculously short ride over such a long distance, the proud captain brings the sleek, shiny craft off plane, in a remote corner of a distant section of the estuary, where monster trout and bull reds often forage, in water scarcely deep enough to cover their broad, dark backs. Truthfully, the old salt marvels at the combination of shallow capability and speed displayed by the young gun’s boat, though he does not mention the fact to the other. “35 miles in less than half an hour,” the proud youth exclaims, as he lifts the trolling motor from its harness and lowers it into the crystalline shallows. “I don’t usually fish this way,” he tells the elder

Captain Kev used a MirrOlure Lil’ John XL to trick this 8.5 pound specimen.

18 | June 2014

one. “But I’ve seen you in this area lots of times. Can you teach me a few things about this kind of stealth fishing?” The other grunts softly and sighs. “First thing you’d want to know is it’s too early in the morning to do this right. Can’t see into the water very good until the sun gets a little higher. Only way to find the fish around here right now is to look for wakes and read the nervous water and bait signs. Blind-casting doesn’t produce many bites. ” Ironically, the man on the bow nods his head, as if to affirm his understanding of what he has been told, yet he begins casting his Super Spook Junior far across the flat and working it feverishly, searching for a cruising fish. Reluctantly, the more experienced one stands up and casts a knowing glance across the smooth surface of the water, turning his head deliberately in search of some evidence of a fish, his arms relaxed and dangling at his sides. While the anxious young man’s clicking plug dances across the flat time and time again, the old salt stands still and silent, searching for the right sign. Eventually, he spots a subtle wake and points it out to the other. The young gun executes a perfect cast on the first try, placing his plug beyond and in front of the slow-moving target. When the lure crosses the path of the fish, a ball of sparkling foam erupts, and the young man’s reel begins to wheeze out loud, while line peels off the spool. He makes some kind of celebratory and abrasive sound, one which makes the old man cringe. Throughout the morning, similar events unfold. Both anglers catch several upper-slot reds and a couple of trout weighing around five pounds, always after seeing evidence of them before casting. The old man catches a few more on his dark paddletail with chartreuse tip, but the kid does okay with the Spook Junior. Though the younger one never musters a blow up while blindly casting, he never stops chunking and winding. The sun rises higher in the sky, making it easier for the two to see the bottom and the fish cruising the shallows around them. Eventually, they realize what they’ve already suspected; not many fish populate the section of the flat they’ve chosen. “Let’s try to burn some fish now,” the young one turns to the guru and says. “What do you think about that?” Old buddy shrugs and turns his head to the side. “Works for me,” he mutters.

James Bump’s persistence paid off when this 8.25 trout bit his soft plastic on a tough outing.

Somewhere in the expanse of pothole-rich shallows, he runs close to a school of perhaps twenty magnum trout. Both men see them clearly; their long, dark, dappled black backs contrast sharply against the bright sandy bottom. Circling around, the driver accesses a slightly deeper area and shuts down the big motor. Hastily, he hops off his chair and onto the front deck, flipping the trolling motor into the water, activating its whirring blades and snatching up his rod and reel. A palpable urgency resonates through him as he readies his rig for casting; his fingers tremble with anticipation. “What are you doing?” the passenger asks. “Didn’t you see how big those trout were?” the youth replies. “I’m gonna troll over there real quick and catch me one.” “Hmm,” the old salt quietly counters. “I figured we’d walk over there real slow and catch ‘em all.”

Tim Zbylot caught this long, attractive trout on a pink topwater under cloudy skies.

20 | June 2014

Kevin Cochran Contact

The design of the craft does not perfectly suit the purpose of running shallow and looking for fish, so the young captain improvises. He knows enough to keep the boat running as slowly as he can without coming off plane, and he does so while standing up in his bucket seat, to improve his vision into the water. Off across an extremely shallow stretch he goes, one lying between two slightly deeper “basins”. He has passed through the area before, and knows where he can and can not venture. As long as he stays on plane, he will be okay. If he stops, he must do it in certain places, to avoid grounding the craft.

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.

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When things change slowly over time it is easy to forget how they once were. This photo was made at Big Shell, sometime before 1980. Notice the height of the beach and the steep decline toward the surf zone. (Dale Whitehill photo)

22 | June 2014

A nostalgic look back at beach transportation; Tommy Bratcher’s surf fishing truck circa late 1970s— Bad to the bone! (Image courtesy Tommy Bratcher)

I’m goIng to cover

Spanish mackerel and skipjacks (Ladyfish) at the same time due to their similarities in behaviors and special problems they present to anglers. Both of these species are typically encountered in large schools, both feed on small shoaling baitfish such as anchovies on and near the surface of the water, and both are known to cut off lots of tackle.  The mackerel do it with their razor sharp teeth and are a special threat to shiny swivels.  The skipjacks cut lines with their gill rakers when they jump—which is usually often.  Often skipjacks are boiling the water in feeding frenzies and if the fisherman throws into the middle of it he is instantly going to be cut off.  It’s not by a fish that has taken his lure but by the gills of other fish that become tangled in the line.  Obviously the solution is to avoid casting directly into or over the frenzy and instead to cast to the edges of the action. Once hooked up you can then work your fish away from the school.  Both species are spring, summer and fall residents and very often are shadowed by sharks so be alert.  Any small and fast moving lure will work for both species with my favorite lures being Speck Rigs and small silver spoons.  This being the case, light spinning tackle often excels due to its ability to cast very lightweight lures.  Mackerel will free jump and swirl on the surface of the water while skipjacks will make the water absolutely boil, which aids in targeting them.  Likewise; fish-eating seabirds are normally circling above all that feeding action.  Mackerel really like the lure moving fast and their lightning fast runs on light tackle are a pure adrenalin rush.  A light gauge single-strand wire leader is recommended for both skipjacks and mackerel but the truth is that at times they simply will not hit a presentation on a wire leader.  When this happens you have to go with mono leaders and suffer the loss.  There is one option that is extremely helpful and that is to purchase some Hard Mason monofilament leader material.  It’s extremely abrasion resistant—30-pound test Mason will do the job of 50-pound test fluorocarbon.  It is inexpensive, but very stiff, and getting a good knot to hold in it can prove difficult and often you’d be better off crimping your lure to the leader.  Now the normal Speck Rigs you find in stores will be built of fairly soft mono of about 25-pound strength. If you will cut away that soft mono and retie the rig with 30-pound Hard Mason you’ll be way ahead of the game.  The largest Spanish mackerel of the year are present during the finger mullet migration in October and November and they will hit larger lures at that time as they are accustomed to taking finger-sized mullet. 

Skipjacks are not edible but Spanish mackerel are. They are a very bloody-meated fish though, and if they are kept for food it is recommended that they are bled while still alive and put on ice immediately to preserve the flavor. Another similarity of these two species is that both have very fine scales and, if you have ever handled one, you no doubt noticed your palms covered with them.  Scales are a protective layer and when removed the fish is subject to infection.  One of the best devices to come on the market in years is the fish grippers which allow the angler to hold the fish by the lip without ever laying a hand on it—perfect for catch and release.  It can be unhooked and photographed without any damage to its scales and protective slime.  While some grippers, notably the Boga Grip, have a built-in scale and a high-end price tag, others without weighing capability are available for a fraction of the price.  When we do something to protect fish we are also doing our part to insure these species will remain abundant for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.  Beware of a diet that includes lots of mackerel; TPWD says their flesh contains exceptional mercury content, as do so many fish species. Let’s move on to speckled trout. Trout season in the Padre surf runs from May through August. There are probably some trout in the surf zone most if not all of the year but not in numbers that justify fishing for them specifically.  In the spring they prefer silver spoons and bluebacked chrome Rat-L-Traps.  Amid the sargassum and strong winds and currents of spring one would do well to include 3/4 ounce Johnson weedless spoons in his box.  Any amount of sargassum will take the RatL-Trap out of the picture.  As summer warms the surf zone our topwater action will take hold.  There are always exceptions but typically summertime surf trout will hit either topwater or plastic on any given day—but usually not both.  One interesting thing about the surf is that surf trout typically want just one color lure on any given day.  It may change daily for days in a row or they may prefer a certain lure for several days but color is of major importance.  The same color lure will account for almost every trout you catch on any given day.  This is one time when having a number of anglers may actually be an asset as a number of anglers can work through a large number of selections much quicker than one or two working alone.  Observing the color other beach fisherman are throwing may be a shortcut to One of the greatest finding the preferred lure color for tools to come that day.  along has to be the fish grippers On calm clear-water days I like – ALA the Boga to scale down on lure size.  Smaller Grip pictured here. lures also seem to work better Note the float – it is in the heat of midday.  Floating there for a reason! MirrOlures of the 7M variety were | 23

Speck Rigs are very effective at times in the surf but not in factory-rigging. Surf anglers would do well to remove the soft mono leader material and replace it with Hard Mason.

CheCk out the New 24gts & 22gts

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& Dry 675 ultimate bay 24 | June 2014

the only topwaters we had in my youth and they’ll still catch many a finicky trout, though I doubt there are many in tackle boxes other than mine. DOA shrimp and small plastic minnow-imitating plastics may well produce trout when all else fails.  Here again, the spinning reel may be called for in order to get some distance with a very lightweight lure.  Plastics fished under an Alameda Rattling Cork may be deadly in the surf although it seems almost nobody tries them to find this out.  I have small stashes of other very productive lures in my bag of tricks but it would do no good to tell you about them as they are no longer made.  I very often wonder why someone doesn’t manufacture many of the old and very productive lures which have patents that have long expired. We often hear of how shallow trout will come in the bay systems but we never hear much about it in the surf.  In reality, I have seen large trout lying in shallow surf pockets with their backs exposed. That is why I am always telling customers to never cut their retrieves short but to continue them right to the end of the rod as a good number of very good strikes occur immediately at the water’s edge.  That’s also why I always tell them to never slam their truck doors.  Trout can be present anywhere in the surf zone and it’s up to the angler to locate them on a given day.  The upside of this is that when you find one all the rest will be residing in like places for the day and you can really have a productive day.  We’ll talk more on the trout next time.  Gives me fishing fever to think about them this much.  What a Hoot! If we don’t leave any there won’t be any. -Billy



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Baltimore Oriole -Icterus galbulaThe common oriole of the eastern uSA, it passes through our area on migration in April-May and again in September. Denizens of open woodlands and riverside groves; its nest is an elaborately woven hanging pouch suspended from a high branch. Loves to feed on oranges. Male has a black hood and back with a bright orange rump and under parts with large orange patches on its tail. Females are brownish olive above and orange below. The Bullock’s oriole is a western counterpart that nests in Texas.

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Jimmy Jackson photos | 25

STORY BY Martin Strarup

Bodie pulled up

to the coast guard station and gave the guard his ID. “Came by to visit with Chief Long,” Bodie announced. “You’ll find the Chief in the mess room, sir” the guard replied and gave Bodie directions. “Been there before but I appreciate it all the same” said Bodie. Chief Long wasn’t surprised to see Bodie. “I thought you might stop by for some coffee…don’t you ever work?” the Chief asked. “Don’t you ever wash these cups” Bodie asked. They laughed at that, shook hands, then sat down at a table where the Chief had a plate of eggs, potatoes and bacon. “Hang on just a minute and I’ll have Toliver bring you some breakfast Bodie” the Chief said. The two old friends sat and visited while the Chief ate until Petty Officer 3rd Class Toliver brought Bodie his breakfast. “So tell me about what you saw this morning, Bodie” the Chief said. “Just what I said on the phone, Chief…I didn’t really see anything, but I heard the boats and could picture in my mind what was going on” Bodie replied. “It’s a problem all along the coast, unfortunately” said the Chief. Chief Long detailed to Bodie what he could about what he knew of the smuggling going on along the Texas coast. “The cartels use the waterways to move their drugs and human cargo into the country, and even with the P3 aircraft and US vessels on the watch some of it slips through. It starts in the Caribbean and it moves up this way through the bays and ICW and of course across the Gulf of Mexico” the Chief told Bodie. “It seems somebody is always reporting bales of marijuana or cocaine on the beaches of San Jose and Matagorda Island. Boats get caught in rough water and sink or the contraband is tossed overboard when pursued, whatever the case may be, and it washes up on our shorelines” Chief Long said with a frown. “As long as there is money to be made

they’ll keep sending it our way and all of the government agencies working on controlling the flow, and I say working on controlling because I don’t see a way of really stopping it, but we are doing the best we can” said the Chief. Bodie and Chief Long visited for a while longer then Bodie thanked him for the coffee, breakfast and the information and told the Chief that he had to head out to the ranch. “Glad to have you Bodie, drop by anytime but keep in mind that the smugglers moving this stuff are armed and buddy when I say armed I mean just as good as we are… watch your six when you’re out there at night” warned the Chief. Bodie dropped by his house and took a thirty minute nap then drove out to the ranch to make sure Monroe had everyone working on the projects that Bodie had given them the day before. “Man I’m getting too old to fish all night then work the next day” Bodie said out loud to himself. Monroe had everything under control so Bodie spent the better part of the day ordering feed and checking on four different fencing crews working at various pastures on the ranch. Bodie was dragging when he dropped by Haddon’s Place on the way home for a cold beer and something to eat. Eloisa put a beer on the bar before he could sit down and said “Maybe I should change that beer to coffee because man you look worn out.” Bodie smiled and told Eloisa that he didn’t want coffee because he needed to sleep then explained to her why he was so tired and ordered a chicken fried steak. Tommy came in as Bodie was ordering a second beer and he had Eloisa pour one for him as well. “Did you catch any fish last night Bodie” Tommy asked. “Got five nice trout and a red Tommy; you should have gone with me…there were plenty there and I left them biting” said Bodie. Tommy noticed how tired Bodie was and he figured that he wouldn’t be going out again tonight so he said, “Well I can go tonight if you want | 27

28 | June 2014

one to say that there might not be a smuggler or two or three around these parts. I mean anything is possible and we can make the story really good so he’d be sure to let me off the hook for going night fishing with him” Tommy said while beer dripped down his chin. “Well not me buddy because I’m off to San Antone tomorrow and I won’t be back for a week. But you can use my name and you can pull this off with no problem” Wehman told his friend. After Wehman left Haddon’s Tommy went home and made up his story. He wrote everything down and practiced it. If he had to say so himself, it sounded absolutely terrifying. Tommy fell asleep with a smile on his face. The next morning Bodie and Monroe had to move some cattle from one pasture to another and met the truck at the working pens. After getting all of them loaded and the truck had left, Bodie and Monroe drove across the pasture to check a windmill that wasn’t keeping a tank full. “Probably a worn seal on the pump” remarked Monroe. “I hope it’s something else Monroe because I really don’t want to have to pull it to find out” Bodie replied. Sure enough the windmill was running just fine but no water was flowing into the cement tank. “Well, I’ll call Henry and get him to send a crew out here in the morning to pull it and repair or replace the pump Monroe, but I want you here to make sure that it gets fixed if it is repairable. Don’t let him drop a new one in there if it isn’t necessary” Bodie said with a scowl. Monroe said that he understood and that he would meet the crew if Bodie would let him know what time they’d be there. The two of them checked a few other locations to make sure that the water was flowing and then they headed back to the ranch headquarters to meet Mr. Connor and discuss plans for a new bunk house and new working pens that needed to be built at a ranch Mr. Connor was leasing down south. Bodie was impressed with the plans for the bunk house. It had private foreman’s quarters and all the comforts of home. Since hands would be down here from November until the end of March and in a remote location, Mr. Connor wanted them to be comfortable and happy. The house had a fireplace and nice kitchen with built in bunks and two large bathrooms with showers. That was something that Bodie had long admired about his boss and friend. His motto was that if the men were comfortable and happy when they were resting, they would be happy when they were working, and Bodie agreed. Bodie had already picked a spot for the bunk house on a previous visit and offered to make the long drive south to get the construction crews started but Mr. Connor said his old friend and landlord Elpidio Alvarez was going to take care of that. “He’s supplying the labor and we’re splitting the costs. And besides, that will keep you here where I really need you right now Bodie” said Mr. Connor. “I’m sure okay with that” Bodie replied.

