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about the Cover Joe Richard captured this image of a feisty November redfish. Texas coastal anglers should see lots of similar action this month as schools of reds forage along shorelines and congregate near passes taking advantage of baitfish and shrimp migrations.
November 2015 VOL 25 NO 7
10 Putting a Solid Game Plan Together 16 One of the Calendar’s Contenders 20 Flounder Gigs, Hot Lanterns, and Tommy 24 Get Your “Dunk” On! 28 Here’s to Mobility
34 Let’s Ask The Pro Jay Watkins 38 Shallow Water Fishing Scott Null 41 Holiday Gift Guide 56 TPWD Field Notes Norman Boyd 60 Fly Fishing Scott Sommerlatte 62 Kayak Fishing Chronicles Dave Roberts 64 TSFMag Conservation News CCA Texas 66 Fishy Facts Stephanie Boyd 68 Inshore | Nearshore | Jetties | Passes Curtiss Cash 72 Extreme Kayak Fishing & Sharks... Eric Ozolins 100 Science & the Sea UT Marine Science Institute Chris Mapp 102 Boat Maintenance Tips
Steve Hillman Kevin Cochran Martin Strarup Chuck Uzzle Joe Richard
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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
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Editorial New Tackle & Gear Fishing Reports and Forecasts Catch of the Month Gulf Coast Kitchen
98 6 | November 2015
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EDITORIAL I go through this every year, you’d think by now I’d have a better handle on it. The angler in me rejoices as November approaches. The hunter in me has trouble sleeping and tears his hair when he is awake. Oh how I wish my sometimes split personality could actually become two outdoorsmen during fall. We have enjoyed great fishing so far this year, even coping with flooded bays. We cry like babies when our favorite spring and summer haunts get “freshed out” but we adjust and the lessons learned fishing these conditions make us better fishermen. Salinities are mostly back to normal and the important forage species are thriving in legendary numbers. November’s cool-down puts fish into near-frenzied feeding. It’s a beautiful thing. Teal, doves and archery deer, you might think, would take some of the edge off. Enough at least to calm down and concentrate on November’s great fishing. But alas, I think it only makes it worse. I was supposed to fish yesterday but an invitation to shoot afternoon whitewings coming to water got in the way. “Heck yeah I’ll be there…what time?” My Lab jumped for joy when I dropped the tailgate but my boat sobbed as I wheeled her back into the garage. Pam had mentioned she had a new dove recipe. I called it an editorial assignment, getting the doves. Who
8 | November 2015
November Dilemma knows, she might publish it someday. And this is just the beginning. You schedule a big duck or goose hunt with out-of-town friends and they’re flying like bees to fresh clover all week. Saturday dawns without a cloud and barely enough wind to rustle a decoy. I kick myself all morning for not taking them fishing. I could go on but you’ve been there. There’s just too stinkin’ much going on in November. Perhaps someday I will stop arguing with those two guys inside my head and let them take turns being boss— maybe I should try one ear plug—maybe I need to see a shrink. Whichever way you decide to go this month, please include your family and friends, especially the youngsters. If a kid or grandkid reeling in their first or best fish, or shooting their first duck or deer doesn’t excite you—maybe you need a shrink. You will have to deal with your own November dilemma in your own way. I’m afraid I will be too torn between fishing and hunting to be of much help. When you gather around your Thanksgiving table, give thanks to the Almighty for all you have and how richly He blesses us each day. We know God loves us; He gave us November!
STORY BY STEVE HILLMAN
Trout green water calls for light colors. Itâ€™s not rocket science.
’m an avid sports fan especially during football season. As a matter of fact my priorities can become a little out of kilter when there’s a game to watch. And, this time of year, there’s no shortage of great games. A quarterback reading the defense and going through his progressions or a baseball team shifting position players for certain hitters both require careful planning and sharp instincts. Coaches and players spend tireless hours watching film preparing for each game. Preparing and implementing a solid game plan most often yields positive results. Of course, some players have more God-given talent than others, but some who may be a little short on talent make up for it with work ethic and timely decisions. Some have the skill set it takes to succeed, but just need more experience to excel. Devising a reliable game plan that addresses every possible variable presents the best chance to win. The same applies to fishing. Having a successful fishing trip shouldn’t be left to chance. So, how do we work our way through the minors to get to the pro level? What do we need to do to go from the practice squad to the big stage? More Tools than Ever More tools are at our disposal than ever before as technology has taken fishing to a whole new level. The days of triangulation and using a cane pole to find oyster reefs faded away in 1989 when Magellan rolled out the first hand-held GPS. In 1990 the United States Department of
Defense deliberately decreased the accuracy for fear of adversaries using the system to their advantage. A full complement of 27 satellites was completed in 1995 with three of them to be used for spares in case any of the active 24 was to fail. In 2000 the Department of Defense ended the intentional inaccuracy of GPS which made it 10 times more accurate. Since then, the United States Air Force has launched additional satellites and now manages a constellation of 31 satellites plus three that can be reactivated if needed (source: The Rand Corporation, United States Naval Observatory, United Launch Authority, GPS.gov). If you’re lost these days then you’re in trouble. Taking the time to research or attend clinics to get the most out of your GPS will give you an advantage. Most marine electronics stores offer is still king in the reel (right) Colin was the (left) Darla Rooke with a beautiful educational classes and there are online sources as well. department for me. beneficiary of an trout caught during an early unforeseen change in morning minor feeding period! We’ve gone from Dacron to monofilament to braided Once again, sensitivity conditions. A backEverything came together nicely lines and braided hybrids. Fishing lines are sensitive being the dominant up game plan had to that morning thanks to a little enough to almost feel a trout looking at your lure. FINS attribute along with be implemented. pre-trip homework. Windtamer is a great braid to choose while Trilene light weight and casting Sensation fits the build for old-school mono guys like me. ability. There shouldn’t be any excuses for not feeling the bites with Rods are more sensitive than ever with Waterloo leading the pack the pro-level equipment available these days. in my opinion. I’ve seen the results firsthand many times. Shimano Game Film In the fishing world, our game film is a fishing log. Log information should include weather, time of day, water and air temperature, water clarity, date, location, salinity, lure choices and retrieval methods and major/minor feeding periods. Logs can assist in pointing us in the right direction especially for those who don’t have the opportunity to fish very often. Done properly, it provides historical data that can be used to duplicate success. Not every log entry will document a successful fishing trip, but sometimes more can be learned from an empty stringer. In reviewing information recorded on a slow trip, adjustments should be made to increase the odds on the next outing. Logs help us monitor trout movements within a bay system and illustrate behavioral patterns based upon seasonal Live Target Bait Ball changes and other variables. Series and Shrimp. It is important to understand 12 | November 2015
Simple is Sometimes Better Too many anglers, especially those who are new to the sport, could open a sporting goods store with all of the latest and greatest lures they’ve purchased. Don’t misunderstand, there are some new baits on the market that are intriguing and worth a look such as Live Target’s shrimp as well as their Bait Ball Series, but I’m a firm believer in sticking to what has been working. Three different colors of soft plastics (Limetreuse, Red Shad and Chicken-On-A-Chain) are really all that’s needed in our bay system. The brighter colored Limetreuse works great in green water with adequate sunlight. Red Shad is always reliable in stained or muddy water while Chicken-On-A-Chain is perfect for those in-between days when the water clarity is a cloudy green. My favorite choice is Salt Water Assassin, but there are many soft plastics out there that will get it done. It’s a matter of personal preference. Pack a few 1/16, 1/8 and 1/4 ounce jig heads and you’re ready to roll. Three topwaters – Super Spook Jr., Rapala Skitterwalk and a MirrOlure She Dog is really all that’s needed most of the time. Spook Jr’s are great for calm conditions. Throw a Skitterwalk when there’s a slight surface chop and a She Dog in breezy conditions and a loud high-pitched rattle is needed. Three slow-sinking plugs can round out your arsenal – MirrOlure’s Paul Brown Originals.
14 | November 2015
Stay Sharp - Mentally and Physically I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client or an entire group show up at the dock in the morning half-awake with bloodshot eyes. Regardless of skill level, tying one on the night before a fishing trip is not a good plan. Your day on the water will most likely be a miserable one and filled with missed bites and backlashes. Those who are truly focused on having a productive trip will be well-rested and ready to roll on game day. To take it a step further, maintaining overall good health through exercise and a healthy diet will enable you to endure long wades when needed and keep you mentally focused. By doing a little homework and using fishing intelligence, the odds will be in your favor most of the time. Whether you are a rockstar angler with God-given natural angling skills or a rookie fisherman logging experience on the water, always having a solid plan of attack is paramount. And, just like some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, don’t be afraid to deviate from your game plan when conditions change. Go through your progressions and know your options. Most importantly, show up ready to play!
how certain elements affect trout activity. My log entry for November 6, 2014 shows that we caught good numbers of trout on limetreuse Salt Water Assassins in a certain area when the water temperature was 72⁰ and the salinity was 18 ppt. During the same time frame a year later the salinity may be 10 ppt and the water could be 10⁰ cooler. Using what I know about trout movements based upon salinity and water temperature I would say that enough has changed to prompt a look in another area. In addition, I may want to throw slow sinking plugs instead of soft plastics because of the cooler water temperature. Maybe the water clarity is poor because of freshwater run-off so darker colors may deserve a shot. On the contrary, if conditions are similar then try to emulate the strategy used last time. Always remember that seasonal trout movements are somewhat predictable every year. However, if one or more of the variables change then trout behavioral patterns and/or migrations Being alert and noticing finger mullet running for their lives will react to such deviations. The most enabled Neil Wingenbach to eccentric variable that I’ve observed in trick this nice red. recent years is water temperature. In 2014 it seemed as if we went from summer to winter with the early arrival of cold fronts. This was responsible for trout showing up in some of their winter haunts about a month early. Remember, trout don’t have calendars. They respond to their surroundings including water temperature, salinity and available forage.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.hillmanguideservice.com
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STORY BY KEVIN COCHRAN
n a normal calendar year, sometime around Thanksgiving or soon after, the water temperatures in South Texas’ bays drop below 60⁰F and stay low for a few days. This initial cold spell signals the start of the “winter trophy trout season” from the Coastal Bend to South Bay. Ironically, though December ranks among the better months statistically for me, I rarely book as many trips as I’d like. Most people who actively pursue trophy speckled trout with artificial lures also hunt doves, ducks and/or whitetail deer. They think of the weeks between Turkey Day and the turn of the New Year as the perfect time to hunker down in a blind of some kind, with firearms at the ready. And that’s perfectly fine for people who find themselves inclined to participate in those time-honored traditions. For those of us who’ve largely lost our blood lust, who’d rather try and catch and release a trophy fish, the major hunting seasons provide a fetching window of opportunity. Crowds generally run light on the water, and on the milder days, we have some of the year’s prettiest weather. Cold, crisp air over uncrowded waterways enlivens the spirits of people like me, who
remember times when seeking solitude on the bays proved much easier than today. Some people just don’t like to fish in cold weather, in some cases because they wrongly assume fish can’t easily be caught when the mercury shrinks toward the bottom of the glass in the thermometer. Honestly, I find the fishing in the early part of the cold period to be predictable and often productive, though the lulls between bonanzas can test the most-dedicated pluggers’ patience. A quick check of the climate data for Corpus Christi reveals a few significant statistics. The average high temperature in Corpus during December is 68°, while the average low stands at a chilly 49°. These are the second-
coldest extreme daily averages of any month in the year. Only January brings lower temperatures, and each dips just one degree Fahrenheit below those in the Christmas month. Cold air temperatures do several things to make the fishing for trophy trout more predictable. First of all, cold air temperatures mean cold water temperatures. Fish generally react in a predictable manner when water temperatures decline. In the first part of the cold season, roughly from about mid-November through mid-January, trout react to dropping water temperatures by seeking the safe haven of deep basins and holes. This rings particularly true for small trout, which often seem content to stay in fairly deep water throughout the entire period. Consequently, coastal anglers who wish to target numbers of relatively small, keeper trout should focus efforts in some of the deepest water available in the area, especially during periods of time immediately after nippy north winds sweep across the bays. Excellent opportunity for catching exists in open areas of all the major bays from Sabine Lake to the Laguna Madre in such a scenario. Often, drifting through muddy streaks in the otherwise clear water proves the best way to find and catch schooling trout. Throwing soft plastics rigged on jigheads of a size appropriate for maintaining contact with the bottom generally provides an easy way to make cold-stunned fish strike. Savvy anglers will wait for offshore winds to subside before making forays onto the unprotected areas of the bays where fish ride out the cold snaps. Strong winds make boat and lure control difficult, and while winds whistle and atmospheric pressure rises, fish generally sit sluggish on the bottom with their eyes cast downward. Once conditions settle down some, those same fish inevitably cast their eyes upward, begin looking for a meal and become relatively easy to catch. If the water temperatures dip down low enough, Dark lures with bright tails trout often seek the safety of deeper channels and seem attractive to the fish holes. In some places, the Intracoastal Waterway on dark days in December. becomes crowded with small trout, particularly in stretches where lesser channels lead off the main waterway, and abruptly end. I won’t pretend to know whether the fish find their way to these places because they want to avoid the effects of tides and wind-driven currents, or if they During the week between simply wind up in them because of the Christmas and New Year’s effects of those same elements, but I do 2013, Matt McCollum found know dead-end channels usually become a school of hungry monsters, and landed four trout on a crammed full of fish early in the cold gold/chartreuse MirrOlure season, if water temperatures plummet Catch 2000 which weighed a into the low-fifties or high-forties. combined total of 31 pounds. Part of the scenario, biologically speaking, has to do with the need to acclimate to changing water temperatures. In the first half of the cold season, without as much recent experience living in chilled water, trout prove fairly susceptible to the effects of a sudden decline in temperatures. Thus, they become lethargic easier, and they don’t need to feed as soon after a strong front blows harsh weather in. Understanding this tendency for low activity levels in the wake of fronts in December and January gives anglers a better chance to time their outings to coincide with a sudden rise in the feeding mood of the fish. Once a warming trend begins after the passage of a cold front, some of the biggest trout will move into shallow
18 | November 2015
Scott Bryant caught this fat trout on a calm day during a brief warm spell between strong fronts.
fronts and associated “shut-downs” and “turn arounds” most profoundly affect the potential for catching trout in December, particularly large females, which like to eat other fish. A predator which prefers to eat other fish tends to gorge voraciously when feeding, then sit dormant for some period of time, digesting what it has eaten. In cold water, the digestive processes of coldblooded creatures slow. This scenario dictates a high level of variation in the feeding mood of trophy trout in December. When actively feeding, monster trout will attack fish-imitating plugs with reckless abandon during the Christmas month, creating the potential for some of the best catching of all. Anyone interested in rolling the dice in anticipation of encountering schools of giant trout competing actively for slow-sinking twitchbaits and topwater plugs should consider making trips to the coast in the last month on the calendar. Some should call a guide like me; fishing pros normally have availability during the holiday season, when other pursuits pull many sportsmen into the marsh and field, leaving plenty of open spaces on our coastal bays and waterways.
Kevin Cochran Contact
water, which warms up faster than deeper water. In some cases, numerous big trout find their way into muddy potholes or the shallows adjacent to areas with thick grass mats, in water barely deep enough to cover their broad, black backs. Bright sunshine can certainly enhance the potential for a super shallow move by big trout, but any warming trend in the weather can trigger such a move, regardless of the number of clouds in the sky. When big trout venture into really shallow areas, catching them often proves quite difficult, especially at first, while the fish seem content simply to warm up, rather than actively feed. Eventually, their hunger will drive them into a frenzied state. Along different parts of the coast of the Lone Star State, various stimulators can trigger aggressive feeding sessions among hungry trout during late-fall and early-winter. On the Upper Coast, particularly in areas close to strong tide sources, a tide rushing in after an extreme low can provide such a stimulus. Relatively warm ocean water pouring into a bay generally creates conditions conducive for fish to rise off the bottom and swim around in search of a meal. Conversely, a strong outgoing tide pulling relatively warm water off shallow flats into the deeper waters of an open bay can also provide rich opportunity for catching trout in the last month of the year. Especially in areas of Middle Coast bays, where many backwater lakes and coves fringe the main bodies of water, this pattern proves predictable indeed. The best days on which to take advantage of this scenario include lots of bright sunshine, which heats up the shallows, and long-standing high tides which turn and start out around the time the sun begins to set. In fact, anywhere a strong tide surge coincides nicely with the coming of night, two stimulators come into play. In bays where the water becomes extremely clear in the first half of the cold period, this rings particularly true. Big trout become stubbornly nocturnal in such places; chasing their prey in clear water under the bright lights of day becomes a losing proposition. The trout don’t really “know” this, in a cognitive sense, but specimens inclined to feed at night in such conditions have passed on their genes for eons, imprinting the habit into the species. Fishing during both light changes (dawn and dusk) during the first half of the cold season proves particularly reliable. For most people, taking advantage of the often-frantic bite which occurs just as the blanket of night descends on a bay, during the warmest part of the day, makes more sense than getting up early and braving the coldest temperatures to take advantage of the daybreak bite. I understand such a mindset, though I have experienced many good sessions of catching during early-morning hours on cold days when others slept in, assuming the fish would be too sluggish to bite. Though the early-morning bite proves less dependable in December than in months like February and March, trout still bite well on average while the embers of the coming day begin to glow in the east. On some occasions, this happens because the fish have become hungry again at the end of a period of low activity following the passage of the latest front. In my estimation, the timing of the
Kevin Cochran is a full-time fishing guide at Corpus Christi (Padre Island), TX. Kevin is a speckled trout fanatic and has created several books and dvds on the subject. Kevin’s home waters stretch from Corpus Christi Bay to the Land Cut.
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STORY BY MARTIN STRARUP
ey Red, come on with us,” Bodie said greeting his friend. “Let’s spread out a bit and maybe we won’t miss any. I’ll take the deep side.” The trio spread apart and made their way east with Bodie on the outside, Red in the middle and Tommy along the shore. “Hang on a minute guys; I need to pump up my lantern,” Tommy said. Red and Bodie waited while Tommy rested the base of the lantern against his leg and pumped vigorously so it would burn brighter. “I still can’t believe y’all are using those new-fangled electric lanterns instead of your old Coleman’s,” he mused. “Well Tommy,” Red asked, “How any times have we had to pump up our lights?” Bodie chuckled at that and said the slough up ahead always held some real saddle blankets. “Tommy, you need to go up a little shallower because it gets deeper out here close to the slough. But watch out for the mud, it’s bad in places.” The trio shuffled forward and Tommy announced that he had a nice flounder in front of him and proceeded to stick it. Red also gigged a flounder and then Bodie stuck one. “We’ll limit out right here if this keeps up,” Red exclaimed. Bodie was about to slide his hand under his flounder to prevent it slipping from the gig when he spied another a few feet away. An old gigger’s trick; he leaned hard on the gig pole to drive the prongs deeper and went for the second. “I just got a two-fer,” he exclaimed.
Making their way farther along, Bodie called out, “Careful Tommy Boy, remember that mud.” Tommy moved a little closer to Red who immediately said, “Back off a little dadgummit, you’re getting too close!” Tommy was about to say something but he saw a very large flounder swimming slowly along bottom between him and Red and went for it. Problem was, close together as they were, Red’s foot was in the way. Bodie almost dropped his gig when he heard Red scream. “You just stuck me you ignorant freak of nature,” Red yelled. Among other things. Flabbergasted, and in haste to help his friend, Tommy lunged toward him and Red’s screaming grew even worse. “Ahh—watch what you’re doing. You just burned my arm with that lantern,” Red yelled. Tommy jerked the gig out of Red’s wading boot and backed off quickly—into the muddy spot Bodie had warned about —and proceeded to sink to his waist. “Help me—help me. I’m in quicksand!” he screamed. Bodie hurried to check on Red first. A huge red blister was rising on his forearm where the globe of Tommy’s lantern had bumped it. Balancing against Bodie, Red got his bootie off and happily learned the three-prong gig had missed his flesh. Though stuck completely through both the bootie upper part and sole, the prongs had miraculously landed harmlessly between his toes. “You’ll live,” Bodie assured him. “No thanks to that little freak of nature friend of yours,” Red replied. “Now go drag him out of that muck hole before I go over TSFMAG.com | 21
22 | November 2015
and heard the explosion as instantly as he felt the pull of the fish. “Nice trout,” he called to Red. “Me too,” Red called back, “Looks like we’re in ‘em.” After Bodie and Red had strung a few trout apiece, Red said the burn on his arm was starting to sting and maybe they should call it a night. The two friends headed back to the boat and could see Tommy sitting on the front cooler, kicked back sipping a beer. Climbing the boarding ladder, Red noticed Tommy’s lantern in his path and reached to move it. “Yee-Ow that thing’s HOT,” he shouted as he let it fall to the deck. Tommy jumped from his ice chest seat to grab it when Bodie went off about having warned him to never light a lantern in the boat. “I had to test it, Bodie, to see if it still worked,” Tommy sniveled. “I tell you Bodie, I’ve had enough, I’m going to have to kill him!” Red snarled, rubbing his hand. “Red, let me see how badly you’re burned,” Bodie said. “Gotcha pretty good; I’ll need to doctor it. Tommy—quit fooling with that damn lantern and bring me the First Aid kit.” Red didn’t say much on the way in, just sipped his beer, muttering something about how badly Tommy needed killing. As they eased to the dock to let Red off, Bodie and Tommy heard a splash but all they saw was Red gathering his gear and stepping off the boat. “Don’t call me—I’ll call you,” was all Red said as he made his way to his golf cart and sped away. Then a fiendish laugh split the night. “Tommy, you really made him mad tonight,” Bodie said with a frown. “Oh, he’s just an old grouch, Bodie. It was all an accident; I didn’t do anything to him on purpose,” Tommy whimpered. When they got to Bodie’s dock and began unloading gear, Tommy went into a panic opening hatches and checking everything twice. “What are you looking for?” Bodie quizzed. “I can’t find my lantern and it was right there,” Tommy shouted, pointing to where Red had been sitting. “Say, Bodie, you don’t think that splash was my lantern going overboard do you? Old Red’s a grouch and all but, he wouldn’t do anything like that…would he?” Bodie just grinned and shook his head. “Let’s call it a night Tommy. I’ll give you one of my old lanterns if that one never turns up.”
there and shut him up permanently with this gig.” Bodie waded to Tommy. “You’re not in quicksand, Tommy, and you’re not about to drown. Flip the bail up on your lantern and hand it to me while you crawl out of that hole.” Tommy held the lantern for Bodie, but when he grabbed the handle it was the big guy’s turn to scream. “Tommy—you had the bail resting against the glass and it was red hot!” Bodie yelled. Still stuck to the waist and worried about the lantern, Tommy squeaked, “I’m really sorry, Bodie. But could you get it out of the water and turn it off. Please?” Tommy began belly crawling from muck hole and Bodie helped him to his feet. “I told you about that spot before we even got to it,” Bodie said gruffly. “Maybe next time you’ll listen.” “Well,” Red sneered, “We’ve ruined this spot. Might was well move down a bit and see if there’s any on the other side of the slough.” Tommy gave Red a wide berth as he shuffled toward Bodie. “Since you broke my lantern, Bodie, I’ll just flounder with you and your light-OK?” “OK, but don’t get to close or ahead of my light,” Bodie replied, “We’ve already had enough drama.” A sand bar stretched across the opening of the slough and the trio worked slowly along on both sides. “Man, I have a pretty one here,” Red called out as he stabbed a fish. “Gimme some light over here, Bodie,” Tommy said, “I think I have a big one.” Bodie angled his light and said, “Nope. That’s a stingray, Tommy. Can’t you tell the difference?” The mere mention of a stingray made Tommy so nervous that he remained glued to Bodie’s side—certain that some sea monster was about to take his life. The last 30 yards of the bar held so many flat fish that the boys filled their limits and turned back toward the boat with more easy targets in sight. “Man, the bait sure is nervous in these guts,” Bodie thought aloud. “You’re telling me!” Red exclaimed. “Any chance you boys might be up for a little nighttime topwater action?” Bodie asked. Red immediately replied, “Count me in; I love night plugging.” Tommy was silent for a few seconds, pondering monsters in the dark and certain death. “Well ah, yeah, I guess I’m in too. But I need to clean my lantern and that’ll take a while. I’d hate for that salt water to ruin it.” “Go ahead and do that Tommy while we fish; I’ll turn on the deck lights for you,” Bodie offered. Bodie and Red tied topwaters and waded away from the boat while Tommy worked on his lantern. “I swear, from out here that boat of yours looks like a UFO, lit up with those LED lights,” Red joked. “And Tommy, the little freak, looks like he’s rubbing for a genie.” Bodie’s first cast brought a strong blow-up and Red hooked something that had some size to it. “Dang Red you have any line left on your reel?” Bodie asked. “I still have plenty and the drag is pretty tight,” Red replied. “He’s a good one, for sure!” “Big redfish or a really big trout,” Red surmised as the fish turned and ran behind him. The mono leader snapped as the fish pulled hard for a second run, “But I guess we’ll never know.” Disappointed, neither man spoke as Red switched on his cap light to tie another lure. Bodie was listening to the click-click of his plug in the darkness
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
STORY BY CHUCK UZZLE
ithout a doubt one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of fishing equipment ever invented has to be the cork. It’s probably a safe bet that most of us can remember our very first fishing experience and it is highly likely that it includes a cork of some kind. I can vividly recall spending hours staring at a red and white cork as a kid, patrolling the rice canal that wound its way through my neighborhood. That shiny Zebco 33 spincast rod and reel adorned with a cork, a couple of pinch weights, and a shiny gold hook were the go-to combination for everything from panfish and catfish to largemouth bass and occasional alligator gar. The cork symbolized fishing to us as kids and it still does many years later. The sight of a cork being pulled under by a fish and the feeling one gets watching this happen conjures up so many things we love about the sport. Unfortunately nowadays, for many saltwater folks, the use of a cork somehow unjustly correlates to a lack of fishing skill or prowess when nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, many novice fishermen get their first taste of fishing using this simple and ingenious device but it goes much farther than that. The use of a cork can be one of the most productive methods of catching fish and covering water any fisherman could employ. In today’s high-tech world the cork has been revolutionized and improved upon but the basic concept is still the same. To blatantly borrow from the iconic Oldsmobile ad, “This ain’t your granddaddy’s cork!” To understand
just how handy the cork can be we need to look back and realize just how far these fish catching tools have come. The standard old Styrofoam float with a peg through the center to adjust the depth of the bait remains a mainstay even today. For years we used a non-weighted #3 Styrofoam cork with a half-ounce slip sinker a few inches below, resting against a barrel swivel. Attached to the barrel swivel was a piece of leader and a hook. The non-weighted leader section allowed a bait to swim naturally. The half-ounce sinker pulled the cork down to just the right depth to make it easy to pop or gurgle across the surface. That “good” sound produced by the “mouth” of the cork was and still is a terrific fish attractor. Curious fish drawn to it find a frisky bait swimming on the hook—and you know what happens next. This technique was made popular on Sabine by a superknowledgeable guide named Robert Vail. Robert used a larger version of the model described above because he targeted big redfish and used much heavier rods and reels. The first time I fished with Robert I felt like I was pole vaulting when I popped that cork with his 7 foot rods and big Abu Garcia reels. Dickie Colburn and I got together and downsized the rig for use on lighter tackle and soon learned to enjoy the technique even more. This setup is a proven winner and one of my favorite ways to fish live bait. Back in the early-80s, Port Mansfield fishing guide Bob Fuston put an iconic twist on cork fishing with his famous Mansfield Mauler. Fuston started with crappie floats on heavy monofilament leaders to enable clients to keep their plastic lures suspended above bottom
Corks come in many flavors and sizes. They all catch fish and they all have a place in the saltwater arsenal.
26 | November 2015
Double D uses a much stiffer grade of wire that resists bending longer than other models.
H&H Coastal Tackle’s- Coastal Popping Rig, built on flexiblecoated wire, offers improved casting with fewer tangles.
The battered Mansfield Mauler on the right still catches tons of fish, as do its many imitators.
grass, and then progressed to a short length of stiff stainless steel wire. He later added beads for the signature click-clack of the Mauler. The Mauler became an overnight success—because it worked— and before long Maulers (and a host of imitators) were being used everywhere on the flats from South Florida to South Texas. Many times the cork itself will draw strikes, instead of the lure or live bait suspended below. I recall several occasions where oversized redfish attacked and mangled our corks, but of course they got away because the cork had no hooks. Longtime friend and great fishermen Johnny Cormier solved this problem by adding hooks to the floats on Mansfield Maulers and those big blowups became hookups! If the old saying is true, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” then somewhere up in Heaven, Capt. Bob Fuston is smiling because there are certainly plenty of variations of his Mansfield Mauler on the market today. The shape and size of the corks on the imitators run the gamut from thin to fat with concave to convex tips. The wire the corks slide on has been altered too. A number of them use coated heavy gauge, multi-strand stainless wire to avoid the kinking issues of the originals, while the Double D Rattling Cork is built on an even stiffer, solid wire. I have used several of each with excellent results. In today’s redfish tournaments, your average angler might be surprised at the number of top competitors using rattling corks to both locate fish during scouting and also on tournament days. Several models will do the trick but perhaps the ones that opened my eyes widest were the concave tops and their resounding “sploosh” when jerked vigorously. I find the flexible wire leader designs to be exceptionally user-friendly. Speaking of leader material—I have learned through trial and error that extra-stiff leaders below the corks greatly reduces tangles during casting. The stiffer leader also resists abrasion and other stress related failures when a prized fish is on the line. I have seen anglers using light leader material, perhaps to increase lure action or maybe because that is what was at hand, but I do not recommend this. Now aside from the obvious ways corks can be used, there are others we seldom hear about. Jetty anglers use corks to suspend baits and lures above the hazards of the rocks. Many days I have watched as cork slingers just vacuumed a stretch of jetty rocks, doing a number on sheepshead. Several I know have taken the technique to riprap and other shoreline stabilizing materials when targeting flounder here on Sabine. The ability to probe small spaces where flatfish lie in ambush makes the cork a perfect tool for the job. I have also seen fly-rodders using corks, although they insist it is a “strike indicator.” Catch Cormier and I were fishing a stretch of rocks on Sabine River with fly rods when he brought out a contraption I’d never seen. He called it a VOSI Rig. I called it a cork. Catch had taken a small pencil bobber, cut it in two, and dug out a small cavity on one end. This he attached about 18 inches above his fly and cast it near the rocks, giving it a gentle twitch every foot or so. The third twitch, a spunky bass pulled the VOSI under and the fight was on. I watched Catch take several more fish until he finally relented and showed me the setup—a wonderful example of Cajun ingenuity. When I asked what VOSI stood for Catch replied, “Vertically Oriented Sight Indicator.” I laughed hysterically as he explained that in his fly fishing columns, the word “cork” would immediately turn his audience off, while VOSI was readily accepted. Once again we get to the popular misconception surrounding the highly versatile and commonly lookeddown-upon piece of fishing equipment called a cork. I rest my case.
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.
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STORY BY JOE RICHARD
Capt. Curtiss Cash with one of 10 ling landed that day off POC. We saw 25 to 30 on the surface, and had fast action.
’ve always preferred fishing the entire Texas coast. As luck would have it, this summer I was able to spend a great deal of time fishing and visiting friends up and down the coast. I wound up on nine different boats, from my aluminum jonboat up to a 27-foot Contender, and we had great days out there. When the weather is fine for weeks at a time, it’s hard to beat action found along the Texas coast. As it turned out, we had the best June weather in memory, going back decades. And then July and August were very good. I kept going out until I didn’t want to see another fish. For me, that takes a lot. Summer-long Stats: >I had three rod holders on different boats broken by fish, while losing one rod and reel, for the first time in about 30 years. Saved six rods from going overboard, if you count the one I jumped after at the POC jetties, on the day the water was clearest . Actually caught a $350 trout rod in the air as it was about to leave the boat; my buddy Dale Fontenot had set it down for a moment while rummaging in the ice chest for water. Turns out it was a big ladyfish…
>I fished out of Sabine Pass, Port O’Connor and Port Aransas this summer. At my peak I was in the boat 15 days in a row in August. Frequently I was by myself, but never suffered a scratch. An old dock plank gave way at a decrepit marina, leaving me stuck, and once I slid off a jetty rock into the Gulf. But fishing gloves, long pants and good shoes really help. (Same with the Buff mask; my skin doctor in September was impressed). In Port O’Connor the days were long. Each morning was a slow amble into Speedy’s for a cup of coffee and breakfast taco, while pondering the day’s mission. In all there were maybe a dozen dawn patrols, not too many, David Bullocks from Yeti coolers, on the right, put us on a dozen goodsized kingfish off Port Aransas.
mostly mid-morning or afternoon trips, depending on the tides. I spent several nights at a friend’s camp in the salt marsh and caught fish from there, too. On days he weren’t home, I just tied the boat up and fished from a lawn chair on the shaded side, with four rods set out with big baits, like eight-inch live mullet. That worked well for a time, mostly jacks and sharks and a few slot reds, until a plague of blue crabs arrived at the end of July and prevented bait fishing on bottom. At night, we sat out under the stars and cooked one kind of fish or another. Washed down with whatever was available. I also had a stretch of nine days on the water in June, capped off with a trip 45 miles offshore Sabine in a 22-foot Key West boat. Perfect June weather for snapper season, go figure. The boat owner, Mike Cichowski, was my high school president and the other guy, Bud Reynolds, graduated with us, too. We go back a ways; between us we have about 150 years of saltwater fishing experience. And what a wonderful trip we had: countless big snapper, 12 kings released, also three ling. I insisted on dropping anchor 75 feet down on the honey hole and pulling it back up. Ironically, we had five bananas on the boat; nobody would eat them before we launched. Nor could we give them away at the crowded boat ramp— people actually backed away when I held up the Chiquitas. Their loss. Highlights: >One day Capt. Curtiss Cash and I eased out to the rigs off POC in his bay boat, not very far, and landed 10 ling among other fish. Saw at least 30 ling (almost all of them a couple of inches short) on the surface. We should have caught and released them all, to teach them to avoid hooks and grow up to become 90-pounders. We brought home two that day, including a fat 30-plus pounder. Ate fried ling for the next few nights. >In my jonboat off Sabine Pass, I checked out the jetties, then cruised along a deserted Louisiana beach, searching for action. About six miles into Louisiana waters, I realized the old six-mile rig, still out there since we fished it in 1970, was straight offshore, and not far. The weather was fine, so I eased out to the big rig and was soon walking around on it, doodle-socking for trout. Also climbed onto four more rigs. Landed eight or nine small trout, lost a tripletail, caught two mackerel, nothing special. The beach was only a mile or two distant, minutes away, if a storm came up. But it was the kind of day where you knew it Longtime POC residents Marilyn wouldn’t happen. Giessel and John Milne with a >I’ve spent countless keeper snapper. Easy limits caught hours walking jetties and from John’s 27-foot Contender boat. plugging the tides, and
30 | November 2015
the simplicity of those days years ago still appeals. So, it was time to hit the rocks again. This summer I landed more fine trout from granite rocks than in many years. Often with a MirrOlure, which takes me back to the 1960s. One fine morning I released seven that were over 20 inches, and thought one trout would qualify for the STAR tournament. I couldn’t accurately weigh this trout, had to carry it 100 yards back to the boat. By then it was dead. Whoops, only 25 inches with a ponderous girth, it was full of eggs…Not big enough. We ate the trout that night, which wasn’t all that great. Bigger trout should be released unless they break 28 inches or so during a tournament situation. But what a fine morning that was, watching big flashes and boils beneath that MirrOlure. >One day Dale Fontenot and I had 31 trout and seven big Spanish off Sabine, and left them biting. Dale had to get home by 2 p.m. and we were a long way from the house. On other trips Dale, Pete Churton and I “hammercocked” (Dale’s word) big trout at the jetties, though no tournament winners. >Three kingfish trips yielded a dozen kings each time, with two to four 30-pounders in the mix. The biggest was pushing 40 pounds, and had a bite out of its tail with sharks circling. All kings were released. On the June trip off Sabine, we ran out of mullet bait, pulling up big snapper. However, I always carry a plastic box with favorite kingfish trolling plugs, from surface to deep-divers. What a show, watching big kings hit those plugs just behind the boat in Back at Sabine Pass, aboard Dale Fontenot’s boat, we landed some good-sized trout, some released and others kept.
blue water. Big, silver flashes four feet long. Wow. It was dicey work, tailing big kings into the boat and prying loose big treble hooks within 30 seconds or so, and releasing them. We never used a gaff. I was spattered with blood and had a pants leg ripped from a flailing treble hook. Out of Aransas, David Bullocks from Yeti was grabbing 30-pounders on the first try and swinging them into the boat. As always in summer, catching snapper was easy. The Feds may have winced at the calm weather we had this June; I even saw an El Pescador boat 20 miles out, with one guy jigging up 10-pound snapper by himself. John Milne and Marilyn Giessel had a sweaty time, cranking up big snapper for hours, while I waited for a big kingfish and saved my energy. John Milne is a mild-mannered 70-year old US Marine flyer and veteran in very good shape, and he signed us up for the August tarpon tournament. Spoiling for a fight with a tarpon school offshore. Tarpon seemed scarce most of this summer, not that I spent much time endlessly cruising up and down the coast looking for them, that’s all too hit or miss. But in the tournament we had no choice. The day before the event, serious tarpon guys came to town and were pre-fishing. That day about 20 of these fish were hooked and jumped in incredibly fine weather. John soon spotted a rolling school headed south at a brisk pace, on matters of importance, and he ran the Contender several hundred yards ahead of the school, and cut the engines. We readied spin tackle, knowing we’d have to cast, the school getting closer, closer, this was no time for a backlash with a level wind reel. On they came, they were going to miss us by only 25 yards, casting range. But then the school veered left and passed right under our boat, at least 50 fish and maybe more. I merely flipped a live bait out 15 feet, it wiggled deep, and there were big flashes on it like trout on a plug, but these were five feet long. Came a thump on the line, that soon tightened. The little circle hook dug in. It was only a red Eagle claw circle hook, which I used all summer for most fish, but it still grabbed a little chunk of this tarpon’s lip, and we were off to the races. I was almost spooled while hanging off the bow, the fish jumping four times, before Milne retrieved his lure and cranked both engines. We followed this hooked tarpon, which stayed with the school, until I pried it loose from friends with skimpy 25-pound line. I fought that fish as hard as the line would allow, while sweating like a horse, because the Gulf was glassy, blue and still. Finally brought the tarpon alongside. It was the best moment of the entire summer, when Milne grabbed that leader. And it was the kind of summer that will get you through the coldest winter.
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
32 | November 2015
Rigging properly is crucial to success.
One word about rigging this way…NEVER!
J AY WAT K I N S
A S K THE P R O
The day I became a teaching guide
few weeks ago a client asked why my blog page held photos of the same groups in different seasons…“Are these people just extremely lucky, or what?” “Or what,” triggered my response. I think it is well-known that I specialize in wade fishing with lures and put great effort into teaching this style of angling, but it wasn’t always this way. My early years were highly ego-driven, the focus was on limits and the numbers racked up during a charter. About 15 years ago I decided it was time to make a change and it began one morning as a man and his young son were boarding my boat. “You’re his hero,” the dad said. With no hesitation I replied, “I think I can fix that. I want you to be his hero and I believe I can teach you what you need to know so that you’re the one he admires.” We did not catch many fish that day but I could tell they had both become more proficient in basic skills. That
34 | November 2015
father and son are still great clients, though in reality they don’t really need me anymore. So in that moment, a true teaching guide was born and my personal ego was put on the back burner. And just so you know, I still keep count of every fish we catch even though we keep way fewer today than we did years ago. Today, the teaching continues and has reached a higher level due to me having become a better fishing guide and a much better teacher. Students range from pure beginners to advanced anglers—those searching for greater skill to consistently catch better than average fish. My lessons are based on what is happening generally in the bay for that time of the season and the specific conditions of the day. Conditions change daily, even hourly, and these are explained in detail as they develop. Probably the biggest mistake I made early on was assuming that everyone booking a wading guide already had the basic skills covered. My typical line of questioning when booking new clients usually gives me a pretty good
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insight into what the clients know and don’t know and this group assured me that they had fished Rockport for years with various guides. Their primary interest was in learning to fish on their own. I get tons of this and have zero problem sharing what I know. Upon arriving at the dock I noticed their rods and reels were not ready. Normally this upsets me but I understand that many do not know how I want them to rig, so it is probably easier to just rig them correctly at the beginning. Rerigging their rods and explaining bait selection, we eased away from the dock, heading to the area I planned on starting our day. Exiting the boat I quickly became aware that the guys had very little casting skill. Now smart-ass remarks came easy in my younger days but I’ve learned to control this, somewhat. Even when it became apparent they’d been “fishing” many times; they’d never been taught “how to fish.” Casting, they explained, had always been the guide’s job. Luckily I caught myself before making too many wisecracks. I taught them how to adjust casting brakes and increased the weight of their jigheads and…Bingo! Longer casts, fewer backlashes, better communication between angler and lure and a lot less tension in the air. They had suddenly taught me more than I had taught them. I trust over the years they have had as much success with my day’s teachings as I received from my day spent with them. It seems it is the little things I instruct people to do or change that makes the biggest difference. Nowadays the majority of my clients are well-skilled in basic fishing techniques. Most cast very well, have extremely good gear and have developed their own specific fishing rhythm. What I call rhythm or cadence of lure presentation, to me, is the most important aspect of lure fishing. If I have noticed any one thing that many do incorrectly it would be fishing a lure too slowly. This is especially true in the soft plastic department, and even true with a Corky. Fishing too fast or too slow implies speed of retrieve but should be taken as moving the bait forward at a fast rate. I think varying the speed and a broken rhythm in the way you retrieve the lure, along with deliberate rod tip motions to make it rise, dart, and sink creates the deadliest of actions. My boys and I use what we call the “Watkins twitch” and each of us does it slightly differently. Fishing one-onone with Jay Ray and Ryan, each with his own rhythm so to speak, the boys quite often catch more than me. What we have in common though is our rod brands and actions, reel gear ratios, the type and strength of braid, rigging methods, and a learned sixth sense of what it takes to make the predator pounce. And we always compete; I 36 | November 2015
think it keeps us on our game. What most clients want from Sherry Otto with a career-best trout caught me today is more oriented toward September 2015. the where, when, and especially the why of fishing. This cannot be taught in a classroom, neither can it be conveyed adequately in one or two trips. The lessons are seasonal and ever-changing, as in weather patterns. My fishing seminars, which have been highly successful for more than 20 years, can give you tons of information and teach you basic things about fishing. My DVD series adds the science of reading water, locating underwater structure and discovering areas that are holding a constant and predictable food source. Mastering these requires time on the water and there is no substitute. Now—let’s talk casting accuracy. When structure is located and bait is present, landing the lure precisely at the edge or between pieces of structure (without spooking the fish) is what gets the job done. I try to call my shot with every cast, if not at a specific piece of structure, then any piece of floating grass, a leaf, bubbles of foam, etc. Practice might not make perfect but it certainly improves one’s odds. Casting to a Hula Hoop on the lawn helps you stay sharp when you cannot be on the water. There are basic patterns that seem to work well in just about every bay system. This said, there are also bay systems that have very specific patterns, patterns that fit the fish that live there, and without this knowledge success can be hit and miss. I have a private fishing club that I have been feeding information to for 13 years. Many of its long time members seldom fish Aransas Bay, yet they tell me that the patterns I experience in my home waters is very similar to theirs much farther north. Bottom structures are similar but water slightly deeper. Tides are stronger in their area so they don’t need wind as much as I do here in an area where shallow water dominates. Where the wind is my friend, it is certainly not theirs and many times keeps them completely off the water. I can honestly fish in 25 mph winds on most days if tides are high enough. Higher water allows for more shoreline clarity and wind actually sands up some of my areas that are often too clear. Clear shallow water requires clear lures that make less noise, whereas deeper and stained water requires baits of darker colors and more noise making capabilities. Game fish are the same no matter where you find them but the approach to catching them can be different from area to area. I was a perfect fit to Port Mansfield where I spend two months each winter as I have waded shallow water my entire career. Having such large expanses of shallow flats merely gives me more area to apply
the knowledge I have gained over the years. I found that the select groups of anglers that follow me in my quest to put them on that trout of a lifetime have few problems adjusting to a totally new areaâ€”trout water is trout water no matter where you find it. The knowledge we have shared has fared well for us in our southern winter destination. Receiving occasional intel from Tricia, Mike and Robert Sanders has also been helpful. Guiding has turned to teaching and instructing more these days and I honestly get more enjoyment watching anglers develop into better fisherman with each trip. Focus on my charters is becoming the best angler one can be and the goal is to catch, photograph, and release career-best trout. This has happened to 16 deserving anglers thus far in 2015, so the teaching is evidently working. I have much to be thankful for these days. Fishing is better than it has been in many years, business better than ever, and life outside of the fishing world is grand. May your fishing always be catching. â€“Guide Jay Watkins
Jay Watkins has been a full-time fishing guide at Rockport, TX, for more than 20 years. Jay specializes in wading yearround for trout and redfish with artificial lures. Jay covers the Texas coast from San Antonio Bay to Corpus Christi Bay. Telephone Email Website
361-729-9596 Jay@jaywatkins.com www.jaywatkins.com
TSFMAG.com | 37
Overview of a portion of the ICAST floor during setup.
C A P T. S COT T N U L L
S H A L L O W W ATER F I S HIN G
More ICAST goodies A couple months back I wrote about attending the ICAST show in Orlando this past July and all the cool new toys I found to tie onto the end of your line. Well, when I started typing that story I had a whole list of cool new toys that weren’t lures. By the time I got through with the lures though, I had already filled my allotted space for this column and had no choice but to set the rest of the list temporarily aside. Here recently I was asked what I might want on my Christmas/birthday list this year and my mind wandered back to that list. The thought occurred that you might be searching for something new as well. Tops on my list is a new standup paddle board. I’ve been wanting one for a while but never could find one that tempted me into pulling the trigger. That changed when I walked up on the L2Fish board manufactured by Live Watersports. While other paddle boards are basically oversized surfboards with added stability, the L2 is a catamaran hull. Most of the original paddle boards were designed for racing or fitness. Once fishermen got interested they widened the boards for even more stability, but this slowed them down quite a bit. Not really a big deal when you’re creeping around the marsh hunting reds, but it matters on the trek out and back. The L2 cat hull makes it super stable with lots of open deck space, yet still fast like a racing style paddle board. Since seeing it I’ve talked to a few guys I trust who have paddled them and they have had nothing but good things to say. Mine is on order and should be here any day. Look for a full report on 38 | November 2015
it as soon as I can get it wet and slimy. A great accessory for the L2Fish would be a nice Yeti 35 to use for drinks and also as an elevated casting platform. And to make that Yeti look cool I’d like to dress it up with a new kit available from Tempress that they were showing off at ICAST. Tempress got together with popular fish artists DeYoung, Whitlock and Estrada to create kits that let you pimp your Yeti. It includes a cushion top as well as a wrap featuring works from these artists. They’ve also got one done up in Game Guard camo if that’s how you roll. Personally I want the Estrada redfish version. To fix up the interior of the cooler I found a very handy product called Coolerwebs. This is basically a webbed pocket with Velcro closures that attaches to the inside of the cooler lid. Perfect for keeping your sandwich and snacks from settling into the slush and getting wet. The same company also makes Tacklewebs for attaching to various spots on your boat or kayak to corral miscellaneous items and keep you more organized. I’ve been using the Tacklewebs and love them. I’m sure the Coolerwebs will end up attached to all of my ice chests. A few years ago at this show I saw my first GoPro camera. I thought it was cool, but didn’t really think it was going to catch on with fishermen. Boy, was I wrong on that one. Nowadays it seems like everybody on the water has at least one unit set up to record the day’s activities. There have been several upgraded models introduced since then. Each one got a little more complicated with
added features. This time they went a little bit in the other direction with the new Hero 4 Session. It has a simplified single button for on/record/ off and they did away with the need for a housing. This one is smaller, lighter and still just as cool. It is a 1.5â€? cube that only weighs 2.6 ounces, yet still provides 1080p video as well as 8mp stills in ten shot bursts. Basically it is about half the size of a regular GoPro. Not sure how they packed all of that into this tiny cube, but they did. If you need a new pair of sunglasses and want something different from all your buddies, Costa had several new frames on display. One model, the Rooster, won best of show for the new eyewear category. It is a large fit with built-in side shields to block side light and vents to prevent fogging. The interior and nose piece have a rubberized coating to help keep them on your face even when you get to sweating in the Texas heat. It is really hard to walk through ICAST for two or three days and cherry pick just a few things to talk about. There are simply too many cool new pieces of equipment coming to store shelves over the next few weeks or months. Every year I go in thinking there couldnâ€™t possibly be anything new and different enough to make me add it to my pile of gear. And every year these folks prove me wrong.
Coolerweb installed under lid of Yeti and Tackleweb outside.
Yeti with Estrada redfish art topcushion and matching side wrap.
GoPro Hero4 Session on display at ICAST New Product Showcase.
L2Fish Paddle Board and Estrada redfish wrap on Yeti-35.
40 | November 2015
Estrada version, Yeti top cushions.
Capt. Scott Null is a devout shallow water fisherman offering guided adventues via kayak, poled skiff, and wading. Telephone Email Website
281-450-2206 firstname.lastname@example.org www.captainscottnull.com
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By Norman Boyd | San Antonio Bay Ecosystem Leader
F IE L D N O TE S
Weâ€™re Not Alone One of the characteristics of fishing that makes it so challenging is that you canâ€™t usually see your quarry. Our knowledge of what is swimming beneath our boats, or around our ankles, is limited to what we have caught or what we have learned from other sources. How many species of fish, shrimp, crabs, or other critters live in Texas bays? Which are the most abundant species? The actual number of different inhabitants in Texas bays would be difficult to come up with. However, the abundance of many species is measured routinely by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Coastal Fisheries Division (TPWD-CF) monitoring program on a monthly basis. In fact, that is one of the primary goals of the program, to monitor trends in relative abundance of finfishes and shellfishes along the Texas coast. This program has been ongoing for over 35 years and consists of using several different fishing gears to capture animals for identification and enumeration. Most species are caught in one or more of 3 different fishing gears by
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TPWD-CF: shoreline seine, Otter Trawl (shrimp trawl), or gill nets. Seines are used to catch small animals living along the shoreline. Trawls are used to catch small to medium-size animals living away from the shore in open water. Gill nets are used to catch larger animals living within 600 feet of the shore. Seines and trawls are active fishing gears in that they are actively pulled through the water to catch animals. Gill nets are passive fishing gears in that they are deployed along the shoreline and not moved until they are retrieved; animals must move into and entangle themselves in the gill net to be caught. The action of deploying a gear, retrieving it, and recording the catch is called a sample. Used together, these fishing gears allow scientists to better understand the population trends of many of the species living in Texas bays. Each gear catches an assemblage of species characteristic of the habitat in which the gear is used. There is some overlap between the gears with regards to the species they catch; however, sizes of individuals are
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typically different between gears. The information presented here was collected in 2014 and consists of 2,160 seine samples which caught 229 different species, 1,680 trawl samples that caught 226 different species, and 780 gill net samples with 126 different species caught. All samples were collected in Texas bays between the Louisiana border and the Mexican border. What makes a species numerous or common? For this story, numerous means those species which made up a large portion of the total 2014 catch for any of the 3 fishing gears used. A species can be numerous and not be caught in a large number of samples. Common means those species which were caught in a large number of the samples for any gear. A species can be common but not be caught in large numbers in any gear. Some species were numerous and/or common in more than one gear. The catch data for trawls and seines does not include some organisms, such as plants, algae, oysters, colonial organisms, and organisms for which the number caught is estimated. For gill nets, total catch includes only fish, blue crabs, lesser blue crabs, and stone crabs. Some of the species, such as ctenophores, bryozoans, and corals, were excluded because their numbers could not accurately be determined. These species occasionally occurred in very large numbers. No fish were excluded from the data, even though one species, Gulf Menhaden, occasionally is caught in large numbers. So, just which species living in Texas bays are most abundant and which are most common? Table 1 contains the most numerous and most common species caught in gill nets. Table 2 contains the most numerous and most common species caught in trawls. Table 3 contains
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the most numerous and most common species caught in seines. Care must be taken when inferring anything from scientific data, and this data is no different. It is necessary to look at the catch of the 3 gears separately because the many species in Texas bays have very different susceptibilities to each gear. Also, we cannot assume that because species X was caught in larger numbers than species Y, that there are more of species X in our bays. Each species has a different susceptibility to each fishing gear. In this format, these tables serve primarily to demonstrate some of the diversity of marine life in Texas bays that is not obvious to the casual observer. As you peruse the tables you will see that a few species made the most numerous and most common lists for all 3 gears. This is a good indication that these species are important ecological components in Texas estuaries, and that their populations are important for the wellbeing of the estuary. Also note that Gulf menhaden was the most numerous species in seine samples, but was present in only 17% of the samples. This is because some species, when young, inhabit shoreline habitats in large numbers and are vulnerable to seines. As they quickly grow they move to deeper habitats. Gulf menhaden are a perfect example of this phenomenon. Over 107,000 juvenile menhaden were caught in one Sabin Lake seine sample in May 2014. See if you can spot other anomalies in this routine sampling data.
Check the TPWD Outdoor Annual, your local TPWD Law Enforcement office, or www.tpwd.state.tx.us for more information.
S C O T T S O M M E R L AT T E
F LY F I S H I N G
Big Ol’ Uglies If there is one thing I have learned in nearly two decades of guiding—fly fishermen from the Lone Star State are very hard-headed and, to some extent, a tad more pompous than most. Now before I go further, I have to admit that I had a conversation this morning that went something like this; “Hello Kettle; yeah this is The Pot. You’re black.” Yes, this means that I too fall into that “Lone Star state-of-mind.” One of the more prevalent subjects that Texans seem to have strong feelings about is whether or not a black drum is worthy of their time. I mean, let’s face it—who wants to spend time chasing a fish that is commonly referred to as a “big ugly?” Believe it or not, I have one customer that will not touch a black drum. When I ask why, his response is, “They’re just ugly. And those (chin) whisker things…they just creep me out.” It is true, the older and bigger a black drum gets, the nastier 60 | November 2015
looking it gets. But they don’t start out that way. In fact, early on in their lives, black drum are referred to in an endearing way and are called puppy drum. As an angler and a guide, I for one love the smaller drum, if for no other reason than that they can be plentiful and save the day whenever the redfish are scarce. Just the other day we headed out looking for some reds and ended up boating five drum for every
redfish that we caught. It turned an okay day of redfishing into a damn great day of fishing. In regards to the big ugly fish, unlike their younger selves who can be pretty scrappy, they do not always fight very hard. In fact, I had a sport catch a 40-pounder last February that he was able to strip in on an 8-weight. Seriously, the fish never got onto the reel. And, unfortunately, this is the rule rather than exception. But every now and then one will surprise you. One day I was out fishing for some larger drum and decided to use my 10 weight so that I would be able to throw larger crab patterns at them. The first two of three fish caught that day came to hand relatively easily but then I hooked into the third. It was a fish in the low to mid-20s and clearly had identity crises. In short, my knuckles got wacked pretty good when this big ol’ ugly fish decided that it was a big beautiful permit instead of slug of a drum. I am quite certain that that fish melted over 100 yards of backing from the reel. But, really, they do not fight that hard and they are ugly. What else could possibly be wrong with them? Well, could it be when you lift one of these prehistoric beasts from the water that you can sometimes literally watch a couple of decade’s worth of mud and algae ooze and bubble from beneath their scales? So again, why would anybody want to catch one? I’ll tell you why. Every now and again one will fight you hard and every now and then one isn’t so ugly and nasty. Add to that the fact that they can be very challenging to catch and I know of few anglers that do not like having their photo made with a big fish. So let’s talk about the challenges of catching a black drum on fly—big or small. The first thing to realize is that, unlike their closest cousin, the redfish, black drum rarely feed by sight and this makes them very challenging to feed. Most of the time they are feeding by either smell or feel. Remember the chin whisker things that freaks out that customer of mine. Well a drum will drag those sensitive little barbels along the bottom until they feel something move and then snap it up. Sometimes this movement will be below the sand and mud and the fish will tip up and try to unearth the tasty morsel. When they are “tailing” in this manner is when they are most vulnerable to being duped with a fly. The trick to fooling them, both big and small, is to be able to cast beyond the fish with a weighted fly and let it sink to the bottom and then slowly strip and drag the fly, attempting to intercept the drum’s mouth. Should the fly touch it’s whiskers while it is tailing, it is almost certain to get chomped. This method of course works well on a smooth, snag-free bottom however, drum can often be found feeding over oyster beds. When this is the case, you should go to a little bit lighter fly that you can cast beyond the fish and strip it on the surface to directly over it. Once there, immediately stop the retrieve allowing the fly to fall directly down the slope of the fish’s head. While I prefer to throw larger crab flies at the bigger drum, one of the best flies, bar none, for a drum of any size is a spoon fly. But remember this, no matter what size fish or what fly, small strips seem to almost always be best for enticing a bite. Let’s face facts. We all need a little love in our lives and the black drum is no different. Until next month, be good and stuff like that… Scott Sommerlatte is a full time fly fishing and light tackle guide, freelance writer and photographer. Telephone Email Website
979-415-4379 email@example.com www.scottsommerlatte.com TSFMAG.com | 61
DAV E R O B E R T S
K AYA K F I S H I N G C H R O N I C L E S
November Options for Kayakers Without a doubt the Texas heat had a good run this year but by now I think it is safe to say that fall is upon us in full force. The weather is ideal and is a good motivation for anglers and hunters to be in the outdoors. Deer hunters are in the woods, duck hunters are in the marsh and kayakers need to be on the water fishing. This is a great time of the year to take advantage of the water with the absence of all the hunters. I know that we have not had any freezing days yet but a kayaker needs to be prepared for the cooler months. The key to a successful trip is staying dry; getting wet on a cold day can be miserable and possibly dangerous. I have seen several trips cut short because of people getting wet. It is important to have the right gear that will get the job done correctly. The most essential piece of gear a kayaker needs is a good set of waders. For the most part 62 | November 2015
Editor’s Note – Flounder Regulations (cut and paste from TPWD website)—Daily bag is 5 fish except from Nov. 1-30, when the daily bag limit is 2 fish and flounder may be taken only by pole-andline; and from December 1-14, when the daily bag limit is 2 fish and flounder may be taken by any legal means, including gigging. Possession limit is equal to the daily bag.
there are two general classifications of waders; hunting and fishing. Since I like to duck hunt, I own a set of neoprene waders. They are dry and very warm when temperatures start to drop. I know plenty of people that use the breathable fishing style which are usually made of Gore-Tex or a plastic coated material, either will work. The main goal is to keep the water off of you while paddling and fishing and there is nothing better to use. I also want to debunk any myths that anglers have heard about sinking in waders. There are several people, including professional Jim Sammons, that have proved sinking in waders does not happen. If there is still any doubt, an angler can put a belt around the waist of their waders and cinch it tight. Air will stay trapped down by your legs and will actually help you float if you fall in. Just remember to always wear your PFD and if an accident is to happen, you are prepared for it. The other hazard that comes during this time of the year is duck hunters. Our favorite summertime marsh to fish is filled with waterfowl in November, which in turn brings hunters hoping to shoot their limits of birds. Being in the area can result in being peppered by steel shot or even confrontation from hunters; they take duck hunting very seriously! Although it is public water and by law you can rightfully fish there, it is best to just steer clear. After all, we have the marsh to ourselves the other nine months of the year. For those that enjoy both duck hunting and kayak fishing, the Texas coast is a perfect place for a good ole cast and blast. Often times your favorite fishing honey hole will hold plenty of birds come November. A kayaker can make his way into the marsh, shoot a limit of birds, and then catch a limit of reds on the way back in. You get the best of both worlds. This is one of my favorite outdoor activities to do come November. Not to mention, duck poppers and redfish on the half shell is by far some of the greatest of God’s bounty to throw on the grill. Be sure to check all rules and regulations before going. Some Wildlife Management Areas do not allow fishing during hunting season and rules vary with each individual refuge. Anglers on the other hand should take advantage of these circumstances by being on the water. The fishing crowd is far reduced from what a kayaker experiences during summertime. The migration
of bait fish from the marsh is still going on so fishing is still top notch. Sitting at the mouth of a bayou on an outgoing tide can result in limits of trout, reds and flounder. The redfish can be found schooled up pushing the remainder of shrimp in the lake down a shoreline. The trout are still doing their thing and that is staying in larger schools and feeding heavily before the shrimp make their final exit to the Gulf. Also be on the lookout for birds working. I have seen flocks of gulls feeding into late December—seems they never pass up an easy meal. This is also the month that is marked as the flounder run. Anglers from all-around will make their way to the nearest outflow to the Gulf just to get on some of the action. The flounder migration is immense and can make for easy limits. Although it is not necessarily my favorite fish to target or eat, (I know, I know) I will always pick up a few while out fishing. During this time of year, the mouth of every marsh drain or bayou should be stacked with flounder. Dragging a chartreuse curly-tailed GULP across the bottom should produce a limit of fish. If you are into throwing live bait, a Carolina-rigged finger mullet or mud minnow will work just as well. Also, an angler has the opportunity to catch their personal best flounder. I have seen several flounder caught during the spawning migration that measured 22-plus inches. Just a reminder that the bag limit changes from 5 to 2 during November and can be taken only by pole-and-line. The month of November has plenty to provide for an angler or hunter. We should be able to get a good stock of food that will hold us over until next spring when the fish return from the Gulf. We have also had enough cool weather for the realization that winter is near. Northern winds will begin to bring freezing temperatures and will send the remaining fish in a lethargic state. Before long it will be time to grab my waders, jacket, and beanie cap and hit the water. The popping cork and sand eel plastics will be coming off and replaced with Corkys as my go-to lures. Now is the time to prepare for the transition into winter fishing season. Enjoy Life!
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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Story by John Blaha
T S F Mag C ons e r v a t ion N e ws
Remaining Committed to Habitat and Supported Projects CCA Texas and Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT), CCA Texasâ€™s habitat program, are committed to continuing the support of habitat restoration and habitat creation projects along the Texas coast. Another part of that commitment is the continued watchful eye and support of projects that have been completed or are ongoing over time. Continued support by partners is an important step to ensure that an upfront investment in habitat restoration or creation is protected and carried on. One such project is the Goose Island Marsh restoration project at Rockport. The Goose Island Marsh restoration project was originally start by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) in 2005 with the placement of 4,400 linear feet of rock breakwater that helped protect the remains of an existing marsh area. In addition to protecting this marsh, this breakwater created a 40-acre lagoon. With the use of beneficial dredge materials, 24-acres of marsh were restored and over 11,000 native grass sprigs were planted through volunteer efforts. This project was completed to its current stage in 2010 with professional planting of native plants to supplement the volunteer 64 | November 2015
efforts. The planting efforts survived the long term drought that the middle coast of Texas endured and after a wet spring in 2015, the marsh grasses are doing very well and the restored habitat has stabilized and stands in great shape. The final piece of this project is to create openings in the surrounding levee system that protect the marsh mounds and marsh area. The purpose of these openings will be to establish water circulation within these areas and to allow fish and other marine animals the ability to move in and out and not get caught in a low-oxygen scenario during the summer months. These circulation openings will serve to bring fresh water and life into the marsh mound areas. CCA Texas had previously committed $50,000 to the project through two separate $25,000 grants. The first grant was awarded in order to provide matching dollars for the dredging efforts that provided beneficial use materials that were used to build the marsh mounds within the project template. A second request of $25,000 was made by TPWD for planting grasses on the mounds once they were stabilized and, lastly, CCA
Texas funded an additional $10,000 in August 2015 to allow TPWD the means to create the necessary circulation channels in this now vibrant marsh system. Marsh restoration and creation are critically important to the Texas coast and necessary follow up and expansion are needs to be considered as projects mature and reach their final completed status. CCA will remain committed to the projects it supports to ensure their long term success. Looking toward the close of 2015 As we roll into the month of November, CCA Texas is thankful for another great year. Volunteers and membership continue to be the core to the success of the organization and by the end of 2015 CCA Texas will once again set a membership record. Life members will be up a significant number due to the current Life Membership incentive program where all new life members receive a High Standard Arms AR15 (5.56 cal.), marked with CCA logo. The incentive program will expire soon, so please watch your emails and newsletters for details and donâ€™t miss out on this great opportunity. CCA Texas banquets and secondary events continue to be very successful financially and in attendance. This success would not be possible without the continued support of volunteers, sponsors and supporters, and the membership as a whole and by the end of 2015 this support could possibly lead to another new fundraising record. CCA Texas and CCA National continue to stay busy on many fronts. CCA Texas has continued to support habitat restoration and creation that includes oyster restoration, shoreline restoration to protect critical wetlands, marsh restoration, nearshore reefing along the Texas coast and much more in addition to an ever vigilant
eye in Austin at the state capital. CCA National continues to stay busy on the national front with issues such as red snapper, rigs to reefs, sector separation and other Gulf fisheries issues that affect recreational anglers in Texas. In addition, Building Conservation Trust (BCT) has been hard at work to raise necessary funds for habitat projects across the entire Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific coasts. What is Building Conservation Trust? Building Conservation Trust was officially created in 2013 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit supporting organization of CCA that is dedicated exclusively to the business of funding marine habitat creation and restoration in areas that can be accessed and enjoyed by recreational anglers. Funds that are raised by BCT are combined with local CCA chapter efforts to organize conservation projects that inspire local communities to work together for marine conservation. In 2010, Shell Oil Company provided the initial funding to CCAâ€™s habitat program with a $1.5 million dollar commitment over three years. This funding has provided the path for several large-scale, marine habitat projects in areas that were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon accident. BCT has already provided funding to 20 projects in its short existence and is committed to making a long term difference to coastal habitat restoration and creation along all coasts. In closing, November is the month of Thanksgiving and from the staff and leadership of CCA Texas and CCA National, thank you to the members, supporters and sponsors for the continued commitment to making CCA the most successful marine conservation organization of its kind.
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A serpulid reef section from Baffin Bay. Photo by TPWD.
F I S H Y FA C T S
POLYCHAETE WORMS Even if you’ve been fishing all day and haven’t gotten anything except water in your waders and sunburn, you’re still better off than the worm.
Polychaetes are segmented worms that can be found living in all environments in the world’s oceans, from abyssal depths to the mud and sand of shallow estuaries to rocky shores and even free swimming in open water. They are all aquatic, most are marine, and they are the most abundant and diverse class in Phylum Annelida, a phylum of segmented worms also including earthworms and leeches. This phylum’s name comes from the Latin annellus, meaning “little ring.” There are over 13,000 described species of annelids, and of those, more than 12,000 are polychaetes. Polychaete worms are known by many common names – lugworms, clam worms, bristleworms, fire worms, palolo worms, sea mice, featherduster worms, etc. – but all possess bristles and/or hooks on their many 66 | November 2015
parapodia (leg-like, fleshy, lobed appendages). The word polychaete comes from the Greek polychaitēs, meaning “much hair” and often translated as “many bristles.” The many common names reflect the wide array of body forms represented in this class, unlike earthworms and leeches which mostly have the same basic appearance (and far fewer bristles). Worm is a common name which applies to a body shape rather than a particular phylum or class of animals. Many polychaetes have delicate, colorful forms that make them a favorite for photographers; a few are even named after mythological Greek nymphs and goddesses. The size range of adult polychaetes seems to be up for debate. However, many sources agree that the majority of polychaetes range from less than half an inch to only several inches in length and about pencilthick. There is at least one species that reaches ten feet long; the longest ones supposedly reach up to 200 feet, though they are thread-like in thickness. For most polychaetes, each body segment has a pair of
parapodia ending in a set of stiff bristles, which may be used for walking, swimming, digging, or defense, depending on the lifestyle of the species. The parapodia also show a vast diversity of form and function, serving purposes such as locomotion, protection, attachment, controlling water flow (in a tube), or can be reduced or lost altogether. Polychaetes are informally divided into two groups: errant, those that are free-moving and active feeders; and sedentary, those with a passive lifestyle. In errant, free-swimming worms, the bristles and parapodia, combined with snake-like body waves and well-developed muscles, help the worm to swim. Sedentary worms often live in homemade tubes or burrows, and many have hook-like bristles to help anchor the worm in place. Burrowers often have a muscular proboscis to aid in digging, but permanent tube-dwellers have softer, less muscular bodies, relying on their tubes for both protection and external support. Tubes can be soft, parchmentlike forms – constructed from sand and mucus and decorated with pieces of broken shell – or hard calcareous tubes, which form reef structures when many worms are together. Because of the large diversity of lifestyles, polychaete circulatory and respiratory systems also vary widely. Many have gills, but others “breathe” across the entire surface of their body. Some species increase their surface area for breathing with feathery protrusions. Most have oxygen-carrying pigments in their circulatory fluid, usually a form of hemoglobin (we have that too; it’s what makes our blood red). Each body segment has a pair of nerve ganglia, and all the segments’ ganglia are connected by a pair of longitudinal nerve cords that lead to the “brain” located in head. Polychaetes have several sensory organs: eyes, tentacles, antennae, touch receptors, photoreceptors (light-sensing), chemoreceptors (“taste”-sensing), and statocysts (balance-sensing). One species has eyes at both ends of its body, which comes in handy since it usually swims backwards. Sessile polychaetes often lack complicated sense organs on their heads. Instead, they spent the millennia evolving large spirals of feather-like tentacles, often brightly colored, that they use to strain the water for food particles. Carnivorous worms often have a set of (comparatively) large pharyngeal jaws, a second set of jaws contained within the throat, or pharynx, distinct from the primary jaws. Moray eels have pharyngeal jaws; so did Alien. The earliest polychaete fossils appear in the mid-Cambrian (some 500 million years ago). Cambrian polychaetes had no jaws, but some later worms developed hard jaws that mineralized with iron oxide, resulting in numerous well-preserved fossils. In Sweden, these fossil types have resulted in the identification of more than 20 species from the Silurian period (about 430 million years ago), showing the early diversification of polychaetes. Other fossil types include tracks and burrows. Whole body fossils are rare (soft flesh just doesn’t preserve well, no matter how much anti-aging cream you use) and are generally found only in Lagerstätten (geologic fossil deposits with unusually good preservation, usually representing a wide variety of life from a particular era). Mazon Creek, near downtown Chicago, is one such site where polychaete fossils have been found from the Late Carboniferous period (about 300 million years ago). The remarkable longevity of polychaetes is due, like other successful groups, to their ability to adapt and evolve to many types of habitats (in the world’s oceans). Passing on successful genes is a task polychaetes have also diversified. Most worms reproduce
sexually, but asexual reproduction is also known to occur. For sexual reproduction, depending on the species, there can either be separate sexes, or individuals can be hermaphroditic (having both male and female reproductive systems). There are no permanent testes or ovaries. Sperm and eggs develop from the lining of the body cavity, during the appropriate season, and are released into the surrounding water by rupture of the body wall. Fertilization and larval development take place in the open water, except when they don’t. The parents of some species brood their young in a tube or burrow. Asexual reproduction generally occurs through budding, in which a portion of the adult’s body breaks away to form a new, genetically identical individual. Species capable of asexual reproduction are usually also capable of sexual reproduction. Some sessile species lose a little part of themselves every time they breed. For much of the year, these worms look like any other burrow-dwelling polychaete, but as the breeding season approaches, specialized segments begin to grow from the rear end (nearest the top of the burrow). The bottom half, the atoke, is asexual and remains behind. The new top half, the epitoke, is packed with eggs and sperm and features a single eyespot. At the beginning of the last lunar quarter, millions of epitokes break free from their atokes and swarm to the surface. Eye spots sense when the epitokes reach the surface, and the segments burst, releasing their eggs and sperm into the open water. In the South Pacific, the palolo worm is harvested for human food during this breeding swarm. Humans aren’t the only animals that feed on polychaetes. Because of their vast abundance, polychaetes are a fundamental component in many ocean food chains. They are part of the diets of shrimps, crabs, a variety of fishes, and even some shore birds. This makes polychaetes an important organism for assessing the health of marine ecosystems. What makes them a useful organism for these assessments is that they are readily available, easy to sample, and respond quickly to changes in environmental conditions (expressed through changes in their reproduction, growth, and mortality). The ecological importance of polychaetes extends beyond their availability as an easy research subject. Baffin Bay is the home of approximately six square miles of relict polychaete worm reefs. These reefs are composed of the hard calcareous external tubes of serpulid polychaetes (from the family Serpulidae). These remnant structures indicate a past, less-saline environment, and though some living serpulid worms are found on the reefs today, they no longer build new tubes in the hyper saline waters. These reef rock areas provide a relief from the soft substrate typically dominant in this region. The reefs have long been favorite fishing grounds and may play a role in the high historical catch rates for the Baffin Bay system. Unfortunately, many of these reef sites are diminishing in size and distribution, likely from a combination of natural wave energy, prop damage from increased boat traffic, and trampling from anglers. The serpulid worm reefs are a fragile, currently non-renewable component of the Baffin Bay / Upper Laguna Madre system and deserve a certain mindfulness to their existence when being enjoyed for a good day of fishing. Stay tuned next month for more particulars on our local worms!
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Sunrise is best spent with good friends at the water’s edge.
I N S H O R E | N E A R S H O R E | JETT I E S | P A S S E S
ALL DAY, EVERY DAY Being a fishing guide may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Many folks have the notion that it is a dream job—few responsibilities, flexible hours, no boss to answer to—I think not. Others that I look up to and respect in my line of work are the guides who are in it for their customers. No matter if they have been on the job two months or two decades, it is usually obvious why they chose this profession. A guide friend of mine, Thomas Williams, described a young man named Zack as being salty. When I die I want to be remembered as brined. Quite often, either dockside or while filling the boat with gas, I am often asked about the catching. My best reply is, “All day, every day.” It’s not that I’m on the water every single day fishing, but for sure I’m engaged in some type of preparation work; repairing, rigging or planning to make the next fishing trip a success. Guiding for me is a 365-day-a-year job; no questions asked. That is the difference between full time and part time. I catch fish 24/7, period. Whether I’m studying the tides to get my customers the best shot at fish, readying the boat for the next day, or when I suddenly wake from a deep sleep to double check or scrawl myself a note about something that might be easily forgotten.
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NEW FISHING SEASON BEGINS: With most of the migratory species having vacated my home fishing area, we are now back to angling for trout, redfish, flounder, black drum and sheepshead. In November, we feel the effects of the hard-blowing frontal passages that are more frequent, aiding in the staging of bait aggregations important to the gamefish we seek. Two to three days prior to the big blow, the predominant southerly winds increase. Increasing south wind pushes the baitfish schools north and eastward until a change of wind direction forcefully drives them back southward. This is bait migration in its simplest form. As I always say; “Find the current—find the bait—find the fish.” The shifting wind-generated currents naturally affect not only the forage, but also the gamefish. The effects of the movements can be seen and realized in small tidal areas of only a few acres all the way up to large-scale bay systems. Savvy anglers use these bait migrations to help locate their desired gamefish species. For example; in what we of the middle-coast refer to as back lakes, which are marsh areas within the barrier islands separating bays from the Gulf, these patterns are simplified. Windward shorelines and secondary drop-offs
Dave McGee admires a nice fall trout.
Simms is teaming up with Warriors & Quiet Waters to offer a special commemorative limited release of 2,000 Simms G-3 Guide Series waders to benefit U.S. Veterans.
Warriors & Quiet Waters (WQW) helps reintegrate traumatically combat-injured veterans from recent wars into society through fly fishing in southwest Montana. Available Veteran’s Day November 11, 2015 tend to hold the majority of the fish—no matter which direction the wind blows. In these back lakes, during a string of calm bluebird days, the fish may not be on shorelines. Many times they will be found in the center—what I call the 50-yard line. Without the effects of windgenerated water currents, the fish scatter and remain in a sort of temporary limbo until the next norther approaches. Some of the fishiest areas on the middle-coast are oyster reefs, especially where they form islands that separate our bay systems. In and around openings between reefs we find swifter currents as water is forced through bottlenecks. Sometimes this is found on the deeper sides along the western and southern edges. I believe these sides receive the strongest water currents created by wind, year-round. The east and north sides tend to be shallower because of sediment and broken shell settling over millions of years. When I fish these areas I am mostly looking for moving water. On the deeper ends I’m targeting trout, sheepshead and drum. On the shallower sides I’m expecting redfish and flounder. Deeper ends have fish waiting in ambush for their forage to be delivered. While on the opposite side, the forage is stacked by the forces of wind and current, which is perfect for shallow-feeding hunters such as redfish, large solitary trout and flounder. Many reef systems have what is referred to as the crown or shallowest area, where water and waves freely flow. Baitfish are commonly overpowered by forces of wind and current, which violently pushes them over the shallowest parts of the shell. This area has accounted for a large percentage of my big trout. With the depth and sharp shell considered, a lightly-weighted suspending lure, think floating Corky or similar, is a good choice. A clear plastic torpedo float
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Best Rattling Cork I Have Ever Used
I see fishermen using every cork rig imaginable, some with better success than others. This setup works very well for me. Components: plastic 4 or 4.5” Alameda rattle float, two #7 swivels, two craft beads and 30lbs mono. 1. Tie a #7 sized barrel swivel onto line 2. Cut approximately 18 inches of mono 3. Slide on two craft beads 4. Tie swivel on opposite end with 12-14 inches between 5. Snap swivel and bead onto top peg on float 6. Make 5-8 wraps evenly spaced on top peg and pull line through center groove 7. Make 5-8 wraps firmly around bottom peg using the bead as a fingerhold to stretch line taut 8. Snap into bottom peg 9. Ideally the tension will allow for no spaces between components and float 10. Tie your leader line to bottom swivel and affix desired hook or lure
70 | November 2015
with a short leader connected to a live bait or soft-plastic lure is also very effective. Ryan McCune from Kansas is all
Methods: smiles with his 23” flounder. He Drifting is one of my favorite plans on stuffing it as part of his Thanksgiving feast. methods for finding and catching fish. Day in and day out, a float fished with a live shrimp or lure under it is an exceptionally effective rig. But, having said that, all floats are not created equal. Each style, shape or size can be tailored to a certain presentation or condition. Here are a few floats I use and why. - Concave popping floats: These go back a long way in angling history. First carved out of wood or cork, most had a concave end to make a splash and fish-feeding noise. I use this style mostly in rough or muddy water conditions. Plastic rattle corks in the 4- to 4-1/2 inch range enable long distance casting. They are easy to “pop” and the sounds produced from water displacement and the internal rattles draw fish from afar. One of the major drawbacks of this design is the fishing line runs through the center and pinches on each end of the float for positioning. This not only weakens the main fishing line, they also often come loose due to not having been secured properly. I like to attach them separately from the main line, (see photo and caption.) - Styrofoam pencil float (Mansfield Mauler type): This style float fishes effectively in shallow, calm conditions where less noise-attraction is needed. Use lightly weighted lures; LiveTarget Shrimp, D.O.A. Shrimp or whatever soft-plastic you prefer. Natural colors seem to be the best producers although in muddy or stained water, I find that dark and bright colors work well given their colorcontrasting silhouette in the water. - Oval-shaped weighted float: This style fishes well in deeper water with heavily weighted soft plastics or live bait. I typically rig these with 30 to 36 inches of 30-pound mono leader and 1/4-ounce jigheads. I have become a fan of the floats and Knotty Hooker jigheads manufactured in Alvin, TX by Baad Marine Supply. - Clear plastic torpedo floats: These nearly invisible hollow floats are 2.5- to 3.5 inches long and work great for fishing clear water with skittish fish. One of the qualities of this float is that it can be rigged inline while casting lures where a predetermined presentation depth is needed. This clear float can be rigged as close as 12 inches to your lure to keep it from hanging on shell, grass or other bottom clutter. I like to rig this float when casting shrimp into schools of black drum and sheepshead. Get geared up for a new fishing season about to get underway. Getting on the water this month before the winter cold sets in can be very rewarding. Fewer boats make for less stress on the fish and the fishing area. These simple facts make sense to all who are “salty.”
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TSFMAG.com | 71
Author and Reid admiring his phenomenal catch.
E X T R E M E K AYA K F I S H I N G & S H A R K S F R O M T H E S A N D
Part II - A Birthday Wish The first nine months of 2015 have yielded some of the best surf fishing in memory. However, as Newton’s Third Law states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I guess it was inevitable, that catastrophe would eventually appear in some mischievous form. Around mid-September we experienced a strong red tide outbreak and Padre Island was transformed into a graveyard. The toxic algae was thick in the Big Shell for weeks, killing everything that swam in it. This natural biohazard has happened many times in the past and will continue in the future. Mother Nature always rebounds and we are very fortunate that it was not worse. Thankfully the red tide came when the water was at its warmest, a time of minimal predator and bait migration. As the red tide vanishes, I am optimistic we will regain the quality of fishing that fall usually brings us. Just prior to the red tide we were in our latesummer big-shark run. Tiger sharks love feeding in the darkness of grease calm nights. While challenging, it is one of my favorite times of the year and usually you either get a phenomenal fish or the action (more often than not) can be flat-out dead. Late-summer is tough and it is really a crapshoot until the fall 72 | November 2015
Reid at work on the platform.
migrations kick off. With tiger-time in full effect, your chances of getting one may be at their best. It was then that one of my regular clients, the Nicolau family, had booked one of their regular overnight trips. This trip coincided with the late-August full moon, one of the most optimal times to pursue large tigers. It was also young Reid’s tenth birthday. Reid, who you may recall from a previous article, has two passions—baseball and big game fishing. He is remarkably good at both and with each surf trip he continues to amaze me. But on this trip he was not interested in bull sharks or energetic blacktips. Reid wanted a tiger for his birthday. A tiger is a tall order for a guide to produce, especially for a kid. The chances of landing one on an average shark trip are extremely slim. All I could do was pray for a miracle. Many factors were aligning though—moon phase, tides, water temperature and clarity, and bait presence—as good as it gets for getting a client on a tiger. Optimism ran high but, unlike the fall charters John (father) and Reid usually book, the action was expected to be slow during the day. Interestingly, the morning fishing surprised us as Reid almost
instantly landed a blacktip with another coming within a few hours. Fishing slowed through the hot part of the afternoon; we took a break but left baits out. Toward evening, Reid got a bull shark. Just before dark I deployed an array of large stingray baits. The full moon was rising over a calm surf as I finished setting the night baits and what a beautiful sight to behold. The entire beach was illuminated as if by a heavenly nightlight, a perfect setting for our
Reid saying goodbye!
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74 | November 2015
A happy crew.
fish made its last few runs back and forth. John was up on the platform coaching Reid. The shark swam again to the bar, might be my only chance, I thought. As with any shark, there is a high degree of danger for those in the water. At night, with one of this size, the danger is amplified. I managed to get hold of the tail and somehow get the rope around without issue. Antonio and I then did everything we could to drag it to the edge of the surf. Doing so, I notified the crew that they officially had a tiger and she is massive! Reid climbed down and ran to the shark. Tired, sore, and at a loss for words—wearing the widest grin you’ll ever see on a ten-year-old. We all pitched in to tag, measure, and photograph the catch as quickly as possible. The feat would not be complete without a successful release. Reid’s tiger stretched the tape to an incredible 11-feet 8-inches. I opted not to waste precious minutes making a girth measurement but comfortably estimated her to weigh more than 700 pounds. The most impressive fact in this story is that Reid had singlehandedly battled this fish through the entire three hour fight. Antonio assisted again in the release. Dragging the shark over the first bar, we got her turned into the current and with a great shove, we watched her swim off into deeper water without hesitation. Everybody cheered and slapped high-fives. It was, after all, Reid’s birthday.
campfire dinner. Sun-drained from the day’s events, we crashed early. The night remained quiet until roughly 3:00 AM. Come the witching hour, one of the largest baits was picked up and pulling drag. It stopped as instantly as it began but had my full attention. Thirty seconds passed and the line started moving again. Reid climbed on the platform with the clicker sounding slowly. I told him to be patient, “Let’s make sure the hook is set.” Several minutes passed and I told him, “Game on!” I was certain it was a tiger by the way it was acting but kept it to myself. Trying to get Reid harnessed-in was not possible due to his size. He would have to battle the fish from the rod holder. With everyone else still asleep, I told Reid we would wake them shortly but, at that moment we needed to maintain a sharp focus on the fish and prepare for a lengthy battle. I wanted to be able to coach him through the psychological fundamentals of fighting a monster with no distractions. The fish was swimming as it pleased and I knew it was important to avoid rushing things. “Let the fish run until it stops,” I told him. “Trying to force it or reel before then is pointless.” Reid followed each instruction perfectly. I told him we had a good shark on the line and that he needed to reserve his strength for a long fight. “If you cannot handle it or need to back out,” I told him, “I need to know it now.” His response was direct and simple, “I got this.” By the time John woke up and got to the truck, the shark had been slowly running for 20 minutes. I exclaimed to him that this is it, the “big boy” we have been looking for. They all speculated as to the species but I already knew. A half-hour passed and the fight settled into classic tug of war. I knew the odds of Reid landing it hinged greatly on him being able to turn it on its initial run. He would slowly gain one or two hundred yards of line, only to see it disappear. Frustrating, no doubt, for a 10 year old. I assured him it was perfectly normal on a big fish and just try to stay focused. I prayed that he could endure the fatigue. The shark dominated at will but was finally slowly showing signs of tiring. Two hours into the battle Reid had cranked it within a couple hundred yards. This zone is like a wall for the fish—get through it and you’re golden. This one was stubbornly avoiding the second sandbar. After countless attempts, Reid finally managed to break the barrier with the shark coming closer to the beach. As expected, the shark reacted the same way at the first bar. At times this stalemate was shrouded in considerable personal doubt but, for Reid’s sake and the possibility of landing this fish, I had to remain 100% optimistic. Each time the fish would move he would inch it closer to the beach. By now, Reid was almost three hours into battle, running on pure adrenalin. I’ve seen grown men sink to their knees at this point, totally spent, throwing in the towel. Not Reid. Showtime! The shark was atop the first bar. I enlisted Antonio to assist with tail roping if need be. Down in the water I waited as the
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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76 | November 2015
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Montauk Men’s Funnel Neck Performance Shirt combines our lightweight performance scarf with our performance crew. Yoga thumb loops keep sleeves in place even when your hands are active—funnel neck provides flexibility to shield face, head and/or neck in several configurations. Women’s Lightweight Performance Boat Neck is designed to be one of the most comfortable tops known to woman. Look and feel great all day knowing you’ll be cool, dry and sun-protected by a fabric designed to feel as soft as air against the skin. Women’s Sail Short/Boyfriend Pant is made of fabric woven to our specifications. These shorts and pants offer incredible performance and comfort in a classic design. All Montauk garments employ our signature MTCdryprotect system™ featuring 50+UPF, moisture wicking, stain release and antimicrobial technologies. Made in the USA! www. montauktackle.com TSFMAG.com | 77
DICKIE COLBURNâ€™S Sabine Scene
Dickie Colburn is a full time guide out of Orange, Texas. Dickie has 37 years experience guiding on Sabine and Calcasieu Lakes.
Telephone 409-883-0723 Website www.sabineconnection.com
We are back to wearing sunglasses and Frogg Toggs at the same time but in spite of a little more rain than we would like, the salinity and water clarity remains fine and the bite continues to improve. While the average temperature is also more comfortable, we have yet to reap the benefits of a north wind strong enough to purge the marshes and ignite the fall bite. We are seeing more shrimp every day in the main lake but nothing compared to what we should see by this time in October. The recent combination of high water and big incoming tides has given neither the bait nor the game fish any reason to abandon the marsh lakes. That can all change in our favor, however, in less than a twelve hour period! Back to wearing sunglasses and rain gear at the same time. Because the lenses in my Salt Life glasses do repel water as advertised, I can now safely and more comfortably run my boat even in a driving rain. Regardless of weather conditions, there is no longer any reason to ever have to take them off and that pays
78 | November 2015
huge dividends at the end of the day. While we continue to fish our way through obscene numbers of 14- to 17 inch trout, we have been unable to put together a consistent pattern that yields decent numbers of three to five pound fish. The majority of the larger trout that we have managed to catch have been holding near the deeper water in the ship channel and ICW.
Usual Suspect fooled this solid slot red!
Much too pretty to keep!
A WORM FOR ALL OCCAS
SPECS AND REDS GEAUX WILD OV
After four months of adapting to all of the fresh water, it seems that they are reluctant to commit to the shallower water in the main lake. I think that as long as the food supply is deep as well, there is no reason for them to move, but that is a personal theory yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, we continue to start each day checking out the breaks bordering the ICW with topwaters and swimbaits. The redfish are schooled up and feeding on the surface from Blue Buck Point to Coffee Ground Cove. The key to hooking up is to simply not panic and throw whatever you have tied on in their direction without backlashing. Don’t crowd the school and do not run off as soon as they go down. Chunk a Hoginar, Trap, or four inch Usual Suspect in their general direction and allow it to sink. More often than not, you will hook up with one or two more fish and they will usually surface again a short distance away. While I readily agree that the reduced flounder limit for November has helped them rebound, it also forces me to abandon a very enjoyable Plan B that has compensated nicely while waiting on the trout. We have been wearing out the flounder and slot reds that are ambushing the shrimp and shad running the shoreline on the east side of the lake. That program will weaken anyway as the fall migration escalates due to colder surface temperatures, but until it does you can expect plenty of action pitching a white or chartreuse GULP swimming mullet or a 4-inch Assassin Sea Shad next to the roots of the flooded cane. The best colors in the Sea Shad for both the flounder and redfish have been pumpkinchartreuse and chicken on a chain. It can be a very user-friendly bite, but you will have to leave the house early if you hope to anchor up in front of the Cheneir LNG plant or Dick Dowling Park to take advantage of “flounder-mania.” The Chenier side of the ship channel takes the bigger hit as even Texas anglers launch on the Louisiana end of the Causeway in order to keep more fish. Yes…you need a non-resident Louisiana license to do that! We are only one stiff north wind away from being able to drift the flats while watching a TKO cork repeatedly disappear under the weight of another slot red or thick-bodied trout. Gulls and terns usually rat these fish out, but the cork and a Sea Shad, Lil’ John or Vudu Shrimp will call up fish long after the birds and other boats have disappeared. Take the kids fishing this weekend!
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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 year-around pursuit for trophy trout and redfish with artificial lures
Telephone 281-753-3378 Website harpsguideservice.com
80 | November 2015
It’s that time of year again; the long-awaited kickoff some of the bigger trout in our bays but we cannot to winter wading for trophy trout here on the rush that pattern. Galveston bays. November mornings are chilly and November can actually be the best of both worlds fish begin staging shallower by the day. North wind for wade and drift fishing, between fronts, of course. will becoming more prevalent with an occasional A lot of our fish will move onto the shallow mud flats blue northern bringing on early-winter conditions. to seek a warmer bottom for the cooler days. With Even whenever it feels like dead of winter, we have to the amount of fish moving up shallow, it can make remember that it is still only fall. The winter pattern for some very exciting fishing throwing topwaters is a different animal than the and Corkys in waist deep water. late-fall pattern and requires But let us not forget about the different techniques. It’s often great number of fish that are still hard for anxious anglers to not lingering on the deeper edges rush the winter pattern after a few of the flats that haven’t quite hard fronts. The anticipation of made the move to shallow water. all of the big trout moving to the I have experienced phenomenal traditional winter holes at once November days drifting the edges can really send us on a whirlwind. of flats in 4-6ft of water throwing Here in Galveston we’ve grown soft plastics to locate the school accustomed to fishing in 8-10ft of and then switching over to a water since May and this drifting bigger-bodied lures for bigger pattern can become somewhat bites—MirrOlure 52MR and Tidal monotonous, even when fishing Surge Maniac Mullet. The old tried-and-true 51MR is good. It is nice to hop out of the November fishing reminds me a MirrOlure still gets the job done. boat come winter and walk down lot of late February. It’s not too cold
and it’s not too warm, it’s just right. We don’t really need to be in kneedeep mud and nor do we need to be on rock hard sand. November is best right in the middle. The fish’s metabolism is still high enough to readily smoke a topwater throughout the day. Even after substantial cold fronts the fish don’t seem to go into lockjaw mode as easily as in the more frigid months of December and January. East Galveston Bay We continue to experience great trout catches on the many reefs and shell pads located in the central portions of East Bay. The reef pattern will start to fade away through the end of October once the water temperature stabilizes below 70⁰ and this is when we will start focusing on shorelines and bayou drains. The timing will definitely hinge on the water temperature. Bayou drains on the south shoreline can be exceptionally productive for trout, redfish and even flounder during outgoing tides. While drifting, key on slicks and bait congregated over scattered shell. When wading, key on scattered shell on softer bottom. West Galveston Bay West Bay has been steadily producing trout drifting scattered shell in 3-5ft of water with plum and chartreuse soft plastics. One of my favorites is the MirrOlure Provoker. Redfish have been numerous and starting to school in Greens and Karankawa
Lakes. Quality trout and redfish continue to hold along grass-sand edges of the north shoreline. November’s cooler water temperatures will push more fish toward scattered oyster-mud bottom areas. Trinity Bay Trinity Bay is looking better by the day. Birds are working schooled trout all across the north-end and providing quick limits. When bird chasing becomes too crowded and hectic, the action will be slower but you can find better quality trout over clamshell beds and well pads. These fish will leave the wells in the next few weeks, as fronts become more frequent and water temperature stays below 70⁰for about 10 days or so. When this occurs, drifting November afternoons clamshell beds on the north end of the bay will are known to produce consistently produce fish throughout November. great trout for Trinity Bay waders. Generally, during this time of year, the fish will stay put so once you get on them, mark them and stand on them, they aren’t going anywhere unless YOU spook them. Wading flats and mud guts in front of bayou drains will be good depending on freshwater inflows. I don’t expect the number of trophy catches up here this year as we had in years past since the spring floods pushed so many of our resident large fish toward East Bay. The “harvest” was unbelievable for several months in East Bay and also along the Ship Channel. We’ll just have to wait and see. Stay Tight. – Capt. Caleb Harp
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Spotted Seatrout Released After Photo TSFMAG.com | 81
The View from Matagorda
Bink Grimes is a full-time fishing and hunting guide, freelance writer and photographer, and owner of Sunrise Lodge on Matagorda Bay.
Telephone 979-241-1705 Email email@example.com Website www.matagordasunriselodge.com
It’s a tough choice for guys like me—fish or hunt ducks. That’s a serious dilemma this time of year. Duck season only lasts 74 days and we try to squeeze in as many days as we can but, November in East Matagorda Bay is arguably the best fishing month of the year. Most of the time I compromise—hunt ducks in the morning and fish the afternoon. Hovering gulls point the way this time of year; and, our bumper shrimp crop could give us the best November fishing we have seen in over a decade. White shrimp determine how successful autumn fishing can be; and, salinity levels usually determine the fate of white shrimp. “Whities” grow in the marsh during the spring, with optimal brine levels around 15 ppt (parts per thousand). White shrimp do not mature and grow in high salt contents like a brown shrimp, so in periods of drought white shrimp crops have been below
average. That’s why we haven’t seen many birds working the past five years. However, with spring and summer rains, salinity levels are optimal and the shrimp have responded. October was once believed to be the best month to work the birds, but changing weather patterns seem to have pushed the bird pattern back to
STUNT DOUBLE 3DS Minnow F1157-HBS
82 | November 2015
Capt. Jimmy Nelson Yo-Zuri Pro Staff Extreme Fishing Adventures
November. Things seem to be later and later every year. It has been hot the last few years in October and we haven’t been getting the first cold front of the year until November, so the general fall fishing pattern has been later, too. The first few cold fronts of the year have significance. Swelling October tides push water to the back reaches of the marsh where shrimp stage before starting their trek to the Gulf of Mexico. Not until a blast of cold wind hits the coast do tides fall and shrimp begin to descend out of the marsh. Soft plastics bounced along the bottom is the favorite way to work
schools of fish in East Bay. One school may be solid trout and the next may be all redfish. There is really no way to tell. If you want to weed out the smaller fish, throw topwaters exclusively. I like the Spook Jr. and She Pups, but pretty much anything that floats will work. While most folks are working the birds, the mid-bay reefs are often left alone. Few people around these parts wade during November, the drift-fishing is that good, but there are some great fish to be caught on the shell that is shallow enough to wade. Big trout hang on those reefs and eat smaller topwaters, especially when we have a good shrimp crop like this year. Those big fish also eat plastics. One of my better days in East Bay came while tossing five-inch Bass Assassins off the edge of a reef in November. Birds were working all over the bay, but the bigger fish were on the reefs, not under the birds. It happens quite often. West Matagorda Bay gets overlooked for trout in November because there are so many redfish. All those little pieces of shell on the north shoreline hold lots of redfish. Deeper reefs off the shoreline hold the trout. We will work schools of redfish running down the shorelines in herds. I like tossing a topwater, but many throw a soft plastic under a cork to keep the jig from hanging in the shell. Sometimes it’s just fun to stop and listen to those redfish crunching their jaws and making a popping noise while feasting on shrimp. It’s a great time to be outdoors.
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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 12 years. Shellie specializes in wading for trout and redfish year round with artificial lures.
Telephone 361-785-6708 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.bayrat.com
84 | November 2015
Cooler weather has finally arrived and the fishing has been remarkable. Every year at this time, as the days get cooler and the water temperatures drop, the fishing really heats up. Cooler temperatures rejuvenate every species that lives in salt water and it is evident when it comes to catching. With shorter days and cooler weather the widgeon grass that is currently overly abundant in our back lakes will begin to diminish, making it much easier to fish with lures. If you aren’t much of a believer when it comes to surface lures, now is the time to tie one on and give it a whirl. Cooler water temperatures make for more aggressive feeding habits and topwaters really shine during this time. On calmer days I prefer the smaller and less obnoxious plugs such as the Super Spook Jr.; clear and bone are two of my favorites. Windy conditions give us surface chop and for this I prefer a noisier plug and the MirrOlure She Dog really gets their attention. There really is no wrong way to work a surface plug; the fish will tell you the speed and how vigorously you should twitch it. Every
day is different. Some days I notice that the fish will blow up or make a pass at my topwater while working a fast retrieve but not totally commit unless I slow it down. And vice-versa, working it slow some days will not compel fish to take it until I speed it up. Watch how the baitfish in the area are acting. Quite often we find if the bait is very active making lots of jumps and swirls, fish are usually more apt to take a topwater while twitching and retrieving it faster, mimicking the bait. Travis Gilliland—hooked up on his first-ever wade fishing trip with Capt. Gary Gray last fall.
Look for fish to start moving off the hard sandy shorelines toward the somewhat darker, grassy-bottomed back lakes. Shell reefs will also be a go-to spot for us and this time of year San Antonio Bay really shows her best side. The salinity levels have finally returned to normal and just in time for some fabulous fall fishing. Look for birds hovering over schools of hungry trout and redfish as they feed on shrimp migrating out of the estuaries into the open bay, working their way toward the Gulf passes. Finding “working” birds is definitely a no-brainer but there will be many days when the birds are not active and you will have to find fish the old-fashioned way. With so many shell reefs in San Antonio Bay it can be a dilemma when it comes to deciding which one to try first. Best clue to look for is bait movement of some sort. If you do not see Grace Gilliland showing brother Travis that she can catch too!
active bait, don’t waste your time. If there are fish on a certain reef it is because there is bait staged there. Most often these hungry fish will be hanging just on the drop-off waiting to make their move to bait that gets too far off the protection of the shallow crown of the reef but, during fall with the bull tides, the crown is sometimes covered by two feet or more water. If you’re fishing a bull tide always work the crown before heading straight to the drop-offs. Speaking of bull tides, with the seasonally higher water levels, don’t forget to venture into some of the back lakes and ponds you would not normally be able to access during lower water levels. Redfish will be taking advantage of this scenario and will push further back into ponds and lakes following crabs, grass shrimp and smaller baitfish. Fishing in smaller quarters will deem it necessary to downsize your offering. A good option to try is Bass Assassins’ scented Die Dapper on a 1/8 ounce lightweight jighead. Redfish that are found in smaller areas tend to spook easier; downsizing your bait size is a must in order to be successful. If you haven’t already checked your waders for leaks now is a good time to do so. Leaky waders on your first trip out in cooler water temperatures can sure ruin a good day of fishing. A swimming pool is a great place to check for leaks! Thanksgiving is upon us so in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Gary and I would like to say “Thank You” to all of our friends, family, clients and sponsors that have helped us become so successful in doing what we love. We hope your Thanksgiving will be a wonderful one celebrated with great food surrounded by family and friends.
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HOOKED UP WITH Rowsey Another long and hot summer has passed and autumn has finally blessed the Texas coast with its presence. Cool mornings are like an IV of adrenalin for me. After many sessions of overheated days,
finicky fish and super-high tides, I am elated to be at the start of the season where big trout patterns will soon begin to evolve. As passionate as I am about keeping my feet wet
Upper Laguna/ Baffin Dr. Mike Miller with a 10-pound fish caught on a topwater during that epic Thanksgiving run.
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 email@example.com
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and line stretched, the last two months did allow me some time to partake in other much beloved activities; bird hunting, time with friends on a hill country river, cooking on the smoker, fall gardening, etc. Everyone has their own way of hitting the “refresh button” and those are just a few of mine. Short of a big quail hunt this month, a bow hunt in December, and working as a guide for a hunt with Combat Marine Outdoors, I’m back into total fish focus with a new set of batteries. When you think of catching monster trout in Baffin and the Upper Laguna, November is not the month on the tip of everyone’s tongue. However, I have been slinging different forms of plastic through the air for many years down here and I can tell you that November can be a sleeper month for getting into a bunch of rogue trout. A few years ago I was back home in the hill country spending the Thanksgiving weekend with my family. On that same afternoon my phone started blowing up. By the next day the stories and photos were making their way to me. “Where are you? I can’t believe you are not on the water. Big trout are crushing topwaters and Corkys!” I finally had all I could stand and begged my mother’s forgiveness as I loaded my truck to head back to Flour Bluff. As quickly as I could get the turkey leftovers on the boat I headed south to Baffin for what would be an early evening fishing trip that would require coming home in the dark (not unusual). As I made my way into the bay the first thing I noticed was that there were no boats anywhere. I thought my friends had played a nasty joke or punked me. Oh well, I drove past four good fishing areas for the conditions, just sizing up the bait activity at each one. Cruising up to the fifth spot, I realized I should not have run past the first areas of interest and turned the boat around to head back. As I set the anchor and got ready to jump out of the boat, I heard a crash on the surface. About 100 yards away I could see the aftermath of the kill shot and watched as other mullet tried to remove themselves from the buffet line. With a full-size Spook of speckled trout pattern, I headed for the action. I covered the distance in about four long casts as I was walking, and the fifth cast was money that resulted in a takedown of the Spook I will never forget. I’m not talking hollow slurping, this strike came viciously from the bottom up. That trout hit the lure, racing from the depths, and never slowed down. She flew like a missile through the air, seven to eight feet, with the plug hanging from her face. The fight was good and I eventually prevailed to put her on the Boga Grip and weigh her at 9.5 pounds. Not a bad start! I fished on into the dark and eventually made my way back to the dock around midnight. The final tally was 2 over 9, 3 over 8, 2 over 7, and 4 over 6 pounds. Never discount November! In my opinion, the key to having a good winter start, like the one I just shared, is all about the weather. That November had been a cold one, and the high fall tides had dropped out. The conditions were more reflective of December than November. It really doesn’t matter to the trout what month it is—when the water temperatures stabilize in the 50’s-60’s, the trout are going to shift into kill mode and start eating as much as they can. We just have to put in our time and make ourselves present when the opportunities arise. I will be there. My charter books are open for the winter and spring season. If you are thinking you want to have a chance at one of these epic episodes, contact me sooner than later to reserve your days. Remember the buffalo! -Capt. David Rowsey
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TRICIA’S Mansfield Report It really is easy to fall in love with fall fishing on the Lower Laguna Madre. November is when Port returns to its famous laid back atmosphere but, on the water, everything becomes intensely exciting just beyond the harbor. We can expect a lot of water to ourselves. And who can argue with deserted flats, deer and nilgai Port numerous along the shorelines, coyotes yipping and Mansfield fish smashing practically any lure you want to throw? The season is changing and fishing here has made its fall turn. As of this writing we are already seeing much of what we wait for all year. Capt. Tricia’s Skinny Water Unfortunately, also as of this writing, the lower Adventures operates out of Texas coast is experiencing a red tide outbreak. There Port Mansfield, specializing in has been a substantial fish kill, mostly along the Gulf wadefishing with artificial lures. beaches and nearshore—some limited red tide has been in the bays from Port Aransas to Boca Chica. It reminds me of the red tide event that occurred in Telephone 956-642-7298 2005, and fortunately there is plenty of the Laguna Email not affected at this time. It is already dissipating and firstname.lastname@example.org even though I’m no expert, I expect it should be Website www.SkinnyWaterAdventures.com completely gone in a few weeks. Fishing is very good at present and by the time November comes I believe it will be great overall. Late in September the water level rose more than
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one foot. That is big considering our average depth is only two and one half feet. The overall rise in the water level gave both bait and predators a lot of water to use. The winds during the latter part of the month and into early October basically went slack until late afternoon. Without appreciable current from the Gulf, we rely on wind to move water and when it doesn’t Halloween Surprise! Jason Shive caught this one with me last year, last day of October. That weekend began a run of solid trout that lasted through November.
move, all life becomes sluggish, including us. What we found, and most always do, is that during those dead-calm late-summer days some good fish were consistently found staged in shallow, heavy grass. A tiny 1/8 ounce weedless gold spoon and small topwaters saved several days in otherwise tough conditions. You often cannot see the fish when they are buried deep in the grass, but going on faith and experience is a whole lot of what fishing with lures is about. There were also lower-slot redfish on the sand early, which provided sight-casting fun, but aside from finding some good fish buried in heavy shallow grass, the biggest bruisers were more often out deeper in waist to shirt-pocket water. We found many cruising just beneath the surface during those periods. If your presentation was
I was replacing hooks on a bunch of lures when my sister snapped a photo and painted this for me. Now how cool is that?
too low you missed them all. The Mann’s Baby 1-Minus and Paul Brown’s Soft-Dine worked very well in this situation as they both tend to stay less than a foot deep. Predictions for this month’s fishing can never be certain but things do look encouraging. Topwaters should continue to call up excellent fish. When you see active bait, eliminate water from shallow-to-deep until you find the depth that offers the most bites—and stay there. Find the structure most fish are holding on and you’ve got them in that location and others that are similar until conditions change. If the fish are not exactly with the bait they should still be nearby. There will be opportunity everywhere in November, from flats to shorelines to backwater areas. We’ll see some strong south wind as fronts approach and strong north winds as they arrive and cross into the Gulf, but this is not all a bad thing. As stated above, the Laguna needs wind to generate water currents, plus it pushes fish to predictable areas as levels change. A basic rule is to target depressions and guts when the wind empties the flats, and then concentrate further into back bays when the south wind returns and brings the water with it. Last year we started to catch steady numbers of better trout in mid-November, so no need to wait until the mythical winter months to hunt for your personal best. Lower tides, cooler water, and heavy wind switches will make those little tidal dumps more special. Fish will be more concentrated, fatter, and meaner as the year nears it close. Our standard techniques will apply, but the biggest factor in consistent success is getting in the water with them. I can’t wait to stuff my Simms wader pocket full of Corkys and topwaters. How about you?
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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 | November 2015
Lower Laguna anglers are greatly concerned with and although the trout action dwindled somewhat both the short and long term effects the present red the flounder bite all but disappeared. Mother Nature tide situation might create. While I have not witnessed turned the tables on an exceptional bite for all three firsthand the actual presence of red tide, I am told species and currently the evening hours bring the only it is most concentrated along the Gulf beaches and really decent action we are experiencing. has also been verified at low to moderate cell counts Shorter days and more frequent northers will drop in the Laguna Madre near Port Mansfieldâ€™s East Cut water temperatures as we head into November. Long and the Brazos Santiago Pass. I have seen lots of dead about midmonth or Thanksgiving week we will be fish though, and it is a sad sight. Large numbers of jumping into our waders. If you have yet to enjoy a redfish and trout of all sizes, and even red snapper day of fishing in Simms waders you will not believe among other species floating in the ICW. I believe these fish died in the nearshore Gulf and the tide brought them into the bay. Everybody is praying the toxic algae will disappear soon. Catching was just off the chart as we entered the super blood moon period at the end of September. Redfish were where they were supposed to be and taking topwaters throughout the day. Trout were numerous in many locations and also hitting topwaters aggressively. Flounder action was exceptional as well. But when that big moon showed up it added about a foot to the When youâ€™re wearing Simms from head to toe, weather is already higher than normal tides and scattered not much of a factor. the fish. Redfish schools became harder to locate
what you have been missing. The dryness, comfort and durability are the best that man can make and money can buy—bar none. I am fortunate to have been selected as a Simms Field Ambassador and have an assortment of Simms waders available for loan to my clients. I will be happy for you to use a pair if you are planning to fish with me this winter. Speckled trout are known to greatly increase their feeding activity as the water temperatures decline though the fall and into the beginning of winter. Whether they are fattening up for cold weather or merely enjoying the cooler water; it’s great news for fishermen. Mullet become their primary diet but on chilly mornings bait can be hard to locate. This is when I begin to focus sharply on feeding brown pelicans, seagulls, and ospreys. Many days I have located feeding trout and reds being shadowed by these birds when there were almost no other surface
A great redfish bite put a smile on these angler’s faces.
signals. The Paul Brown line of lures now produced by MirrOlure moves to the top of our go-to list—Original, Fat Boy and Devil—and of course K-Wiggler Ball Tail Shads in Flomingo and Plum-Chartreuse. Assuming the super moon tide will be long gone, I expect to find trout holding through mid-November in the same places as October, but you will begin to see a noticeable increase in size and girth. We had exceptional big trout success at this time last year. When I think of redfish in November, I see new surface plugs being stripped of nearly all their paint by day’s end. November reds are almost never shy and will zero in on a bait from a considerable distance and absolutely crush it. Schools tend not to roam far in November so long as food remains plentiful although they will usually move toward the edges of channels and other drop-offs when an especially cold norther passes through. Apart from those fronts, I expect to find redfish schools along the sand-grass transition zones of the east side flats. Back-bay areas should also provide steady redfish action. How do I rate fishing in the month of November? Overall I would say it is better than October when it comes to finding aggressively feeding gamefish. The weather is mostly pleasant and boat traffic will be much lighter as many sportsmen will be hunting. Finding greater numbers of fish in more places is a bonus but the best is yet to come. Thanksgiving comes on November 26 and we have much to be thankful for. I count every day on the water a blessing. This Thanksgiving, invite a friend to share a day of fishing and let them see what we see. I thank the Lord for where I am today and all He has given me. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Lake Calcasieu Louisiana Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268 November is like Poppa Bear’s porridge--not too hot, not too cold, just right. The fish think the same thing. They’ll still eat a topwater, they’re still schooling under birds, redfish are still in ponds, and they’re all still eating ferociously. They will slow down on cold days or the day after a front, but for the most part they are very active. We consider November a highly underrated and under-pressured month, due to everyone chasing ducks and deer. Bird fishing will be the norm for most of our customers, but catching big trout is something that November is known for in some circles. It can be done very effectively at this time. I would venture to say even more effectively than March and April. Topwaters, Corky floaters/sinkers, MirrOdines, and the new Soft Dines are excellent choices for lures. As far as where to fish, Turners Bay, West Cove, and Joe’s Cove are excellent areas to start. These areas are known for big fish year round, and November is no different. Remember, big trout are easily spooked, so it pays to be as stealthy as possible. Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag Silver King Adventures - silverkingadventures.com - 409.935.7242 James reports the fishing had been in a transitional period at the time he gave this report. “We caught a couple hundred trout today, but we only had about twenty five keepers. It’s been like that everywhere I go for a couple weeks now. With cooler temperatures, we have some fish
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ORECASTS F from Big Lake to Boca Chica
transitioning over to more of a fall pattern, but some are still holding in the same areas they have been in all summer. The bays are full of shrimp and small trout, so the future looks good. By November, we normally see more consistency in the fishing on the shorelines. I’ll be doing as much wading as possible once that happens. We’ll take out the MirrOlures more often when we get to that point. Once the waters cool down into the sixties and the clarity improves somewhat, we’ll start catching a better average size on our trout. Best lure lately has been a pink and silver Bass Assassin Sea Shad. The fish are really loving them. Topwater bite has been a bit slow lately, but it should pick up considerably on those lures.” Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054 Jim reports good teal hunting and a fair dove season winding down when he gave this report. “I’m about to start fishing a lot more in the near future. My favorite fishing of the whole year occurs from about mid-October to mid-December. We catch our fish a wide variety of ways this time of year. Some of the fish stack up on area shorelines, and we also catch a bunch in the bayous and out in the middle too. Birds are working a lot of days, but it isn’t necessary to work them in order to catch plenty of fish. We are going to have a good topwater bite in November, I feel quite certain. The fish will be rolling onto the shorelines in the upper ends of the bays once the water starts cooling off, and lots of limits and some bigger trout will be included. The fishing in the
marsh will be best for the reds, and the drains and areas adjacent to the drains will hold more trout. At the end of the period, when water temperatures start dipping down into the fifties, the bite is usually better on days when we have more windy conditions.” West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service 979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323 Randall expects the fishing to pick up in November when the shrimp migration cranks up and all the bait comes out of the marshes. “When the migration gets going good, we’ll be able to catch ‘em on a pickle if we want to, that’s how easy it gets. Right now, it has not been easy on most days. We’ve got high pressure hanging over us, with clear skies after these fronts. We need colder water temperatures to kick things off better. Lately, the best lures have been a full-sized Sand Eel in black and orange and a couple different topwaters. We’ve been catching on SkitterWalks in black with green head and the blue/chrome one with a bright orange belly. Orange is a color which works well in brackish, stained water. It shows up really good and the fish can find it. Our water is muddy and off-colored, kinda looks like tea, and in those conditions, orange is a key color. November is a good transitional month. We normally catch plenty of reds and some big trout once the cool-weather patterns settle in and the shrimp make their move.” Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski Bay Guide Service - 713.725.2401 Tommy says the fishing in the Matagorda area can be spectacular during the Thanksgiving month. The beauty of it, as usual, resides in the variety of available productive options. “We will have plenty of fish in both bays, and birds working in both too. Of course, most people don’t need help in figuring out how to catch fish under working
Find out for yourself…
seagulls, but plenty of other options will provide a good chance for success too. Wading in both bays can be good this time of year. Some of the bigger trout and schools of redfish will be found over grass beds close to the shorelines in coves. The fishing can be best in those areas while fresh north winds first start blowing after the passage of a front. When conditions are calmer, fishing the open areas of both bays, around exposed or submerged reefs is often better. We’ll wade the ones which are shallow enough as long as the bite is good, then drift deeper areas close by once the bite slows. All kinds of lures have potential this time of year. It’s great for topwaters and twitch baits in particular.” Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam www.palaciosguideservice.com - 979.240.8204 This fall has been hands down one of the best that I can remember. We are chasing schooling redfish on shorelines and catching some slot fish and some monsters up to thirty four inches. Natural-colored Vudu shrimp and Cajun pepper Bayou Chubs have been the best lures for them. Drifting deep shell and throwing live shrimp rigged about three feet under popping corks has accounted for tons of trout up to twenty six inches. Flounder gigging at night has been off the charts; we have been sticking limits in usually an hour with most fish ranging between sixteen and eighteen inches. Tripletail are still in the bays, and we are catching them on live shrimp under popping corks rigged four to six feet. I am not sure fishing can get any better. We have tons of shrimp, shad, mullet and crabs in the bays, and all our fish are full of bait when we are cleaning them. All the patterns above should continue until we start to get some major fronts blowing through, so enjoy this outstanding fishing while it lasts!
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Port O’Connor | Lynn Smith Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434 Lynn will be found fishing areas in the back lakes in November. “Mainly, we’ll be searching for some of the bigger trout in the back lakes. We usually start our search in remote areas in the muddy corners of some of the bigger lakes. We also fish quite a bit on shorelines which have a lot of grass and sandy bottom. Of course, as always, we’ll be throwing both topwaters and soft plastics. In autumn, I generally stick with darker colors on the soft plastics. Topwater action has been a little slower than normal for me lately, but it should pick up as we get a little cooler water temperatures. We’re catching tons of redfish on recent trips, and they will often be found in the same areas as the bigger trout come November. One thing I’ve noticed lately is the abundance of flounder we have in the bays. I’m catching some on just about every trip. The Down South lures have been working especially well to draw the attention of the flatfish. Overall, we are set up for a great November, I think. It can be one of our very best months.”
Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut Robert Zapata – email@example.com - 361.563.1160 It’s time to pull out your breathable waders and check them out for leaks. If the water temperature continues to fall, it might be a little uncomfortable wading wet. The positive side of this month is that boat traffic usually begins to diminish, making it quieter on the water, which should make it easier to stay on the fish once you find them. The water level has been very high lately, creating more areas for the fish to roam around in. I am still looking for two to three feet of water, where I can see definite grass lines and potholes with hard sandy bottoms. We’ve lost some of the water clarity in the southern part of our Laguna but the water clarity is fine in the upper end. With the water clarity down, the Bass Assassin Kwik Korks rigged with Assassin Blurps or Berkley Gulp!s on a twelve to fifteen-inch leader will work great for catching trout and redfish. The sight-casting will still be a good game to play with Bass Assassin Blurps or shrimp flavored Fish Bites rigged on sixteenth-ounce jigheads. Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez – www.sightcast1.com - 361.937.5961 Joe is hoping the fast action catching he had been experiencing on days leading up to this report holds out through the fall. “We’ve got clear water in the northern parts of the Laguna Madre right now, which makes finding the schools of redfish easier. We are catching lots of oversized fish and a few upper slot fish on most every trip. Yesterday, we had a forty-inch specimen and a thirty-nine too. Best way to catch them after they are spotted is easing up to the school on the trolling motor and throwing K-Wigglers. They really like those soft plastics. In some years, the schooling activity slows somewhat in
Rockport | Blake Muirhead Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894 Blake will still be involved in cast-n-blast season when November rolls around. He had been dove hunting the day of this report, and will be duck hunting some in November. “I will be casting and blasting throughout the fall and winter, hunting the marsh early, then working my way out while fishing after the shooting ends. I like to target reds in the back lakes if I can find them. Depending on the tide level and water temperatures, they can be spread out in the shallows, or in the deep holes in the bayous. The trout are easier to find and catch on shorelines adjacent to the drains leading into the backwater areas. When fishing for the trout, we’ll wade around areas with mostly mud and grass, throwing topwaters like Super Spooks if the fish are willing to rise to
the bait, and switching over to soft plastics like Norton Sand Eels in dark colors with chartreuse tails when the topwater bite dwindles. This is a great time to be in the outdoors in the Coastal Bend, with so many options for outstanding sporting activities.”
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94 | November 2015
the colder water. If that happens, I’ll go back to targeting trout and redfish along structural edges and on the flats themselves. We like to target areas with a good mix of sand and grass on the bottom and focus our casts around the edges of large pothole systems, or throw our lures onto the shallow edges of sand bars and hop them along the drop-offs into deeper water.” P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins Following a severe red tide event, the surf seems to be recovering nicely with bait activity already on the increase. If the red tide had hit one month later, it would have been catastrophic as many game fish migrations would have been in progress. Water conditions should continue to clear and remain so as the water cools. Jackfish presence should peak around mid-November with chaotic feeding frenzies. If winds and surf allow, you should be able to pursue shallow water jacks on bait, lures and fly. Redfish action should be exceptional, especially for oversized one as the mullet migration peaks. Reds of all sizes will be possible when utilizing mullet cast beyond the first sandbar. Since the red tide outbreak, the trout action has been minimal, but look for rogues by throwing topwaters on and around structure. Sharks, Spanish mackerel and bluefish should also be available with live and fresh-dead bait. Later in the month, expect a phenomenal pompano season as the red tide wiped out a great number pesky, bait-stealing whiting and hardheads. Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza Snookdudecharters.com – 832.385.1431 Getaway Adventures Lodge – 956.944.4000 We have had another great month of fishing. Despite the red tide along our outside beaches, the bite in the Laguna Madre has remained strong. There are dead fish in our bay system, but most of these came through the jetties. We are hoping it doesn’t spread across
the area and disappears soon. As of this writing, the Saucer area and West Bay are full of small trout. There are plenty of nice keepers too, so be patient. Schools of slot redfish have been holding both north and south of East Cut, and topwater action over grassy bottom with potholes has been steady. We are also finding some very solid reds in deeper water just off those flats. ICW spoil banks up north have good numbers of trout and the west shoreline has been good for trout and reds on light wind days; topwater action can last all day with the Super Spook Jr. in bone-silver and solid bone. If topwater action slows, we break out the old faithful K-Wiggler Ball Tail Shad in Mansfield Margarita on eighth-ounce jigheads. Until next, tight lines and calm seas! Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel Janie and Fred Petty – www.fishingwithpettys.com – 956.943.2747 At the time of this writing, red tide has been an issue for the last couple weeks. In the thirty five years we have been guiding on the LLM, we have seen it in the bay just once, in 2011, and that was confined to a small area. There are many dead fish stacked up in the marina, because the wind has stayed out of the north, but these fish died in the Gulf or around the jetties. Freddy says, “Red tide is always present out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico and only affects the coastline when we get easterly winds in September and October.” Our fall fishing has been excellent, due to high tides and cooler temperatures, combined with minimal boat traffic. We’ve been limiting on reds and close to limits of trout, although the specks are on the small side. We’re seeing more mullet, and the perch population has boomed this year, giving predators more reason to hang around the flats. Cajun Thunder corks and Berkley Gulp! Live shrimp continue to produce in both shallow and deeper water. Please help stop open bay dredge disposal.
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Natalie Jacobson Matagorda - 22” speckled trout
Brandon Oberlender offshore - black fin tuna
Julian Quintero Galveston Bay - 20” speck
Bobby Chavez Texas City Dike - 31” red
Trey Arredondo West Bay - redfish
Shawn Henry 8 miles out on PINS - redfish 96 | November 2015
Caleb Arredondo San Luis Pass - trout
David Henderson Arroyo City - 30.5” trout
Garrett Arredondo San Luis Pass - trout
Elizabeth Marie West Matagorda - 24” redfish
Crystal Garza Texas City - 38” jack
Big Mike Port Mansfield - 45” black drum
Roy Perez Texas City - 70lb jack & 35” red
Stephanie Potter Beliz - first tarpon! CPR
Catch of the Month &
Silverstar Fishing Jewelry
Photo Contest Sponsored by Pablo Armendariz South Padre Boat House - 26” red
Danny Messa - 61st St. Pier Galveston 36 personal best 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 Kody Kubosh 46” black drum
Terry Oberlender offshore - red snapper
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.
EJ Rodriguez Baffin Bay - 28” trout CPR
Luis Red Dot Pier - 29” first trout!
Mary Ramirez with Ronnie Garza & Lory Handy South Padre - redfish
Erin Stavinoha 24” speck, first fish! CPR
River Gafford West Bay - 27” red
Galveston West Bay - redfish TSFMAG.com | 97
Gulf Coast Got ideas, hints or recipes you’d like to share? Email them to email@example.com or send by fax: 361-785-2844
Blackened Fish with Creole Shrimp I had the great pleasure of fishing offshore recently with Capt. Wayne Timmermann aboard the Honesty. We found some fine mahi-mahi and could simply not wait to enjoy the fillets.
Wayne captains the 60-foot Hatteras, Honesty, and manages Empire Lodge at Port O’Connor. They offer some of the finest offshore, bay fishing and duck hunting available on the Texas coast. Thanks again Capt. Wayne for a great day on the water!
I blackened the mahi-mahi with Cajun’s Choice seasoning. This is my go-to blackened seasoning for creating just the right flavor, never overpowering, with a delicious spicy jazz.
Blacken Fish Mahi-mahi or redfish Cajun’s Choice Blackened Seasoning Olive Oil
In a large frying pan add 1/8 cup olive oil and bring to a medium heat. Add celery, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Sauté until translucent, add flour and stir until flour disappears. Add wine and stewed tomatoes, bring to a boil, add shrimp and reduce heat. Cook until shrimp are nice and pink. Cover and set aside or place in a warm oven until ready to serve over fish.
Creole Shrimp 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined 1/8 cup olive oil 1 cup celery, chopped 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped 1 cup onion, chopped 2 Tbsp. garlic, minced 2 Tbsp. flour 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 can stewed tomatoes
98 | November 2015
Season fish moderately-heavy with blackening season. In a large frying or cast iron pan add enough olive oil to cover bottom. Bring oil to a high heat. When oil begins to smoke add fish and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side depending on thickness of fillets. Remove and plate on a bed of rice and top with shrimp creole. Enjoy!
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Science and the
The Unexpected Underwater Volcanoes Sometimes scientists go searching for one thing, only to stumble upon something completely unexpected. That’s how one group of researchers recently discovered a collection of underwater volcanoes about 150 miles off the coast of Sydney, Australia.
NOW AVAILABLE “There is something about the outdoors that brings us closer to God.” The devotionals in this book are real-life experiences from an author who has spent countless sunrises and sunsets in God’s great outdoors. It is practical application of God’s principles, shown through the eyes of a sportsman, with beautiful photography to accent each lesson.
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Australian scientists looking for larval lobsters discovered a group of underwater volcanoes, shown in the relief map above. Credit: Australia’s Marine National Facility Scientists from the University of New South Wales set out to find the nursery grounds used by larval lobsters aboard the Investigator, a relatively new Australian research vessel. Unlike its predecessor, whose sonar system could reach 9,800 feet deep, the Investigator can map the sea floor to any depth, including the deepest point in Australian waters, the Diamantina Trench at 26,000 feet deep. The scientists found the larval lobsters, but they also found a string of four volcanoes more than 16,000 feet deep and probably about 50 million years old. All four are calderas, the name for a volcano that erupts and causes a collapse of the surrounding land. The largest volcano measures nearly a mile across and rises about 2,300 feet from the ocean floor. The highest point of the volcanoes, however, sits a little more than 13,000 feet deep. The cluster stretches 12.4 miles long and 3.7 miles across. This discovery offers scientists a glimpse into geological history, perhaps revealing partly how New Zealand broke away from Australia approximately 40 to 80 million years ago. Further study could help scientists learn more about the sea floor and the Earth’s crust. Meanwhile, they can study the larval lobsters they were after too!
www.ScienceAndTheSea.org © The University of Texas Marine Science Institute
texas saltwater fishing holes matagorda to corpus • Bay Fishing, Offshore, Floundering, Waterfowl, Dove • Night Fishing off Lighted Pier • Right On The Water • Lodging with/without Meals www.matagordasunriselodge.com 979-241-1705
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TSFMAG.com | 101
B O AT M A I N TE N A N C E T I P S
Customer Service with a Smile! Chris Mapp, owner Coastal Bend Marine. Yamaha, Evinrude, Suzuki, Mercury, Honda, BlueWave, SilverWave, Haynie, El Pescador Service, Parts and Sales.
102 | November 2015
We all know the importance of proper maintenance; it goes without saying. We also know that customer service matters a great deal and when you see great customer service it is worth talking about. I have been on a quest over the last five years to provide the absolute best customer service we can deliver and the learning never stops—from the mistakes we make to seeking new and better ways to improve is a continuous process. Sometimes we win and sometimes we can do better. I want to share a winning story about great customer service. A one-man company began operations some years ago in Seadrift, Texas with an idea and a portable hydraulic wood splitter for bending aluminum. That man’s idea was to build a better boat trailer and at the time there were three wellestablished dominant players in the market who had been in business for years. Today, one of them is gone and two are still here. So, why and how would (or could) this one man replace one of those established companies and forge his way into becoming the new dominant in marine recreational boat trailers in Texas? — Customer Service! My dealership sold a used boat with a new Coastline trailer a couple years ago to an elderly gentleman from Freeport. A loyal two-way relationship developed. He called a month or so ago to mention he had blown a trailer tire and tore up his fender board. His question was, “Why?” It was my assumption was that he blew a tire, taking fender and all with it, it happens. He asked if he could bring it in for inspection. I said yes and set the date. He called on the way and asked if it would be OK if
he went straight to Coastline since this was only fifteen minutes away from my shop and they had built the trailer. I said yes but they are very busy and suggested it may go smoother if he stopped here and we take a look first. He said he would stop by if they could not get to it, and if not, he would come on in. Freeport is a long drive. I wished him well and asked that he call and let me know how everything went. The next phone call four hours later was very much unexpected. “Chris, I am still at Coastline. When I arrived I explained to Tracey what was wrong and she asked the shop foreman to take a look. To their surprise the ID tag said one thing but the axles were another.” It turned out, the trailer had been assembled with the wrong axles and would not have been discovered until the boat was loaded too much to one side, thus causing the blowout. Me: “What do we need to do? Customer: “Tracey, Brian and the shop foreman stopped all production in the shop and had the men replace axles, fenders and hardware while I waited.” And now for the best part— Customer: “They did this not begrudgingly but with a smile and I really appreciate them.” The man who owns this now not-so-little company is Marty Strakos and my point in sharing this story is this; “The culture of a company cannot be bought. It is taught and practiced every day.” Kudos to Marty Strakos and the Coastline Team! Chris Mapp Coastal Bend Marine | Port O’Connor, TX www.coastalbendmarine.com | 361-983-4841
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INSIDE! R FEED TIMES & SOLUNA
INSIDE! R FEED TIMES & SOLUNA
IONS TIDE PREDICT
IONS TIDE PREDICT
IONS TIDE PREDICT
Got it covered? Joe Richard’s tips on page 32.
TIMES INSIDE! SOLUNAR FEED
INSIDE! FEED TIMES & SOLUNAR
INSIDE! FEED TIMES & SOLUNAR
IONS TIDE PREDICT
IONS TIDE PREDICT
INSIDE! R FEED TIMES & SOLUNA
ght at You bet…rirn tip! the southe
INSIDE! R FEED TIMES & SOLUNA
IONS TIDE PREDICT
IONS TIDE PREDICT
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To find a location near you, please visit us at www.speedystop.com
Tidal Corrections Location Calcasieu Pass, La. Sabine Bank Lighthouse Sabine Pass (jetty) Sabine Pass Mesquite Point Galveston Bay (S. jetty) Port Bolivar Texas City, Turning Basin Eagle Point Clear Lake Morgans Point Round Point, Trinity Bay Point Barrow, Trinity Bay Gilchrist, East Bay Jamaica Beach, Trinity Bay Christmas Point Galveston Pleasure Pier San Luis Pass Freeport Harbor
High -2:14 -1:46 -1:26 -1:00 -0:04 -0:39 +0:14 +0:33 +3:54 +6:05 +10:21 +10:39 +5:48 +3:16 +2:38 +2:39 +2:32 -0:09 -0:44
Low -1:24 -1:31 -1:31 -1:15 -0:25 -1:05 -0:06 +0:41 +4:15 +6:40 +5:19 +5:15 +4:43 +4:18 +3:31 +2:38 +2:33 +2:31 -0:09
For other locations, i.e. Port O’Connor, Port Aransas, Corpus Christi and Port Isabel please refer to the charts displayed below.
Please note that the tides listed in this table are for the Galveston Channel. The Tidal Corrections can be applied to the areas affected by the Galveston tide.
Minor Feeding Periods 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 November 2015 issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine.