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Sam Rayburn ShareLunker is First of the Season

November 3rd, 2015

txsharelunker Sam Rayburn ShareLunker is First of the Season

Roy Euper of Lufkin caught Toyota ShareLunker 564 from Sam Rayburn Reservoir November 2. The fish weighed 13.2 pounds and was 25.5 inches long and 22 inches in girth. TPWD Photo © 2015, Reese Sparrow

ATHENS—Roy Euper of Lufkin caught the first Toyota ShareLunker of the season from Sam Rayburn Reservoir Monday afternoon (11/2/15). His Sam Rayburn ShareLunker weighed 13.2 pounds, just over the 13-pound minimum.

Any angler who catches a 13-pound largemouth bass can be considered lucky, but Euper may be the luckiest of all. The official weight for the fish was taken at Jackson Hill Park Marina, an official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding station. After the fish arrived at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, it regurgitated a crappie that weighed 0.3 pounds.

Had the fish not eaten that crappie, or if it had spit it up before being weighed, it would not have weighed the 13 pounds necessary to qualify as a ShareLunker.

Euper was fishing in 30 feet of water with a crankbait when the fish bit about 3 p.m. The fish was 25.5 inches long and 22 inches in girth.

The catch moved Sam Rayburn into sole possession of second place among Texas lakes for number of ShareLunkers caught. Anglers have caught 26 largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more from the lake. Only Lake Fork, with 257 entries, has produced more. Lakes O.H. Ivie and Alan Henry have each produced 25.

Last season Sam Rayburn sent two ShareLunkers to Athens. Both were caught on the same day, March 7. More ShareLunkers are caught in March than in any other month. Euper’s fish is only the twelfth in the 30-year history of the ShareLunker program to be caught in November.

Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.

Anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program receive a free replica of their fish, a certificate and ShareLunker clothing and are recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. The person who catches the season’s largest entry will be named Angler of the Year and will receive a prize package from G. Loomis of a top-of-the-line rod, Shimano reel, PowerPro line and G. Loomis hat. If the Angler of the Year is a Texas resident, that person will also receive a lifetime Texas fishing license.

ShareLunker catches can be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the season, by calling (903) 681-0550. If poor cellphone service prevents use of the voice number, anglers can leave a phone number (including area code) at (888) 784-0600. That number is also monitored 24/7 during the season.

For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year’s season, see www.tpwd.texas.gov/sharelunker/. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.

Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers when available, will be posted on www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram. “Like” this page and you can receive notification and photos of catches as soon as they become available.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.

Wading West Bay

November 1st, 2015

redfishrowan Wading West Bay

Wading West Bay: A Winter Wonderland For Wade Fishermen

By Capt. Joe Kent

When I first started fishing Galveston’s West Bay during the late 1970s, several fishing guides referred to it as one of the best kept secrets for winter fishing.

Since then, the word has spread and today this body of water is a popular spot for late fall and winter fishing, especially by wade fishermen.  From late October through much of the winter, wade fishermen score well on the big three, flounder, reds and trout.

Upper West Bay in particular tends to be the favorite of anglers as opposed to Lower West Bay.  Beginning in the vicinity of Jamaica Beach and running all the way to the Galveston Causeway, Upper West Bay holds numerous spots that are productive during colder weather.

We will discuss some of the favorite places waders choose and talk about the baits and conditions that produce the best results.

For starters, we need to mention that insulated waders are a must this time of year.  Also, fishing with companions is highly recommended over fishing alone.

While there are spots that anglers without boats or kayaks can fish, they are limited and the use of a boat to get you to the better spots is almost essential for increasing your odds for good results.

Let’s start out by mentioning some of the spots that offer access to the bay for fishermen without boats.  While actually across the line into Lower Galveston Bay, the shoreline from the Causeway Railroad Bridge down to Campbell’s Bayou is accessible by driving under the railroad bridge.  You should plan on lots of walking if you fish this area.

Carancahua Cove behind the Galveston Island State Park near Jamaica Beach is a popular spot and offers easy wade fishing.

flounderface1 Wading West Bay

The flounder run will soon be in full stride on the Texas Coast.

The Sportsman Road and Anderson Ways areas, just off of Eight Mile Road, are spots where wade fishermen can access the south shoreline of Upper West Bay.  Starvation Cove is in the vicinity of this area and is quite popular.

All of those spots are easily accessible by boat as well.

For boaters, North and South Deer Islands and the surrounding areas are top spots for early morning wade fishing action. From Mecom’s Cut all the way to Green’s Cut, the spoil Islands offer great opportunities for taking all of the big three.

On the north shoreline of Upper West Bay lays the spoil area beginning at Harborwalk and extending all the way to the entrance to Chocolate Bay in Lower West Bay.

Off of Jamaica Beach is Shell Island that is covered by water at normal high tide; however, it is an excellent spot to fish for trout and reds.

While it will be impossible to fish all of those spots on the same day, the variety is good.

Live bait, especially shrimp and mullet, fished under popping corks is excellent; however, for waders it presents obstacles with the extra equipment needed to keep the bait alive.

Artificial baits are by far the best choice as they are easy to carry, allow you to cover more territory faster and present a wider range of baits.

Soft plastics are the top choice and the brand, color and style will depend on where you fish and the clarity of the water.  Bass Assassins, Saltwater Assassins, Down South, Norton and corkies (Paul Brown Originals) are among the most popular soft plastic bait brands.

Gold and silver spoons, along with a variety of Mirrolures, are used by a good number of waders.  One category of artificial baits may surprise you as the top waters are used during the winter.  Super Spooks, Super Spook Jrs. and Bombers are credited with some big trout during cold weather.  Pre-sunrise and dusk are the times that they are most effective.

The patterns of fish change as the water gets colder, with a shift to an afternoon bite rather than early morning taking place later in the winter months.

Tidal movement continues to be important with high tide offering the best results for waders along the shorelines.

When the water cools down, wrap up, put on your insulated waders and give West Bay a try.


Fall is great time of year to try West Bay for a variety of species, trout included.

Fishing the Birds

November 1st, 2015

birds Fishing the Birds

By Capt. David C. Dillman

Harbormaster at The Waterman Marina & Spec-tacular Trout Adventures

Upon waking up to a gentle north breeze, I felt a bit of chill in the air. I grabbed my rod and a variety of soft plastic lures. Heading out towards the boat, I sensed this would be the day to “work the birds.” The month of November, and even into December, is prime time for fishing the birds.

Cooler water and dropping tides flush the back bays and marshes of shrimp. The shrimp become easy prey for speckled trout and redfish. As they feed, shrimp are driven to the surface to escape, only to become easy prey for the seagulls and terns. The fish also become a easy target for anglers.

Having your boat equipped with a trolling motor comes in handy when chasing the birds. It allows you to position your boat quickly and accurately to cast into a feeding school of fish. Also, a good pair of binoculars enables you to scan the horizon for birds. Normally if you see one group of birds, there are other flocks working nearby.

sandeel Fishing the Birds

Norton Sand Eel in Black Magic.


MirrOlure Lil John Twitch Bait in Kitchen Sink.

A variety of lures work well under feeding birds. Topwaters, slow-sinking plugs and soft plastics can be used to catch fish. I prefer the latter. A soft plastic on a jighead enables you to quickly unhook the fish and get back to the action. My two favorites are the Norton Sand Eel and Mirrolure Lil John. Both are very durable and allow you to catch multiple fish on one bait.

Remember to remain courteous when chasing birds. The bays can get crowded during this time of year. If you see a couple of boats working a flock, move on and try to locate another one. Many times other boaters will come in and tempers can flare. There is no need to get upset, just move on. Remember it’s just a fish!

Tight Lines to all!

Cold Weather Surf Gear

November 1st, 2015

gabeprusmack Cold Weather Surf Gear

Photographer: Adam Valadez. Surfer: Gabe Prusmack

Don’t let chilly mornings win. This cold weather surf gear will keep you warm while you keep doing what you love. These items make great Christmas gifts too.



OXNeillXWetsuit Cold Weather Surf Gear

O’Neill Men’s Reactor 3/2 Full Wetsuit



Rip Curl Women’s Dawn Patrol 3/2 Full Wetsuit




Quiksilver Cypher 2mm Hood with Dickie




Quiksilver Neo Goo 4mm 5 Finger Gloves




Rip Curl Rubber Soul Plus Split Toe Booties



League City 54th Annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake

November 1st, 2015

marinerxmas League City 54th Annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake

Callen Worthen, from left, Charles Milby as Santa, Lainey Black and Kelly Groce aboard ‘Pop A Top,’ J.P. Groce’s Luhrs 34 Tournament Open. Photography by Debra Rueb

Bright lights and boats of all kinds will meet Dec. 12, 2015 at 6 p.m. for the League City 54th Annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake, presented by the City of Kemah and produced by the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.  The parade will line up in the Nassau Bay Lagoon and South Shore Harbour Marina, travel the Clear Creek Channel past Seabrook, Clear Lake Shores and the Kemah Boardwalk, out into Galveston Bay and return.

These beautifully decorated sail and power boats will dazzle and entertain thousands of spectators with their brightly colored lights, music, dancers and designs. Some boats will be decorated traditionally, and others will look very unique. The honorary parade marshall is Texas Navy Admiral R.B. “Bob” Taylor, representing the Sam Houston Squadron of the Texas Navy based out of Lakewood Yacht Club.

The City of Nassau Bay signals the start of the parade with its beautiful fireworks display.  For parade spectators, kicking off the holiday season should be a fun time of year to relax, spending time with loved ones and enjoying these vibrantly decorated vessels.  Go early to Kemah and spend the day eating and shopping before the parade that evening, or visit Nassau Bay’s winter festival during the day and enjoy artificial snow, Santa, food and fun prior to the parade.

The morning following the parade, awards will be given out at the long-established awards brunch in the ballroom of South Shore Harbour Resort in League City.  All registered boaters receive two tickets to the awards brunch to celebrate their hard work with their fellow participants.

Over 50 awards are given in numerous categories including family power boats, family sail boats, family man-powered boats, sponsored power boats, sponsored sail boats and sponsored man-powered boats.  The entries are then divided into divisions by length, and then first place, second place and third place trophies are presented.  Businesses from around the area sponsor these awards and attend the brunch to present them to the winning captain.  Excellent photo ops!      

Major sponsors of the parade include the Cities of League City, Kemah and Nassau Bay, Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine/Bay Group Media, the Kemah Boardwalk, Hollis Huff Lewis & Co. P.C., Photosbyeddieharper.com, South Shore Harbour Resort and The Pet Palace Pet Resort.

The Blue Marlin hosts the parade committee while the judges enjoy their evening at the Kemah Boardwalk.

The $75 early entry rate for boaters expires on Dec. 1.  If you need additional information about the parade, want to sponsor or want an entry form, please call 281-488-7676 or e-mail the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at shari@clearlakearea.com

marinerxmas2 League City 54th Annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake

See you at the Boat Parade!

Building on Success: Hanse 385

November 1st, 2015

hanse385gcm Building on Success: Hanse 385

The Hanse 385 cruising on Galveston Bay. Photo by Debra Rueb

Offering a contemporary interpretation of a performance cruising yacht, the stunning new Hanse 385 is successor to the much admired 37-foot range.

hanseintext Building on Success: Hanse 385Designed by Judel/Vrolijk & Co. and built by HanseGroup, the Hanse 385 integrates many of the groundbreaking features that have made their mark on the world market:  an integrated self-tacking jib system with a matching sail plan, high-security keel-hull connections, a modern loft-style interior, and the way in which the halyards and sheets are guided to the helmsman. The running deck is free of fittings while the anchor locker is large enough to accommodate the fenders. The large cockpit has comfortable seating positions, a dual wheel system and a drop-down swim platform. Concealed storage space for a life raft and gas bottles are included. The interior concept showcases an intelligent use of the living space.

The length and height of the owner’s cabin in the bow enhances freedom of movement.  Extra volume has been invested in the head with separate shower and in a large U-shaped pantry (two-cabin version) that is the benchmark of the 38-foot class. Above the owner’s cabin are two full-size flush hatches, the side windows of the coach roof can be opened and both the galley and the head have large flush hatches and extra large cockpit windows. Ultimately, Hanse has created a new yacht that offers superior performance combined with easy handling resulting in more fun on the water.



LOA 11.40 m | 37´4˝

Hull length 10.90 m | 36´06˝

LWL 10.40 m | 34´12˝

Beam 3.88 m | 12´73˝

Draft 1.99 m | 6´52˝ (standard)

1.63 m | 5´35˝ (option)

Displacement approx. 7.6 t | approx. 15,873 lb

Ballast approx. 2.2 t | approx. 4,850 lb

Engine 20.1 kW / 27,3 HP

Fresh water approx. 300 l

Fuel tank approx. 160 l

CE Certificate A (ocean)

Mast length above WL approx. 17.30 m | approx. 56´8˝

Total sail area approx. 74 m² | approx. 797 sq ft

Main sail approx. 44.00 m2 | approx. 473,61 sq ft

Self-tacking jib approx. 30.00 m2 | approx. 322,92 sq ft

Genoa 105% approx. 33.50 m2 | approx. 360,59 sq ft

Rig I 14.70 m | 48´23˝

J 4.30 m | 14´11˝

P 14 m | 45´93˝

E 5.10 m | 16´73˝

The Galley: Holiday Dinner Ideas

November 1st, 2015

galleymeat The Galley: Holiday Dinner Ideas

Baked meat with basil and garlic

By Betha Merit

Lucky us, to live in a climate where we can go cruising during the holiday months. And lucky us, that we have simplified packaging and ingredients so we can aim at a close re-creation of a traditional holiday dinner. It will take a tad of resourcefulness with a smack of creativity. Just break down the six areas that are must haves. These include main dish meat, side dish starches, your family’s traditional veggies/relishes, bread, dessert, and a holiday drink option.

Let’s start with the holiday drink, of course. In addition to your soda, wine, coffee/tea staples, for the holidays we associate aromatic scents and spices with the season. The drink choice will allow you to incorporate a lovely waft of cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or cloves to set the olfactory tone. The easiest way to accomplish this is with individual packets for hot apple cider and hot chocolate with your additional spices. Just add water. For making these drinks adult beverages, add a splash of brandy, rum, bourbon, etc. A big side note here, is that you can put all your spices for drinks and the entire meal, into pre-measured baggies before you board if space/storage is an issue.

The main dish. Turkey? Chicken? Ham? Whole turkeys are probably too large for most galley kitchens. But a turkey breast or boneless roast, either pre-cooked or fresh/frozen is a great option. If you simply must have a platter with a whole bird on it, a large roasted chicken is a beautiful option if your guests are few. Gravy comes in packets, jars, and if you have any drippings, you can add that.

Potatoes, Yams, and Stuffing? It is always possible to use Great Aunt Ethel’s recipes by making them ahead and freezing them to bring on your vessel, or even preparing them on board. For an easy way, you can buy stovetop style stuffing and bring your own celery, mushrooms, or water chestnuts in baggies, ready to add. A great compromise to dried mashed potato flakes is to use a few boiled real potatoes in the mix. Canned yams is also an option. These are very personal choices, so do not create WWIII over these emotionally charged dishes.

Traditional veggies and relishes are up to you. What can you fit? Relish cans and jars are heavy. What is a must have? Cranberry relish in some form is standard, and if the cream cheese stuffed celery is required, make the effort to get that done. Green beans are the easiest side, whether canned, frozen, or fresh. Creamed spinach can be made on the cooktop. You know your family/guests, so your insight is the deciding factor. The same with bread/rolls. Do what makes sense for you. And don’t forget the butter!

The dessert tradition is often pies. Two other ideas are pumpkin bars and gingerbread.  Both smell delicious, can be made prior to the meal in most galley ovens, and are associated with the holidays. Lastly, have holiday music playing on your sound system. From Frank Sinatra to Amy Grant to a children’s choir, make the mood music according to your traditions. And, bon appétit.

pumpkinsquares The Galley: Holiday Dinner Ideas

Pumpkin Squares


  • 1/2 of a 15-ounce can of pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Canned cream cheese frosting (topping only)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8” or 9” square pan. In a bowl, mix pumpkin, sugar, oil, and eggs. Mix remaining ingredients separately, then add to pumpkin mixture and stir until batter is smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top until level. Bake for 30 minutes. When cool, cut into squares and top with a dollop of canned cream cheese frosting.


Creamed Spinach


  • 2 ten ounce bags of frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 TBSP of dried minced onion
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 cup garlic and herb spreadable cheese, (Alouette brand is excellent)
  • 2 TBSP shredded parmesan cheese


Heat olive oil at medium heat in large pan on stove. Stir in minced onion for one minute. Add thawed spinach and cook for one to two minutes. Add garlic and herb cheese and mix together. Use salt and pepper to taste. When warmed through, sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top.

Coastal Heritage Preserve: Galveston’s Largest Nature Preserve

November 1st, 2015

CHPHabitatTypesMap Coastal Heritage Preserve: Galvestons Largest Nature PreserveBy Janice Van Dyke Walden

With Galveston’s new home builds reaching a 10-year high in 2014, one organization is making sure that limited space on the island is left in a natural state for wildlife to thrive and future generations to enjoy.  In March, Artist Boat celebrated a victory when they dedicated the 367-acre Coastal Heritage Preserve off Settegast Road on the island’s West Bay.  It’s been an eight-year effort for the Galveston-based non-profit known for its eco-art kayak tours.  But, the effort paid off handsomely.  With so much competition for land, this is one of the island’s last large tracts, and a protected parcel only superseded in size by Galveston Island State Park.  For Artist Boat, it’s more than an outdoor classroom.

“I’ve been birding on Settegast Road for 19 years,” says Artist Boat’s founder and executive director Karla Klay.  “There’s no other place like this on the island.”

Flanked on two sides by new homes and channelized subdivisions, the Coastal Heritage Preserve contains four distinct coastal habitats.  Klay describes it like “somebody cut a window in the ecosystem.”

There’s 136 acres of salt marsh, 33 acres of tidal flats, 17 acres of estuarine and fresh water habitats, and an upland produced by coastal dune swales and ridges where one can experience a three-inch change in elevation.  From one of these ridges, Texas City is visible in the distance.

For Ted Lee Eubanks, who practices the valuing of natural assets through his company, Fermata, Inc., the Coastal Heritage Preserve represents what Galveston used to be like before development.  “It’s a good place to see the island’s natural heritage.  A lot of the original topography is still in place.”

While most large tracts on the island have become fragmented by development, the absence of roads, right-of-ways and utility lines on the Coastal Heritage Preserve allows migration between the four habitats, connecting nature’s network into a healthier system, allowing unusual species to exist.  Species like the Curved-billed Thrasher.

Eubanks was drawn to this spot in the early 1970’s on a tip that someone had seen the bird.  The unusual note about this is that Curved-billed Thrashers are not known to inhabit coastal marshes and uplands.  They’re most common in the thorny deserts of Mexico, west Texas, southern New Mexico and southern Arizona.  They are also long-term residents, staying in a specific spot for years.  Eubanks noticed this about the bird he observed.  “I’ve visited that land for years,” says Eubanks, “and he was always there along the prickly pears.”  Since it’s only one of two Curved-billed Thrashers Eubanks has ever seen on the Upper Texas Coast, he calls this residency “pretty remarkable.  Things like that seem to happen on that property.”

Yet, convincing the new owners of the land’s natural value was a more artful task.  They had plans to build a marina and an 800-unit channelized residential community.  While some islanders chose to engage in litigation, Klay and Artist Boat’s board chose to show Marquette Cos. of Chicago what an incomparable natural asset they had.  One evening in May 2008, Klay took Marquette’s Darrin Sloniger to a high point on the property to experience its beauty and vast overview.  In the distance they heard pilings being driven in the ground.  “What is that terrible noise?” asked Sloniger.  “That’s the noise you’re going to make for the next 25 years if you develop this land,” answered Klay.  She says now, “Thank God I was showing him his land through my eyes.”

Even though an appreciative relationship started that evening, Marquette held to the asking price of $15 million for the 367 acres.  That sum far exceeded any amount ever raised by the small non-profit.

Then, four months later, Nature and Wall Street played in Artist Boat’s favor: in September, Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston, followed by the collapse of the U.S. housing market in November.  Suddenly, setting aside the large tract made good business sense to Marquette.  They gave Artist Boat time to seek funding, receive three major grants from state, federal and other sources, and secure the 367 acres for $7.7 million.

Artist Boat’s prize for hard work and not giving up now moves into the bigger task of restoration and management.  First, the land needs to regain its balance.

Prairie grasses, which were grazed to the point that the invasive Baccharis and Western Rag Weed took over, need a chance to come back.  Nate Johnson, in charge of habitat and stewardship for Artist Boat, hopes to provide those conditions with the help of volunteers who can remove the competitive invasives, allow the land to restore itself, and start native seedlings where needed.  With the land just now under Artist Boat’s care, the full extent of species has yet to be listed.  But for now, Johnson estimates that no less than 300 species exist on the Coastal Heritage Preserve.  That, alone, is plenty to learn from for years to come, and enough subject matter to fill a sketchbook.

To support Artist Boat and their habitat restoration projects, or to book a kayak tour, visit www.artistboat.org.

Galveston Fall Fishing

August 31st, 2015

redfishfly Galveston Fall Fishing

Look for redfish to become more active as the weather cools.

By Capt. Joe Kent

Autumn, especially during the months of October and November, is the favorite time of year for fishing for the majority of anglers who focus on the Saltwater Big 3, flounder, reds and trout.

While our fall fishing patterns have changed a little over the last decade or two, mid-October through mid-December is prime time for action on all of the Big 3, especially flounder.

Prior to the 1980’s, our fall fishing began earlier in the season and generally was about over by December.  During September, flounder action around Pelican Island at the old Quarantine Station, now Seawolf Park, would get well under way by mid-September.

Today, the catches do not show considerable increases until sometime in early to mid-October and the annual flounder run does get going until close to November 1.

Redfish action picks up all over the Galveston Bay Complex, with the bull red run at the jetties and in the surf being the highlight of the season.

troutplaag Galveston Fall Fishing

James and Cameron Plaag with a stringer of trout.

Trout start moving into shallower waters and schooling, with shallower bays and back bays offering their best fishing of the year.

While all of the Big 3 are frantically feeding to put on extra layers of fat for the winter, the highlight of the season for most anglers is the fall flounder migration from the bays to the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  This event is most commonly referred to as the fall flounder run.

It is undisputed that November is the best month for flounder fishing, as the run is in full swing and anglers limit out quickly on flatfish during this time.  One well-known flounder guide, who has been fishing the annual run for almost 60 years, gave his observation of how the fall fishing pattern has been delayed.  Capt. Mike William’s experience showed that for years the peak of the flounder run took place between the full moons of October and November.  Today he says that the action is peaking between the November and December full moons.

During November, bait camps strive to keep a good inventory of fingerling mullet and mud minnows, as they are the top baits for the migrating fish.  While mullet tend to have an edge over mud minnows in popularity with anglers, live shrimp fall into the ranks as the number three choice.

Many anglers will opt for live shrimp as they are more universal as bait and attract trout and reds as well.

Savvy anglers know that once the flounder run starts being publicized that certain tackle and artificial baits are in short supply and they should stock up ahead of time.  Among the baits that are the more popular choices are Flounder Pounders, Chickenboys and Gulp soft plastics.  Pre-rigged flounder leaders, especially those including the egg weight, and size eight and ten treble hooks tend to quickly leave the shelves of tackle stores and bait shops.

One of the best times to find flounder on the move is right after a cold front blows through.  From Mid-October until sometime in December, each passing cold front triggers increased movement.

Toward the end of the run, usually beginning around Thanksgiving, the larger sow flounder bring up the rear of the migration and seasoned flounder fishermen focus a lot of their fishing time from the end of November through early December.

Fall is in the air, so head out and enjoy some nice weather and good fishing!

Farley Fontenot – Quantum Sails

August 31st, 2015

FARLEY1 Farley Fontenot   Quantum Sails

The boats on a reach at the 2015 Audi Melges 32 World Championships.

Good of Farley 2 Farley Fontenot   Quantum Sails

Farley Fontenot

Farley lives in La Porte, runs a business in Seabrook and races sailboats all over the world. A family man, he still finds the time to sail with his kids. By the time you read this article, Farley will be back home from the 2015 Audi Melges 32 World Championships held in Trapani on Sicily Island in Italy, where he acted as coach for the Quantum Racing Team. The guy has a pretty nice gig.  How did he get so lucky?

When did you first come to this area and how did you get started in the sail making business?

I grew up in Port Arthur, and at that time there were no sailmakers in that area, so my father decided that we would take sail making up as a hobby and to help support the local sailmaking market. So by the seventh grade, I could use a sewing machine and do the service work that came into his little business. We were working out of our living room, which was 25’ x 15.’After college, in 1977, I wanted to continue sailing, and my only avenue was sailmaking. So I promised my parents that I would do it for a couple years and then get a real job. I worked for John Cameron for maybe six months, before I ran into John Kolius, who was running the Ulmer Sails loft here in Seabrook, and I have been here ever since.

What is the biggest change you have witnessed in the sail making business in the last 20 years?

Two things come to mind. The first is technology in both design and materials. Just as in every other surviving business in the world, we continue to move the boundaries forward on where we are going with design and material. In design, with the development of our own proprietary design software and the use of programs such as V Spars, we can exact the loads generated on each sail and then design that sail specifically to that load. This enables the sail to be as light in weight as possible and yet still yield to loads generated.

The second thing is how the sailmaking business has transformed from a small cottage business to a international, technology driven business, where we know every sail built around the world, who the customers is, what sails he owns, and what work has been done to those sails.  To be a leader in the service industry, you have to know your client’s needs.

The Melges 32 is a pretty physical boat in a blow — how many guys do you carry as a crew and who does what on the boat?

The Melges 32 is definitely a lesson in “Team Sports.” On the Delta Volpe teams we have playbooks, we have game films, we have team meetings to go over the game films, and we have a game plan every morning when we leave the dock. All teams are led by the “Owner Driver.” The Melges 32 is one class that has zero tolerance for anyone other than the owner to drive the boats. All of teams have “Pro Tacticians.” Our teams have Pro Mainsail and Jib/Spinnaker Trimmers. We then have a bowman, a tall, strong Mast Man, a pit person and a very athletic floater, who is a little of everything.

If you could start your business all over again what would you do differently?

That is an easy one, I would have saved all of the money we were making in the early 80s before that oil crash. That was a hard lesson for a couple young kids to learn, trying to make our business work in a down turned economy. We had done so well, that we thought it would never end, but it did. And I bet if you ask Kolius, he would say the same thing.

In your opinion why is the U.S. Olympic team so far behind some of the dominating sailing teams in the world?

Without looking deep into it, I would say that there are two Olympic sports that you have spend so much money on your equipment: Sailing and Equestrian (The rich man’s sports). And because of that, there are many times that our best sailing talent does not have the funds to fully develop their talents and skill sets.  Other countries such as England and New Zealand have large funds set aside just for the development of the best sailors in their countries. The U.S. is going to have a tough time competing with those types of programs. Although Josh Adams, Charlie McKee and even Houston’s Luther Carpenter are doing great jobs with what they have to work with, it just might not be enough. And if the sport is not careful, we could lose sailing altogether in the games.

Buddy Melges used to say “Win the start and then increase your lead.” Is that what you say to your guys when you’re coaching them?

For long regattas, such as World Championships, where we will have 12 races, we try and manage the peaks and valleys.  We love winning races, but we try and manage the starts and first legs, and then have a positive pass number throughout the race.  Let’s say we get to the first mark 11th, pass a boat here and there, take a couple with a good marker rounding and pass one more on the last beat and come in 5th.  That is a strong race in that fleet. That’s how you win regattas, staying consistent. We try and not let a bad race bring us down, we recover and get ready to race another race.

In long regattas, the first three races are very important, in that you don’t let the regatta get away from you. The middle races are fine tuning what the course and fleet give you, and you take as much as you can each race from both the fleet and the course. The next to last day you have to keep yourself in contention.  And on the last day, you want to leave the dock knowing you have a mathematical shot to win the regatta.

When is John Kolius going to be inducted into the U.S. Sailing Hall of Fame?

If there is anyone out there who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, it has to be JK. I have nominated him twice with no luck. I will continue the nomination process until we get him there.  He was arguably one of the best boat drivers in the world from 1977 to 1995, and I believe that he has earned the right to be inducted into the Sailing Hall of Fame.

In Season Seafood Sensations: Grouper, Flounder & Shrimp

August 31st, 2015

By Betha Merit

September and October are prime months for fresh catch. Whether you visit your favorite local fish monger, supermarket or haul in your own edible seafood trophies, it’s going to be delicious, plentiful, and affordable. Shrimp will be in season, as well as inshore fish like flounder and redfish, and offshore fish like grouper, snapper, tilefish, wahoo and more.

 bakedgrouper In Season Seafood Sensations: Grouper, Flounder & Shrimp



  • 4 grouper fillets (4-6oz)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. milk

Breading Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper


Beat egg and milk in a shallow bowl and set aside. In a shallow dish or plastic baggy, combine breading ingredients. Dip each fillet in egg mixture, shake off excess and turn or gently shake in breading. Bake uncovered on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges.

flounderbasil In Season Seafood Sensations: Grouper, Flounder & Shrimp



  • 4 fresh flounder fillets (4-6 oz., 1/2” thick)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. white flour
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, cut into 4 slices
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil


Pat dry fish fillets with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a cast-iron or stainless steel pan/skillet over medium to high heat. Pat dry fillets again and dust with flour (optional). Add fillets to pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip fillets. Place a slice of butter on top of each fillet, allowing it to melt and drizzle into pan. Cook until fish springs back from light pressure, about 2 minutes. Transfer fish to a platter or 4 plates. Squeeze the lemon juice into the still heated pan and use a spoon to scrape up the tasty brown bits stuck to the bottom. Stir in the fresh basil and spoon the sauce over fish.




  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 2.5 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1.5 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 5 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, minced (fresh or bottled)
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, minced (fresh or bottled)
  • 1 package frozen corn, (10 oz. thawed)
  • 1.5 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions

Combine 1 tsp. sugar, chili/chile powders and 1/4 tsp. salt in a shallow dish. Add shrimp and toss until well coated.

In large nonstick pan/skillet, heat 3 tsp. oil over medium to high heat. Add the 1/2 cup onion, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger; sauté 5 minutes. Combine remaining 1.5 tsp. sugar and corn to pan. Cook 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green onions, salt, and vinegar, stirring for 30 seconds. Transfer this corn mixture to a bowl.

Wipe pan with a paper towel. Heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in pan over medium to high heat. Add shrimp to pan and sauté 3 minutes or until done, turning once. Serve over corn mixture.

2015 August Billfish Classic

August 31st, 2015

OVERRIDE 2015 August Billfish Classic

Team Over-Ride took top money and won the billfish division at this year’s ABC.


By Dawn Messina

The August Billfish Classic is back after 15 years. I had a chance to sit down with Howard Andrews, the new owner of Bridge Harbor Yacht Club and Marina in Freeport, before Wednesday’s kickoff party.

“I remember as a young boy going to watch the weigh-in of the ‘ABC’ tournament,” Andrews said. “It was an important element in my decision to purchase BHYC. This tournament has a historic value to the people of Freeport and the Billfish tournament community. At one time, it was one of the most notable Texas bluewater billfish tournaments on the Gulf Coast.”

The August Billfish Classic started in 1986 and ran until 2005 when the previous owner of BHYC decided to stop all fishing tournaments. Andrews purchased BHYC in November of 2013 and immediately began major renovations with the intention of bringing back two major billfish tournaments to the yacht club; the August Billfish Classic and the Joe Hall Memorial Tournament.

ABC, with its rich heritage, promotes the release of blue and white Marlin, as well as sailfish. Like other notable billfish tournaments, there is a very lucrative payout format in the categories of billfish, tuna, wahoo and dolphin.

Jasen Gast, tournament director, along with BHYC owner Howard Andrews and Harbormaster Mingo Marquez worked together coordinating most of this year’s tournament details. What an impressive comeback after 15 years with 21 boats registered and a respectable side bet pot total!    

Boats began arriving at Bridge Harbor as early as Sunday, Aug. 9. The kickoff party was Wednesday, Aug. 12, followed by a Thursday departure from any port at 2 p.m. All boats had to return to Bridge Harbor Yacht Club to weigh fish and turn in video release verifications to receive tournament points. Also all boats had to be within the Freeport jetties and be verified by Tournament Control by 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15.

The weigh-in on Friday and Saturday was open to the general public but tournament functions access was restricted to tournament participants only and their guests.

Like other notable Gulf Coast billfish tournaments, IGFA saltwater angling and tackle rules applied with the exception that an angler may receive assistance getting the rod to the chair or harness.

On the first day of fishing, Buck N Bills reported a release of a blue marlin at 2:24 p.m. Then, later in the eveing, the 52’ Viking, Leveled Out (Owner Ed Williams, Capt. Dennis Tuttle) arrived at the scales at 7:30 p.m. with a 395.4 big blue marlin! Team Over Ride reported the release of two blues and had boated a 109” blue marlin! Team Easy Rider also called in a Blue Marlin release at 7:35 p.m.

Next day, the action continued with Team Relentless releasing a white marlin at 8:23 a.m. Solid fish were brought in all weekend. Team Over Ride weighed a 390.1 pound blue marlin and Team REHAB came in with a monster 169.1 pound yellowfin tuna! Congratulations to all the winners and welcome back ABC!

Team REHAB 169.1 YFT 2015 August Billfish Classic

REHAB does it again! The fishing team scores first place tuna with a 169.1 pound fish.

2015 Lone Star Shootout

August 31st, 2015

REHAB Blue Marlin Release1 2015 Lone Star Shootout

Lone Star Shootout champions, Team REHAB with a 412.5 pound blue marlin.


By Dawn Messina

The Lone Star Shootout, formally The Houston Invitational Billfish Tournament, started in Galveston in 2005 as a function of The Houston Big Game Fishing Club. It was moved to Freeport in 2007 and six years ago, again moved to Port O’Connor a location that has proven to successfully attract bigger participation.  The Lone Star Shootout provides serious funds for the Houston Big Game Fishing Club’s charitable programs, supporting college scholarships and other programs relating to fishing, boat safety and Warrior’s Weekend.

To date HBGFC, due in large part to the funds raised at the Shootout and with the support of its members and corporate sponsors, has funded over $150,000 in scholarship money.

The tournament was held July 22-27, following the week of Poco Bueno at Port O’Connor’s Caracol Coastal Development. Most of the boats that fished Poco also participated in the Lone Star Shootout. However, captains and crew members may change, fishing a different boat from the previous tourney.

The tournament concludes with an awards party, remembered and talked about each and every year for great food, entertainment and fellowship. Prizes are awarded for billfish, wahoo, tuna and dolphin.  The Perpetual Champion’s Trophy is the prized possession of each year’s champion and has become one of the most sought after trophies on the Gulf Coast tournament trail.

I found the Lone Star Shootout to be the most fun to attend. It’s smaller than Poco Bueno, but still offers the opportunity to compete against some of the best billfish teams in the U.S. and a chance to win big money. The Shootout has one of the largest payouts of any tournament in the western Gulf with a billfish release format.

The action started off hot on day one and kept going to the last minute of fishing with no less than ten boats reporting at least two marlin releases. After all the boats were in, videos reviewed and paperwork confirmed, the field had caught a record total of 98 billfish! The totals were 35 blue marlin, 30 white marlin and 33 sailfish.

The Lone Star Shootout had 52 participating boats this year, offering optional side pot betting instead of a Calcutta. These side pots pay out 95 percent of the total amount entered and the remaining 5 percent of the total will is donated to HBGFC Charitable and Scholarship Funds. Optional side pots include billfish release pots in the amounts of $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, and $500, daily pots of $500; gamefish pots, including weighed blue marlin pots of $3,000, $2,000, $1,000 and $500; a winner-take-all pot of $2,500 for total tournament points and a crew side pot in the amount of $400. This year’s total was a whopping $965,900! The Houston Big Game Fishing Club received $48,295 for their charitable fund.

The tournament also featured a $1 million reward for a state record blue marlin! To qualify for this reward, the fish must be certified by the State of Texas and caught according to all tournament rules and any other rules as specified in the $1 million reward rules published and provided to participants prior to the fishing days. Wow! Now we’re talking!

The point system employed during the tourney awards any released blue marlin 750 points for both the release side pots and for total score. Weighed blue marlin will count one point per pound for weighed blue marlin side pots and 750 points each for the total points scored. Released white marlin score 200 points and sailfish 100 points. Scoring for the overall tournament points will consist of total billfish release points, plus 750 points for each weighed blue marlin meeting the tournament minimum length of 102 inches.

lonestar 2015 Lone Star Shootout

The Shootout was well attended this year.

There was one aspect of the event I found interesting, that I never really understood until a good friend, Mark Phillips explained it. There is the “meat pot” and the “biggest fish pot,” meaning a boat can come in with the biggest fish and not win the big money depending on which side pot they bought into! They win a beautiful trophy and bragging rights but not necessarily money. Betting on the “meat pot” is very expensive but provides opportunity for a nice payout. So it’s kind of, “put your money where your mouth is” so to speak! It can be $40,000 and up depending on across-the-board betting for one boat and all species of tournament fish caught during the tournament.

Congratulations to the Lone Star Shootout Champion team REHAB, who scored 2,450 points with two blue marlin releases, two sailfish releases and weighed a 412.5-pound blue marlin on day one of fishing. REHAB is owned by Jasen Gast and captained by Troy Day.

2015 Poco Bueno

August 31st, 2015

pocoboats 2015 Poco Bueno


By Dawn Messina

The Invitational Poco Bueno founded in 1969 by Walter W. Fondren III and some of his closest friends. Fondren, who left a distinguished legacy, became the founding chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association in 1977, now the CCA.  Poco is a Fondren family-run fishing tournament that includes offshore and inshore divisions.

Fondren saw Poco Bueno as a way to draw attention to the incredible resources that Port O’Connor offered the recreational angler. The name Poco Bueno in Spanish roughly translates to “It’s Okay.”

Thirteen boats registered for that first Poco, which ended in bad weather so a big party and trap-shooting off the dock took place. Rumor has it that in the early days of Poco, it was a wild four-day party that included strippers, flown in by oil and gas executives, and an endless supply of high dollar liquor. Today, over 50 years later, Poco Bueno is family friendly and attracts some of the most prestigious boat owners, their families, captains and crew members from across the United States to fish the offshore tournament.

In 1985, an inshore division was added in order to accommodate the overwhelming desire of redfish and trout anglers to participate in all of the festivities. With the growing popularity of fly fishing on the Texas coast, a fly fishing division was added in 2009.

In the years since that first Tournament, Poco Bueno has grown to include over 100 offshore and inshore boats. Through the years, it has kept its original spirit – groups of friends gathering to promote the sport of offshore and inshore fishing in and around Port O’Connor.

Walter Fondren IV, who is following in his dad’s footsteps, now acts as director of the legendary Poco Bueno billfish tournament, which continues to be an invitational only, family-run tournament.

This year, taking top spot by one-pound was Hasta Luego, Capt. Dee Wallace, crew and angler Justin Aguilar from San Antonio with a 575-pound blue marlin. Second place was taken by Mojo, Capt. Brian Phillips with a 574-pound marlin and third place went to Lady Adele with their 508-pound marlin. Fourth place was Honky Tonk at 452-pounds, fifth place was Done Deal at 421-pounds, Over the Limit took seventh with a 393-pound fish and seventh place was Whoo Dat at 389-pounds.

Taking top spot for the inshore master angler division was Ken Lester and Brant Boone with 57.15-pounds. The fly-fishing master angler award went to Camp Baily and Corby Robertson with 34.8-pounds.

pocoboats2 2015 Poco Bueno

2015 Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish Tournament

August 31st, 2015

bastantewinners 2015 Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish Tournament

Game Hog took first place in the offshore division with two blue marlin releases.

By Dawn Messina

started my travels in Rockport to write about the 2015 Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish Tournament, only a few years old and still going through growing pains. The offshore registration saw some great boats and the inshore division proved to net a record breaking Calcutta of $71,500. 

Bastante means “more than enough” and the tournament’s name honors the memory and the life of Captain John Uhr.  The mission of Bastante is to raise money for The American Cancer Society Relay for Life, The Boy Scouts of America, The Rockport-Fulton Humane Society and Adoption Center and The Rockport Aquarium.

Uhr was well known around the world for his passion of sportfishing. His humorous personality and love for life led him into the hearts of just about everyone that met him. His first offshore boat was named Bastante so in his younger years he was known by those closest to him was Johnny “Bastante.”

John Uhr lost his battle with cancer on December 30, 2010, just shy of his 49th birthday, leaving behind his beautiful wife, Cindy and young son, Jackson. He was considered a living legend by some and countless stories continue to be told by family and friends about his many outdoors adventures.

During last year’s Bastante tournament, the Texas state record blue marlin was caught by Team Legacy, captained by Kevin Deerman and owned by George Gartner. The Legacy has fished Bastante every year and returned in 2015 to defend their title.

Tami Noling, founder and director of the tournament, was one of Uhr’s closest friends and was asked time and again to organize a billfishing tournament out of Rockport. Tami is well known around the world in her own right as one of the top lady billfish anglers so starting Bastante was a natural fit!   

Registration this year was held at Poor Man’s Country Club on Wednesday, July 8, with eight offshore boats with a total of $46,750 prize money. Then on Friday, the Calcutta for the bay fishing division was held with 21 boats and a whopping $71,150 total of prize money, setting a new record for the inshore tournament.

Taking top spot in this year’s offshore division was Game Hog with two blue marlin releases. Bleu Sky captured second place with a blue and white marlin release as well as taking first, second and third place for tuna. Bird Dog came in third with a white marlin release and first, second and third place dorado.

Taking top spot for kingfish was Gaff ‘em & Stack ‘em with 61.75 total weight and first and third place with a 37.9 and 23.85 pounders. Second place went to Reel Keen with a total weight of 52-pounds and Todd Caspary took second place with a 33.75 kingfish. Caspary donated his winnings to American Cancer Society as he does every year. Third overall went to Ojos Loco with 34.05 pound total weight.

The inshore division, first place total stringer went to Team Waterloo, comprised of anglers Jake Luddeke, Brett Sweeny, Patrick and Tyler Gulley, with 34 pounds, earning them $8,400 in prize money. Second place went to RJB Trucking for a $2,400 payout and third went to Da Boys for a $1,200 payout.   

In the Calcutta, top money went to TRI Country earning them a whopping $49,805! Second spot to RJB Trucking for $14,230 and third to Da Boys for $7,115. Certainly not bad pay for fishing!

The redfish top spot went to Da Boys with 8.95 pounds, second place to How Deep Is It Here with 8.77 pounds and third to RJB Trucking with 8.57 pounds.

Top honors for trout fishing went to CLS with a 4.98 pound-fish, second to TRI Country with 4.93 pounds and M&P Produce with 4.70 pounds.

Dates for the 2016 Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish Tournament are July 27-31. Stay tuned!

taminoling 2015 Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish TournamentBastante Founder Tami Noling

When was the first Bastante?

Tami Noling: We held the first tournament in 2012.

What inspired you to organize this tournament? 

TN: I had helped run other tournaments in the Caribbean and Mexico, but never in the U.S.  Johnny nagged me for years and years to do one in Rockport and I would give him the “Oh brother”…”yeah right”…”you’re crazy” speeches.  There was no question or “maybe I’ll do one” after he died.  It was more like, “When, where and who’s in with me?!”

Describe how it all came together and the experience of being on the other side of a big game fishing tournament.   

TN: I had been on the other side of tournaments before. There’s pressure of course, but I’ve never been one to buckle under pressure. And knowing it’s all for Johnny makes me stronger and more confident in all aspects of the whole gig.  I’m a tough, salty fishhead and my dad raised me to have some pretty thick skin. That all started at the age of two when my father took me fishing for the first time.  I’ve loved it for 50-plus years now.

What has been the most rewarding part of organizing this tournament?

TN: The people involved. The crew that gathers to volunteer each year and help me with the tournament are just amazing, and they do it out of love. It’s a love that can be felt during the whole event. I’ve even had several people come up to me during an evening party and make a point to tell me how they can feel the love. Our sponsors are another amazing part of the tournament; most of them knew Johnny and proudly sponsor to ensure this event can happen year after year.

Kayaking Christmas Bay’s Paddling Trail

August 31st, 2015

xmasbay Kayaking Christmas Bays Paddling Trail

Callie and Christian Easterly on Christmas Bay. Photography by Jim Olive. www.stockyard.com

By Janice Van Dyke Walden

She’s a surfer chick and he’s a coastal kayaker with wanderlust. Together, Callie and Christian Easterly find their peace at Surfside and Christmas Bay on Follets Island just west of Galveston. When they’re not taking to the waves, they’re meandering Christmas Bay’s paddling trail, usually with no agenda except to open the mind.

Though the two grew up less than a mile from each other — she at her dad’s house in the Treasure Island community of San Luis Island, he, roaming the beach and surf of San Luis Pass – Callie and Christian didn’t meet until after she had spent a dozen years in Seattle (“I was surrounded by environmentalists”).  They just happened to hook up in Houston.

“Even though I’d spent most of my years growing up around Surfside and Christmas Bay, I didn’t really appreciate the area until Christian showed it to me,” admits Callie, who is director of development for Katy Prairie Conservancy. “After living in the Pacific Northwest, it looked so flat and boring to me.  Christian has an amazing knowledge of ecosystems, wildlife, and how they’re all connected. That opened my eyes to the beauty that I had grown up around and made me fall in love with the Texas coast, coastal wetlands and of course, prairies.”

For a Call of Duty level designer who advanced quickly in the competitive game world, that knowledge of ecosystems was invaluable to Christian. For years, he designed landscapes in action sequences that immersed gamers in their virtual reality. “If your background comes off as fake,” says Christian, “you won’t continue to engage your audience. The way the sky looks, little ambient sounds, birds flying by….that’s what makes it immersive. One of the reasons why I’ve been put into some of the larger games is because I spent so much time outside.  I had a really good memory bank of references of landscapes that I use.” And, so much of that time outside was paddling Christmas Bay.

Throughout its 4,173 surface acres of water, Christmas Bay has a stable bottom and a consistent four-foot water depth, making it a kind of shallow pan perfect for wade fishing. These same conditions have promoted the growth of over 200 acres of sea grass, making the bay’s sea grass stand one of the largest in Texas. Add to that an unbroken shoreline, stable waters and no primary contact with pollutants, the bay has become ideal as a rookery, marine nursery and everything else that feeds up the biotic chain.

To see all this, you can go out in the open and find your own direction. But, like the virtual games Christian designs, most people enjoy a pre-determined path with options. And, that’s the reason for the paddling trail on Christmas Bay.

paddlingtrailmap Kayaking Christmas Bays Paddling Trail

Texas Parks and Wildlife put in the trail shortly after the first one was established at Lighthouse Lakes in 1998.  The concept of paddling trails was new to Texas then, and, like Lighthouse Lakes, the trail at Christmas Bay came in to being because local interest and local stewardship made it happen. Someone was willing to take up the cause and get the markers in the water.

Today, those 29 markers are tied to GPS coordinates that guide boaters in a 19.1-mile loop of the bay.  They have succumbed to years of weathering and forces like Hurricane Ike. It’s time to restore all the signs and some of the posts.

Jim Olive is doing just that with the Christmas Bay Foundation he started in 1999 and with the help of Brazoria County and Eagle Scout candidate Harrison Jones. Olive is crazy for Christmas Bay. It graces the cover of the book he photographed for author Jim Blackburn, The Book of Texas Bays. It is prominently displayed through his photomurals in the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s new permanent exhibit, the Hamman Hall of Coastal Ecology (Gulf Coast Mariner, July/Aug 2015).  It’s the place where Olive retreated for years each weekend, happy in an old fisherman’s shack he owned on a gravel spit in the middle of the bay.

By October, Jim’s foundation and volunteers will complete restoration of the paddle trail, providing anglers and kayakers a well-marked route connecting to Drum Bay, Bastrop Bay, Cold Pass and San Luis Pass. A paddler can do the entire 19.1-mile loop, or go on popular, shorter routes of 3.8 miles and 10.3 miles.

christmasbaykayak“As a kayaker,” says Christian, “it’s extremely important to have a marked trail.  There can be a mental barrier for people to get out and do it. It’s one thing for people to have the time and money and initiative. But, most people don’t know where to go. Getting in your kayak and going into an expanse of water can be intimidating. Just like the sound on their phone, the same is true with trails.  People like feedback in what they’re doing. It’s nice to see the mile marker and know where you are. It makes it more enjoyable.”

And, for Callie and Christian Easterly, and a lot of other people, there’s no better place. You’ll find them out and about kayaking Christmas Bay.

Monsters of the Past – Texas Shark Fishing

August 31st, 2015

holdenshark Monsters of the Past   Texas Shark Fishing

Capt. Brett Holden, left, with a huge hammerhead shark caught 13 miles off the beach of Matagorda during The Big, The Bad & The Ugly Shark Tournament of years past.

By Capt. Brett Holden

Back in the day shark fishing was a big hit. Boats traveled from across the entire Gulf Coast to fish shark tournaments on the Texas coast. Tourneys like The Big, The Bad & The Ugly in Matagorda, The Monster Fishing Tournament in Freeport and the Hall of Fame Tournament held on the old Texas City Dike, drew in crowds from around the state.

Vacations were scheduled around the events so everyone could see the monster sharks come in to the dock. These tournaments were held during the summer months, which was the best time to target big sharks in close.

As time marched on, enthusiasm for shark fishing kind of withered away. Many, including myself, just decided it was not ethical to target and kill these monster “prehistoric giants” for a few bucks and a picture.

I fished my tail off for big sharks as a young man and caught numerous sharks  in the 600-to-1000-pound range. They are incredible creatures and I really enjoyed it back in the day. But knowing now that some of these giants were estimated to be over 100 years old, I would never kill another one of that caliber again. They are a really cool part of the oceans that we love so much.

One thing I have noticed lately is how so many of the shark fisherman today are catching and releasing some big fish from nearshore boats and the beach. It is still not uncommon to see a 500-1000-pound class fish being caught on video and released to fight another day, which is very cool!

For decades, large sharks have been a great sport fish. The big ones can be targeted from as close in as the breakers on the beach, to just a few miles offshore. How many other species of fish can you target from a very small boat that close in and still be in search of a true grander without breaking the bank?

Lakewood Yacht Club Team Wins US Sailing’s Prestigious Sears Cup

August 10th, 2015

SearsCupWinners Lakewood Yacht Club Team Wins US Sailing’s Prestigious Sears Cup


Lakewood Yacht Club’s youth team has brought home the highly coveted Sears Cup. The United States Sailing Association’s 94th U.S. Junior Championships Regatta, one of the country’s most prestigious events for sailors ages 13-18, was held at Wianno Yacht Club in Osterville, MA August 2nd– 6th 2015 and Lakewood Yacht Club was represented as home to the best of the best for youth sailors

The team of Dane Byerly, Howdy Hughes, Collin Scoville and Carson Shields has won US Sailing’s Jr. Quadruple Handed Championship for the Sears Cup. The event was part of the Chubb US Sailing Jr. Championships and sailing took place in Wianno Seniors, a 25 ft. Gaff Rigged Sloop, originally designed in 1914. Eleven teams from around the United States qualified to compete in this year’s Sears Cup through area eliminations in their region. Racing took place in a variety of conditions on Nantucket sound, with a great sea breeze being the norm late in the day. The Lakewood team was strong in all conditions, effectively winning the event even before the last race. On the final day the team sailed to their 6th race win in 11 races while flying the Texas flag from the mast. They ended up winning the event with 18 points in 11 races with second place 24 points behind them. The Sears Cup is the oldest youth trophy in sailing and has been awarded since 1921. This is the first time that Lakewood has ever won this prestigious award.

In addition to Lakewood Yacht Club team winning the Sears Cup, Dylan Ascencios and Hunter Skinner, also represented Lakewood in the 420 class sailing for the Bemis trophy. Coming off several impressive events this summer, Dylan and Hunter looked to keep their momentum going. The two sailed most of the event in the top ten, but a tough final race saw them finish up at a still impressive 13th place overall.

Complete results can be found here: Final Results.

In recognizing the success of the team, it’s important to also recognize Lakewood Yacht Club’s Sailing Director, Marek Valasek, who joined the Lakewood staff in May 2012 and has grown the club’s youth program into one that is recognized as stellar around the world. Due to his success, Marek has been picked to judge the 2015 Opti Worlds to be held in Dziwon, Poland from Aug. 25th – Sept. 5th.

Shimano Flat Fall Jig Review

August 6th, 2015

pinkblueflatfalljig Shimano Flat Fall Jig Review

Shimano 200g Flat Fall Jig in Pink/Blue

Shimano unveiled new, heavier weights of 200g and 250g for their innovative Flat Fall Jigs at this year’s ICAST.  These jigs are designed to entice strikes as they flutter down through the water column. Speed jigging is, no doubt, an effective way to catch fish, but can also be physically taxing. These Flat Fall Jigs take the work out of jigging and let you conserve energy for fighting fish.

We were eager to try out the new 200g in Pink/Blue offshore the Texas coast. On a trip 30-40 miles out of Galveston, we hooked up on red snapper, dorado and kingfish while fishing near platform structure and reefs. This jig falls through the water column slower than other jigs of the same weight so keep a mindful thumb to prevent backlashes.

flatfalljigdorado Shimano Flat Fall Jig Review

The Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine crew hooked up on a dorado 40 miles offshore Galveston.

As designed, the jig drew fish strikes as it fluttered through the water column, but this lure can also be worked up back to the surface in typical speed jig fashion. Hook ups on dorado mostly occurred 10-30ft under water as the jig was ripped back to the boat. Keeping it near the bottom was productive when fishing for red snapper.

The 200g and 250g flat fall jigs should also be perfect for other Gulf species like amberjack, grouper and tuna. These lures could be very effective when jigging for tuna at night near the ‘floaters’ or semi-submersible drilling platforms in the Gulf. Blackfin tuna, and occasionally yellowfin tuna, have no problem hitting diamond and speed jigs on the drop near this structure.

Check out the video below for a Texas-sized red snapper brought up on Shimano’s new 200g Flat Fall Jig.


Galveston Bay Foundation to Reveal Bay’s Report Card

August 6th, 2015

galvbaymarsh Galveston Bay Foundation to Reveal Bays Report Card

Sea Grass in Shell Midden along Texas coast

The Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) and the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) will launch the first-ever Galveston Bay Report Card. Residents of the Galveston Bay Area will be able to see what overall grade the Bay received. This is the first time researchers have graded the health of the Bay and produced a report for the residents of the Houston-Galveston region. The report card calls attention to serious problems that put Galveston Bay at risk and provides recommendations on how people can help preserve the Bay.

GBF and HARC will share grades for the following categories: water quality, pollution, wildlife, habitat, human health risks, and coastal change.

Guest speakers include Louis R. Rigby, Mayor, City of La Porte, Laura Spanjian, Sustainability Director, City of Houston, Bob Stokes, President, Galveston Bay Foundation, Lisa Gonzalez, Vice President and COO, Houston Advanced Research Center

Free parking is available at the Sylvan Beach Pavilion. For more information, contact Anja Borski at aborski@galvbay.org or 281-332-3381 ext. 223.

49d8ffd7 08f7 43b0 880e e19c9b83eb16 Galveston Bay Foundation to Reveal Bays Report Card

Wednesday, August 12, 2015, at 10 a.m.

Sylvan Beach Pavilion

1 Sylvan Beach Drive

La Porte, TX 77571

Click Here to RSVP