Martin Strarup


Bodie, I ain’t scared much at all about night wade fishing.” “As soon as I down the steak I just ordered I’m going to the house and pile up till morning” Bodie said. Tommy said that was a shame because he really wanted to go. When Bodie said he would be welcome the following night Tommy choked and spit beer all over the place. Of course Bodie slapped him on the back so his friend could breathe again. Tommy caught a couple good breaths and said “But you have to go down south tomorrow don’t you Bodie, did you forget?” “No that’s all cancelled until next week so I’ll just meet you at the boat stall at about 8:00 tomorrow night and we’ll be on our spot just when the tide starts to move really well” Bodie said with a grin. Tommy was instantly sick, lost his appetite and was overcome by a dizzy spell—like always. The last thing he wanted was to be out near the pass in the dark with daylight so far from happening, and on top of that in the water where something could eat him or someone could get him. Before he could think up a good excuse Bodie had finished eating, said good night, and was making for the door. Tommy ordered another beer and sat nursing it, trying to think of something that could get him out of going with Bodie the following night. Just about when he had given up, Wehman came in and sat down next to him. Now Tommy had known Wehman since they were kids and he was a pretty good friend, one of the few that would put up with Tommy’s shenanigans. “Dang Tommy you look like you just lost your favorite rod and reel” Wehman said as he ordered a beer from Eloisa. “It’s terrible Wehman, just terrible” cried Tommy. “I have to go fishing with Bodie tomorrow night in the dark and way out near the pass.” Wehman just snickered and said that he couldn’t figure out what the big deal was about fishing at night then ordered a cheese burger and fries. “What’s the big deal you ask me? Well I’ll tell you what the big deal is” and Tommy went on to explain the few times that he’d been fishing with Bodie at night. “The first time we went floundering and we ran into a bunch of rustlers stealing Mr. Connor’s cattle and I got knocked out” explained Tommy. “The second time I was almost eaten by cold water sharks and you know how nasty and vicious those things are, Wehman” Tommy cried. “Well if you don’t want to go just tell Bodie that you can’t go and I’m sure that he’ll understand” replied Wehman. Tommy told Wehman that he’d have to come up with a really good reason…better than just being scared of the dark. So Tommy sat and worried and Wehman sat and thought as he sipped on his beer and then he got a great idea. “I’ve got it” yelled Wehman. “You say that you ran into rustlers and sharks when you went with Bodie so just tell him that you went with me tonight and that we ran into pirates or something” Wehman said with a smile. Tommy thought about it and he liked it but, he didn’t think Bodie would believe that pirates tried to get him. “That won’t work, Wehman. Bodie won’t believe that pirates tried to make us walk the plank or whatever pirates do to people” Tommy said with a sigh. They sat and ordered another round of beer and while they drank they thought some more. “I’ve got it again” yelled Wehman. “It wasn’t pirates that got us it was smugglers that got after us. They shot at us and we barely got away with our lives” Wehman said with a triumphant smile. “Oh you’re good Wehman” Tommy giggled in glee. “Heck there’s no

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



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30 | June 2014

The launch was

uncrowded and the temperatures were already

starting to climb as Ron Begnaud and I prepared to head out in search of some willing marsh redfish. Begnaud lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana and is about as hardcore a marsh fisherman as you are ever going to meet. Many of our conversations begin and end with thoughts of new and unexplored regions of the marshes that border Sabine and Calcasieu Lakes. Finding a prime redfish pond that has no fishing pressure is like finding the Hope Diamond in a gumball machine; it probably won’t happen but look out if it does. Armed with aerial maps, topographical charts, fly rods and other associated gear we set out in search of parts unknown, at least to us. Our quest to find unpressured water was soon rewarded as the skiff coasted off plane and settled into the dark clear water of a large marsh pond. In an instant we could see wakes of cruising fish as well as the tails of some feeders. This place was full of potential and void of traffic—we had indeed found a jewel! After a coin flip to decide who would take the poling platform, I got the honors of casting to the first fish. A small group of reds were gathered up and feeding intently as Ron pushed the skiff into range. At first I didn’t know if I wanted to cast or make a photo; the redfish had their tails high above the water and they were backlit by the sun in an amazing display of red and copper. Much to my dismay the camera lens was fogged from the temperature difference between the air-conditioned truck and the marsh— summertime heat will do that. So with no photo option, I was “forced” to go ahead and cast. The 7-weight fly rod loaded up and sent one of Begnaud’s creations he calls “Ron’s Red Chaser” flies directly at the feeding fish. The cast was accurate and the redfish were receptive—the strike was almost immediate. The big fish took plenty of line as the others scattered and muddied the shallow water. The fight lasted ten minutes or so until the big red finally gave up. As Ron slipped the Boga Grip onto the brute’s lip we both were amazed to see twelve pounds and the tape said thirty-three inches. An exceptional specimen for the marsh. The day continued to be good as both Ron and I landed more redfish in our private little pond. The plan had worked perfectly and we were rewarded with great fishing and no pressure from other boats. As a matter of fact we never saw another boat anywhere close to our area, truly amazing by today’s standards. The effort we put forth to get away from the crowd is work that most folks are not willing to do. But that extra effort can mean the difference between simply fishing and great fishing. In almost every coastal venue there are out-of-the-way places that receive little or no pressure; hidden treasures that many folks only dream about…there for the taking by those willing to explore. The day ended with a bang as Ron landed the final redfish and we headed for the dock. The endless maze of grass-lined canals convinced us that another trip would be made soon. Even though we had found a great new place to fish both Ron and I knew that surely there must be others in the same area. Over the hum of the Yamaha we agreed we needed to study | 31

Finding hungry fish in less-travelled waters often means instant takes for anglers.

Google Earth and TerraFly are great tools for locating hidden treasures of backcountry fishing opportunity, from the comfort of home!

the satellite imagery and plot some GPS waypoints. A man could make a lot of mistakes in that country if he didn’t do his homework first. One of the most helpful tools any fisherman or outdoorsman can use is Google Earth, TerraFly, and others like them that offer ridiculously detailed photos and mapping options that enable you to do some quality scouting while in the comfort of your own home. I have personally used these sites hundreds of times to assist in planning both fishing and hunting adventures. My son Hunter and I have made our way in the dark to plenty of ponds that we had never hunted using the satellite map function on my IPhone. It’s just incredible what we as outdoorsmen have at our disposal now. The days of running areas and learning through “hard knocks” are luckily a thing of the past for us. How well I remember running tiny bayous deep into the marsh, believing there had to be a “magic pond” at the end—only to spend the next couple of hours of digging and pushing to get my boat un-stuck when the bayou abruptly came to an end. Not anymore, I consult the satellite photos before I ever take off on a re-con mission because I’m too old and fat to get caught out there high and dry. Like Clint Eastwood said, “A man has got to know his limitations.” Locating a potentially high-quality area via satellite imagery is a big piece of the equation but there is still work to do to insure success—and you have to go out there and physically do that part of it.

understanding how an area lays out, how it is affected by the tides and other factors cannot be gauged with any certainty unless you actually go check the area out. Spending time just observing or investigating potential areas is where anglers often separate themselves into the groups who are consistently successful and those that occasionally do well. The tiny nuances such as types of vegetation present and actual water depths can only be verified firsthand. We all wish there was a “magic option” that would allow us to just go out and catch fish without effort but unfortunately that option does not exist. In today’s world where everything seems smaller and there are no secret spots anymore, it’s critical to your success as an angler to do some investigating in order to find that overlooked area that could prove to be special. Those places, when you find them, are to be held close and guarded with the utmost care. The feeling of going from search to discovery to success is extremely gratifying and makes all the effort worthwhile. If you are willing to take the time to do some digging you are already ahead of most anglers and well on your way to success. Releasing a backcountry beauty to fight another day.

Ron Begnaud is as hardcore a marsh angler as you’re ever likely to meet.



32 | June 2014

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



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Ever been startled

by a nearby lightning strike? It’s inevitable if you spend much time fishing in Texas, which ranks in the top-ten states for lightning-related injuries and deaths. A few good stories should be enough to make anyone cut and run when the bolts start flickering and thunder booms. Not even a 30-inch, STAR tournament-winning trout is worth a lightning hit. About 20 million lightning strikes hit the U.S. every year, according to the Weather Channel, and the trick is to get out of their way. If you fish or boat in the wrong spot, even dally a minute or moment too long on the water (or even by the truck), you could be nailed infinitely worse than a jolt from a Taser-happy cop. I’ve had close calls even when the boat was halfway on the trailer, lightning hitting all around like so much artillery—before I finished cranking on the winch, and dove into the truck. Out on the water, a boat owner is responsible for the safety of his crew. If there is roofed cover nearby and the lightning is bad enough, I don’t care who owns the property, I’m taking shelter inside or underneath. Nice if some of those bay cabins could just have their doors left unlocked for emergency

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THE EVOLUTION OF FISHING For more information visit us at: 36 | June 2014

shelters, but I’m sure owners have mixed opinions on that. Nevertheless, anything is better than getting struck by a million volts or so. An old, abandoned plywood shack on the bay can be a lifesaver. If you’re in a hurry, pick an older one, and hope the door swings open. And hope that structure is well-grounded. About 90 percent of all lightning-related injuries in this country occur between June and August, so perhaps a few personal stories from the Texas coast might be in order as summer begins. Last June, an intense storm hit the middle Texas coast. A couple of boats returned from offshore after ignoring a terrible weather forecast, and the crews looked like drowned rats. Their experience was so bad, one guy had literally crapped his pants. His buddy knelt and kissed the dock. And then had to be restrained from slugging the captain. Another boat pulled in to watch the altercation—their crew had sat out the storm high and dry, inside or underneath a bay cabin, when their captain judged the storm left no time for them to reach the marina. “A few years ago we joined the weekend warriors at Galveston’s north jetty, with an anchored boat about every 50 feet for as far as you could see,” says Jim from Houston. “We were about 500 yards down past the safety cut. Catching fish and hollering back and forth, joking with three black dudes in the next boat. Calm weather, fish biting, it couldn’t be better. Out of nowhere came this giant clap of thunder and bolt of lightning. I looked up and a pelican was spiraling down between our two boats. Glanced over at the other boat and couldn’t see anybody. We cut our anchor line and rushed over to check on them. The guy who had been standing up and fishing on the bow, he was down. Lightning bolt had hit him in the left shoulder and exited his right thigh...He wasn’t plumb dead but awfully close to it. His two buddies who had been casting from the back of the boat were now sitting on the floor, stunned.” “We radioed Coast Guard Galveston and they asked us to bring them in ourselves, it would cut rescue time in half. We put uncle George on the other boat and for some reason their motor fired right up. It was wide open throttles into Galveston and they had two ambulances, a half dozen nurses and docs from John Sealy waiting for us. The guy in the bow didn’t make it; he had a big bleeding hole in his shoulder and another one in his thigh. His two buddies recovered. It really made me a paranoid old man about going out if there was even a hint of bad weather. I ain’t that mad at the fish.” From Shannon Tompkins: “The closest I’ve ever come to getting hit was during regular duck season in a Chambers county marsh. A storm front rolled in and lightening was blasting all around us. We lay our shotguns on cordgrass and scrambled away from them, taking refuge on the side of muskrat mounds, while beseeching The Great Cosmic Power to spare our worthless lives. We watched a bolt hit a windmill a quarter-mile away. Could smell the ozone or burnt air. It was bad. I don’t jack with lightning; I react the same way a quail does when a hawk sails overhead. I hide like my life depends on it. Because it just might.” My own close calls include lightning striking a Gulf platform my boat was tied to, the bolt traveling down the corner pipe 75 feet away


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and then into the water. If we’d tied the boat to that pipe and fished close, lightning would have traveled through my center console with five of us aboard. It was so loud and blinding, we all thought we were dead for a little while, but then we looked around didn’t have a scratch. If we’d been scuba diving there, which I often did, I wonder what that would have been like. We’ve always assumed Gulf platforms are grounded from lightning, so we tied up underneath, rather than running the open Gulf. But there are no guarantees with lightning and we decided to bolt, so to speak. The sky was dark all around, but a tiny piece of bright horizon beckoned from Pass Cavallo, and we lit out like a horse for the barn. Another trip, after walking out to the end of Aransas’ north jetty, the sky darkened and then our lines wouldn’t go in the water after casting. Whoops, a bad sign there, static electricity? Lightning was striking now and then offshore two miles, but black clouds were creeping closer. We had to fast-foot it down the entire wet jetty, trying not to fall through the cracks, holding rods and stringers of fish. Feeling like we might be here one moment, and gone the next. I suppose we could have crawled into gaps in the granite and cringed like jetty rats when the storm arrived. But the passenger ferry was waiting, and we escaped. A long rock jetty is a poor place with no cover when a storm hits. If you

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38 | June 2014

see someone on the rocks at Galveston’s north jetty safety cut, about two miles from land, and lightning threatens, consider giving them a fast boat ride back to Bolivar. We like to think there’s time to judge a storm, but you don’t want to waste even a few minutes. On the Sabine jetty where we spent what seemed like a thousand afternoons, if a rare thunderstorm approached from the northwest, cutting us off from Sabine Pass and the boat ramp, we sometimes ran the boat two miles SE into the Gulf, and climbed a handy oil rig, sitting upstairs in the warm diesel engine shed while a cold rain fell and thunder boomed. Our jonboat was fine, tied off below. Boats with a v-birth or walk-around cabin are rare as hen’s teeth these days, because everyone has a center console, but it sure is nice to get inside the cabin when lightning threatens, and slam the door behind you. After an overnight campout on Matagorda Island, we once hauled the neighbor’s kids, five or six tucked in our v-birth cabin, back to Port O’Connor, while their parents made exciting runs in more exposed boats. At least the kids were pretty safe. It’s a wonder any of us are still here, after so many coastal trips. I’ve seen lighting flicker down from blue sky and hit the Gulf not far from us, easily 2-3 miles from the nearest cloud. Weird, and hard to see, a thin white flicker on light blue sky, but loud as heck when the thunder hit. And alarming, when you’re anchored offshore. NOAA says lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the nearest cloud. One moment you’re having a good time, and the next… There is some good news on lightning-related injuries. Last year saw a record low number of people killed in the U.S. by lightning, according to NOAA. There were 23 U.S. fatalities, but sadly the majority were fishermen. Public awareness has been attributed to this record low number of fatalities, or maybe it was luck. You never know, with lightning. Hats off to the fishing guides, who probably all have their tales of narrow escape. Keep in mind that smart phones with weather apps are now readily available, easily carried in the boat, and should go a long way towards avoiding lightning this summer. If you need any more evidence of lightning striking near a boat, check out this video from Lake Athens at: It’s good that 90 percent of those struck by lightning survive, but there are often lifelong medical issues for survivors, many of them debilitating, including chronic pain. There are also memory and cognition problems, and it could mean going on disability. And no stringer of sow trout is worth all that.


40 | June 2014

The dapper bartender

at Deep Water Cay placed the gin and tonic on the counter. The tall glass looked great, lots of ice, a manly slug of Beefeater, and a jaunty wedge of fresh-sliced lemon—just the thing to toast the tides following a great final day on the flats. Large black-and-white photos hung on the walls. The grainy images date back decades and highlight the early days of Deep Water Cay, the oldest flats fishing lodge in the Bahamas. The pioneers of saltwater fly fishing were prominent—Joe Brooks, A.J. McClane, Lee Wulff, Tom McNally, Gil Drake, Lefty Kreh. I smiled and tipped the glass to the great Brooks, angler-to-angler, and took a sip of London’s A-Team export. Fishing partner Jim Easterling paced up. We made the five-day trip together from Houston during late March, each fishing three days with a guide. Fishing solo effectively doubles your potential when standing on the bow of a flats skiff and sight-casting. Easterling, also, was smiling. “How was your day?” he asked. “Not bad,” I said, “Fifteen bonefish between three and seven pounds. All sight-casting. How about you.” “A 14,” Easterling said. “Well, I guess I beat you by one,” I said, relishing another sip. “No, not fourteen fish; I caught a 14 pounder. To be exact, 14-4,

weighed on a Boga before we released it.” A 14-plus! To put this in perspective, based on documented catches, a 14-pound bonefish is very similar to a 14-pound speckled trout. A hardcore angler could fish a lifetime for either species and never even come close to hooking a fish of such magnitude. An honest 12 would be off the chart. Most grizzled devotees, plug or fly, hope for a legitimate “double digit” 10 pounder—and that’s no guarantee. Easterling was fishing with veteran guide Meko Glinton, and the 14 wasn’t the whole story. “Meko spotted four bonefish cruising in about two feet of water. My fish—and this is the truth—was only the second largest in the group. Meko guessed the lead fish to be close to 16, unbelievable. “It was noticeably bigger than mine. I put a cast with a seven weight out in front and let the fly settle and the lead fish nosed it and turned away. Then my fish rushed up and grabbed it. It took almost 200 yards of backing and we had to crank the motor and follow it—like a tarpon.” I’ve made 3 trips to DWC, a small coral nub sporting a single lodge facility located just off the southeastern end of Grand Bahama Island; I believe it is the “Baffin Bay” for big bonefish. For whatever reasons, the flats in that general area have a history of producing XXL fish. Of course, regardless of venue, the really big ones are not on every tide. As with Baffin, you might fish hard and not catch one but—they are there. Assuming conditions are halfway favorable, you almost certainly will see some exceptional bonefish. I had a good 60-foot shot at one that looked 11 or 12 and landed a hair too close. The big fish didn’t spook, it just sort of waddled away. To put the fish in perspective, veteran guide Mervin Thomas first thought it was a barracuda. The following day, a huge silver tail popped up in a foot of water and—well, never mind. And this is just not me talking. Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and a world-travelled flats fisherman, wrote recently in the DWC guest book, “I’ve never seen a place with such big bonefish.”

