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July 2016 VOL 26 NO 3
about the Cover
Trophy-Class South Texas Snook! Perhaps as rare as an eleven-plus speckled trout, Jeremy Rhodes was very pleased to accomplish multiple snook landings recently fishing the Lower Laguna Madre with Capt. Ernest Cisneros. This beauty stretched the tape to 32-inches and weighed 9.25 pounds.
10 Bring on the Heat…for Summer Specks & Reds 16 Phases, Fights, and Pearly Lights 22 Finally… 26 Plans, Premonitions, and Paying Dues 30 Kingfish Insurance 36 Pick-Up Sticks
44 Let’s Ask The Pro 48 Shallow Water Fishing 52 TPWD Field Notes 54 Fly Fishing 58 Kayak Fishing Chronicles 62 TSFMag Conservation News 66 Fishy Facts 70 Inshore | Nearshore | Jetties | Passes 74 Extreme Kayak Fishing & Sharks... 104 Boat Maintenance Tips 1106 Science & the Sea
Steve Hillman Kevin Cochran Martin Strarup Chuck Uzzle Joe Richard Joe Doggett
WHAT OUR GUIDES
HAVE TO SAy
78 80 82 84 86 88 90
Dickie Colburn’s Sabine Scene The Buzz on Galveston Bay The View from Matagorda Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays Hooked up with Rowsey Capt. Tricia’s Port Mansfield Report South Padre Fishing Scene
Dickie Colburn Caleb Harp Bink Grimes Shellie Gray David Rowsey Capt. Tricia Ernest Cisneros
REGULARS 08 Editorial 76 New Tackle & Gear 92 Fishing Reports and Forecasts 100 Catch of the Month 102 Gulf Coast Kitchen
102 6 | July 2016
Jay Watkins Scott Null Adam Reimer Scott Sommerlatte Dave Roberts CCA Texas Stephanie Boyd Curtiss Cash Eric Ozolins Chris Mapp UT Marine Science Institute
Editor and Publisher Everett Johnson Everett@tsfmag.com VICE PRESIDENT PRODUCTION & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Pam Johnson Pam@tsfmag.com Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-550-9918 National sales representative Bart Manganiello Bartalm@optonline.net regional sales representative Patti Elkins Patti@tsfmag.com Office: 361-785-3420 Cell: 361-649-2265 PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Donna Boyd Donna@tsfmag.com Circulation Subscription – product sales Linda Curry Store@tsfmag.com Design & Layout Stephanie Boyd Artwork@tsfmag.com 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 email@example.com 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: www.TSFMAG.com photo gallery: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Artificial Reef for POC, CCA STAR, & Snook! I hope you haven’t felt the need to blink too often recently – you might have missed snapper season. Feds ought to be pretty happy. Seems they don’t want us catching them anyway, and the stormy weather during the first ten days of June pretty much sealed that deal. I have a few friends that were able to make it out and they either battled rough seas or had to dodge storms. They all got their snaps though. A friend that ran out of Port O’Connor in a sleek twin-powered 32-footer said he left shortly after daylight and was tied back to the dock a few minutes before 10:00 am. They’d have stayed and fished for other species but, after a few drops all four anglers aboard had their snappers, and the radar was lit up with multiple storms closing on them. Being 30 miles offshore, they weighed options and decided to blaze a trail back to port. By the way – their eight fish averaged a tad over eleven pounds. I can see why the feds are so worked up; being there’s so few out there. Much better news inshore. Trout fishing all up and down the Texas coast has been exceptional. Through the first week of the CCA Texas STAR tournament the Speckled Trout Division already had a 9-pounder leading the Upper Coast and a 9lb–1oz fish leading the Lower Coast. The Middle Coast had an 8lb–12oz fish in the lead. Results of polygraph are still pending on all three at press time. Rumor has it that even heavier fish will be on all three leaderboards when the standings are updated next week. I cannot recall a more torrid pace during
8 | July 2016
the first week of this event and we can all thank TPWD for sound management of this fishery. More CCA Texas developments. CCA Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation went public last week with the story of the $1M artificial reef they will soon begin building off Port O’Connor. The site of this nearly 370-acre project will lie within Texas territorial waters and promises to be a godsend for recreational anglers. Non-producing oil and gas platforms are being removed at a frightful rate all across the Gulf of Mexico and it may not be long before artificial reefs are all that will remain for the small-boat fleet to target. Pam and I will be headed to the Lower Laguna next week – our annual snook vacation. A fish like the one on this month’s cover is what we will be hoping to land. Good friend and TSFMag writer, Capt. Ernest Cisneros, reports good numbers of solid fish thus far in June. Texas snook of this class only appear in the far southern reaches of our coastal waters and we revere them as true trophies. If you have never targeted them specifically it should be on your bucket list. I will close with another encouragement to take the kids fishing. And please – make sure they have been registered for the STAR Tournament. Make a special effort to always set a good example in boating etiquette.
STORY BY STEVE HILLMAN
Spoons enticed several trout when nothing else would in this tea-stained water on a sunny day.
rossing the bay, I was certain the howling northeast wind would result in at least two of my three clients needing to see either a dentist or chiropractor as we made our 15-mile trek. The 20-mph wind colliding with swift incoming tide created a chop in which the lid of my Engle cooler provided little comfort for their rear ends. Once safe haven was found on the north shoreline, the northeast breeze felt like an early-fall morning. Preparing for his first cast of the day, one of the clients asked; “Man, this feels nice. I’ll bet you’re dreading those scorching July days ahead. What do you do when the heat sets in?” “We go fishing,” I replied. “Bring it on…hotter the better…I can’t wait!” Strong wind through much of May and early-June caused concentrations of boats reminiscent of a crowded parking lot as everyone sought refuge. Parking lots are not my thing even though I have to tolerate them on Christmas Eve when I do my shopping. Furthermore, most parking spaces these days seem to be designed more for smart cars. Last minute shoppers fighting over tight spots create a scenario that elicits negative mood swings and high stress. Sound familiar? Anyone who fishes Galveston Bay especially after two years of heavy rain concentrating fish (and fishermen) knows exactly what I mean. I’ve heard way too many stories of on-the-water confrontations this year. July typically produces many long and steamy days on the water. But, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat. Wear moisture wicking clothing such as Denali shirts which also provide cool comfort and protection from UVA and UBV rays. Drink plenty of water and something with electrolytes. Stop fishing and crank up the boat to ride around for a while if someone on your boat is getting uncomfortably hot. Frog Toggs offers a cooling towel called a Chilly Pad that works great too. There are countless designs of caps, hats, gloves and face masks available for additional skin protection and comfort. Historically, rainfall amounts and stiff winds decrease as the summer mercury rises. Assuming this pattern develops, calm days will allow fresh and salt water to stratify thus resulting in more fishable areas. Over time, heat and breezy afternoons will increase evaporation creating higher bay-wide salinities, which will enable anglers to utilize even more of the bay system to catch fish. On-the-water tempers will ease and anglers will learn to love one another again. Temperature changes lend themselves to changing trout patterns which require different strategies for success. With water temperatures often in the mid-eighties, dissolved oxygen levels on the surface will decrease causing trout to seek deeper and cooler water to maintain comfort. “Deep” is a relative term based upon bay system, but it usually means 7 to 11 feet here on Galveston Bay. Such areas include old well pads, jetties, mud humps, deep oyster reefs, deep flats in open water, the Houston Ship Channel, shorelines with steep drop-offs and near passes where cooler gulf water flows. Deeper areas to target along other parts of the Texas Coast such as the Lower Laguna would include deep guts and drop-offs along the ICW and jetties. The number one way for locating deep-water fish in this area is
finding slicks and then setting up a drift while positioning the boat within casting distance of the slick’s origin. Size matters when analyzing slicks. Smaller is better. We refer to ones the size of hula hoop as “fresh” or “new” signifying that the fish are very close. It reminds me of a game we played as kids where we searched for a hidden object while a friend would let us know when we were in the vicinity of the hidden object by saying, “You’re getting warmer.” “You’re getting hot,” meant you were even closer and when you heard “You’re on fire,” you were about to hit pay dirt. In other words, if you’re 20 yards from a slick the size of a football field then you’re stone cold. Large slicks are old and the fish could be 200 yards upwind or up-current. The objective in your pursuit of deep water schools is to always get warmer instead of colder. Summertime trout are generally concentrated along the edges of bottom structure. If we’re fishing a well pad or other deep-water structure we’ll typically start out on the down current side. It’s my theory that trout stage on Ryan Flencher with a 25-inch CPR trout the deep side to intercept forage species on a small patch of carried over the top by current. I have also deep oyster shell. experienced the opposite where bait and subsequently trout are congregated on the front edge leading up to the crest but this was usually during weaker tide situations. In either case, anchoring within casting distance of the school is usually the best plan once the fish are located. The majority of the trout we catch in such areas are what we refer to as tide-runners and typically average 15 to 20 inches. Every once in a while a 25-plus speck will be brought to the boat, but it’s not a regular occurrence. Soft plastics are employed most of the time, but topwaters can certainly dial up their fair share of trout, even in 10 feet of water. If I see bait on the surface and conditions allow, you can bet I’ll tie on a surface plug. Catching trout out in the middle of the bay on top is a Chris Tran tricked this hoot! If there is a reasonably dense layer of big red by casting to freshwater on the surface, a dark-colored open-water slicks and worm fished deep would most likely yield mud boils which are a common occurrence better results. Paddle-tail style baits such as all summer. Salt Water Assassin Sea Shads and MirrOlure Soft Shads tend to work better in the offcolored water as well because of the vibration they create. Jighead size matters as well. In weak current situations a 1/4 or even 1/8 ounce will work. A 3/8 ounce may be necessary in a swift current while anchored. Three-quarter and 1-ounce silver spoons work great in slack tide situations and bright sunlight. I’ve seen trout and reds strike spoons during off-feeding periods when no other bait could trick them. 12 | July 2016
(left) Les McDonald, Jr. with a good one he caught while slow-rolling his jig deep along a drop off in dirty water. The water was fresh on top.
With all of this being said, we’re making the assumption that we are in for a dry and hot summer. If the opposite takes place then shallow reefs, shorelines and grass potholes could continue to produce solid results for a while longer. I’m not saying that we can’t still catch fish in deep water, but simply stating other possible scenarios. Wind and rain decrease surface water temperatures and will result in higher dissolved oxygen levels causing fish to temporarily move shallower. I saw this happen in July of 2007 following a heavy rainfall event. My good friend Mike Kalil called me in May to book a July trip noting he wanted to wade and catch his fish on topwaters. I told him that normally for the time of year he was booking
Fred George with a CPR 6 pounder caught while taking advantage of a freshwater stack-up along a scattered shell shoreline.
that staying in the fiberglass would most likely be a better option. He said it didn’t matter if he only caught one fish, but he was adamant in his request. On July 22, 2007 we waded a stretch of shoreline out in front of a bayou drain catching all we could handle on MirrOlure Top Dogs and She Dogs during a period that normally would have found us drifting in 8 - 10 feet of water throwing soft plastics on heavy jig heads. Our good fortune was enhanced by the fact that the marsh lake behind us had been flooded, concentrating hordes of bait on the bay side of the drain. Closely monitoring the effects of weatherinduced changes resulted in our group having a career day. Whether the heart of summer greets us with more El Nino-like deluges or La Nina’s dryness, one thing is certain; it will be hot. I’m personally praying for the latter even though temperatures will flare. Because then maybe, just maybe, tempers won’t. Have fun. Respect our fishery and be respectful of others.
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14 | July 2016
Steve Hillman is a full-time fishing guide on his home waters of Galveston Bay. Steve fishes the entire Galveston Bay Complex, wading and drifting for trout, redfish, and flounder using artificial lures. Phone 409-256-7937 Email email@example.com Web www.hillmanguideservice.com
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STORY BY KEVIN COCHRAN
arrive at the dock in pre-dawn darkness, per my usual way. After launching the boat alone, I don my waders, then wait for my customers to appear. Though I haven’t yet decided exactly where I’ll stop first, I know generally where I’m headed. At the end of the night, before first light, the early parts of my day mostly involve matters of the mind. I don’t fret over the details of daily plans, but I do remain ever conscious of the changes which dictate adjustments to location and strategy. Subconsciously, I also consider aspects of the journey, specifically what navigational hazards can and will come into play. Competent captains show vigilance and forethought; they work to anticipate and avoid things which might conspire to place them in harm’s way. I greet my customers when they emerge in the glow of the running lights, get their gear stowed and slowly back the boat away from land. And the most tedious part of my work begins. Turning
the bow into the morning mists, I plane off and begin running down a track line on the GPS screen. Moonlight periodically breaks through the low clouds, sprinkling the surface of the bay with pearl-white beads. Given the season and wind direction, I know I’m likely to encounter flocks of redhead ducks, and I warn my passengers, “If you feel me slowing down and hear me say ‘I see a duck,’ duck is the key word.” Sometimes, the boat ride creates anxiety, when conditions don’t allow for clearly seeing what lies ahead. On this day, steady drizzle continually fogs up my glasses, so I stash them in my pocket. I keep moving my eyes from the GPS screen forward to the intended line of travel and back, working to stay in a safe lane, and also to monitor the water for any unexpected hazard. Several times, I see the flapping silver wings and dangling black feet of redheads as they scurry out of the scope of the Q-Beam. Luckily for us, they always take off at an angle to our path, so we don’t encounter them directly. As I like to say, “They don’t taste real good cooked, and they ain’t
worth a flip to eat raw!” Before crossing over the ICW, I stop and listen for tell-tale signs of a barge, and give myself ample time to both hear and see one. When I decide no such vessel lies in our way, I crank the Mercury back up and continue toward my destination. After several more situations in which I zig to avoid a floating cabin or zag around shallow rocks, I bring the Haynie off plane and idle to the site where I’ll put the Power Pole down for the first wade. Before we step into the water, I make sure my guys know the basic layout of the area, the best way to proceed through it. I also give them directions about what lure to tie on, and which presentations have worked well lately. Once we start slowly moving away from the boat, I know they expect me to act as the lead dog in the pack, to show them the way, to prove what swims within our casting range. In this early part of the second phase of my day, the mind still reigns supreme. Once I have the group spread out, each angler set up with a piece of water to call his own, an evolutionary process gets under way. The middle of this angling endeavor moves my heart and stirs my soul. As I turn away from the others in the group to concentrate on what I’m doing to try to catch fish, I also turn back toward the cumulative events which have brought me to this place. Almost instinctively, I scan the water for signs of life to indicate the presence of feeding fish, searching for a reason to make every cast, careful to match my presentation style with the feel and needs of the moment. I fall into a somewhat trance-like state, one fueled by energies lying beneath the veneer of the mind, sourced from deep within the spirit. Essentially, I find my way to the center of the artful angler I seek. Within minutes, a fish provides positive feedback in the form of a bite, proving the worthiness of some aspect of what I’m doing. The event causes me to briefly emerge from my trance, as I pause to explain what happened to the members of the group, so they will have a chance to alter their methods to better match mine. 18 | July 2016
(above) Sometimes, the big one gets away, leaving us with either no images, or incomplete ones. (middle) Young angler Neal Laskowski caught this long trout on a topwater, his biggest to date. Documenting the moment in a picture makes perfect sense. (bottom) Experimenting with perspective enhances the ability to take unique and interesting fishing photos.
On the eastern horizon, orange, golden and azure lights begin to blaze as the clouds clear, in anticipation of the coming day. I pause and pull the camera from my shirt pocket, capturing a few images of the changing sky, to honor the sunrise. The act proves I’m not just an angling robot, incapable of appreciating the beauty which surrounds me. I understand the importance of focus in angling; I also recognize the need to stay in touch with the enchanting and picturesque aspects of nature, as a way of staying connected with the soul. My heart beats for an angling artist, one focused on the details of the moment. My soul resides in a nether realm, suspended somewhere between the need to stay connected with nature and a desire to do the right things to preserve that bond. Mostly, it’s found in communion with wild things, one I feel through braided line when linked to a fish I’ve enticed to strike. So I turn again toward my center, and begin catching trout. From time to time, I hear and see my customers fighting fish, some of which prove worthy of commemorating with pictures. I do my due diligence, and stride over to where they play their catches out, then record the moments as best I can with the camera, instructing them on the best ways to pose themselves and the fish. I work to get the lighting and angles right, to effectively preserve the memories for all time. This helps make the process pay. Taking quality pictures enhances the ability to provide experiences which etch themselves permanently into the memories of my clients. In essence, I work to make dreams come true, some of which can take most of a lifetime to realize. At some point, after snapping several shots of a smiling client, I move back into my bubble, content to cast and work for another bite. A bit spastic in style by nature, I twitch my rodtip vigorously up and down, to make the head of my Fat Boy snap sideways in rhythm, back and forth, repeatedly. Occasionally, I pause the rodtip and reel the lure straight in, slowly. During one such pause, I feel the tell-tale thump of a bite and lift the rod up to feel the weight of a fish. Heavy trout, soon stripping line off the spool against the weight of my drag.
20 | July 2016
When the short fight reaches an inevitable conclusion, I document the moment of their meeting for all to see. While I snap the shots, another client hooks a fish, and a noisy, new battle begins. He says with a chuckle, “We don’t need no stinkin’ trout call today!” The catching continues steady for a while, but like all things, it eventually winds down to an end. Then, I move easily into entertainer mode, telling stories and jokes to pass the time until we come in. Back at the dock, the journey becomes all about sustenance, about the body. After firm handshakes and pledges to do it again, my people and I part ways, exchanging a bag of fillets cut from the few fish we kept for a fistful of Franklins and the promise of emailed images. These angling endeavors predictably play out the same way. They emerge as a mind game, morph into a matter of heart and soul, then evolve into a survival mechanism, completing the circle of an angler’s way of life.
Kevin Cochran Contact
I can feel my adversary under my thumb, shaking its head in wide arcs. We battle, yes, but it’s not a fair fight. I win after mere minutes, and reach out for the trout, my hand stretched wide, to span the specimen’s broad shoulders. She’s a hefty one. After briefly steadying her, I place her lip securely in the steel of the Boga Grip, and lift her gently from the water. While admiring a wide, shining, dappled side, I see the fish’s eye move--she stares straight into me. I can’t help feeling we are nearly one and the same. After quick measurements, I place my prize back into the shadowy, wet world in which she belongs, and grasp her firmly around the tail, pushing her forward and back in the water so the gills flare, until I feel a hard thrust and she frees herself. After watching the speck swim away, my gaze moves upward, toward a point of land in the distance, across the cove in which we wade. A raft of bait riffling there most likely indicates a school of feeding trout. I recall a dear, departed partner, who left many bootprints in the mud o’er that way. A friend to the trout, he caught and released several big ones in the space. Some of them likely still swim where he left them on those days. Remembering him and his generous way, I feel tears filling my eyes. Not the hot tears of grief, but cool ones, tears of joy. I can sense the difference he made in and on the water today. Pale, peaceful light illuminates that place, bathing a passing gull in pearly luminescence. The sudden, satisfied yelp of a client pulls me away from the memory, back to the business at hand. Turning, I see the man’s trout thrashing at the surface of the water before him, throwing a shower of radiant droplets skyward, defying his attempts to control it. I move over to where the scene plays out, waiting for the fish to come within his circle.
