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Galveston’s Best Restaurants, Attractions & Fishing Spots

July 1st, 2015

gtowntop5 Galvestons Best Restaurants, Attractions & Fishing Spots

Galveston’s Best Restaurants

mosquitocafe Galvestons Best Restaurants, Attractions & Fishing Spots

Mosquito Cafe

628 14th St.

The intriguing Mosquito Cafe entices patrons with its upscale eclectic menu of grilled, roasted, sauteed and steamed dishes.  You’d be remiss to skip over any item on this menu that includes pulled pork.  Be advised, lunch here can be very busy.’

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Olympia Grill – Seawall

4908 Seawall Blvd.

The Kriticos Family is true to their word. Olympia Grill’s seawall location provides the ‘Highest Quality for a Good Value.’  A spectacular menu of Greek, seafood and other dishes is sure to satisfy.

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Rudy & Paco

2028 Post Office St.

This unique island restaurant delivers grilled seafood and steaks with a South and Central American sabor.  Lunch is a casual affair but shorts are not allowed in the dining room at dinner.  Pair your red snapper with a cold Central American lager.

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Saltwater Grill

2017 Post Office St.

Gourmet seafood, fresh from the grill or kettle, is served up in an upscale atmosphere at Saltwater Grill.  The fresh catch changes daily but any salmon, sea bass or tuna dish is a great choice. Reservations recommended.

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Shrimp N Stuff

3901 Avenue O

Since 1976, Shrimp N Stuff has been the place the locals love to eat. Find no frills, fried-to-perfection seafood served in a casual atmosphere.  Try the coconut shrimp dinner or one of their famous po-boys.

Attractions

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Moody Gardens

1 Hope Blvd.

The island’s most recognizable attraction, Moody Gardens is full of family friendly fun.  Check out the Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids, 3D and 4D theaters, museum exhibits, zip lining, water rides and other seasonal attractions.

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Pleasure Pier

2501 Seawall Blvd.

Rides, food and fun! The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is perfect for families, friends or date night.  Visitors can shop, dine and take delight in amusements and roller coasters.  Ride the Texas Star Flyer for a spectacular view of the island.

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Schlitterbahn

2026 Lockheed Rd.

Over 35 thrilling water adventures ensure there is something for everyone at Schlitterbahn Waterpark.  Take it easy and float the Kristal River.  Feeling adventurous? Free fall 81 feet and approach speeds of 40 mph on the Cliffhanger slide.

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Texas Seaport Museum/ELISSA

2100 Harborside Dr

Relive the adventure of the high seas aboard the celebrated 1877 tall ship ELISSA. Explore the decks of this floating National Historic Landmark and enjoy the adjacent museum and theater.

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The Historic Strand District

The Historic Downtown Strand District boasts a wonderful selection of shops, restaurants, art galleries, and museums within a perfect radius for self-guided tours.  Visit Galveston.com for information on seasonal events like the ArtWalk and Dickens on the Strand.

Fishing Spots

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Galveston Fishing Pier

9001 Seawall Blvd.

Find a plethora of fish species on this pier, including sharks, redfish, drum, panfish and more.  The lights at night draw in speckled trout during good conditions.  Visit www.galvestonfishingpier.com for rules and recent fishing reports.

Galveston Jetties

The jetties are a top fishing destination for good reason.  You can catch just about every desirable species of fish near the granite, even pelagics like ling and kingfish.  Fish the Gulf side on an incoming tide and the channel side during an outgoing tide. Live shrimp, mullet and finfish are the best baits along the rocks.

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Seawolf Park

100 Seawolf Park Blvd.

Seawolf Park offers something for all kinds of anglers. Wadefishermen can fish the channel, kids can bank fish and a lighted pier draws in trout and reds at night.  The park is a flounder hot spot during the fall run.  The fishing can be spectacular but so are the crowds.

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The Beachfront

A light SE wind means ‘trout green’ water and some of the hottest fishing on the island.  Speckled trout, redfish and spanish mackerel will all readily take live and artificial baits.  Use small pieces of dead natural baits like shrimp and squid for panfish and drum. Fish on the rock groins for sheepshead and even flounder.

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Brandon Rowan, Eric Moeller and Doug Rowan with a trio of West Bay redfish.

West Bay

An angler’s paradise, this bay system hosts a variety of fish habitat and angling opportunities. Freeline finfish and shrimp near the causeway for trout and reds. Use popping corks near the railroad bridge for trout.  Marshes and shorelines are perfect for kayaking and flounder gigging. Drift mid bay reefs for a chance at a Texas slam.

Summer School: Schooling Redfish in the Marsh

July 1st, 2015

summerschool Summer School: Schooling Redfish in the Marsh

By Capt. Steve Soule

Normally, when we hear those words, it’s not a good thing, but in this case, it’s about as good as it gets.

Summer heat has set in and sunshine is abundant on the upper Texas coast. Our seasonal crops of shrimp and crabs have reached their summer destinations of back marshes and shallow shorelines, where they will spend the warmer months growing to maturity. Other seasonal visitors, like glass minnows, ballyhoo, pinfish and numerous others, are settled in along the shallow shorelines and back bay areas.

As we already know, these animals tend to gravitate towards areas rich in their primary food source, decaying vegetation. On the heels, or rather the tails, of these smaller animals are the predatory army of redfish and others that thrive on these prevalent food sources and the relative shelter of shallow water.

Not only does the abundance of small baitfish and crustaceans in the shallows make life easy for the fish, but equally, it makes life easier for us as anglers. Typically, with this greater source of prey species, predators will be equally abundant. The sheer numbers of both prey and predator make for the foundation of great fishing. I’ve always been a firm believer in locating abundant food sources, since predators will rarely inhabit an area where they cannot feed readily and easily. Fishing areas lacking in food sources for the predators we seek, typically result in very poor catches.

So, as we find these areas rich in both prey and predator, it’s easy to see our catch percentages increase. Many times this is due to the visibility of the fish that we seek, especially in the case of redfish. Redfish often feed in a very aggressive manner, making themselves visible as they “crash” baitfish and shrimp along shorelines. When redfish feed more aggressively, and we as anglers can more readily determine where they are, it becomes much easier to present a lure or fly correctly.

mikeattis1 Summer School: Schooling Redfish in the Marsh

Mike Attis picked off this red from tailing school.

Cast Placement: Fly vs. Lure

There is always a “bite window” for every species. It varies with water conditions and the size of the offering we present to a fish. For the sake of retaining our sanity, let’s stick to a fairly predictable species, like redfish for this discussion.

The food source that redfish are feeding on plays a huge role in the size of our “bite window.” If they are feeding predominantly on 1-2-inch-long shrimp, they will typically not be in the mode of moving far off course to eat the next morsel. We see this commonly while fishing shallow grass flats and back marsh waters in the summer and fall.

The fly, which is similar in size, needs to be within a 1-2-foot radius area, in front of and at nearly the same depth as the head of the redfish. Flies don’t move much water and they don’t typically rattle or have other factors that help redfish hone in on their whereabouts.

On the other hand, if we are casting with conventional gear and fishing a slightly larger soft plastic or spoon, the presentation window may be increased slightly due to the larger profile and greater vibration of these lures moving through the water. This tends to make nearby redfish more aware of the lure’s presence. The downside is when casting to the fish, more caution must be used.

A well presented fly can typically be cast within two feet of a redfish without spooking the fish. Try this same cast with a 1/8th ounce jig and plastic combination or 1/4th ounce weedless spoon, and you will find yourself watching lots of spooked fish swim away unhooked.

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Alisha Soule with a 31-inch marsh red.

Shallow Water and Sight Casting Situations

In water with greater clarity or visibility, fish will become somewhat more spooky and require more “lead” or distance from the fish when making your cast. In dirty water, we may be able to cast a weighted lure like the spoon within two feet of the sighted fish. In clear water, we often have to cast five or six feet beyond and ahead of the fish and retrieve it back to a crossing position to find success.

Flies excel in clear water, as most are unweighted or weighted so lightly that they can be presented gently within a very close proximity to the fish without scaring them. Lures, with their larger profile and vibration emitting qualities, will excel in dirty water because they tend to help fish locate the offering. Clear water, especially during periods of light wind, can complicate this even more by making it more difficult to get within casting range of the fish.

As a general rule, I tell anglers that with a fly and a slow moving fish, the cast should both lead the path of the fish, and go beyond the fish’s current location by a two-to-three-foot margin. This allows the angler time to start a retrieve and adjust speed as necessary to bring the fly across the path of the fish. In the case of lightweight lures during sight casting situations, this cast often must be increased to as much as five feet of lead space to prevent spooking a fish.

Keep in mind that the closer you are to presenting an offering at a perpendicular angle, the better your chances are of convincing the fish it’s worth eating. Don’t ever present a lure at a closing angle, or one where the lure or fly is coming head on at a predatory fish. This will scare even very large and aggressive predators like sharks.

Predators aren’t brilliant, but they do know from experience that small prey animals never swim directly to their mouth. If you present your lure of fly in a way that crosses effectively through their bite or feeding window, and then proceeds to move away, you will likely be rewarded with bites at a much higher rate.

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Kristen Soule with a school size red.

Schooling Redfish

When the heat is really turned up and the shrimp and crabs crops are at their peak, significant schooling will begin. Redfish primarily school in shallow water when feeding on one of these two types of crustaceans. We mostly see them grouped up and chasing shrimp, but there are times when they are schooled and feeding on crabs. When feeding on shrimp, reds tend to be fairly aggressive and visibly moving along flats and down shoreline. On the grass, you will usually see them tailing in groups but moving along at a slow pace. This movement is typically punctuated by an occasional pop or fast movement by some of the fish within the school.

When feeding on crabs in schools, the reds tend to move along much more slowly and are sometimes easily spotted by the muds they create while rooting in the substrate. There is a distinct difference on how they feed on each species.

Schooling fish make our lives as anglers eminently easier! There is safety in numbers and there is also an inherent competitive nature when predators feed in groups. As competitive feeding heightens, fish tend to not only become less aware of what is around them, but also they tend to charge down close meals with reckless abandon. We can get closer to them, as well as make casts much closer without spooking the fish. It is equally important to note that there is an obvious increase in the likelihood that our offering will get eaten when casting to a school of 10-20 fish, versus casting at a single fish. When casting to schooling fish with a fly, the need to lead the fish is almost completely eliminated and with conventional gear, offerings can be cast at a much closer range.

Aggressive schooling behavior on the Upper Texas Coast will be present throughout the summer and into the fall until the majority of the shrimp and crabs leave the shallow waters for winter. If you are ready for a whole new level of fun in your fishing, don’t miss out on Summer School.

Successful Trolling Techniques

July 1st, 2015

txtrollinglures Successful Trolling Techniques

Examples of productive trolling lures for the Texas coast.

Trolling Techniques For Those New to Offshore Fishing

By Capt. Joe Kent

For several years, offshore anglers have been dealing with an unusually large crop of seaweed in the Gulf of Mexico and, while there are definite benefits to fishing created by the masses of weed patches and weed lines, it is a nuisance for boats trolling for fish.

This summer there has been a major reduction in the quantities of seaweed pushed into the Gulf of Mexico.  While anglers like to fish around the patches and lines of this vegetation, beach goers and fishermen who like to troll are welcoming the change.

When seaweed is thick in Gulf Waters it causes frustration with captains having to frequently reel in their baits, remove it and then let out their trolling lines again.  For at least three years now it has been again and again and again.

With all of the other successful techniques for catching offshore fish, I personally abandoned trolling in seaweed infested areas which included most of the nearshore Gulf waters.

This year it appears that trolling will be much less frustrating and, for those not experienced at this method of fishing, hopefully these pointers and suggestions will get you started and produce some nice fish. For purposes of this article, our discussion will be limited to trolling nearshore waters up to approximately 50 miles offshore.

Deep water trolling requires different techniques and baits than what would be required for nearshore trolling.

Trolling can be one of the more enjoyable ways to fish as the boat is moving and generating its own breeze during days of light to calm winds.

Late spring through early fall is the time to troll nearshore waters, with late June through early September being prime time.

bonitodorado Successful Trolling Techniques

Bonito and dorado, or mahi mahi, will readily take trolled lures.

Any size of boat capable of going offshore is a candidate for trolling.

The most common fish that hit trolled baits in nearshore waters are king mackerel, bonito, Dorado, ling and barracuda.  King, bonito and Dorado are easily attracted to trolled baits.

So, now that you know what fish will be targeted, let’s discuss what baits are best.  Well, the standard answer is the ones that catch fish.  The group is divided into natural versus artificial, with artificials being the most popular.

My favorite for natural baits is the ribbonfish.  Rigged properly and trolled near to or on the surface they are awesome.  This bait works especially well around the rigs and anchored shrimp boats when trolled slowly.

In the artificial group, Russell Lures and King Getters are outstanding for king mackerel.  Other fish will hit them but kings tend to have a keen eye for this favorite bait.  This is another bait that is trolled slowly.

For faster trolling, lead head jigs and more streamlined baits weighted at the tip work well.

A whole column could easily be written about the various offshore trolling baits and, if new to this sport, visit a tackle shop that carries a wide variety of offshore baits for recommendations.

The next question is how many lines should you troll?  For newcomers I recommend no more than two, as experience will teach you more about trolling and how to troll more lines without getting them tangled.

One of the biggest differences between nearshore and deep-water trolling is in the speed.  Nearshore baits are trolled at slower speeds overall.

How far should the trolled bait be from the transom of the boat?  My rule of thumb is approximately three times the length of the boat.  Again, experience will help you determine the best distance.

How fast should you troll? Just fast enough to keep your bait near the surface.  It your speed allows your bait to occasionally break the surface, that is even better.

When a strike occurs, slow the speed of your boat but do not come to a stop, as fish can more easily spit out the hook, especially with treble hooks.

Trolling rods are generally shorter and stiffer than rods used for drift fishing or casting.  The reels need to be such that they can withstand more tension and carry larger amounts of line.

Chumming, or dropping excess bait into the water, while trolling, adds to the odds of attracting fish to your baits.

If you haven’t trolled while fishing offshore, give it a try.  The first time you hear that reel start singing, chances are you will be hooked!

Dr. Wes Tunnell

July 1st, 2015

westunnell Dr. Wes Tunnell

Henry and Ann Hamman, on left, with Kathy and Wes Tunnell.

We recently caught up with Dr. Wes Tunnell, who provided the expertise for the Hamman Hall of Texas Coastal Ecology.

What’s the number one goal for the Hamman Hall of Texas Coastal Ecology at the Museum of Natural Science?

To teach people about the ecological treasures of the Texas coast and inspire them to want to sustain and conserve it for future generations.

So many people are moving to the coast, how do we maintain a balance between coastal ecology and residential and commercial development?

It is important for coastal planners to utilize the best available technologies and best available science when coastal areas are to be developed. We have many years of experience now on what we should not do, and we likewise have many new ways of doing things that will help preserve the environment. State and federal agencies have many environmental protocols to be followed, and environmental assessments and impact statements guide new developments with the best available technologies and science. There are also many new and successful restoration technologies being implemented that bring back degraded coastal habitats, and the Hamman Hall demonstrates a number of these, such as oyster reef and salt marsh restoration, in addition to species conservation stories about the Brown Pelican, Whooping Crane, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.

How long have you been doing research on the coastal ecology of Texas?

I started my career as a student at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University-Kingsville) in the mid-1960s, so almost 50 years. Specifically and important for the Hamman Hall, I taught a graduate course in Texas Coastal Ecology for almost 25 years, where we took an annual trip of the entire coast. Over the years I have published over 100 scientific papers and book chapters, as well as 7 books, most of which are one Texas coastal ecology or Mexico coral reef ecology.

hamman Dr. Wes Tunnell

Hamman Hall Of Texas Coastal Ecology

When did the coastal prairies as we know them get their start?

They probably started coming into existence during the geologic time period known as the Pleistocene (Ice Age), between 2.5 million and about 11.5 thousand years ago. The current configuration of the Texas coast line began taking shape about 5,000 to 4,500 years before present, when sea level rise slowed its transgression across the continental shelf from about 45-50 miles east and 300-450 feet depth, starting about 18,000 years ago. When sea level reached its present position, about 2,800 to 2,500 years before present the barrier islands and peninsulas that we know today took shape, as well as the coastal plains, bays, estuaries, and lagoons behind them.

For the first time in a long while Texas is getting rain. In some cases too much, how will this affect the fishing along the Texas Coast?

Texas is known for great fluctuations in weather, and these environmental variations are natural processes that affect the coast and species that live here. Most organisms that live along the coast are adapted to this kind of changing environment, but long time droughts, as well as short-lived and longer flood periods will affect the distribution of marine life in the bay. The Texas coast is a natural laboratory for studying salinity effects on organisms that live in our bays and estuaries. This is one of the main topics explained in the new Hamman Hall. With lots of rainfall and freshwater inflow to the upper coast, we see lots of oyster reefs and salt marshes, but on the lower coast, where evaporation exceeds precipitation, the Laguna Madre has hypersaline conditions most of the time (salinities higher than the open ocean). Before humans protected our Texas natural inlets with stone jetties between the estuaries and open Gulf, we may have seen conditions on the lower coast like we more recently have seen in the Laguna Madre de Tamaulipas just south of the Rio Grande. During drought times, the inlets would close and the lagoon would begin to evaporate until nothing was left but very salty waters and brine shrimp. Then a hurricane would come along and dump huge quantities of rainfall on the land and into the lagoon, which would swell high enough to reopen the tidal inlets through the barrier islands and flush out the entire system. Slowly, invertebrates and fish would return, and peak harvests of shrimp and fish would be harvested for several years until the barrier island passes silted shut again and salinities rose too high for marine life. This boom or bust cycle may have been present in South Texas 100s of years ago. So, we may see some species change in abundance with all the current rainfall and flushing of the bays, but others will come back to levels normal to the environmental conditions that they prefer or find optimal.

Who influenced you the most and how?

Besides my Dad, who took me outside hunting and fishing a bunch when I was a kid and taught me how to enjoy and love nature, my major professor for my BS and MS degrees influenced my career choice the most. My Dad, who was a physician, told me he did not care what profession I chose, just as long as it was something I enjoyed doing and that I do the best I could at it. Dr. Allan Chaney, a Professor of Biology in Kingsville, taught me the joys of hands-on, field-oriented biology. He showed me that you learn it best when you are immersed in the natural world, not just studying it from books or labs. The famous early biologist/naturalist Louis Agassiz stated it similarly on an old board that still hangs on the wall at the famous Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory…”Study nature, not books.”

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?

I love to go to the Gulf beaches, particularly Padre Island and Mexico beaches. Dr. Chaney got me inspired to travel Mexico beaches and other places, and I used to do that a lot until all the recent problems in Mexico. I still go to the Yucatan Peninsula regularly several times a year, and consider it the safest place in Mexico at present. I love all the old haciendas and history associated with them, as well as the cenotes (sink holes), and particularly the east coast state of Quintana Roo. The beaches, rocky shores, and coral reefs there, as well as coastal jungle, are some of my favorite travel places with my wife. I used to go there regularly with my graduate Coral Reef Ecology Class, but now I just go there to enjoy. At home and around Texas, I love visiting with my kids and grandkids, as well as collecting and enjoying old stuff from the mid-1800s, particularly Colt pistols, Texas and US Bowie knives, and scrimshaw.

 

A Great Texas Snapper Season

July 1st, 2015

twilliamssnapper A Great Texas Snapper Season

Travis Williams caught the biggest fish of the trip on a slapper and sardine.

By Kelly Groce

kgrocesnapper 300x225 A Great Texas Snapper Season

Gulf Coast Mariner graphic designer Kelly Groce with her personal best red snapper.

When a friend of mine asked if I wanted to stay the night at a beach house in Surfside and go snapper fishing the next morning on a 50-foot Bertram, there was no question about it, I was in.

On June 9 we took off out of Freeport. We first stopped about 40 miles out and dropped over some rocks. My sardine instantly got hit and I reeled in what was already the biggest snapper I had ever caught. We went another 10 miles and drifted over more rocks and that’s where we started hooking up on the big boys. Just about everyone got their limit at that spot and my boyfriend Garrett, caught a 40-inch ling as well.

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Garrett Blumenshine’s 40-inch ling.

We cruised another 10 miles and the water changed to a beautiful offshore blue. This time we dropped and could see snapper only 20 feet down. My friend Ryan, who hadn’t had any luck that day, caught two monster snapper at once on a double rig! With all of us having our limits and a good day of tight lines, we headed back to Freeport as happy campers. Until next snapper season!

Cruisers Yachts 45 Cantius

July 1st, 2015

cantius1 Cruisers Yachts 45 Cantius

Lainey and Logan explore the bow as the Cantius cruises through Offatts Bayou in Galveston.

cantiusinterior Cruisers Yachts 45 Cantius

The helm, galley and master stateroom of the 45 Cantius.

With the smooth integration of lavish indoor spaces and the great outdoors, the remarkable new 45 Cantius offers a seamless flow that feels refreshingly unlike any other on-water lifestyle. With spacious entertaining areas, a full glass enclosure and unprecedented sightlines, the 45 expands your experience beyond the horizon.

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA Including Swim Platform 45’0” 13.7 m

LOA Including Hi-Lo Swim Platform 47’3” 14.4 m

Beam 14’6” 4.3 m Draft (IPS) 41” 1.0 m

Cabin Headroom 6’6” 2.0 m

Headroom at Helm 6’4” 1.9 m

Bridge Clearance – w/o Radar 10’0” 3.0 m

Weight – Diesel 29,500 lbs 13,381 kg

Fuel Capacity ** 362 g 1,370 l

Water System Capacity ** 100 g 379 l

Waste Holding Capacity ** 48 g 182 l

Deadrise 18.5 °

Height – Keel to Top of Hardtop 13’6” 4.0 m

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The 45 Cantius has ample room for entertaining.

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The bow of the boat is perfect for sunbathing.

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Lainey and Logan sporting Gulf Coast Mariner long sleeve tees.

Desserts on the Water

July 1st, 2015

A taste of sweetness is a welcome treat when out on the water

By Betha Merit

The type of dessert most convenient to serve or prepare is dependent on several factors. Are you under power, sailing, or anchored? What type of boat are you on? Is this a dinner cruise or several days at sea? And, laughingly, are there kids on board?

The most important factor is the type of vessel, and does it have a full galley with refrigeration or are you rocking the ice chest? This dictates whether you can do a fancy dessert, or whether the least crumbly cookie bars (with no colored sprinkles) make the most sense. As always, storage, refrigeration, preparation time, oven capabilities, and trash management are details each dessert diva will consider. Remember, some desserts can be made ahead and brought on board.

Here are some recipes that may inspire you and fit your needs:

brownie Desserts on the Water

Aunt Bettylou’s Chocolate Chip Pudding Cake 

  • 1 package dry white cake mix
  • 1 large package cook-style chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups milk (according to pudding directions)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cook pudding with milk, let cool for several minutes. Pour dry cake mix into large mixing bowl. Fold warm pudding into dry cake mixture (will be lumpy). Pour into 9 x 13 inch greased baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake according to cake mix directions. When cool, cut into squares or brownie sized bars.

 briecrumble Desserts on the Water

Strawberry and Brie Crumble

  • 5 cups quartered fresh strawberries (two 16-ounce baskets)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, slightly softened
  • 1 package (5 oz.) Brie cheese spread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 11 x 7 inch (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In large bowl toss the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla. Spoon into baking dish. Now combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and salt, and using a fork or pastry blender cut in the butter until mixture resembles large crumbs. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Top each serving with about 1 tablespoon of Brie.

Racing the Little Boat: Dean Snider

July 1st, 2015

deansnider Racing the Little Boat: Dean Snider

Dean and Kay Snider at left with Dave Curtin. Photo: Monica Kressman Photography

Houston Yacht Club member Dean Snider is a four-time Ensign National Champion. What makes him so good?

Where were you born, and what was your childhood like?

I was born near Somerset, Ohio a small town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I was one of nine siblings that provided the work force for the operation on the Sniders Family Dairy. Being one of the youngest siblings, I was not involved in the major jobs on the farm, but was kept busy with appropriate farm activity. The farm was sold when I was eight years old so I had a major change in my life when we moved to Celina, Ohio.

The home in Celina was very close to the water front on Grand Lake. The lake originally was built to provide a water supply for the Miami/Erie canal and was five miles wide and ten miles long.

My father owned a small boat with a 3.5 HP Scott Atwater motor for fishing. Since my father was now traveling the State of Ohio selling dairy equipment, I had access to the boat and spent a lot of time on the water (not fishing). This evolved into a love of the water

 

How did you get started racing sailboats on Galveston Bay?

Racing Sailboats did not enter my life until I graduated from College. I went to work in New Jersey at an EXXON refinery. In the next year, my bride to be graduated from College and we were married. She worked for UNION CARBIDE in New York. One of our early trips was to Cape Cod. To entertain my new wife (Kay) I rented a sailboat and we had a pleasant sail. She was a quick learner and liked the activity.

A month after we were married, the EXXON refinery where I worked had a major strike by the union workers. The strike lasted about a hundred days. The first thirty days I spent in the refinery running one of the units. The fallout of this activity resulted in a bonus that we had to spend. We wanted to join a Golf Country Club but that was too expensive and public courses took too long to play. So we bought a sailboat and raced it at the Nyack Boat Club on the Hudson River.

The sailboat was a Lightning and the prior owner volunteered to teach how to sail the boat. He was a racer and since there was a race the day he took us out, we entered it and finished mid fleet. We thought it was so easy and if we could get another engineer from the refinery and with a three engineer crew, we would be winning races. As it worked out the only race we won was four years later. The race was at the end of the season that year and it was only open to the fleet members that had not won a race that year. It was a long four years, but we learned a lot!

After the “win” we had to sell the Lightning because of a transfer to Houston. The second day in my office a gentleman walked in and identified himself as Hank Arnold. He did not want to talk about business. He was a sailor, a member of Houston Yacht Club and raced his Ensign. During the next two weeks, Hank became the sponsor on our HYC application and we bought an Ensign. This was in 1967 and we have actively raced it since then.

 

What is some good advice about starting in big fleets?

One of the things we had to learn early in our racing career was how to start in large fleets. Both the Lightning Fleet and the Ensign Fleet routinely had 15-20 boats on the starting line. We have found that a lot of homework is required on the water before the start of the race. Information that is helpful to getting a good start include, the favored end of the line, the time it takes to travel the length of the line, which tack is likely to be favored at the start, the frequency of wind shifts and which end of the line you want to start at. The Lightning and the Ensign that we raced are not dinghies. Unlike dinghies that can sit on the line and trim in the sails at the gun and accelerate quickly, the Ensign at 3000 pounds does not do that. Since it is important to get to the starting line close hauled and at full speed it is important to know how far in various wind conditions that you need to be from the starting so that when you harden up, you hit the line at the starting gun.

Ensign National Events with 40 plus boats on the line required a starting line that is in excess of a thousand feet long. It requires more planning and picking your “spot” to start well and be there at the gun. The favored end is usually crowded so you have to decide whether to “duke” it out there or go for a start in a “hole.” I have had success and failures in both situations. In the failures, it is important to get to clean air as soon as possible and get in phase with the wind shifts and current at those sites that have significant current. It is important to find a clear lane to sail in after the start to minimize the number of tacks. This is hard to do since you don’t know when somebody is going to tack and give you dirty air. Sometimes if the penalty to tack and get out of dirty is large if may be best to ride out the dirty air. Lots of judgment decisions are required on the race course!

Since we are now racing in a much smaller fleet, the starting line is generally only 30 seconds long. Position in the last two minutes of the starting sequence is critical. Based on the other boats position, you have to evaluate who is going to be late, early, and position yourself to take advantage of the information obtained on the water prior to the start.

 

What do you look for in a good crew?

The most important element in racing an Ensign is having a good crew. The best situation is having a good crew that is compatible and can race with you all the time. It is most important that the crew really enjoys being on the water. The rest of the stuff falls into place. The ability to recognize headers and lifts on the weather leg, agility and strength to hike, understanding sail trim, and stamina to make it around the course all comes with experience. This experience can be gained on other boats, but is easily transferred to the Ensign.

As with all boats requiring crew, the crew expects certain things from the skipper. They need to know what the next move is going to be so that they can be in position to carry it out, especially a warning that you are about to tack. A smooth tack requires timely action by the crew and skipper to maintain boat speed. This is especially important if the wind is fresh since it takes time to get off the rail on one side and be in position on the rail of the other side. Another situation that requires lead time is when you are approaching the weather mark and you need to move the spinnaker from one side to the other side before you reach the weather mark. It helps if the skipper keeps a dialog going regarding all upcoming action on the boat. For new crew this is necessary and is also educational. The more they learn about you and the boat, the faster you will go! One thing that is not conducive to team work (and boat speed) is an abrasive skipper

I had the pleasant experience of racing with the same crew for 35 plus years. It included Frank and Sandy Kelley (we purchased their Ensign in 1967) and my wife (Kay). Frank and Sandy seemed like nice people, and since we did not know anybody else in Houston, we invited them to crew for us. Five years later, the Kelley’s bought a Catalina 25 and later switched to a Morgan 27. As long as the Kelley’s owned a boat we crewed for them in GBCA races and they crewed for us on the Ensign. This was intense racing for the four of us, but it was also great training for the crew. We all learned all the positions on the boats and became a stronger team. Several people made the comment that when Frank injured himself, I felt it!! It was a wonderful experience to know and race with the Kelley’s. They crewed for us in most of the National and Regional events that we attended, including three of our four National Championships. It was a challenge when we had to train new crew. We had not talked about the crew functions for 25 plus years and it was hard to figure out what the Kelley’s did. Whatever is was, it was good!!

 

Tell us about racing with your wife.

Racing with my wife Kay is one of delights of my life. Over time, she became the “crew steward” (protecting the crew’s union rights), still is a great crew and loves to sail and race. She keeps the boat gear organized during the race, can jibe the pole if necessary, trim the jibe and make on the spot repairs if needed and points out items in need of repair. If there is rigging problem during the race she can isolate the cause and correct it without the Skipper needing to take his attention off sailing the boat. Once in a while we have a disagreement on the boat, but have learned it is best to wait until the next day to resolve the issue. This is working better and better as the years go on. My memory is getting worse with time so most of the time I don’t remember the problem.

littleoil Racing the Little Boat: Dean Snider

Little Oil in action.

Your boat is named Little Oil, how did you come up with that name?

We purchased a new Ensign in 1980. It became a problem because there were so many naming options. Our prior boat was named Striker II and the origin of this name was because the boat was bought with a bonus from a union strike at the Exxon Refinery where I was employed. We ended up using a link to our life as a basis for the name. In 1980, I moved from a large oil company to a small oil trading company. Kay still worked with Exxon so we played with the idea of naming Big Oil on one side and Little Oil on the other side. Little Oil finally won since the Ensign is a “little” boat. I am happy to report that our prior Ensign (517) is still active and competitive when raced!

2015 Leukemia Cup Regatta Results

July 1st, 2015

lcup 2015 Leukemia Cup Regatta Results

By Charles Milby

This year’s Leukemia Cup regatta was a smashing success. Five races in two days, sailed in a variety of conditions, left no doubt who the winning teams were. Congratulations go out to all of the competitors; you are the ones who made this a great regatta.

Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine would like to thank the Houston Yacht Club for all of their hard work. Commodore Robert Williams and the staff of the club did a great job along with the volunteers on the race committee. It’s not easy getting races started when the breeze is shifting around.

My special thanks go out to the skipper and crew of Pole Dancer, a J-109. Not only did they win their class, they made a new friend.  When I lost my hat overboard they were kind enough to give me a spare. Now I keep a throw down hat on board at all times. Thanks again Pole Dancer.

LEUKEMIA CUP REGATTA RESULTS: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Yacht Club and Points Scored

Catalina 22

Ben Miller, GBCA, 8

Michael Hallett, CYC, 11         

Gary Petersen, HYC, 14

Ensign

Dean Snider, HYC, 9

Dick Baxter, HYC, 11T

Lythia Powell, HYC, 11T    

J-105

Uzi Ozeri, LYC, 7

John Barnett, LYC, 9

Brad Robbins, LYC, 14

J-109

Barry Hoeffner, LYC, 8

David Christensen, LYC, 10

Andy Wescoat, GBCA, 13

J-22

Crash Womack, TCYC, 8

Doug Cummings, MISA, 13

Dov Kivlovitz, 16

J-70

Taylor Lutz, LYC, 9

Chris Lewis, LYC, 11

Robert McMahan, LYC, 19

Pursuit Spinnaker

Greg Way, LYC, 2

J Cran Fraiser, LYC, 5

Nunes/Plant, 6

Lightning

Steve Harris, HYC, 7           

Chris Shipma, HYC, 11

Gary Schwartz, LYC, 12

J-80

Paul Parsons, GBCA, 8

Terri Gale, 10

Forbes Durdin, LYC, 12

Sonar

Clark Thompson, HYC, 8

Gary Ross, TCYC, 9

Charles Milby, TCYC, 12

Viper

Patrick Gibson, HYC, 7

Simon Thomas, HYC, 13

Robert Williams, HYC, 14

Pursuit Asymmetrical Spinnaker

J D Hill, LYC, 4T

Brian Tulloch, HYC, 4T

J B Bednar, LYC, 4T

Pursuit Non Spinnaker

Jack Yoes, HYC, 3

Paul Tullos, GBCA, 4

Jim Orchid, HYC, 7

Locating Specks After Flooding Rain

July 1st, 2015

speck1 Locating Specks After Flooding Rain

By Capt. David C. Dillman

Can you say wet? That is how I can describe this year. It has been a long time since our bay system has received this much rain and runoff. Some may think it has a negative impact for our waters. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This year’s influx of fresh water helps all aquatic wildlife.

Locating Specks in Galveston Bay

Areas that have been slow for specks, due to the recent draught, will now become the go-to-places.

In July and August, look for the waters adjacent to the Houston/Galveston ship channel. The so-called spoil banks, along the channel from markers 46-54, should hold plenty of trout. Keying in on the shell reefs will be the ticket to catching fish. These spoils can be fished by either anchoring or drifting.

liveshrimp Locating Specks After Flooding Rain

LIve shrimp is also a good choice for luring in trout.

When drifting, live shrimp under a cork and soft plastics lures should be utilized. When anchoring, live croaker will be the best bait. Although some folks like to dredge them, I prefer to anchor and fish them Carolina rigged with a 1/8 to 3/8 ounce weight. Maybe even just a split shot depending on the flow of the tide.

When fishing the spoils the use of a good depth finder is a necessity. The average depth of the area is 10 feet. Anytime your bottom reading changes by one or more feet, its a good indication that you’re on shell.

Sometimes fish will hold on top of the hump. Other times, they’ll be just off the edges of the shell. Fish the area thoroughly before moving to the next spot.

Always use caution when fishing along the channel. Wakes from passing ships can be dangerous. As a rule, use plenty of anchor rope and make sure you’re in deep enough water to ride out the passing wake. Anything less than eight feet is too shallow. Move to deeper water and once the wake passes you can move back to your spot.

For the past couple years, the dry conditions have limited the action in this area. This year’s rain should stack the fish along the spoils. They will hold there until their return to Trinity Bay and Upper Galveston Bay in the Fall.

The Best Deck Shoes & Sandals

July 1st, 2015

We know, it’s tempting to go barefoot on the boat. But fish hooks, fins, teeth and a myriad of moving boat parts can put a serious hurting on the 26 bones and 100+ muscles, tendons and ligaments in the human foot. Be smart and stay safe with the best deck shoes and sandals.

drainmakerpfg 300x186 The Best Deck Shoes & Sandals

Columbia Drainmaker III PFG

The Drainmaker III has been updated with bigger, more numerous drainage ports and is a favorite of boaters and sportfishing captains. This lightweight shoe features an open mesh synthetic upper, speed lace closure system, TechliteTM footbed, midsole and a lower durometer EVA for ultimate comfort and shock absorbency. A razor siped, non-marking wet grip outsole provides increased traction and the Blood ‘n GutsTM treatment resists stains. Buy now at www.columbia.com

asv The Best Deck Shoes & Sandals

Sperry Top-Sider Billfish ASV Boat Shoe

The Billfish ASV is the first performance boat shoe with innovative anti-shock/vibration technology for non-stop comfort. The 360 Degree Lacing System,™ with rust proof eyelets, provides a secure fit and a non-marking rubber outsole with Wave-Siping™ keeps you sure-footed. A removable full length molded footbed makes sure you stay comfortable on long voyages. Buy now at www.sperry.com

meaola

OluKai Mea Ola

The last flip flop you will ever buy, the Mea Ola features intricate octopus artwork, a full grain leather upper, compression molded EVA midsole and a leather wrapped outsole with non-marking molded gum rubber traction pods. A unique Outboard Strap Construction offers a free, yet secure and comfortable fit. Buy now at www.olukai.com

keenkanyon

KEEN Kanyon

The lightweight, quick drying Kanyon offers the ultimate protection in a sandal. The patented non-marking rubber outsoles wrap up and over the toes to keep you safe. Razor siping improves ground traction and a compression molded EVA midsole and footbed ensures great comfort. Classic styling and an easy-to-adjust bungee lacing system make these a great choice on and off the boat. Buy now at www.keenfootwear.com

GCM’s Women of the Bay

May 4th, 2015

shellydixon GCMs Women of the Bay

SHELLY DIXON

What’s your profession?

I build custom fishing rods. Fifteen years ago, I started Anglers Euphoria Custom Rods for Reel Fishing Women.

Tell us about your rods.

Our rods are unique and different from the others out on the market. We build them all; from little bait casters to spinning rods and offshore rods as well. As we build a rod we send pictures of our progress along to the customers. My husband Adam Dixon, and my daughter, Ashley Downs who is 13, also help me with building the rods. They both have been a huge support in our making the business successful.

What’s your first fishing memory?

I remember my father taking me to the Texas City dike as a child and I fell in love with the sport. The very first fish I caught was a bull red and it was a beauty. My father passed away in February of 2015. His memory lives on in every fish I catch.

Land based shark fishing; what’s that all about?

My family and I enjoy the sport of land based shark fishing. In land based shark fishing you leave the rod and reel on the beach, hop in a kayak and paddle out over 100 yards to drop bait. We use 25 ft. leaders made by Alberto Zertuche with Hard Life Tackle to catch the big sharks. We release all sharks and other fish unharmed.

What’s next for you in your career?

With the support of family and friends I’m living my dreams. Building custom rods takes time but also leaves a lasting impression and a positive impact on everybody involved. You can visit our Facebook group Shark ON and our website Anglerseuphoria.com for more information about all of our rods.

lisahalili GCMs Women of the BayLISA HALILI

What is your profession? 

I am Vice President and Administrator for Halili Management Services, LLC.  I manage Prestige Oysters, INC and our other corporations. I oversee the day to day operations of all our companies.

What inspired you to choose the profession you are in? 

I have always loved being on and around the water.

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?  

35 years

What do you like to do most when you are not working? 

I love hands on work and love to be outdoors. Unfortunately, most of the time, I am behind a desk.

What is something people may not know about you?  

I love hard work. I love to work on the boat. If I had my choice, I would go back to being my husband’s deckhand on the back of a shrimp boat. That was really living; I just did not know how good we had it back then.

Also, for over a year, I have been leading a movement to protect the oyster industry from a group called STORM, LLC. The STORM organization is trying to pass a bill in the state legislature that would allow them to confiscate half of the public oyster reefs in Galveston Bay. Along with the help of other interested parties and legislators, I am fighting to keep the bill from passing.

I love and live by the following quote from William Faulkner: ”Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.”

kimhardingremaxKIMBERLY HARDING

What is your profession?

I am a real estate broker and owner of RE/MAX Synergy in League City. I enjoy the hands on experience of listening to the needs of the clients I represent so I can find them the home they are looking for and guide them through the home buying and selling process.

Tell us about your hobby of fishing in tournaments.

I am honored to be a part of a women’s fishing group for almost 5 years now. We travel to South Padre Island and Galveston for bay fishing tournaments and we go to Pensacola, Florida for the Ladies’ Offshore Bill Fishing Tournament. My fishing team is a sisterhood that creates a bond far beyond a regular friendship.

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?

I have lived in the Bay Area all my life. I was born and raised in Galveston County and am proud of it! I’ve been married to my husband, Beau for 24 years and we have raised our 21 year old twin sons here as well.

What do you like to do most when you are not working?

I love to fish and also hunt. I bow hunt and rifle hunt when I have the time.  I love the outdoors and I am a tom-boy when not showing properties in my 4 inch stilettos!

What is something people may not know about you?

That my first job was at a Chief Auto Parts store and I knew how to change the oil in my car when I was 16 years old.

shannonbushSHANNON BUSH

Ten years ago did you see yourself racing in one of the most competitive one design classes in the world and doing well?

Yes, actually, that’s why I chose this fleet. When I lost my Soling to a hurricane, I had a choice of any boat I wanted to get in to. I had seen the Etchells on Galveston Bay and loved their graceful lines. I noticed who was sailing them and wanted to compete against a bigger, deeper fleet full of past World Champions, All-Americans, sail makers and boat builders.

Are you a Danica or is there a sisterhood of hotshot sailing women like yourself?

At most of these major events, there may be two women drivers, sometimes three, but that’s pretty rare. Usually, it is just one. At the Worlds in San Diego four years ago, there were three; in Italy two years ago, I was the only female driver; in Newport last year, there were three. But I don’t see myself as a female driver, I see myself as a driver.

How much practice time do you put in before a major regatta?

For a two day weekend regatta, we arrive for three days of practice.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not racing?

I spend time with my awesome family. They have been incredibly supportive and understanding of my sailing interest. To that, when I’m not racing, the time we spend together is not about me, but about them. We travel when we can, make the vacations fun, usually going someplace they want to go, doing things they want to do. In the meantime my kids go to school out of state and there is quite a bit of travel to see them at their schools, or in cities close to their schools. Our daughter is at Ole Miss in Oxford MS, a really fun place to visit, and our son is a short train ride from NYC. I enjoy just hanging out with my kids; having them around is never a dull moment. We don’t sail as a family and I don’t push it. If they want to sail, they will on their terms, in their own time.

Getting Our Youth Fishing

May 4th, 2015

speckledtroutyouth Getting Our Youth Fishing

Abby Gonzalez happily shows off her trout.

By Capt. Joe Kent

Almost every outdoor publication that includes fishing will at some point have articles expressing concerns on the future of fishing for the next generations.  Most tend to focus on the crop of fish that may or may not be available, adverse environmental changes and future regulations that could discourage fishing.

While there is no doubt that those are viable concerns needing to be addressed, my biggest concern is getting kids involved in fishing.

While I do not have any statistics to support my observations, my experiences show that today there are a lot fewer kids involved in fishing.

Each angler that considers himself or herself to be an avid fisherman likely had the roots of their passion developed at an early age and usually have someone in the past to acknowledge as being a major influence on generating their passion for fishing and teaching them the basics.

I recall as a young child how much I enjoyed going to Clear Lake and fishing from the numerous docks and piers along the lake and from the Harris County Park on NASA Road 1.

My dad, while not very interested in fishing or crabbing, would take me and watch while I fished.  Much of my early knowledge of the basics, from how to rig a pan fish line to the proper baits, were learned from others fishing around me.  I don’t recall anyone ever getting annoyed by the questions I would ask and at times requesting to borrow a piece of bait they were using.

The only fishing my dad had been exposed to was freshwater and mostly from river forks such as those along the Trinity River in North Texas.  The only thing he knew about fishing was centered on a cane pole, bobber and worms or pieces of entrails of chickens.

At some time near the age of eight a fellow angler on the pier at the county park offered me a few pieces of dead shrimp and showed me how to rig a pan fish line.  Using that bait I caught a few small croaker, however, to hear me tell it, they were big fish.

One person I will always remember is a neighbor who took my dad and me out in his boat.  Launching at Bub’s Fish Camp near the old Seabrook-Kemah Bridge we headed out in a 15-foot Elgin (Sears) boat powered by a 12-hp Sea King engine.  The neighbor first used his shrimp trawl to get bait, both live shrimp and small fin fish.  After obtaining our bait we pushed on to the bulkheads near the Houston Ship Channel and anchored around other boats.

mickey and jordan 2 Getting Our Youth Fishing

Mickey and Jordan Miller with a mixed bag of trout, redfish and mackerel.

Wow, I will never forget that trip with all of the sand trout, croaker, gafftop and I’m sure other fish that we caught.  From that day on I was hooked and it was just before my 10th birthday.

Having memories like that and seeing so many kids being deprived of this fun sport caused me to go on a campaign to encourage other anglers to take kids fishing.

With school now out for the summer, what a perfect opportunity to share this fun sport with our youth.

Just about every opportunity that arises to take young ones with us fishing, my wife and I jump on it.  As a fishing guide I gave a substantial discount for father-child trips and many of the trips were father- daughter.

The first time we hosted some kids was from the Harris County Youth Detention Center located across from the Harris County Park on NASA Rd. 1.  That was back in the mid-1970s and the two youngsters that accompanied us had a ball.

If you do not own or have access to a boat, there are many places to fish from shore, unfortunately not as many as in the past.

Taking a youth fishing is a rewarding experience and will pay dividends for the sport when the child reaches adulthood.

Under Pressure – Fishing Pressure Changes

May 1st, 2015

souleredfishmay Under Pressure   Fishing Pressure Changes

Capt. Steve Soule and a bruiser redfish caught during falling pressure.

By Capt. Steve Soule

Every day in the life of saltwater angling, we feel pressure. Whether we are recreational or professional, fishing for fun or fishing for money; lets face it, trying to catch fish consistently is no easy task when fishing with rod and reel, and even more so when you only fish with artificials. The pressure that we feel as anglers, however, is nothing compared to the pressure that the fish feel. At this point you may conclude or assume that I am referring to the pressure on a particular fish or fishery. As important and impactful as that aspect may be, that is not the pressure that I’m talking about.

The pressure, or more precisely, the barometric pressure, plays a huge role in fish feeding and general activity levels day in and day out. I can’t personally recall meeting anyone that could truly “feel” barometric pressure changes or direction of movement. Animals, on the other hand have no problem at all noticing even small changes in barometric pressure, and these changes and trends in pressure have an impact on fishing. I’m not going to tell you that there is a perfect science to this, but over the years, I have certainly watched some distinct trends become evident and often reliable.

Planning for barometric changes isn’t something that we can always do, but some situations are easy to understand and plan around. There are some obvious and noticeable times when even though we probably can’t feel the change in barometric pressure, we can feel or see the changes that coincide with it. Clouds are a great indicator, along with rapid changes in temperature. It’s well known that as winter storms approach the Texas Gulf Coast, pressure trends will be downward, and as the front passes the coast that a rapid rise in pressure will follow. We can plan around these fronts and we can often fish around summertime passing thunderstorms to take advantage of rapid pressure changes.

Over my 15-plus-year career of both guiding and tournament fishing, I have often tried to track and make notes about conditions, and how they impact, or at least appear to impact fishing. I will say without hesitation, pressure seems to have a greater impact on the feeding, or lack of feeding, of speckled trout more so than redfish. Keeping in mind that there are no hard and fast rules that apply in every situation, there are some noticeable trends and patterns that I have found and recorded over the years. The bites and other sources of information have helped lead me to these conclusions.

troutfly Under Pressure   Fishing Pressure Changes

Randy Cameron with a 28.5” trout taken on the fly.

In the middle of a very difficult day of tournament trout fishing in 2010, sometime around 1 p.m., the fish turned on in a very nasty way. I think that up to that point, my teammate and I had only had two bites and had yet to land a fish. It was a cold day in February, and a strong cold front had passed that morning before sunrise. We were battling a stout Northwest wind and a screaming upward trend in pressure. There were a couple of conditional changes that all occurred in a short period of time that seemed to put some short term urgency in the trout. A tide change and a slight decrease in wind speed, in the middle of a rapidly climbing pressure trend, caused a short period where the pressure dropped before continuing on its upward movement. What made this memorable, or even noteworthy was that in the 35-45 minutes that the trout fed, I landed all three of our weigh fish for the day, including our big fish at 7.58 pounds. The sad part was that of seven bites, I was only able to land three and at least two of the four I lost were considerably larger than the biggest that made the trip to weigh scales.

We have all heard that high pressure days are bad for trout fishing. This example, along with many others that showed a similar pattern, have led me to believe that it’s not so much whether pressure is high or low, but more how stable the trend is. Fish seem to bite on changing pressure. It seems that as I have monitored pressure and other conditions in my fishing, stable trends in pressure don’t seem to generate aggressive feeding behavior. So, if pressure is stable, or moving at a steady rate up or down, this creates a similar situation where fish seem to be less aggressive. When the steady or stable trend is broken by sudden movement of pressure in either direction, fish seem to feel a sense of urgency to feed aggressively.

Another of the shining examples that fish have shown me over the years about how barometric pressure can trigger aggressive feeding has to do with a large marsh lake in Galveston Bay that I have fished for many years. In the Summer, the lake is loaded with redfish and trout but they don’t often gang up and feed very well during daylight. One of the most interesting trends in the lake in summer is that if a summer thunderstorm passes over the lake, especially early in the day, the redfish and trout in the lake would gather and feed very aggressively for a brief period. These are not just average fish, but exceptional fish that aren’t often caught during the summer months in this location. Numberous 20-to-25-inch trout and 26-to-29-inch reds would gang up and chase shrimp and mullet. The first boat in the lake after the storm would reap the benefits, but by the time a second or third boat got there, the action would come to a halt. The rapid drop and returning climb of pressure put the fish in a frenzy, but it was always short lived.

It may not be easy to plan fishing around pressure changes all the time, but tracking changes during your fishing days can lead you to some interesting finds and improved catches. Though you could probably buy a small portable barometer, its much easier to just use the internet. NOAA, on their “Tidesonline” website, has buoy stations all around the Gulf of Mexico. Not all of the buoys have full data tracking but there are enough that you can get the general picture of what has gone, or is going on in your area. Use this tool to makes notes about things that have occurred during the course of your fishing day when you get home. While on the water, you need only to make mental notes of the times and location of better feeding activity, then compare those times to the changes in conditions when you get home to locate the correlations. In time, you will inevitably uncover some interesting trends that will hopefully improve your future fishing.

Revisiting The Legacy’s Blue Marlin State Record

May 1st, 2015

legacybluemarlinrecord Revisiting The Legacys Blue Marlin State Record

Capt. Kevin Deerman and the crew of the Legacy celebrate their record breaking blue marlin caught during the 2014 Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish Tournament. The Rockport Aquarium plans to display a full body mount of this record breaking fish. The mount will be a permanent part of the Aquarium and the dedication ceremony will be held during this year’s Bastante Tournament.

legacybluemarlin1 Revisiting The Legacys Blue Marlin State Record

The crew of the Legacy prepares the marlin for the scales.

By Amanda Jenkins

On July 11, 2014, Kevin Deerman and his eight-man crew caught a blue marlin off the coast of Port Aransas that broke the Texas record,. Deerman, 50, of Galveston, was leading the crew in a 56’ Viking named “Legacy.” The crew included: George Gartner, the owner of the private boat, Michael Fitzpatrick, Ruben Ramos, Colin Ocker, Jeff Owen, Richard Richardson and Cameron Plaag.

The Legacy departed out of Port Aransas around 6 p.m., after waiting for some thunderstorms to pass.

“We were fishing the Bastante John UHR Memorial Billfish Tournament that we had registered for in Rockport the previous day,” says Deerman, “We ran about 130 miles out to the Hoover Diana Spar and started catching bait around 6 a.m.” After gathering a surplus of live tuna to attract the fish, the team started their journey around 6:45 a.m.

After the thunderstorms from the previous night passed through, the weather conditions were perfect for the day of the record catch. That morning was overcast, the water was calm, and there was no wind. The crew was only fishing for about 15 minutes after catching bait when they got the blue marlin to bite. “As soon as we had the fish situated in the cockpit we headed to the dock so we didn’t catch anything else other than bait,” says Deerman.

“We had the bite at 6:58 and it took another 40 minutes to get the fish in the boat before we could make the run back to the weigh station in Rockport,” explains Deerman. The team used their Shimano 130 Tiagra reels and Shimano 130 class rods to reel in the marlin. The line was 130 pounds IGFA Amilon.

It was truly a team effort and took the crew about 17 minutes to fight the marlin before they got her to the boat. Gartner, Fitzpatrick, Ramos and Ocker got the first gaff in the fish, and Owen was able to get a second gaff in. Richardson acted as the angler and “put a lot of heat on the fish,” the captain says. “At one point when the fish went down, he was as close to 60 pounds of drag.” Plaag was Deerman’s mate and wireman on the boat.

Once they got to the weigh station, the crew saw that they broke the record with an enormous 972.7 pounds (137.5” long) blue marlin.  The previous state record weighed 876.5 pounds and was caught on August 20, 1988 off the coast of South Padre Island.

The captain of the Legacy and his crew have many years of experience fishing. Deerman has been fishing in offshore waters most of his life and had his first captains job in 1986 when he received an offer to take a boat to the Bahamas. He has since spent about 15 years fishing in Mexico, Florida, Panama, Costa Rica and Texas. When he fishes for billfish in Texas it’s usually in tournaments.

Cameron Plaag or his father James Plaag always accompanies the captain on his fishing excursions.  “James spends more time on the bay than he does on land,” says Deerman, “I love any kind of fishing. When you catch a nice fish or a good number of species that you are targeting it’s all good, but my favorite fish to catch will always be the blue marlin!”

Trolling Without Outriggers

May 1st, 2015

No outriggers, no problem! Trolling without outriggers on a small boat is a great way to get into big fish. Troll these easy spread along weedlines, shrimp boats, color changes and structure this summer off the Texas coast. Simplify down to two or three lures depending on your crew and experience. Fewer lines are easier to manage for beginners. Mount release clips on reel seats or to your boat to change the angle of lines and prevent tangles. Rubber bands to cleats or reel handles will also work.

SMALL BOAT TROLLING SPREAD FOR DORADO

doradotrollingspread Trolling Without Outriggers

texasdorado Trolling Without OutriggersProven dorado colors are blue/white, pink/white and green/yellow. Change your spread to the colors they are hitting the hardest. Feather jigs, Ilanders, small Mold Crafts and C&H lures are excellent, inexpensive lures. Place bigger baits closer to the boat and smaller ones further back in your spread. To hungry dorado, your boat resembles fleeing bait and your lures are the crippled fish, easily picked off. Rig baits with 100-150# hard mono and 6/0 or 7/0 hooks. Use single strand or cable for ballyhoo baits around platforms and shrimp boats to prevent cutoffs from toothy fish.

SMALL BOAT TROLLING SPREAD FOR KINGFISH

kingfishtrollingspread

texaskingKingfish are abundant in the Gulf and will strike baits with unbridled aggression and speed. Gold and silver Russelures are proven lures, as well as Rapala diving plugs, baited feather jigs and Mann’s Stretch Lures. Experiment with other colors like pink or chartreuse if the fish are not cooperating. Troll this spread right outside the jetties, around offshore platforms or near shrimp boats. Rig baits with 80-100# coffee colored single strand wire or crimped multistrand cable. Subdue kingfish before bringing them on board. A thrashing kingfish with a mouth of big treble hooks is no joke.

Texas State Record Bluefin Tuna Flashback

May 1st, 2015

txrecordbluefintuna1 Texas State Record Bluefin Tuna Flashback

Pictured from left to right: Capt. Joe Johnson, Neal Isaacs, Trina Isaacs and David Tubbs (not pictured, Steve Thompson)

It was May 1985, the weather was warming up and everyone was ready to go offshore fishing. The conditions weren’t ideal but a small window of good weather presented itself. A group of fishing buddies, Neal Isaacs, his wife Trina, David Tubbs, Joe Johnson and Steve Thompson, headed out to the canyon off South Padre Island. They had always had great luck this time of year – the marlin seemed bigger, and there was always the off chance of a bluefin tuna. They had no clue this was about to become a record-breaking day.

The fishing crew left at daybreak and started trolling once they were 60 miles out. One yellowfin and a couple of wahoo were caught early on – not exactly what they were looking for. They made the move further offshore into deeper water.

Around 1:00 p.m., a school of small tuna was spotted splashing less than a mile away. The crew trolled towards the commotion and the pink Mold Craft Wide Range on the starboard rigger went down HARD.  It was obvious this was a big fish. Trina jumped in the chair and Joe backed down on the tuna as it tore line off the reel. It managed to strip over 500 yards of line before they stopped her.

The huge tuna was brought up to the boat several times, only to dive back down on big runs. Finally, after an hour-long battle, they had their shot. Neal grabbed the leader, and they stuck her with a flyer. The gaff didn’t penetrate, but the rest of the crew was standing by! A calcutta cane gaff to the tail, followed by a knife-point flyer, did the trick. They slid on a tail rope and worked to get the beast in the boat.

Without a transom door, they struggled to get the football-shaped fish over the gunnels. Luckily, a nearby boat came to their aid and lent a come-along. Another hour later, the fish was finally on the deck. They headed back towards the Sea Ranch Marina, feeling on top of the world. Once on the scales, the bluefin weighed in at 808 pounds.  It was 8.5-feet-long, with an 88-inch girth and was easily a new Texas State record. It was a heck of a day of fishing in anyone’s book!

That record still stands today.

Story recounted by Capt. Brett Holden, friend of the family.

One Pan Tomato Basil Chicken

April 29th, 2015

tomatobasilchicken One Pan Tomato Basil Chicken

This easy recipe for Tomato Basil Chicken serves four hungry mariners.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 chicken breast fillets
  • 3 small ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. sugar (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • shaved parmesan or reggiano cheese

Directions

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high to high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4 minutes or until soft. Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until well browned. Add the tomatoes, wine, sugar, salt and pepper, and simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Gently stir in the basil and olives. To serve, place the chicken on plates and top with the pan mixture. Serve with the shaved parmesan/reggiano.

Flower Garden Banks Wahoo

February 26th, 2015

Chasin’ speed demons! Flower Garden Banks wahoo photography and GoPro video from onboard Bad Intentions, a 64′ Viking Sportfisher out of Galveston, TX.

 

galvestonwahoo Flower Garden Banks Wahoo

A winter wahoo, one of the fastest fish in the sea, about to come to a complete stop.

wahoodeck2 Flower Garden Banks Wahoo

The battle comes to an end. Ron McDowell watches his wahoo hit the deck.

A wahoo bares its teeth as the gaff moves into position. Skirted ballyhoo was a productive bait on this trip.

A wahoo bares its teeth as the gaff moves into position. Skirted ballyhoo was a productive bait on this trip.

Debbie Conway reels in an early morning wahoo at the Flower Garden Banks on Feb. 9, 2015. David Weiss Jr. waits with the gaff, deckhand Tatum Frey clears the cockpit while Ron McDowell observes the fight and Capt. Billy Wright maneuvers the boat.

Debbie Conway reels in an early morning wahoo at the Flower Garden Banks on Feb. 9, 2015. David Weiss Jr. waits with the gaff, deckhand Tatum Frey clears the cockpit while Ron McDowell observes the fight and Capt. Billy Wright maneuvers the boat.

A hefty wahoo ascends into the boat. This fish bit a dark colored Braid Marauder.

A hefty wahoo ascends into the boat. This fish bit a dark colored Braid Marauder.

 

Fishing Bull Tides & Spring Winds

February 26th, 2015

souleredfish Fishing Bull Tides & Spring Winds

Torrey Hawkins releases a 29-inch marsh red.

By Capt. Steve Soule

Spring on the upper Texas Coast brings the return of many things, sunshine and warming temperatures are what we tend to notice the most.

springmarshflies Fishing Bull Tides & Spring WindsAs much as those two factors make us rush to the bays, they are not the keys to angling success in the Spring. Though they do in fact play an important role, they are not nearly as influential as most anglers believe them to be.

Conditions, specifically those that we can easily detect above the water, are not the same as those that a predator like a redfish or speckled trout feels below the water’s surface. If I was to give my personal estimation of the two conditional factors that have the greatest influence, they would have to be water temperature and daily photo period. These are what both predator and prey feel, and are the factors that drive spawning and the return to shallow bays and estuarine waters.

Beyond sun and rising water temps, wind is probably the most notable factor for anglers, and probably the one that is the most discouraging. We can’t change the wind and it isn’t always easy to forecast, but we should all understand its impact and learn to use it to our advantage.

Strong southerly winds and powerful incoming tides of Spring are the arteries that deliver the life blood to our coastal bays and estuaries. These will typically start bringing new life as early as February, and continue well into April and even May. These bull tides bring numerous prey species, along with their food sources, back to the shallows. Each of the returning animals’ migration, whether large or small in distance, is timed perfectly by the return or resurgence of their primary food sources.

An entire article could be dedicated to prey species, their eating habits and preferred habitat, but knowing a few factors that play critical roles in locating and catching trout and redfish are worthy of mention. Blue and stone crabs, white, brown and to a lesser degree, pink shrimp, glass minnows, menhaden and shad, as well as sheepshead minnows and many more all make their annual return to the estuaries during spring. They wash inshore on incoming tides towards lower salinity estuarine waters where they can thrive and find abundant microbial food sources.

The Bass Assassin Sea Shad in Slammin’ Chicken is a good springtime marsh bait. Purple is a common color in juvenile blue crabs.

The Bass Assassin Sea Shad in Slammin’ Chicken is a good springtime marsh bait. Purple is a common color in juvenile blue crabs.

The Norton Bull Minnow in Texas Roach is good for low visibility marsh water. Use 1/16-1/8 oz jigheads with these soft plastics.

The Norton Bull Minnow in Texas Roach is good for low visibility marsh water. Use 1/16-1/8 oz jigheads with these soft plastics.

As anglers, we can all benefit from a greater understanding of the life cycles and influences within our chosen fishing grounds.

Just as these animals arrive, due to abundance of food, so do their predators. In nature, every step of the food chain is driven by three basic, instinctual needs: food, safety, and reproduction. Knowing this makes it very clear that to find our target fish, we must find its target or preferred food. As anglers, we can all benefit from a greater understanding of the life cycles and influences within our chosen fishing grounds. We must accept that sometimes the things that frustrate us the most can provide the greatest advancement in our angling skills.

Wind can make our fishing days challenging; knowing where those winds deposit concentrations of prey species can make them more productive. West Galveston Bay’s notorious winter “moss” can frustrate us to no end, but the realization that its “decay stage” provides possibly the largest food source for many returning and emerging prey species, might well make you look more closely at the areas most inundated.

Knowing some of the favorite prey species and their preferred habitat and food sources are great. Now, it’s up to you as a successful angler to locate them. Most of these small species are difficult to physically locate. Thankfully, there are some larger and more widespread animals that can help us locate the smaller food sources that often lead to greater catches. Since most every angler reading this has likely experienced fishing an area devoid of prey species and the ensuing unproductive day, we probably all can now see the importance of finding the food source.

Focus your efforts, whether on open bay shorelines, or in the marshes, on the areas populated by mullet. They are not only much easier to see, but they also eat the same decaying plant material that most of the smaller prey species dine on. Also, take the time to explore every stretch of water inhabited by shore birds such as egrets, herons, ibis and spoonbill. Areas where terns and gulls are diving are likely to have juvenile surface dwelling animals, riding currents. Many of these are extremely small and hard to see, but don’t think that hungry predators would pass up on the opportunity to feast on these helpless little morsels.

Wendell Breazele with a nice fly caught trout.

Wendell Breazele with a nice fly caught trout.

Don’t let the most transitional season deter your efforts, use this season to explore and use your angling skills to locate fish in places you haven’t often looked. You will find, that even though spring fishing can be very challenging, it can also be very productive for those who armed with knowledge. You might just find some very aggressive fish that are waiting to reward you with explosive strikes.