(left) Shrimp-imitation flies are effective on bonefish feeding across shallow flats. (top) Jim Easterling of Houston prepares to release his world-class 14-pound bonefish caught recently at Deep Water Cay, Bahamas. (right) Joe Doggett shows average Deep Water Cay bonefish caught sight casting in a foot of water. | 41

The astute follower of flats fishing will contend that the middle and upper Florida Keys are the mother lode for battlewagon-class bonefish. This is true; the Keys have yielded most of the record-class fish (as documented by the International Game Fish Association). The Keys fish are exceptionally thick, with greater girth per length on average than Pacific bonefish. The Grand Bahama/Deep Water Cay area is only about 100 miles from the upper Keys. The big fish boast similar football profiles— maybe not as plentiful but perhaps easier to catch. There are two reasons for this: First, Florida is awash in shallowdraft recreational traffic and the bonefish are skittish and selective. Second, according the some marine biologists, the upper Keys fishery is not as healthy as it was, say, 30 years ago. Conversely, the eastern end of Grand Bahama Island remains relatively unspoiled. And easy access to deep ocean water supports the big-fish theory, as jumbos can trade in and out with the tides. Most important, fishing pressure is light. The dozen or so skiffs of Deep Water Cay are pretty much it when it comes to serious flats fishing. Put another way, in three days of fishing I did not see a single flats boat other than a distant few from our facility—try that at Islamorada or Marathon. Frankly, I believe the case can be made that the fishing at Deep Water Cay is better now than 30 years ago (my first of three trips was during the mid ‘80s). This is because the new Hell’s Bay skiffs and big Yamaha four-stroke engines can cover more water, maximizing prime hours on the flats. Poling techniques and fishing tackle simply are better and a strong catch-and-release ethic is supported. As a huge trump, skiffs from tiny Deep Water Cay can run 360 degrees to play tide and wind to best advantage. You can blast to the eastern tip (about a 30 or 40 minute run), or range west up the main shoreline, or cut though Rummer Creek or Big Harbor Creek to access the network of primary flats and back lagoon rimming the remote north side of the main island. The amount of prime flats is astounding and uncrowded—more than 200 miles of potential, with much of it hard sand suitable for wading. As a matter of fact, I was wading when that giant silver tail popped up and—well, never mind, again. To repeat, double-digit bonefish are not common at DWC but neither are they total flukes. For the record, Easterling caught a 10 pounder the day before (in a different area). The 10 was his Personal Best, a mark that stood less than 24 hours. The old Deep Water Cay Club was founded by Gil Drake in 1958. It went through several ownership changes (not to mention a fire) and

Main lodge of Deep Water Cay offers first-class accommodations surrounded by uncrowded flats.

42 | June 2014

was purchased again in 2010. Paul vahldiek, Jr., of Houston, is one of the new owners and he is committed to conserving the resource and upgrading the operation. “upgrading the operation” means the place is Top Tier, as fine a flats fishing operation as you’ll find anywhere. The quality extends from the lodging and meals to the staff and service and—most important—the guides and skiffs. The guides are locals, most living in nearby McLean’s Town. Most have 10 or 20 years of professional experience. (The lodge specializes in the flats fishing but family-type outings are encouraged. Aquatic options include snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and low-key bait fishing or trolling on the nearby reefs. The facility can be booked on a per-day basis. For additional information, contact the lodge at According to vahldiek, lodge manager Buzz Cox presented four more big-fish award pins during the month since Easterling’s fish. To earn a pin, a fish must tape 30 inches to the “v” in the tail. “A 12 1/2 was caught during my last trip,” vahldiek said. “Guides believe they have seen 18-pound fish. I once had one on that we thought was 14—and it was one of the smaller fish in a school.” “The original Deep Water Cay was a private club and apparently they did not keep records on fish size, but the area has been known for years as producing big fish. Big permit, too.” I must admit that I’ve yet to land a double-digit bonefish at DWC. The only 10 I’ve brought to hand was years ago near Grassy Cay on the south end of Andros (another great venue but hard to access). Of course, you don’t need a huge bonefish to make a successful trip. My 15-fish day was a fine example. Guide William Pender and I worked the shallow shoreline of a cove and I was constantly casting to quality fish. Most were a bit either side of four pounds but I hooked at least two that might have been pushing eight. One just pulled off following a solid strip strike; the other took 75 yards of string and cut off amid coral rubble. Nobody ever said big bonefish were particularly easy. But, all-in-all, it was a great day of sight casting. You have to put these things in perspective. Come to think of it, I’ve never caught a double-digit trout from Baffin Bay. Two 9s and several 8s come to mind, but nothing heavier. My only verified 10-plus speck came years ago while wading in lower West Galveston Bay. That’s fishing. But a few special places have an undeniable big-fish aura; you’ve got to go back. That’s also fishing. Whether it’s Baffin Bay or Deep Water Cay, you face the sparkling promise of each new day and know you are in the 10X circle for the fish of a lifetime.

Sleek lineup of bonefish skiffs awaits a quick out-island shore lunch.


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Arrival of yet another late season front; this one dropped water temp 6° overnight.



Knowledge, Confidence, & Adjusting the Game Plan It is April 30 and still many areas along barrier island shores in the Aransas/San Antonio bay systems have very limited seagrass growth. It’s there, but growing ever-so slowly. This absence of traditional springtime structure has created tougher days due to our trout and redfish constantly moving and searching for cover necessary in the hunting game. This creates patterns I refer to as track meets. Unpredictable spring weather has added to the frustration. I believe I have received more e-mails and phone calls this year than ever before. I associate this with a more active and knowledge-hungry fishing public. Hey, that is a good thing, I assure you. I have for many years been so blessed to have so many fishermen and women with a desire and need to know. I truly enjoy the teaching aspects of my days spent on the water, which are just about every one lately it seems. Recently I got to spend two full days fishing with my son Ryan. It’s a treat to fish with the boys now days. Life for both of them is busy as it should be, especially for Ryan, now with a new baby girl to go with wife Brook and Brodie. One of the things I get the most enjoyment out of is Ryan and Jay Ray’s competitive nature. The boys bring an element of intensity back into the game for me whenever we fish together. 44 | June 2014

Ryan being the bass fisherman in the family adds to the knowledge department for both me and Jay Ray. He is fish habitat and pattern orientated and able to adjust accordingly from day to day or hour to hour. This is an absolute necessity for any and all fisherman no matter whether one’s preference is freshwater or salt. Ryan came down on a Thursday night prior to our first tournament of the season and planned on fishing with me on Friday with my charter to get back in the groove. Honestly, the boy has an A-Game that needs little tweaking but I agree that prefishing is always the best thing. Conditions for my charter prior to our I.F.A. Redfish Series event on Saturday were less than favorable. Winds to 30-plus out of the NE on Friday with the arrival of yet another strong front allowed for few options, but with my experienced group we were able to slow wade along areas of shallow windblown shoreline and catch quite a few fish in spite of the conditions. With very little bottom grass we were keying on the presence of a food source; mullet, shrimp or crabs. With emerging grassbeds out of the picture Ryan quickly picked up on casting to protruding points, no matter how slight some might have been. It was comical the way we jockeyed for position as each point was

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approached. Every point held a fish or two so it was not long before we conscientiously had to force a slowdown in our wade between them. For the remainder of the day we concentrated our efforts this way, capitalizing on the information we gained at each. I promise I am going somewhere with this so stick with me. On our way to Port Aransas for the captain’s meeting that afternoon our conversation centered on the weather forecast. The accuracy of weather forecasts on the coast is marginal at best in my opinion so I have learned to just wake up and assess the conditions at hand and fish them to the best of my ability. Conditions control the pattern and position the fish will use when they set up to feed—not the forecast! Ryan and I had two areas holding decent redfish, not necessarily what we would call guaranteed tournament winners but 7- to maybe 7-1/2 pounders. Both of these would require specific conditions to be productive. There are so many things that factor in this; lack of or light wind for bigger water, gusty winds for the shallows, and of course higher or lower tides. As we climbed in the truck that morning and headed to the tournament I asked, “So what do you think?” Ryan’s reply was, “What would you do today with a charter if the guys wanted to catch upper-slot reds and could not wade?” I thought for a few miles; out loud, that is how we do it. And then I said I would fish spoil islands in the Estes Flats-Redfish Bay area. Which by the way, this area was not at all in the original game plan nor was it an area that we had scouted recently. The area did possess the right setup for the wind and tidal conditions however, and that was enough for me. With NE wind at 20- to 25 mph I would be able to drift and Power Pole down along the many points and potholes the area offers. My 23 Haynie Cat drifts quietly with drift chutes deployed from the stern and, with me being right-handed and Ryan a lefty up on the bow, a plan was quickly and confidently set. Ryan was in from the get-go, explaining that he felt the fish would stack up in areas where potholes formed off spoil island points. The points create a windward setup and predators are all about facing into the wind-driven current. First short drift down to an area where we wanted to drop the spike, Ryan sighted a fish he said we needed. He proceeded to catch it and it pushed the 8-pound mark on our Boga. Our confidence running high now, we immediately went into stealth mode, moving with our trolling motor from pothole to pothole and point to point. Bites came frequently from both trout and reds but the reds were only 4- to 5 pounders. Excellent fishing—just not the size we needed. As the wind continued, overcast skies led to periods of light mist as well as a few short periods of just plain old rain. “Big fat stinging rain,” as Forest Gump would have said. We laughed at how terrible out-of-state tournament directors must think the weather is along the middle Texas coast most of the time. Around 10:00 Ryan stuck another fish that pushed the Boga to 7-plus so at that point we felt pretty good, only needing that one special fish to get atop the leader board. I am a firm believer in creating a positive mental environment and allowing it to carry you to a good place. Honestly, I believe we have this. I don’t say it in a bragging way but in a way meant to allow you to understand the extent to which the mind game can influence the outcome when you’re out there. The day ended without that last big bite but our 16.49 was good enough for third. The scales were a bit generous, but not just for us. We were not disappointed as we know from years of competition that it

usually takes 17-plus to win. Maybe June will be kinder, weather-wise and weight-wise. So what did all that have to do with the tough fishing days we are experiencing right now? It’s about knowing what to do when things aren’t what you need them to be. It’s about acquiring the knowledge to succeed when others struggle. Mainly it’s about elevating your game to a level where you have confidence to change game plans on a moment’s notice with confidence that you’ve made the right decision. Out there right now, it’s all about the lack of seagrass and my

C ontact

Small points like the one in the foreground should never be overlooked.

stubbornness in believing I can make it happen anyway—all the while overlooking the permanent structures (points and potholes) that provide suitable ambush points when others are absent. Knowing where to find fixed structures for all weather and tide conditions helps tremendously, and this knowledge is only gained through time on the water. Seminars, DVDs, reading this magazine and watching TV are excellent tools but, time spent actually seeing and doing is priceless. I am now keying on scattered shell and points, both off the land or underwater, that can create some type of bottom structure until some other areas along our shorelines produce enough grass, and don’t forget to factor in the Major and Minor feeding periods. “I am not a smart man but I do know what the fish do!” Watkins this time, not Gump. In closing I want to give a shout out to my very best friend and fellow Rockport guide, Tim Redden, who is fighting cancer. “It’s game time; time to FIGHT!” You got that? May your fishing always be catching. -Guide Jay Watkins

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

361-729-9596 | 47



fishing memories Summer is finally here. After a long and unusually cold winter and spring that wonderfully warm muggy air greeted me as I walked out the door in the predawn to load the boat. For some reason on this occasion it suddenly brought back a flood of memories. I can’t really explain why and I honestly don’t care. They were all pleasant and occupied my mind as I went about my chores and continued as I drove to the water. Instead of worrying about where I was going to fish or what the wind was going to do to my plan, I just let them roll. It started with thoughts of getting out of bed before the alarm after being awake all night knowing I was going to get a chance to tag along with my dad and his buddy. The ride across the ferry to Bolivar was a great adventure. Hopping from rock to rock all the way out to the boat cut of the north jetty looking at all that water and wondering what kind of huge fish we’d catch. Exploring the crevices between the granite rocks looking for creatures. Dad struggling to drag the stringer full of trout back down the rocks. Nights spent on the Texas City dike casting out into the dark and loading the ice chest with croakers. Practicing my casting abilities by trying to hit metal garbage cans. Feeling the slow and steady pull of a crab holding on to my shrimp and trying to reel up to the 48 | June 2014

rocks really slow so mom could net it. The thought of crabs led to memories of going to the San Jacinto Monument. Chicken necks on strings tossed into the murky water and the thrill of feeling the extra weight of a big ol crab. Easing it slowly to the net and hoping it wouldn’t let go. Wading out around the old fort on Bolivar towing a yellow and white bucket of kicking shrimp. Excited at the prospect of catching trout while scared to death a shark was going to bite my leg off. Then there was the old green and white boat mom and dad bought. Looking back it wasn’t much, but at the time it was the coolest boat in the world. We were no longer pinned to the bank and in my mind there was no limit to where we could go or what we could catch. Eventually they upgraded to the big Glastron and the bay gave way to the Gulf of Mexico. I can’t describe the thrill I felt as we headed through the jetties with the sun just breaking the horizon. The potential was unlimited and when that first kingfish scorched my thumb I couldn’t believe a fish could swim so fast. Eventually memories of my own kids’ fishing adventures took over. Randi reeling in her first fish and then yelling for me to get it out of the boat. Holding Erin by the back of her little life jacket to keep a huge drum

from pulling her overboard. Watching both of them have a ball trying to release undersized trout without the Rockport beggar dolphin eating them. So what’s my point in all of this? Take your kids fishing. It doesn’t need to be some well-planned full weekend with a guide chasing trophy trout. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be anything like that at all. Something I noticed about almost all of those memories, the actual fish caught weren’t that important. It was the adventure, the possibilities, the cool things I got to see. As we get older we tend to focus too much on the catching and not enough on the experience. My best advice would be to plan the trip according to the kiddo. Nobody knows your child as well as you. Take into account their age and attention span. With really young ones don’t expect too much. All they want is something to yank their string. Dead shrimp on the bottom should do the trick. Let them catch all the hardheads they want. And when they’re done pack it up and leave. Don’t force them into staying longer than they can handle just because you want to fish some more. Trips with the kids need to be about them. The best way to extend the trip is to bring along a net and see what little creatures you can find. Shrimp, crabs, minnows; they’re all interesting to young minds. I once spent a slow afternoon of fishing at the jetties snagging random wads of sargassum weed and shaking out the weird critters that live in the stuff. I still laugh thinking about how my oldest called it sarcasm weed. And don’t forget their favorite drinks and snacks. Bottles of YooHoo and bags of Cheetos

50 | June 2014

added several hours to many of our trips. Mom doesn’t need to know about that part. I know we all value our time on the water and sometimes it is really hard to leave those trout and redfish alone, but it’s all worth it. The older I get the more I appreciate what my mom and dad did for me. I

52 | June 2014


also wish I’d have spent even more days taking my girls fishing. Two of my proudest days of fishing have nothing to do with tournaments I’ve won or big fish I caught. One was when Erin was maybe fourteen and I took her out wading the surf with several of my buddies. She kicked their tails tossing soft plastics and had no problems landing, unhooking and stringing her own fish. The other was when I had Randi on the bow of my poling skiff and she spotted a big tailing red, fired off the perfect cast, twitched the spoon and fought the oversized red without a bit of help from dad. Now that I have a grandkid on the way you’d better believe I’m not going to miss any opportunities to make some new memories with that little girl. So, take your kid fishing. Do it right and you’ll get as much out of it as they do. Capt. Scott Null is a devout shallow water fisherman offering guided adventues via kayak, poled skiff, and wading. Telephone Email Website




Figure 3. Standardized 600-gallon hauling tank used to transport hatcheryreared fishes to coastal stocking sites.

B y P a u l D . C a s o n | H a t c h e r y Te a m L e a d e r Perr y R. Bass Marine Fisheries Station, Palacios


Stocking the Future Fish hatcheries and stocking hatchery-reared fishes into saltwater ecosystems to supplement wild populations (stock enhancement) have been used as a fisheries management tool for more than 100 years in the United States. Stock enhancement has tremendous potential to supplement declining fish stocks. During the last 30 years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has used a variety of tools to manage the states’ coastal resources.

Figure 1. Millions of hatchery-reared red drum (RDM) and spotted seatrout (SST) fingerlings stocked into Texas waters annually during 2009 - 2013.

54 | June 2014

Information gathered from anglers includes number, species, and size of their catch (a practice called “fisheries dependent monitoring” or more commonly “creel surveys”). TPWD also collects its own data using fishing gears such as gill nets, bag seines, and bottom trawls, a practice called “fisheries independent monitoring.” These data are analyzed and used to make management recommendations. With an increasing human population

Figure 2. Hatchery-reared red drum (RDM), spotted seatrout (SST), and southern flounder (SF) fingerlings stocked into Texas waters during 2013.

and urban development along the Texas coast, habitat protection and restoration efforts are critical to managing our coastal resources. In combination, data collection, fishing regulations, protecting and restoring habitat, and advocating for freshwater inflows into the bays are important, but in true Texas style, TPWD goes a step further. Beginning in 1983, in a response to a dramatic decline in the Texas red drum population, TPWD opened the state’s first red drum hatchery. Today, TPWD operates three saltwater fish hatcheries. Located strategically along the coast they are the CCA Marine Development Center in Corpus Christi, Perry R. Bass Marine Fisheries Research Center near Palacios, and Sea Center Texas which is located in Lake Jackson. Annually the three hatcheries release a combined total of 20-30 million red drum and spotted seatrout fingerlings (juvenile fish about 1.5 inches long) into Texas’ coastal waters (Fig. 1). Historically, red drum have been the primary focus of the hatcheries, with more than 651 million fingerlings being released to date. Successful management of the red drum fishery has led to a remarkable recovery, resulting in red drum populations nearing record highs. This being the case, hatchery managers have been able to shift production efforts to other species of concern in recent years. Beginning in 2011, saltwater hatcheries began to ramp up their spotted seatrout production. Also, in recent years, work to develop a large-scale southern flounder stocking program has progressed steadily. A common question asked is how do you decide where the hatchery-reared red drum are to be stocked (released)? In the spring of each year, TPWD fisheries managers calculate the stocking allocation for each bay system. This calculation takes into account the estimated current population of juvenile red drum present in each bay system, determined by looking at the last three years of fishery-independent bag seine catch rate data. This strategy allows the stocking rate for each bay system to vary from year to year based on the needs of each bay during a particular year. Fish

are released from the shoreline at locations that are accessible by truck and trailer and are in close proximity to favorable habitat. Some fingerlings are also stocked by boat so they can be released into prime habitat such as seagrass beds that are not accessible from shore. In an effort to spread out the fingerlings, a maximum of 300,000 fish are stocked in one square mile of coastal waters. In 2013, the three saltwater fish hatcheries released a total of 21 million red drum, 9.9 million spotted seatrout, and 124,386 southern flounder fingerlings into Texas waters (Fig. 2). Hatchery staff made a total of 233 hauling trips while driving 34,281 miles to distribute fish into eight Texas bay systems (Fig. 3). Over 130 different locations were stocked in 2013. In addition to stocking coastal waters, some red drum fingerlings produced at the Perry R. Bass Marine Fisheries Research Station were stocked into Victor Braunig and Calaveras Lakes near San Antonio. Red drum have a wide range of salinity tolerance, and survive, but do not reproduce in fresh water. Stocking inland reservoirs thus sustains a very popular “put and take” fishery in these lakes. Using a combination of traditional fisheries management practices paired with the stock enhancement program, TPWD strives to find a balance between maintaining healthy and sustainable fish populations on one hand, and providing greater accessibility to fisheries on the other. The stock enhancement program represents one tool that is used to effectively manage Texas’ coastal fisheries resources.

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

TPWD’s New Catch Reporting System for Red Snapper to Take Effect June 1, 2014 By Zachary Olsen Beginning June 1, 2014, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is asking that red snapper anglers (with the exception of head boats defined as larger boats where people pay per person or ‘head’) log onto the TPWD website upon return from a fishing trip and report the number of red snapper landed from both state and federal waters in addition to information such as date of fishing trip, number of anglers, and boat registration number (TX #). Only one angler per trip will need to report these numbers for the entire party. TPWD staff will continue to validate this data and collect additional information in the field with creel surveys and in-person interviews; however, accurately reporting catch data online is incredibly important to assure that landings estimates are complete and accurate.

for this species. TPWD will use the self-reported citizenscience information combined with information from creel surveys in an attempt to more accurately count the number of red snapper landed from federal and state waters off of Texas. The importance of having accurate red snapper landings data lies not only in its usefulness in assuring a healthy fishery, but also in assuring that an appropriate proportion of the red snapper quota is allotted to the states if any regional management scenario ever comes to pass. The season for red snapper in federal waters is set by NMFS. Based on fish abundance data collected by both state and federal agencies, NMFS scientists determine a quota or total poundage of red snapper that can be harvested for the Gulf of Mexico and set the To report your catch, please federal red snapper season log onto the following website: based on historical landings. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we better Texas and the other four understand how many red Gulf states manage red snapper are being landed off snapper in federal waters the Texas coast. cooperatively with National The red snapper fishery is Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). One currently open year round in Texas state of the key pieces of information in the waters (<9 nautical miles). However, in management of the red snapper fishery recent years, the season in federal waters is the total recreational harvest, that (>9 nautical miles) has been much is, how many red snapper are landed shorter and bag and size limits much by recreational anglers in a given year. more strict.  Before you head out to While TPWD currently performs routine federal waters, be sure to check the most creel surveys to monitor the landings recent season and regulations at www. and please remember and fishing effort for a variety of species to report all your catch (from both state along the Texas coast (you may have and federal waters) to TPWD online.  participated in one of these creel surveys With this information, we can assure at your local boat launch or pier), sustainable management of the red TPWD is attempting to better estimate snapper fishery and the opportunity for recreational red snapper landings in TPWD is asking red snapper anglers future generations to enjoy this valuable the state. Most recently, the shortened (with the exception of head boat red snapper season in federal waters anglers) to report their landings online resource.  Be safe and good luck! If you have further questions has made it difficult for state fisheries at regarding red snapper management scientists to estimate recreational and/or the reporting program, contact the TPWD Coastal landings of red snapper and so TPWD has created a pilot Fisheries office at (512) 389-2011. study using a new web-based, self-reporting system 56 | June 2014 | 57

Red snapper in Gulf federal waters is now catch-and-release for recreational anglers, except for a handful of days each year.


texaS NearSHore & oFFSHore

SNapper woeS

& a dILemma Options for this summer’s short joke of a snapper season were still being hashed over at press time. At one point it was 11 days, beginning June 1, but that could be changed at any time, and anglers are urged to check before heading offshore. Snapper have become a catchand-release fishery in federal waters, for all but a few days. Most of the guys I know who fished snapper during the past 40 years have sensibly given it up and now pursue other fish, such as tuna further offshore, or bay fish. Or they golf. Which might be the goal of those who manage snapper in federal waters. At the same time, a couple dozen commercial snapper boats have been gifted a huge share, usually around half of the Gulf’s entire annual harvest. That’s big money. There have been sporadic calls for gamefish status for red snapper by the public, but that would be determined by state law. It’s a proven technique for conservation, but since recreational fishermen can’t sell their fish, imposing the law would only mean the few Texas commercial boats would move a short distance to Louisiana docks. At this point the only logical step seems to be a crash program, to build perhaps a thousand artificial 58 | June 2014

reefs along the Texas coast, out to nine miles and just within state waters, where they can’t be tampered with by federal management. Texas anglers for many years depended on federal waters for snapper fishing, and these fish are now readily abundant. However, NOAA’s intrigues and power plays now make snapper fishing in federal waters questionable for all but a few days in June. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and build as many heavy-duty, storm proof reefs as possible. Something like Alabama has been doing for more than two decades. There should be no more depending on the oil industry’s offshore platforms and the whims of Washington. Alabama has built thousands of artificial reefs, because they took a progressive stance on snapper fishing more than two decades ago. They’ve learned how to build good substrate offshore that will resist hurricanes. And the PH of these reefs (preferably limestone) are the best for growing marine organisms in a short time, which then provide cover and habitat for a great many fish species, not just snapper. Meanwhile Texas fish management has twiddled its thumbs and depended on Gulf platforms and federal waters for snapper fishing. Now that so many of the rigs

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Strength to withstand any situation, toughness to endure intense fight, durability to withstand the harshest conditions. Models for inshore use up to big-game size for Bluefin tuna. | 59

Targeted, smaller snapper pulled aboard a commercial snapper boat based out of Galveston. Less than two dozen of these boats have been gifted with half the Gulf’s entire annual harvest.

are gone, especially a vast area off Galveston, anglers have sat up and noticed. However, I have yet to see a full-time Texas contractor who specializes in reef building, while owning a barge, crane and readybuilt material. Although Tom Hilton did some good, early reef-building off Freeport. Alabama has a full-time contractor with his own self-propelled barge and crane setup, who has been building high-tech reefs onshore and delivering them offshore in precise spots for 25 years. Many thousands of sites. So, it would appear Texas is a quarter-century behind Alabama in that respect. His website and informative video can be viewed at: We need a rig just like his barge, that can scoot up and down the ICW to haul out heavy loads of the latest reef material in good weather. Building ideal, pre-cast pyramid forms doesn’t take long, but how about hundreds of piles of scrap concrete hauled offshore in the short term? If it contains steel rebar, burn them off with a cutting torch. Concrete rubble should be readily available. We’re not talking about a complicated mission to Mars, here. To its credit, Texas does have a blocked-off area for artificial reefs called the Vancouver site, just south of Freeport, about six miles offshore, 60 | June 2014 | 61

Author vents a snapper properly through the side of the air bladder, releasing gas, before tossing the snapper overboard.

where Hilton built his reefs. Vancouver was one of the nine Liberty ships sunk as reefs off the Texas coast in about 1979, the last serious effort by the state to create offshore reef habitat. Inside today’s approved little rectangle south of Freeport are a number of small, scattered reefs, within sight of the beach in good weather. But these spots can be heavily fished, especially in summer when boat traffic is high. It’s impossible to fish and hide there from passing boat traffic, compared to vast federal waters. Instead, you have to grin and bear it while other boats approach, sometimes within easy talking distance. Even boats without a GPS or depth finder can fish here. The little snapper probably take a beating; they’re at the mercy of catch-and-release from anglers hoping for bigger, keeper fish. “Everybody says TP&W does such a great job,” says Capt. Ken Doxie, who runs charters out of Freeport. “But they dropped the ball 20 years ago on artificial reefs, and all they offer today is excuses. Alabama’s designated reefing area is 1,200 square miles. Their little coastline, totaling 1.5 percent of our Gulf Coast, harvests 40 percent of all recreational snapper landings.” A sad situation. Texas anglers need more than a thousand square miles of designated reef bottom, stretching from Louisiana to Mexico. Next month I will interview Tom Hilton at to review his ideas about reviving bottom fishing just off the Texas coast.

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Controlling the Fly As of late, several of my customers have made note of and questioned the process I go through every time I get ready to tie a fly on the end of a leader. Actually, it was more a matter of them making fun of me taking a fly out of the box, looking it over and then putting it back in the box. Then, choosing another, and yet another before finally tying the fly onto the leader only to cut the fly off and then tie another knot. “Is it really necessary?” one of them recently asked. I answered with a definitive- yes. Do not get me wrong, there are days that you can lob whatever you want out there and a fish will just choke it down. However, the fish are not always in a feeding frenzy. Remember, most of the fish that we pursue with a fly rod are in fact opportunistic feeders, especially those that we chase on a regular basis here in Texas. In other words, when presenting a fly to a fish that is not actively feeding, it is very important that everything is perfect. Everything from the color of the fly all the way down to the knot I choose to connect the 64 | June 2014

fly to the leader factors into my choices. Having written about choosing the right fly before, I will not beat that dead horse again, other than to say- some days it is very important to “match the hatch” in not only profile, but also size and color. But there is much more to it than that. First, lets talk about the fly before it makes it into your fly box. There is what seems like thousands of patterns to pick from which in all reality, are just all variations of about 6 or 7 basic patterns. And, the variant in each of these flies is usually the material in which they are tied. The use of the different materials can in some cases be the difference between catching fish and not catching fish. The reason for this is because- the action and sink-rate of a fly can be controlled by the amount and types of materials in which it is tied. It is important to realize that the bulkier a fly is tied, the slower it will sink and, as a rule, synthetic hairs or fibers sink faster than natural

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hairs. You can also change the sink-rate and action by adding or removing weight usually by interchanging bead-chain eyes for plastic or lead. In other words- a fly can be fine-tuned at the vise to make it do what you want. So now, let’s say that your fly box is full of “offerings” made to your liking and now it is time to hit the water. You are drifting across a flat trying to sight-cast to the redfish that are swimming along the bottom in two foot of water. You make cast after cast but can never seem to get the fly down to them before you get too close to them and they spook from the boat. Now it is time to look at the size and type of your leader material and what knot you have used to connect the fly to your leader. This is what you need to know- fluorocarbon sinks faster than monofilament and smaller diameter leader material sinks faster that larger. The second part of the formula is that a loopknot allows the fly to “hinge” at the leader and will allow the fly to sink nose-down which ultimately reduces the drag on the fly allowing it to sink faster. So…if you cannot get the fly down fast enough, try going with a fly that is tied more sparsely, using 12lbs fluorocarbon instead of 16lbs monofilament and tying the fly onto the leader with a loop-knot instead of a clinch. Now lets look at the situation in reverse. Say you are wading a flat and you come up on several redfish feeding along a shoreline. The water is seven inches deep, of average clarity and there is oyster on the bottom. You are looking at these fish going bat-crap crazy on small shrimp and you open your fly box and have to make a decision. What do you do? Well here is what I would do. First I would try to match-the-hatch with a small slider-type pattern tied with natural material and bead-chain eyes. Then, I would tie the fly onto my leader using a clinch knot rather than a loop. Broken down, the above translates tobecause of the oysters, you want the fly to ride hook up and not sink too fast. Sliders ride hook up, natural materials sink slower, bead-chain is lighter than lead eyes and, by using a clinch knot I make the fly sink horizontally instead of vertically ultimately slowing the rate of descent. Its that simple. See ya in a month. Until then…be gude and stuff like that.

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





My mom, Sandra Garza, with one of the trout taken on a Stoker.



Get Stoked everybody else stayed with the Stoker. My dad wanted My dad, mom and I were at the dock at around 6:30am me to keep some fish for trout rolls and so I strung to meet up with Capt. Dean “Slowride” Thomas, Jennifer three. Blanca was working a twitch tail Stoker on top Thomas, Henry Stokes and Blanca. Henry owns Skinny and had a decent trout. Towards the end, Dean had a Water Arsenal and wanted to look for big trout the next big trout swirl at his topwater. He tried to get it to hit two days. We all caught up at the dock while we loaded again but the fish was uninterested. Dean said, “I had up gear and fueled up. We were in for a long day of my chance to be a hero today” and I agreed. I was next fishing, looking for big trout is some hard work. We left to him when it swirled at his lure, it was a monster trout. the harbor and headed for the first area. It was quite a We soon moved to the next area because it had gone windy morning and not like the predictions at all. dead and the wind was picking up. The boat ride wasn’t too long. We got off and I We went for a short boat ride and got out into immediately waded towards the intracoastal. I had shallow water. It had become too windy for a topwater fished this area many times with my dad and with Capt. so I switched to a Stoker. At first I was using a slow Shuler so I knew how to work it pretty well. I got on the sinker with a twitch tail but everybody else was using a edge and started throwing topwater toward the dropoff. Dean was right behind me and behind him, Jennifer. weighted shrimp pattern so I switched to that instead. I was immediately amazed with this It seemed like it was automatic, new lure. I loved it. I didn’t catch everybody was getting hits, and then anything in the area but I did have a I hooked up. It wasn’t a big trout by few hits. My mom caught a nice trout any means, but it was a fish. I got it on the shrimp pattern and my dad off the hook, released it, and looked took some nice pictures and then let to my right. My dad was hooked up. it go. Right as we were about to leave, There seemed to be plenty of fish in Henry hooked up and also caught a the area. decent trout on a Stoker. I kept getting blowups and then I Blanca was in on the action too We picked up and left to another would catch a fish and then another with a Stoker-caught trout. spot. It was a small area and my dad fish. Dean switched to top but 68 | June 2014

decided to sit on the boat this wade. I was one of the first ones off and I was still using the shrimp pattern. After walking about 15 yards, my mom hooked up and then so did I. My dad had placed Dean on the Intracoastal and after a few steps, Dean found some holes. I caught a few more fish there and then my dad decided that we should pick up and move again. The boat ride was a little longer than the other ones. We started looking for reds in the real shallow, clear water. My dad and I have caught many reds back here and we were trying to do the same thing today. We got off and really spread out this time. I went far to the left and started fan casting. Dean and Jennifer went far to the right and everybody else was in the middle. The reds were scattered and shy. I was still using the shrimp pattern and it worked quite well. After about 30 minutes, I hooked up onto a good red. At first I thought it was a big trout because of the way it came out of the water but when I got it up to me, I saw that it was a red. I had another hit and then it was dead. I was at the boat and then Blanca had a hit. Her line snapped and the fish was gone. We picked up and hit one last spot with little action before heading in. Overall, it was a good day, I fished with some great people and then the food afterwards was also great. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing like fresh fish. Tight lines to everybody and good luck. | 69


k aYa k F I S H I N G C H r o N I C L e S

a SteLLar daY For CLIFF The trout haven’t come into the surf yet, as of me writing this anyway, and the March wind seems to have taken up permanent residence here in Texas– still blowing in May. But the marshes are crawling (literally) with reds, and this is a dream come true for kayak anglers. On a recent weekday with perfect weather and tides, of course I was stuck at work, my pal Cliff made it out and enjoyed an exceptional day.  As is our custom we call each other to share the days report when we are unable to fish together.   So I’m in the office and my phone rings at about 11:00 AM. Cliff is already headed home.  This is highly unusual, him being a pretty hardcore kayaker and fisherman. He is quick to let me know that the early morning hours had been full of action. After briefing me 70 | June 2014

on some of the details Cliff said he would send me a few photos to help paint the picture.


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Well later that afternoon he did indeed send me some photos and dandies they are, documenting a stellar morning in the marsh. After talking to him and seeing his photos, I knew his trip was worthy of showcasing this month.  I have included a selection of the photos for my article and I will let them tell the story.  Thank you for sharing, Cliff.  Enjoy.

Currently in my own fishing endeavors I have been doing a lot of bass fishing. No new personal bests for me but I did put a buddy of mine on his best-ever bass.  Not to downplay his new outdoor enthusiasm, but up until this day he hadn’t even thrown a baitcaster.  It was a special moment to be a part of. In the saltwater lately I am on a kick of throwing soft plastics with no weight.  I actually have started using my offset bass fishing hooks to rig soft plastics.  When fishing the skinny water of the marsh I was constantly finding my lure plugging up with grass and mud, even with the lightest of jigheads, when I slowed it enough to be effective for redfish doing the feed-cruising thing with their backs exposed. The weightless setup lands softer than a baited offering and prevents the clogging.  It does take some casting finesse and a little practice to get it out there consistently without a backlash, but nothing you can’t handle.  Send me your kayak fishing reports and catch photos! Telephone Email


Find me on Facebook to follow along in my outdoor adventures | 73

Sargassum can be wicked bad on PINS at times. Even the most determined surf anglers will retreat to a jetty or ship channel when sargassum mats the size of football fields begin arriving on the beach.



Dealing with the


After hours of anticipation and the skillful preparation and rigging of large juicy shark baits, deployment is finally underway. The light of day slowly fades and “tiger time” is upon us. Late spring and early summer are by far my favorite times of year for big shark species, and on nights like this large sharks typically prowl the surf for an easy meal. During ambient twilight we are also greeted by the rise of the seemingly tribal full moon. Come darkness, Charter client Brian Richardson with a 300-pound bull amid copious weed.

74 | June 2014

I have successfully kayaked out four ridiculously large baits, each staggered several hundred yards off the beach. Deployment technique and execution are about as perfect as it gets. The darkness brings excitement, and yet a certain shroud of mystery begins to blanket the atmosphere as with most shark-fishing nights. All is looking good as the lines stay true and tight. This could very well be the night of sea monsters! As a great meal and relaxation overtakes the camp, a reel begins to release drag. Excitement grows instantly thick. And then silence. With eyes glued to the rod we summon restraint but patience is in short supply. Then unexpectedly, another reel begins to release drag... then another. A spotlight helps illuminate the lines as they travel down at a distance over the breakers. Faintly, I see something dancing around just beyond my view. I then detect movement amongst the lines – actually, it is on the lines. Suddenly, there it is, creeping closer with each breaking wave. Now it is draping over all the lines, the most hideous and terrifying sea monster of all time is attacking the beach

– it’s sargassum weed! I have lived this dreadful scene many times, usually in the first half of the year. Once the sargassum hits, all is but lost and you are simply doomed. Here in Texas, sargassum and strong winds are stuff nightmares are made of for surf shark fishermen. The unique makeup of this floating weed with clumpy strands and bead-like air bladders make it stick to fishing line like Velcro. Our strong currents and crashing surf will throw this weed into the lines pulling weights free, or worse, breaking them due to loading beyond rated strength. It can be manageable in small doses, but it requires some maintenance. However, when mats the size of football fields roll in – you’re toast and you must relocate. At times you can drive a few miles and get away from it and other times it will cover a 100 miles of coastline. This is an annihilating obstacle and is not present on many beaches in the The author poses with a lateseason sandbar, despite the presence of sargassum.

amount we see it anywhere else in the world. During this part of the year we have a superb inshore fishery and much of it is due ironically to this hindering weed. It protects our stocks from overfishing - perhaps months at a time. It brings in an array of plankton, crustaceans, and small fish that fit perfectly into the marine food chain. And, in response to this, many predatory species are present when the weed is at its worst, including huge bull sharks dropping their pups. Tiger sharks hunt turtles that congregate in the mats while hammerheads feed on stingrays. Talking to senior members of the beach fraternity, they swear the sargassum was never as menacing in their memory as it is now. Like it or not, it is a part of nature coastal anglers have to deal with and our only option is learning to deal with it. Predicting the amount of sargassum that will arrive on our beaches is a guess at best. Some years it might be nearly non-existent, others can be quite severe, like we have seen so far in 2014. There are a few hardcore anglers that will battle the punishing conditions at a chance for large gamefish. Often, the effort put in will eventually reward you with a nice catch. You cannot fish during all sargassum situations but if the current, wind and surf conditions are moderate there may be some hope. The cardinal rule of fishing weed is to make sure your lines are placed far up current, and usually at an angle. Braided line is highly recommended due to limited stretching. Braid is also known to “cut” through the weed like a laser. In theory, if your lines are set tight, the current and ultimately the wind will push the weed up the line to where you can physically shake it off. Depending on how severe the weed really is, this can be a tedious and tiring process. Nonetheless, | 75

the longer you are able to keep baits out, the better your chances of a fish picking up a bait. When there is not a single stretch of beach without weed available, jetties and passes can provide a viable option. Examples would be the Port Aransas or Port Mansfield jetties. Fishing the wind protected area of the jetties will usually allow you to keep baits out for longer periods. If the conditions are still menacing, then try the actual channels. In regards to sharks, they (bulls) travel far up the channels and waterways. The Port Aransas ship channel is the most underfished shark location in Texas. Even miles inland you can have nightly activity. Any deep coastal pass with good water movement is a

76 | June 2014

beacon for sharks and other big-game. Most of these locations will see the majority of action during nighttime hours. There is still much unknown about sargassum. While thought to originate in the Atlantic’s Sargasso Sea, this organism thrives very well in our warm waters. Fortunately, our winds and currents mainly allow the weed to affect us for only a few months out of the year. Scholars try to relate the reasoning behind its hit or miss activity and yearly impacts in our waters with inconclusive results. One thing is certain anglers like me will continue to wage war on this macro-algae. My quest for beach sharks will not be halted at the first sign of weed. Adapting to this nuisance is another way our coastal anglers overcome challenges, making us some of the greatest saltwater fishermen on the planet. It is also important to note that biologically sargassum is not a terrible thing. It is an important biomass of life supporting a countless variety of organisms which in return provides food and nourishment to our fishery. The success on your next surf trip may be determined by how well you can adapt to the monster of the Sargasso Sea!

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Curtis Mai and Richard Weir engaged in a merciless battle with sargassum weed, sometimes the weed wins.

For the past decade Eric ‘Oz’ Ozolins has been promoting shark catch and release and assisting various shark research programs. Eric offers guided shark fishing on Padre Island National Seashore. Also renowned for extreme kayak big game fishing, Eric runs Kayak Wars; one of the largest kayak fishing tournaments in the world. Email Websites | |

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C C A Te x a s S t a f f

T S F M a g C o ns e r v a t i o n N e w s

Federal management of Gulf red snapper grinds to historic lows Broken system produces 11-day season for recreational anglers The impact of a recent federal district court ruling in favor of commercial red snapper fishermen and seafood packers was driven home this week as the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council set the 2014 recreational red snapper season at just 11 days, the shortest season in the fishery’s history under management. The judge’s ruling was an indictment of federal data collection and management systems, but it will be recreational anglers who ultimately pay the price. “This is what happens when common sense leaves the building and you blindly insist on managing recreational angling with the same system you designed exclusively to manage a few industrial fishing operations,” said Mark Ray, a vice chairman for Coastal Conservation Association which intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of recreational anglers’ interests. “Now the

78 | June 2014

whole complex system is being mercilessly manipulated by the commercial industry and environmental groups to restrict access to these resources to fewer and fewer people. This is rock bottom – the fishery itself is in wonderful shape and anglers have an 11-day season in federal waters.” The judge’s ruling forces federal managers to find ways to manage the vast and diverse recreational sector on a par with the commercial sector, which is comprised of less than 400 boats operating in a privatized system. The recreational sector has been managed by seasons, size limits and bag limits, with the overall catch estimated by a complicated system of surveys and statistical estimations. The lawsuit, brought by commercial fishermen, seafood processors and trade groups closely associated with the Environmental Defense Fund, forces the National Marine Fisheries Service to find other tools to guarantee that the recreational catch will stay within its hard quota just as well as the 387-boat commercial sector that can

count its harvest to the pound. “This is simply public policy gone wrong,” said Ray. To satisfy the court for the 2014 season, the Council created “buffers” which set aside percentages of the quota to ensure anglers stay within the overall quota. The Council elected to set aside 20 percent of the recreational quota in 2014, which produces a 15 percent chance that the quota will still be exceeded. Combined with the projected harvest from state waters which reduces the amount available in federal waters, the buffer cuts the season that was projected at 40 days earlier this year down to just 11 days. “It is unconscionable that in the face of rising red snapper stocks, Gulf fisherman could be subjected to the shortest recreational red snapper season in history. This is a stark reminder the old system governing recreational fishing for red snapper is unquestionably broken. The State of Louisiana has demonstrated its ability to collect better data that allows regulators to make more informed decisions based on real-time information, yet federal regulators have not kept up,” U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., said this week. “Building on Louisiana’s success, last year I introduced S. 1161, the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Conservation Act, to transfer management of red snapper out of the federal bureaucracy and into the hands of the Gulf State officials who work with our fishermen on a daily basis.” U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., introduced roughly the same measure in the House, H.R. 3099.  “Sen. Landrieu, Rep. Miller and dozens of bi-partisan members of Congress proposed a workable solution to the problem last year.  But the problem has only gotten worse because the federal system is designed to fail anyone who doesn’t buy, sell or own commercial red snapper shares,” said Ray. “The states are going to have to fix this problem because the federal solution is to continue to consolidate and privatize most of the fishery and let recreational anglers fight over the scraps. It is time for something dramatically different for red snapper management.”

Effort to Open Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough Continues to Move Forward At the time of this writing contractors have finished up mobilization of equipment, laying dredge pipe and as of May 5, 2014 have started the dredging and excavation work. Aransas County, CCA Texas and all involved are excited to see this project finally begin and look forward to being on site to document this historic effort. Look for more details and updates in the next issue. | 79



Vexatious Vibrios “You could ask who’s in charge. Lots of people think, well, we’re humans; we’re the most intelligent and accomplished species; we’re in charge. Bacteria may have a different outlook: more bacteria live and work in one linear centimeter of your lower colon than all the humans who have ever lived. That’s what’s going on in your digestive tract right now. Are we in charge, or are we simply hosts for bacteria?” ~Neil deGrasse Tyson, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier Many of us recognize bacteria only as “germs,” invisible nuisances that invade our bodies and make us sick. But bacteria have always coexisted with us, and perform an amazing array of helpful functions, such as making vitamins, breaking down garbage, and even maintaining our atmosphere. They are found inside and around all living creatures. Just think of them as the Force (well, midichlorians are probably a closer comparison). Bacteria are tiny single-cell microorganisms, normally existing together in millions. They are the driving mechanism behind a vast percentage of natural processes, including decomposition, digestion, and regulation of the nutrient cycle in soils. A gram of soil typically contains 4050 million bacteria (there are about 28 grams in an ounce). One-quarter teaspoon of fresh water holds about one million bacteria. Planet Earth is estimated to be home to at least five nonillion bacteria (5 nonillion = 5,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,000,000,000). In fact, the worldwide bacterial biomass exceeds that of all plants and animals on Earth. Often, the first reaction people have to bacteria is eradication. We are clearly at a numbers disadvantage in this battle. Luckily, we don’t have to annihilate all bacteria. True, there are some “bad” bacteria we simply can’t have in our bodies, but there are also “good” bacteria in humans that are very important to everyday bodily functions. Many yogurts and supplements are fortified with good bacteria that alleviate digestive disorders and boost the immune system. Bacteria are used to preserve foods, enhance soil for crops, make cheese, and break down solid waste. These uses are beneficial to us. Many aspects of nutrient cycles depend on bacterial metabolism, such as nitrogen fixation from the Earth’s atmosphere. Nitrogen makes up 78% of our atmosphere; it’s pretty important. Bacteria are members of the prokaryote group. Flashback to high school biology: a bacterial cell differs from the cell of a plant or animal (both eukaryotes) in that its nucleus and organelles are not bound by a membrane. Bacteria are divided into two major categories – eubacteria 80 | June 2014

and cyanobacteria – and five clades (groupings that include a common ancestor and all the descendants, living and extinct, of that ancestor). While there are a number of recognized phyla, the dominant ones are Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria. The study of bacteria is known as bacteriology, a subdiscipline of microbiology. Because bacteria are responsible for so many processes in our own bodies, as well the world at large, understanding how they function can only benefit us, whether we are protecting ourselves from the bad, or making our lives healthier with the good. Modern bacteria’s ancestors appeared on earth 3.5-4 billion years ago. They were the earliest forms of life on Earth. It’s thought that their natural processes influenced the development of the planet’s environment, sufficiently altering the atmosphere into a composition that enabled other, more complex life forms to develop. Cyanobacteria, a type of photosynthetic bacteria, paved the way. They grew in the water and produced oxygen (and still do today). More complex cells developed when the once free-living bacteria hung up their hats inside other cells, eventually becoming the organelles in modern complex cells. The mitochondria in our cells are one such example. This is also the first step towards the evolution of eukaryotes, organisms with membrane-bound nuclei. Bacteria reproduce through a process called binary fission, which is essentially a period of growth followed by a division of the cell into two “daughter cells.” In this way, most bacteria can replicate extremely quickly. The problem with binary fission is that every daughter cell is genetically identical to both its parent and its twin. This makes it harder for bacteria to adapt, in turn making them more susceptible to antibiotics. To mitigate this predicament, bacteria use a process called recombination. Bacterial recombination is achieved through three processes: conjugation, transformation, and transduction. Conjugation is simply the trading of gene fragments when two or more bacteria come in contact. There’s a special tube for it and everything. Transformation is when bacteria grab DNA from the environment around them, often dead bacteria. They simply pull the DNA through their cell wall. (Wait - only plants have a cell wall! Well, yes and no. We’ll cover that later.) Transduction is when a virus gets into the bacterium, steals secret gene files, and sells them to the next bacterium chump it hitches a ride with. There are several nutritional classifications for bacteria. By this, I mean there are several ways they eat. First, either they are autotrophic or heterotrophic. Autotrophs

make their own organic food from inorganic substances, such as turning carbon dioxide into a BLT. They can be further divided into photoautotrophs and chemoautotrophs. Photoautotrophs, such as the cyanobacteria, use light energy they soak up to create chemical energy. Chemoautotrophs collect inorganic compounds such as iron, hydrogen sulfide, and hydrogen gas and combine them with oxygen to create their energy (this process is known as oxidation). Heterotrophs require pre-made organic substances for biosynthesis (the conversion of food into more complex products used to grow). They can also be divided into two major subgroups. Photoheterotrophs use organic carbon sources for biosynthesis but also engage in some photosynthesis on the side. Chemoheterotrophs use organic compounds, such as sugars, proteins, and lipids, as their source of energy. Vibrio cholerae are chemoheterotrophs. So are we. Bacteria come in three main shapes. (1) Spiral: these are known are as spirilla. If their coil is very tight they are known as spirochetes. (2) Spherical: usually the simplest bacteria, called cocci. (3) Rod-shaped: designated as bacilli. Some bacillary bacteria are curved; these are known as vibrios.

Vibrios Kingdom Eubacteria: true bacteria (separate from ancient bacteria, Kingdom Archaebacteria). Phylum Proteobacteria: this major phylum incorporates a gamut of pathogens. Members are Gram-negative (a dye-based classification), with an outer membrane mainly composed of lipopolysaccharides (LPS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; important later, I promise). Class Gamma Proteobacteria: the largest and most diverse subgroup of the proteobacteria. Family Vibrionaceae: facultative anaerobes, meaning they can thrive in the presence or absence of oxygen (though given a choice, they prefer oxygen for respiration); capable of fermentation; containing oxidase (a special enzyme that reduces oxygen to water or hydrogen peroxide); and having one or more flagella. Most bioluminescent (light-emitting) bacteria belong to this family. Members of the genus Vibrio consist of common, Gram-negative bacteria in aquatic environments, especially marine environments. Along with cell shape, Gram staining is a rapid diagnostic tool used to divide species into two basic groups. Vibrios are heterotrophic, obtaining nutrients from their mutualistic, parasitic, or pathogenic relationships with other organisms. The bioluminescent, marine vibrios are usually symbionts of fish, squid, and other marine life. V. fischeri is well-known for mutualistic relationships, usually with squid. The host of this bacteria expels ninety percent of its stash of V. fischeri each day. This allows newly-hatched offspring to find the endosymbionts they need. Endosymbiosis is a type of symbiosis in which one organism lives inside the other, the two typically behaving as a single organism, and each usually benefiting from the other. Some endosymbiotic relationships are so intertwined that if the organisms were separated, they would die. Humans and mitochondria, for example, or plants and chloroplasts. The most sensationalized vibrio is Vibrio cholerae, which causes epidemic or Asiatic cholera which, untreated, is one of the most rapidly fatal infectious diseases known. The cholera toxin, which is the classic model of a bacterial enterotoxin, is also produced by some strains of E. coli. An enterotoxin is a protein exotoxin released by a microorganism. An exotoxin is a toxin secreted by bacteria. It can cause damage to the | 81

host by causing cell death or disrupting normal cellular metabolism (basically, the cell life cycle). Exotoxins are highly potent and can cause major damage to the host. Exotoxins may be secreted during growth or released when the bacterial cell dies and breaks down. You certainly wouldn’t want to room with V. cholerae. But even though making you sick is a byproduct of its company, it’s just the byproduct. Not the objective. Vibrio bacteria don’t directly attack a person’s body. Rather, they produce proteins, as a byproduct of feeding and growth, that are toxic to the human body (remember enterotoxins?). It’s like being allergic to cat fur. The cat isn’t actively clawing your eyes out, but she IS leaving her fur everywhere, making you miserable in the process. Still, it’s a good reason to avoid cats. Most bacteria secrete a covering for themselves which we call a cell wall. However, bacterial cell walls are not the same as the cell walls we talk about plants having. Plant walls contain cellulose, the compound that gives rigidity to the cells. Bacterial cell walls have no cellulose; they are composed mostly of a chemical called peptidoglycan. Whether a bacteria has a thin or a thick cell wall determines what antibiotic will work against it. If you’ve ever waited for the results of a culture and sensitivity test, you may have heard the terms “Grampositive” or “Gram-negative.” This is the legacy of a cell-staining method developed by Christian Gram: bacteria with thick cell walls retain dye and are labeled Gram-positive; bacteria with thin walls do not and are labeled Gram-negative. Some antibiotics, like penicillin, don’t outright kill the bacteria; they just prevent the bacteria from making more cell wall, halting the bacteria’s growth. That’s why antibiotics typically need to be taken for several days. The bacteria, unable to grow, die of “old age.” If a person stops taking the antibiotic too soon, any bacteria still living would resume growing and reproducing. Antibiotics tend to be more effective against thick-walled bacteria, the Gram-positives. Gram-negative bacteria are more resistant. That’s why it is important to determine which of the two types of bacteria have moved in. Thanks to improved sewage and water treatment, there is a low occurrence of V. cholerae in the United States. Over ninety percent of the cholera cases occurring in the U.S. are the result of travel to a country where this species is prevalent; recurring infections of cholera are rare. Other headlining species of Vibrio include V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus, known to cause seafood-borne illnesses such as septicemia and wound infections. V. parahaemolyticus seems to be the more amiable of the two. Raw or undercooked seafood, usually oysters, are the primary culprits of the acute gastroenteritis caused by this bacterium. Wound infections can also occur in warm seawater but are less common than seafood-born maladies. Higher water temperatures breed higher levels of bacteria, so outbreaks are more common in summer and early fall. Symptoms typically occur in about 24 hours and include watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and sometimes fever and chills. The illness usually resolves itself in three days, but it can persist for up to ten days in immunocompromised individuals. Treatment is unnecessary in most cases. Antibiotics don’t seem to decrease the severity or the length of the illness anyway. Drinking plenty of liquids and electrolytes to replace fluids lost through diarrhea is the best course. V. vulnificus is responsible for the majority of seafood-related deaths. Immunosuppressed individuals are eighty times more likely to contract Vibrio infections, though these bacteria are capable of harming anyone. However, most cases occur in males over the age of 50. Turns out, 82 | June 2014

estrogen protects females against the V. vulnificus endotoxin. This is different from the entero- and exotoxins we already covered. Endotoxins, also known as lipopolysaccharides (LPS), are part of the outer membrane of the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria. They are released when the bacterial cell disintegrates (whereas the other toxins are usually a byproduct of growth; endotoxins are a byproduct of death). V. vulnificus primarily spreads through contaminated seafood; it does not alter the appearance, taste, or odor of oysters which, again, are the primary culprits. It can also be contracted by an open wound that is exposed to seawater. Among healthy people, ingestion of this bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In the immunocompromised, V. vulnificus can infect the bloodstream, causing septic shock and blistering skin lesions. These bloodstream infections are fatal about fifty percent of the time. If this bacteria is suspected, treatment should be initiated immediately because antibiotics improve survival. Luckily, V. vulnificus infections are rare. These vibrios are potentially dangerous, but perhaps a little overdone in the media. Just take the correct precautions when preparing seafood, especially shellfish and don’t swim in the bays with a significant open wound. It’s not inconceivable that you’ll have a rough experience with one, at some point in your life, but the probability is low. Whew, vibrios are kind of a downer, so it’s nice to know the human body contains huge amounts of friendly bacteria, even some that protect us from dangerous ones by occupying places in the body the pathogenic bacteria want attach to, and some that actively come to the rescue and attack the pathogens. Also, lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Lactococcus are used with yeast and molds to make soy sauce, vinegar, yogurt, and pickles. In fact, humans have been using these bacteria to ferment foods for thousands of years. And, bacteria help clean up our oil spills! So don’t let one group of bacteria taint your worldview. After all, there’s one in every family. Where I learned about bacteria, and you can too! Centers of disease Control & prevention Vibrio parahaemolyticus: Vibrio vulnificus: National Institute of allergy & Infectious diseases: antimicrobialresistance/examples/gramnegative/Pages/default.aspx todar’s online textbook of Bacteriology “Bacterial Protein Toxins”: “The Major Groups of Bacterial Pathogens”: “Vibrio vulnificus”: environmental & public Health Consulting Group, Inc. General Microbiology, By Hans Günter Schlegel Oceans & Health: Pathogens in the Marine Environment, By Shimshon Belkin, Rita Colwell ecoLab: Merck Animal Health: productadditional_127_113343.aspx medical News today: princeton University: UC - Clermont, College Biology: encyclopedia of LIfe: what are Bacteria?: microbe world: microbewiki: Blueplanet: wiseGeek: maryland Healthy Beaches:



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DICKIE ColBuRn’s Sabine Scene


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

86 | June 2014

While our fish are now transitioning from hustling mullet to herding shrimp, area fishermen are transitioning from “I’ve never seen a spring this cold” to “I can’t ever recall the wind blowing this hard every day!” It is obvious they don’t maintain a fishing log, but in all fairness, it has been unusually cold and a stiff wind from any direction has been almost a daily occurrence. When the wind has granted us even a modest break we have enjoyed a very good flounder bite and the redfish are already schooling in the open lake. We fared much better with the trout, especially the larger variety, through early April, but the combination of bull tides and an extended drawdown on Toledo Bend has made them difficult to consistently pattern. As the salinity level improves, the bite on the flats bordering the ICW and ship channel could light off overnight. Both revetment walls, depending wind direction, are yielding the most consistent trout bite. I have seen very few over 27-inches caught thus far but the fish hustling everything from shrimp to mullet are in the three to four pound class most days. Catching these fish usually

requires a little experimenting. In the same morning, the best bite can vary from throwing a She Dog against the rocks to crawling a Die Dapper or Sea Shad along the base of the wall. At the same time, fishermen walking the rocks are usually catching fish on both live and Vudu shrimp fished under a cork. As if that weren’t enough to cipher through, a Swimming Image, Catch 2000 or Usual Suspect cranked just beneath the surface may Bill Prewett outlasted his personal best red!

Joe Matthews and Bill Blizzard had their way with the redfish.

be the ticket at any hour of the day. Hopefully by the time you read this the bite on the north flats will be in full swing. When this happens, lure color is usually more important than choice of lures. I prefer a topwater at first light, but they will readily attack everything from tails to swimbaits. Homesteading isolated patches of shell can be exceptionally productive. I will start every morning on these flats and move further offshore when the wind allows. The open lake redfish bite is worth sampling but too much wind can all but eliminate any hope of locating them from day to day. Over the past few weeks, the majority of these fish have been a tad oversized, but watching them demolish a topwater is not all bad. Once you are in casting range there is not a lure in your box they will not attack. It only takes one or two gulls that will not leave a small area to help you locate them if they’re not already be blowing bait out of the water. I built my guide business in the early 80s on the strength of figuring out flounder habits and targeting them with ultra-light gear and 1/8 ounce jigs. The netters pounded the larger trout on Sabine and redfish were so prolific that we never gave them a second thought, but clients would still travel to learn how to fish the flounder program. I mention this only because I seriously doubted the wisdom in raising the minimum size and later cutting creel limits in half. For the most part, raising the minimum size limit forced us to keep only females and five flounder won’t go far at a fish fry. I still don’t understand how eliminating only the girl fish can possibly yield better numbers. We don’t get the full benefit of those regulation changes here on Sabine because you can still keep the more generous Louisiana limits by simply launching on the other side, but even at that, there is no doubt that our flounder numbers have improved significantly. Not only am I now finding more flounder but the average size has improved dramatically as well! Either tide change is an asset when cashing in on this bite. If the tide is incoming or high enough to flood the cane, concentrate your efforts tight against the submerged roots of the taller stands of Roseau. The early stages of an outgoing tide are best spent fishing the mouth of a small drain exiting the marsh or one of the bayous. Don’t forget—recreational anglers can also fish the bayous and canals inside the Game Reserve, but you have to have a non-resident Louisiana license to do so. These canals are home to trout and reds as well and offer a heck of a Plan-B when the wind turns the lake upside down. Take a youngster fishing on your next trip! | 87

CaPt. stEVE hIllman

thE BuZZ on Galveston Bay

“That’s why they call it fishing and not catching.” If I had $5.00 for every time I’ve heard one of my customers recite that cliché then I could afford to take my family to Walt Disney World for a week. Throw in another dollar per mention for “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work” and we could actually afford to ride the roller coaster through Space Mountain and buy everyone (including in-laws) Galveston a snow cone. As I mentioned in last month’s issue, we knew we would experience a transition. We always do. This year’s extended winter, Steve Hillman is a full-time however, has delayed the timing by 2 or 3 fishing guide on his home weeks. Historically, here in the Galveston Bay waters of Galveston Bay. Steve Complex, we experience some tough fishing fishes the entire Galveston Bay from late March through mid-April. This year Complex, wading and drifting was an anomaly, however, as our success for trout, redfish, and flounder rates were above average leading up to the using artificial lures. full moon around April 15. On the back side telephone of that full moon is when catching became 409-256-7937 about as easy as winning the lottery. email I personally don’t mind grinding out a few fish on a tough day. I think it makes you a website better angler over the long haul. Those of us

88 | June 2014

who understand the patterns and fishing in general get it. But, try explaining that to three guys from Iowa. “I don’t understand why we’re not catching anything. It’s such a beautiful day.” Ugh! The silver lining was that the trout were exceptionally fat and any cast could result in a trout of a lifetime. I personally know of four legitimate 8-plus pounders and one nine and a half caught recently over a four day period. Luckily, one of my long-time clients

Haley Matthews with his best trout to date (8 lbs. 5 ounces). Released!

Scott Medsger with a catch and release 27.5 inch red!

was the recipient of such fortune. Kudos to him for releasing her in excellent shape. As always, we tread water through the bad times to get to the good times. Well, better days are fast approaching and hopefully we’ll be doing the back stroke by the time you’re reading this. Our trout and reds are starting to bunch up in various locales all across the complex. There are lots of male trout mixed in with the females we’re catching. We see this every year around this time as the males begin to stage in areas leading up to the spawn. The drumming (croaking) of large groups of males attracts the females that are ready to spawn. This explains why we’ll catch a 14 inch male on one cast then a 6 pound roe-laden female on the next. Though trout will spawn throughout the summer, the first and largest spawn of 2014 will have occurred by the time you’ve received this issue. We’re currently catching numbers with more regularity, especially when that nasty southwest wind doesn’t get us. Water temperatures have been hovering in the low 70s. Wading has been good and drifting over shell in 4.5 to 6 feet has been worthwhile when winds are light. We’re fishing from one end of the complex to the other right now based on wind speed and direction. Areas around San Luis Pass are coughing up some decent trout and reds. The Galveston Causeway and the Campbell’s areas are typically good during this period, but seem to be slower than normal this year. The north and south shorelines of East Bay have produced some decent catches as well as the east shoreline of Trinity. Mid-bay reefs are holding fair numbers of trout and will only get better throughout the month. Our focus throughout June will be drifting open-water slicks and pods of bait. Wading leeward shorelines will be the plan on windy days. There are already some nice trout showing up in the surf so look for it to turn on when the wind calms. Salt Water Assassins in the 5” rat tail version as well as the 4” Sea Shads will be our go-to baits most of the time. Natural colors such as Pumpkin Seed and Hot Chicken are working better right now, but solid colors like Limetreuse and Red Shad seem to work better as the month progresses. The topwater bite is good and look for it to only get better. My article in last month’s issue was a little rushed and I failed to do something. I would like to thank Everett and Pam for affording me the opportunity to become part of what I consider the premier saltwater fishing magazine on the coast. I will strive to do it justice by offering well-rounded and honest reports with some occasional silliness. I’m serious about fishing, but I also believe in having a little fun. So, let’s jump in the boat and go have some!

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thE VIEW fRom Matagorda


Bink Grimes is a full-time fishing and hunting guide, freelance writer and photographer, and owner of Sunrise Lodge on Matagorda Bay.

telephone 979-241-1705 email website

90 | June 2014

As my tires hit the Matagorda sand it was evident my backyard pool had more of a chop on it than the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a plugger’s dream to work a topwater in an emerald surf, hearing every ball-bearing click as it dances left and right. The anticipation of a crushing blow from a intense speckled trout is what sends many anglers to the beach when winds calm and green tides creep close to the beach. With water temperatures in the mid-70s, the surf is only a light north wind away. Obviously, the appealing attribute of the surf is its access by anyone on foot; and, with the invention of surf cams up and down the coast, you don’t have to waste a tank of gas, praying all the while the water will be green and the waves flat. Know the tides before you take the plunge. You are wasting your time fishing the first gut at the end of the outgoing tide. Likewise, you are probably stepping over fish to get to the second bar at high tide.

Huge reds roam the surf daily… up to 17 pounds!

Hopping shrimp and flipping mullet are strong indicators of fishy locales, so are picking seagulls and diving pelicans. Speckled trout are ambush-feeders and like to use structure to flash prey. The only structures on the beach short of a sunken shrimp boat are the guts and sand bars that run parallel to the shore. Breaking waves tell you where bars are located. The swells build in the deeper guts and crest on the shallower bars. Though wading the surf is a welcomed rite of summer, anglers should always take precautions before diving into the ocean. Too

The Matagorda surf can be full of surprises for pluggers like this 30-incher.

many anglers die needlessly every summer due to neglect and/or disrespect for the foam. Riptides most often occur on a falling tide; and, most waders fall victim to rips because tides are receding and anglers must fish the outer bars in deeper water. Best advice is to use common senseâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;if currents and tides are too strong, get out of the pool. No fish is worth a life. Beside the safety factor, there is an advantage in fishing the Gulf from a boat, especially on an outgoing tide. Drifting allows you to cover more ground and work deeper water that could not be reached on foot. There have been days I have worked the entire 28-mile span of the Gulf from Matagorda to Port Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor, picking up a fish here and there. Then there have been days when I made my first drift, hit a fish, anchored, and never moved. The jetty heated up for a few days during May and we caught limits of redfish and solid 3- to 5 pound trout. It only gets better in June. When waters are green in East Bay, we will drift the deep reefs and wade the mid-bay reefs. You always have the potential to catch a big trout in East Bay, evident by the 30-incher (pictured). And, normally we catch and release a handful of 5-7 pounders when the weather allows us to stay on these fish for several days. Better June tides will allow us to wade the sand and grass in West Bay. The morning incoming is best for feisty specks on Super Spook Jrs and She Pups. | 91


mID-Coast BaYs With the Grays

Port O'Connor Seadrift

Captain Gary Gray is a full time guide born and raised in Seadrift. He has been guiding in the Seadrift/ Port O’Connor area for 28 years. Gary specializes in wading for trout and redfish year round with artificial lures.

telephone 361-785-6708 email website

92 | June 2014

The only thing I can compare the May fishing to is fish and conversing with my clients, another angler a roller coaster, and if you know me very well you walked up and started grilling me. probably already know that I don’t like roller coasters. I could not believe his rapid fire persistence. “Did The talk and the moods around the docks at the end you run south? Did you fish San Antonio Bay? Did you of the day have been pretty grim, and if someone had fish shorelines or reefs?” a good day…Boom! Here comes the interrogation. I politely answered some of his questions in hope These interrogations were he would let me get back to the mostly by the newer generation conversation with my clients. But who (I’ll give them benefit of nope; he continued even after I told doubt) probably don’t know him we ended up pretty far south by any better. I say newer with no the end of the day. reference to age in years; what I “Did you see so and so? He am talking about is the generation went south and only had two fish of instant gratification fishermen at 10:00.” that seems to be growing at a No, I had not see ol’ so and so. frightening rate. By then he evidently figured I wasn’t I was one of the lucky guys going to tell him exactly where we one day—having the pleasure to fished and went back to what he take a couple of very seasoned was doing before I got there. fishermen—the type capable of Now, I have no problem telling making you look like you really anybody how I fish, or the type of know what you are doing. Our area I am fishing, but exactly where Mike Scribner with a nice hard work paid off on a day that will always be a guarded secret. I San Antonio Bay speck. was slower for most. While cleaning learned long ago that when that

Charles Gremminger with a redfish that loved his 51 MR MirrOlure.

cat gets out of the bag you will have lots of “help” for several days. Please do not misunderstand—there are always a few that wait until I have finished my clients and boat duties, then come up and say, “Man it was tough out there. Can you give me a few hints on what type of structure I should be fishing? I don’t want to know where, just some clues to help me next time.” I will usually give this guy much more consideration. Heck, I have even been known to give up some of the areas I fished on particular trips, simply because their politeness tells me they are not the type I need to worry about. They are simply seeking clues to help unravel the mysteries of fishing. The instant gratification type is the guy that hasn’t done his homework. He’s the guy that boldly barges into spots where somebody told him they caught fish, without regard for others already there. He doesn’t fish where the conditions or availability of baitfish tell him to try. He is the guy that runs past a slick-laden shoreline to reach a reef he heard someone caught fish on yesterday. Or he is the guy wading shirt-pocket deep, run-and-gun through other anglers, oblivious to mullet getting crashed on the shoreline by a school of redfish that would take anything he threw. So my question is; “Are you fishing for instant gratification, or are you striving to learn more about your quarry and willing to put forth the effort to understand their feeding patterns?” Enough of that. Like I said, the fishing in May has been up and down—with a lot of down. The good thing with that June is almost here! June brings stable weather patterns and I blame May’s consistently unstable weather for most of the disappointment we have been experiencing. During June I will target the Matagorda Island surf every day the weather allows. When conditions are unfavorable out there, my next choice will be shoreline wading near the passes to the gulf. My third choice would be the reefs in San Antonio or West Matagorda Bay. My lures of choice for June are the Bass Assassin Vapor Shad or the 5” Saltwater Shad in Baby Bass and Green Moon. Both have an excellent natural hue. If I feel my lure needs more flash I will try RedGold Shiner or Gold-Black Shiner. I typically rig all my soft Assassin baits on 1/16 ounce Assassin jig heads. I know I got off on a touchy subject this month, but it is one that has been troubling me for some time. Just remember that fishing is like anything else—you get back what you put in—and then some. Fish hard, fish smart! | 93


hooKED uP WIth Rowsey

The pace at which 2014 is slipping by is mindboggling. It seems just yesterday we were freezing our tails off and now we are on a slow Upper smoker. I must say that cold fronts into May came as a surprise and sporting SIMMS that late in the Laguna/ year was quite unusual. Oh what a crazy winter and Baffin spring it has been. It looks like that is all finally and thankfully behind us now and we have a consistent enough weather pattern to make solid decisions on when and where to intersect the big trout and reds. David Rowsey has 20 years Water quality is again a major concern here on the experience in the Laguna/Baffin region; trophy trout with artificial Upper Laguna and Baffin. The cold winter and spring lures is his specialty. David has a of 2014 seemed to make the dreaded algal bloom great passion for conservation (brown tide) become dormant and the waters were and encourages catch and very clear for a long time. However, the blooms have release of trophy fish. returned with the rise in water temperatures and telephone tea-colored water now prevails. We were optimistic; 361-960-0340 praying the spring tides rolling in from down south website would give us a new shot of life and green water— problem is though, Port Mansfield has been battling email water quality issues of their own since last fall. Well

94 | June 2014

the spring tides arrived as expected and did bring new life in the form of bait and gamefish; but also brought more stained water to add to our preexisting algal problems. We are still catching fish in the stuff but it is frustrating to a structure fisherman to be blindfolded by brown tide and not able to identify the potholes in front of us or the exact location of rock piles within casting distance. This is not our first trip down this road and, unfortunately, will likely not be the last. I am often asked what it is going to take to clear it up and the answer is always the same, “A storm…a really big storm.” A hurricane would be devastating to the area economically but I cannot envision anything short of one that would completely flush these bays and rid us of the problem. I have been fishing in and dealing with brown tide since it first originated in 1989. Overcoming this obstacle has most likely made me a better fisherman in the long run. It has certainly taught me to think outside the box. Some of my most trusted techniques

Will Truss with a big Baffin trout caught on a Sea Shad Bass Assassin. Released!

for getting strikes and catching will be sent to the bullpen for now and a new set of game winners will be taking the mound. I have a deep affection for the 5” Bass Assassin. No doubt, it is the money maker in my box. A close cousin, the 5” Assassin Sea Shad (SS) is now my go-to lure when utilizing plastics during these algal blooms. The SS is similar in style with one major difference; it has a small paddle at the tail versus the straight bodied (rat tail) bait I normally use. The key to getting action on this lure is to make that tail vibrate. You can slow-roll it and simply use it as a swimbait or with long, slow pumps in more of standard jigging technique. Both applications are very effective. The next choice is a loud topwater. Anything in the MirrOlure “Dog” series will work just fine. I am pretty big on the chartreuse/ chrome combination, but bone and white are also must-haves for me. On a side note; something that drives me nuts is when I see clients working topwater lures in a typically fast motion, never changing speed, or more importantly, never pausing the lure. Keep in mind that when you are using a surface plug you are trying to imitate a wounded and struggling baitfish. Something wounded is not going to cut across 60 yards of water without stopping to regain strength before moving on. By adding many pauses you will find that you will get far more strikes than just constantly walking the dog. Now don’t laugh at me on this one as I am being dead serious. The old Mansfield Mauler cork setup is about as effective a lure as you will find during stained water situations. I know it’s not pretty or glamorous but it is deadly. I prefer to rig mine with 18”-24” leader and a 1/8 ounce jighead. Color choice is not that big of a deal to me as the slashing of the cork will bring them close enough to see most anything you have dangling under it. Remember the buffalo! -Capt. David Rowsey | 95

CaPt. tRICIa

tRICIa’s Mansfield Report Another month of fishing has flown by and if you look at fishing as fishing you will be okay. We would all like the catching to be more consistent though that has not been the case lately.  I hope it comes soon because here recently the better days came with a lot of hard work and persistence. Port Overall, fishing has been running below par Mansfield most of the past month and I guess we could call it “halfway okay” the past couple of weeks, with some trips bordering on horrible while braving crazy high winds. We also had a few dismal trips during perfect Capt. Tricia’s Skinny Water conditions which has had me scratching my head Adventures operates out of quite a bit. Port Mansfield, specializing in The 2013 fall trout gill net studies were at an all wadefishing with artificial lures. time low and the fishery as of now reflects just that.  It truly saddens me knowing the summer season has just started and what we may have left will take a very telephone 956-642-7298 long time to recover.  I am not a scientist but I am out email there quite a bit and this is the second year of this and seems to be even worse.  I also have concerns with website redfish numbers and would like to know how well they were represented in the gill net studies.   The only glimmer of hope is that when the tides dump next moon and the shrimp make their way out

96 | June 2014

of the backwaters we may see more redfish on the flats. Saying this, I hope we all make an attempt to not over harvest. We recently had one of the first big tournaments of the year that allowed all types of bait with 300 registered.  The largest trout I believe was four pounds and the red was a little over seven.  Two words would describe this…Not Normal. Old school patterns (as a general rule) are not working very well and just as they begin to produce the late-sleeping armada zig-zags the skinny flats to hell and that pattern gets blown to bits even before it gets rolling.  In past times we could still locate fish as they moved from the skinny to the deeper potholes and ledges near the ICW, and I hate to report that has not produced much either.  I would like to blame it on the consistent high winds and turbidity caused from it, but I do not feel that is the case. Finding good concentrations of fish in traditional areas and patterns has been a grind...they are either moving deep and not biting, or we do not have the numbers. A few months back I reported a decent winter and early spring and I thought it would get better and better, and despite that it has not I am still going out there and attempting to make each trip a success.  If it

looks fishy I fish it, and I fish it thoroughly to read all the signs—baitfish, cruising gamefish we can see, mud boils, etc. Many times I may leave the area and come back to fish it later in the day with good results.  Other times I just move a little deeper where it is less spooky to get the bite. This is a lot smarter than a long and windy boat ride to another area that is not a guarantee.   I have written many times about fishing with “your eyes” and taking advantage of what the signs are trying to tell you.  If  you are seeing flipping bait, current lines on a color change, and a few birds hovering here and there, you need to give it some effort.  It’s just like hunting. By the time you read this the bull tide should have crested and finished falling, hopefully we will see greater numbers of fish returning to the shallows. Summer patterns should be settling in with fewer wind events but, summer also brings bigger crowds.  Be courteous to other boaters and to the fishery.  The Laguna is a special place and deserves our respect!

Sightcasting battlewagonclass reds in shin-deep water has been our best sport lately.


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

98 | June 2014

It was a beautiful weekday morning. Low clouds blanketed the sky, boat traffic was lighter than normal, and the wind was light as well. The beautiful conditions had our expectations running high. A few mullet flickered ahead as we began our first wade and that added to the anticipation. Twenty minutes into it, after a few misses, the first solid fish was landed. Then another, and some fantastic “Wow-did you see that?” blowups. But that was it – back in the boat and off to another promising spot. Moving was a good decision and by the end of the day we were able to pull out several 5 to 6-1/2 pound trout and some feisty slot reds on K-Wiggler ball tail shads. As good as all that sounds it has unfortunately not been the standard day of fishing here lately. The wind has been giving us fits and the boat traffic already looks like mid-summer. Over the last couple of years I have seen the fish changing their patterns significantly on the Laguna Madre. Boat traffic has grown to the point that fish do not tend to stay in one particular area very long. Fifteen years

ago you could stay on a school of fish for weeks or a month at a time. Now, fish get so much pressure that they seek shelter in deeper water or less crowded areas. On our most successful days we have had to grind it out into the afternoons, waiting for boat traffic to lighten up, and the bite to come back around. High tide levels have moved lots of redfish up into very shallow water. It’s been best to target them in the early morning hours as the sun rises and before boat

Ernie Perez landed and released his personal best recently�29-inches!

traffic scatters them to deeper. You can almost bet though, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be right back in the same place the next morning. Redfish have been taking topwaters fairly regularly in the shallows and when they move deeper on us we try to follow with K-Wiggler ball tails, plum/chart and pink flomingo. Generally, a slow retrieve works best when they go deep but a good trick is to insert a small piece of solder wire into the bait. This allows a moderate to fast retrieve while staying lower in the water column and the K-Wigglers really dart and dive erratically when you speed them up. Try it in a swimming pool and you will see what I mean. Bottom line to catching reds right now is to find shrimp and smaller baitfish active in shallow water, the Jacob also farther away from traffic the better. landed and released a Trout fishing has been improving and they are personal best becoming easier to pattern with the increase in 29-incher. water temperature; actually easier than reds the last week or so. Bigger trout are showing more consistently and we are seeing at least one at five pounds or better on every outing. Multiple fiveto-seven pounders are not out of the ordinary. Trout have been holding in potholes over grassy flats areas and topwaters have been effective when bait has been visible on the surface. I expect the water temperatures will rise quickly with the approach of summer and I look for them to begin staging deeper long about midday. As they move to deeper water they tend

to lay low and not move as much. This is when our tactics change to a slower retrieve with plastics near the bottom of the water column. A good bet for midday and afternoon trout action is to target deeper green to sandy-green water. The edges of these color changes can be your best summertime producers and we see the changes occurring anytime the wind begins to move water over sandy bottom and especially when the tidal currents are running near their peaks. Early morning, head for the lines where the sand and grassbeds meet on the east flats. These same areas can be productive when a standing high tide breaks over to outgoing. This summer is looking to be the busiest ever from my observations at the boat ramp. Use extreme caution out there and practice your best courtesy skills while on the water. With the summer heating up you will without a doubt need a good pair of sunglasses. I do not believe you can buy better glasses than Costas. I recommend getting on their web site and looking for a pair that fits well and most definitely has side shields to allow minimum light to penetrate from behind the lenses. I also suggest the 580G (glass) lens for superior clarity. They become very useful in sight-fishing and absolutely worth the investment. Whatever fishing you do this summer; stay hydrated and be safe. And may you catch a bunch. | 99


Lake Calcasieu Louisiana Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268 Main lake reefs in five to eight-foot depths as well as flats adjacent to the ship channel in the same depths will be our biggest producers in June. Trout will be taken mainly on eighth and quarter ounce jigheads carrying Lil’ John soft plastics. Whenever fishing flats and reefs adjacent to the channel, be sure to retrieve your bait by casting up current, be it an incoming or outgoing tide. This may seem insignificant, but it’s very important, especially if the tide is strong. This will ensure that your bait gets into the strike zone. Sometimes the tide isn’t strong; this is usually when trout get finicky. When the tide is weaker, you can get away with fishing against the tide. Cast straight down current and let your bait fall to the bottom. This retrieve is very slow, hop your bait a lot, but do not take the slack up with your reel. Let the weaker tide slightly push the bait away from you as you feel for the bite on the way back to the bottom. If this doesn’t work, try changing the height of your hops, do not change your rate of retrieve. Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag Silver King Adventures - - 409.935.7242 James has been catching some big trout at times, though the weather has made the fishing unpredictable. “We located a school of big trout and were able to catch some of them on two different days. We totaled four over eight pounds and had another handful over seven, with

100 | June 2014

ORECASTS F from Big Lake to Boca Chica


the biggest at nine and a half. This fish was just over 28 inches, with a girth of 16 inches. Just a fat old hog of a fish. Caught all those on natural colored FatBoys, like pearl/black. We’ve also had a good bite on MirrOdines at times, and prior to these recent cold fronts, excellent topwater action too. I expect the topwater action to heat up and be more consistent as we head into June. We should still see excellent potential for the wading, especially in areas close to the passes. The fishing out of the boat should become more consistently productive, since we normally have more days with light winds, and the fish start throwing slicks out in the middle. We might also see the action heat up around the ship channel around the end of the month.” Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054 Jim says the fickle spring weather has made the fishing hit or miss throughout most of April and into early May. “We whack ‘em pretty good one day, then the weather changes and it gets tough. Things should settle out somewhat as we get toward the end of May and into June. In order to have the best chances for success on a daily basis this time of year, it is important to be willing to wade. If we set up a trip to fish out of the boat and wake up to 20 mile per hour winds, the plan needs to be adjusted. On many of the windier days, it is possible to make a good catch, but only by wading protected water along leeward shorelines. And with the crowds the way they are, it is just not possible to fish those areas out of the boat. We’ll see some really good fishing

out of the boat around mid-bay reefs and areas with scattered shell at times during June. Those times will coincide with calmer weather, which allows the water in the middle to clear up and also allows us to function at a high level out there.” West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service 979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323 Randall says the fishing in his area has been good lately, and he expects the run to continue, though the tactics will likely change with the natural patterns. “We had a huge crop of button shad this year, and it’s hard to match the hatch when they are around, because they are so small. Lately, we’re seeing an increase in numbers of larger shad, and they are much easier to imitate with the lures we throw. Today, we were in the surf, and I was catching best on a black/gold/orange Paul Brown’s FatBoy. It is about the same size as the shad I was seeing. We should get more excellent days in the surf during June. Best days come on northwest winds, or light winds from either the due north, northeast or southeast. Most of the time, it’s easiest to catch trout along the beach by using dark colored Norton Sand Eels rigged on heavy jigheads up to half ounce. The heavier heads allow for longer casts, and make it easier to cast into the wind, if it’s blowing onshore. All in all, we are set up for a great start to the summer.” Matagorda | Tommy Countz Bay Guide Service - 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037 Tommy plans on fishing a variety of cool and productive patterns once the late-spring and early-summer heat settles in. “When I’m wading in June, I like to hit the shallow grass beds on the shoreline in West Matagorda Bay early with topwaters, then move out to the deeper guts and use soft plastics later. We also do some drifting over in East Bay,

targeting areas with scattered shell over mostly mud. We are seeing some shrimp already, so we might get some good bird-working activity by early summer. Mostly, though, we are looking to head out into the surf any time we can. The surf fishing already shows promise, and June offers some of the best potential of the year, in terms of catching quality trout on lures. Last, but definitely not least, I’m on a quest to break the state tripletail record. We had a fish that was less than a pound shy of doing just that in the Oil Man’s tournament, so it seems legitimately possible. I actually went out and bought a 60-pound Boga Grip, so I’ll be ready to document my catch when it bites!” Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204 Fishing has finally taken off in our local bays, with big spring tides bringing in lots of good water and flushing lots of bait out of our marshes and bayous. Redfish have started roaming shorelines over sand and grass, chasing all the bait, and we’ve had lots of luck throwing the Egret Wedgetail and Bayou Chub on eighth ounce leadheads. We have also found some trout over shell pads in about three feet of water and have been doing well catching them under Voodoo Shrimp about eighteen inches under rattling corks. The trout bite has been sporadic; some days they are over shell but the next day tight to shorelines over grass. As soon as water temperatures stabilize, I expect the trout bite to take off. Flounder have made their ways back to our bays, and we have caught a few in the local bayous on weedless quarter ounce gold spoons. The surf and swells ought to take off big time in June. I like throwing topwaters early, working the first gut | 101

along the beach and switching to working tails in the deeper guts as the morning goes on. port o’Connor | Lynn Smith Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434 This month, Lynn expects to settle into a pattern which involves fishing close to town, in and around the Pass area. “There’s no sense in going too far right now. We’re already catching some good trout around the Pass, and expect to see more of the yellow-mouthed tide runners coming in over the next month or so. We like to fish flats with sand and grass close to deep water, targeting the sandy pockets in the grass much of the time. Mostly, we throw small topwaters like Super Spook Juniors in white-chartreuse head early, then switch over to chrome ones after the sun gets higher. As long as we have good incoming tide movement and a vigorous bite, the floating plugs seem to work great. If things get tougher, we will switch over to soft plastics on light jigheads and keep fishing the same areas. Of course, we’ll keep watching the surf, waiting for the calm days when the water goes green to the beach. In some years, the best surf fishing, especially for the bigger trout, occurs during calm June mornings.” rockport | Blake muirhead Gator trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894 Blake predicts the excellent trout fishing he’s experienced recently in and around Rockport will continue right into the beginning of summer. “We got a bunch of menhaden in through the Pass not long ago, and the trout fishing turned from mediocre to really good in a hurry. The key has been staying around the roaming schools of shad. Wherever the shad are thick and flipping, the trout are biting. We’ve had banner days on topwaters at times, and of course we’re catching better on Sand Eels at other times. In June, we usually have a couple of really reliable patterns available. The open-bay reefs and adjacent waters in about

four feet of water or so normally produce well. Shorelines with grass beds on top of firm, sandy bottom also hold plenty of trout and reds too. Bays like Aransas, Mesquite and San Antonio all have ample features like these. I will still be using artificial lures much of the time, but June is the beginning of live bait season too. Won’t hesitate to switch to croakers at times. And we’ll be trying to get to the surf if we can.” Upper Laguna madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut robert Zapata – - 361.563.1160 Consistent is how I like to describe the month of June. It is a consistently good month for fishing. My confidence runs high during this month, and this adds up to successful fishing. The weather and water temperature are consistently good, and so is the catching. I will start looking for trout early in the mornings along shallow grass lines, in potholes and close to rocks in two feet of water or less. If the water temperature gets into the mid-eighties, I will move into three to four feet of water. This is a good time to use suspended lures like the MirrOlure Catch 5 in natural colors. I like the noise and the big profile of this lure. If there is too much suspended grass, I’ll use the Saltwater Assassins or Die Dappers in natural colors rigged on a sixteenth ounce Assassin Spring Lock jighead. Free-lined croakers on #5 Mustad Croaker hooks also provide much success for trout, reds and flounder in the same areas. Chartreuse, shrimp-flavored Fish Bites will also catch reds and black drum in less than twelve inches of clear water on sunny days. Corpus Christi | Joe mendez – - 361.937.5961 Joe mentions a change in the water conditions in the southern parts of his area, and says he will likely be fishing up north unless things improve. “We have beautiful, clear ocean water around the bridge and in Corpus Bay. Spring is a great season to fish these areas. Many of the big trout and reds are in shallow water this time of year, so they can be targeted by drifting and trolling the shallows, and sight-casting opportunities are

Ladies Offshore Fishing Tournament

Benefiting Cigars for Warriors • Calcutta

July 11 - 13, 2014 102 | June 2014

somewhat common. We’ll be targeting grassy flats with sand pockets in depths of three feet or less most of the time, casting soft plastics with paddletails into the bright spots if we don’t see the fish first. Areas on both sides of the JFK Causeway provide ample flats with the proper depths and bottom features for this kind of fishing. The water moves daily on these flats, since they are so close to the Packery Channel. Fish are most active when the water’s moving, and working lures in the direction of the current is important if the tide is really rolling. As always, adjusting jighead sizes to match the conditions is critical.” padre Island National Seashore Billy Sandifer - padre Island Safaris - 361.937.8446 The presence of sargassum and the impacts of cold currents reaching the beach are our biggest enemies in June. Should these two potential hindrances allow—June can offer some of the best fishing of the year for a variety of species. Bottom fishers using dead bait will find abundant whiting and some pompano, redfish, Atlantic bluefish and various other small game species available in the PINS surf. Tarpon, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, ladyfish and speckled trout can be present in good numbers. Typically the wind will lie before dawn and then increase through the day. Interestingly, the fishing is often better in the afternoon after the winds pick up and give us good water movement. Try to avoid driving on high tides; lower tides are usually much better. Numerous shark species are available and can be caught on kayaked and casted baits. Lots of big blacktipped and some big bull sharks come into the first gut this month. Watch for bait and birds and remember you are not the top of the food chain in the surf. port mansfield | ruben Garza – 832.385.1431 Getaway adventures Lodge – 956.944.4000 Now that Mother Nature’s fury has settled down we can enjoy

the summer heat. With waders off you can now enjoy the water temperature. That being said, the fish will also notice the temperatures as well. The traditional pattern is early deep, shallow midday. Early morning fishing means topwater action. If that doesn’t work, switch to either a Corky or any other subsurface lure. Work the potholes carefully. If you are wading, stop walking as soon as you hook-up. No need to walk through the fish. If you are drifting add a drift sock or even two so you can slow down. As the day progresses, going shallow is the key. If you’re on the west shoreline, don’t be scared to chunk a small topwater. If that doesn’t pay off go with a paddletail or spoon. On the east side, hard sand to me means a weedless spoon. A paddletail will also do the trick but them reds sure do love being spoon fed. Eventually, with the sun going down the fish will move back to the deeper water. Until next time; Tight lines and calm seas. Lower Laguna madre - South padre - port Isabel Janie and Fred petty – – 956.943.2747 Fishing has been great when the tide is moving and it’s a weekday; weekends are iffy, with multiple tournaments every Saturday from now until October, making boat traffic the major consideration when planning a trip. We’ve been limiting on reds most trips, unless the tide is stopped during the morning hours, which is our preferred window of opportunity. Every couple of trips we’re catching big trout over twenty five inches and sometimes several on the same day. Freddy says, “This year is turning out to be like the last one, making us wait until June for trout that usually show up during the spring time. Normally we would be catching many more small trout in deeper water, which for us is about three feet or more.” We’re throwing Cajun Thunder round and cigar corks, trailing a Berkley Gulp! Live Shrimp in the lighter colors, on eighth ounce Norton spring hooks, targeting sandy potholes. When the wind is blowing hard, the water is too cloudy everywhere except up against the Island to see holes. Stop open bay dredge disposal! | 103

Eileen Gonzales Copano Bay - 20” first gaff top!

Lloyd Dendy Matagorda - red snapper CPR

Roger Gonzales Copano Bay - 44” black drum

Dane Hoefling POC - jack crevalle 104 | June 2014

Weslene Gaetjen Matagorda - tripletail

Kendall Hoefling Point Comfort - first bull red!

Mac Palmer St. Charles Bay - 25” redfish CPR

Jeramie Garza Christmas Bay - 45lb drum

Michael Hanz Bob Hall Pier - 35.5” & 36” first reds!

Chris Reed Corpus Christi - 43” redfish

Faith Gonzales Rockport - 17” first keeper trout!

Sarah Herrington Trinity Bay - 25” flounder

Jeff Moore POC - 41” redfish

Meg Reese South Padre - first redfish!

Tres Smyth 9 Mile Hole - 27” trout

Chase Blackwell Upper Laguna - 28.5” trout CPR

Emmanuel & Danny Martinez Mansfield Cut - 39” bull red

Logan Salazar Copano Bay - 34” first black drum!

Katie Ritchie Sabine Lake - first redfish!

Rick Sanchez Port Mansfield - 43” redfish CPR

Zophia Salazar Copano Bay - 42.5” first black drum!

Richard Hoke Matagorda - 26.5” trout CPR

Emily Ramirez Galveston - 38” first redfish!

Lauder McVey Sabine Lake - 26” first redfish!

Jaime Quiroga Cullen Bay - 24” trout

Please do not write on the back of photos.

Email photos with a description of your Catch of the Month to:

Adam Techmanski with Reagan Coleman POC - sheepshead

Chandra Turner POC - first trout! CPR

Mail photos to: TSFMag P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 | 105

Pam Johnson

Gulf Coast Kitchen Crab and Shrimp Stuffed Shells

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

2 quarts water ¼ cup chicken bouillon powder 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 12 jumbo shells 3 tablespoons salted butter 4-ounce can of sliced mushrooms, chopped 1 tablespoon flaked dried onion 1 1/2 tablespoons flour 1 cup skim milk 1 cup half and half

1. Bring water to boil in large pot. Add chicken bouillon powder and oil, gradually add shells. Cook for 1 minute less than package directions for “al dente” texture. Shells will continue to cook when placed in the oven. 2. Remove and drain. When drained, place shells on paper towel lined baking sheet. Dampen several paper towels and cover shells to keep moist. Set aside. 3. Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add mushrooms and flaked dried onion. Sauté for 5 minutes. Remove mushroom mixture and set aside. You will need to press the butter from the mushrooms back into the pan with a spatula. 4. In the same saucepan add flour and whisk into the butter remaining in pan to make a roux. Blend until smooth and bubbly. Whisk in milk, half and half, white pepper and Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes,

106 | June 2014

in a Sherry Cream Sauce

1/8 teaspoon white pepper 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base 2 egg yolks, beaten 3 tablespoons sherry 5 shakes of Worcestershire sauce 6-ounce can of jumbo lump blue crab meat 1/4 pound cooked shrimp, shelled and chopped 2 tablespoons fresh parsley 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, finely grated whisking occasionally. 5. In a small bowl add egg yolks and whisk. Ladle 1/2 cup of hot sauce mixture to beaten egg yolks slowly. Whisk together fully and then add to the rest of the sauce slowly. Whisk again. Sauce will thicken as it continues to cook. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and sherry. Bring to a low boil. Remove from heat. 6. In a medium mixing bowl, toss shrimp, crab meat, mushroom mixture, parsley and 3/4 cup prepared cream sauce. Stuff mixture into shells. Arrange in a casserole dish sprayed with PAM. 7. Ladle the remaining sauce over stuffed shells. Top with Parmesan cheese. 8. Place casserole dish in cold oven and with heat set to 350 degrees - 20 minutes total. Switch oven to broil until lightly brown. Serve immediately. Enjoy! Time: 45 minutes | Serves: 4 (12 shells)

David Wilson

Cell 210-827-3890

21-8886 | PO Box 1 (907) 3 549 | Seward, AK 99664 | 107

Science and the Sea


An Upside-Down Garden of Icy Surprises

South Texas Aluminum Worx and Upholstery Custom Aluminum Fabrication & All Your Upholstery Needs

Come See Us!

W W W. S O T X A L U M I N U M . C O M

10020 Compton Road (behind Gulf Coast Marine)

Corpus Christi, TX 78418 Phone: 361-657-0555 Fax: 361-939-8973

Sometimes scientists searching for one thing stumble unexpectedly onto another. A few years ago, a research team did just that, they drilled into an Antarctic ice sheet and opened up a can of anemones – almost literally. When the Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL) Program lowered a 4.5-foot cylindrical robot through the ice off the coast of west Antarctica, they were hoping to use the robot’s two cameras to learn about ocean currents while gathering data for modeling the drill’s use. In the process, their cameras captured an icy garden of sea anemones that no one knew existed.

Console covers and full boat covers custom fit

Anemones known as Edwardsiella andrillae anemones protrude from the bottom surface of the Ross Ice Shelf. Credit: Frank R. Rack, ANDRILL Science Management Office, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Thousands of white anemones, each with 20 to 24 tentacles and ranging from one to four inches long, clung underneath to the Ross Ice Shelf. The newly discovered species, named Edwardsiella andrillae, is the first anemone found to live on the ice – and hang upside down – rather than on the sea floor like other anemones. The discovery inspired a whole list of questions: How do they avoid freezing? How do they reproduce? What do they eat? The researchers also found fish under the ice swimming upside down, below their “ocean floor” of ice anemones and accompanied by worms, small crustaceans called amphipods, and even a cylindrical creature the scientists called “the eggroll,” which bumbled through the anemone garden and sometimes even clung to them. The team of geologists doing the drilling did not expect a discovery of animal life, so biologists will need to return to learn more about the anemones and the bizarre, ecosystem in which they live. They should have plenty to study in this surprising icy ecosystem.

The University of Texas

Marine Science Institute YOUR AD COULD BE HERE! for rates call 361.785.3420 or email

108 | June 2014 © The University of Texas Marine Science Institute

tEX as saltWatER fIshInG holEs

Designer & Manufacturer of Specialized High Performance Fishing Rods Office: 361.573.0300

805 B. South Bridge Victoria, TX 77901

Fax: 361.573.0304


Capt. Lynn Smith’s Back Bay Guide Service Port O’Connor Area

Wade & Drifting the Back Bays & Surf

Call 361.983.4434 (cell 361.935.6833) Email ( ON THE WATER

Saltwater Fishing Clinics WITH

Capt. Robert Zapata

If you are having difficulty catching fish on a consistent basis, the clinic is designed for you. Learn Capt.Robert Zapata’s secrets to finding and catching more fish from his 25 years of experience as a professional fishing guide.

For Information Call 361-563-1160


Capt. Billy Penick III

USCG & TP&W Licensed • Galveston Bay System • Full and Half Day Trips • Trout, Redfish, Flounder


Vitamin Sea Charters Galveston Bay Complex Redfish, Trout, Flounder, & Shark Captain Chad Handley USCG# 3475367 832-309-1079

CoRPus to PoRt IsaBEl

• Bay Fishing, Offshore, Floundering, Waterfowl, Dove • Night Fishing off Lighted Pier • Right On The Water • Lodging with/without Meals 979-241-1705

M ATA G O R D A B AY Speckled Trout / Redfish

USCG Licensed Captain Stan Sloan

832.693.4292 | 109


B o at m a I N t e N a N C e t I p S

woeS oF exteNded StoraGe & maINteNaNCe How-to CLINICS The weather has finally turned warmer; a clear sign that summer is on the horizon. The boats are coming out of storage, getting dusted off, keys are being Chris Mapp, owner turned and engines starting to purr—hopefully. Coastal Bend Marine. Yamaha, Evinrude, Suzuki, Extended storage can be hard on equipment and Mercury, Honda, BlueWave, our customers sometimes find a few surprises when SilverWave, Haynie, El Pescador they pull the boat from winter storage. The most Service, Parts and Sales. common problems of recent weeks have been—boat won’t start, runs but overheats, and steering failure. The batteries, after sitting many months, are not necessarily bad if they have lost their charge. Marine wet-cell type with fewer than 24 to 30 months in service should be good to go with a stiff charge. Batteries left on maintainer systems for many months may have had the electrolyte boiled completely out or reduced to (top) Fuel line sectioned to a harmfully low level—replacement show “crud” from ethanol. may be the only option. (bottom) Tiny surface cracks in exterior of Other common reasons for the fuel line allow air to enter the fuel system. outboard not starting following extended storage are fuel related— air trapped in the fuel system or fuel line decomposition. Fuel line decomposition (internal and external) can be traced to ethanol in gasoline. Air can enter the fuel system through cracks in external walls (visible fuel leakage not always present) and we also see restriction of fuel flow due to clogging when internal walls of the fuel line are destroyed by ethanol.

110 | June 2014

The most common culprit in engine overheating is the result of water pump impellers developing excessive “memory” (taking a set) during extended downtime. This condition reduces pumping efficiency to a mere trickle. A good rule of thumb: If your water pump is over two years old—it needs to be replaced! Another source of engine overheating can be traced to salt and mineral build-up inside the powerhead around the thermostat and bypass valve. It is imperative to flush the engine thoroughly after using the boat—every time! Moving on to steering problems; quite often mechanical steering cables are found frozen or hard to turn, and hydraulic systems will be sloppy or loose. Mechanical cables will sometimes loosen up with lubing and manipulation or; they may need to be replaced. We are usually able to bleed trapped air from hydraulic steering and refill the system with fluid to get you back on the water. Many of our customers make inquiries regarding the procedures and methods for preventive maintenance and repairs—eager to learn how to take better care of their equipment. Beginning in June, Coastal Bend Marine will be hosting Boat owner How-to Clinics every second Wednesday from 7:00 until 8:00 PM. Our new website should be “live” real soon and you can learn more there, or for now you may email questions and topics of interest you would like to see covered in these clinics. Have a great and safe summer season! Chris Mapp Coastal Bend Marine | Port O’Connor, TX 361-983-4841 |

tEXas saltWatER fIshInG holEs fIshInG REtREats

Sharkman Surf Fishing South Padre ISland


Specializing in big game & light tackle for Shark, Pompano, & Snook. 956.566.7744

14 years

Guiding Experience Kayak & Shore Fishing


BENTLEY’S INTERCOASTALS HOUSE RENTALS Port O’Connor, Texas: 3 Bedrooms, Sleeps 6, Fully Furnished. Great Location between the little Jetties & Clark’s Restaurant. Boat Slip upon availability. Guide service available with Capt Keith Gregory. Call Steve or Lydia at 361-983-4660 or 361-482-9095. Special winter rates available.

Dolphin Point 50 x 150 drive-through lot between Maple & Commerce, Port O’Connor. Wet Boat Slip included! 361-649-2265 | 111

EVERYTHING YOU NEED for the perfect bite A






A Strike King Trokar Jig Heads

D H2O Xpress 3 or 4-in. Mojo Shrimp

B H2O Xpress Top-Notch Lures

E H2O Xpress Thumpin Mullets

C H2O Xpress Spoons

F H2O Xpress Saltwater PIstol Minnows

M San Benito, TX 800.503.4044 Seabrook, TX 281.291.0101 Corpus Christi, TX 800.622.2449





E Austin, TX 512.892.2432






12800 Gulf Freeway @ Fuqua Houston, TX 77034 (281) 481-6838

8723 Katy Freeway Houston, TX 77024 (713) 827-7762

The BEST Choiceâ&#x20AC;Ś 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 Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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 coincide 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 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

June 2014  

The June 2014 issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine

June 2014  

The June 2014 issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine