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Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

September 2008

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September 2008

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September 2008

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CONTENTS SEPTEMBER 2008 Volume 18 No. 5

FEATURES

16

12 Coastal Calamity Made Good

Mike McBride

16 The Most Helpful Innovations

Kevin Cochran

20 Just Another Day on the Water

Martin Strarup

24 The Rest of the Story

Billy Sandifer

28 Solving the grass problem… Cajun style!

Chuck Uzzle

30 Mark Nichols

Scott Sommerlatte

64 The Face of Fishing Boats is Changing

Everett Johnson

DEPARTMENTS 25 Coastal Birding

Billy Sandifer

32 Let’s Ask The Pro

Jay Watkins

36 Fly Fishing

36

Casey Smartt

40 Offshore

Bobby Byrd/John Cochrane

44 Conservation

CCA Texas

48 Hints and Tips

Everett Johnson

50 Science and the Sea

60

UT-Marine Science Institute

52 TPWD Field Notes

Dusty McDonald

56 Kayak Fishing

Scott Null

60 Youth Fishing

Aaron Cisneros

WHAT OUR GUIDES HAVE TO SAY… 68 Dickie Colburn’s Sabine Scene

68

Dickie Colburn

70 Mickey on Galveston

Mickey Eastman

72 Capt. Bill’s Fish Talk

Bill Pustejovsky

74 Mid-Coast Bays with the Grays

Gary Gray

76 Catching up with Cliff

Cliff Webb

78 Capt. Tricia’s Port Mansfield Report

Capt. Tricia

80 South Padre Fishing Scene

Ernest Cisneros

REGULARS 6

Editorial

10 Letters to the Editor 66 New Tackle & Gear 82 Fishing Reports and Forecasts 84 Photo Gallery–Catch of the Month 86 Gulf Coast Kitchen

86

91

Index of Advertisers

ABOUT THE COVER Our cover angler is Albert Rathmell with a 30-inch speck he caught earlier this year in Baffin Bay, fishing with Capt. Mark Robinson. Albert is the Grand Prize Winner of our TSFMag Speckled Trout Catch & Release Photo Contest. www.TSFMAG.com

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September 2008

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The ICAST Show and another TSFMag contest Every year in mid-July the American Sportfishing Association puts on the mother of all fishing trade shows. The name ICAST is actually an acronym; the full name of the event is International Conference of Allied Sportfishing Trades. Virtually every major tackle manufacturing concern in the world is represented. The purpose of ICAST is to announce the new products that will be introduced in the coming year. ICAST 2008 was the fifty-first anniversary of this event and over the years ICAST has become an economic bellwether of sorts. Economic trends that influence sportfishing for better or worse here in the US usually also influence the number of new products exhibited, not to mention the general tone of the show. Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even an economist to recognize that the US economy has not been without its struggles thus far in 2008. Surprisingly, this year’s ICAST was very upbeat and the primary indicator could be seen in the New Product Showcase. The assembled media and tackle retailers were greeted with an expanded New Product Showcase that featured more than 600 new products, the most ever. This is not to say everything’s going to be rosy for the general sportfishing industry during the next twelve months, but it was my observation that many manufacturers are hopeful of another good year and are investing mightily to make it happen. Sure to be of interest to TSFMag readers were the new baitcasting reels introduced by Shimano and U.S. Reel. Shimano has totally revamped their popular Curado and the updated version scheduled for release very soon will feature a 200-size spool in a low-profile 100-size frame along with a sizeable list of other upgrades and improvements. The new baitcaster from U.S. Reel is being touted as the most revolutionary and innovative fishing reel produced in 50 years. This little gem is slated to hit dealer’s showcases in the final quarter of 2008. Listing everything we saw that was new, better and different would require a catalog but two products really stood out and I think they deserve mention here. Pallatrax Corporation unveiled new fishing weight products they have dubbed the Stonez™ System. With environmental concern growing over the use of lead in fishing weights, this system uses plain old river stones with eyes and swivels attached and is 100% environmentally friendly. Pretty cool… and I found the play on words clever as well. The final product I want to mention is Bioline. I cannot tell you how many times I have found balls of monofilament fishing line washed up on bay shores where it poses a very real threat to all manner of creatures. Bioline is designed to bio-degrade in water, solving an age-old issue. Bioline was first formulated for medical suture use. Also noteworthy, even the throw-away package spool is biodegradable. Kudos to Bioline! And now for the contest we’re about to launch. We’re calling this one “Be Kind to Shorelines” and like our Speckled Trout C&R contest, it too will be photo-entry. What we’re asking readers to do is remove unsightly trash from their favorite shorelines. Sack it, drag it, chop it up if you have to… just send us a photo of the mess being removed and another showing it being disposed of properly and you will be entered to receive some really cool prizes. The official kick-off and prizes will be announced in our October issue. Good luck and good fishing! 6

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

he left there in Round Rock is very touching.

Hello Everett,

list and pray he will enjoy it and return home

My name is Ben Garza and I live in Round Rock, Texas. I am an

We will happily add Roger to the mailing safely; keep the money and take your team

active subscriber to your magazine and really enjoy all your great

for a treat after the game.

articles/info. I manage a travel baseball team in the Round Rock area

All the best to you and your teams,

called the Diablos. We have teams that range from 7 years old up to

Everett – Editor

12 years old. Through my exposure to our baseball teams I have come across many wonderful families. I have a particular family that I directly coach their son, Kody, which just had to see his step-dad take off for a 15 month deployment to Iraq. When new groups are deployed they

Dear Editor, I asked my beautiful girlfriend, Theresa, to marry me and she accepted.

take on a mascot name

I knew since she did not fish I had some work to do. This past Christmas

and make t-Shirts for

I bought her a new rod and reel and it pretty much stayed in the corner of

the company to wear to

the bedroom where it gathered dust. She had never caught a keeper fish

symbolize their missions.

on her own so it was time I took her out to my playground. After getting

Ironically enough the

set up on a flat I started to teach her how to cast and she caught on like

mascot that was selected

a trooper.

is the exact same name

To make a long story short, she caught her first redfish at 27-inches

as our baseball team’s,

and I swear she still has the smile on her face. Because my wife to be

Diablos! Roger Cyr, is

has fallen in love with fishing, I can’t wipe the smile off of mine either.

a great father, friend,

All she wants to read are fishing magazines and getting more interested

person and patriot. Roger

every day.

is a step-dad that has

Thank you for producing such an informative magazine, the only

taken on two boys, Kody

downfall is that I now have to share my TSF magazine with my soon to be

(plays on 10u Diablos)

wife, but I guess that’s what it’s all about!

and Travis (12u Baseball

Best regards,

player), that lost their

Clifford Crump

dad in a tragic accident when they were infants. Roger married Kody and Travis’ mom, Clara, and unconditionally committed to their new family. He is a great Dad and means the world to all of us. We pray for him prior to all our baseball games as well as our military in general. Roger loves to hunt and fish, and I was wondering if you could add him to your distribution list as a gift from the Diablos baseball families. I know that with rising fuel costs, etc complimentary subscriptions are at a premium. However, I would like to pay for the subscription. My address is listed below, please send me the bill. I just wanted to give you some background on one of your future subscribers to help get as many prayers and thoughts for these brave soldiers. Thanks, Ben Garza Round Rock, Texas

Dear Clifford, How nice to hear of your good fortune. Congrats on your coming wedding

Dear Ben Garza,

and also on getting Theresa hooked on fishing. We wish you many years

Thanks for writing, it is always good to hear from our readers.

of happiness and many fish too!

The story of Roger Cyr’s deployment and the young baseball players

Everett – Editor

SEND YOUR LETTERS TO: TSFMag, P.O. Box 429, Seadrift, TX 77983 10

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EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Everett Johnson Everett@tsfmag.com

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September 2008 September 2008

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skirt to Cat 2 and waltzed northward toward the

The integrity of every structure was tested and those that failed rested in awkward heaps like broken bones.

Arroyo Colorado. The full brunt of Dolly was whirling straight toward the hamlet of Port Mansfield. People scrambled for last minute preparations. Some ran in and out comparing Channel 5’s radar and live coverage with reality, until thrashing palm fronds turned into flying tin, shingles, and a host of other projectiles. It became obvious that Dolly was going to deliver her best performance, even if just to remind us of what we have been missing. The power went down with an agonizing groan, completing the ominous setting that would last from noon until well after midnight. Flashlights flickered while walls and windows sagged against the wolf that actually came. Not much to do but wait, experience the experience, and quietly hope one of the huffs or puffs didn’t blow your house down. The sun finally rose to reveal a gnarled and surreal landscape. The integrity of every structure had been tested and those that failed rested in awkward heaps like broken bones.

They made quick work of what seemed impossible in heatstroke temperatures amid hordes of merciless mosquitoes.

Most houses with composition shingles had significant damage while sturdier metal roofs held. Power lines lay across streets with twisted perceptions of crying wolf prevailed, and I was one of many subscribing to the no-worsethan-a-bad-norther comparison. Sixty mph winds are not uncommon during northers. So; no big deal, right?

HE CREATOR WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS, SOMETIMES IN VIOLENT

Even so, we went grudgingly through the usually unnecessary process; battening all that could blow away, tying our boats high in their

trees on top. The piers south of town had been wiped out and the bay bobbed full of pilings and planking as far as you could see. Bennie’s Shack, the iconic landmark of West Bay, finally ran out of borrowed time. However, despite all the damage, Port Mansfield’s residents made it through with no serious injuries or loss of life. And luckily, we were spared the floods that engulfed other communities to our south. As in any natural disaster, it takes a little time

slips, making sure fuel tanks and refrigerators

for people to analyze and react. By afternoon

whirling winds we mortals can’t first appreciate.

were filled and batteries fully charged. The

however, those who stayed had mobilized, and

Hurricane Dolly was indeed a part of the master

prudent prepare, as even with all the high-tech

impressive amounts of debris were already

plan, and the effects from her, despite the

weather tools, the best of the best will never

stacking along curbs. A general feeling of

obvious damage and disruption, were in reality…

be able to predict Mother Nature with certainty.

camaraderie emerged and even people who

not all bad.

Sure enough, Wednesday morning’s National

didn’t particularly like each other were now

The mechanical VHF voice crackled the message over and over… “On the forecast track, the center of Dolly will be along the Texas coast

Weather Service update created a new level of anticipation. “The eye of Hurricane Dolly will be crossing

near the Texas-Mexico border around mid-day

the southern Texas coast in a couple of hours.

Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds are near

Maximum sustained winds will remain near 100

80-miles per hour with higher gusts.”

mph with higher gusts. Dolly is a Category-2

Most here dismissed Tuesday’s statement as rather boring, even snickering at some of the alarmists already pulling boats. Time-salted 12

September 2008

Dolly decided to dance and picked up her skirt to Category-2 level.

hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.” Uh-Oh… At the last minute Miss Dolly decided she really did want to dance. She picked up her Texas Saltwater Fishing

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waving more than fingers. The best in people comes out during the worst of times; and the

The real story here is about people… not a storm.

people are the real story here, not the storm. Without electricity, folks adapted as well as they had means. Some were quite creative, but there swiftly evolved two classes of citizens; those with generators and those without. With heavy flooding farther south, plus an estimated 400,000 without power in more populated areas, forty-odd downed power poles between us and Raymondville made relief seem When the Texas National Guard pulled in the feeling of belonging to a bigger picture was good.

distant. Opinions circulated of ten more days of caveman living. We forget how dependant we are on electrical power, and we also forget the power of people forged together by calamity. As soon as personal situations seemed secure,

When those all too often unsung heroes

volunteerism became the new agenda.

pulled in, the Texas National Guard, the

Most who were able set about assessing

feeling of belonging to a bigger picture was

needs of others and shared what they had or

good. “Heater Meals” were passed out by

ferreted up what they didn’t. Water and ice were

the case, as were personal hygiene packets,

be stronger and preparations will be better.

immediate priorities and propane took on the

sanitizing bleach, mosquito repellant and tarps.

The ecosystem welcomed a needed flushing,

status of vapor from the gods. Fuel became

Appreciatively, the town gave back.

and historically, fishing improves dramatically

even more precious for those with generators;

Both the Sunset House and Fishermen’s

following these events.

even more so for those who had not filled

Hotel opened their doors free of charge for

vehicles beforehand. The nearest source was

the soldiers. No electricity of course, but

inherently good. It’s a shame that we often need

miles away and required patience in long,

more hospitable than the elements many had

reasons to confirm this, but Dolly gave us one.

sweltering lines.

already endured for days. Local fishermen

As for Port Mansfield, the lights are on and the

donated impressive pounds of fish, and other

future is bright. Thanks to all! Here’s to a calm,

maintain water pressure after a short outage.

selfless locals fired the fryers to feed the entire

and hopefully better prepared, September.

Sweat, mosquito dope, gas and grease were

deployment and every other hungry soul in

constant companions and cold showers

the line.

became a luxury in removing the day’s filth from exhausted bodies.

For six days generators chugged, chainsaws ripped, and sweaty volunteers persisted.

Several business owners immediately stood

Those who needed help got it. The Salvation

up. Pelican’s Pub merged with Fisherman’s

Army provided over 2000 meals and local

Inn to provided grilled goods on the back deck,

teenagers sweated behind the serving bar. Once

making quick use of thawing meat for those

dispatched, power company crews flooded

craving a hot meal. Harbor Bait and Tackle

US-77. In another country, south Texas may

performed yeoman service staying open to

have been down for months, but trucks and

provide badly needed commodities through

crews from as far away as Arkansas came to our

wind, sideways rain, and Dolly’s dark of night.

rescue. They made quick work of what seemed

The Chamber of Commerce pavilion became

impossible in heat-stroke temperatures and

the epicenter for local volunteers. It is a strong

hordes of merciless mosquitoes. Heroes all,

statement, good or bad, that in every human

on the sixth night they threw the switches and

scenario, the volunteers always seem to be the

power was restored.

same ones.

MIKE MCBRIDE

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

Sure, there are lasting effects following

The first day or so we seemed isolated from

any such storm, but as an opinion, many

the world. Then the workings of a great society

of the effects of Dolly will be for the better.

became evident as eighteen-wheelers packed

Things needing to be done had an excuse

with ice and water arrived. King or pauper,

to get done… and were. The town is pruned

you moved through the outstretched arms of

and washed clean, and the community did

volunteers with humble smiles and gratitude.

some badly needed bonding. The rebuild will

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CONTACT

The Navigation District was diligent to

Most of all, faith was restored that people are

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September 2008

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September 2008

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N SUMMER MORNINGS WHEN I WAS A KID, MY GRANDFATHER took me fishing

guzzlers we used previously. Often reluctant

out of paper boxes and skewer them on treble

to start on cold mornings, those old motors

hooks dangling from wire leaders. Pushing the

belched thick smoke and required a deft touch

buttons on our closed-face reels, we’d sling the

with the choke to get them going. Today, my Opti

baits out as far as we could and crank the lines

Max instantly purrs into action the first time I turn

tight, holding our flimsy fiberglass rods in a slight

the key. Going at least twice as far on a gallon

bend against the weight of pyramid sinkers while

of fuel as did the motors of yesterday, it does so

waiting for a bite. The croakers, puppy drum

quietly and reliably. Of course Mercury isn’t the only company

metal basket we tied on a rope and tossed into

making dependable, powerful two stroke

greenish, brown waves washing onto the rocks.

outboards these days. Yamaha, Evinrude,

Though there weren’t nearly as many people

Suzuki and other motor makers have their fans

fishing the coast of Texas in the late sixties as

too. The two stroke motors have also been

there are today, I’m sure some were using much

joined by four stroke models. All of these engines

more sophisticated methods than the ones

require less maintenance and tinkering than did

we employed. To say the least, my fishing life

the finicky contraptions we once employed.

is much different now. In fact, the old world in

The motors aren’t the only devices hung off

which my granddad and I fished together has

the transoms of modern center consoles to

been effectively erased by a more crowded

make chasing and catching saltwater fish easier.

and complex one, complete with techno-tools

Most outboards today are bolted onto a jackplate

like lightning fast computers, multi-tasking cell

rather than directly to the transom. That

phones and global positioning systems.

hydraulic technology makes a critical difference

Advances in technology have changed

in allowing boats to run shallower, permitting

modern life in general and made coastal fishing

access to once deserted places and making for

better, easier and safer. After benefiting from

smoother rides in high winds in some cases.

the use of some of these gadgets, I find it hard

Another big change has occurred in the systems

to believe I was able to function for so long

used for holding bay boats in place.

without them. Those of us who remember what

The ancient technology of a heavy weight

it was like to fish on the relatively deserted

attached to a chain and rope has been largely

bays of yesteryear might rue the crowds we

replaced by a hydraulic anchoring system called

negotiate today, but we must also celebrate the

a Power Pole. As a wadefishing enthusiast, I

impressive array of tools we use to make our

bless my Power Pole every time it allows me

outings more productive.

to access my boat without walking all the way

Among the important advancements recently

back across a flat. Those who like to fish out of

enhancing the quality of our fishing lives are

the boat will verify that the units also make their

improvements made to boats and motors.

efforts easier and more productive, allowing

Modern bay boats run smoother, shallower and

them to quietly and quickly stop when fish

faster than ever before. Technical advances in

are found.

hull design and manufacturing methods place

September 2008

The motors that power us into those places are also much better than the carbureted gas

at the Texas City Dike. We’d pull frozen shrimp

and piggy perch we caught were dropped into a

16

the estuaries and their satellite bays and lakes.

Regularly finding fish requires knowing

the sleek, solid skiffs in a different league than

where the sweet spots are out there in the

the boats available years ago. Customized craft

vast expanses of water on which the games

like my 24 foot Haynie High Output allow legions

are played. Modern GPS units are invaluable

of fishing folks to access all the far corners of

in helping with this endeavor. We can now

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know where we are at all times, within a few

of lures to tie onto the end of the line is another

when a floating Corky is better than all other

meters, allowing for safer navigation in fog

of the significant improvements in the current

tools for pulling trophy trout from the shallow,

or darkness and making it possible to return

coastal fishing scene.

grassy terrain I’m working. Such a tool has been

to exact locations time and again. With some

The important changes in lures came in

available only for slightly more than a decade. These are the major advances in technology

units, things under the boat can be seen in three

three main areas. For one, people in recent

dimensions on screens nearly as big as the

decades realized how aggressive trout and

that most aid inshore saltwater anglers today:

ones on desktop computers.

redfish generally are toward floating plugs with

better boats, motors and other navigating

rattles riding in them. We now have hundreds of

equipment, lighter rods and reels and an

a map with icons on display, or replace that with

topwaters to choose from, everything from teeny

improved selection of lures in a rainbow of

a satellite image of the world. I traveled all over

Top Pups to bulky X Walks. Some have rattles

colors and a broad range of styles. I know other

Texas bays without the benefit of these things,

that make a soft, dense thud, while others have

advances have been made, and some are

but the journey was a treacherous and stressful

a higher pitched, raspy ping, more like a can of

significant. We have better clothing, eyewear,

one! I can’t really imagine what it would be like to

bbs. Different versions of these effective plugs

sunscreen and communication equipment.

operate these days without my Garmin; I know I

fit different situations, and lots of fish are tricked

There are tools for grabbing fish and instantly

surely would not catch as many fish.

by them, providing perhaps the ultimate thrill for

measuring their weight without touching them.

Operators of the devices can choose to have

Nor would I be as productive without the lightweight and durable rods and reels we

anglers, watching fish strike on the surface. A second significant improvement in lures

But in terms of catching fish, the advances detailed above are, I believe, the most

have today. I’ve been living with carpal tunnel

came with the widespread use of scents to

significant. I’m still fond of taking a nostalgic look

syndrome for years. Before I found the “right”

enhance soft plastics. Plastic shrimp tails have

back into what I consider to be a golden era. It’s

equipment, I was nearly convinced that my

been available for decades; old timers caught

cool to recall the lost days defined by sputtering

fishing life would be cut dreadfully short by

countless big trout and reds on them. Currently,

outboards and heavy red reels riding on floppy

the ailment. Thankfully, my career has been

soft plastic worms come in a nearly dizzying

fiberglass sticks, when the majority of the fishing

extended by people who came up with ways to

variety of shapes, sizes and colors. More

public preferred shrimp curled in paper boxes

make rods with perfect action and weights as

importantly, most are impregnated with fish

over rattling plastic plugs. Certainly, I have no

low as 2.7 ounces!

attracting scents.

desire to go back to actually utilizing such relics.

That’s right, Laguna is now testing a prototype

Lures like the Berkley Gulp are marketed with

Today’s complex tools ironically allow for more

the claim that they’re more effective than live

complete and consistent connection with the

backbone for large plugs and will overpower any

bait. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I have

simple pleasures that define saltwater fishing.

fish likely to be found on coastal flats. Twenty

seen that it’s possible to catch fish on them

first century rod makers are ingenious in their

without even moving them through the water.

ability to use high quality graphite, cork, titanium

“Dead-sticking” these stinky baits is not my style,

and other slick-looking stuff to make tools that

but it’s safe to say they’ve made the catching

allow lure-chunking junkies like me to function

easier for some of today’s saltwater crowd.

for hours on end with minimal fatigue.

My greatest thrill in fishing comes when I’m

The reels that ride on these high-tech sticks

able to finesse a fish into biting. Consequently,

also help reduce the strain and fatigue produced

I’m enamored of the third type of lure that has

by hours of constant twitching and reeling. My

revolutionized Texas coastal fishing in recent

Shimano Chronarch MG 50 reels are the lightest

years. Slow sinking plugs like the Corky have

I’ve ever used. They require considerably high

made it easier to catch fish in some places,

levels of maintenance to keep them working

especially locales where bigger trout prefer to

properly, but if regularly cleaned and lubed, they

hang out. Houstonian Paul Brown deserves

are a dream to have in hand. When seated on a

most of the credit for refining this family of

feathery rod like a Laguna Texas Wader II, they

fantastically effective lures; others in the industry

create a combo that feels almost weightless,

have followed his lead.

making the whole unit seem to be an extension

KEVIN COCHRAN

We now have slow sinking twitch baits in both soft and hard versions. MirrOlure makes

of the arm. Fill the spool on the reel with a modern

some flashy, rattling examples that have found

super line like one of the incredibly durable

their own niche. When fishing for trout and

and sensitive braided lines and it’s possible to

redfish in waters less than crotch deep, these

feel everything the lure’s doing and whatever it

lures keep us catching when the fish won’t eat

contacts. The availability of a staggering number

our topwaters. There are times, I’m convinced,

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rod with that total weight. It’s got enough

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September 2008

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September 2008

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19


OMETIMES TROUT MAKE NO SENSE AT ALL. We started our first wade while the sun was still shining on the other side of the world and we were working up shallow. I could hear the curses of my friends, echoed by my own as we stumbled over some of the infamous Baffin rocks and even more grumbling and whining when we hung up on them. The smart ones were fishing topwaters but they were getting blowups and no takers on the various floating baits that they were throwing. Then Captain Black moved out deep and immediately found the trout. Seeing his bent rod we immediately took that as an invitation to join him in the deeper water and we figured he had one trout already on his stringer since he was holding up one finger. We found out later that was not what he meant. We all caught fish and then just as if someone had flipped a switch, the bite stopped. No, I don’t mean that it slowed down; I mean it stopped. No one caught or had a missed strike for an hour. The Captain told us to load up. Our next stop, which was shallow and very boggy, we set up a drift and the fish were there and they were hungry… did I mention that they were shallow? We started the morning fishing shallow when it was cooler and found not one fish but found them deeper. You can’t pattern fish with that kind of information. We did very well on several drifts and then just as it had earlier in the day 10 miles away, it stopped. That was it, no more, nothing. The captain said we were moving. The captain set the “Stake-Out Stik” at our next spot and told us

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September 2008

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what to expect. Deep grass beds and potholes in 3-feet of very clear water waited for us. I cast a Devil Eye into a clear patch of sand that was surrounded by grass and was greeted with a familiar thump only to have the fish get off. That was my only bite. I noticed my son was fighting a fish out in deeper water and considering that an invitation so I moved to join him. More waving again, one finger, so one fish on the stringer I thought. I found out later it did not mean he had one fish. Sterling was fishing deeper than the rest of us and managed to catch better fish. We caught fish a little shallower but he was into much better fish. Of course he was standing in water that was almost up to his neck and we were chest deep. Sometimes trout make no sense at all.

we love to do and I got to try out a new gadget. I can’t take credit for finding this handy tool, Captain Black has been using one for quite some time and it’s great. The Olympus Stylus 790SW is a small camera that fits in your shirt pocket. At 7.20 megapixels, 3x zoom, and waterproof to 10-feet, it’s perfect for

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In any case it was a great day on the water fishing with friends, laughing and just enjoying that which

MARTIN STRARUP

taking pictures on the water and you can keep it in your shirt pocket while you wade. Another plus for this camera is that it records movies in the AVI format that are a snap to deal with on a PC. For those of us over 40, the 2.5-inch color LCD display allows you to see what is in the screen with ease. I bought mine for $180.00 and it’s proven to be worth every penny. Be Safe.

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’all already know about Hurricane Dolly so I will only address the effects on PINS.

Trash picked up and stacked for transport by turtle patrollers in one week.

There was a heavy impact of sargassum and small debris from Corpus Christi to the 30-mile beach of PINS while south of the 30 there was no sargassum and the beach was swept clean and flat. The downside is that there is substantial fore-dune loss. The beach appears unusually wide and flat; even in the area near the Port Mansfield north jetty where it was becoming extremely narrow pre-Dolly. But what the casual observer doesn’t notice is the miles of sheer cut dunes with masses of roots from various species of dune vegetation piled high at the foot of these dunes. The beach is wider because the

nests to a whopping 201 and surpasses the

pickup because that’s not who is doing it.

eastern edges of the dunes washed away and

previous record year of 137 set in 2007.

There seem to be two completely opposite

it is sand from them that has re-supplied the

It’s gotten to the point that it is depressing

mindsets among beach users on PINS.

beach with sand. Every low spot on the island is

to me, personally, to even address the issue of

Included in this article are two pictures taken

full of water; some of it is rainwater and some of

drivers speeding on the beaches of PINS. I have

on the same day on PINS within 3 miles of each

it is salt.

been watching and evaluating speeders on PINS

other, pre-Dolly. One shows a wonderful gift

closely for a long time and the results of these

some very caring and talented person took the

have been told that the Corps of Engineers will

observations are as confusing as they

time to paint on a washed up weather buoy.

be dredging at the Port Mansfield channel in the

are disturbing.

The other shows an abandoned camp site

I have no details or official confirmation but I

near future. That’s all I know and anything else

While young drivers are a regular percentage

resembling a landfill, complete with a shower

on my part would be pure speculation. Whatever

of the speeders, they are not the majority. The

stall. The third picture shows the mountain of

the case; it’s wonderful news and long overdue

majority range in age from late 20s to 50s.

trash picked up by turtle patrollers on UTVs

and we just hope that it comes to pass.

Often they have wives and children with them

patrolling for nesting sea turtles during a ONE

Another interesting bit of news is that on

and are driving newer model SUVs or trucks.

WEEK PERIOD. This is the average amount

Saturday 26 July, the crew of the “Hale Yeah”

No more than 50% have racks for fishing rods

they picked up and removed EACH WEEK

saw three adult orcas (killer whales) with calves

or visible fishing equipment although many

through out nesting season.

in 6,000 feet of water offshore Port Aransas.

appear loaded down with camping equipment

This is the second sighting of orcas off the Texas

and often speeders are traveling in groups of

Service personnel don’t help with the removal of

coast that I am aware of. Too cool.

two to four vehicles.

trash from the beach are very much mistaken.

2008 has been an exceptional year for sea

Sadly enough this is also typical of the profile

So, any who might think the National Park

They just don’t get all the press for it that

turtle nesting. A total of 194 Kemp’s ridley nests

seen at the majority of badly littered camp

organized beach cleanups do. I’ve been in many

were confirmed for Texas and this is a dramatic

sites. Multiple, newer model vehicles with lots

a hellhole and known some very rough ol’ boys

increase from the previous record of 128 nests

of elaborate camping gear which often includes

in my lifetime, but the concept and mindset

found in 2007. This marks the fifth consecutive

a portable generator and structures built for

behind these trashed camp sites on a National

year that record numbers of Kemp’s ridley nests

shows and a restroom. Then they just drive off

Seashore continues to elude me.

have been found. A total of 91 of these were

leaving several days worth of garbage and the

found on PINS. In addition; 4 green sea turtle,

structures. What is up with that?

2 loggerhead turtle and 1 leatherback sea turtle nests were found. This brings the number of

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September 2008

Bottom line is we can’t lay visitor’s trash off on some “Bubba” or some kids in a rusted-out

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Just about every July we spend a lot of time fishing for solid speckled trout with topwater lures. And at some point the title of a movie will begin to run through my mind over and over,

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Abandoned camping gear and litter 7-15-08.

Artwork on washed-up weather buoy.

“White Men Can’t Jump” and I follow it up with “and they sure can’t walk the dog either.” For decades I am amazed at how many of my customers are determined to “rip” topwater baits all day and seem to find it impossible to slow the forward progress of the lure while maximizing the back and forth motion of it which works so well. Some get the knack of it but many others never do. I try to explain it by saying “you want that lure to swap ends ever time you bump it; as if it were attempting to touch its nose with its tail.” The ones who figure it out will catch many more fish than their companions. When someone asks me how often to sharpen the hooks on lures I always reply “when you lose your second trout on the same lure.” Losing one now and then is a fact of life but when two in a row come unbuttoned after being hooked it’s time to sharpen hooks. A lure fisherman’s best friend is a hook sharpener. Anglers fishing oyster bars or rocks with soft plastic should constantly be checking hook sharpness and the condition of their hook point. Those catching ladyfish (skipjacks) should likewise be constantly checking for frayed leaders and line and replace them when wear is may well cost an angler the fish of a lifetime. This all sounds so basic as to not need to be addressed but the reality of it is that it is the little things that bring an angler to that next level of angling skill we all seek. If we don’t get another Dolly, fishing is moving into the best time frame of the year in the surf zone. September, October and November are

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apparent throughout the day. To overlook these

CAPT. BILLY SANDIFER Length: 16-18 inches Wingspan: 31-34 inches

A medium sized, tropical, highly pelagic, dark brown tern with grayishwhite forehead, black bill and legs and a long

the finest. Get out there and get you some.

wedge-shaped tail.

Be Careful, Be Courteous, Be Kind. Billy Sandifer operates Padre Island Safaris offering surf fishing for sharks to specks and nature tours of the Padre Island National Seashore. Billy also offers bay and near-tshore fishing adventures in his 25 foot Panga for many big game and gamefish species. Telephone 361-937-8446 Website www.billysandifer.com www.TSFMAG.com

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Dips down to snatch surface prey rather than plunge diving like other terns. Nests in the Dry Tortugas. A rare bird on our shores, confirmed sightings may be as few as fifteen of this species in coastal Texas. The best opportunities to encounter one will be on the PINS beach in June and July.

September 2008

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ALLEN, TEXAS –

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced

July 30 that it had awarded a $50,000 grant to support the Kayak Anglers Society of America’s Heroes on the Water program. This program is designed to introduce the rehabilitative aspects of kayak angling to veterans recovering from war injuries. . The Texas non-profit was formed in 2007 by avid kayak anglers who also happened to be veterans of the United States armed forces. With a stated goal of increasing access to and participation in kayak angling nationwide, it didn’t take long for KASA founders to reach out to wounded warriors at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. “Working with program managers at BAMC and Fort Sam Houston, we were able to take our first soldier kayak fishing in October of last year,” said KASA treasurer and board member Jim Dolan, a former U.S. Air Force C-130 pilot. “From there it just kind of grew. By December, we were on our fifth trip, trout fishing on the Blanco River with eight wounded warriors.” Dolan said the TPWD grant is “bootstrap money” that will help the organization acquire paddling and fishing equipment and pay some of the transportation costs associated with the outings. “We’ve had tremendous interest in this program,” Dolan said. “We’ve actually had more people interested in going out with us than we had money or volunteers to accommodate. This grant will really help, but it’s just a start.” Danny Paschall, a board member and former enlisted soldier who now works in the oil and gas industry in Houston, said time on the water and recovery from war wounds is a pretty good match. “To begin with, kayak fishing is an independent activity that almost anyone can participate in,” he said. “It can be just as serene and relaxing or just as exciting and fast-paced as you want it to be. It’s also a lifetime skill that people can continue to enjoy well into their senior years.” Past participants in the outings have suffered injuries ranging from amputations to burns to traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. “We haven’t had anyone who couldn’t comfortably paddle and fish,” said KASA board member Kendal Larson, a professional photographer who also served in the Air Force. “Those plastic boats are great equalizers. The relaxation and empowerment we see in the troops is strong stuff.” KASA has plans for as many as a dozen outings in the next year, all of which are free to participants. For more information on KASA programs, including Heroes on the Water, or to donate, visit the KASA Web site. Certification of KASA as a non-profit educational organization under IRS Code Chapter 501(c)(3) is pending, and donations are taxdeductible to the extent allowed by law.

http://www.KayakAnglersSA.org

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’M SURE THAT FOR A LARGE PORTION OF TSF READERS ONE THING that really gets their blood pumping is watching a fish eat their lure. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest thrills fishing can deliver. There are several ways this can be accomplished and the leader of the pack is the topwater plug. We all know and understand the merits of this presentation so I won’t beat it to death. Other forms include seductively-tied flies and accurate casts to a fish you can see. Another can be a live shad or shrimp dancing under a cork in clear water as a hungry predator stalks from below. All of these create excitement and memories of vicious strikes for years to come, stories to be recanted over a cold beverage with friends and new acquaintances. Well forgive me as I borrow a line from a classic Prince song and say “I am here to tell you there’s something else” and it just may be one of the coolest ways to catch fish you have ever witnessed. All of the forms of topwater presentations and visual approaches mentioned above have one very distinct common factor; they are used in open water. Now I have heard for many years about folks who went down to the Laguna Madre or other locales and fought grass that was on the surface and continued to foul their plugs and jigs. Most folks left behind some productive water due to the fact that they couldn’t figure out a way to deal with the vegetation lying on the water. I truly feel their pain and have been in the same predicament until I found my new favorite way to catch fish in the grass, the weightless and weedless plastic frog. Anyone who knows me or has read previous stories in TSF knows that I love to incorporate freshwater tackle into my saltwater arsenal

that was at least until the frog came around. The plastic frog has revolutionized how I go about chasing these fish; this

and this has to be the best one yet, maybe ever. My longtime friend

bait can be worked in so many ways that it just about has no equal under

and mentor, Capt. Dickie Colburn, turned me on to using the frogs a

these conditions. I fish a couple of different models and both catch fish; the

couple of years ago while he was using them in some of the bayous

Stanley Ribbit and the Strike King Rage Toad are my favorites. These baits

and canals around Sabine and Calcasieu.

can be rigged weedless and run across the surface like a topwater or buzz

I took the method a step or two farther as I started using them while in backwater lakes chasing redfish from a poling skiff. Many of

bait without ever worrying about getting fouled by grass or other vegetation. Besides the fact that these lures are nearly 100% weedless, the strikes

the areas I fish begin to get choked off with heavy grass in the late

they draw will absolutely stop your heart. We routinely run these frogs across

summer and that makes a lot of ponds and lakes almost unfishable,

heavy mats of grass and watch redfish track them underneath the mat and

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September 2008

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shoreline. When targeting trout with these lures I have been experimenting with the hooks weighted on the shank, the extra weight makes for longer and easier casts. Under normal circumstances I prefer throwing the weightless lures on spinning gear, the US Reel’s Super Caster 230SX paired with a Woodee medium-fast rod seem to be the ticket. The Woodee rod has great sensitivity and serious backbone to set hook and also heft these fish out of the grass; I have been impressed with them all the way around. Now that you have a new weapon to add to your fishing arsenal all you have to do then blow a hole in the water that will leave

is try it and see how well it works. Just like

you breathless. The only drawback in the

the old saying, “necessity is the mother

real heavy vegetation lies with the strike to

with Assassins in the same kind of environment

hookup ratio; you have to let the fish take the

and we catch a ton of fish on them.

frog and not set the hook too early. Sometimes

Over the past several weeks I have

of invention,” the frog technique was born out of a need to be able to fish water that was once believed to be unfishable. With this new

introduced some very good fishermen to this

bait I have opened up a whole new program

technique and for nearly all it was an eye-

that has produced some of the finest days on

lure works it is important to learn how to rig it

popping experience. The versatility of the bait

the water I can remember, the results speak for

properly. I fish the frogs on either a 4/0 or 5/0

amazes most folks who have not seen it or

themselves. I promise you it will take only one

Gamakatsu wide gap offset hook; these hooks

tried it. Buzzing the lure across the surface

fish on the frog and you will be as excited about

offer super strength and have enough gap to

and letting it sink seductively into a fish’s face

this bait as I am. Next time the grass is too

insure good hook sets. I rig the frog weedless,

covers just about all the options and covers

tough to fish, reach for the frog and be sure to

just like most folks rig Bass Assassins, by

them well.

hold on tight because the strikes are well worth

Now that we have established how well this

running the point of the hook just inside the skin

Roy Melnar watched in amazement as a

of the lure after initially exposing it. Along with

14-pound brute of a redfish inhaled a Stanley

hiding the point of the hook you will also want to

Ribbit a mere 4 feet from the boat and all he

run the frog up on the shank of the hook covering

could say was, “That was absolutely incredible,

up the eye so you have one less place for grass

I have never seen anything like that before.”

to hang. Another bit of help comes in the form

My son, Hunter, thinks the frog is the best

of covering your leader knot with a small drop of

thing since spring break and the snow cone. He

super glue; this makes your leader connection

has become a true fan of the bait as well as the

weedless. Once you have this rig complete you

fish it produces.

are virtually snag-free and ready to do battle in

Now the frog isn’t just for redfish, not by

almost any coastal environment this side of a

a long shot. Speckled trout will eat this bait

rain forest. This rig also works incredibly well

too, especially when big fish are running the

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

the price of admission.

CHUCK UZZLE

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that is far easier said than done.

September 2008

29


CAN STILL REMEMBER THE DAY THAT I LEARNED WHAT THAT

other than the fact that it catches the heck out

a Texan. Yep, you heard me right — Mark

of fish, is its creator, Mark Nichols.

Nichols is from Texas and, believe or not,

little lure could do. I was fishing with my

Mark at one of the many trade shows that

as a youngster working on his father’s shrimp

good friend David Sams and, to say the

many of us attend and needless to say, his

boat in Galveston Bay.

Years ago, David Sams introduced me to

some of his many ideas came from his days

“I used to study the different baits as they

least, things were a little slow. That is until

knowledge and passion for coastal fishing

David broke out this little piece of plastic that

made a lasting impression on me. So much so,

swam around in the tanks,” Mark told me

made me look and feel a total fool. The lure I

that I hoped to one day have the opportunity to

recently during a phone call.”

speak of was the D.O.A. Shrimp.

share a skiff and a day on the water with him.

Once he graduated from high school he

That opportunity recently came when E. J.

moved off to Austin and the University of Texas

seen one. In fact, I had tried them on several

asked if I would like represent TSF at a D.O.A

where he got the bug for bass fishing with

occasions with little to no luck at all and had all

sponsored outdoor writer’s conference. I of

artificials and light spinning gear. It was not

but given up on them. That is until I watched

course accepted and was delighted to learn

long before he took his newfound knowledge

my friend catch fish after fish on one while I

that I would have the chance to spend a few

to the coast and applied what he learned to

churned the water, to no avail, with every lure

hours fishing with Mark prior to my departure

catching redfish and trout.

in my box.

the final morning of the event.

Mind you, it was not the first time I had

The event was held in Stuart, FL where, of

That day I learned that I had no idea

Now this is where the story gets interesting. When he left the university, he moved to

whatsoever as to how to fish the bait and was

course, D.O.A. lures are conceived, created,

Durango, CO and continued to pursue what

briefly schooled on the proper technique. Since

tested and manufactured but, before I tell you

had become his passion — fishing with

that day, the D.O.A. Shrimp has been a part

about my trip, I think it is important to know

artificial baits however, it was a woman, not the

of my light-tackle arsenal — fishing my home

a little more about the man who created the

fish that eventually led him to Florida where he

waters of Texas to the Florida Everglades and

D.O.A. brand of lures that can be found in

has remained since.

everywhere in-between.

tackle boxes across the Gulf Coast.

What makes the D.O.A. Shrimp so special,

Very few people know that Mark was once

D.O.A.’s new BFL — Big Fish Lure.

Mark Nichols, founder of D.O.A. Lures.

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September 2008

“Well, I followed a woman to Florida and discovered the fishery… I loved the waters and

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Florida’s Indian River is famous for big snook.

the diversity and decided to stay,” he told me. “One minute you might catch an eight pound trout and the next you might be fighting a hundred pound tarpon. It doesn’t get any better than that.” When asked how his lures came about, he told me that most of his lure designs came from his need to catch different species in different conditions. It was this necessity that helped spawn the ideas for all of the lures now marketed under the D.O.A name. In 1988, Mark made the first D.O.A. shrimp

Anyway, enough about all of that — I have got to tell you about my last morning in Stuart.

sign of feeding fish anywhere. As we trolling motored along the shore I

So, we leave the dock early that morning and

began to ask Mark about sight-casting and

and by 1989 he was in business. A business

Mark informs me that he thinks we might be

he informed me that the deeper water of the

that has thrived, not only on innovation, but

able to get bit by a tarpon at this one spot

Stuart area didn’t lend itself to much sight-

by credibility, in that, his lures go through

nearby. Well, I happen to like that idea so we

fishing. No sooner did he finish that sentence,

extensive field testing (Mark fishes a lot) prior

set off across the Indian River and pull into

he had to take a step back and say, “Except for

to being made available to those of us looking

a small creek where there just happens to

that snook right over there.”

for the next ‘latest and greatest’ lure to toss to

be rolling tarpon from 10-50 lbs everywhere

our favorite game fish.

which, incidentally, is my idea of Heaven

the shore and my knees got a little weak. I do

on Earth.

not to this day know how I kept my cool but I

Since its inception, the D.O.A. brand has become very popular with inshore anglers all

I looked up, I saw a big snook coming down

It takes a while but I finally managed to snag

did. The little D.OA. Shrimp sailed though the

over Florida however, here in Texas, it has

a nice 50 pounder. What was really cool about

air and landed about foot in front and passed

been somewhat neglected. Why? I have no

this fish is that I was fighting it on some serious

the fish and BAM! The race was on and —

clue. I utilize several different D.O.A shrimp

light-tackle. In fact, I had no idea how light until

remember the 5 lbs test? The fight lasted a

and baitfish designs with great success but

Mark asked, “How do you like that new 5 lbs

while but… I got her and she was a brute of

know very few other anglers that will even

test Power Pro?”

nearly 20 lbs. My biggest yet!

consider using one. Although, those I have

The short version of this part of the story

After posing for a few pics, we decided to

seen or convinced to try out the numerous

goes like this, I fought the fish for about 5

call it a morning but, what a morning it was. In

baits now fill space in their tackle boxes with

minute and the poon finally shook the hook on

fact, it was so great that I have to say thanks

D.O.A. Shrimp, Bait Busters and Terror Eyz.

a good jump. Now on to the good part!

to E.J. for the opportunity and to Mark for, not

But wait, there is new one out there called

After a couple of hours of fishing, Mark and I

only a great morning of fishing, but for some

the BFL (big fish lure) and I am here to tell all

had the chance to fish one last flat close to the

damn fine lures. Can’t wait to see what he

of you big trout fishermen — I have seen this

dock before I had to get to the airport. As we

comes up with next.

thing work and you would be crazy not to have

idled in from the deep water, we could see tons

a couple in the box.

of bait — a great sign however, there was no

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31


J AY WA T K I N S

Nice CPR red off deeper drop-offs.

SEPTEMBER IS ALWAYS A TRANSITION MONTH FOR ME HERE IN ROCKPORT. Water

CURRENT or UP-WIND structures in your

temperatures of summer and concentrations

chosen area. It is easy to over look this tactic

are sure to show.

temperatures can reach upper 80s and near

through the area too quickly. Wading through

to the dock. In fact, some of the best times of

90 degrees in some of our shallower areas

the bite is the most common mistake. As

the day start at around noon and extend into

by day’s end. This creates some problems

seasoned as I have become, it still takes a

the late afternoon hours. Whether the tides are

when targeting trout but proves helpful when

conscious effort to stay and work parallel

dropping or not, one can be assured that water

targeting redfish. What I want to cover here

rather than pushing forward.

temperatures are rising by the hour. This being

is a game plan to catch both trout and redfish during this challenging period. Starting early will be the key to trout fishing.

As the sun climbs and the heat index pulses higher by the minute, you’ll notice a decline in bait activity and the number of bites you’re

When I get in redfish mode I seldom rush

said, it is not hard to understand that the fish will be searching for deeper, cooler waters. Normally by 10:00 am the sun is high

By the time September comes around most

receiving. This is a signal that your trout gig is

enough to offer sightcasting opportunities. I

of our larger trout have fallen into a nocturnal

almost up. You might start considering a look

am not only speaking of actually seeing the

feed pattern. Full moon or new moon, heat

at your redfish plans at this point.

fish, but also being able to see the structure

and low tides drive them to feed under the

Redfish are more predictable during periods

that attracts them. If the truth be known, I

cover and comfort of darkness. I know that the

of lower tides and August and September are

probably sightcast to likely looking structures

past few weeks my trout bite has been over by

typically the lowest of the summer months,

more than actual fish.

about 9:00 am. We can scratch out a few more

ditto January and February during winter. In

throughout the day but the bite most definitely

both of these windows, redfish congregate

are normally very light during the morning

drops off as the sun rises higher.

along deeper dropoffs that line the edges

hours so many reds can be spooky and harder

of the shallow flats they call home in other

to trick. Smaller offerings, long casts, and

moving water with proper bottom structure,

months. In September we can see some of our

clear mono leaders are an absolute must

add some bait, and get there early. Points

best sightcasting conditions. Lower tides give

in my opinion. As the winds increase with

with submerged structure such as grass or

us better visuals of schooling fish as well as

daytime heating, ripples on the surface seems

scattered shell are my favorites, but dropoffs

small pods that slowly cruise the edges of the

to calm them. Add the concentration factor

and grass edges are also mighty productive.

shallows searching for food. Add to the lower

and catching increases dramatically. I have

It is important to remember to fish the UP-

than normal water levels the higher water

always been of the opinion that two fish in a

The key to the trout bite lies in locating

32

and even easier to allow yourself to push

September 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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33


pothole increases your odds because one

type. When throwing plastic baits it is easy to

me. What a fish for that time of year in the

does not want the other to have what they

simply change color. I go plastic most of the

Rockport area. As one can see, September

both have seen. Put twenty in that pothole or

time when I am targeting redfish under my

with all the heat and the lack of wind can still

along that dropoff and it can become all-out

described conditions.

be a productive month if you fish smart. Fish

gorge feeding. One tactic that works well for me is

One of my favorite ways to catch redfish is by sightcasting to large strings of mullet as

Before I wind this thing up for this issue, I

positioning. By placing yourself along the

they exit or cruise the edges of the flats. In

want to encourage all of you to continue to

OUTSIDE EDGES of the drop-offs themselves

September, large redfish will swim in amongst

release all the fish you are not planning on

lets the fish move NATURALLY toward

larger mullet. This I believe camouflages the

using. I also want to encourage our Parks and

you. If we try to wade, drift or troll into the

redfish, allowing them to approach smaller

Wildlife department to reduce the trout limits

shallows where the fish are scattered and

baitfish. When casting to these strings of

to five fish. I continue to see a reduction in the

still making their way to the deeper dropoff

mullet I am constantly looking BENEATH

numbers of trout over the 15-inch mark and a

we risk spooking them, thus forcing them to

them searching for the bronze wolf in

continued rise in our numbers of undersized

react unnaturally. This can lead to a bad case

sheep’s clothing.

trout. I feel the Texas angling community is

of lockjaw. In many cases, one spooked fish

By watching the behavior of the mullet you

ready to take the next step in making Texas

can alert the rest of the flat’s inhabitants. A

can sometimes call the strike. The mullet will

the Number-1 quality trout fishery in the world.

quick reminder; if you’re spooking mullet your

suddenly jump or skip across the surface as

I can tell you that over the last three years,

gamefish are already gone. Again, positioning

the redfish darts toward your lure. The hidden

more than half of my clientele have gone to

yourself offshore of the dropoff and waiting

beauty in this tried and proven summer tactic

a minimal number of trout killed on each trip.

for them to come to you in a natural manner

is that many times the head that shakes at the

I want to once again thank them for helping

makes them easier to catch.

end of the line turns into a trout of a lifetime.

to insure a healthy trout fishery for years

Big trout love to hang with large mullet and

to come.

Once a favorable section of the dropoff or

Oh, and in response to those who say, “If we

individual pothole with feeding fish has been

large redfish. Two of my largest trout to date

located, it has been my experience that this

have come in August and September out

have a major freeze all the trout will be dead

area will continue to produce strikes for you.

from under schooling mullet while catching

anyway, so what’s the use in saving them.”

What one fish likes, the others like as well. The

oversized redfish. One was a cover fish for

one thing this requires of us is the patience

the Saltwater Angler many years ago that I

and see what happens when the economy

and persistence to stand in there and make

released, only to find floating a few minutes

gets tough. As sportsmen, lets do it ourselves

repeated casts to the area. Another tactic that

later, too exhausted to revive. The trout was

if we cannot get outside help.”

will help you continue to catch fish under these

officially weighed at 10 pounds 11 ounces

circumstances is changing lure color or lure

in the last week of August if memory serves

Upper slot red caught off deeper drop-off outside shallow flats.

34

smart, where have we heard that before?

September 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

I say this, “Do the same with your money

May your fishing always be catching.

CONTACT

A SK T H E PRO

One of my favorite ways to catch redfish is by sightcasting to large strings of mullet as they exit or cruise the edges of the flats.

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C A SE Y SM A RT T

FLY FISHERMEN SOMETIMES DEBATE WHETHER OR NOT DISTANCE CASTING is a skill needed to catch fish along the Texas Coast.

IS important. So what is considered a “distance” cast anyway? For an

Redfish junkies point out that most of their

angler wielding an 8-wt. rod, I

shallow water fish are caught up close, with

think casts of 75 feet or more fall

casts measuring under 50 ft. Others add that

into the “distance” category. Put

many of our skinny water species are in fact

another way — well over half of

cooperative enough to stalk and peg at close

the fly line. Some folks can and

range. So… if one seldom needs to cast

will routinely cast much farther

farther than 50 or 60 feet, why be preoccupied

than that. Casts of this length

the ability to shoot 80 footers? You don’t need’

don’t happen by accident. They

em… right?

require good core casting skills

I agree that plenty of fish can be caught with

and anglers must learn to double

Reaching into channels and open water from the bow of a boat is a distance game.

a decent 50 foot cast. The problem though,

haul to achieve these lengths. But with a bit

opportunity to spot your fly. SURFACE BLITZ

is that there are countless angling situations

of practice, nearly anyone can master the

outside of the flats where much longer casts

skills that make long casts possible. Let’s

are required. Maybe you’re blind casting to

take a closer look at a few common saltwater

a pothole, or fishing extremely clear water,

scenarios where long casts pay off.

blitz. These surface slaughters are exciting

or maybe you are trying to reach out into a

OPEN WATER

and when you first spot them it is easy to think,

channel or over waves in the surf. These are

36

situations, the truth is… distance

Sometimes the best bet for catching fish

Another situation where a long cast pays off is when you are chasing a rapidly moving

“Yes! Slam dunk.” Sometimes it is a slam dunk.

all situations where you need distance. A 40 or

is to get off the flats. Maybe the water temps

But other times getting your fly into range

50 ft. punch usually won’t cut it.

are too hot or too cold, or maybe the tides are

of these frenzies can be maddening. It can require surprisingly long casts. If you stop the

Another thing to consider is the effect of

too low. Visualize moving off a shallow flat to

weather or the physical environment on your

deeper open water. You might be able to see

boat short to avoid pushing the fish down, or

cast. If your upper distance limit is 50 feet (on

subtle structural features below the surface

if the fish suddenly change direction you will

a good day), what is your distance in a stout

but you can’t really make out the bottom. The

be required to shoot a very long cast under

wind or off the bow of a moving boat? What

goal is to grab the attention of a predator and

knee-shaking line-tangling pressure. If you

about a kayak? How about knee-deep mud?

trick him before he and his buddies spot you.

are fishing alone, the situation is even tougher

Chances are they’ll cut your distance in half.

Longer casts allow you to reach out to these

because once you shut down the motor you’re

Now your 50 foot cast has been reduced to

fish before they spook. They also provide your

basically dead in the water. As the clock

a sketchy 25 footer and your options have

fly with greater exposure time. Long casts

ticks, surfacing fish can quickly move out of

shrunk substantially. When you consider these

equal long retrieves, allowing predators more

range. The combination of excitement and

September 2008

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The Federation of Fly Fishers Fly Pattern Encyclopedia is a book that contains

Casting to a moving school of fish from the confines of a kayak requires good core skills and the ability to make long shots.

photographs and recipes for hundreds

unpredictability makes cleanly hitting a frenzy of schooling fish 20 or 30 yards away one

of flies for both

of the toughest casts you’ll ever make. It requires steady nerves, good line management,

freshwater and

and the ability to make clean long casts.

saltwater gamefish.

SURF

Edited by Al and

When the surf is good, it’s great. When it’s bad, it’s absolutely miserable. But good or

Gretchen Beatty,

bad, the surf will always challenge your casting skills. At times anglers can find exciting

and photographed

sightcasting opportunities in the surf. But in general, surf fishing involves trying to reach

by Jim

fish-holding structure by propelling casts over waves or bars and across guts. To make

Schollmeyer, the

these casts, you must overcome the wind and keep your airborne line above the tops

book was a project

of the waves. These are formidable obstacles. Even really good casters might have trouble shooting an 80-footer in lively surf, but they can use their double hauling skills to make solid 50-footers all afternoon. Those who venture into the waves with lessthan-adequate casting skills are in for a very long day. There are days when ripples and wrinkles litter the surface of the flats and your casts lay out with little effort. Life is good. And then there are the ugly days when the wind roars in your ears and you do well just to keep from hooking yourself. On those windy days your distance skills will pay off, but not from the standpoint of long casts. Rather, the core casting skills that allow you to make 70 or 80 foot casts in good conditions also allow you to accurately make much shorter casts in very bad conditions. This concept is one of the key reasons distance skills are important to flats fishing. If you are evaluating your own skills as a caster, keep in mind that everyone progresses at a different rate. Do your best not to compare your skills to those of others, but take advantage of every opportunity to observe and learn what you can when you can. And, don’t be fooled into thinking the casts demonstrated in a parking lot can be consistently repeated in real world

is that you should continually strive for improvement in your cast. Even though many fish can be tagged at close range, mastering the core casting strokes that make long casts possible will never hurt and always

patterns featured in the Fly Pattern Encyclopedia was a collaborative effort between professional and amateur fly tyers who contributed patterns and recipes to the book. The end result was an encyclopedia of sorts that chronicles a huge variety of flies. The Fly Pattern Encyclopedia showcases dry flies, nymphs, streamers, salmon, warmwater, and saltwater flies. The color photographs (more than 1500 of them) of each fly are crisp, clear and detailed, and the book is available in a spiral-bound edition that lays flat when open on a table. Although the primary focus is not specifically saltwater patterns, the huge variety of flies showcased in the Fly Pattern Encyclopedia promise to keep you interested and hopefully will light a creative

CONTACT

very different things. The bottom line

promote fly fishing and fly tying to anglers of all ages and levels of skill. Assembling the large number of fly

WIND

conditions on the water. They are two

that stemmed from the Federation of Fly Fishers’ (FFF’s) work to

spark in your tying.

Federation of Fly Fishers Fly Pattern Encyclopedia By Al & Gretchen Beatty 232 pp. Frank Amato Publications, Inc. ISBN: 1-57188-209-X

help your adaptability and success on the water. www.TSFMAG.com

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

September 2008

37


f i s h i n g

5

6

/

f l y

7

If you have ever considered tying flies,

s m a r t t

or if you have acquired a few tools and materials and are just getting started, you may be wondering, “What are a few basic fly patterns I can start with?”

4

My gut response to that question is, “Learn to tie a Clouser Minnow. That is all you’ll ever need.” But that’s not particularly inspiring advice and truthfully, one of the coolest things about tying flies is creativity and experimentation, not repetitive canned lure building.

Done!

So, I thought it might be helpful (and more fun) to showcase over the coming months a handful of simple but highly effective patterns beginners can tie. The best way I can describe these patterns is to call them, “Simple

c a s e y

Saltwater Flies.” In spite of their elementary designs, these flies aren’t junk. They are bread-and-butter fish catching patterns that are perfect examples of economy, form and function. Tying these flies will teach you some fundamental techniques and boost your confidence at the vise. Hopefully they’ll spark your creative side as well. The first fly in this series is the Bendback. The name “Bendback” refers to the slight bend made on the hook shank at the throat of the fly. This bend allows the wing materials to flow neatly over the point of the hook and

Hook: Mustad 34011 or equivalent #4 to #8 Thread: Clear nylon mono or colored to match wing Belly: .Chenille Flash: Krystal Flash, Flashabou, or equivalent Wing: Bucktail Cement: Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails (nail polish)

causes the hook to invert in the water with the point in the upright (weedless) position. This inverted design is wonderfully simple and can be seen on other classic patterns like Clouser Minnows and Crazy Charlies.

1. Using a pair of pliers, carefully make a very slight downward bend

The Bendback is tied on a long shanked saltwater hook. A #4 or #6

The hook on the bottom has been correctly bent. 2. Clamp the hook

consist of 3 materials — a chenille body, an underwing of several strands

in the vise, attach the thread and wind rearward to the base of the

of flash, and overwing of bucktail. Some tyers take the Bendback a step

natural hook bend. 3. Attach a short section of chenille (Cactus

farther and add multiple wing/flash colors, a rattle, hackles, or lead wire on

Chenille shown) and wind the thread up to the base of the fresh bend.

the belly, and stick-on or paint-on eyes. Permanent markers are often used

4. Palmer (wind) the chenille forward and tie off at the base of the

to create shading or banding on the wings. There is a lot of room for creative

fresh bend. 5. Tie in 4 to 6 strands of Krystal Flash on top of hook

modifications to customize this fly.

shank between hook eye and fresh bend. The Krystal Flash should

The Bendback is a great pattern for redfish or black drum on the flats, or

38

to the hook shank slightly behind the eye. Don’t overbend the hook.

Mustad 34011 is a good choice. In their most humble forms, Bendbacks

flow forward and extend past the hook point 6. Tie a small clump of

speckled trout over shallow grass beds and potholes. A few of the proven

straight bucktail fibers directly over the Krystal Flash. The bucktail

color combinations for the Texas Coast are orange/gold, root beer/brown,

should be slightly longer than the Krystal Flash. 7. Tie off thread and

pink/white, and chartreuse/white.

coat thread wraps with cement. Done.

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B O B B Y B Y R D & C A P T. J O H N C O C H R A N E

AFTER HURRICANE DOLLY SLAMMED INTO SOUTH PADRE ISLAND and Tropical Storm

This year’s event was won by Doug Osburn’s WASABI weighing a 518 pound blue marlin to

Division with three blue marlin releases. The weekend after the Rockport Offshore

barely edge out DOUBLE TROUBLE with their

Challenge, the Texas International Fishing

Edouard hit the upper coast, the stage was set

503 pound blue. OUTLAW came in third with

Tournament, one of the oldest tournaments

for the top money tournament in Texas history.

a 400 pound fish, followed by TAG TEAM

in Texas, was completely cancelled due to

and TEXAS RATTLER to round-out the top

Hurricane Dolly. Flooded roads and downed

five places.

powerlines along with damaged docks and

Bluewater fishing this summer continues to be excellent and despite some tropical interference, fishermen are taking advantage

Hurricane Dolly then decided to pay a

of this banner year. The cost of fuel has kept

visit to our coast, hitting South Padre Island

many tied to the dock a little more than they

as a category two storm. Churning up the

like, but anglers are picking the weather and

Gulf, it almost caused the cancellation of the

Billfish Tournament, was scheduled for the

their favorite tournaments to make the best

Rockport Offshore Challenge, but tournament

following weekend. The “Legends” is known

use of their time on the water.

officials were able to postpone the event 24

for its video release format, which is very

In July, the Poco Bueno Invitational was

buildings made it clear to officials that there would be no tournament this year. The next tournament, the Texas Legends

hours and allow the seas to subside. Over

popular among today’s big game anglers. This

held out of Port O’Connor with great weather

sixty boats fished the delayed event and

tournament has grown significantly every year

and excellent fishing. A total of five blue marlin

the blue marlin bite was still on. After their

and this year should have been no exception,

were weighed and many others released.

third place win at Poco Bueno, owner Gary

but with the unusual circumstances due to

With a field of close to 90 boats and prize

Moss and the crew on OUTLAW weighed

weather, the stage was set for a big event.

money over $600,000 Poco Bueno is one of

a 504 pound blue marlin to win the event.

With anglers ready to go fishing, no one had

the premier tournaments on the Gulf Coast.

Mechanical Man won the Tag & Release

any idea what was about to transpire. By the

The “Outlaw” one of the hottest tournament boats this summer.

(Above) Tournament boats waiting to weigh in. (Right) The “AKELA” Texas Legends 1st place winner. 40

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JOU R NA L

blue marlin each. Top

and avid fisherman; Capt. Lloyd A. Dreyer,

yellowfin tuna went to

famous charter fishing icon and professional

BRAND NAME with a

captain from Port Aransas; Doyle F. “Junior”

115 lb. fish. First place

Wells, well-known captain and businessman

wahoo was 59.5 lbs.,

from South Padre Island. We invite you to

caught aboard the

go to www.txsaltwaterfishinghall.com to

THUNDER. The largest

view the complete biographies of these fellow

dolphin, weighing 34.2

sportsmen and other inductees in the Texas

lbs, was brought in by

Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

TICO TIME. First place swordfish went to the

fishing in Texas or the Texas Saltwater

REEL INSANITY

Fishing Hall of Fame, come by our Fox

with 64.7 lbs.

Yacht Sales office at Tops-N-Towers. We’re

The Texas Legends

always happy to answer your questions.

tournament is based out

At Fox we have an extensive inventory of

of Virginia’s Restaurant

brokerage boats as well as new CABO and

in Port Aransas, Texas.

Riviera Yachts and we will be glad to help

time the smoke cleared at registration, there

Tournament participants can leave from any

you find a boat or sell yours. We specialize in

were 69 boats competing for over $746,000

Texas port and fish the entire coast. We have

sportfishing boats and motor yachts. Come

in prize money… That’s more money than we

structured the layout of this tournament to

by and get a great deal on your next boat.

have ever heard of in any Texas tournament!

be one of the most fun, fair and enjoyable

For more information call our Seabrook office

tournaments on the coast and it is dedicated to

at 281-291-0656 or call Capt John Cochrane

celebrating our big game fishing heritage.

direct at 409-739-4817.

Despite a slowdown in the red-hot fishing that Texans have been enjoying this summer, 27 billfish were released. Top honors went to

During the Memorial Dinner on the last night

owner Ed Bass and the crew on the AKELA,

of the tournament, we always host the Texas

catching one blue marlin and two white marlin.

Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame – Big Game

The 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE came in

Awards. This year’s inductees were: Walter W.

second with four sailfish and one white marlin.

Fondren III, founding chairman of the GCCA

HIGH COTTON and FAMILY TIES finished

and founder of the Poco Bueno Invitational;

in 3rd and 4th place respectively, with one

Will Ohmstede, another key leader in CCA

“5 O’Clock Somewhere” with lots of flags — 4 sailfish, 1 white marlin.

September 2008

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

Contact Fox Yacht Sales / Seabrook 281-291-0656 Tops-N-Towers 281-474-4000 Capt. John Cochrane 409-739-4817 Websites www.byrd-cochrane.com www.topsntowers.com www.foxyachtsales.com

Capt. Lloyd Dreyer at Fisherman’s Wharf - Port Aransas 42

CONTACT

BLU E WAT E R

Mate unloading fish at weigh station.

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CCA Texas Executive Board recently

“CCA Texas’ scholarship program offers advantages in training and

approved the funding of the Allen Jacoby memorial graduate

studies, and a great academic freedom that otherwise would not be

scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin, Marine Science

available,” said Sam Pace, a past scholarship recipient, when asked

Institute in Port Aransas. Through funds donated in Allen’s name by

what the importance of the scholarship has been to her.

CCA Texas volunteers and members and matching funds from CCA

“The graduate scholarship program brings exciting results from the

Texas, this scholarship brings a total of five fully endowed scholarships

research work that these students complete and these results help

that are now available for marine biology and fisheries graduate

CCA Texas embrace this program,” said Bill Schwarzlose, CCA Texas President. “Sound science is the basis for CCA Texas’s fisheries

students in the state of Texas. For many years, the Coastal Conservation Association Texas has

decisions and we must continue to help educate the future marine

funded marine science scholarships for graduate studies at Texas

biologists and fisheries managers to guarantee the future of our

A&M University at College Station, Texas A&M University in Galveston,

coastal resources.”

Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, and the University of Texas

In addition to the graduate scholarships funded by CCA Texas, CCA

at Austin, Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. Since the original

Texas State of Texas Anglers Rodeo (STAR) continues to provide

program to fund a marine science scholarship at Texas A&M University,

college education assistance to teen and youth each year through

all five scholarships are now fully endowed and dedicated to research

the STAR Tournament. In its nineteenth year, STAR will award three

in marine science and fisheries management. This program ensures

$50,000 youth scholarships, six $20,000 teen scholarships and one

quality biologists are fully educated to deal with the fisheries issues of

$20,000 scholarship that is awarded by a random drawing of all youth

today and tomorrow.

and teens entered into the tournament.

“As a state board member, Allen was instrumental in creating and chairing the Scholarship Committee,” commented CCA Texas

This year’s awards will bring a total of $3,475,000 in youth and teen scholarships awarded to 104 recipients. CCA Texas STAR is proud

Executive Director Robby Byers. “Under his leadership, CCA Texas

to be a part of the college education of so many youths and teens.

fully endowed four graduate-level marine science scholarships at Texas

This program could not be possible without the participation of the

A&M University in Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University in College

families and the corporate sponsorships of Columbia Sportswear, Fox

Station, Texas A&M University in Galveston and the University of Texas

Sports Net Southwest, Houston Community Newspapers, Academy

Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas and it is only fitting that the

Sports and Outdoors, Time Warner and Texas Oilman’s Charity

fifth graduate scholarship endowed by CCA Texas bear his name.”

Fishing Tournament.

Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) was among several prominent marine conservation,

steadily growing in size and scope under the guidance of a board of

boating and tackle industry associations gathered to announce the

directors made up of representatives from leading industry groups

creation of the Center for Coastal Conservation (the Center) at the

and renowned advocates for marine resource conservation, including

ICAST show in Las Vegas this week. The Center has been built to

several key founders of CCA.

participate directly in elective politics and promote the conservation

The Center officially launched in October of 2006 and has been

“The Center brings together a very high level of expertise and

ideals of recreational angling to the lawmakers who make many of the

experience, all focused on being the political arm of marine

key decisions in fisheries management.

conservation,” said Jefferson Angers, president of the Center. “This

“The groups and individuals involved in the Center have achieved

is a coalition of people driven to succeed and who know how to

significant conservation victories on their own for decades,” said CCA

get things done. The Center itself may be new, but it is already

President David Cummins. “The Center will merge their strengths into

well-equipped to navigate the political process to promote good

a single, formidable force that is unlike anything we have seen in this

stewardship of America’s marine resources.”

arena before.” 44

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46

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b y

Looking over the stacks of requests

e v e r e t t

j o h n s o n

for tackle and rigging advice, knot-tying ranks near the top month after

month. Reliable knots that are easy to tie are the absolute best and the two featured here have become personal favorites over the years. The best way to become proficient with knot-tying is practice, but don’t wait until you go fishing. I think the best place to learn to tie is at your kitchen table or workbench.

Non-Slip Loop This knot has never failed me in many years of service. When tied properly, the Non-Slip Loop will not reduce your line’s ultimate strength enough to worry about, one of the Non-Slip Loop’s great attributes. Another great advantage is found in the way it lets the lure swing freely. A knot that fastens directly to the lure’s eye will diminish the dart and dive of soft plastics and slow-sinking plugs. If you want your surface plug to walk-the-dog to the best of its ability you simply cannot beat a loop! Step-1: Form an overhand

Step-1: Cross the lines

knot of about 3/8” diameter near

as shown and wrap the braid

the end of your leader with a 3”

seven times around the leader.

tag protruding. As you become

Run the tag between the joint

more proficient you can shorten

of the two lines as shown and

the tag which helps conserve the

then back through the loop that

length of your leader.

remains between the tag and

Step-2: Run the tag through the eye of your lure and then

the wrapped mono. Step-2: Work the wraps and

back through the overhand knot.

the loop slowly semi-snug, not

The tag must enter the overhand

tight just yet.

knot from the same side it exited.

Step-3: : Repeat the

You can adjust the size of your

procedure, wrapping the mono

final loop by pulling the overhand

seven times around the braid,

knot closer to the lure.

and then back through the loop.

Step-3: Hold the overhand

Note, holding a gap in the joint

knot between your thumb and

between the lines with thumb

forefinger and wrap the tag

and forefinger helps preserve

around the standing line five

the gap making insertion of the

times. Insert the tag end once

mono tag much easier.

again through the loop of the

Step-4: Moisten both sides

overhand knot, taking care

and slowly begin to work them

to enter from the side where

semi-snug. When you have

it exited.

both sides touching you can

Step-4: : Moisten the knot, hold the standing line and what will become your final loop, pull

begin to apply pressure to seat the wraps. Step-5: Tug on the tags, I

tight to cinch it down. Trim the

use my teeth, but be careful!

tag and you’re done. With a

Now pull on both lines to test

little practice you will learn to

the connection but use caution

form smaller loops, essential

as braid can give you a nasty

when using plugs with multiple

cut. Trim the tags and you’re

trebles as the front treble has an

done. A clipper designed to cut

uncanny ability to snag loops.

braid or a scissor both do a nice job, braid is tough to cut. Trim

Braid to Mono Connection I prefer mono leader rather than attaching braid directly to my lures. My favorite braid is 20/6, which means 20-pound test strength but only 6-pound monofilament equivalent diameter. I start with a six-foot section of 20-pound monofilament leader material as it affords many re-ties. This knot has never failed me during many years of use. 48

September 2008

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Field Notes

Three species of the genus Cynoscion, commonly called seatrout, are

seatrout, but are reported as the second

seatrout, the smallest of the three seatrout,

most commonly caught seatrout species by

are the least pursued due mainly to their

anglers. Many bank or pier fishermen along

small size and are more common in the Gulf

native to the Gulf of Mexico: the spotted

Texas’ coastline have hooked a “sandie” only

than in the bays.

seatrout, the sand seatrout and the silver

to throw it back, assuming they caught an

seatrout. The spotted seatrout, or speckled

undersized spotted seatrout. Sand seatrout

morphologically (i.e. physical characteristics

trout as they are often referred, are a highly

are frequently caught in bays and have

and body measurements) similar, there are

sought after gamefish found in all of Texas’

no bag or size restrictions in Texas. Some

some characteristics that separate them.

bays. The sand seatrout are a smaller-

fishermen declare sand trout meat par with

Spotted seatrout are easily distinguishable

sized seatrout as compared to the spotted

spotted seatrout as table fare. The silver

from sand and silver seatrout, having a

Although these species are

copious amount of spots on their back and

(a) Sand Seatrout

sometimes fins, while sand seatrout and Anal fin base 1.2 to 2.4 times the diameter of the eye.

silver seatrout each lack these spots. Sand seatrout and silver seatrout both occur offshore and are often referred to as “white trout” by commercial fishermen, due to their morphological similarities. Researchers at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Perry R. Bass Marine Fisheries Research Station (PRB) recently completed

Anal fin base

a morphology/genetic analysis between these “white trout”. We first determined each species was genetically distinct, with no

(b) Silver Seatrout

Anal fin base 0.8 to 1.2 times the diameter of the eye.

evidence of hybridization. Morphologically we were able to distinguish sand and silver seatrout by comparing the eye diameter in relation to the anal fin base length or by counting the anal fin rays (Figure 1). Sand seatrout (Fig. 1A) have a smaller eye as compared to the anal fin base length and silver seatrout have a larger eye as compared to their anal fin base length. Silver seatrout’s

Anal fin base

(Fig. 1B) larger eye, as evidenced by other open water species, most likely assists with vision in the deeper waters of the gulf.

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TPW D FIELD NOTES

All three of Texas’ seatrout are similar in a general sense, however, due to specific habitat niches, some differences are distinct (i.e. genetic, adult size, morphology). The life histories of these species are also relatively similar, but differ in their preferred habitat, fecundity, maturity, age and growth. Spotted seatrout are commonly found throughout our bays and estuaries and are capable of living up to age nine with a total length of 37 inches. Spotted seatrout are known to be spring/summer spawners, peaking in the spring, producing eggs up to almost two million in a batch, depending on female size. Based on captured spawning individuals, spawning appears to take place over grass beds near shallow channels and passes. Also, spotted seatrout, being the most temperature tolerant of the seatrout species, are reported to migrate to deeper channels and passes in order to evade the temperature extremes of the winter and summer. Other research being conducted by PRB involves investigating the age, growth, life history and distribution of sand seatrout in Texas. Sand seatrout, unlike the spotted seatrout, are considered more as an intermediate species, living both in bays/estuaries and the offshore Gulf and are capable of living up to age three with a total length of 23 inches. PRB research coincides with prior research demonstrating that sand seatrout are found in areas of lower salinity (i.e. the upper to middle coast). Sand seatrout were found to be spring/summer spawners, peaking in the spring, and producing up to 98,000 eggs in a batch. Spawning has been reported to take place in gulf passes of bays and just within the immediate Gulf. Wind and surface water currents actually work to transport the recently spawned floating eggs into either estuarine or gulf nurseries. Sand seatrout are also known to migrate offshore to evade temperature extremes and return to the bay once the conditions are more tolerable. Silver seatrout are the shortest-lived and least studied of the three seatrout. PRB research has shown that silver seatrout are primarily found offshore along the middle coastline in Texas (i.e. offshore of Matagorda and Aransas/Corpus Christi areas) and are capable of living up to age two with a total length of 24 inches. They are spring/ summer spawners, peaking in the summer, producing up to 50,000 eggs in a batch. It is suggested that silver seatrout use gulf nurseries rather than estuarine nurseries. Silver seatrout are reported as migratory as evidenced by a low abundance of silver seatrout within TPWD Gulf sampling areas (from Gulf shoreline to nine miles offshore) during the summer and winter and an increase in abundance during the fall and spring. All three of Texas’ seatrout are similar in a general sense, however, due to specific habitat niches, some differences are distinct (i.e. genetic, adult size, morphology). Hopefully, with the assistance of this read, fishermen unfamiliar with identifying these seatrout can now better distinguish between species.

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C A P T. S C O T T N U L L

K A Y A K

F I S H I N G

I’M SITTING IN THE SALT LAKE AIRPORT ANXIOUS to get

already be seen in the Pelican lineup. Pelican’s new Elite Series is a big upgrade

one fits your needs when they hit the market. My issue with most of these is the height and

and they are serious about gaining a share of

bulkiness of their designs; I like to keep things

this niche market. The sit-on-top model has

simple. Some of what I saw were obviously

back to Texas and some

been dubbed the Strike and will be available

prototypes so hopefully they’ll be slimmed

humidity; my gills are

in 11.5’, 13’ and 15’ length. The Elite boasts

down and streamlined before hitting stores.

drying out up here. It has been a fun week, but

30% thicker plastic resulting in a stiffer and

Ocean Kayak has gone in two directions

I’m ready to get back to some real saltwater.

more durable boat. The lines of the Strike look

this season with something old and something

You’re probably wondering why my article is

good and while I did not get a chance to demo,

new. The old is a reintroduction of the popular

being written in Salt Lake City as there isn’t

it appears to be a major upgrade in paddling

Scupper Pro TW that was discontinued a

anything salty to write about up here other than

performance and should compare favorably

couple years ago. They caught grief from

that big salty sludge they call a lake. However,

with the traditional leaders in the field. The

Scupper loyalists and have decided to give

I will be covering kayaks and trout fishing, so I

top deck is laid out well and the boats come

her another go. The fans of this model have

guess it does have relevance for TSFMag.

complete with a fishing package that includes

medium to smaller builds and want a boat that

three rod holders, tackle box and comfortable

performs well with lighter loads. This move

and check out what’s new for the coming

after-market style seat. The 11.5’ kayak has

should make some folks very happy.

year in the kayak world and I have to say I am

MSRP of $549 without a rudder. The 13’ and

I came to attend the Outdoor Retailer Show

Ocean’s new introductions are the Trident 11

impressed. If you’ll recall my piece last year, I

15’ models come standard with rudder and list

and 13 to go along with the established Trident

was somewhat disappointed at the lack of new

at $999 and $1099 respectively.

15. All of the Tridents are designed with extra volume in the hull for paddling performance

and updated kayaks designed for fishing at this The new Pelican Strike.

show. I guess we’d been spoiled in previous years when a steady flow of innovation was directed toward our market. Last year it

with heavier loads. This series is also known for having enough rocker to handle crashing surf and other rough conditions.

seemed the manufacturers paused to see if

The 11 and 13 share many

kayak fishing would remain strong enough to

of the 15’s features;

warrant continued effort.

comfortable padded seat, large bow hatch, oversized

Evidently it has; each of the big four had

tankwell and optional

something interesting and another company

One interesting twist in the cockpit of the

has stepped up their game. That company is

Pelican is a recessed dash. It consists of a

“rod pod” for inside-

Pelican. Yes, I said Pelican. The Castaway

piece of hard plastic mounted slightly below

the-hull storage of your

has been popular among beginning kayak

the level of the deck. The dashboard is

fishing rods. The Trident

anglers for a while now. It is an economical

removable and will accommodate GPS or fish-

13 shares the “sonar

way to enter the sport, but it lacks features and

finder without drilling holes in the boat. To be

shield” of the 15 which

had little appeal among veteran kayak anglers

fair, most of the other manufacturers have also

seeking greater performance. Pelican has

added after-market fishing dashboards

added Kelley Woolsey to their staff. You may

to their accessory lines. Some

recall Kelley at the helm of Confluence when Wilderness led the way in the kayak fishing market and his mark can

look better than others to me, but I’ll let you decide which

Entering the canyon of the secret fishing hole.

Utah Brown Trout.

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allows you to cover electronics while busting

them a new look, new features and better

solid pre-formed scupper tubes. The seams

through surf or during inclement weather.

performance. I had the opportunity to work

of rotomolded scupper tubes have historically

In addition, Ocean has gone to adjustable

with Bob on the redesign of the Ride a couple

been a source of leakage and the upgrade will

foot pegs instead of their standard molded

years ago and really respect his abilities. We

please many users.

footwells. Another cool option on the Trident 11

had a chance to chat and he explained all the

is an available rudder. Not many of the shorter

changes. All of the Tarpon models received

Along the way I managed to sneak in a

kayaks on the market have that capability.

hull design tweaks, some more noticeable

couple sessions on the Provo River with my

than others. In the past the different models

four-weight and some dry flies. It was fun

to their popular Native Ultimate lineup with a

shared the same family name, but the hulls

and I caught plenty of fish, but it was the first

new ten footer. They also recently introduced

didn’t have the same genes. Now they look like

afternoon that’ll get me back. Upon landing

a new pedal drive system for hands-free

they belong together all the way from the ten

in Utah I visited Four Seasons fly shop in

propulsion dubbed Propel Pedal Drive. You

foot Tarpon 100 to the sixteen foot 160. Every

Heber City. I was fortunate to speak with

can pedal it like a bicycle with a rotating stroke

model now sports the sharper bow entry of the

an employee who was willing to give up his

vs. the back and forth used by Hobie. The

160 making them much more efficient. Bob

favorite fishing hole.

pedals drive a lower unit similar to an outboard

also added volume to the hulls giving them

motor at 10:1 gear ratio. The speed of this

more weight capacity and a drier ride.

K AYA K

F I SH I NG

Legacy Paddlesports has continued to add

little rig is pretty impressive, and it pedals in

While the Tarpon’s hull tweaks might not

This trip couldn’t be all about working.

After forty miles of pavement and many miles of dirt I found myself in a beautiful backcountry canyon. Driving along the stream

reverse. The coolest part of the design is that

jump out at you, the deck changes will. First,

for twelve miles I saw only two fishermen.

it allows you to tilt the lower unit into the hull

the hatches are completely different. The

Arriving at my destination I had the entire place

when entering shallow water. They’ve also

rubber lids have been replaced by hard plastic

to myself. It was an awesome afternoon and

added several cool fishing accessories that

and are hinged. The front hatch has two

evening of clean fresh air and trout willing to

will be available at your local dealers. Jimbo

latches and the one on the cockpit floor has

eat unpracticed presentations.

Meador just keeps thinking every time he

one. The hatches displayed at the show were

Just before dark I was drifting a grasshopper

goes fishing.

marked as prototypes, but with the exception

along an undercut bank when a monster brown

of color they are pretty much what you can

rose and ate. I hate to admit it, but that fish

said, “If you could put a motor on it, I’d get

expect to see on the new models. The Ride

was too much for my limited trout experience.

one.” Well Legacy must’ve heard that too.

will be getting the same hatches. The Ride’s

He dove under the bank, turned downstream,

They’ve teamed with Motor Guide to produce

cockpit area has been refined with gear

and broke me off on a submerged log. My

a mini-trolling motor that fits into the same

pockets and a seat area drain. The seats have

hands were shaking and the light was fading.

mounting system as their pedal drive. And just

been upgraded to the Phase 3 style that was

After a dozen attempts I finally threaded on

like the Propel unit, it flips up to allow access to

previously available only on sit-inside touring

another hopper. Five casts later it was an

shallow flats. I enjoy paddling, but I’m looking

models. My touring boat has this seat and I’ve

almost exact replay. Same size fish, same

forward to giving this thing a shot. It sure would

spent many comfortable hours in it. The rear

downstream charge around that same damned

make that long trip back to the truck against

tankwells have been enlarged by doing away

log. All I could do was stare into the water and

the wind more enjoyable, not to mention

with the hatch behind the seat. This will put

accept defeat.

exploring with greater range.

your gear closer for easier access. They also

Many of our non-paddling buddies have

Reluctantly, it was time to head back to

added aluminum rails along the gunnels at

civilization. As I write this we just flew over

garnered lots of attention. It is something

the bow and tankwell. These will be handy for

that little canyon. I could clearly see the place

completely different and a radical departure

adding accessories and also allow changing

I parked and the cliff above the cut bank. All I

from what we’ve seen in sit-on-tops.

position of bungee cleats to secure cargo.

can think about is getting back up there for

Apparently they aren’t quite through tweaking

On the structural side they’ve addressed the

a rematch.

yet and don’t expect it on the market for a

weakest point of any sit-on-top by including

Hobie had an interesting prototype that

while. I was asked not to take photos or even write a description just yet, so I won’t. Let’s just

CONTACT

say it is very different and leave it at that. The marketing people promised to provide details as soon as it’s ready for release. Hopefully I’ll get to test one and give y’all a full report in the near future The biggest redesign introduced at OR was the Wilderness Systems Tarpon line. Bob McDonough and his design team have completely updated the entire line-up giving 58

September 2008

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A A RON C I S N E ROS

A casualty of Hurricane Dolly.

HURRICANE DOLLY GAVE ME A FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE of what a major storm

was as stained as I have ever seen it. The

field day on our bodies. Along the return trip

usual shallow, clear water looked like a dark

I wondered how long this state of recovery

tea color, and there was no way to see

would take. We had experienced one of the

can dish out. This was the first hurricane

the bottom.

slowest days I have ever been a part of. It

experience of my life, and all I can say is that

wasn’t the lack of a bite that made it unusual

think that an incredible bite was waiting

but the lack of the typical marine life that you

On the day of the storm I could not help but

for us. How wrong we were! We fished the

find in the water.

think about what consequences our precious

usually productive area hard and came up

resource the Laguna Madre would absorb.

only with three bites and no hookups all day.

on the boat to cover more water and be able

With all the water and wind we received from

The stained water brought about some harsh

to see firsthand how the rest of the bay had

the storm, I imagined the worst scenario for

conditions that we are not used to dealing with

faired. Again we ran into tea-stained water in

some of my favorite fishing holes. Cleaning up

down south.

over sixty to seventy percent of the Laguna

after the storm didn’t take much because we

In exploring the recovering lagoon, we

Two days after the kayak trip we went out

south of the Arroyo. As we had experienced

were fortunate that the eye missed us, but the

seemed to notice that there was a sense of

on the kayaks, again no fish were caught that

surrounding areas were not so lucky. The fury

eeriness about being out there. There was no

day. As a matter of fact, we saw a total of

of Dolly blew out roofs, tore down piers, and

customary noise coming

knocked down many power lines that disrupted

from outboard motors,

everyone’s normal routine.

no one else to compete

A couple of days after the storm, I was

or share the same

eager to head out and assess the damage

waters. If it wasn’t for

done to our pristine lagoon so a friend and I

the mullet we paddled

headed out on the kayaks. Slipping the kayaks

into, you could vow that

into the water and paddling to the desired

no fin fish inhabited

spots, we noticed that the mangrove-lined

these waters.

shorelines and their surrounding habitat

60

Paddling thru schools of bait made us

the preparation for a hurricane is a lot of work.

As we paddled back

looked normal as usual. The bait was as thick

tired and hungry, the

as ever, but one thing was for sure, the water

mosquitoes had a

September 2008

Hurricane Dolly’s surge pushed this boat onto the street.

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A A RON C I S N E ROS

Despite the slow catching JJ’s first time out on a kayak was a blast.

Hurricanes do bring destruction, but I’m sure there are many heroic stories and stories with happy endings that will go unprinted.

Trying to find fish in tea looking water was difficult.

three redfish while running the flats, which was kind of strange because this is the The small catch of the day accidentally jumped in the kayak.

time of the year that our bay system is flourishing with life. Once again that eerie feeling crept upon us especially when witnessing all the damage done to the once standing cabins on the ICW. Many cabins were gone, and all that was left were the poles that once held fun filled shacks and their docks. Motoring through the islands bayside you could see some extensive damage to some of the older buildings. The damage was not widespread, but a few buildings did have their roofs torn off. Many piers on the bayside received extensive damage and will have to be rebuilt. A few big boats that weathered the storm were pushed up out of the water or sunk with the impact of the storm surge. Because of the damaging results that Dolly brought to the island, TIFT, my favorite fishing tournament, was cancelled for this year. That’s okay because the islands recovery was the main focus for all the residents, officials, and many workers that came from all over the country. After experiencing firsthand what damaging results a hurricane can bring, I don’t wish it upon anyone. Yes, Dolly was only a category two hurricane, and we can only imagine the destruction that a hurricane of greater magnitude could cause. Hurricanes do bring destruction, but I’m sure there are many heroic stories and stories with happy endings that will go unprinted. Dolly did bring an unexpected change, but we will be quick to recover. I hope to report soon that the fish have returned to my favorite fishing spots, and newly built shacks will once again line up on the ICW. Let’s not forget that tea looking water will soon be gone and replaced with the gin clear water that the Lower Laguna is so known for. I can hardly wait.

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IN JANUARY WE ANNOUNCED our

TSFMag ag Catch & Release Photo Contest Winners

TSFMag Speckled Trout Catch & Release Photo Contest. Jeff Boudreaux came up with the idea and pledged $100 toward prizes. Well, let me tell you, we received a stack of great photos. Judging was not easy; actually everybody was a winner in our eyes. When we tried to pick just one, we changed our minds and decided to include four Runner-Up Awards. Our Grand Prize winner is Albert Rathmell who graces this month’s cover with a beautiful 30-incher from Baffin Bay that weighed 8.0 pounds. Albert was fishing with Capt. Mark Robinson and fooled his trophy with a MirrOlure He Dog. Albert used David Turnage of Bass and Bay in Bellville to make a replica mount. Albert will receive a rod and reel combo of his choice, a two year subscription to TSFMag, a TSF logo tee and TSF logo fishing cap.

Tony Rodriguez

OUR RUNNER-UP AWARDEES are Diana Aucoin, Tony Rodriguez, Sean Hale and Kevin Varga. Diana scored her 30”-8.0lb trophy at Port Mansfield on a black Super Spook Jr. Diana said she worked hard to revive the big fish. Tony Rodriguez found his trophy at Port O’Connor. She taped 28” and pulled the Boga to 7lbs. Tony used a Norton Bull Minnow. Sean Hale’s 28-incher was also caught in Baffin. Sean says he used his favorite topwater.

Diana Aucoin

Judging from its battered look; I believe him! Kevin Varga used a pink Rapala Skitterwalk to lure his 27-inch Baffin beauty. John Quintanilla Kevin Varga

snapped the shutter. Our Runner-Up Awardees will receive a two-year subscription to TSFMag, TSF logo tee, TSF logo fishing cap and $50 Gift Certificate. Congrats to all. And don’t forget to keep that camera handy; the C&R Speckled Trout Photo Contest continues through December. Keep those photos coming!

Sean Hale www.TSFMAG.com

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B Y

E V E R E T T

J O H N S O N

YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED, THE BOATS TEXAS INSHORE ANGLERS are running these days have begun to take on a new look. It wasn’t too long ago that welded aluminum and flat-bottomed wood and fiberglass skiffs were considered the hot setup and outnumbered other styles by a considerable margin. Nowhere did the tunnel hull flats boat thrive like it did here; and still does. Flat-bottomed tunnel boats are a Texas trademark, so much so that folks from other states call them Texas Sleds. Getting up and down the coast we see local brands favored, and for good reason, those builders produce what locals like to use. But lately a change has been taking place and there is a list of influences that bring it. Even our local builders have begun to include new styles and new designs. Whether you can get non-tourney anglers to agree; in the world of boats, similar to the world of automobiles, the competitive face of an industry soon becomes part of the everyday face. In automobiles, the suspension systems we ride on, fuel injection, front wheel and all-wheel drive, even our tires, can be traced back to the racetrack. In fishing, the technology developed to give anglers a competitive advantage in big money tournaments finds its way into the things we use everyday. This is true in rods, reels, line, lures, and boats. I remember the first year of the Redfish Cup; Texas teams did not fair well. The series was dominated by teams from Florida and they went at tourney fishing from an entirely different angle. It’s not that they were smarter or better anglers, what we were seeing was advantage of a three or four year head start, not to mention that they ran faster boats that had a greater range. Winning a tournament, we soon learned, could mean a 250 roundtrip to catch the right fish. It didn’t take long for the Texas boys to catch up, though. Visit a major inshore tournament today anywhere on the Texas coast. The tourney fleet is worlds away from what it was ten years ago. Technology from bass boats, racing boats, and even the aircraft industry can be seen almost everywhere you look. And the fact is; this infusion of materials technology and forward-thinking hull designs are creeping into the recreational fleet with increasing momentum. Other factors influencing the design of inshore fishing boats include fuel efficiency, improved seaworthiness, generally improved safety, comfort and aesthetics. When the price at the pump was a buck, nobody cared. When we only fished skinny water, who cared whether their fishing boat could withstand three and four foot seas? But things have changed, we want more today. Thanks to a generally strong economy for two decades, we earn more and can afford to spend more. We’re a little older and wiser as well, and enjoy the better things in life. During our visit to the Corpus Christi Boat Show we bumped into Billy Holmes of Gulf Coast Marine. Billy had a rep from Sterling Boats there in his booth and talk soon turned to the sleek models they had on display. Being somewhat of a techy-type I became intrigued 64

September 2008

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High Pressure Injection Foam 100% water proof closed cell foam

Full hull length stringers Bonding agent Kevlar laminate coating as the rep walked us through the various design features of the Sterling 220XS. This boat is a prime example of what I was describing when I said, “the boats Texas inshore anglers are running these days have begun to take on a new look.” Sitting there in the show, the boat just looked fast. Its lines are sleek and rakish and the finish was impeccable. Topside, it is well thought-out and efficient. From a tourney angler’s viewpoint I liked the wide walk-around gunwales and rod lockers. I also liked the fact that it is designed for the driver to be seated, my old back and knees would like that! I got a surprise when I asked Billy who picked the rigging and accessories as everything was as beautiful as it was functional. From the troll-motor wiring in the bow compartment to the console and gage cluster, all the way to the poling platform and jackplate, this was one honey of a rig. Billy just smiled and replied calmly in his Billy way, “It’s all standard, that’s the way they build them.” Well naturally I was keen to get one in the water, but that show was in January and it was 38-degrees outside with a stiff norther blowing. Then we thought we’d get a ride at the Corpus International Boat Show, until the mother of all thunderstorms came calling and stayed the rest of the day. But we finally got our ride. Billy arranged that we could meet Glenn Watts at Marker 37 for a demo run. Glenn rolled out of the Padre Isles canal into the ICW on his way to meet us and the silhouette and roostertail from the Sterling in the late afternoon sun was way cool. I’d only been in a few boats of this class and I was excited. Stepping aboard was pleasant as the craft is very stable. Pam settled in on the seat in front of the console and I joined Glenn behind the controls as we idled out. Once safely in the ICW and away from other craft, Glenn demonstrated capably what the 220XS was designed to deliver. She ate up the 1-foot southwest chop with ease and not a drop of spray entered the cockpit; whether head-on, quartering or following. The ride was smooth and fast. If I must say so, it was faster than I expected and faster than I’m accustomed. My first question was, “How quick can she get to Baffin?” Swinging onto the Upper Laguna flats, Glenn put her through shallow water paces. What we witnessed was impressive for a craft of this style and size. We were up and planning almost effortlessly in water I thought might have been a tad shallow. Our overall impression was very good. When asked whether he poled the boat often, Glenn grinned and replied that he liked his trolling motor better; quite understandable considering that she’s a 22-footer. Sterling makes a sweetheart of an eighteen for that type of fishing. Stop by Gulf Coast Marine’s Corpus or Dickinson locations for a look at the changing face of Texas boating. You might be in for a surprise.

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September 2008

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September 2008

67


DICKIE COLBURN

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

A YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENT, WHILE

the most consistent bite, but the best is yet to come for the open lake

in the midst of sharing a very

bordering the ICW.

good day of fishing on Sabine

and the protected flats along the Louisiana shoreline and islands Understanding tide changes and bait movement are critical factors

with her dad last month, voiced

that provide the veteran jetty fishermen a slight edge. Successful

a slightly different perspective

techniques and lure choices, however, are short-lived secrets due

on the impact that rising

to the armada of observant fishermen constantly lapping the rocks.

gasoline prices have had

It can get crowded on the weekends, but it seems there is always

on fishing.

something biting in that area for the fishermen that cannot get on the

Because her eyes were

water on a regular basis.

significantly younger than ours, she readily accepted the task of glassing for small groups of gulls riding herd on schooling trout or redfish. At one point, having scanned the horizon, she lowered the binoculars and stated, “Depending on what kind of mileage your motor gets, we have one flock out about a $4 run to the east and another about $6 a little farther south!” The most consistent bite last month for both trout and redfish took place on the jetties and around the short rigs. There were not a lot of big trout caught, but excellent numbers of solid keepers were aggressively feeding on every decent tide change. The action that drew the most attention, however, was the magnum trout bite on the north end of the lake. It was basically a live bait bite that was the strongest at the beginning and the end of each tide change. We could also expect at least a couple of swings at trout over seven-pounds the first hour or so drifting the flats bordering the ICW. We caught most of those fish on MirrOlure 808 She Dogs, a shad colored MirrOdine XL, swim baits, and Texas Roach or Morning Glory Assassins. As soon as that bite ended, we moved closer to the ICW and fished both mullet and shad on Carolina rigs in four to eight feet of water. I only had two clients catch trout over eight-pounds, but I cannot

Lauren Sandow was pleased with this nice trout.

recall ever catching and releasing as many 5 to 7 pound trout in the heat of summer. I have also never had as many moms, grandmas,

As the shrimp start easing out of the marshes and mixing with

and kids catch big trout. This summer has belonged to the ladies!

acres of shad, the most user-friendly bite of the year will kick into

While on the subject of ladies, there is no way of knowing what Mother Nature has in store for us as we brace for another season

by your penchant for size as opposed to sheer numbers.

of hurricanes and tropical storms, but from a fishing standpoint, it

If you would like to take a shot at both at the same time, tie on an

should only continue to get better. Gas prices combined with the

Assassin Kwik Cork with a two-foot leader and your choice of plastic

opening of dove season, the back to school rush, and the kickoff of

tails. Drift the shallow flats early and check the mid-lake areas later

another football season will continue to curb the fishing pressure.

in the day if the wind permits. The same combination works well in

I do not think it is a reach to expect our run of big trout to continue if the weather will give us a break. The jetties are going to produce 68

gear in the main lake. How you approach this month will be dictated

September 2008

both areas. We are catching better numbers on the shorter BLURP shrimp

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Kristen Coyle took advantage of the live bait bite.

or Sea Shad in roach, molting, or glow. We consistently catch fewer, but larger trout with the five-inch shad in the same colors as well as chicken-on-a-chain and pumpkin-chartreuse. I prefer swimming the five-inch shad on a one-eighth ounce head, but I have client’s wear me out on a regular basis with the cork. The bonus this month is locating schools of redfish assaulting the rafting shad in the open lake. They will hit anything in reach, but more often than not, we are already fishing a topwater or a suspending lure like the larger MirrOdine or Catch V when they start blowing holes in the surface. Those are reliable choices for working small slicks for trout while waiting on the reds to do their thing. We have also enjoyed an extended flounder bite this summer and the ratio of keepers to throwbacks has been respectable. A four-inch tail rigged on a quarter ounce head with a pinch of shrimp will keep you in the game. Depending on water clarity, we fish glow, chartreuse, pumpkin, or roach with confidence. When the water is in the cane or up in the grass you cannot beat a quarter ounce spinner bait rigged with a BLURP sea shad. The vibration attracts both reds and flounder and the added scent in the plastic gives us an edge when the bite is tough. Throw the spinnerbait right up in the vegetation and retrieve it just fast enough to keep the blade turning. Fish smart, respect the resource, and take someone fishing for his or her first time this month!

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THE SUMMERTIME PATTERN IS DEFINITELY in full-swing

wells in Trinity are producing good numbers of trout, you really have to

and we’re all glad to see it

the reefs on the west side of Trinity; Dow, Beasley, Fisher, and Trinity

coming together.

Reef and also the HL&P Spillway are holding good numbers of fish.

work some days to find your honey holes. Thus far the few I mentioned seem to be the ones you can catch fish on every day. For the most part,

Deep reefs out in the middle open-water areas have been paying off

EAST BAY

really good with trout, reds, gaftop and drum all mixed together.

Deep-water structure is holding lots of fish. East Bay’s mid-bay reefs are holding good

GALVESTON BAY Along the Houston Ship Channel from Marker-72 down to Marker-40,

numbers of fish and as always

has been holding real good fish, especially by Eagle Point and lower

we tend to do better in these

Galveston Bay in Dollar Reef and Red Fish Island and San Leon areas.

in these areas when the wind

Croaker fishermen have been smoking the trout in these areas, bring

is down. We are finding some

in a lot of good trout on a daily basis. Many of the old well pads on the

redfish shallow along the upper end shorelines of East Bay. There have

lower channel have been doing well too, not so much for heavy trout

been some pretty good numbers of redfish along the Wildlife Refuge

but a lot of nice keeper-sized fish. Some of the guides and friends

in about four to five feet of water. Trout are hanging in about six to

of mine have been hitting the Bolivar well pads and catching pretty

eight feet of water over shell for the most part. Soft plastics have been

consistent numbers and some days getting limits down there when the

producing quite well. Here of late, the southwest winds have dropped

weather is right.

our tides, stirred the water up and slowed the bite. This does not seem to affect the croaker fishermen nearly as much as those using artificial and the live-baiters are pounding on them. They are coming in with

SUMMARY For the most part the Galveston Bay System is turned on, from East

coolers full of nice trout every day. Lure fishermen are averaging half-

to Trinity to upper and lower Galveston and all the channel area. Pretty

limits of trout per day along with limits of reds, occasionally limits on

near anybody willing to work a little bit can find prime areas bring in a

both, but half-limits of trout are more the norm right now. Barring any

good mess of trout and redfish everyday. Most of our reds are coming

further tropical storm activity, East Bay anglers should have a good

in the upper ends of the bays and most of the trout are coming in on mid

month in September. I would rate East Bay B+ and it could earn an A in

bay shell. These are pretty easy patterns to follow. Soft plastics on 1/4

September.

and 3/8 oz jig heads (depending depth and currents) have been working the best. We have started seeing some topwater action in Trinity Bay

TRINITY BAY

drifting structure and staying in the boat. It normally starts every August,

Things have really shaped up in Trinity Bay. Some of the mid-bay

a real good consistent topwater bite and here in the middle of the month

wells are starting to show good numbers of trout; the Little Yellow and

we are just now starting to see the beginning of it. The topwater bite

the Big Yellow separators along with some of the old Exxon wells seem

should hold steady through August and perhaps into September when it

to be best right now. Notice at the beginning of this paragraph I did not

dies out again as patterns began toward the coming of fall. For the most

say all the

part things are looking good and weather permitting they should stay good. The PCB warnings about eating trout are still posted but you’d never know it, I do not think they have slowed the number of people fishing in the least. Everyone is still out there fishing hard.

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71


JULY FISHING TRIPS HIT THE MARK but

temperatures arrive in late September to trigger our fishery to move

August was another story. An

picture should look like. Right now we have a lot of shad and mullet in

abundance of southwest winds

our bays which have fattened up trout and reds. I’m projecting a great

narrowed our catches. What

fall season.

into the fall mode. September will dictate to me what our fall fishing

happens in a scenario with west and southwest winds? If you’ve been fishing long enough

EAST MATAGORDA BAY Early departures from the dock to fish reefs and places on the south

you know that these types of

shoreline with mud bottoms will be my plan for September. During

wind directions affect both East

this time of year, especially mid to late September, our shrimp will be

and West Matagorda Bays in

burying themselves in mud and consequently gamefish will be in the

a negative way for fishermen.

area. Chances are for bird activity as well while you are wading which

Water levels drop 1-2 ft below

can be a lot of fun fishing diving seagulls.

normal and clarity turns to mud

Options to get started might include areas between the Gulf Cut and

with these wind conditions

Boggy Cut on the north shoreline along with muddy spots like Brown

because there is a lot of mud and

Cedar Flats and west of there all the way to the Oyster Farm and even

shell at the bottom of both bays. The Colorado River runs into West

Eidelbach Flats. As far as fishing the reefs, Three Beacon, Long Reef,

Matagorda Bay which can help keep the water a little clearer at times

Drulls, Half-moon, and the reefs on the north shoreline from Boggy Cut

especially past the Cullen Houses.

all the way to Bird Island could be producers. Sometimes around midSeptember, for the

morning I’ll stop wading and then cruise the bay looking for some bird

most part, is a transition

activity, slicks, or even some seagulls sitting on the water. I’ll make long

month between summer

drifts over muddy bottoms with scattered shell choosing areas such as

and fall. Some outdoor

Half-moon to the south shoreline, in front of the Oyster Farm, Boggy

enthusiasts can’t wait

Cut, Gulf Cut, and Tripod on the far west end of the bay.

for dove and teal season to start. Maybe we will have some cooler

WEST MATAGORDA BAY Bird activity may happen in West Matagorda Bay as well. If I do

Mike Georges, 27.5 inches; East Matagorda Bay with Capt. Bill, Bass Assassin Corks and Chicken-on-a-Chain. Manly Bolton and Guy Robertson waded and drifted with Capt. Bill in East Matagorda Bay; 25 and 27-inch trout; She Dogs and Bass Assassins. 72

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James and Matthew Hrncir drifted East Matagorda Bay with Capt. Bill and picked up these reds during wicked southwest wind.

fish this bay system, I’ll be wading the guts and fingers coming from the south shoreline into the bay and watching for mullet. Areas to consider will include the Cullen Houses all the way down to Greens and Cottons. It’s possible to look at drifting or wading spots on the north shoreline like Twin Island and Shell Island which can be very good if you have water clarity. Don’t overlook Oyster Lake for big reds and black drum.

Bait Picks A major factor for any fisherman throwing artificial lures is to possess confidence in the bait you choose to throw. If you don’t have confidence in the bait, for Heaven’s sake, don’t throw it. When you get up and out of bed in the morning you have faith that your two legs are going to walk you to your kitchen for that first cup of coffee. Throwing lures is in the same ballpark. As you can determine in the photo, these are the baits I use and do so with the utmost trust that they will do the job. You’ll find me chunking these lures now and throughout the coming months because they have proven themselves to me as both dependable and reliable. My favorite Bass Assassin baits for this fall will include Roach, 10W40, Pumpkinseed, Red & White, and Glow in 4 or 5” sea shad. Topwater picks are MirrOlure 83MR She Dogs in 83MR-GCRCH, 83MR-CHPR, 83MR-CRBC, MRGCRRH, and MRCRBN. My list also includes MirrOlure 51MR-EC, TTR808, and 51MR-CH. Of course, I’ll also use the Corky and Corky Devil, pearl chartreuse with gold sides and also pearl chartreuse. Everything will fall in place once your confidence builds. You’ll find it as relaxing as a walk in the park. To sum everything up, fishing has been fair to good and I think it is going to get even better this fall, maybe one of the best falls ever. Until next time keep those Shimano reels cleaned, oiled, and in good shape. Take a day off to go fishin’. www.TSFMAG.com

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73


WIND HAS BEEN OUR WORST ENEMY

which of course depends on the conditions of the day. After 30 to 40

for most of the year keeping us

soft plastic. I can’t help but laugh a little when this happens. I will tell you

from venturing to the open waters

just like I tell all my customers, you cannot catch a fish on a topwater

of our beloved San Antonio Bay

unless it is attached to the end of your line! Be patient and make yourself

and the bountiful Matagorda

leave it tied on… no ifs, ands, or buts.

Island surf. The months of

minutes with little result, off comes the topwater and they’re tying on the

It is thrilling for me to watch a skeptic catch a fish on a surface plug

August and September are the

for the first time. Once the first fish comes to hand it takes little coaxing

hottest months of the year and

for them to leave it tied on.

usually offer us a seasonal break from all the gusty winds. Just like August, it will be

Now for the selection of topwaters that I prefer; if the wind is whipping pretty good I will opt for a larger, nosier lure like the She Dog made by MirrOlure. This is a lure that seems to have no problem

important to start very early

getting the attention of fish in choppy conditions. I will say, though,

in the morning or late in the

bigger topwaters can be tiresome on the wrist and forearms of those

afternoon when hoping to be

new to the game. Switching to a smaller plug after an hour or so may

successful in September. I like to

become necessary. Also note that even a single blade of grass can alter

be at my fishing spot at least 30

the action of any surface lure, be sure to clean it before making your

minutes before sunrise. As tough

next cast.

as it can be to pull yourself out of a comfy bed at 3:30am, once you’re

When the conditions are calm I often throw a smaller, quieter lure

out there fishing and watching that sunrise the exchange of your pillow

such as the Rapala Skitterwalk or Excalibur’s Super Spook Jr. Both are

for your rod will be well worth it.

extremely easy to work and newcomers get the hang of it very quickly.

Recently I fished with some clients who were pre-fishing for an upcoming tournament and quality fish were on the agenda. Now quality and quantity is something we all like to strive for on a fishing trip; but lets face it… it doesn’t happen as often as we would like. When I know customers want to target the heavier fish I always remind them of the empty cast that will likely be their day-long companion, especially with the warmer water temperatures that are typical this time of year. The lure I depend on when it comes to catching better-sized fish, whether it is trout or redfish, is the good ol’ topwater. I know a lot of you anglers are skeptical of topwaters because of the lack of success you may have had while using them. Let me run you through the scenario we often encounter when fishing with skeptics. We start our wade or drift after everyone has tied on a favorite topwater;

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September 2008

This redfish, caught and released by angler Randy Connor, had a large scar from an encounter with a prop that had healed over nicely. Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Rob Carson caught this 31 pound jack crevalle while fishing in about 18 inches of water.

Catching fish on any surface lure requires learning to walk-the-dog.

spook and the possibility of another chance is eliminated. Color choice for me is pretty simple. I like natural-colored topwaters

Basically, what this means is that you will make short, choppy motions with your rod tip while reeling the lure back to you. You’ll know when you have

with a little contrasting color to the underside. If I am fishing in low-light

it figured out as your plug will dart and jump slightly… left-right-left-right

breezy conditions I will switch to a lure with a brightly colored head. Since

like an anxious little dog on a short leash. I let the fish dictate whether I

these lures have some weight to them it is no problem making a long

walk it fast or slow. Think of it like playing with your house cat… if you get

cast. A brightly colored head allows me to keep track of it and I can then

blow-ups but no hook ups, slow your retrieve and make the fish think they

see whether the action of the lure has been impaired by grass or other

have injured your offering by twitching it a few times then stopping and then

surface debris. Now get out there, tie on your topwater and leave it tied on. It may not

repeating the same steps a few more times. If I can’t entice the fish to take the lure after a few twitches I quickly reel the lure back to me and make another cast just past the area I had the last

be the lure that catches you numbers, but it will almost always catch bigger fish. The blow-ups alone will keep you going cast after cast.

blow-up. With a hesitant fish, it is important to stop working the lure about 10 yards from you and then quickly taking it away to keep the fish from following all the way in. If a fish gets a glimpse of you or your shadow it will

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September 2008

75


CLIFF WEBB

IT HAS BEEN A GREAT SUMMER OF

Then a couple of years later Packery Channel was opened from the

fishing with clear water and a

there are good strong currents along the west shore and the King

lot of fish in the upper Laguna

Ranch Shoreline. This has really improved our bay system for fishing.

Madre and Baffin Bay. I’ve heard

The high tides push up the dead seagrass from the shore and when the

the good fishing story’s from all

water falls out the shore is left clean. It is a healthier bay system when

up and down the coast with no

we get a water exchange, particularly in the heat of the summer when

complaints. This part of the coast

the water can almost get stagnant.

was very lucky with hurricane

Gulf of Mexico to the Laguna Madre. Now when we get tropical storms

The spoil islands at Bird Island, Baffin Bay and Yarborough Pass

Dolly. She gave us just what

have been especially productive with the high tides. The hot spots

we needed. We got five to six

have been the spoil islands with the sand rings around them or the

inches of rain and the tide level

sand points. I’ll start out wading in about waist deep water and wade up

was pushed up two to three feet

shallow to the island in the area that is normally dry land. The fish are

bringing in a good flush of water from the Gulf of Mexico. This time of

right on top of the islands, up around the edges of the sand, feeding on

year it is common to get the tropical depressions. We just hope that

crabs and bait they normally can’t reach. After the storm, when the water falls back out, I will target the

they are not too destructive. When the JFK Causeway was raised a few years back, they made

sloughs. The sloughs are little creeks where the rain funnels into the

some improvements for the water flow underneath it on the west end.

bay. Baffin Bay has many of these sloughs. The shrimp and bait fish that have been pushed up into the new areas now begin to stream into the slough as the water level drops. The trout will feed during the night and early in the morning at the mouth of theses sloughs. They will be making slicks in the shallow water and slicks out deeper during the day. It has been easy to spot the trout feeding in the sloughs. A week after hurricane Dolly the water was down to normal levels. I was invited by some surfing buddies to go fishing on their boat. This was an unusual treat. I got to step in the boat with my Waterloo rod and I didn’t have to worry about anything else. Mike Weaver pulls up to the flats on the west shore. We could see a mixture of grass and sand. The four of us start wading with top water lures. The bite was good and everyone was catching trout. Mike caught three trout over twenty-four inches long. He had the hot hand. He was hard to keep up with. He was catching the big ones and we were on the little ones. We were targeting the small sand pockets in the flats. The fish have been thick on the sand for this time of year. The hotter the weather the more they like the sand. Some of the

Scott Easterling and Rob Meza wading the sand pockets. 76

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Mike Weaver with his trout. sand pockets were big, up to fifty yards long. They were holding fish but, the bigger trout came from the small pockets of sand, about six to ten feet across. We would wade along and cast into the sandy areas, reel it fast, then pause it and the trout would nail it. Don’t miss the first strike because very seldom would there be a second. The big trout lay in the grass next to the sand pockets and they are camouflaged. They wait for a baitfish to swim in the open sandy spot then ambushed them. The sand and grass provide a perfect ambush situation for a big trout. The rocks of Baffin Bay have also been producing good trout and redfish. We’ve had some great days of fishing around the rocks with the trolling motor. The water is clear where you can see the structure and we can work all around them. The hot lures this month have been the Saltwater Assassin’s, Chickenon-a-Chain and pumpkinseed with chartreuse tail. As far as other lures go, the bone and silver Super Spook and the Catch Five in silver have been the better ones. The trout are devastating them in the sand pockets early in the morning. The fall is coming up and the fishing in the Intra-Coastal will start to improve with trout, redfish and flounder on the move. Look for the big bull reds to show up on the north end from Bird Island to Corpus Christi Bay. The boat traffic has been light in the Laguna Madre. It will probably get even quieter when bird hunting season begins. It’s hard to beat this time of year. Fish in the morning and hunt doves in the afternoon. What could be better?

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

THE LOWER LAGUNA MADRE HAS an interesting

through these areas. Luckily no one has been hurt as of this writing.

fourth quarter coming up and

away from the dedicated lure fishermen, and extensive runoff from the

September will be prime time to

Arroyo Colorado had the surface water brown and fresh all the way to

explore Hurricane Dolly’s impact

the East Cut. This is a rare event for a hypersaline system.

on this delicate yet resilient

Huge amounts of wave and wind-ripped seagrass took lots of water

The fish were still there though, and catchable, but it was far from

ecosystem system. Fishing proven

our normally exotically clear waters anglers travel long distances to

patterns and traditional areas will

experience. We rescheduled all of our trips for two weeks, unsure

be exciting but searching for new

we could meet expectations. That being said, much of the shallow

possibilities sculpted by Dolly’s

east side remained clean, and scattered groups of aggressive redfish

wrath will be a certain cure for

patrolled near the shallow sand/grass line most mornings.

boredom on the water. Let’s never

Some good catches were made, and the tried and true slow-wobbling 1/4 ounce Johnson weedless spoons were consistent producers. Topwaters had their explosive moments as well, especially smaller sizes in bone or chrome, but the reliable plastic tail worked as usual when all else failed. We are still relying on darker colors such as plum or dark strawberry on 1/8 screw lock jig heads. It appears that our redfish populations are as strong as ever and promise to delight many sight fishermen this fall. It won’t be long before we see schooling activity in force as mature fish prepare for their annual exodus through the jetties.

Teamwork: With any luck it will be time to get those big topwaters back out. be so frightened of failure that we fail to try new things; this fall season should give us plenty of opportunity. Predictably, August got off to rough start. Timbers, pilings and planks bobbed or lay barely submerged along the west side of the ICW, making low light navigation out of the Harbor nerve-wracking if not dangerous.

Spoon: The slow-wobbling 1/4 ounce Johnson weedless spoons were consistent.

It was curious to see boaters still blasting

78

September 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

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Our redfish populations are as strong as ever and promise to delight many sight fishermen this fall.

Trout fishing during the period was typical for late summer, with the most

spawning season. With any luck it will be time to get those big topwaters

consistent action along outer grasslines, submerged points and spoils.

back out, and use them with more confidence longer into the day. There

Limits of average-sized fish were fairly easy on tails, and we’re happy to

will always be some monster loners on the shallow east side, with and near

report “average size” seems to be ever improving. With ramp pressure

the bait and reds, but greatest potential is usually found over deeper sand

reduced by fuel prices plus allowable limits halved by the state, it’s not

pockets and along the west bank. Shorelines will become more active,

hard to predict the future health of the seatrout fishery barring any

especially early, and current swept structure such as points on submerged

catastrophic event.

spoil banks will hold schools of aggressively feeding fish. Slicks, curious

September can be full of surprises and no one knows what the weather

birds, and nervous bait will tell us when it’s “on”, but during slower periods,

patterns might be. It can be the hottest month of the year or start to cool off

a loud topwater like MirrOlure’s She Dog can call up some heavy fish even

rapidly, but traditionally, tide levels will start to rise and that alone will alter

during the middle of the day.

fishing patterns. The white sands against the island should attract more

As mentioned, many new areas have probably formed and others

redfish and tailing action should become more consistent. Calm mornings

changed in Dolly’s wake. After Hurricane Brett in 1999, several hard-

can reveal tails waving in all directions on the shallow flats, one of most

packed bottoms turned into silt, while other boggy areas were swept clean.

thrilling events you can experience below your knees. We prefer to wade

New guts and fish holding swales were gouged, grasslines were moved,

quietly into them and become the focused hunter, being patient to pick the

potholes rearranged, and sand was pushed into new humps and ridges.

fish you want and slowly easing into good casting position. Unless you have

It will take time to completely assess what has been changed and even

a good poling skiff, wading is often the only way to get on them as there is

longer to determine what has been changed for the better, but with some

often not enough wind to drift.

motivated effort, the more enthusiastic fishermen among us might well

These fish can be skittish so presentations need to be precise and subtle. Many lures will work, but I’ll probably just stick to a pumpkinseed/ chartreuse paddle tail. I can stop it, start it, or swim it slowly into their strike

ferret out some new and highly productive areas to call their own, at least for a while. School is back in session, vacationing anglers are back at work, the tides

zone. The vibration of the tail can help raise their heads from the plume of

are rising and the water is cooling off. It’s time for the gritty to get out there

silt they are often wallowing in. If you know something works for you, why

and make memories.

change unless experimenting? As far as September’s trout go, they will be approaching the end of

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

September 2008

79


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

THE LOWER LAGUNA MADRE HAS an interesting

through these areas. Luckily no one has been hurt as of this writing.

fourth quarter coming up and

away from the dedicated lure fishermen, and extensive runoff from the

September will be prime time to

Arroyo Colorado had the surface water brown and fresh all the way to

explore Hurricane Dolly’s impact

the East Cut. This is a rare event for a hypersaline system.

on this delicate yet resilient

Huge amounts of wave and wind-ripped seagrass took lots of water

The fish were still there though, and catchable, but it was far from

ecosystem system. Fishing proven

our normally exotically clear waters anglers travel long distances to

patterns and traditional areas will

experience. We rescheduled all of our trips for two weeks, unsure

be exciting but searching for new

we could meet expectations. That being said, much of the shallow

possibilities sculpted by Dolly’s

east side remained clean, and scattered groups of aggressive redfish

wrath will be a certain cure for

patrolled near the shallow sand/grass line most mornings.

boredom on the water. Let’s never

Some good catches were made, and the tried and true slow-wobbling 1/4 ounce Johnson weedless spoons were consistent producers. Topwaters had their explosive moments as well, especially smaller sizes in bone or chrome, but the reliable plastic tail worked as usual when all else failed. We are still relying on darker colors such as plum or dark strawberry on 1/8 screw lock jig heads. It appears that our redfish populations are as strong as ever and promise to delight many sight fishermen this fall. It won’t be long before we see schooling activity in force as mature fish prepare for their annual exodus through the jetties.

Teamwork: With any luck it will be time to get those big topwaters back out. be so frightened of failure that we fail to try new things; this fall season should give us plenty of opportunity. Predictably, August got off to rough start. Timbers, pilings and planks bobbed or lay barely submerged along the west side of the ICW, making low light navigation out of the Harbor nerve-wracking if not dangerous.

Spoon: The slow-wobbling 1/4 ounce Johnson weedless spoons were consistent.

It was curious to see boaters still blasting

78

September 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com

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Over the course of summer, the amount of boat traffic played a big role

that freshwater in the bay system, the water turned an iced tea color

in changing fish feeding patterns, but again sticking to a game plan and

in deeper areas near the ICW, the Arroyo Colorado, and also further

waiting for the traffic to lighten up brought us rewards.

north. The good news is that with the aid of the predominant southeast

One vital contributor to our success was to fish areas that everyone was passing up. As most boats went to local favorite fishing holes that have been known to produce over the years, we began to dissect

winds that blow this time of the year the month of September should bring things back to normal. Something to keep in mind is that September is still a very wet month

the entire bay system. My dictionary defines dissection as a process

down here, but as soon as the water clarity returns, look for the back

of disassembling and observing something to determine its internal

bays to flourish with life. Redfish will be rooting for eels and crabs, trout

structure. And that’s exactly what we did. By jumping off the boat we

will be found in deeper sand pockets, and the flounder should continue to be caught in good numbers along the ICW. The top baits down here continue to be the Super Spook Jr in color bone, and a plumtreuse Sea Devil from Brown Lures is a sure bet when they are not hitting on top. I would like to put in a good word for two AFTCO products that I have been using on a regular basis. One of those products is the most comfortable fishing shorts I have ever worn. They come with plenty

AFTCO Captain’s bag allows you to organize your fishing stuff.

inspected the bay floor with our feet, as you wade, you can gain valuable information about bottom structure. If you get on fish, you will then know what type of bottom they prefer. In addition, wading gives you firsthand experience of the depths where the fish are holding. As we waded, we began to dissect areas other fishermen usually pass Trey Crocker knows how to catch them.

up. To our surprise, we began to discover the importance of depth changes. Everybody thinks of depth changes in terms of feet, what we

of leg room at the thighs which allow a great fit. They dry quickly, are

discovered was the importance of a few inches, especially around bars

stain resistant and most important lightweight. The other product is the

and points that create perfect ambush points. At times our dissecting

AFTCO captain’s bag which has allowed me to organize the necessities

decisions were as simple as choosing off-colored water based on the

for the next day of fishing. I’m able to keep my sunglasses, licenses,

amount of traffic in the area. Since most of the surrounding water we

camera, and keys organized among other things. This enables me

fished was clear, we figured the pressured fish would find refuge in

to grab the bag and quickly walk out the door in the morning without

the deeper off-colored water. More so than not we were right as many

scrambling or forgetting something. The bag comes with many

personal best fish were caught this summer even in the midst of all the

waterproof compartments that hold and protect your valuables while on

boat traffic.

the water. Visit their web site at hyperlink “http://www.aftco.com” www.

As of this writing the Lower Laguna Madre is still in recovery from

aftco.com or go by Fishing Tackle Unlimited and take a look at these

Hurricane Dolly. The harsh conditions that Dolly brought made it tough

wonderful products. They will make your fishing more comfortable and

to produce significant catches even weeks after the storm. With all

well organized. Best fishing to you in September.

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Texas Saltwater Fishing

September 2008

81


September is a month of transition. With the arrival of the first few fronts, fish

Fishing for trout has been steady in Randall’s area, and the redfishing has been

will be spawning off the beaches. Lots of redfish will be caught on cut mullet

good too at times, though less consistent. “We’ve found that you need to get the

and cracked crab at the Cameron Jetties. They will also be found under birds

trout early; it gets much tougher after about ten in the morning. We have had

and along the beach. These bulls can be caught on topwaters and jigs as well.

quite a few easy limits early in the morning using topwaters and Baffin magic

Trout will be on the move with the spawning season ending. There will be more

Sand Eels. We’ve been targeting mostly sand bars with rafted mullet and decent

and more fish caught at the northern end of the lake. Birds will once again

tidal movement for best results. Some of the time, the reds are easy to catch

be picking exclusively over trout. The fronts move the ladyfish out to deeper

after the trout bite is over. On the bright days, it’s possible to sight cast them;

waters. Don’t forget favorite oyster reefs. There will be fish on most of these

they are pretty shallow most of the time. For that, a purple/chartreuse Norton

from the south bank all they way up to where oysters stop growing. There

Bull Minnow is hard to beat. You try to just swim it as close to their nose as

will be fish in the ship channel and all the other lakes in the estuary. Shrimp

possible.” The prospects for fall fishing are good, he says. “There’s shrimp all

imitations and live bait will work best. It’s your last chance at tripletail. Two

over these bays right now. Once we get a couple of weak fronts, the bait should

fronts and these shy, tasty critters will be gone. Good luck and happy fishing!

concentrate in the Pass area, and the feast should begin.”

James was in the Gulf off Venice, Louisiana when we talked. “I’m out here in

Fishing has been decent in the Matagorda area in recent weeks, Don says.

some three to four foot seas right now. We’re catching sharks and bull reds

“We’re using live bait on most trips. Fishing on artificials around the reefs in East

today, but yesterday the weather was a little better and we had about 14 tarpon

Bay has gotten a little slow on lures. I have had some good luck on lures too,

jumped and 10 caught in the fleet. If the weather will give us a little break,

though. On a couple of days, we whacked ‘em pretty good on pink Skitter Walks

we should be in good shape; there’s plenty of fish around here. Galveston’s

drifting around the reefs. Had about seventeen trout and five reds one day,

nearshore waters have plenty of tarpon too. September should be good

all solid keepers. Another day, we were wading out kind of deep on the north

over there for the silver kings.” Inshore fishing has been spotty and weather-

shoreline and heard some blowups in shallower water. When we got over there,

dependent too, he reports. “Had some big reds under slicks and around mud

we could see it was two herds of reds chasing shrimp. We managed to catch

boils in East Bay a few days ago. One guy caught a 46 incher on ten pound

a couple of mid-slot fish right away, one on a topwater and one on a worm, but

test. We had some 38 and 36 inchers too. Trout fishing is tougher, mainly due

then they got really spooky.” Some are having success on bigger trout at night.

to the regular southwest winds and slack tides. It’s all a worm thing. Bass

“A couple of friends like to fish at night this time of year, trying to win the S.T.A.R.

Assassins on 3/8 ounce heads around old well pads near the ship channel.”

tournament. They’ve been catching some nice trout lately.”

“Before Hurricane Dolly, fishing was really good in East Bay; it’s been somewhat tougher since. During that good run, we had numbers of trout between 26 and 28 inches. On some days, we had to turn some loose because we had our limit of fish over 25. Best bite has been in relatively deep water, six to eight feet. Slicks are keying us on the location of the fish. Bass Assassins and Stanley Wedge Tails on eighth ounce heads are the go to baits. I’ve been throwing dark colors like plum and pumpkinseed and morning glory when the water’s in good shape, lighter colors like glow and limetreuse when it gets more off colored. The other key, of course, is the weather. When we get west winds or winds over about 15 miles per hour, it just ruins this bay. But when winds are lighter, it’s wide open. Catching some reds too, on the same pattern. About half are oversized, but there are keepers in the bunch too.” 82 82

September2008 2008 September

West winds and extremely low tides have hampered fishing in the Palacios area. Bites have been few and far between for the last couple of weeks. The few trout we have been catching are coming off deep structures out in the middle of West Matagorda Bay. Free-lining live shrimp and jigging glow DOA shrimp in twelve to fourteen feet of water have been the best methods for catching them. Our redfish bite has also been tough because we cannot get to fish due to the low water conditions. Fish that are on the flats are really spooky, so we have been downsizing to light gold spoons and small paddletails on sixteenth ounce jigheads to try to get them to eat. I look for September to be an awesome month because our shrimp will finally be coming into the bay. When we get some higher equinox tides and a fresh run of shrimp in the bays, trout fishing is usually dynamite.

TexasSaltwater SaltwaterFishing Fishing Texas

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The month of August turned out to be just like July, absolutely great! The water clarity is very good all over the Laguna including Baffin Bay, though a few areas scattered around still have some brown tide. The weather has been warm, but the fishing has been hot. We have been bringing 5 to 7 flounder home every week for the last few months. The water temperature has remained on the cool side, and I believe this has contributed to us having such great success in catching speckled trout, redfish, flounder and even black drum. The black drum have been really going after the 3 inch pearl and new penny Berkley Gulp shrimp in about a foot of water in the middle of the day. This will probably continue through the fall. I will also continue to cast light jigheads rigged with bone diamond, plum/chartreuse and mardi gras Assassins along grass lines and potholes for trout and redfish in two to three feet of water. “Fishing has been steady around Port O’Connor if you are willing to adjust techniques to match the weather patterns. We have been fishing shell reefs in San Antonio Bay that are close to some deep water. That’s the critical thing right now, being right next to some of the deepest water around. We are still catching quite a few fish on our Super Spook Jrs., but more and more, the soft plastics are paying off better. I’ll continue this drill of fishing shell next to deep water throughout September, especially on the hotter days. I am still targeting some sand and grass on shorelines next to deep open water early in the mornings, but right now, I’m not staying there long after the sun rises. As we get into September, and the first few fronts arrive and bring the water temps down a little, I’ll go back to that more and more and will stay with it a little longer, especially if lots of baitfish are present and the fish are blowing up.”

“I’ve been down in Nine Mile Hole a lot lately. The water in there is basically crystal clear, making it easy to spot the schools of redfish and also to find isolated singles and smaller groups for sightcasting. Summer House and Rocky Slough are also holding redfish and trout and the water’s beautiful there too. In fact, the water is in great shape most everywhere, though I did go into Baffin the other day and saw some stained water around Cathead and along the Tide Gauge Bar. Didn’t stay there long when I saw that. I’ve also been fishing a little in the Meadows and between there and Yarbrough. The red and black drum are pretty thick over in those areas. Further north, the King Ranch shoreline area has crystal clear water and good numbers of trout.” Floating grass can be a problem, he says. “The people at Bluff’s Landing have to pay someone full time to keep the mats of grass out of their harbor.”

“I’ll probably be doing pretty much the same thing in September as I have been

Bruce and family were busy working to recover from the effects of Dolly when this month. When the tide dropped out, the trout fishing around Rockport slowed I spoke to him. “We were hoping to have the lodge open by Labor Day, but it down, especially on artificial lures. So, I’ve been using live bait when fishing looks like it might be a week or two later right now. But we’ll be back to normal for trout and targeting redfish most of the time. The redfish are easier to locate

soon.” He has squeezed in some fishing lately. “We are catching some nice

with the low tides, because they get piled up in areas where the water is a little

snapper offshore and lots of ling this year too. They’ve been kind of a bonus.

deeper. Since the tide is low, they are relatively easy to see in those areas. I’ll

Tarpon are also pretty numerous already and that should only improve as we

be concentrating around marsh drains and bayou mouths and deeper lakes

get into September.” He predicts that all the adverse weather coupled with the

within the marsh systems in Aransas, Mesquite and San Antonio Bays mostly.”

conservative trout limits will have a profound effect on the fishery in the near

Teal may be the preferred birds this year over the doves, he predicts. “My fields

future. “With all the rain flushing the bays and with the reduced trout limit, I look

don’t have much grain in them, so we may not have good hunting for the doves.

for some of the best trout fishing in a decade around here not only this fall and

If that turns out to be true, I’ll focus on teal. We’ll hunt them early in the morning

winter, but all the way into next spring. That’s the silver lining in this gray cloud,

in the marsh, then look for redfish after the shooting is done.”

a great run of fishing is coming. You can quote me on that one.”

Tons of large ladyfish, schools of tarpon and jack crevalle are possible; Spanish

Hurricane Dolly has left us hurting, from the damage to the seawall in the

mackerel and lots of whiting are also to be expected. The birds will reveal the

marina to an overabundance of freshwater runoff in the bay. We’ve had a few

best catching areas. Shoals of anchovies are usually at various locations on the

cancellations due to the effects of the storm, but on the whole people are

beachfront. Bull, blacktipped and occasionally tiger sharks are often near the

excited to get back on the water. Fishing has been difficult during double tides,

shoals of anchovies. The first cold front passage will trigger the mass exodus

but improves when the chart gets more curves in it. We’re hitting some reds

of finger-sized mullet from the bay systems into the surf zone. The redfish will

throwing weedless gold spoons or Gulps under Cajun Thunder corks, just not

migrate into the surf with them. The combination of these two types of baitfish

the numbers we can see this time of the year. The trout we’re catching are

in the surf in high numbers will trigger feeding frenzies most days, BUT it is

fat and full of piggy perch. They’re jumping on the Gulp three inch shrimp on

necessary to look for these areas as they can be at any location along the

quarter ounce heads hung deeper than normal under corks to get below the

shoreline. Artificials, live and cut finger mullet will work for most species, but be

freshwater layer. Freddy says, “Just wait; the tides will start moving, the bay will

sure to use wire or heavy mono leaders with so many toothy critters present.

flush out and things will be back to normal soon. The estuary will improve over

Shark and tarpon can be sightcasted with chunks of cut ladyfish.

the long run even though the short term bite is suffering a bit of a setback.”

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Texas TexasSaltwater SaltwaterFishing Fishing

September September 2008 2008

83 83


Donna Teague snagged this 28” red while in East Galveston Bay.

Murphy Novak getting close and personal with a red fish. Gabriel Ramirez having fun fishing at the annual David Heard Hardhead Derby.

David Dunham of Bloomington tricked this nice trout while fishing Copano Bay Pier.

Danny Williams of Louise show off his first bass caught at the deer lease.

Amber Dunham of Bloomington hooked her first keeper red at Copano Bay Pier.

Christopher Ventura gives his thumbs at his first bull red caught while fishing with his father. 84

September 2008

Patrick Mooney snagged this 41” bull red while fishing the south jetties in Port Aransas.

Darryl Phelps caught and released this tarpon fishing the Port Aransas Jetties.

Ellie Molina hooked this 28” drum while fishing South Padre Island.

Jared Hagy lands his first keeper red after trying for 8 months.

Kaid Robinson tricked this 21” trout fishing Galveston Bay.

Cliff Wilkins of New Braunfels hooked up in Shoalwater.

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Eric Oz caught and released this bull red at Big Shell Beach.

Jeff Presely caught and released this 40” drum fishing in Seadrift.

Victor Licon snagged this 26” red while fishing Nueces Bay. www.TSFMAG.com

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Travis Fowler landed his first topwater fish at Sabine Lake.

Trent Wolff landed a first place trophy in the 2008 Texas Kids Series in Port Lavaca! Way to go!

Waterloo Fishing Team, sponsor of the photo gallery. Shown left to right: Beth Kostella, Whitney Burns and Jimmy Burns.

Carter Scott hooked his first trout at 15.25” while fishing Corpus Christi Bay.

Judy Phelps hooked a nice speck fishing the Port Aransas Jetties.

Angie Mathews caught and released this 40” black drum after a 2 1/2 hour fight.

Cody Hatwig of San Antonio, landed this 42” bull red while fishing Port Aransas.

Caiden Roberts proudly shows off his first trout.

Charlene Wehring of Bellville landed this 25 1/2” trout while fishing East Matagorda Bay. www.TSFMAG.com

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Connie Rugg caught and released this 43” drum while fishing ICW in Port Isabel.

Erin Hagemeier, DJ Walling and Allison Wallin all show off DJ’s 40” black drum that they released after taking the photo. Texas Saltwater Fishing

September 2008

85


THIS IS A TASTY DINNER THAT CAN BE COOKED UP and ready to serve in a flash. We have prepared this recipe on a stovetop griddle as well as in the BBQ pit and both

For BBQ pit method, preheat pit to 300-degrees and coat cooking

Place portobellos on cooking surface, gill side up. Cook 4-min or

Flip mushroom, cover with foil, cook 4-minutes.

Place shrimp, tomato, and onion slices on griddle (or cooking sheet

surface with PAM High-Temperature Cooking Spray. until butter melts.

methods give excellent results. 4 teaspoons butter 2 tbsp olive oil (if using griddle)

inside BBQ pit.) Cook shrimp until edges begin to brown just

4 large portobello mushroom caps, remove stems

slightly, fl ip and continue cooking. (Hint: The shrimp will be

24 shrimp (25-count) peeled and de-veined

cooked before your veggies, remove from griddle and place inside

4 slices beefsteak tomato 1/2-in thick

mushroom cap and cover with foil sheet, turning that side of griddle or grill off.)

Red leaf lettuce 4 slices large purple onion 1/4-in thick

Place shrimp-fi lled mushroom cap on bed of red-leaf lettuce. Stack

Caesar Delight Spritzer salad dressing (made by Wish-Bone)

with onion and tomato slices. Spray with Caesar Delight Spritzer

Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese

and top with grated Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Place one teaspoon butter inside each mushroom cap, salt and

I love avocados so I added a few to the grill. Add whatever veggies

pepper to taste.

you like to your stacked portobello burgers and let me know how

Season shrimp, tomato and onion slices with salt, pepper and

they turn out.

garlic powder. 

If using griddle, preheat to medium cooking temperature and coat with olive oil.

8 ounces sliced bacon, in 1/2 inch pieces

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 10-ounce packages frozen corn

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup half-and-half

4 green onions, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

In medium Dutch oven; fry bacon until crisp, remove and drain on paper towels, reserve.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings and return Dutch oven to medium heat.

Add onion and sauté until soft, add garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes, cook 2 minutes stirring often. Add

Transfer half the soup to blender and puree until smooth. Careful when blending hot mixtures, hold the lid down tight.

Return pureed soup to Dutch oven, stir to combine, add salt and pepper.

Ladle into serving bowls and top with the chopped green onion and reserved bacon.

corn, broth, and half-and–half, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

86

September 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

Hint: A few ounces of lump crab or chopped shrimp can be added to lend a hearty seafood flavor.

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Boats, Kayaks, Outboards

Trans Fiberglass Boat....................................... 50

Penn........................................................Solunar

Boat Accessories

Rods by Pepper.................................................71

Anchor Marine.........................................Cover, 1

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

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

Anderson Marine...............................................79

D&J Boat Repair................................................ 27

Strike Pro America........................................... 39

Bernie’s Boats..................................................14

Espandre.......................................................... 49

Texas Tackle Factory........................................35

Busha Boat Works............................................43

Gulf Coast Trolling Motors................................. 57

Wade Aid Enterprises.......................................71

Canoesports.....................................................61

House Of Fiberglass......................................... 61

Waterloo Rods................................................. 53

Coastal Backwater Marine................................55

Jet Dock........................................................... 92

Woodee Rods USA.......................................... 43

Coastline Marine..................................... Cover, 1

JL Marine - Power Pole....................................... 5

Fishing retail locations

El Campo Boating Center................................. 51

Safe Floor Company......................................... 57

Academy..........................................................46

El Pescador Boats...............................................22

Salt-A-Way........................................................18

Blue Water Ships Stores...................................14

Flats Cat............................................................35

South Texas Trolling Motors...............................71

Boater’s World................................................... 7

Flatstalker.........................................................49

Specialty Aluminum Works.................................14

David’s Tackle Box........................................... 71

Gibbs Marine....................................................18

Stake Out Stik....................................................61

Fishing Tackle Unlimited........................ Cover, 19

Gulf Coast Boats................................................3

Stick It Anchor Pins .......................................... 75

Gander Mountain............................................... 41

Gulf Coast Marine................................Cover, 1, 6

Tops-N-Towers......................................... Cover, 1

Roy’s Bait & Tackle...........................................15

Huff Marine.......................................................26

Yeti Coolers...................................................... 53

Seaworthy Marine............................................ 59

Fishing Products (rods, reels, tackle, etc.)

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

Kokomo Kayaks............................................... 75

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

Tackle Box....................................................... 77

Kroll’s Marine................................................... 57

Batson Enterprises, Inc..................................... 45

Victoria All Sports.......................................... 61

LMC Marine Center.................................. Solunar

Bimini Bay-Tsunami............................................54

Real Estate

Lone Star Yacht Sales.......................................23

Bio Bait - Big Bite Baits...................................... 3

Tidewater.......................................................... 50

Majek Boats.......................................................4

Boone Bait Co...................................................33

Tournaments / Outdoor Events

Marshall Marine................................................45

Brown Lures........................................................56

John Eagle Honda Big 3 Tournament................51

Mt. Houston Marine..........................................39

D.O.A. Lures..................................................... 57

Southwest International In-Water Boat Show.....47

Pathfinder Boats......................................... Cover

EZ Drainer......................................................... 71

Miscellaneous

Rockport Marine...............................................15

Fish Slick.......................................................... 71

Aventura Jewelry................................................49

Ron Hoover RV & Marine Center........................ 4

Foreverlast....................................................... 59

Coastal Creations Taxidermy............................69

Sail and Ski........................................................19

Grind Terminal Tackle........................................49

Graphics By Design.......................................... 73

Shallow Sport Boats................................ Cover, 1

Laguna Rods.................................................... 57

Pearl Products Crab Master................................77

Shoalwater Boats.............................................92

Light & Strike ..................................................... 8

Saltwater Fishing Clinics.................................. 71

Sport Marine.................................................... 77

Luresafety Wrap................................................ 69

Trident Funding.....................................................45

Suzuki............................................................... 9

Midcoast Products...............................................61

TSFMag Store.......................................................87

Texas Marine.....................................................69

Mud Hole.......................................................... 61

TSFMag Subscription Form.......................... 22, 55

The Sportsman........................................Cover, 1

Okuma............................................................. 26

Adventure Yamaha and Marine.........................33 281-484-7200 210-599-1415

800-416-9003 361-573-7809

979-245-3369 713-660-7000 409-927-1462 713-614-2057

800-843-2201 361-983-4832 281-342-3940 361-857-7074

713-526-4349 713-477-7119

800-622-2449 361-991-0369

JH Performance Boats......................................71 979-233-1852

210-858-5964 800-882-4461 888-797-9805

281-334-3500 361-991-3102 361-552-1870

281-447-7689

888-Shallow / 888-742-5569

361-729-7820

800-545-8818 210-734-8199

956-233-9489 361-983-4134

281-238-0060 800-247-4704

409-898-7632 956-399-5123

www.TSFMAG.com

361-972-6629

361-790-5438 361-552-3018

281-543-1230

281-481-6832 361-853-2541 361-972-2122

888-442-4900 281-435-5904 714-550-0987 361-939-8970 361-575-1477

409-718-7694 941-815-6875

281-474-4000

512-394-9384

713-466-7849

360-681-2381

800-688-3481 877-222-7429

407-975-8775

877-460-4619 877-362-5873

281-224-9766

361-798-1530

832-683-0623 979-921-9910

888-379-2576 713-203-2829

979-793-6766

866-790-RODS (7637)

215-229-9415 409-737-1136

800-274-4626 409-621-1126

361-575-4751

888-923-3243 361-573-0300 281-723-4154

888-922-2336 281-334-7583

800-826-2628 281-342-9669

281-481-6838

800-282-5993 361-992-2960

866-811-4095 361-582-5100

361-575-8700

361-575-0655

512-659-4754

888-883-8523 561-842-8808

713-932-0002 888-737-5452 361-785-4282

850-994-4168 361-563-1160

800-514-6946 361-785-3420 361-785-3420

800-466-5862

Just Keep Five

Texas Saltwater Fishing

September 2008

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September 2008

Texas Saltwater Fishing

www.TSFMAG.com

Just Keep Five


September 2008