Kevin Cochran is a full-time fishing guide at Corpus Christi (Padre Island), TX. Kevin is a speckled trout fanatic and has created several books and dvds on the subject. Kevin’s home waters stretch from Corpus Christi Bay to the Land Cut.
Trout Tracker Guide Service Phone Email Web
361-688-3714 firstname.lastname@example.org www.FishBaffinBay.com www.captainkevblogs.com
Drifting the Lower Laguna at first light. Does it get any better?
STORY BY MARTIN STRARUP
fter a long dry spell, the planets all became aligned properly, the weather cooperated almost fully, and I was able to head south to Port Mansfield for some much needed time on the water. It had been a while for me since every time that I was able to go the weather was bad or there was too much fresh water in the local bays and it was driving me nuts. Anyway, my son and I accompanied by our friend Keith, took off on a very rainy Thursday afternoon. While the forecast for Port Mansfield was great, the rain and wind that we drove through until almost Refugio was really bad. I had to slow down to 40 miles per hour sometimes just to be able to see where I was going while plowing through a lot of water on the highway. We made it to Port early enough to fish that afternoon but the weather caught up to us. Rain, lightning and strong wind prevented us getting on the water.
The next morning we could see the stars in the skies, had a light north wind, so with high hopes we splashed the boat and headed south. Our first stop produced few keeper trout but a couple of tournament size reds stretched our lines and went into the fish box. We moved to a spot that was a little deeper than where we had been fishing and the trout bite was on. We were fishing 1/8 ounce Hogie screw-lock heads and the lure that produced the most, to no surprise, was a red and white MirrOlure 4” Soft-Eel, which I understand has been discontinued and replaced with the Provoker. Fishing a color change in five feet of water was the ticket and while we didn’t box a boat limit of trout we sure had a good time. We called it a morning around noon and headed back to Port for something to eat and a well deserved nap. I pulled a muscle in my lower back picking up a too-heavy-for-one-man cooler so I didn’t go out that afternoon but Keith and Sterling did. Our friend Robert made it down and went out with them and they found more reds and a good number of trout before heading in right at dark. We were fishing a full moon on this trip and the solunar minor and major feed times were pretty much right on the money. By the way, throughout the day, when the fish hit the lures we could tell instantly if they were feeding or Small trout just hitting it out of predatory instinct. During the minor everywhere we and major feed times the fish engulfed the baits very went. Tons of them. aggressively while competing for food; there was no subtle tap telegraphed through the rod, the fish would just slam the bait. For the record there is no shortage of 15” trout in the Lower Laguna Madre. We don’t keep anything close to the 15 inch mark, we like them to be 16 or longer – and my goodness the fish in that size range are everywhere. The fishery down there appears very healthy and the catching is great right now. The only complaint I have, and it’s really not a complaint, more like a gripe from an old guy, would be the grass. Man, TSFMAG.com | 23
(top left) East wind at 20 mph pushed the floating grass into neat rows – perfect!
24 | July 2016
(above) Several of our reds would have weighed well had we been in a tournament.
Of course boats moved in when they saw us on the fish and some cut off my drift, shutting down as close as 30 yards in front of me. We moved a few times. I ran about four miles from the last spot and with no boats around, keeping with similar structure in that 5 foot depth range, we were right back into the fish again. Always remember that if you can get away from the boat traffic your chances of doing well on the water increases significantly. We stopped fishing and headed back to Port when we had a nice mess of trout in the box and a few reds tossed in for good measure. When the fish were filleted, bagged and on ice, it was time to hit the Pelican for some food and a cold drink, or three. OK, maybe it was four. That afternoon we opted to enjoy the house and didn’t launch the boat. It was a great time with good friends and a badly needed saltwater fishing fix for all. Be Safe.
the floating grass is everywhere, some places have islands of the stuff half an acre in size making working a topwater bait nearly impossible, even when rigged with single hooks. The north wind didn’t help any, and it wasn’t strong enough to push the grass into rows where we could throw a topwater between it. On Saturday morning we had an east wind which is a great wind for Port Mansfield and is perfect for where we had been fishing, but I wanted to try a different spot. Following my gut instincts we went to one of my favorite areas south of Port for our first stop of the day. I should have listened to my son and gone back to where we had been catching trout but…Oh No! I had a hunch. Unfortunately it did not produce as hoped. We caught only one keeper trout there and spent way too much time. When my son caught a hardhead on his soft plastic and Keith hooked a stingray – It was time to go. I headed to another spot that usually produces some decent fish but we struck out there as well. With my crew grumbling about my guiding skills and close to mutiny, we headed back to where the bite had been so good the day before. Boats! Goodness, there were lots and lots of boats. There were boats everywhere in the immediate area where we had been catching trout so we left the masses behind and moved further away but stuck with the same depth and got into the fish with the first cast. The east wind was pretty stiff so the grass rowed up nicely and you could have fished a topwater, but we were doing so well on soft plastic that we only half-heartedly attempted the surface lures. It was really incredible. Almost every other cast yielded a trout. It might not be a keeper but you would boat a trout. For every three or four 15 inchers you caught you’d stick a solid 17- to 20 inch fish.
(bottom left) Plenty of 17- to 20-inch trout too. Great for frying.
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
Savage Gearâ€™s TPE Shrimp has become one of my go-to baits for durability and lifelike appearance.
STORY BY CHUCK UZZLE
eems you just never run into anyone who doesn’t like it when everything happens just right. Fishermen especially love it when they plan for a day on the water and everything from the weather to the fish ends up working in their favor. These trips do actually happen and they help erase the memory of bad ones. For many of the folks who fish with me, the hope of catching just the right day is a high priority, especially the ones that travel great distances to get here. When you base an entire trip on just one day the stress of everything falling into place is real for the angler and the guide. Nobody wants to return home disappointed. In order to provide the best opportunity for customers, guides often spend their days off scouting, either on their own or through information from other guides in their network. Nothing beats up-to-date information and even if the scouting mission proves nothing more than where not to take to clients it is valuable. Speaking as a guide, getting out there alone and exploring water you do not fish often or perhaps have never fished is a fun no-pressure outing…and sometimes we score big! Call it a hunch, call it a premonition or whatever, it’s a great feeling when you discover the kind of fish you are hoping to put your clients on. In many cases the new
water might reveal an entirely different pattern than the one you had been fishing previously. Quite often I discover options for fishing with clients should my regular pattern fail to produce or a great backup plan should the weather take it out of play. Having a quality alternate plan in your hip pocket certainly puts a guide at ease and contributes to a more enjoyable day on the water for everyone. A perfect example of this type of situation happened to me recently as I was scouting for an upcoming trip where my customers were hoping to catch redfish on fly tackle. The conditions here on Sabine and Calcasieu have been the same as everywhere with really high water levels. High water in our marshes is not generally conducive to sight-fishing and that had me worried. Fortunately I was able to locate an area where several good schools of fish were holding in water clarity that would fit their request. I spent enough time in the area to catch a couple and then left them to check out a few more places before calling it a day. I felt confident that I had a solid game plan. The next morning I met Ben and Amity Sheridan who had made the trip from Arizona to visit family and friends, as well as go fishing to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary. Both were very excited to chase redfish, their first-ever experience, and were just really happy to see some different sights. It’s always a pleasure to have folks on my boat who are enthusiastic and willing to learn, and both Ben and Amity fit that description with room to spare. After a short boat ride we arrived at the area where the redfish had been so cooperative the day before and, as hoped, the plan began to unfold perfectly. The light breeze made the tightly schooling fish TSFMAG.com | 27
easy to spot as they fed aggressively. We could not have asked for a better situation. I climbed up on the poling platform and began to push the boat across the big flat to get Amity into position to take a shot and it didn’t take long before she was rewarded for her effort. Soon it was Ben’s turn on the front deck and after a short trip down the shoreline he was also hooked up on a nice one. This pattern held for several hours and made it nice for everyone. Once a school would finally separate or leave it was just a matter of scanning the surface before finding another group of willing redfish. Around lunch time the breeze stiffened, making the temperature more than comfortable but a little less than ideal for casting a flyrod. Ben and Amity were flexible enough to pick up my spinning rigs and finish the day throwing Savage TPE Shrimp under a cork with great success. The day was firstrate and the game plan had worked to perfection. Now chasing redfish in shallow water is not for Solo scouting trip – mission everyone, it takes some patience and a plan. Paying accomplished! your dues on a poling platform in order to set your clients up with the best chance of success is sometimes more art than science. There are plenty of guides along the lower Texas coast who will attest to that. TSFMag’s Scott Sommerlatte is one of the best and he has spent a lifetime poling anglers along flats from Mexico to Amity Sheridan Florida. The art of poling a skiff and reading water says a red like this makes the trip from is not for the lazy or those afraid of the work that Arizona worthwhile. must be invested to be successful. There is actually something almost elegant and gentlemanly about pushing a skiff into position for the perfect cast. Contrast the quiet and stealth-like approach of the poled skiff to those who run fiberglass rocket ships propelled by zillion-horse outboards, steered from atop a structure that looks to have been borrowed from a construction site. Blasting into a marsh pond and herding fish compared to truly stalking them is an entirely different mindset. It is my belief that those who embrace the poling skiff will know a greater sense of satisfaction than those who employ the “invasive” technique of horsepower and altitude could ever imagine. We have finally reached the halfway point of the year and some of the best fishing imaginable is on the horizon, unfortunately so are the crowds. Please keep a full tank of courtesy on your boat and respect your fellow Celebrate your wedding anglers. School is out for the summer and I heartily anniversary encourage getting the kids on the water every chance. with redfish! Enjoy your time out there and be safe.
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Chuck fishes Sabine and Calcasieu Lakes from his home in Orange, TX. His specialties are light tackle and fly fishing for trout, reds, and flounder. Phone 409-697-6111 Email email@example.com Website wakesndrakes.com
In 1950 Hobart â€œHobieâ€? Alter started shaping surfboards, and ended up shaping a culture.
hobie.com Surf Sail Kayak Fish Stand up
STORY BY JOE RICHARD
n a number of occasions we have run out of bait offshore, especially in June, when we still hadn’t caught our kingfish. It happens: the snapper keep biting until every scrap of bait is gone. The crew is on a hot bite, catching and releasing more fish. When they’re done, they turn to kingfish. Especially if they’re out in that broad zone between (A) deep-water billfish country, and (C) the inshore, green water zone in state waters, often within sight of the beach. Kings can be caught in all three zones, but their most consistent action falls in the (B) middle zone. And catching more bait offshore is no sure thing. On one of our better trips last summer, we tied up to a rig at the first stop of the day off Sabine, way out there about 40 miles, and were startled to see a cloud of sweet cigar minnows milling around just below. Lots of them, sometimes 30 feet out from the rig, darting and flashing, never stopping, often running back to the rig for cover. Not an everyday sight, and what an opportunity to fill the live well. So, who on the boat carried Sabiki rigs that day? There were
A seventy-plus pound kingfish in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. These guys were patiently trolling live bait.
mumbled excuses all around. If we’d only had the right kind (very small flies on 6-pound line), we could have loaded the live well with bait. But of course nobody on the boat carried them that day. My Sabiki packs were left behind in a different tackle box... So we pitched jigs with trout tackle, for small jacks and critters bigger than cigar minnows. But there was another problem: sometimes these guys can be very finicky. These had evidently been feeding all night on some cornucopia passing by in the current; one never knows what the Gulf will deliver. These jacks, up to 50 at a time, merely followed our jigs back to the boat. We knew it would be one of those days. Other mornings these little fish can be ravenous, but not this day. We managed only four in the livewell, because we were all eager to head further offshore to a favorite snapper rock. Then, while running the last ten miles, our live bait stopper/sprayer in the livewell became dislodged from all the sloshing and the water drained out, leaving us with dead baits. (If it isn’t A charter with six anglers one thing it’s three others, as I’m fond of saying). Once drags trolling plugs we reached the snapper rock, there wasn’t another rig on behind a nicely trickedthe horizon. Rigs can be scarce these days, thanks to the out offshore boat. rig-killer stationed at Sabine. So we enjoyed great snapper action, caught them until past noon, and then it was kingfish time. But how to tempt Hold tight, Miss Lily! them? The other guys scratched their heads and Beware kingfish just caught mumbled. Fortunately I’d brought along a Tupperware with a big trolling plug box with some killer kingfish trolling baits that have armed with treble hooks. lasted me a number of years. I’d jammed it into a locker, in a boat that held little extra room. We pulled anchor and began circling our buoy, and I set out a favorite blue/silver Rebel lure. Within a minute it was wham-wham one kingfish after another, slamming into this diving bait that is seven inches long. This plug has a modest, clear lip and it wiggled down six or seven feet where we could still see it, just to the side of the wake, and within a minute there was this big silver flash going sideways when a kingfish came out of nowhere. It was hard work after snapper fishing, but we boated 11 kings, some of them in the 25-pound range and one reaching 30 pounds. All on the same diving plug. Sharked up again. Vidor It was dicey work landing them, however. There angler Dale Fontenot inspects was another problem: We were catching them for a kingfish that he snagged sport. Which means catch and release. And tailing with a silver spoon, which (bare-handing) sizeable kings into the boat with came up slowly sideways, only to be bitten in half. treble hooks thrashing, is not for the weak of heart. Sure, your hand is safe from the lure at the far end of the king; these fish can’t bend around like a shark. But in a crowded center console boat of only 22 feet, people have to stay the heck out of the way. It was not an ideal situation, but we couldn’t stop fishing. And my crew members aren’t exactly tourists, fishing these waters together since the early 1970s. Ideally I would have rigged a few of these plugs with single, even barbless hooks for this kind of work. Releasing kings means working fast because they die quick, and that means working around live fish and flailing hooks. My pants leg was ripped above the knee by one thrashing king. And earlier that day, a big treble was cut off the back of my shirt: a trolling rod and big plug had been left in the center console’s rod holder. I normally dodge around such hazards, but we were all running to get away from 32 | July 2016
Capt. Craig Brewer Islamorada Fl Keys 305-393-0271
Dressed for the occasion.
34 | July 2016
Joe Richard has fished the Gulf since 1967, starting out of Port Arthur, but his adventures have taken him up and down the entire coast. He was the editor of Tide magazine for eight years, and later Florida Sportsman’s book and assistant magazine editor. He began guiding out of Port O’Connor in 1994. His specialty is big kingfish, and his latest book is The Kingfish Bible, New Revelations. Available at Seafavorites.com
a feisty 35-pound ling that was thrashing on deck. I had to wait patiently for someone to cut me loose with a knife, while the ling thrashed only feet away. Either that or leave my laundry hanging in the breeze…Back at the ramp later that afternoon after a long day, my nice fishing clothes were in—what’s the old Mick Jagger word? “Tatters.” Ripped by big treble hooks. One serious word of advice: If you’re going to use treble hook plugs on kingfish and plan to keep smaller kings for home, gaff and slap them into a big fish box while everybody else stays out of harm’s way. Or the smaller kings of 15 pounds or less can sometimes be bodily lifted aboard without gaffing, which doesn’t make a mess. Just make sure they land in the cooler. A king will quiet down within a minute or so, and that’s when a pair of handy, long needle nose pliers can be used to pry the hooks out. Since the nearest Doc-in-the-box is likely far away, it’s always a good idea to carry a small set of bolt cutters on the boat, in case somebody does get hooked. By removing a hook, or at least a lure pinned to a buddy in the boat, it could save a lot of discomfort and maybe a
day of fishing. We haven’t had to use a bolt cutter yet, at least not on fishermen. Some guides won’t even troll lipped plugs for kingfish with their charter clients. Perhaps the captain had a bad experience in the past. People visiting from upstate may not be aware of the hazards of these fish and flailing treble hooks that can grab flesh in the wink of an eye. Someone may reach in without asking, trying to help out. These trolled plugs are also a hazard because they can fly out of the water right into someone’s face, while the boat is underway. Overall it’s best to troll just one or two of these baits, rigged with single Port Aransas kingfish landed hooks, after advising the group to and quickly released by David stay in the front of the boat where it’s Bullock. These fish return safest. Easy to do: trolling action is at to the same waters each the back of the boat. In productive summer, so this king should be heavier this year. waters we only troll one plug, to avoid double-header hookups that can really complicate things. I’ve been on quite a few kingfish trips and somehow during those adventures, nobody around me was ever hurt by a hook or a king. Nothing more Box of lures used in the than a little love-nip on a gloved hand, story. The top blue/silver anyway. That safety record on king trips lure caught 11 kings by is probably because we used single itself and shows hundreds hooks with the barbs filed almost flat, of bite marks. It will be used again this summer. pinned to baitfish. The trips where we pulled lipped, diving plugs were certainly exciting, though. (I have been hit with big treble hooks offshore twice, but the culprits were an amberjack off POC and a gag grouper in Florida). With kings, we learned to work quickly around these fish back in our tagging days, when they had to be unhooked, measured and released in about 30 seconds. Fast but exciting work. Anyway, I’m certainly ready to head offshore this month to battle more kings and shoot some new photos. If anyone is gearing up for kings this summer and wants a prep course in techniques, also some adventure stories on the high seas from Port Arthur to Port Aransas, my kingfish book can be ordered at Seafavorites.com.
Doggett used three-piece All Star travel rod, topwater plug and snazzy tropical shirt to catch beachfront barracuda from Yucatan surf.
STORY BY JOE DOGGETT
ink Smith was running hot. He was fuming as he paced up to join Dain Crow and me at the TSA-approved customs line at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental. “What’s wrong?” Crow asked. “United just hit me for $200 – one-way – for the big rod tube! Oversized baggage!” We were booked on a non-stop flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. Smith brought five or six 7-foot casting rods for the Pacific sailfish expedition to Herradura. The one-piece rods were stowed in one of those adjustable bazooka PVC tube rod carriers. I brought four 7-foot casting rods. My quiver of sticks sailed through the check-in counter with no problem. All were three-piece “travel” models stashed in the bottom compartment of my duffle bag. Each rod was cased in its individual tube, and each tube measured approximately 30 inches in length. This compact format is a safe and efficient way for the flying fisherman to dodge the tender mercies and extra charges of airline carriers. The breakdown technology for casting and spinning rods evolved from the fly fishing industry. The typical 9-foot fly rod is unwieldy to transport, even in two sections, so during the 1980s the growing fly fishing market moved primarily to four-piece rods. This was made possible by improvements in the construction of quality graphite blanks and superior resins, and the ability of manufacturers to join the sections with trim integrated ferrules. The typical hightech rod boasts thin walls of superior strength, and little of the tapered action is lost in the process of cutting the blank into sections. The same concept increasingly is available for the plug caster. If anything, it’s even better, since only two ferrules are used in the three-piece construction of the typical 6 1/2- to 7 1/2-foot casting rod. This might be worth emphasizing, since many plug casters accustomed to standard one-piece rods might never have owned or even used a break-down stick. I’ve travelled extensively with breakdown rods (fly and casting) and cannot recall having one fail on a ferrule connection. Two or three broken tips were due to shameful rookie mistakes, nothing whatsoever to do with blank construction. Assuming the three sections are joined correctly, today’s typical travel rod is rugged and reliable. The first sailfish on our April bait-and-switch expedition proved this point. Crow was up when the mate shouted, “Starboard teaser!” As the mate reeled in the hookless teaser, baiting the jabbing, stabbing sailfish closer, Crow grabbed the closest casting rod rigged with a ballyhoo on a circle hook. The three-piece rig was one of mine – an old
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6-foot, 10-inch Fishing Tackle Unlimited “Traveling Angler” rated for 12to 30-pound line and fitted with a Shimano Calcutta 400 spooled with 20-pound mono. It was a light setup for the typical 80- to 90-pound Pacific sailfish, but Crow dropped back on freespool, allowed the circle hook to rotate, and landed the fish within 15 clocked minutes. The boat did a bit of jockeying to follow the running, jumping sail, but it was a masterful
light-tackle performance. And not once in skilled hands was the little rod threatened. Incidentally, I used the same FTU rod and Calcutta reel to whip two tarpon in the solid 100-plus class last fall off the Rio Parismina beachfront. I was casting M77 MirrOlures into rolling schools in 30 or 40 feet of water, and neither fish took longer than 20 minutes to land. Note: I do not necessarily recommend going under-gunned. I mention these accounts to illustrate that the threepiece construction can take a lot of punishment. As any experienced light-tackle angler will agree, you don’t catch big fish in deep water on a short clock without putting serious heat on the equipment. Three-piece casting and spinning rods in most popular lengths are available at major tackle retailers and through factory web sites. Prices range from approximately $100 to $300, similar to the cost of comparable one-piece models. Many actions and grades are offered, from light “trout” sticks to magnum rhino chasers. For short airline hops along the Gulf Coast (say, Houston or Dallas to Harlingen), Dain Crow prepares to the go-to choice for bay and beachfront duty is a release Pacific sailfish light or medium-light casting rod suitable for 10- to landed in 15 minutes on 15-pound line and 1/4- to 1/2-ounce payloads. three-piece casting rod. Numerous fine travel rods within that range are available over the counter. Or, you can have one custom made. One of the favorite rods in my travel quiver is a three-piece 6 1/2 footer built about 25 years ago by master rodsmith Kenny Murph of Houston. He used a Fenwick blank and the trim little stick remains clean and classy today. For what it’s worth, tackle trends come and go, but a great rod is just that – a great rod. Regardless of graphite pedigree, the southbound angler would do well to load up rather than down. Latin latitudes require more horsepower. Inshore fish in the 15- to 30-pound class are common, and something topping 50 might clamp onto a topwater plug or jig chunked into the jungled shadows or crashing surf. A piddly trout rod is not what you want if you are St. Croix Tidemaster is a standing flat-footed on the beach and a leg-long fine example of rugged snook or barracuda hits and streaks for the nearest and reliable travel rods coral head. available today. A medium-heavy or heavy action blank is the superior choice. Some of these powerful sticks were intended by rod companies for muskellunge or king salmon, but they do yeoman’s duty on tropical tides. For example, prior to the sailfish trip, I purchased a 7-foot, three-piece St. Croix Tidemaster rated for 20- to 30-pound mono. It has a powerful butt yet enough tip flex for smooth casting with 1- to 2-ounce payloads. And it’s a good-looking, no-nonsense stick, with cork grips and a soft green finish. It retails for about $200, and comes with a fitted carrying tube. Come to think of it, you can pack light, medium and heavy and be prepared for whatever mayhem might occur. The traveling angler And if space or weight is an issue when packing can save space and rods in the checked duffle bag you might be able to weight by placing put two breakdown rods in one individual tube. The two break-down rods diameter of the typical tube is sufficient to stow the in a single tube.
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six sections by alternating butt-to-tip. When you open the top, the case looks like a canister of pick-up sticks. Better yet, carry the travel rods on board. The short tubes should not be an issue for the overhead compartment. Specialty fly shops sell snazzy travel cases with fashionably correct logos that hold multiple rods. Or, if you donâ€™t mind sacrificing a few style points, you can whip out a roll of silver duct tape and lash several individual tubes together. Once at camp, pay attention when joining the rod sections together. If you opt for the pick-up stick packing technique, make certain all three sections you grab from the pile do in fact belong to the same rod. They tend to look similar and mistakes can be made; this especially is true after three or four fingers of aged rum and amid a cloud of Cohiba smoke on the poorly lighted porch of a tropical lodge. Each section should be firmly seated with straight pressure. Avoid twisting or turning under force, as this might damage the ferrule, and be most careful
Wide spool Shimano Calcutta 400, FTU travel rod, and MirrOlure M77 was an effective combination for plug casting for tarpon and big jacks.
when breaking down the rod. The temptation is great over a stuck section to jam your thumb for leverage against the upper guide and, yes, weâ€™ve all gotten impatient and done it. But such rough handling is a good way to break the guide or rip the foot from its windings. If a smooth pull fails to unseat a stuck ferrule, try the old trick of holding the rod horizontally behind your bent knees and pulling smartly. This sounds stupid but dates back to the fiberglass and bamboo days of metal ferrules and works remarkably well. Worst case, enlist the aid of a friend. You each grab with both hands and pull straight apart. But these are extreme measures. Chances are, the quality rod will break down easily, ready to wipe dry and store in its compact tube for the flight home and your next angling adventure. And with no annoying hassles and outrageous fees for extra baggage.
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TSFMag Highlight Businesses Serving Texas Anglers
Hunting & Fishing Products
Meet the ForEverlast team; Bradley Grahmann, Billy Gerke, Amy Gerke and Kelli Rainosek.
Billy Gerke’s ForEverlast brand can be found all across Texas. Virtually every store in the state that carries hunting and fishing supplies has something from ForEverlast on their shelves. The company’s current catalog includes more than 70 items, each meeting a specific need for Texas outdoor enthusiasts. Deer to doves, saltwater wade fishing to barbecuing, tailgating and travel. In Billy’s words; “It’s all about our passion for the outdoors. Every product we offer is designed for the outdoorsman by a team that hunts and fishes year ‘round. Understanding what they need, our strength is supplying products other brands do not offer.” You could call ForEverlast a true cottage industry. Founded in 1998, Billy and Amy Gerke operated out of their home in the early days. “We had stuff crammed and stacked in every room,” Billy reminisced. “We’d get home from our jobs, have a quick dinner, and go right to work until late into the night on the living room floor, boxing and labeling orders. I’d drop them off at UPS the next morning on my way to work.” Their first product was a clever folding singletree hunters could 40 | July 2016
stow in a tool box or behind the seat of a pickup. No more searching for just the right stick to jam between a deer’s hind legs for hanging and skinning. It’s still in the catalog and still very popular. A few minutes with Billy and you quickly gain the impression that he is a true Texas sportsman with a strong entrepreneurial flair. And he’s a family man of great Christian faith. Billy and Amy and their two sons go everywhere and do everything together. When they’re not working, hunting or fishing, they’re probably at a ballgame. Both boys are fine young athletes. With demand for ForEverlast rising like Jack’s beanstalk, it wasn’t long before the Gerke’s enterprise outgrew the cottage it was born in. Standing in the recently completed third phase of the large steel building structure, Billy pointed out the original section and the wings they have added to house the growth. “We took a leap of faith buying this land and moving the business out here. This latest section gives us a total of 15,000 square feet. And it’s already filling up,” he noted. With their business growing, Amy left her regular job in 2002 to
ForEverlast latest addition to their wade boot line.
Billy and Amy Gerke in the newest wing of the ForEverlast warehouse.
ForEverlast’s outdoor cooking equipment is a great compliment to their family of products.
Bradley Grahmann at work putting a shipment together.
become ForEverlast’s first fulltime employee. Billy followed in 2007, another great leap of faith for the Gerke family. Warehouse and shipping manager Bradley Grahmann joined them in 2009. “Before Bradley came onboard,” Billy explained, “It was up to Amy and me. Placing orders with our manufacturers, sales calls to retailers, receiving shipments and getting orders out…you name it and we did it, including a lot of ballgames, hunting and fishing. It is a lot easier now, especially since we have Kelli fulltime in the office. But that’s what we had to do.” Wade fishing gear was the line that Billy says really spurred Foreverlast’s growth. The highly-popular Ray Guard Boot with integral
leg protection came in 2003 and led to the Ray Guard Reef Boot and detachable Ray Guard Shield. Hunters need foot and leg protection as well and it didn’t take long before a full line of snake boots and leggings were added. Wade belts in various styles for men and women followed, along with stringers, pliers, landing nets, tackle storage systems, and other tools. The ForEverlast wade fishing line today is the most complete in the industry. Saltwater wade fishing is unique to Texas, except perhaps a small segment of surf fishing in other coastal states. And like Billy’s description of niche products and his willingness to supply them, the future is bright for ForEverlast as they reach further into hunting, camping, barbecuing and tailgating markets. As we toured the warehouse we were amazed at row upon row of deer feeders, game preparation equipment and, thousands upon thousands of wading boots of several styles. Even camouflage pattern luggage for traveling sportsmen. Perhaps the most gratifying part of our recent visit to the ForEverlast facilities in Hallettsville was the enthusiasm of the whole ForEverlast team and the Gerke’s faith in God. “The Lord has surely blessed us,” Billy and Amy said in unison. “And we thank him every day.”
TSFMag Highlight Businesses Serving Texas Anglers
BAIT & TACKLE Y RO ’S CORPUS CHRISTI, TX
Roy Guerra says he never planned to get into the tackle business. Returning from a family vacation and finding his job shut down, he turned to his rod wrapping hobby to provide short term income while he searched for another opportunity. “I had been building my own rods for a while and friends often asked if I would wrap one for them. That’s really how it started.” The job search dragged on. Seeing to the needs of his family, along with his rod wrapping, Roy took to cast netting mullet for local bait camps. And started pouring fishing weights. Hardly the income he had enjoyed in the meat department of a large Corpus Christi grocery. “I was working on my wife’s stove when I learned that it’s very bad when a few drops of water fall into melted lead. It explodes! I thought my wife was going to kill me. She didn’t like me wrapping rods on her antique table either,” Roy quipped. Walk into Roy’s Bait and Tackle Outfitters today and it is impossible to imagine the trials and tribulations over thirty-plus years in business the Guerra family have endured to build this enterprise. During a recent visit, patriarch Roy (now mostly retired) and son Juan, who everybody knows as Rocky (nicknamed by his mother for his stout physique, even as a toddler), related tales of barely hanging on through lean times and investing cautiously every chance they could. “Back in the early days we ran the shop in our home, from 1975 until we moved out here in 1985,” Roy told me. “We didn’t sell tackle like we do today. We sold bait and some terminal tackle – leaders, hooks and weights. When we moved out here on SPID, our old building had only 42 | July 2016
Mike, Michelle, Roy and Rocky welcome you to their recently expanded shop on SPID.
1100 square feet, and part of that was warehouse.” Rocky said after they moved to SPID they kept the store open 20 hours a day, even holidays. “I practically lived in the store, but if fishermen needed bait they knew where to get it. We decided to close for Thanksgiving 1989 and the store caught fire. How’s that for luck?” My first visit to Roy’s Bait and Tackle was a few years after Jim Wallace caught the state record trout in Baffin Bay. The group I fished with were crazy about Baffin and the Landcut and invited me along on one of their three-day trips. This was before big-box retailers and way before online shopping. Stores that carried quality tackle, the kind serious anglers need, were few and far between. “Roy’s has everything,” they told me. Fast forward to more recent times. Rocky’s sister Michelle joined the team to help manage the thriving business. Then came Mike Shappy. Mike was originally with Shimano in California and then joined a tackle sales firm calling on Roy’s. Long story short, Mike met Michelle and is now very much part of the Guerra family and the Roy’s Bait and Tackle team. It didn’t take long in what they called their “new” store built in the late-90s and Roy’s was busting at the seams, again. An aggressive expansion plan was undertaken. Construction began in 2014 to more than double retail space, along with a separate 6000 square foot warehouse. The Roy’s team faced myriad problems between keeping their store operating while under construction and exceptionally wet weather that greatly complicated and delayed the project. It wasn’t
The kayak and fly departments at Roy’s are as well stocked as any I have visited.
Mezzanine levels cleverly incorporate additional merchandising space.
Roy’s tackle section has a great selection, from bluewater to bays.
Kayaks and more kayaks! Roy’s now also stocks kayak trailers.
easy but the Roy’s team has always managed to overcome adversity. Like my buddies told me nearly 20 years ago, in their recentlyexpanded facility, Roy’s really does have everything. Rocky sees to the majority of the tackle side while Mike and Michelle marshal the progress of the new fly shop, kayaking and clothing departments. The kayak side is growing leaps and bounds and Mike and his team are doing a splendid job of custom rigging paddle boats to buyer’s specifications. For beginners, they also offer kayak demos and paddling lessons to assist buyers in selecting the model that best suits their needs. The clothing section is like a Macy’s for fishermen. Michelle has
brought in all the best lines. Anglers can find a great selection of everything from waders to everyday fishing attire, along with smartly styled fishing-casual for both men and women. Roy’s fly shop is booming too, riding the crest of saltwater fly fishing’s popularity that nobody could have predicted even a few years ago. The in-store stock includes top-of-the-line rods and reels and all the accessories coastal fly anglers need. They also provide fly casting instruction and tying classes for all levels of anglers. If you haven’t been to Roy’s Bait and Tackle Outfitters recently, you should plan to pay them a visit. I believe you will be impressed.
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Not sure how well it’ll show in the magazine but there’s a nice slick popping on a windward spoil. Notice the second small slick forming just to the right of the larger one.
J AY WAT K I N S
ASK THE PRO
Let’s play the slick game Slicks can be one of the surest signs of fish presence. They are also perhaps one of the most misunderstood. You often hear fishermen mention slicks and we catch fish in areas where slicks are prevalent. But not all slicks are created equal. That’s the tricky part. A slick is basically oil floating on the surface of the water. It is shiny and sometimes gives off an odor or fragrance. Speckled trout are famous for making slicks because of the way they feed – gulping down shrimp and small finfish, they also ingest some water. Shortly, they regurgitate or burp the water from their stomach and with it comes tiny fragments and oils of a prior meal, and the oil floats to the surface. I jokingly tell my clients that the slicks we are looking for are actually trout burps and farts...they slick from both ends. Their waste products are oily, too. But trout are not the only species that make slicks. I won my first IFA Redfish Tour tournament working a school of reds that were popping slicks over a muddy grass flat. Flounder make slicks, and so do hardhead catfish and gafftop. Skipjacks will slick when feeding aggressively on menhaden and glass minnows. 44 | July 2016
Here’s a funny story about slicks. In my early guiding days I used to run Estes Flats early in the morning, dropping Frito’s or Lay’s chips along the way, hoping that anybody following me would stop and begin fishing. A chip makes a slick just like a trout and they even smell right sometimes. I thought it hilarious when they fell for it but gave up on it after an elder gent at the dock one afternoon asked why I didn’t fish those slicks. He said he couldn’t pass it up and began drifting the area…and caught a limit of trout. As luck would have it I struggled that day. I took it as a sign that God was trying to tell me something. Slicks that I feel confident are being made by trout are most often found in areas where good fish-holding structure is also present. Along the middle to lower coast it’s usually along windward shorelines, spoils, or mid-bay reefs. The first sign I trust that the slicks I’m seeing could be made by trout is location – typically shallow and over submerged grass or scattered shell. Bait is usually abundant and of the right size and species for the season. Right now it is menhaden and slicks from trout feeding on menhaden give off a distinctive smell. Try taking a whiff
from a trout’s open mouth you just caught. You can learn to detect Brandon Wimberly with solid what they are eating. I do it quite often. trout fishing under slicks. Even if a slick was made by a trout and has a sweet watermelon smell, you must get to its origin. Tossing a lure into a slick stretched long and skinny by wind or current is not where you will find the fish that made it. Look upwind or up-current. A slick that has just popped – that’s where the fish are. I fish shallow most of the time and slick origin is easier to pinpoint in shallow water. It can be tougher in deeper water or when strong currents are present, places such as Cedar Bayou or ship channel spoils. One thing is always certain though, the exact origin of a slick that smells like trout will be some distance upwind or up-current by the time you can detect it by sight or smell. I refer to small slicks that pop shallow as “platter slicks” because at the point of origin they are about the size of a serving platter. On windward shorelines these shallow slicks may be visible for only a short time before they are driven to the bank. These are usually made by fish feeding in the first or second gut, the deeper troughs that lie parallel to the shoreline. Guts offer great ambush points for predators to lurk in slightly deeper water that has very close access to the food source. It is fairly common to see mullet cruising skittishly atop the sandbars between guts, avoiding the predators. When we see slicks popping in areas of gut and bar structure it is easy to take a position that allows casts to be made upwind or up-current to the area the fish are actually holding in or moving through. I have seen guys chasing slicks and casting frantically, believing that the fish that made the slick is still swimming under it. Slow to dead-stop is the way I like to fish these types of slicks. is to stay and grind it out, but again, you have to be sneaky about it. Once a line is established, meaning that multiple platter slicks If bait is holding in the area and weather patterns remain constant, I have appeared within a certain zone, be patient and let the pattern believe the fish will not leave the area on their own. Why would they? continue to develop. You know for certain that the fish you’re trying Everything they need is right there with them. The above described to catch are present and are eating the bait you’re seeing. Keep your scenario is extremely common during the spawn and around each bait in the area and something good will eventually happen. I have a full moon phase. tremendous amount of confidence in this pattern as long as the water To me, fishing slicks is one of the easiest ways to locate fish, given is not much more than butt deep on me. that you can interpret what you are seeing. You know what they’re Is one slick the sign of one fish or many? It can be both and what I eating and the structure type that’s holding them. Some of the best mean is that it only takes one fish in a wolf pack of five or six or more areas that I fish today, even when fish are not slicking, I discovered to burp up a slick. I know this to be true for two reasons. Many times, when they were slicking. in fact most of the time, when my anglers are close together fishing I hope this gives you a little insight into how I play the slick game. slicks and one hooks a fish, the other angler hooks up as well or at The slick is just a sign as to the presence of fish in general. The least gets a take. The second reason is that in our clear, shallow water location, time of year and season can tell us a whole lot about what I can actually see them and many times there will be numerous trout types of fish might be making them. Best way to truly know is to together. Just this morning when I got out of the boat and within always get out and fish them. twenty minutes had seen eight or ten slicks pop along the shoreline May your fishing always be catching. –Guide Jay Watkins down in front of my guys, I was not thinking eight or ten fish; I was thinking something like forty to sixty. So what about the wade when we see numerous platter slicks up tight to the windward shoreline. Bait is abundant and water is being Jay Watkins has been a full-time fishing guide at Rockport, TX, for more than 20 years. Jay specializes in wading yearmoved by both wind and incoming tide. The smell is almost sickening round for trout and redfish with artificial lures. Jay covers sweet but no fish are being caught. My take is that that they have the Texas coast from San Antonio Bay to Corpus Christi Bay. already fed and are sleeping off a big meal. This is evident by the slicks, and trout have a hard time slicking on an empty stomach. Telephone 361-729-9596 We can do two things. Hang around and grind it out until they Email Jay@jaywatkins.com feed again. Or, if your patience is too short for that, leave the area Website www.jaywatkins.com very quietly so as not to disturb them and come back later. My vote 46 | July 2016
Now if this doesn’t look spooky…
C A P T. S COT T N U L L
S H A L L O W W AT E R F I S H ING
Belize River Lodge:
Scheming a Rematch Over the years I’ve come to accept that not all fishing trips will turn out as planned. Having a Plan B and going with the flow can divert frustration and salvage a trip. You just need to be prepared and accept that Mother Nature doesn’t care one flip about your script. A few weeks back I got a call from my buddy Jeff Herman asking if I’d like to go to Belize for a quick fishing trip out of the Belize River Lodge…Well Duh! I love Belize and I’ve always wanted to try out that fishing operation. The plan was to hit the flats and island lagoons for bones, tarpon and maybe a permit via mother-shipped kayaks. The lodge is looking to promote their kayak fishing options and putting a couple writer/ photographers on a bunch of fun fish couldn’t hurt. As the departure date neared I had gathered quite the stack of gear. Several fly rods from 7- to 11 weight. Floating lines, sinking lines, leaders, boxes of flies, miscellaneous accessories, clothing and a bunch of camera gear. Probably too much for a three day trip, but you never know. The goal was a single medium-sized checked bag and a carry-on. I was pushing it. Then I checked the weather…dammit. The forecast was for 20-30mph winds, heavy cloud cover and rain was looking like a real possibility. As their name says, this place sits on the banks of the Belize River and in fair 48 | July 2016
proximity to a couple other really fishy jungle rivers with feeder creeks and small brackish lakes. I recalled reading the exploits of Brister, Doggett and Pike from the old days of the Houston Chronicle outdoors section. They visited the Belize River Lodge several times and wrote of the baby tarpon and big snook in those rivers. Time to rethink that gear pile. I thought briefly about ditching all the fly gear but decided to keep a light bonefish rig and a heavier stick for tossing permit flies and also capable of handling small to mid-sized poons. Hey, you never know. Weathermen aren’t all that trustworthy and I’d kick myself if we arrived to ice cream conditions. The rest of the fly gear was culled in favor of a couple casting rods and a box of topwaters, plugs and soft plastics. We arrived to heavy cloud cover and the predicted whipping winds. Disappointing for sure, but we were in beautiful Belize. Cold Belikins and exploring jungle rivers on kayaks beats the hell out of sitting in Texas watching it flood. Even if we didn’t catch a thing, hanging out at the lodge with the owner and listening to his stories of growing up fishing and prowling the jungles of Belize was worth the trip. Mike Heusner is a fourth generation Belizean, born in 1939. He has seen a Belize that I could
only imagine. His love of sport fishing is obvious. A skin mount of his first snook on rod and reel still hangs on the wall along with a bunch of cool old photos. But it was his love of the environment those fish live in that really shined through in his tales. Birds, bugs, plants, history…he is a wealth of knowledge. The first morning we awoke to rattling palm trees. The weatherman picked this time to be correct. Our young guide, another Mike, was undeterred and full of optimism. We loaded the kayaks and our gear onto his panga and set forth. As we cleared the mouth of the river the view of the flats was dismal. White caps as far as the eye could see. Mike pointed the bow towards a distant island with hopes that the leeside would be fishable. Nope. Next island…nope. The wind had churned the normally gin-clear flats to a chalky mess. Plan B. Mike turned the boat back towards the river and took us on a ride down a creek that twisted through a cathedral of huge mangroves. From there he made a long run down an old canal, through a couple lakes, another creek and into the Sibun River. Scenes from The Mosquito Coast were shot here. Picture in your mind what a jungle river should look like and this is it. We unloaded the kayaks and started plugging the shorelines. Drifting with the current and hitting every likely-looking spot, and there were many, resulted in a few half-hearted snook blow-ups and a couple hookups with feisty mangrove snapper. After relocating, Mike pointed out a large downed tree at a bend in the river, “There’s always a tarpon around that.” Jeff eased into position while I got my camera ready. The first cast resulted in a huge boil and an airborne poon. Fish on! Oops…fish off. That’s tarpon fishing. The rest of the day was pretty much a replay of the beginning. The wind had pushed the tide a good bit higher than normal and refused to allow the predicted afternoon low tide to run out. The predators and prey were snuggled deep into the brush and virtually impossible to reach. A flurry of feeding jacks in the middle of the river saved the day and stretched our lines. I don’t care what you say, a school of several hundred juvenile jacks busting topwaters is fun. These little ten pounders pulled our kayaks all over the place and put on quite a show. Day two dawned with the same rattling palms. Due to an unfortunate bee incident, Mike wasn’t available. Our new guide, Pedro, has been guiding these waters for 37-years and had some ideas how to beat this high tide. We went into all sorts of cool little creeks and backwater lakes off the river. Every one looked fishy as hell and they all produced the same noncommittal snook along with a couple more briefly-hooked tarpon. It was tough fishing no doubt, but I could tell by Pedro’s frustration that these waters usually produce for him. Being a guide myself, I fully understood his feelings. 50 | July 2016
From our porch window, we were right on the Belize River.
Relocating was the name of the game… too many times.
One of my Belize River snook.
We only had a short time to fish on day three and stuck to the Belize River fairly close to the lodge. The conditions hadn’t changed much, but the fish were at least a little more cooperative. The wind had subsided just enough to let the falling tide start moving some water. I finally got my river snook and we jumped several more tarpon that just wouldn’t stay buttoned, not even long enough for a photo. After a second nice snook, sadly we were out of time and had a plane to catch. Just when it was looking like the bite was turning on – of course. I’m already scheming a rematch. Given that Southwest now flies direct to Belize City from Houston and the fares are crazy cheap, a quick trip is painless and affordable. If you’re thinking of getting away from the onslaught of fresh water dumping into our bays, I highly recommend checking this place out. The lodge staff is very accommodating, the guides are top-notch and the food is awesome. Also, don’t pass up the postfishing veranda session of stories from Mike. They’re the cherry on the sundae.
Jeff with a feisty jack.
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Capt. Scott Null is a devout shallow water fisherman offering guided adventues via kayak, poled skiff, and wading. Telephone Email Website
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B y A d a m R e i m e r | F i s h & W i l d l i f e Te c h n i c i a n Corpus Christi Marine Lab
Rock of Ages The stench was overwhelming. I recall struggling to keep my lunch down, but I was focused on my prize. This massive black drum, almost as big as I was at 8 years old, had definitely been afloat for a while, but I was determined to add the “rocks” from this specimen to my collection. As a kid, I went to great lengths and faced down many a foul-smelling fish carcass to obtain the precious gems hidden in their skulls. At the time, I had no idea what the “rocks” (or otoliths as I now know them) really were, or what they were for. Fast forward a few years, a college degree in fisheries management, and tens of thousands of hours of fisheries field work, and I find myself in a lab with a table of finfish and a fillet knife looking for otoliths. I’m a little older, yes; I’d like to think that I’m a little wiser too. Yet I find myself drawing on the same skills I mastered as a youngster. Commonly referred to as “ear stones” or “ear bones”, otoliths are hard calcium carbonate structures formed by the accretion of aragonite (also found in coral skeleton and bivalve shells) and the protein otolin. Rings are created daily on the otolith as new material is added. Otolith growth can be influenced by salinity, water chemistry, stress, reproductive state, and a number of other factors. Seasonal changes in water temperature and food availability often have the greatest influence on the deposition rate of otolith-building material. Periods of faster growth are characterized by more translucent 52 | July 2016
zones visible in the cross section of an otolith. During periods of slower growth, the rings form densely packed, opaque zones called annuli (Figure 1). Biologists use annuli to estimate fish age, much like counting the growth rings of a tree. All teleost (bony) fish have three pairs of otoliths: asteriscii, lapilli, and saggitae. These “float” beneath the brain in a fluid-filled membranous sack. The asteriscii are involved in the detection of sound and hearing. The lapilli detect sound and gravitational force, helping fish orient themselves in the water column. The saggitae, often the largest and most studied pair of otoliths, aid in hearing by converting sound waves into electrical signals. Historically, biologists have used techniques such as scale analysis and mark-recapture studies to determine fish age. Due to the proportional relationship of fish growth to otolith accretion, otolith analysis has been determined to be the most accurate method for aging fish. This is critical to assessing populations and developing management strategies for sustainable fisheries. Underestimating age can result in an overestimation of population production and can lead to a management strategy that appears sustainable but actually allows overfishing. At the Perry R. Bass Marine Fisheries Research Station (PRB) in Palacios, otoliths removed from fish collected during Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)
routine monitoring are analyzed. The otoliths are embedded in resin and cut into thin sections using a high-speed diamond blade saw. Using a microscope and an optical imaging system, the distances from the center of the otolith to each age ring, or annulus, are measured and recorded. The distance from the last annulus to the edge of the otolith section (the marginal increment) is measured and plotted over a period of time to confirm that annuli are formed once a year. Using otolith analyses, the staff at PRB examine life history parameters for important populations of sport fish and develop age-length keys for individual species. These keys are used in population assessments. Figure 2 shows how likely a female spotted seatrout (SST) of a determined age is to reach a certain length. You can see that a female SST has a very low probability of reaching legal size until her second year of growth. Taking into account that most female SST are sexually mature at 1-1.5 years of age, TPWD has set length limits to allow a majority the chance to spawn before they are harvested. What else can we learn by studying its otoliths? How about historical water temperatures? Migration history? Because otoliths are metabolically inert, they do not lose the materials they accrete. By using certain chemical tracers, biologists are able to determine a wide variety of indicators for past feeding history, metabolic rates, water temperatures, salinity, pH, and many other environmental factors. Otoliths also have a very distinct shape that is characteristic of individual fish species (Figure 3). By examining otoliths contained in the stomach contents and even the droppings from terrestrial animals, one can determine what fish species comprise the predatorâ€™s primary diet. Archaeologists have even examined otoliths found in Native American shell middens to characterize the diets of native peoples, and determine seasonal use of fisheries, past climate and environmental conditions, and historic fish population distributions.
Obviously otoliths are not just precious gems for ambitious, young beachcombers. They provide fisheries managers a wealth of information including the age structure of fish populations, life history traits, growth rates, and habitat and diet preferences. Taken together, all of this information can allow managers to build a more complete picture of fish populations, which can lead to improved management for better fisheries.
Check the TPWD Outdoor Annual, your local TPWD Law Enforcement office, or www.tpwd.state.tx.us for more information. TSFMAG.com | 53
S C O T T S O M M E R L AT T E
F LY F IS H IN G
Going small Everybody has heard the saying…“Everything’s bigger in Texas.” But as fly-fishermen, we shouldn’t always think that way. Sometimes going small can make the difference between catching fish and heading to the dock smelling like a skunk. However, while downsizing has some distinct advantages, it can also have some equally distinct disadvantages. Let’s explore the pros and cons of going small, both in Texas waters and beyond. Tackle First- let’s talk rods and reels. There are most certainly times when downsizing line a size or two can be the difference between catching fish and not catching fish. It can also make the difference in how much enjoyment you get out of catching a particular size fish. For example: You’re fishing the flats in springtime and there are pods of tailing redfish everywhere but there is not one fish in sight over about 21 inches. Well it is springtime and the water is cool, so why not break out the 6-weight and have a little fun? Or, what if you’re in some back country creek in Mexico or Belize fishing for baby tarpon? I know I would want to have a 6-weight. Another great time to have a lighter rod on the boat is when you’re fishing super calm water for maybe a trophy trout when the water is slick calm, the fish are up shallow and spooky 54 | July 2016
as hell. A delicate presentation is required and this is a perfect time to go light. The above are all good examples of when going smaller is a good thing. Now let’s look at when it is best to leave the lighter rod either in the skiff or even at home, even when targeting smaller fish. Let’s say you have bailed out of the boat to go on a long wade, and with numerous pods of smaller redfish present have decided to take your 6-weight. Now you are a half-mile from the boat and the wind picks up. Well, you’re going to end up wishing you had your 8-weight. Another time to leave the small rod at home, even when there are smaller fish present, is during summer when water temperatures get high. The prolonged fight of a lighter rod and even lighter tippet when the temperatures are high means dead fish. Now let’s look closer at the whole small rod for small fish concept. What happens when you are using a 6-weight for 5-pound tarpon and a 20-pound snook comes out from beneath the mangroves and grabs the fly? I feel it’s a safe bet that we would all prefer to have a 9- or 10-weight in our hands when that happens. Another way to downsize your tackle is to go with either lighter leaders and/or smaller flies. Going this route can sometimes mean the difference in numerous eats from fish throughout the day to none. Over the years I have witnessed countless times that downsizing from a
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#2 fly to a #6, or even a #8 is the difference between catching a redfish or not. This scenario of course comes with its own set of problems. Number one, going to a much smaller fly usually requires going to a much smaller tippet. And, this of course means more lost fish. Whether you are talking broken tippet on the hookset or during a prolonged fight, or having a smaller hook opening up. It sometimes even means missing hooksets altogether because the smaller hook did not find the magic place in the fish’s mouth to find purchase and hold.
56 | July 2016
this enough- Wear Your Kill Switch! So this next part of downsizing could be considered either a pro or a con. Whether you are downsizing to a smaller skiff or getting a smaller skiff as a second boat you need, and BTW, this my favorite part- NEW GEAR! A smaller skiff means less room and you of course are not going to want to weigh down your little skiff, it defeats the purpose, right? So that means you have to go shopping for a smaller ice chest, a smaller gear bag, a smaller first aid kit, etc. If you are anything like me, and I suspect the majority of you are, this is definitely a pro. However, if you have a spouse who is more worried about having a roof over the family’s head and putting the kids through college, it might be considered a con. Until next month…. Be good and stuff like that!
All the other little things Now that we have covered the most important aspect of going small, which is the tackle used to catching the fish, let’s concentrate on all of the other stuff that plays a factor in not only the success in fishing that we seek, but also in the enjoyment in going fishing. I have always be a proponent of using a smaller skiff whenever appropriate. It saves on fuel and in some cases allows me to access remote waters that are holding fish when others are not. Also, while I am not a fan of kayaks or stand-up-paddle (SUP) boards, I have not sworn off paddling altogether (more on this another time). I do in fact see the merits in accessing the shallows from them. But, like everything else, going small, especially when talking boats, comes with many inherent problems. First and foremost, smaller skiffs can be dangerous, especially for individuals who are less than proficient mariners. The main reason for this is of course weather. None of us, and that includes the weatherman, can truly know exactly what curveball Mother Nature will throw at us from day to day. I saw it plenty from back in my Coast Guard days when conditions were forecasted to be perfect and before you knew it, we were pitching around in 8-foot seas and 30-knot winds trying to locate a capsized vessel. With that said, I would also say that I am about as experienced as they come with a very conservative estimate of 3500-4000 days on the water between the CG and my days guiding. And, on more than one occasion, I have gotten caught out in my little boat and then found myself falling to my knees and kissing the ground when we finally made it in. The point being, if you are going to go small, know not only the boat’s limitations, but also your own. There is another dangerous aspect of a smaller boat to consider, especially when operating in shallow water. Many small boats are run with a tiller rather than a helm. I have heard of, and in fact witnessed, numerous cases of both operators and passengers being thrown from their skiffs when striking submerged objects. Also, a tiller is a direct link to your engine and when that tiller moves, the engine does. Compared to a helm, there is no turning ratio between you and the motor. The point is, if you make a sudden overcorrection in steering at the exact wrong moment, this can potentially send people over the gunnel. Sure, a small skiff can be great to fish from but, getting to and from the fishing grounds can be dangerous and I cannot emphasize
Scott Sommerlatte is a full time fly fishing and light tackle guide, freelance writer and photographer. Telephone Email Website
979-415-4379 email@example.com www.mangrovefly.com
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DAV E R O B E R T S
K AYA K F IS H IN G C H R ONI C L E S
Keep It Simple Kayaking is an activity that does not require a whole lot; a kayak and a paddle is all you really need. Fishing is another pursuit that does not require much gear. Both are meant to be leisure hobbies and are very enjoyable to partake in. Combine the two and we have created the ultimate sport that should be an easy way to have fun. Of course, it is not always that easy. Human nature takes an ordinary idea and twists it in a way that will hopefully benefit us more. We are always trying to â€œperfectâ€? any given object or idea to make it more efficient and enjoyable. When it comes to both kayaking and fishing, the products available have advanced dramatically in the last 20 years. I am thankful for the progress that we have made because it does make our life easier. The problem comes when you take two individually simple hobbies and combine them; I believe this is where we overcomplicate kayak fishing. As we all know, kayaking has been around for 58 | July 2016
thousands of years and just now we are starting to perfect it. There are several types of kayaks that suit any paddlers need. They have them for people fishing inshore and offshore; sight-casters to river runners; and paddlers and peddlers. You name it and there is a kayak built specifically for your style of fishing. They also cater to everyone; there is a kayak for whatever shape, size, and age that you may be. It really is incredible how far kayaks have come recently and this evolution is what has made it popular. Fishing, of course, has always been popular and we are always improving our gear. We are able to buy graphite rods and high-dollar reels to bring in any fish that we want to target. The prices vary, which makes owning a rod and reel accessible to anyone who wants to purchase one. Depending on who you may be, I am willing to bet that you have anywhere from 2-10 rod and reels. You also probably own a tackle box that is the size of a suitcase filled with every style of lure and you have at least two of
60 | July 2016
every color. Having all this gear and equipment is nice when you have a way to carry it and, on the right days, it’s useful. Now let’s take the simple art of kayak fishing; it consists of an angler sitting in a little plastic boat paddling around with a rod and reel at their side. That’s it! There is no need for the sport to be any more complicated than that. For one, you are limited on space, so bringing your full arsenal of rod and reels is out of the question. Even if you were able to bring more than a few, do you really need that many? Some of my more productive days on the water have occurred on spontaneous trips. I would jump up at the last minute and decide that I was going fishing. It would consist of me throwing my kayak in the back of my truck, grabbing a pair of rods, stuffing a pack of Norton Sand Eels in my pocket and heading out. I found that when I make a trip like this, I would spend more time actually fishing. My lure was constantly in the water and stayed in the strike zone longer. Why? Because I was not worried about what other lure or tactic that could be working. I was stuck with the lures I had tied on and it is either catch fish with them or don’t. Fishing like this has molded my current style and I believe has made me a better fisherman. Also, I do not own a tackle box. I use to have one but I found that it got in my way of fishing. Not only was it taking up prime real estate on my kayak but I was constantly digging through the plethora of lures wondering what color or type may work better. I have seen people retie and change lures every ten casts thinking that the next lure they tie on is going to be the golden ticket. They will spend 75% of their day swapping lures instead of fishing, ending with mediocre results at best. This has led to my lure selection being narrowed to a few that I have greatest confidence in. If it cannot fit in an Academy bag it’s not coming with me. Period. (Yes, my tackle box is a plastic sack.) When I hit the water, I bring at least two but never more than three rods with me. Any more than that and they begin to get in the way and have a greater chance of tangling with others. When I target trout I will only bring two rods. One rod will have a topwater tied on, She Dog or Skitter Walk. The other will be rigged for soft plastic, 1/4 ounce jighead with a black and green Norton Sand Eel. I will have a spare pack of these and also purple and green— that’s it for trout tackle. When I hit the marsh for reds I will usually carry three rods rigged as follows—one with a gold spoon, another with jighead and Zoom Super Fluke, the third with popping cork and GULP. In my Academy bag I carry a few extra corks, a tub of GULP, several packages of Norton Sand Eels and Zoom Flukes (no more than 2 colors) and spare jigs. I also have a topwater or two lingering around but that really is all you need. The point I am trying to make is that we tend to spend more time over-thinking the fishing instead of actually fishing. We believe that we have the fish outsmarted by having eight rods rigged with eight different lures and colors and this is not necessarily the case. It is more efficient to downsize your tackle selection and stick with a few presentations that can cover every part of a fish’s strike zone. So next trip you make, fix up a few rods, grab a bag of lures, and hit the water. Keep it simple and you will catch more fish!
Dave Roberts is an avid kayak-fishing enthusiast fishing primarily the inshore Upper Coast region with occasional adventures to surf and nearshore Gulf of Mexico. Email: TexasKayakChronicles@yahoo.com Website: www.TexasKayakChronicles.com
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Pre-fabricated concrete pyramids being placed at Corpus Christi artificial reefing site.
Story by John Blaha | Photos by Lisa Laskowski
T S F M a g C o n s er v a t i o n New s
Port O’Connor Nearshore Reefing Site Receives $1M Initial Funding The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation announced June 2, 2016 the creation of a new artificial reef to be placed out of Port O’Connor. The reef’s price tag is projected at $1M and will be comprised of at least 500 concrete pyramids placed within Texas state waters. The project will be coordinated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s artificial reef program and is being funded through a $400,000 contribution from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and $300,000 from both Coastal Conservation Association Texas and Building Conservation Trust (BCT), the Coastal Conservation Association’s national habitat program. This reef site will be named “Keeping it Wild” and is part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s fundraising initiative to generate more than $100M in private donations to help fund Texas conservation projects. “Habitat creation has never been more crucial in achieving lasting conservation benefit for our coastal waters,” said Pat Murray, CCA president. “This historic reef reminds us what can be accomplished when like-minded conservationists join together to make a difference.” CCA Texas and its habitat program, Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow, were instrumental in the development of the Port O’Connor nearshore reefing site early on. Sharing the common goal to have an artificial reefing site out of every Texas port with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Artificial Reefing Program, CCA Texas approved a grant of $100,000 in late 2013 to fund the permitting process 62 | July 2016
to establish a Port O’Connor reefing site. With the permitting process on its way, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, BCT, and CCA Texas began the fundraising process to create the $1M reef. CCA Texas approved another $200,000 towards the project in 2014 and BCT contributed $300,000 to go along with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s $400,000 commitment. This project exemplifies the importance of partnerships and common goals that are necessary to create successful conservation projects of this magnitude. These projects are important and a benefit to sportsman across the state of Texas, and leave a lasting impact to Texas’s natural resources for generations to come. “It’s a win-win deal for all involved,” Carter Smith, TPWD executive director, said of the cooperative agreement to create an artificial reef on a 381-acre tract in 60-70 feet of water off Matagorda Island near Port O’Connor on Texas’ mid-coast. “The only way we can possibly undertake projects of this scale is through leveraging public funding Closer view with workers present provides scale – these pyramids are very large!
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with private philanthropy. It’s allowing us to do something bigger and better - in this case, create and enhance vitally important and muchneeded marine fisheries habitat—than we could do by ourselves with our limited resources.” The center of the Port O’Connor reefing site is located approximately 11-1/2 NM SSW of the Port O’Connor jetties, 6 NM off of the Matagorda Island shoreline and at a depth of 66 feet. The location and depth of this site make it easily accessible for recreational anglers to enjoy and will provide the opportunity to fish for popular species such as red snapper and pelagics like cobia, amberjack, king mackerel and others year-round. At 381 acres, this site is twice the normal size of most nearshore reefing projects, which are typically 160 acres. In addition, there are currently two standing platforms within the reefing site and TPWD’s hope is that these two non-operating platforms will remain in the site and as part of the project. “CCA Texas is excited to see another nearshore fishing opportunity for recreational anglers,” commented Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow committee chairman, Jay Gardner. “Recreational fishermen are a huge part of our local economies, and these nearshore reefing sites will not only help in giving recreational fishermen more opportunities to fish for sought-after species, but also continue to grow these economies.” CCA Texas is committed to continuing the effort
64 | July 2016
to provide nearshore reefing habitat along the entire Texas coast. To date, CCA Texas has contributed in excess of $1.0 million to nearshore reefing efforts that include Freeport (Vancouver), Port Mansfield, Corpus Christi (Packery), Matagorda/Sargent, and new sites at Rio Grande, Sabine HI20, Galveston Big Man and Port O’Connor. For more information about CCA Texas’s involvement in nearshore reefing and other habitat projects, be sure to visit www.ccatexas.org/habitat.
Constructing artificial reefs within Texas statecontrolled waters off the Texas coast will provide opportunity for all classes of angling enthusiasts. Note this kayaker’s use of umbrella sail.
Cheilopogon melanurus, off South Padre Island. Photo by Tripp Davenport.
F IS H Y F A C T S
One cannot look at the sea without wishing for the wings of a swallow. ~ Sir Richard Burton, a Victorian explorer, writer, and translator, known for his travels in Asia and Africa Powered flight has evolved only four times in the animal world: insects, pterosaurs, birds, and bats. But powerless flight (i.e. gliding and parachuting) is utilized by a myriad of creatures. Flyingfish are one of the more sensationalized members of this group, understandably. Fish are one of the last animals you would expect to see in the air, though they are not the only gliding denizen of the deep (but that’s for another time). Flyingfish belong to the family Exococetidae, from the Greek meaning to lie down outside. The connection escapes me… Exococetidae is divided into seven genera containing (depending on different definitions) 45 to 64 species. Our own local flying fish is Cheilopogon melanurus, the Atlantic flyingfish (though a handful of flyingfish species share this common name). Cheilopogon is from the Greek meaning barbed lip, and melanurus is from the Latin meaning black-tailed. If their beautiful “wings” aren’t enough to identify them, another characteristic of flyingfish is an uneven and deeply forked tail, with the lower lobe longer than the upper lobe. Many species also have enlarged pelvic fins (in addition to the winged pectoral fins) and are known as four-winged flyingfish. C. melanurus is one of these. When landing, flyingfish can hit the water at high speeds, so they have a hard lower jaw to protect their mouth, and in some species, the lower jaw is also much larger than the upper jaw. Flyingfish reach up to 18 inches in length, but average only 7 to 12 inches. Relative to their body size, the eyes of flyingfish are quite large, and flat. This gives them good vision both in and out of water. Juvenile flyingfish do not resemble adults. They 66 | July 2016
have a colorful appearance and long whiskers at the side of their mouth that camouflage them as plant blossoms. Their markedly different appearance from adults has led to confusion among scientists as to the actual number of flyingfish species. Like most flyingfish species, C. melanurus has an elongate body that is iridescent blue above and grayishsilver below. Pectoral fins are extremely long, reaching past the dorsal fin, with a distinctive color pattern: a dark base and outer rays with a lighter triangular band in the middle. Young Atlantic flyingfish up to 6 inches in length have transparent pectorals. Adult C. melanurus can reach up to about 16 inches in length, but is more common around 10 inches. Much remains unknown about how modern flyingfish developed their gliding abilities, but fossils from a nowextinct family of flyingfish may hold the answers. In 2009, scientists in China excavated bones from a marine fish named Potanichthys xingyiensis, meaning winged fish (Greek) from Xingyi (the city near where the fossil was found). The fish lived about 235 to 242 million years ago, the Middle Triassic, and was apparently capable of gliding just like modern flyingfish. It had greatly enlarged pectoral fins and an uneven / deeply forked tail. Modern flyingfish (Exococetidae) are not descendants of this species, however. All of today’s flyingfish are closely related to one another, and as a family aren’t much older than bats, having evolved perhaps 65 million years ago. P. xingyiensis’s ancient lineage, family Thoracopteridae, evolved the ability to glide independently over 240 million years ago. Understanding how the thoracopterids evolved could help explain the evolution of gliding in modern flyingfishes. In 2014, scientists (also in China) unearthed the oldest and most primitive thoracopterid discovered
yet, Wushaichthys exquisitus, meaning exquisite fish from Wusha (the town where the fossils were found). The roof of W. exquisitus’s skull was broad, as seen in later thoracopterids, but it lacked the bottom-heavy tail and wing-like fins, and was also covered in scales, unlike more advanced species of its lineage. Based on P. xingyiensis, W. exquisitus, and other thoracopterid fossils, scientists have suggested that the development of gliding was a gradual four-step process. First - broad, flat skulls evolved in fish that successfully swam and fed just below the ocean’s surface. Second - a specialized tail fin, with a larger lower lobe, appeared that increased power when jumping out of the water. Third - the characteristic wing-like fins evolved that allowed the thoracopterids to optimize the effectiveness of their jumps, by gliding. Fourth - body scales disappeared, which improved aerodynamics. In light of the similar body shapes between extinct thoracopterids and living exocoetids, parallel evolution seems likely. Their streamlined torpedo body shape helps flyingfish gather underwater speed in preparation for a jump and reduce drag while gliding. The process of taking flight begins by gaining velocity underwater, up to 37 miles per hour, by enthusiastically vibrating their tails more than 50 times per second. Angling upward, the fish breaks the surface and propels itself into the air with its tail, which is the last part to leave the water. Flyingfish can reach heights of four feet, gliding speeds of 40 miles per hour, and distances up to 655 feet. The tail is the first part to re-enter the water, so once the fish nears the surface, it can either drop back to the water by folding its fins, or it can flap its tail rapidly and take off again. Capable of extending a flight in this manner, flyingfish have been recorded stretching out consecutive glides that span 1,312 feet. It is thought that this mechanism evolved to escape from oceanic predators, but once in the air, they sometimes fall prey to birds. Some birds, boobies in particular, have learned to hunt them by hovering over the bow of a ship and swooping down to catch the fleeing flyingfish that are trying to escape the ship. Flyingfish are prey to almost any ocean dweller larger than them, but are especially preferred by mackerel, tuna, swordfish, marlin, and dolphins. For their own sustenance, they feed most actively at night at the surface of the water, subsisting mainly on plankton, small finfishes, and crustaceans. Some species can also scoop up prey with their extended lower jaw while gliding. Not only do they feed in warm surface waters, but that’s also where they live, in general. Though they are oceanodromous (meaning they complete their entire life cycle in salt water), they are often found near shore, and young flyingfish often swim in harbors or bays. Spawning takes place in the open ocean. Mating season occurs when ocean currents are weakest. Depending on the region, this may transpire during spring or autumn. Some species spawn in huge numbers, exceeding a million individuals. Females lay their eggs in floating debris, often sargassum seaweed. The eggs are either buoyant or secured to the seaweed by long, sticky filaments. The fry are planktonic, orange, and resemble sargassum berries. Juveniles have long whiskers around the mouth resembling the flower produced by plants in the Barringtonia genus. The average lifespan of flyingfish in the wild is five years. While our local flyingfish, C. melanurus, isn’t fished commercially or recreationally, other species in different parts of the world are a staple in commercial fisheries. Flyingfish are commercially fished in Japan, Vietnam, and Barbados by gillnetting and in Indonesia and India by dipnetting. Flyingfish are attracted to light, like a number of sea creatures, and fishermen in the Solomon Islands take advantage of this with substantial results. Canoes, filled with enough water to sustain the fish, but not enough to allow them to propel themselves out, are affixed with a luring light at night to capture flyingfish by the dozens. They can also use torches to entice the fish to jump out, and then catch them in midair with nets. Historically the country of Barbados was nicknamed “The Land of the Flying Fish,” and it is still the official national fish for the country. The once-abundant flyingfish migrated between the warm coral-filled Atlantic Ocean surrounding the island of Barbados and the plankton-rich outflows of the Orinoco River in Venezuela. However, just after the completion of the Deep Water Harbor in Bridgetown, Barbados saw an increase in the number international ships, and as a result, the overall health of the coral reefs surrounding Barbados declined from pollution. Additionally over-fishing took a heavy toll on flyingfish numbers, and they are abundant no longer. Today, there are laws in place that protect flyingfish from being overfished, allowing enough fish to survive to ensure future generations of the animal. Imageries of flyingfish are still found on Barbados currency, the national seal, stamps, promotional material, and passports. It is also the national dish. Similar to Barbados, Taiwan and other Asian cultures place a high value on the flyingfish. Not 68 | July 2016
only is the fish considered a delicacy and heavily fished in Asian waters, but it is also revered in culture with festivals and celebrations. Some calendar seasons even revolve around the migration of the flyingfish. Though overfishing has certainly occurred in some areas, the IUCN Red List lists them as “Least Concern.” Their conservation status is stable. When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. ~ Leonardo Da Vinci
BBC Earth www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150218-flying-animals-you-never-heard-of Science Encyclopedia science.jrank.org/pages/2789/Flying-Fish.html Live Science www.livescience.com/24409-earliest-flying-fish-fossil.html www.livescience.com/49353-flying-fish-evolution.html Fish Laboratory fishlaboratory.com/fish/flying-fish
Where I learned about flyingfish, and you can too!
Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/217606/details
Texas Marine Species txmarspecies.tamug.edu/fishdetails.cfm?scinameID=Cheilopogon%20melanurus
Soft Schools www.softschools.com/facts/animals/flying_fish_facts/318/
National Geographic animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/flying-fish/
Flying Fish flyingfish.us/
National Wildlife Federation nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Amphibians-Reptiles-and-Fish/Flying-Fish.aspx
SeaPics: Marine Wildlife Photography seapics.com/feature-subject/fish/flyingfish-pictures.html
Fish Base www.fishbase.org/summary/1030
U.S. Geological Survey fl.biology.usgs.gov/posters/Coastal_Ecology/Cheilopogon_melanurus/cheilopogon_ melanurus.html
Bright Hub www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/99279.aspx
University of the West Indies, Barbados www.soest.hawaii.edu/PFRP/dec04mtg/oxenford_flying_fish.pdf Wiley Online Library: Journal of Zoology onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1990.tb04009.x/abstract
Buzzle www.buzzle.com/articles/flying-fish.html About.Education marinelife.about.com/od/fish/fl/Flyingfish.htm
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Calm and clear weather conditions make for the best nearshore adventures.
INS H O R E | N E A R S H O R E | J E T T I E S | PASS E S
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE I’ve heard my whole life that eventually everyone turns into their parents, looking, acting, and even thinking like them. Yes I’m turning into my dad in many ways, just ask my patient wife, Meredith. On the other hand, I also find myself identifying with that grouchy old man at the end of the street that I grew up on. He’d scream at me, the Konarik brothers or other kids anytime we got near his yard. What a jerk!
James Shands is all smiles with his first-ever nearshore cobia. James had to apply maximum pressure to keep this fish out of the nearby structure.
70 | July 2016
I now realize that he was only protecting what he held dear – his hundreds of square feet of perfectly manicured St. Augustine grass. We never intended on tearing up his yard, we just didn’t know any better, or sometimes in too much of a hurry to care. We’d race our bikes across to shortcut the corner and loved to play Frisbee on that cushy lawn when he wasn’t home. Mr. What’s-his-name never took the time to stop and
explain to us what we were doing wrong and why we should be more considerate. Apparently it took him many years to get his lush lawn in such lush condition, and a short time for us kids to mess it up. Finally he put up a fence to keep us out. Problem solved. I’d like to say we would have all understood his message and voluntarily respected the grass, but then there was the McDonald twins. They lived on the block over and did not respect, give a care, or have the ability to understand any wrongdoings. Let’s all hope that fences will not be going up any time soon restricting us from areas that we all hold dear. Nearshore Fishing Bonanza July typically kicks off the mosquito fleet’s nearshore fishing season. The wind typically calms down this month, barring any unwanted tropical disturbances. These welcomed conditions will allow many inshore boaters opportunities to break out to the other side. In Texas state water (inside nine nautical miles) it is common to target and find kingfish, Spanish mackerel, little tunny, cobia, red snapper and a variety of sharks. Most major ports along the Texas coast have nearby structure such as oil and gas platforms, shipwrecks, artificial reefs or a ship anchorage. Often overlooked are the large ships anchored offshore from the ports. These lie in wait sometimes many days to be shuttled inshore to port. They offer significant structure in the forms of the wave and current breaks as well as long shadows cast from these huge vessels. I like to approach the ships from the downcurrent side. This gives me the chance to observe the crew in case they are conducting maintenance, drifting fishing lines or ropes off the sides or stern. Most of these boats are from foreign countries with occupants of many nationalities and you never know how hospitable they may be. Mostly they are friendly and glad to see people other than their shipmates. Kind waving and words toward them may have them willing to point out schools of fish from their high vantage points. Offering some of your catch or a bag full of snacks or sodas is a nice gesture in return. These guys normally have a small diameter rope nearby to drop down to you. The leeward side of the ship is the best approach for any handoffs or communications near the gangplanks. Extra sabiki rigs, smaller hooks and old spools of 20- to 30 pound monofilament line is especially appreciated by the crewmen. At night, many of the shipmates lower droplights with incandescent bulbs attached to extension cords toward the surface. These lights really attract the bait around the boat, I TSFMAG.com | 71
A variety of species may take your bait while targeting nearshore structure. These anglers played tug-o-war for 30-minutes with this large stingray.
assume they keep what they catch for food. Occasionally I’ll bump-troll by shifting the Little tunny AKA bonito are plentiful Sometimes these folks are not so nice. I’ve engine in and out of gear to allow the baits to nearshore starting in July. Small silver spoons had them fling stuff off the ships and yell at sink. On the up-current side I let out 50 or 60 and 1/8 oz white spec rigs hook them up. us in broken English to leave. Almost every more feet to allow the baits to sweep under time they yell at us, “No feesh, no feesh,” there the hull. After a minute or two of this it’s back are actually cobia, dolphin or shark lingering to steady trolling speed while rapidly reeling nearby that the crew have been targeting. the unweighted bait back to the normal Within hours of anchoring, baitfish fishing position. This is when many of the congregate near the ships seeking reprieve strikes from kings will occur, while the bait is from currents. Baitfish schools tend to be on escaping at a faster rate. the down-current side or near the anchor Two or three circles of the ship should let you chain. Fresh live bait can be had by jigging know what might be lingering there. Before Mustad Piscator #6 sabiki rigs in these areas. leaving I like to make one final drift down-current You’ll catch various small jack species, cigar from the ship by approaching with the current at minnows, Atlantic bumper or threadfin my stern. Putting the engine in neutral about the herring. Immediately upon catching them, time the baits are nearing the end of the ship is a hook one on a light steel leader and free-line good technique. This is also a good time to toss them near the ship. And then hold on! out a handful of shiny chum like cut ribbonfish, I like to slowly cruise around the ship on sardines, dead croakers or whatever you may first approach looking for occupants and signs have on hand. Doing this every 100 yards or so of fish before starting a slow troll. Cobia like to for the next quarter mile may get the attention of linger near the stern, suspending around the the kings schooled down-current of the ship. drive gear on the underside. Being curious, Don’t be surprised if a variety of fish hang with they will normally ease out to look you over these ships, especially if large bait schools are and often you’ll only have one shot to hook nearby. I’ve hooked and lost sailfish and caught up. Ready yourself with a stout hook baited with small crab, live decent dolphin near ships within sight of the condos dotting the Port croaker, large shrimp or a ribbonfish. Make sure your tackle is heavy Aransas beachfront. Lots of cobia and hammerhead sharks frequent enough to muscle these strong-willed fish away from their refuge. If them also. I almost omitted the mention of them, thinking to reserve they swim off uninterested, toss a couple handfuls of chum or thrash more for me and my charters. LOL! the water’s surface with a gaff handle, whipping up a froth to imitate I hope everyone interested in fishing outside the bay gets their shot feeding fish. This usually gets you a second shot so be prepared. this summer. Please keep in mind that the grass can appear greener Once I’ve checked out the situation on and around the ship, we’ll on the other side, especially when you cannot get to it. start a slow troll. Ribbonfish work especially well in this situation, rigged weightless as well as lightly-weighted with a couple of ounces Capt. Curtiss Cash offers charters in the Port O’Connor area; lead to keep it running a few feet below the surface. I prefer to troll at specializing in fishing the bays, passes, jetties, surf and nearshore waters. Species targeted include speckled trout, 3-5 knots with unweighted bait farthest from the boat, approximately redfish, flounder, tripletail, black drum, bull reds, sharks, 120 feet back, to keep it under the surface and not spinning. The snapper, kingfish, ling and tarpon, when seasonally available. weighted bait should set about three-fourths the distance of the weightless rig to lessen the possibility of lines tangling during turns. Phone 361-564-7032 Run the weightless bait out first to minimize tangles on the drop. 72 | July 2016
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E R I C O Z OLINS
The Mighty Bull Shark Sharks are and will always remain the iconic image of terror. Yet, even with more than two dozen species active near our coastline, they in all reality pose very little threat to recreational beach users. Compared to other locations around the world, attacks on humans here are miniscule in number. In most populated areas along our coast, the shallow depths and lack of structure isolate feeding sharks to more prominent, low-key locations containing distinct currents or tides. Our sharks come in all shapes and sizes and the truth is the majority of uneducated people cannot list a single species. Yes, our waters are home to the majestic hammerheads and beastly tigers. However, there is another shark found here which many have never even heard of. This is one of our most abundant sharks and ironically is also responsible for 75% of shark attacks worldwide. It is an apex predator with flexible tolerances to live and feed in all types, depths, and salinities of water. Built like a tank with a mammoth head and an evolutionarily-enhanced set of jaws, this incredible fish is the bull shark. From the clear waters off Florida to the flowing rivers 74 | July 2016
of South Africa and shallows of Australia, bull sharks dominate warm seas of the world. They are some of the most impressive scavengers, known to devour virtually anything, including other sharks. Male bull sharks are also notorious for possessing some of the highest levels of testosterone of any creature on the planet. When young, they have the appearance and profile of your typical shark. As they mature they begin to fill out and become large and more robust, hence the name. Here in Texas, we have a fair number of bulls running the beaches, with their presence peaking in late spring and fall. It is not uncommon to see a large mature female with vicious mating scars. The majority of bull sharks on Texas beaches are in the immature 4- to 6-foot range, but make no mistake, even they can take your hand off on the beach. While extremely fun to catch, safety must be a priority when handling any shark. One of my greatest springtime joys is hunting massive bulls from the beach. Usually, our waters have not calmed and cleared yet due to relentless wind and high surf. Dirty and even muddy as it often becomes, is an ideal condition
that bulls love to hunt. Unlike many other sharks, bull sharks are typically slower, preferring to swim with the currents. When they come across a meal of any type or size, they simply chomp away until it is completely gone and then move on to the next. Fishing for them from the surf is easier than you might think. A large chunk of stingray or jackfish will often entice them. At times, small and medium-sized bulls can be a pest as they inhale gigantic baits intended for tigers, and on occasion you can drive the beach and actually sight-cast them in the shallows. Over the past few months we have had some of the wackiest weather. Our spring fishing started off phenomenal and then we were greeted with copious rain all across the state. When this happened, the flooding eventually reached the gulf and salinity declined along our beaches and our fishing took a big hit. Shark activity nearly ceased with the exception of one species, the bull shark. Bulls are unique in that they are euryhaline (able to adapt to both fresh and salt water). At times the inshore water looked like a swampy tea-stained mess but bull sharks large and small were being caught in uncommon numbers. On a recent overnight shark charter I had the privilege to take a great group of outdoorsmen, the Holleys. No newbies by any means in general angling experience but not much experience with sharking. The rain had been relentless leading into our trip. Interestingly though, the inshore water was remaining a decent color although with far less salinity than normal. On your typical late-spring day you
would expect nothing short of incredible action but we were struggling. Things were very slow. I already knew the culprit was the freshwater, but nonetheless we kept running big baits out. Things soon turned around as we encountered our first taker, a large blacktip that picked up half a jackfish. It was the first non-bull we’d caught in a while. But having spoken too soon, our next fish was a 6-foot bull. Late in the afternoon we had another bait get picked up by a fish we would not soon forget. A large stingray bait had been picked up out deep and we knew things were about to get interesting. Chris was up next to battle the fish and little did he know what he was about to embark on. The shark had taken the bait and decided to swim in with it. Initially I thought it was another small to medium bull. Bulls are notorious for this. Chris had hold of the rod and the line kept going slack. His thoughts were that nothing was on there. I knew there was no way the large weight could be drifting in that fast. I told him to continue cranking, there had to be a fish on it. After cranking a couple minutes the line was approaching the second sandbar. Then all of a sudden, it wouldn’t budge. A few seconds later, line starts to slowly dump from the reel and I began to believe we had a real fish. I coached Chris and he fought the fish flawlessly. No matter how much drag we put on the reel, the fish would not come over the bar. Every attempt would result in the shark turning and going offshore for a short run and I was then certain it was a good one. Chris was hanging in there but the fish was showing brute strength. The eager gentlemen himself is a large dude with a great deal of angling experience, but this was unlike anything he’d ever dealt with. The battle wore on and after a while luck intervened as the shark finally came over the bar. Another 10 minutes and Chris had it over the first bar. I went out to leader the shark and as I walked out I noticed the size and girth – we had yet to land it and I was already impressed. I managed to get the tail rope around the shark and with the aid of the other guys we were able to pull it into shallow water. The shark was simply remarkable, a monstrous mature female with fresh mating scars. The beast taped 9-feet 3-inches, larger by far than any bull I’ve ever seen. To put things in perspective, the current state record is 9-feet 0-inches, and just over 500 pounds. This fish, if killed, would very well have been the new state record. However, Chris opted to tag and release her. Because of that bold decision, the beautiful shark Chris landed would live and continue to reproduce and give birth to more of the ocean’s greatest predators.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org extremecoast.com | oceanepics.com | kayakwars.com
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TACKLE & GEAR
Anglers Resource, worldwide distributor of POINT Blank™ high modulus rod blanks has announced the availability of a custom crafted selection of trim designed to seamlessly fit a wide variety of FUJI’s most popular reel seats. The trim, called “Perfect Fit” will work with many grip designs, but works perfectly with the company’s new WINN grip designs for Fuji® seats. The selection includes everything from Butt Cap Rings to sophisticated carbon fiber thread cover assemblies and carbon fiber insert tubes for Fuji’s new PTS and TVS seats as well as others. OEM programs are available. Email email@example.com for more info. Full technical support available for your project. www.AnglersResource.net | pointblankrods. com. Foley Alabama USA 1-251-943-4491
Pro-Line/NewWater Boatworks – Pilmer Line Minder Designed by fly fishermen for fly fishermen. A fly fishing device to hold and manage fly line in preparation for that perfect cast. The ultimate line manager that not only looks good but steadies the angler. Can be installed fixed or removable. Removable leaning pad is optional. www.NewWaterBoatworks.com
Field Tan YETI Hopper The YETI Hopper is the ultimate softsided cooler thanks to its leak-proof, puncture-resistant and extremely portable construction. Available in an all-new colorway (Field Tan) and three separate sizes—20, 30 and 40—The Hopper boasts YETI’s famed DryHide™ Shell exterior, a HydroLok™ Zipper and ColdCell™ Insulation to maximize ice retention. An inch of ColdCell insulation on both of the Hopper’s walls and 1.5 inches on its base keeps your snacks and drinks cold all day long. This item is great for camping trips, road trips, boating, tailgating, days at the beach, etc. MSRP $299.99 – 399.99. YetiCoolers.com 76 | July 2016
Hobie Fish Storage Bags If you’re keeping fish, it’s important to store it away from predators and out of the sun, and Hobie’s Cooler/Fish Storage Bags do just that. Constructed of half-inch closedcell foam, vinyl coated polyester and YKK zippers. They’ll keep catch cold all day. H-Rail Rod Holder Hobie’s H-Rail Rod Holder clamps on the Hobie H-Rail System and is easily adjustable forward, aft or rotated to desired angle. The rod tube is designed with a removable gimbal pin and reel holder that can be rotated to orient baitcasting or spinning rods. Oversized padeyes accommodate rod leashes. H-Crate Hobie’s H-Crate keeps rods and gear organized in one lightweight and durable receptacle. Assembly and breakdown happen quickly. Designed to fit on most kayaks or SUPs. Comes with nylon straps for securing to watercraft. http://www.HobieFishing.com
Mustad® Elite Series Jig Heads – Built for the Serious Angler! Looking for a jig head that matches your game? Mustad has just launched an exciting new range of custom quality jig heads. The full series covers everything from blue water and bull reds to trout, and includes premium injection molded specialty bass heads. Anglers fishing braided lines and larger swimbaits will appreciate Mustad’s Shad/Darter and Bullet Heads built on exclusive new 2X Strong and 2X Long UltraPoint Jig Hooks; heavier wire and longer hooks than stock jig heads. Special features include exclusive hooks, customizable designs, and high-impact chip resistant gloss, or lowvis matte epoxy finishes. Check out the whole lineup at: Mustad-Fishing.com
Spiderwire® Stealth® Blue Camo Braid™ Saltwater anglers prefer to blend into their surroundings. Look at their boats, clothing and equipment: each is designed to outwit wary fish, so why expect anything else from braided line? The new Spider-Wire® Stealth® Blue Camo Braid™ blends into blue-water surroundings, to give saltwater anglers an added advantage. Saltwater Blue Camo matches the blue, white and turquoise environmental colors to bet-ter conceal its identity. MSRP starting at $14.99 | www.Spiderwire.com TSFMAG.com | 77
DICKIE COLBURN’S Sabine Scene
I absolutely love wading in the preon the north end, but the number of keeper size specks continues to dawn darkness and my two wideimprove. Their main entre’ is brown shrimp, but the fish caught early eyed twelve year old partners made on Super Spooks and She Dogs are feeding on finger mullet and that the much anticipated trip even more includes a growing number of slot reds. special. They begrudgingly concluded The gulls and terns have been working over massive schools of Sabine All Star play the night before, but small trout chasing shrimp to the surface for the past two months, but still showed up at my front door the you have to go through a lot of fish to box a limit. Now that the redfish following morning before I could make have decided to hunt in the open lake, however, the odds of getting my first pot of coffee. your drag tested when running the birds is a little better. Just climbing out of the boat and There is no doubt that the massive runoff has, at the very least, Dickie Colburn is a full into the quiet thigh deep water for delayed traditional summer patterns. Even the visiting croaker time guide out of Orange, Texas. Dickie has 37 years their first time was adventure enough, fishermen have not done nearly as well as they did last year and we experience guiding on but every sound is amplified in the have had very few days when we could effectively probe the flats on Sabine and Calcasieu Lakes. dark and their imagination was the north end or the north revetment wall. Both of those bites could overloaded. My only thought as I easily light off this month and not only open up more of the lake, but Telephone handed them their rods and pointed produce larger trout as well. 409-883-0723 toward the tip of the I will not be at all surprised Website www.sabineconnection.com island silhouetted if the beach front, ship by the fading rays of channel and possibly even Runoff hasn’t slowed down a quality moonlight was, “Lord…I wish I was twelve again and the Causeway reefs are the flounder bite. could do this for another sixty years!” first areas to produce better Aside from the fact that it is not uncommon to dupe trout on a more consistent our largest trout of the day with a topwater before basis. While the stretch of real most folks ever leave the dock, I especially enjoy no estate from Willow Bayou to longer having to wrestle in and out of my waders. An Blue Buck continues to yield unexpected dunking is also more akin to a treat than a the most dependable bite, it catastrophe and scanning the surface takes precedence has also seen unprecedented over watching your next step. pressure due to the Even with the current drought conditions (only four prevailing wind, better water inches of rain in the past eight days) the water is still clarity and a tougher bite on high and very much on the dirty side on the north nearby Calcasieu that has a end of the lake. I mention that only because that is the large number of those guides area I prefer to wade during the summer months. The trailering to earn a payday. water on the Louisiana shoreline is currently clearer The one program that has and more productive as well, but the increased boat slowed down a little of late, traffic can be frustrating. but certainly not ended, We are yet to catch the first trout over six pounds is the flounder bite. As a matter of fact, it received an unexpected shot in the arm Raingear and redfish when the gulls started working earlier than usual and local anglers most every day. immediately gravitated toward the faster action. The lake level is still high enough to hold the flounder in the submerged grass, thus every foot of shoreline is a potential ambush spot. The mouths of the bayous and drains warrant the most attention, but I have found that simply getting away from the crowds will do the trick most days. We have been swimming a GULP mullet or 3-inch Usual Suspect through the more scattered grass and limiting on flounder up to four pounds. The average size flattie has just been outstanding. The uncertainty due to the continued flooding makes it difficult to book trips with any confidence, but while they are tougher to locate, there are still plenty of quality fish in the system. There is also plenty of summer remaining for the kids to catch a winning fish in the CCA S.T.A.R. Tournament! 78 | July 2016
“MirrOlure’s High-Frequency Top Water Lure, C-Eye™ Pro Dog Jr.” 11SB
The MirrOlure® C-Eye Pro Series features natural clear 3-D eyes, contemporary fishcatching finishes and premium black nickel hooks. The C85MR has that bright, reflective, luminescent insert that attracts fish. With a twitching retrieve, this Top Water Dog darts from side-to-side, calling in viscous strikes. The perfect “search bait” when probing the flats. Add the C-Eye™ series Pro Dog Jr. to your top water line and catch a fish of a lifetime.
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Capt. Caleb Harp
The Buzz on Galveston Bay
Capt. Caleb Harp has fished the Galveston Bay System since childhood and, now a charter captain and fishing guide, he uses his knowledge to enable clients to enjoy the excellent fishing the area offers. His specialty is the yeararound pursuit for trophy trout and redfish with artificial lures
Telephone 281-753-3378 Website harpsguideservice.com
80 | July 2016
Seems that ever since I began writing this column corner of Trinity Bay. The Trinity and San Jacinto are sixteen months ago, all I ever get to talk about is currently at their second highest discharge since 1994. Noah-class rain somewhere in the Trinity watershed The San Jacinto dumps straight into the Houston and fresh water in the bays. And as much as I really Ship Channel so all of its runoff traditionally travels hate to do this…here we go again. straight down-current to the jetties, engulfing the I’d love to be able to say that all is well and we are whole west side of the ship channel from Morgan’s catching nice fish everywhere but that would not be Point to the Texas City Dike. The saving grace of this true. Right now I would say about 65% of Galveston area though is the awesome tide movement through Bay is completely fresh and by the time Trinity River flooding you read this it could be 85%. This is the has all the boat largest flood we’ve seen since Tropical ramps under water. Storm Allison in 2001. It is storming right now, adding to the 14-inches of rain of the last three days. The San Jacinto and Trinity rivers affect Galveston Bay more than all other sources combined and both rivers are running at flood stage straight into our bay. Last week, the dam at Lake Livingston peaked its discharge into the Trinity River at 93,200 cubic feet per second. Niagara Falls has a discharge of about 67,100 cfs. Visualize if you can what’s being pumped into the northeast
the ship channel, allowing the tide to help clean up the water a lot faster than the Trinity’s path. I would expect that this side of the bay could improve somewhere around mid-to-late July. The Trinity pours into the northeast corner of Trinity Bay and generally when we see a huge inflow it slams all of Trinity Bay, pushing all the fish and saltwater toward East Bay. Well, this flood is a little worse than what we’ve been accustomed the last two years. If the river stopped today we might be back in Trinity Bay by September. Once the push of fresh water comes around Smith Point we will likely see a large impact on the East Bay fishing. There’s really no telling how bad it will get and I’m praying that it’s not as bad as it looks like it might be. Until it gets too bad, you all know the drill. Drifting oyster reefs in 6- to 8-feet of water with dark soft plastic lures such as the MirrOlure Lil’ John on 1/4 ounce jigheads. A lot of the East Bay fisherman are what I like to call buffalo hunters, someone who will sit on one school of fish until there are none left, and then wonder where they all went. The way the buffalo hunters used to do on the prairies. Don’t be a buffalo hunter, go put some time in and scout out some new areas once you’ve caught a few fish. There are other schools out there other than those under the flotilla of boats we see ganged on the major reefs. West Galveston Bay isn’t affected so much
by freshwater. Well, at least not as much as every other body of water in our complex. West Bay will be the place to go this summer given the state of the rest of the complex. The north shoreline of West Bay can be phenomenal throwing soft plastics such as a MirrOlure Provokers on light jigheads in the grass and sand pockets. The north shoreline holds good clarity most always due to the abundance of filtering grass. The mid-bay regions should hold good amounts of schooling trout and redfish too, along ledges and humps of oyster shell. The south shoreline coves can be spotty but if you catch them right, they can be really good for trout and reds on both plastics and topwaters. The jetties and beachfront should be absolutely banner this year with all the freshwater pushing huge concentrations of fish down that way and also the tide-runners trying to get into the bay. Capt. Mike Williams refers to the stack-up between tide-runners coming in and resident bay trout fleeing from freshwater as “Point Break.” When you find Capt. Mike’s magical spot, hold on and don’t tell anyone, not even your mother. It’ll be on fire! All we can do is keep our heads up and pray that this El Nino cycle is almost A quality earlythrough. I hate to sound depressing about summer trout the freshwater but I’d rather be honest with on a MirrOlure you all than say it’s all good and they’re Lil John. everywhere. But hey, the fishing is good when you find ‘em!
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The View from Matagorda
West Matagorda Bay has grown to be a sharkmagnet during the summer. Last summer the gray linebackers were noticeably absent, but so were the fish. Sharks are a trustworthy barometer of how many fish are on a sand and grass flat. I have good news for wade-fishermen—the sharks Matagorda are back. When the sharks show, so do the fish. -Reverse that- When the speckled trout show in force, so do the sharks. Bink Grimes is a full-time fishing There have been and hunting guide, freelance plenty of solid catches writer and photographer, and from West Matagorda owner of Sunrise Lodge on Matagorda Bay. Bay with healthy tides; and, there have been reports of ripped and Telephone 979-241-1705 mangled stringers from Email “five to seven footers” firstname.lastname@example.org dining on kabobs of Website spots and dots. matagordasunriselodge.com Most seasoned waders know that using the traditional 15-25 feet of nylon cord with 4:16:13 PM Trokar_TexasSaltwaterFishing_L197_Redfish_June.pdf 1 4/26/2016
Drift-fishing in East Matagorda Bay produces the majority of our largest trout.
E E V G I A T I T T N E A P V D M O A . Bl Capt
a float attached is asking for trouble in West Bay. We use them in the fall, winter and spring, or until the first signs of sharks appear. It’s time to break out the floating buckets. Buckets are cumbersome, take up extra room in a boat and actually pull and tug on waders when fishing the surf or around a pass. Cord-like stringers
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©2016 EAGLE CLAW FISHING TACKLE | DENVER, COLORADO | EAGLECLAW.COM 82 | July 2016
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Unless you want to shake hands with a shark in West Matagorda, ditch the stringer and grab a floating bucket.
are much lighter, easier and maneuverable; nevertheless, if you wade West Bay from now until October and plan on catching fish and putting them on a stringer, plan to shake hands with a shark. Speckled trout are there because gobs of glass minnows (bay anchovies) and shorelines full of mullet have shown. Fishing the minnows is normally an April affair, but this year it began later, much like every other annual weather and tide-related occurrence. Factor in that beach and bay water temperatures have been above 70-degrees for almost two months now and there should be no surprise why gulf pelagics have arrived. If you are going to wade, take precautions. Most shark bites are mistakes. A flailing arm or leg sometimes looks like a wounded fish. Keep your catch in a bucket or if you must use a stringer, make sure it is at least 25 feet away from you. I have been brushed by a shark a couple of times – it’s an eerie feeling to put it mildly. However, I have a better chance of being in an automobile accident on the way to the boat ramp than a shark attack. I’ll play those odds any day, especially when trout are busting topwaters like they did this past week. Keep in mind the guys in gray suits are bigger and thicker along the beachfront. You pluggers who like to wade the surf have waded with big sharks whether you know it or not. Those who regularly catch fish along the beach have probably seen a shark or two. If you “ain’t” getting out of the boat, there are plenty of fish to catch drifting. In fact, all trout over seven pounds caught on my charters have been while drifting deep shell in East Bay. You really have just as good a chance catching a big one out of the boat. With that said, Matagorda Bay is in the best shape I have seen it in a decade. Our bays are thriving. Follow our catches on Instagram @matagordasunriselodge.
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Capt. Shellie Gray
MID-COAST BAYS With the Grays
Port O'Connor Seadrift
Captain Shellie Gray was born in Port Lavaca and has been guiding in the Seadrift/Port O’Connor area full time for the past 14 years. Shellie specializes in wading for trout and redfish year round with artificial lures.
Telephone 361-785-6708 Email email@example.com Website www.bayrat.com
84 | July 2016
Over the last month, the old saying “when it rains it River empties into West Matagorda Bay, fresh water pours” could not be truer. All the runoff from local rain runoff could be seen down as far as Air Port Flats and along with the swollen rivers dumping into the bay will continue to make its way towards the jetties and has many anglers questioning whether the abundance Pass Cavallo. These two passes to the Gulf will help of fresh water will affect our fishing. flush fresh water out into the Gulf quicker, helping the Now I don’t have any experience with what is salinity levels to return to more normal levels. happening elsewhere but, for us here in the Port Trout fishing has been very good as of late. Fishing O’Connor-Seadrift area, the fishing remains strong and over oyster shell next to drop-offs has been working I don’t look for that to change. Connie Sims lured Looking back on this time last year, in this big redfish in we had pretty much the same issues about a foot of water. with fresh water inflow. What can you expect? Well, unless you enjoy fishing for catfish, pretty much all of the bay waters near the Guadalupe River will be void of trout and redfish for a while. However, not all of San Antonio Bay is fresh. The reefs closer to the ICW and towards the south side of San Antonio Bay are still producing good numbers of trout and our back lakes still have strong numbers of redfish milling around. As of this writing, in the Port O’Connor area where the Colorado
well for us when the wind lays enough to allow us to get to the open bay. Sandy shorelines have been holding good fish as well. Look for shorelines that have prominent guts with some grassy areas mixed in. Since the waters have warmed considerably, wading waist to chest deep is becoming the norm once again. We have had a lot of birds working the open bay waters lately. It’s hard to look the other way when you see scores of birds hitting the water gobbling up whatever bait the hungry fish below are pushing to the surface. However, save yourself the hassle of fishing this tempting sight. Unfortunately, in our neck of the woods, most of the time the only hungry fish you will find under those birds are pesky gafftop, skipjacks and undersized trout. The exception to what I mentioned
above is if you happen to find birds working over a shallow reef or in shallow water. This scenario usually produces better sized trout with fewer undesirable species in the mix. Redfish have been holding up tight to the shorelines due to the higher water levels. When you are in search of redfish, you can’t go wrong using a Texas-rigged soft plastic. The grass in our back lakes is so thick right now that it has made it difficult to work a plastic by any means other than the Texas rig. I like to assemble my rig using a Spro #8 barrel swivel attached to about 8 inches of 20lb Trilene Big Game. Slide a 1/16 ounce bullet weight onto the leader before tying on a Mustad Ultra Point #4 Worm Hook. If all of what I just said is clear as mud then you might get a better picture by searching the internet for more information and photos. Light wind makes for some My preferred plastic for Texas-rigging is the 3-1/2 inch awesome sight-casting. Die Dapper from Bass Assassin’s freshwater assortment and I really like the Houdini color. The Die Dapper has a split belly that makes it easy to rig on the worm hook. It also is impregnated with a scent attractant that makes it harder for a redfish to pass up. Flounder fall prey to this setup very quickly as well. The surf action will be heating up soon when the winds begin to calm down. I always look forward to the winds lying down after having been battered steadily through the spring months. Calmer days allow for boaters to hit more of the open waters in our bay system and this greatly relieves congestion in the more protected zones.
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HOOKED UP WITH Rowsey
Upper Laguna/ Baffin
David Rowsey has 20 years experience in the Laguna/ Baffin region; trophy trout with artificial lures is his specialty. David has a great passion for conservation and encourages catch and release of trophy fish.
Telephone 361-960-0340 Website www.DavidRowsey.com Email firstname.lastname@example.org
86 | July 2016
The popularity of bay fishing is amazing to me. I get it, and understand the passion as well as anyone. I just never dreamed so many would “get it” in my lifetime. Living within a half mile of Bluff’s Landing Marina, I usually make a spin by there on Saturday, my day off. Trucks and trailers are in every conceivable parking spot imaginable. At the end of the day I’ll usually get a couple of calls or a quick text stating something to the affect, “Man, I can see why you do not fish on Saturday!” If there is any upside to it, I guess it would be watching the antics as unseasoned boaters load their boats back on the trailer at the end of the day. Some humorous and harrowing things take place at every boat launch on the Texas coast. So, one day last week I jumped in my truck to load my boat on the trailer after my charter and a guy in a small SUV had already backed down. As I was approaching the ramp I noticed the guy had backed in unusually deep and still in reverse. The bumper of the vehicle was out of site and the water line appeared to be halfway up the back doors. The trailer was nowhere to be seen under water but that did not deter the guy that was preparing to load his boat.
BAM! Right into the SUV’s back windows and doors. Smashed windows, crushed rear door, and a wave of water to the interior for good measure. Folks…you can’t make this stuff up. Summer storms have been keeping things interesting on the water. Trying to speculate the night before whether you are going to be stormed out has made us all amateur meteorologists. Many of my clients come in from larger cities throughout the state and it is sometimes like rolling the dice trying to tell them to make the drive or not. It is really hard to make the go or no-go decision the day before when the weatherman is “predicting” the “likelihood” of thunderstorms. It really comes down to the last minute, checking radar apps early in the morning, and deciding on the spot. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this article while I should be fishing. Today’s forecast was terrible, so we rolled the date over to another day. Wouldn’t you know it? Only a spatter of rain and blue skies. Fishing between storms has been really good. Any reasonable weather day has allowed for lots of catching with some big summer trout coming to hand. Getting a mixed bag is easy enough most days
if clients decide they want some redfish action. Flounder are being caught almost daily in the same areas where the trout and reds are cruising around. We are not targeting them but they will jump on the same Bass Assassin lures as hard as any trout or red. Flounder have made a great comeback since the limits were changed in 2009. It is common to see them brought to the marina each day, and many times they are large. September 2016 will be the second anniversary of the trout limit being reduced from ten per day to five. I am asked every day, “Are you seeing a difference yet?” An emphatic YES is my answer, but what I’m really seeing more than anything is the average size of trout we are catching is longer and generally fatter. We just seem to be catching more healthy fish two years into the regulation changes. Saying that, the number of really big trout we caught in this year’s prime season was off quite a bit. It wasn’t but a couple of years ago where my charters went forty-two in a row with one or multiple trout over seven pounds per day. This year a hot stretch would be for four or five days in a row. Regardless, we push on to catch the best the bay has to offer. Water clarity in Baffin is the best we have seen in years. There is a section of “bad” water that is located on the southern end of the Upper Laguna that is slowly making its way towards the JFK Causeway with the prevailing southeast winds. The further it pushes to the north, the more green water falls in behind it, and that is where most of the good fishing is taking place. I expect this will continue throughout the summer. Remember the buffalo! -Capt. David Rowsey TSFMAG.com | 87
TRICIA’S Mansfield Report
Capt. Tricia’s Skinny Water Adventures operates out of Port Mansfield, specializing in wadefishing with artificial lures.
Telephone 956-642-7298 Email Capt.Tricia@gmail.com
88 | July 2016
July is the beginning of our hottest weather and this is when you really need to get on the water early. Concentrate on areas where wind or tidal movement creates stacking areas for bait and ambush points for gamefish. Early morning winds are typically light and many believe this a good thing, but honestly it is not. We need wind to cool and oxygenate the water. However, not everything about July’s wind is a godsend. Prolonged strong wind tears shallow-rooted seagrass loose from the bottom that soon decays and finds its way to the surface. When it gets bad enough anglers want to tear their hair out. Floating grass scattered on the surface and suspended in the water column can be very difficult to get a lure through. Luckily, when the wind picks up, usually midday and afternoon, it begins to form into narrow windrows where we can cast into relatively clean water that lies in-between. The scientific name for these rows is Langmuir Spirals and you can Google it if you want to learn more. Science lesson aside, it is pretty easy to figure out that casting between the rows of the floating nuisance will help keep your lure clean and you will get more strikes. Another really neat aspect of the windrows is the
way they attract bait. Between the natural attraction of higher oxygen levels within the spirals (Google it) and the cover the floating grass provides, we often see small crabs, shrimp, and baitfish darting just below the surface. Redfish can often be seen suspending under the windrows, picking off the morsels that try to hide there. Many times I have lined my anglers between the rows with great success. One would be surprised at the quality of some of the trout we catch using this tactic. Spoils and shallow windward sandbars are some of my favorite structure types to target in July. ICW spoils allow trout and redfish the luxury of shallow nighttime feeding areas with quick deep-water daytime refuge. Look for spoils and sandbars that have bait stacked on top or along the edges. There’s a good reason the bait is shallow – more times than not it’s the presence of a serious predation threat. If I had someone requesting a quality trout in July I think I would definitely start on the spoils at first light. Larger trout seem to feed predominantly at night during summer and first light offers a shot at them before they retire for the day. First light is also generally the lowest-wind period of the day and bait
Kelly Forester with a recent spoil bank 8-pounder. CPR!
skittering in the shallows is easier to spot when it is calm. Hopefully, you will see a slick now and then to show where at least one fish is feeding. A fresh slick can be a major confidence boost, enabling you to hang in there and work the area thoroughly. Knowledge of where the fish are feeding and confidence to grind it out are the best recipe for catching trophy-quality fish in any season – more so in summer when the window of opportunity can be very narrow. As the sun rises, so does the water temperature and this can send trout deeper. Locate the deeper grass beds and potholes, this is where many big trout will spend their day as long as boat traffic doesn’t run them off. Stake your claim by spreading out while wading and hopefully you will not get buzzed. As winds increase with rising air temperatures, I start looking for color changes along slightly deeper drop-offs on the eastside shorelines, both north and south of the East Cut. Think of color changes as structure – they provide excellent ambush cover for predators. Many times on midday and afternoon wades I have seen trout and redfish cruising in and out of the color change searching for an easy meal. Gamefish follow bait and more times than not when the afternoon water temperature runs in the high-80s, you will see bait schools favoring somewhat deeper and cooler water. Always remember that redfish, especially big reds, are often found deeper on hot afternoons than you would expect to find them. This could have something to do with them following bait, maybe they’re tired of being buzzed on the flats, or perhaps they just enjoy the cooler water – who knows. One thing is certain though, even for a trout purist, when your string hasn’t been stretched in a while big redfish can save the day. I’m still loving my Skitter Walks and One Knockers when conditions are favorable and, of course, my K-Wiggler soft plastics. Go early, be patient, stay hydrated, and enjoy every minute. TSFMAG.com | 89
Capt. Ernest cisneros
SOUTH PADRE Fishing Scene A rr oyo C olorado t o Port I sabel
A Brownsville-area native, Capt. Ernest Cisneros fishes the Lower Laguna Madre from Port Mansfield to Port Isabel. Ernest specializes in wading and poled skiff adventures for snook, trout, and redfish.
Cell 956-266-6454 Website www.tightlinescharters.com
90 | July 2016
The middle of the summer has sneaked up on us again. School is out and the bays are getting very busy. Weekdays are looking more like weekends, but that’s just the way it is this time of year. Up until just recently the wind played a major role in our fishing plans, forcing us many days to fish where we could rather than where we wanted. Strong wind stirred up bottom sediments and ripped lots of shallow grass loose. The clarity diminished to “barely fishable with lures” for days at a time except in protected areas, and floating grass became a major issue. Topwaters were simply not an option, even with single hooks. Good news is that July is usually a lot calmer. It won’t be long until we will be praying for a breeze. But as crazy as the weather has been, with all the thunderstorms and rain, it really is anybody’s guess what July might bring. The upside though, with all the rain across South Texas, will be generally reduced salinity in the Lower Laguna through the summer and that’s a good thing for our fishery. July usually means a considerable drop in tide levels and we have to adjust fishing plans accordingly. Some of the backcountry we are currently fishing will become almost dry. Dealing with floating grass is just
another part of fishing in summer – rigging topwaters with single hooks often helps, unless it gets real bad. About all you can do then is pray for a strike before the lure clogs up or stick with your soft plastics. You probably think by now that I must close my eyes and throw a dart when I make my redfish predictions. I tell you it’s been good and improving one month and then way inconsistent the next. Lately, they’re back to tough to locate and finding them is no guarantee they will be there for long. I blame increased boat traffic on the flats but there’s nothing we can do except fish hard and rejoice when we find them. Paying attention to depth and structure types the schools are frequenting gives you something to go on. Hopefully with calmer July mornings we will be able to pinpoint their whereabouts more easily. Trout, on the other hand, have been the exact opposite. I can confirm that catches are up significantly and steady action can be found in many places. The single best key to getting on a good bite has been tidal current. I have been following the current strength, meaning that as the current declines I will move to similar depth and structure a couple of miles closer to the pass. Keeping up with the flow throughout the day
Kristian Faulk landed three snook on this charter with Capt. Ernest recently.
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often keeps us on continuous action. At present, areas near the ICW have been the best producers, not many big fish but plenty of keepers. This month as the water warms up, especially in the middle of the day, trout will tend to move to deeper water and their bite will be a slight tap on your bait. The topwater bite should be a bit more consistent, so don’t rule out throwing one in all hours of the day. Flounder continue to get some press as their catch numbers continue to grow. I can honestly say that at the present time you can actually target them specifically and be quite successful at it – just like it was 10 or 12 years ago. Working the shacks along the ICW, oil field channels, shoreline drains, and even potholes on some of our flats have been producing good numbers. I would like to thank Fishing Tackle Unlimited for supplying me with their excellent Green Rods. The sensitivity allows you to detect the slightest of bites and a strong backbone to properly land your fish. A great added feature are the markings of our gamefish legal lengths on the rod itself. Another product I would like to boast about is my Costa del Mar eyewear. Many brands brag about comfort – I get a good laugh every time I start looking around the boat for my glasses and I’m wearing them. The Costa comfort factor and the 580 lens technology combine to provide everything I need to protect my eyes and spot fish in the water. I will be attending ICAST this month and hope to report back on some new products that will make it better and easier for us out on the water. I will be spending most of my time between the Simms and Power Pole booths. Please stop by and visit if you attend the show. Stay cool and safe in the summer heat!
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1/12/16 10:10 AM
ORECASTS F from Big Lake to Boca Chica
Lake Calcasieu Louisiana Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268 Fishing has been excellent the past few weeks, and we expect it to continue as salinities rise. Most of the trout we are catching currently are on the south end of Calcasieu Lake and in West Cove. This trend will continue for the rest of the month and into the middle of July. Once water temperatures reach the mid-eighties, trout will move off shallower reefs to deeper, cooler waters. The Calcasieu ship channel, the Cameron jetties, nearshore oil platforms, and the surf will be where we spend most of our time in July. Great lures to try in the channel, the surf, and nearshore platforms are shrimp imitations and paddletails. As far as soft plastics, we stick to MirrOlure Lil’ Johns in opening night, golden bream, chartreuse ice, watermelon ice, and watermelon red. All of these will be rigged on quarter-ounce jigheads unless the current requires something heavier. The surf offers excellent opportunities for topwater fishing. Our preferred plugs out there include She Pups, Skitter Walks and Super Spook Juniors. Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag Silver King Adventures - silverkingadventures.com - 409.935.7242 “The recent heavy rains have sent so much freshwater flowing down the rivers, we’ll likely have a summer of fishing pretty much like last year,” James predicts. “The fish will stack up in the same small places, and catching them won’t be difficult. Dealing with so many people
crowded together might. Areas in the lower parts of the bays, close to the Gulf, will hold the most fish. In deeper parts of East Bay, the key to catching will be to keep a bright soft plastic like a pink one right close to the bottom, where the saltiest water will be. This might mean making a super slow presentation and/or using a jighead slightly heavier than normal, like a quarter-ounce. In other places, changing strategies won’t really be required, when weather conditions allow for fishing them. We’ll have a great run on the Gulf sides of both jetties, and in areas around the passes, mostly in the surf close to them. All the fish forced out of the bays by all the water coming down the rivers will find their way to places like these and ride out the summer where it’s salty.” Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054 “Fishing is outstanding around here when it’s not windy and raining. The bays are really fresh right now, and the fish are stacked up in small spaces. All the bayous and rivers are overflowing, and water hyacinths are floating through Rollover Pass as we speak. The water in East Bay is some of the saltiest around, though, especially on the south side of the bay. Crowds are the main problem, as you’d expect in this situation. Wading is not producing much, but fishing out in the middle is easy, if you accept the realities of what has happened. Slicks normally pinpoint the schools of trout. They are hugging right close to the bottom, where the water is saltiest, so keeping a lure down in their faces is the only way to make ‘em bite. Most any kind of lure which allows for making
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TSFMAG.com | 93
presentations near the bottom will allow for some easy catching. Other areas will produce well too, particularly the surf. Every time the wind gets light and right, people will catch all they want along the beachfront, on topwaters early, and other lures later in the day.” West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service 979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323 Randall says the flooding conditions caused by the Brazos River have caused problems west of San Luis Pass, but have made fishing better to the east. “The freshwater coming through the pass is moving to the right, towards Matagorda, so we’re heading east, toward Galveston. I’ve been keying on ribbonfish most of the time lately. The royal terns help me locate those. In fact, I’m finding all kinds of bait under the terns. Lots of times, the trout push squid, shrimp, shad and other prey onto the shallowest parts of the areas, like the spines of the sand bars in the surf, where the royal terns can get to them easier. The trout aren’t right under the diving birds; they are in the guts adjacent to the shallow parts, but they are close by. When I see lots of ribbonfish, I like to throw the full-sized Sand Eels, and topwaters like Skitter Walks in pearl white. Our trout have been averaging a really good size lately. The reds have been running a bit smaller. With the rivers still rising, we are likely to see these patterns hold throughout July.” Matagorda | Tommy Countz Bay Guide Service - 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037 “We’re already working around the freshwater, and we might continue to do so throughout the summer, it appears. Lots of water coming down the river tends to help us by concentrating our fish in smaller parts of the bays. Normally, when we are wading, we like to fish in West Bay, targeting both trout and redfish around grass beds in the shallows with
topwaters. Last summer, the fish bit the floating lures well throughout the summer, even in the heat of the day. If the blow ups do stop, we often catch better on dark soft plastics rigged on super light jigheads, throwing them repeatedly at isolated grass beds farther out from the bank. Over in East Bay, we will do more fishing out of the boat, keying on slicks around scattered shell and reefs. I had a customer catch a trout which put him at the top of the S.T.A.R. Leaderboard this morning, throwing a live shrimp under a popping cork on a big mud flat in six feet of water. One other thing will be a priority in July—finding our way out into the surf as much as we can.” Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam www.palaciosguideservice.com - 979.240.8204 As of this report, we have had fifteen inches of rain in the last week and the freshwater run-off for the time being has really pushed our fish out into West Matagorda Bay. Prior to the heavy rains, we were smashing trout, reds and tripletail on a consistent basis. I look for the bays to become saltier again soon, and we will get back to catching. Trout were coming in on free-lined shrimp over deep reefs and shell pads in about six to eight feet of water. Good slot-sized fish from sixteen to nineteen inches were over the shell. Redfish were pretty easy to find on sandy/ grassy shorelines in about two feet of water or less. Gold spoons and small bone topwaters seem to be the best lures for fish in the lower end of the slot. We landed some monster tripletail up to twenty four pounds on live-shrimp rigged under popping corks. Hopefully, this freshwater won’t push them back to the Gulf like last year. July should be fantastic, with all this rain bringing in lots of bait. The surf with the right weather is my favorite place to fish, along with working the deep shell and reefs
Seeking Bids for Kenedy Ranch Fishing Cabin Lease The Kenedy Memorial Foundation (KMF) Ranch is taking bids for the right to construct a fishing cabin and acquire a hunting lease on up to 35,000 acres of private, KMF mudflats lands west of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from north of El Toro Island south to Gladys Hole.
The winning bidder will be able to select the lease acreage and location of the cabin. In addition to some of the best fishing in South Texas, wildlife crossing spoil islands in KMF’s mudflats include nilgai, white-tail deer, and water fowl. Access to the leased acreage will be provided through the KMF Ranch along with the use of a KMF boat ramp located in a channel north of Gladys Hole. The deadline to submit bids is August 31, 2016. For information on how to submit a bid, visit KMF’s website at: www.kenedy.org
94 | July 2016
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out in Tres Palacios Bay and West Matagorda Bays. Port O’Connor | Lynn Smith Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434 Lynn expects to be targeting trout and redfish in areas along the beachfront and close to the passes most of the time. “We’ll be in the surf as much as we can, targeting the trout which move up and down the beach with the tides, wading and throwing topwaters early in the morning when winds are fairly light. We like to stick close to deep water this time of year when fishing inside the bays, wading shallow early in the morning, but staying in areas where fish can easily retreat to cooler, deeper water once the sun heats up the flats. Incoming tides tend to produce better catches this time of year, in places like sand bars near the passes and the oyster-studded spoil banks lying along the ship channel, and along shorelines close to the basins of the deeper bays. Of course, finding heavy concentrations of bait can be a critical part of finding fish this time of year, whether looking for fish in the Gulf of Mexico or in one of the area bays. With so much food available to the trout, they tend to stay close to the big schools of prey species.” Rockport | Blake Muirhead Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894 “I will continue to fish around oyster-shell reefs like I have been lately when July rolls around. I’ll keep fishing in the surf too, when winds allow. All the freshwater coming down the rivers will likely push fish toward the southern portions of the bays and into areas around the passes, where tides bring salty water in on a regular basis. When targeting trout and redfish in the hot summer months, I do throw topwaters like Super Spooks a lot, and will stick with them as long as they are producing plenty of blow ups, which they often do. I won’t hesitate to switch over to my Norton Sand Eels in dark colors with bright tails either, and will keep the pearl/chartreuse Gulp! split tail shads around for use when
96 | July 2016
things get even tougher. We’ve got birds working in lots of places these days, and the bite has been pretty easy. I expect fairly productive fishing with lures to continue for a while. Once the dog days of summer raise temperatures a little more, I’ll start fishing with live croakers more often, since they produce better in the heat.” Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut Robert Zapata – email@example.com - 361.563.1160 Reading the forecast for July, I see it’s going to be hot. The temperatures will be hot, and the fishing will be even hotter! I’ve seen better water quality in our part of the Laguna, but currently it is not bad, and the calmer July winds should bring some further improvements. My fishing clients have been catching very good numbers of trout and redfish, with a good number of thirty inch trout as a bonus. A good pair of polarized sunglasses are needed to spot structures like grass lines, pot holes and rocks. Once the structure is located, I will fish with live croakers, live shrimp under a cork, or cast a Bass Assassin Die Dapper rigged on a sixteenth-ounce Assassin Screw Lock jighead. The redfish are schooling and they will continue to do so for the remainder of the summer. Remember to approach the redfish schools quietly, from a distance, in order to not spook them and try to not drift through the schools. Many of the flats holding twelve inches of water or less are holding good numbers of reds and black drum which will go after Fish Bites. Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez – www.sightcast1.com - 361.937.5961 July provides excellent opportunity for targeting trout and redfish around structures which lie close to deep water, Joe says, and the excellent water clarity in the area enhances the potential for doing so this month. “We have some clear water in lots of places, so it’s possible to see the deeper grass beds, drop-offs, rocks and other features which tend to hold fish when the water is hot. Light winds make it easy to stay close to these edges and structures so lures can be cast close to them.
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Places like Rocky Slough and other stretches of the Kenedy Shoreline, Center Reef, East Kleberg rocks, the rock formations near Penascal Point and the Badlands and close to Marker 9 provide good numbers of targets surrounded by cooler, deeper water. If windy weather makes targeting fish more difficult in places like these, we usually prefer fishing the shallow, grassy flats in the upper parts of the Laguna Madre, hoping to sight-cast drum, redfish and the occasional large trout after seeing them over sandy pockets scattered throughout the grass beds.” P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins Depending on other factors, lots of freshwater along the beach could either improve or reduce the presence of certain species. If bait schools will tolerate the low salinity we can expect a lot of reds and tarpon invading the surf this summer. The trout bite has slowed. They will become easier to target if the rain slows and salinity recovers. Throwing topwaters in the early morning and evening should produce some explosive action with large trout. During the middle of the day, fish deeper pinches and suck-outs with suspended lures or soft plastics. As stated before, our surf trout are all muscle and feisty, unlike summertime bay trout. Only drawback when fishing for speckled trout in early summer is the presence of skipjack and the occasional jackfish, which can dump a light reel instantly. Jacks have been plentiful, especially the further south you run. Bull sharks should be thick with all the freshwater. We are at the peak of stingray season. Wear protection and shuffle. Offshore will hold various baitballs and fast action for various species. Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza Snookdudecharters.com – 832.385.1431 Getaway Adventures Lodge – 956.944.4000 Trout fishing has been really good, with lots of mid-sized and a fair number of 25+inch fish. Some of them are still pretty thick, but they will slim down soon as they continue to spawn. The best action has been
98 | July 2016
wading deep along the ICW. Bone Super Spooks and One Knockers are producing for us early in early morning and the bite continues on plastics with eighth-ounce jigheads. KWiggler Ball Tail Shad has been the local favorite; Mansfield Margarita, Lagunaflauge and Bone Diamond are the key colors. As I mentioned before, fishing off the ICW or Spoil Dumps by ICW are great places to start. From there, move to deep grass and with pot holes. You should be able to pick up more decent trout and hopefully a redfish. Redfishing in general has been a tougher game, with the average being four to six fish per charter. Dock talk says they are now in deeper water; I believe higher tides and recent heavy boat traffic does this. Drifting four to six-foot depths has been more productive than wading the flats, most days. Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel Janie and Fred Petty – www.fishingwithpettys.com – 956.943.2747 The Lower Laguna Madre is affected by rainfall run-off from many parts of the Valley. The Arroyo Colorado, which originates in Hidalgo County, is the watershed for areas that have received more rain this year than in recent memory. That being said, evidently, as seen by the large number of trout still coming in, the bay has retained a salinity level acceptable to this species. Flounder also seem to like the conditions. We’ve been netting some very nice flatties, along with limits of trout and at least a couple days a week, limits of reds, throwing Cajun Thunder round corks, extended with HP3s, trailing Berkley Gulp! Alive three-inch shrimp in pearl white and new penny. Freddy says, “Especially when windy days or muddy water present a challenge, the FP3, is perfect for overcoming it. This addition to any style of sliding cork can be just the extra attraction needed to grab the attention of predators, while at the same time, extending the life of the cork!” Let’s stop open bay dredge disposal and help the LLM waters clear up!
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Jasmine McCaskill Freeport - first flounder!
Kristan Drumand San Bernard - 24” red drum
Gus Pullen Bastrop Bay - 39” black drum
Charlie Byrket Chocolate Bay - 25” flattie 100 | July 2016
Monica Gross Matagorda Bay - 25” redfish
Taylor Asher - Port A 52” black drum CPR
Tulley Barretto Port Mansfield - 23” trout
Connor Burg Taylor Island - 17” speckled trout
Aaron Zook Galveston - 28” 8 lb trout
George Brady Galveston - 27” first redfish!
Morgan Barretto Port Mansfield - 26” 7.5 lb first red!
Catherine Cooper Matagorda surf - first bull red!
Nathan, Joseph, Paul Arredondo Corey Davis South Padre - 49” black drum Matagorda - 28” trout CPR
Debby Brady Galveston - 30” first drum!
David Sirmeyer Oso Bay - 22” flounder
Catch of the Month &
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John David Pribyl-Pacheco Galveston Bay - 22” trout
Andrew Lewis Boca Chica - redfish
Beginning with the November 2015 issue, Silverstar Fishing Jewelry will be sponsoring a brand new photo contest. Winners will receive a beautiful 1-inch diameter custom-designed sterling silver pendant that would look great worn on a neck-chain. Contest Rules Gage Fowlkes Dickinson Bayou - redfish
Jozef Majewski West Galveston - 36” red
1. Only current magazine subscribers, their dependents, and members of household are eligible to win. 2. One winner each month selected by TSFMag for photo quality and content. 3. Single-fish photos only, please. We do not publish multiple-fish images or stringer shots. Photos are judged for display of sporting ethics and conservation. 4. Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org **Photo entries must be submitted electronically— prints cannot be accepted. All images submitted to Catch of the Month become property of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine.
Ryan Sellers Matagorda - 40 lb red CPR
Catherine Modlin Copano Bay - 27” trout
Haley, Amanda, Trisha, & Shelby Cedar Bayou - first jack!
Kenneth & Angela Scott first bull dolphin!
Ava Zweifel Sabine Jetties - 3 lb trout
6’ 130 lb tarpon South Padre Island Jetties TSFMAG.com | 101
Got ideas, hints or recipes you’d like to share? Email them to email@example.com or send by fax: 361-785-2844
with purple cabbage
Mike’s Cajun Cole Slaw INGREDIENTS
1 medium head cabbage – shredded 3/4 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup stone ground mustard 1/4 tsp red pepper 1/4 tsp celery salt 1/4 tsp white pepper 2 Tbsp rice vinegar 1 lb. boiled shrimp (or crawfish) coarsely chopped 1 lb. crab meat
Mix mayo, mustard, seasonings, and vinegar. Fold mixture and seafood into cabbage. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. I sometimes add some purple cabbage and shredded carrot for extra color.
with green cabbage 102 | July 2016
Special thanks to Mike Petit, our friend and fishing partner, for sharing this recipe.
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B OAT MAIN T E NAN C E T IPS We see quite a few wheel bearing failures on boat trailer axles. There are times when you can pull into a repair shop and there are times you may have to handle it yourself on the side of the road. Tandem axle trailers Chris Mapp, owner of Coastal Bend Marine. have an advantage over single axle Evinrude, Suzuki, Yamaha, trailers – losing a wheel bearing can Mercury, Honda, BlueWave, be easily dealt with by removing the SilverWave, Shallow Stalker casualty wheel-tire assembly and Boats, Coastline Trailers, placing a jack under the axle, lifting Minnkota & Motor Guide the axle as high as possible, and then Trolling Motors. securing the axle well clear of the Great Service, Parts & Sales “What can we do for you?” road surface (so it won’t drag) with chain or rope around axle and frame. This will allow emergency travel to a repair destination. Single axle trailers have to be repaired on the spot and here are the critical points that can make the job a great deal easier. Jack up axle directly under the spring or end of axle where it meets the spindle, remove the wheel-tire assembly, place this under the trailer as safety device in case of a fall, remove the cotter pin or keeper device, remove nut, remove hub.
Spindle surfaces should be smooth. If you see any metal rings on the shaft, this is a bearing race and has to be removed. Bearing races are hardened to resist wear to the point of being brittle; tapping on the back to remove is one way but not always successful. Striking hard with the face of a hammer on opposite sides will crack the race and allow for removal. Whether you have a bearing kit or a new hub assembly, the most important thing to do is feel the bottom of the spindle for grooving. These grooves have to be removed by filing aggressively to make the spindle smooth, if not new bearings will not go all the way on and you will not understand why. (Grooves are always on the bottom where you can’t see them). Carry a spare hub assembly, lug wrench, file, hammer, crescent wrench, emery cloth and rags. These will prove to be invaluable in a bad moment and remember to inspect wheel bearings for smoothness and quiet operation once a year, it is cheap and can bring peace of mind. Have a safe season, Chris Mapp Coastal Bend Marine | Port O’Connor, TX 361-983-4841 | coastalbendmarine.com
Spindle and bearings highlighting correct bearing positions.
Wheel spindle should be free of nicks, burrs, grooves – and clean before bearing installation.
104 | July 2016
Brinlee & Libby Nichols Campbells - 27.75” redfish
Savannah’s first trout! Tricia Wilcox - Galveston East Bay Reefs personal best speckled trout! CPR
Emma Hans first coast trip, first trout!
Lisa Allen - personal best trout! (29.5” 12 lb) “Largest trout ever caught off of our pier in Arroyo City, TX. I am 57 now and started fishing there as soon as my dad thought I was big enough to hold a Garcia reel and rig.”
Connor Winkenwerder Boggy Bayou - first time kayaking!
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Science and the
The Secrets of Hagfish Slime The hagfish is one of those animals that scientists aren’t quite sure how to classify. These bottom-feeders have a skull but no backbone. Like lampreys, they have no jaw, but then lampreys do have vertebrae. Hagfish look like eels, but with naked skin instead of scales. They can survive up to 36 hours without oxygen — while their hearts keep beating — and they’ve been around for more than 350 million years, long, long before the first dinosaurs ever walked the Earth.
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A hagfish’s head protruding from a sponge. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Okeanos Explorer Program. In fact, it’s their hidden defense mechanism that has largely enabled them to survive so long — and it’s what interests scientists the most — slime. About 100 glands along a hagfish’s body produce a dense gel that rapidly expands into a huge mass of slime when it mixes with sea water. This gel can suffocate any predators that attempt to take bite out of a hagfish. Scientists are studying the strong, stretchy, hair-like protein fibers that make up this gel with hopes of learning how to imitate it. If they can create a similar substance, the range of possible applications is vast: from absorbent material in disposable diapers or sanitary napkins to wound dressings, from contact lenses to drug delivery systems, and from culturing cells to repairing human tissues. Even if researchers can’t recreate such a gel, finding a way to harvest the hundreds of miles of gel fibers inside a single hagfish may provide an alternative to synthetic fibers such as nylon and lycra, both of which require oil to manufacture. Either way, scientists have a lot to learn by studying these ancient, fascinating creatures.
www.ScienceAndTheSea.org © The University of Texas Marine Science Institute
106 | July 2016
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The catch that day was only half the story.
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Tidal Corrections Location Calcasieu Pass, La. Sabine Bank Lighthouse Sabine Pass (jetty) Sabine Pass Mesquite Point Galveston Bay (S. jetty) Port Bolivar Texas City, Turning Basin Eagle Point Clear Lake Morgans Point Round Point, Trinity Bay Point Barrow, Trinity Bay Gilchrist, East Bay Jamaica Beach, Trinity Bay Christmas Point Galveston Pleasure Pier San Luis Pass Freeport Harbor
High -2:14 -1:46 -1:26 -1:00 -0:04 -0:39 +0:14 +0:33 +3:54 +6:05 +10:21 +10:39 +5:48 +3:16 +2:38 +2:39 +2:32 -0:09 -0:44
Low -1:24 -1:31 -1:31 -1:15 -0:25 -1:05 -0:06 +0:41 +4:15 +6:40 +5:19 +5:15 +4:43 +4:18 +3:31 +2:38 +2:33 +2:31 -0:09
For other locations, i.e. Port Oâ€™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
The July 2016 issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine.