The Yacht Sales Company
Galati Yacht Sales
Quantum Sails
South Texas Yacht Service
Sea Lake Yachts
Blackburn Marine
Marina Del Sol
Seabrook Marina
Laguna Harbor
Sundance Grill

Catching the Dream

FBC fleet Catching the DreamAll the Fishing Boats One Could Never Own

Imagine driving the car of your dreams; perhaps a different model on any given day. The only question is, “Shelby GT350 Mustang or ZL1 Camaro?”

Now imagine choosing from a fleet of high-performance fishing boats, powered by oversized American-made Evinrude engines, and hitting the water any time of the day or night while someone else takes care of the details.

Vince Denais, founder of The Fishing Boat Club in Seabrook and lover of all things saltwater, makes the avid angler’s dreams come true.

“The Club is designed to offer fishing enthusiasts access to a fleet of boats to suit every occasion,” Denais says.

He also makes enjoying multiple fishing boats hassle-free and affordable. Using his proprietary Rugged Smart Fleet technology and partnership with Epic Boats, members pay monthly dues for the convenience of reserving premium watercraft online, and then retrieving them with the swipe of an ID for 24-hour pleasure. All for a fraction of the cost to own, insure and maintain such level of quality and selection.

Membership is available only to experienced anglers who demonstrate proficiency in boat handling.

“We’re not in the business of renting boats, but rather providing a customized service to discerning sportsmen who might already own a boat but also want to enjoy different angling experiences,” Denais adds.

Members can currently reserve 21, 23 and 25-foot center-console models with angler-preferred standard features such as trolling motors and Power-Pole anchors. Options include fiberglass T-Tops, premium and Bluetooth stereo, multiple speakers, GPS, and LED underwater lighting.

A full range of fishing watercraft, including pro angler kayaks, flats boats and family friendly angler pontoons will be available in 2018.

Seabrook Clubhouse Catching the Dream

Members enjoy a private clubhouse at The Fishing Boat Club in Seabrook.

Members also gain access to a private club environment. The Fishing Boat Club’s 1950s vintage clubhouse in Seabrook sits atop 1.3 acres of historical property first made famous by 1920s-era Muecke’s Seafood as a mecca for local fishermen. Oyster shell-piled “Muecke’s Mountain” offers 25-foot elevation views of the Clear Lake/Kemah Channel.

Denais is currently accepting applications and reservations at the Seabrook flagship location. Future expansion could include Texas Gulf Coast clubs in Anahuac, Corpus Christi, Dickinson, Freeport and Port Arthur, as well as Lafayette, Lake Charles and New Orleans, Louisiana. Membership includes access to all club locations.

Catch the dream at http://fishingboatclub.com.

What’s Behind Abnormal High Tide Levels in Galveston Bay

By Capt. Joe Kent

The most common question anglers have asked so far this fall is what is causing the abnormally high tide levels in the Galveston Bay Complex?

High tide levels are common all year long; however, their duration is almost always limited to the events that caused them, such as strong east and southeast winds, storms in the Gulf of Mexico and to a lesser degree the Full Moon Phase.

For most of October, the tide levels have been averaging two feet above normal all around Galveston Bay.  The most interesting part of this is that, while at times the normal triggering factors mentioned earlier were present, the high water levels continued after those factors diminished.

So, what is behind all of this?  Well, I checked with a Galveston area weather expert and asked that question.  The following is his theory on why the tides did not quickly recede to normal levels.

First, higher than normal tides is the new normal along the upper Texas Coast, at least for the time being.  October 2017 was one of the warmest ever in and around Galveston (since observations began in 1871).

This is reflected in the water temperatures in deep Gulf waters.  Since warm water expands, water levels will be higher than if the water temperatures were lower or in the normal range.

Also, we are seeing a residual run up of water along the upper Texas Coast, as there is some inertia built into the development of higher tide levels. Also, we still are getting a fairly robust fresh water flow from the recent record setting floods that are causing large amounts of water to flow from rivers between the mouth of the Sabine River to the mouth of the Colorado River.

Strong northerly winds will mitigate the situation by blowing the water out of the bays and back into the Gulf of Mexico.

It should be easy to conclude from the expert’s opinion given above that global warming is aggravating the situation as well.

Now, how does all of this affect fishing in the Galveston Bay Complex?  During September and October the higher tide levels hampered fishing.  Generally, when there is a change from the normal, fish react to it.  In this case we saw some negative effects on inshore fishing while the surf likely benefited from the longer stretches of water hitting the beaches.

The one area that saw the least effects was offshore where the summertime pattern continued.

For inshore fishing, the marshes and back bays were flooded and that drove redfish well into the normally shallow waters chasing bait fish and reaping the spoils of freshly covered ground where crustaceans and other small marine life were thriving.

Besides the abnormally high water levels, the record temperatures of October delayed our fall fishing patterns from getting underway.

Often I have mentioned that Columbus Day was a time when we saw signs of the onset of fall fishing patterns.  Not the case in 2017, as now I am leaning more toward Veteran’s Day as that pivotal time.

GALVESTON FALL FISHING 2017

flounder fall GALVESTON FALL FISHING 2017

The flounder run is coming!

By Capt. Joe Kent

Years ago by November, fall fishing patterns would be well under way and the annual flounder and golden croaker migrations in full swing.  This is not the case now and anglers have moved the time table ahead as a result.

While growing up around the Galveston Bay Complex, saltwater anglers looked to Columbus Day in early October as the time when they could count on the onset of fall fishing patterns.  For a number of years now, fall weather patterns have not set in until much later, usually close to November.

Fall fishing patterns are triggered by the water temperature in the bays and it is not until the readings fall below 70 degrees that we can count on much in the way of autumn fishing.

Sunlight or presenting it a different way, shorter periods of daylight, also influence fish to move into their fall feeding style.  Fortunately, while weather patterns may change, periods of daylight do not, so that is one constant we can count on in the equation.

An example of how our weather pattern has changed comes with the special flounder regulations that were set by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to protect flounder from over harvesting during their fall migration or as anglers call it the Fall Flounder Run.

The dates for the special regulations that cut the bag limit to two per day and outlawed flounder gigging were Nov. 1 through 30. Those dates were chosen because historically the flounder run was in its peak during November and by December 1, nearly over.

Quickly TPWD observed that the flounder migration lasted well into December and amended the rules to add the first two weeks of that month.

Mentioned earlier was the fact that Columbus Day was looked to as the kick-off of the fall fishing season and now that has changed.  If I were to choose a holiday that better represents the time when fall fishing is in full swing, it would be Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11.

Now, with that background, what is the outlook for this year’s fall fishing?

Let’s take a look at speckled trout first.  The record floods of late August and early September likely will continue to affect speckled trout fishing through at least the early part of November.  Trinity Bay and the upper reaches of Galveston Bay continue to have enormous amounts of fresh water pouring into them. Until that stops and salinity levels improve, don’t look for the prolific fall trout action for which those areas are famous.

On the other hand, East and West Bays should be hot spots once the water temperature cooperates.  Hordes of specks migrated out of the lower salinity areas to locations closer to the Gulf of Mexico and likely will remain until the “All Clear” signal is given to migrate north.

The fall flounder run is shaping up to be a good one this year, as a good crop of quality flat fish is in the bays and, once a few genuine cold fronts pass through, look for the passes to the Gulf to be wall to wall with both flounder and fishermen.

Redfish action has been outstanding all during this fall season.  Reds of all sizes have been caught in good numbers in the lower bays and surf.  Look for that to continue, as reds are not nearly as sensitive to salinity levels as other fish.  Once the water cools, look for the back bays and marshes to turn on.

The annual golden croaker run, which usually occurs about the time of the flounder run, has been a big disappointment in recent years.  During November large golden croaker known as bull croaker make their run to the Gulf of Mexico for spawning and are easy prey for anglers fishing near the passes into the Gulf.

While there has been some good action during the run, it has not measured up to that of 20 years ago and beyond.

In summary, it is going to take a couple of things to really trigger some hot fall fishing and those are getting the water temperature down into the 60s and eliminating the heavy flows of fresh water into the bays.

Once the water temperature drops look out!  The action will be hot and heavy.

The Galley: Thanksgiving Sides

Individual Traditions

By Betha Merit

Beyond the turkey and dressing, everybody has their favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. There are green bean casseroles, candied yams (or the mashed with marshmallows on top version), and jello salads of every kind. These recipes, which include potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and relishes are part of a passing down of tradition, and make us feel like we are part of something that came before us.

In addition to the standards, my family has a few sides introduced in the 60’s that were non-traditional. They have stood the test of time and pop up on our tables to this day. You might be interested in starting the tradition of adding a tradition and introducing something new. I now add cheddar cheese to that bean green, mushroom soup, french fried onion favorite; never going back. Scientists say that our olfactory sense is the most primitive and memory provoking, and perhaps that’s why Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday. There is nothing like the smell of roasted turkey and dressing and all the et cetera’s to warm your November heart.

artichoke pie recipe 300x300 The Galley: Thanksgiving Sides

 

Aunt Janice’s Artichoke Pie

  • 1 pre-made pie crust, uncooked
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts (or several drained cans), cut in bite sized pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or similar amount in dried or powder version)
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence or your favorite green spice
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Saute’ defrosted artichoke heart pieces in garlic and olive oil. Season with herbs, salt and pepper. Cool slightly. Mix beaten eggs with cheeses and artichoke hearts in a bowl. Add mixture to pie crust. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour.

plate 300x300 The Galley: Thanksgiving Sides

Grandma Vera’s Zucchini, Basil, Cheese Casserole

  • 3 medium sized zucchinis shredded or chopped
  • 1/2 chopped small onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced, or comparable in dried or powdered garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoons each; dried basil and dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded colby jack

Saute’ zucchini, onion, garlic and butter in large pan until tender. Set aside and mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the zucchini blend and mix together. Pour into a greased 10” by 10” baking dish. Bake uncovered about 35 minutes or longer, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Aunt Ethel’s Yoghurt Jello Salad

  • 1 small package any flavor jello (raspberry, peach, lime, orange…)
  • 1 cup fruit in the bottom yoghurt (mix or match jello flavor)

Choose a glass serving bowl that will hold two cups, and dissolve jello in 1 cup boiling water until clear of granules. Cool 10 minutes. Whisk in the yoghurt until lumps are gone or nearly gone. Chill until set. Garnish with fruit or whipped cream if desired.

Galveston Bay’s Promising Outlook

jetty red Galveston Bay’s Promising Outlook

Jessica Riemer with a nice post-Harvey redfish. Redfish, unconcerned with low salinity levels, went on a feeding frenzy after the hurricane.

By Capt. David C. Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures832-228-8012

“Hopefully we can dodge a major weather system and enjoy this amazing time of year in Texas and the Upper Coast”

Well, the Galveston area did dodge the destruction of Hurricane Harvey’s winds, but not the rainfall. The Houston/Galveston area received upwards to 60 inches of rain and Galveston Bay became “fresh” from all the runoff. Fishing in September was non-existent, with few folks even trying their luck. As October rolled around, fishermen began plying the waters, with catches coming from the Jetties, East Bay and south of the Eagle Point area. Every tide change in October pushed the saltwater farther north into the Galveston Bay Complex. The outlook for November/December at the time of publication is positive!

November will be the month of transition for those seeking speckled trout. The trout will continue to move farther north with each tide change, but will they be in the normal areas, like Jack’s Pocket in Trinity, Tabbs, Scott and Burnett Bays? I would guess towards the end of the month, anglers should be able to catch some fish from these areas. Until then look for trout to remain in the areas they have been in October. Don’t overlook the west shoreline of Galveston Bay from Eagle Point to Seabrook. Also the western side of Trinity Bay from Dow’s Reef to the HLP Spillway. The wells in the middle of Galveston Bay and Trinity Bay, along with West Galveston Bay have the potential to produce great catches this November.

November is also the traditional month for flounder. The so called “Flounder Run” is in full force this month. Any shoreline, along any bay where drains are located is where one should concentrate their effort. The well known Galveston Channel, from Seawolf Park to the Pelican Island Bridge should be loaded up this year with flatfish! Already, some really nice flounder have been caught this October. It should only get better.

By December, we should see the Galveston Complex returning to a normal fishing pattern. The fish should be in their regular areas. The far back end of Trinity, the NW end of Galveston Bay, and West Galveston Bay will be the areas to target.

Hopefully we can dodge a big freeze and have minimal rainfall with each passing cold front. Eagle Point Fishing Camp has had a great supply of live shrimp and croaker. Their goal is to continue to have live bait throughout this year. You can always call them at 281-339-1131 to check on their bait supply. This time of year bait can become scarce, it is nice to know that you can count them to have live bait.

Misho Ivic: A Man For All Seasons

misho dock Misho Ivic: A Man For All Seasons

The man behind Misho’s Oyster Company

By George Dismukes

Michael Ivic, who the entire modern world knows as Misho, is indeed a Man For All Seasons, even by the standards and description detailed in Robert Bolt’s story of Sir Thomas More.

But maybe our story should be called, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS PLUS ONE IRON WILLED WOMAN WITH A VISION!

Misho is one of the Texas Gulf Coast’s leading oyster barons (owner of Misho’s Oyster Company in San Leon. See our September issue.) It is a company that recently had to absorb a $1.2 million loss resulting from the flood-waters of Hurricane Harvey. The fresh water deluge destroyed most of Misho’s oyster leases in Galveston Bay, reefs that will take a minimum of three years to recover. In addition, Misho lost his “Oyster House Restaurant” in Rockport, Texas which was at the epicenter of the storm.

But none of this is what Misho wanted to talk about in his cover story. Instead, Misho wants more than anything for the world to know about people, and one person in particular, who helped him to make it as far as he has, to make him who he is. For that, first you need to know Misho.

Born and raised in Croatia, Misho was schooled as an engineer and came to the United States in 1972 intending to pursue an engineering career. But like so many of us, Fate had other plans. Well actually, Fate and a loving wife named Franka, also from Croatia, who had a vision for her family. When Misho married Franka in 1972, he may not have been fully aware of just how much she would be an active partner in his life.

Misho bought an oyster boat, the Indiana and was captaining that boat from 5 a.m. – 7 p.m. every day, even after securing his engineering degree in ’76. But it was his new bride who declared they would have an oyster company. She had more than a vision!

MISHOfam Misho Ivic: A Man For All Seasons

The Ivic Family.

She forged her vision into reality with hard work and long hours as administrator of everything from sales to book keeping, scheduling trucks as well as directing the unloading of boats. A job that consistently took from 10:00 A.M. until midnight or longer. And so it was that Misho’s Oyster Company came into being. Together, the Ivics built an oyster empire and a fleet of oyster boats. Misho eventually found a captain for the Indiana, and Franka handled the business end for years until the children grew old enough to take over the helm, so to speak.

Today, the Ivics rely heavily upon family involvement to keep momentum going. Even so, Franka still keeps a close eye to this very day to make sure the company ship is steered with an arrow straight wake. And here’s a note for the romantics reading this story, Misho and Franka just celebrated their 45th anniversary!

It is a beautiful story of success, both personally and professionally; but there is still more to know about Misho. The following example is very revealing: One of Misho’s deckhands, a man named Johnny from Albania, demonstrated exceptional talent while working on one of Misho’s oyster boats, and wanted to form his own oyster company. Instead of being threatened by this as some might have been, Misho helped Johnny get his first oyster boat.  With Misho’s help, Johnny also became successful. The two men are the closest of friends to this very day. Hence, the motive in my naming this story after Robert Bolt’s hero.

When Misho talks about people he knows, it isn’t as acquaintances, but rather as friends. When he speaks of the people who work for him, it’s like he is talking about an extended family. Credit or praise is never directed at himself but rather at one person or another who helped him along the way, or is still helping him somehow. When you meet him, he does not greet you as an executive would, but rather with a warm handshake and a smile. This is Misho. Now that you understand, I can tell the rest of my story.

But then, there is also the Misho Extended family, for almost everybody who comes to work for Misho quickly comes under the umbrella of the Misho “E F” (Extended family). His workers feel close to him because he treats them with respect. When he talks to them, it isn’t as a worker, but as a friend. And so, when you approach a Misho business and encounter a worker, you can feel the relaxed atmosphere albeit an energized desire to do a job well.

Misho Oyster Company’s right hand man, Miguel, left, with Misho, Joseph and Annie.

The Misho Businesses

Misho is a man of many interests. There is the oyster empire with oyster leases in Texas and Louisiana. He is a wholesale supplier of oysters to restaurants and food businesses all over the United States.

Being a people person, he also has retail establishments known far and wide for oyster dishes. One of his long-time friends and customers is Phil Duke, founder of Gilhooley’s in San Leon. It is fair to say that Gilhooley’s is a national landmark when it comes to oysters. Gilhooley’s has recently been featured in Texas Monthly and GQ. The place is famous for oysters on the half shell, smoked oysters, Oysters Gilhooley, Oysters Picante, fried oysters and more.

When Phil got ready to retire, he didn’t want his creation to be taken over by just “anybody.” So, he sold it to Misho. Now that the baton has been passed, physical improvements to the property will be forthcoming in order to meet state requirements. The old, original license cannot be grandfathered in. We all hope those improvements will not erase the down-home ambiance that is as much a part of Gilhooley’s as the oysters themselves. As it is now, all patrons of Gilhooley’s enjoy a laid-back atmosphere and delicious food at small town, economic prices. Most of all, if you don’t feel like dressing up to eat out, Gilhooley’s makes you feel right at home. It is not a restaurant where the pretentious dwell.

In addition to Gilhooley’s, Misho has assumed ownership of another establishment less than two miles distant from Gilhooley’s at the corner of East Bayshore & 21st Street in San Leon, presently known as Casper’s, but to be renamed ‘BGB’, short for Bayshore Grill & Billiards. BGB is currently under renovation with an anticipated opening in November. Plans are to make BGB a family oriented facility with good food including Oysters Rockefeller and hardcore best prime rib to be found anywhere on the coast.

Previously, ‘Caspers’ was the largest billiards venue anywhere in this area, featuring ten billiards tables. BGB will retain that feature, but with the addition of electronic games geared for kiddos as entertainment while they wait on their food orders.

Villa Franka is located in Orebic, the most beautiful part of Croatia.

So, now you know that Misho is diversified. But I haven’t yet told you of the crown jewel in this wonderful offering. In far-away Croatia, Misho has created a first-class resort named after his revered wife, Franka. It is the Villa Franka and it is located within earshot of the birthplace of Marco Polo. A picture of Villa Franka accompanies this article below. It tells the story far better than words. It is a true get-away offering beauty, tranquility, history and luxurious comfort. So, how does one put a bow ribbon on a story such as this? A picture is worth a thousand words. Enjoy all the accompanying photos including our November cover. We think it will whet your appetite for a little adventure, some good food and perhaps a bit of exotic travel!

Plastic in Paradise

shane Plastic in Paradise

Captain Shane Cantrell shows how a 2 cent plastic bag nearly cost him $80,000. Photo by Jim Olive.

The Bottle and the Bag

By Janice Van Dyke Walden

Plastic in Paradise is a three-part series on the prevalence of plastic in the Gulf Coast’s marine life, and how it affects the food we eat and the water we drink.  Speaking to local groups who deal with it everyday, they tell us how prevalent plastic pollution is along the Gulf Coast, and what we can do to reduce it and to eliminate it from our lives.

As much as 90% of floating marine debris may be plastic.   And that doesn’t account for all the plastic that sinks to the bottom of the ocean, settling in sediment for thousands of years.  Researchers estimate that 70% of plastic pollution will never be seen because it sinks out of sight.

While a definitive study on the impact of plastic on the Gulf of Mexico has not be conducted, institutions along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas are now banding together to collect, quantify and analyze plastic samples found along our shores.

A study published in 2014 estimates that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris possibly float in the world’s oceans.   Because the Gulf of Mexico was not included in that study, there’s no telling what our Gulf would contribute to the plastic count.  But on the surface, here’s what some Gulf Coast residents are finding.  It’s affects their livelihood.  It affects the way we live:

The cost to fishermen

It’s the sound that no captain wants to hear: an alarm onboard goes off while you’re ten miles offshore.

That’s what happened last August to Captain Shane Cantrell aboard his charter vessel, Sharecropper.  The boat was full of paying clients, ready for a day of fishing.  They had cleared the Galveston jetty and were well out of site of land.  Something triggered the overhead alarm on the intake.  Cantrell stopped everything to open up the engine hatch and take a look.  Inside he saw convenience wrapped around his gear case:  a plastic ice bag either thrown overboard or allowed to get loose by someone.  Ten miles offshore, a single bag had sucked up in his engine and blocked off the intake for the water pump that keeps the engine cool.  Sharecropper’s twin engines were overheating and could have failed, leaving Cantrell stranded in the Gulf of Mexico with a boatload of clients.

A single 2 cent bag could have cost Cantrell $80,000.  If he had lost both engines, Cantrell figures their replacement would have cost up to $30,000, and his downtime in high season could have meant $50,000 in lost revenue.

Encountering plastic offshore is nothing new to Cantrell.  Most often in May and June when he’s out in depths up to 1,000 feet of water, he’ll see mylar balloons floating in the sargassum.  The balloons are from the season’s graduation parties and ceremonies that have been released and floated away.  Their shiny mylar plastic lodges in the floating beds of sea grass that are food for the Gulf’s juvenile turtles.  “I’ve seen everything from hard hats to plastic bottles out in the sargassum,” he says.  “But, the most common debris apart from the balloons is the single-use bottle and bags.”

turtle Plastic in Paradise

Joanie Steinhaus of Turtle Island Restoration Network says juvenile turtles bit these plastic bleach and vinegar bottles that washed ashore Bolivar Peninsula. Photo by Jim Olive.

Floating global: plastic bottles

Long-time San Leon resident Stennie Meadors shares that same observation.  She speaks with over 30 years in the field of environmental management.  For ten years till 2001 she was an emergency response manager for Texas Commission on Environmental Quality handling response units for spills.  She worked on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and before that, she conducted hazardous waste inspections in the Houston area.  A turning point for her came in 2007 when her grandson brought her the skeleton of a brown pelican with a plastic bottle lodged in its pelvic area.  The bottle may have come from across the ocean, or it may have been deposited locally.

For three years, Meadors fought to ban plastic bottles in her area.  To this day, there’s no law banning the bottle.  Now she focuses on grassroots clean ups and consumer awareness in the shoreline process.  She and her group of volunteers for Plastic Pollution Partnership comb the beaches from San Luis to Bolivar and from Morgan’s Point to the Texas City Prairie Preserve picking up plastic on a regular basis.  “We see plastic straws,” Meador says, “They are a problem, but we don’t see them as often as we see water bottles.”

Meadors tells of the plastic bottles that washed up recently at Bolivar: about 50 bottles were found  – small, yellow and worn-out, the product of Industrias Macier SA.  The bottles were also punctured with holes.  Meadors discovered they were bite holes of juvenile turtles.  The bottles had floated across the Gulf from the Dominican Republic and drifted onto the beaches of Texas and Louisiana.  Filled with vinegar or bleach, the contents had been used to distill water in the Dominican Republic.  “They sell for 10 cents a bottle, get discarded and then get caught up in the Gulf Stream and land on our shores,” Meador says.  She has given some of the turtle-bitten bottles to Joanie Steinhaus to display.  Steinhaus runs the Galveston office of the Turtle Island Restoration Network, and uses samples like these to bring awareness to the public and to students they work with in Galveston’s schools.

“The plastic is so sharp that it can perforate on the way down,” says Steinhaus’ colleague, Theresa Morris, who is part of the coastal research team.  The turtles “have these spikes in their throat that makes sure the food goes down, and so it will actually force food down in their guts, and the plastic will cut them up on the way down.  Sometimes they can pass it, but you’re talking about very small pieces of plastic, and depending on what they’re made of, the plastics will be leaching chemicals that could cause physiological disruptions.”

The bag

Although bottles are among the top ten plastic items trashing the Gulf Coast, Steinhaus’ biggest plastic peeve is the single use bag, also among the top 10.  “We live on an island,” she says.  “Single use bags have a shelf life of maybe, 12 minutes.  Less than 5% of them are recycled.  They end up in the water.  We live on an island.  They’re blowing down the streets.  They’re going to end up in the Gulf.”

A world of convenience

At Galveston’s Walmart on the Seawall at 64th Street, it’s easy to see how this happens.  The parking lot is full at noon with shoppers pushing cartloads of purchases in plastic bags.  Most of the items are double-sacked.  Within five minutes, 80 plastic bags leave the store.  Outside, a plastic bag floats by a woman waiting for a ride.  “That wasn’t mine,” she says, “It was here when I got here.”

That attitude prevails in North America and Western Europe which use 80% of the 4 trillion plastic bags produced each year.

Some kind of fight

For Steinhaus, “It’s one simple change, and people fight it.”  People like Gov. Greg Abbott.  He opposes individual cities banning the plastic bag, claiming that Texas is being “California-ized.”  Also opposing city ordinances to ban the bag is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.  He’s asked the Texas Supreme Court to affirm the Fourth Court of Appeals decision that declared Laredo’s plastic bag ban unlawful.   Paxton is calling a bag ban by individual cities unlawful because it violates state law, the Texas Health and Safety Code, which forbids municipalities from making rules to “prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.

Last year, resistance came on another level, Steinhaus says, when after working with a team of Galveston city officials to draft an ordinance on the marine environment, City Attorney Don Glywasky received a call from a South Carolina law firm with the intent to sue if Galveston passed its bag ban.

The Texas Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Laredo’s case on Jan. 11.  The court’s ruling will have implications for Houston, Galveston and all other Texas cities that want to determine their own bag law.  In the meantime, businesses and individuals are choosing alternatives to the plastic bag.

Galveston businesses take voluntary actions

“For hotels, it was easy for them to eliminate them,” says Steinhaus, “They have very limited use; their gift shops – especially the places like the Tremont, The Galvez or the Hilton, their clientele doesn’t mind.  Most of them use paper bags or sell bags.”  For the island’s smaller shops where price margins matter more, Steinhaus is in favor of forming a bag coop to lower the cost of paper bags for individual shop owners.

Either way, these local residents all agree it comes down to personal choice.  Plastic “is something that we can have more control over,” says Cantrell. “It’s not coming from any other source but human.  People don’t think about it, and people don’t intend to throw into the ocean, but it’s there.”

What can you do?

  • Refuse the bag; bring your own bag and bottle.
  • Bundle your plastic bags and deposit them at recycling receptacles located at the front of most grocery stores.
  • Buy your own re-useable bags and keep them in your car. If you don’t yet have a collection of re-useable bags, use paper bags.
  • Tell the store manager you’ll shop elsewhere unless they provide an alternative bag, like a paper bag or one you can buy and re-use.
  • Recycle any plastic bottles you find or purchase.
  • Instead of buying bottled water for home consumption, buy a Brita or other water filter, and filter your own water.  Drink for drink, it’s less expensive, too.
  • Tell your city, county and state representatives what you want done about the plastic bag and bottle.
  • Join a local advocacy group.  Help with clean ups.  Spread awareness and good habits.  You can do it every day or once a year.

 

Texas Local Advocacy Groups

Plastic Pollution Reporting for Galveston/Harris Counties

Stennie Meadors

stenmead@aol.com and on Facebook

 

Galveston Bay Foundation

www.galvbay.org

 

NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Program

https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/

 

Turtle Island Restoration Network

https://seaturtles.org/newssection/bring-the-bag-psa-galveston/

 

Texans for Clean Water

http://www.texansforcleanwater.org/

 

Adopt a Beach

https://www.facebook.com/TexasAdoptABeach/

 

Trash Bash

http://www.trashbash.org/

Galveston Oysters After Hurricane Harvey

Gbaysalinity Galveston Oysters After Hurricane Harvey

Texas Department of State Health Services salinity readings.

Unprecedented influx of fresh water ravages reefs

Months after the storm, we are still seeing the effects of hurricane Harvey. A massive amount of freshwater flushed through Galveston Bay and caused heavy casualties to the area’s live oyster reefs.

Galveston oysters need a balance in salinity in order to thrive, usually around 15 ppt (parts per thousand). The low salinities in many parts of Galveston and East Bay have decimated live oyster reefs, to the dismay of local oystermen and women.

In early September, Christine Jensen, TPWD Fisheries Biologist, sampled oysters from the middle of the bay and saw about 20% mortality on those reefs. The Department of State Health Services also took salinity readings (see figure below) and found that salt levels were rising in the lower parts of Galveston Bay but East Bay was still very fresh.

Jensen again sampled public reefs in October and it was determined that areas TX-1, TX-4, TX-5 and TX-6 will not open for oyster season on Nov. 1.

“East Bay experienced the worst of Harvey’s effects with very few live oysters left.  It remained too fresh for too long for most oysters to survive.  Hannas Reef had 51% mortality, Middle Reef had 95% mortality, and Frenchy’s Reef had 100% mortality.  Almost all of the restoration areas in East Bay were killed,” Jensen said.

“Some reefs on the west side of the ship channel also saw significant mortality near where Dickinson Bayou drains into the bay Dollar Reef had 90% mortality and Todds Dump had 62%. However, several reefs in the middle of the bay survived fairly well and have higher numbers of live oysters than they have had in many years.  The numbers of oysters in TX-7 were starting to rebound prior to Harvey and luckily survived with relatively low mortality.  This area will open for oyster harvest on November 1.”

salinity10 25 NOAA Galveston Oysters After Hurricane Harvey

NOAA’s Galveston Bay Salinity Nowcast, a computer-generated forecast guide shows that upper Trinity and East Bays are still very fresh as of late October.

Upper Galveston, Trinity and East Bay still remain relatively fresh with salinity less than 10 ppt. But there is a silver lining; the reefs in the middle of the bay are doing well with higher catches than have been seen in many years. Also, there is a lot of clean cultch (dead shell) for oyster larvae to settle.

“A clean place for larvae to settle has always been a limiting factor in Galveston Bay for oyster numbers to rebound,” said TPWD Biologist Christine Jensen.

“Hopefully, we will see a quick return in a few years if mother nature will cooperate.”

A Hero Nonetheless

raz halili pic A Hero Nonetheless

Raz Halili of Prestige Oysters.

By George Dismukes

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to interview several people who were described as heroes. They all had one thing in common, none of them saw themselves as heroes.

At first, I thought it was modesty, but like so many things, it isn’t quite that simple. The best way to describe it is, danger doesn’t look the same when you’re outside looking in as it does when you are on the inside looking out.

To be sure, people who put their own well-being and safety aside in favor of helping their fellow man are in a special class of their own. Perhaps the most interesting part of all is, these special people walk among us and never declare themselves as being anything other than our neighbors and friends. I find that mind boggling. They deserve to wear a uniform or a badge, something that identifies them. But no.

Raz Halili fits this category. Following Hurricane Harvey he didn’t hesitate a moment to enter the breach, rescuing people first on his jet-ski, then later taking an oyster boat down the coast to Post Arthur where he engaged in rescuing hundreds of stranded people.

Was he in danger? Yes, absolutely. He must have known it, he was undaunted. This is called courage, the hallmark of a hero. So, although a vision of himself as a hero is invisible to him, he is a hero, none-the-less. Many TV stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines apparently agree with me because he became an overnight sensation on all sorts of media, not just locally or nationally, but globally including being on every station in Albania, homeland of his father, Johnny Halili. Indeed, one lady on social media pegged him as a “hottie” and that went viral.

Amazingly none of this attention has gone to his head. As Heir Apparent to the Prestige Oyster empire, his focus is on running the family business, which he does quite well. Lisa, his mother is extremely proud of him, calling him a “good son.” But it’s the way she says it. You can tell, she’s bursting with pride. And ladies, I hate to tell you this, but Raz Halili is taken, off the market, not available. He has a long-time girlfriend to whom he is very devoted, so that’s that!

The old axiom is; “All glory is fleeting.” But in this case, not the hero. He’s just the same guy he was the day before the storm hit, and will be tomorrow. P.S. Look for this particular hero to appear in the movie The Bay House as the waiter.

2017 A-Class North Americans

cat A 2017 A Class North Americans

By Bruce Mahoney

The 50th Anniversary of the A-Class North American Championship was held in San Diego Bay on Oct. 5-8. Hosted by San Diego Yacht Club, the event was held on the Silver Strand State Beach which is halfway down Coronado Island. The sailing area was well protected with flat water and great racing conditions for the Classics and Foilers alike.

San Diego is a long way from the larger East Coast fleets in the US, but the A Catters saddled up and headed west to support the Californians. We had 32 boats racing from all over, including Mischa and Eduard from the Netherlands, Larry Woods from the Toronto area, a container load from New Jersey, a 6 boat trailer from Atlanta, and many smaller rigs coming from Florida, Louisiana, Texas and all over.

Ben Hall a.k.a. “The Admiral” drove 2,500 miles with Bill Vining from Tampa, Florida to get three boats from the Sopot Worlds there just in time, and he wasn’t even sailing! It was another good example of the quality of people in the A Class.

Due to the flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, there was a fair bit of debris in the water at home. My training partner Benn Hooper and I decided to head out early to sail in San Diego to keep the boats in one piece. We drove 24 hours straight through and sailed for 6 days prior to the event. Mischa joined us and we spent a lot of time on setup and techniques to maximize our performance, with Benn in the Classic as a good benchmark.

Ben was on his recently modified Classic LR5 with the long leech version of Mischa’s Decksweeper, while Mischa and I pushed the F1’s with a smaller head design. It was a bit of a gamble in the short term as San Diego is not thought of as a windy venue, and conventional wisdom pointed to light airs being the Achilles heel of a small headed sail. It was great testing though and the new sails performed well across the range.

As always when I get the opportunity to train early with good people before a championship, I could pack up and go home the night before the regatta and be perfectly happy, as I find it really satisfying to learn so much and progress in how to sail these amazing boats.

After some good battles with Mischa and Matt, I was fortunate enough to come away as North American Champion…

We pulled off the regatta with Foiling conditions throughout, except for small sections of a leg or two. The breeze was on average 7-12 knots, some less and more on the last day. There was only a bit of short chop on the last day near the bottom when the breeze was up in the mid-teens. The pressure was always changing just a little bit throughout the trip, so you really had to stay on your toes with the mode and setting changes. Often times you weren’t in exactly the ‘perfect’ setting, so learning to keep the boat ripping while managing that aspect was a big part of the regatta.

The SDYC Race Committee did a great job getting off 11 good races over four days. They kept us apprised of their intentions and were great with communication, which we all appreciate.

The battle for the Classics division was never over, with a different leader at the end of each day. Craig Yandow came out on top, and there were a lot of tight finishes across the line throughout the week. Great to see some new energy in that group and I believe the US will send a good Classic contingent to Australia for the Worlds.

Matt Struble sailed a solid event in the eXploder I used in Poland, and thank you again to Emmanuel Cerf from eXploder USA for helping me at the Worlds and Matt here at the NA’s. Emmanuel is a great promoter of the class, and motivates our sailors to get to our events. He is the man behind the 2020 Worlds in St. Petersburg, Florida. Be sure to put that on your long term planning, as it will be truly first class.

Mischa won the event as Open Champion, with his blazing speed and complete command of the boat. It was great to have another fun mission with him, and we hope in the future to have more international competitors here to raise the level even higher. The perpetual trophy for the Open Champion has gone missing (if you have it, send it back…), so the Regatta Organizers did a cool thing with a Multihull Elapsed Time Trophy that they award each year. By their reckoning, having won 9 of 11 races means Mischa completed the regatta in the lowest elapsed time, so his name is now on the trophy with ORMA 60’s and other offshore Multihulls.

After some good battles with Mischa and Matt, I was fortunate enough to come away as North American Champion, and looking at the trophy my 2 wins pale in comparison to the multiple winners over the 50 year history of the class in the US. The trophy has the winning skipper and boat type which we will post shortly on our US Class website. Apparently even Hurricane Andrew has a victory in 1992, but no boat type was listed. It’s pretty cool to think for half a century A Cat sailors have been throwing boats on trailers and traveling around the country for the fun of it. I’m happy to be one of them.

The 2018 North Americans will be at the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club in New Jersey. The club is just across the water from New York City and has hosted the Atlantic Coast Championships the past few years. It should be a great event. From there the US Fleet will be loading containers to head down under to Hervey Bay for the 2018 Worlds. Come and join us!

Houston Yacht Club Plans Annual Turkey Day Regatta

hyc Houston Yacht Club Plans Annual Turkey Day RegattaRegistration is now open to race in the annual Houston Yacht Club Turkey Day Regatta  Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18-19.   The regatta is open to all boats and classes for racing Windward-Leeward or Pursuit.  Prizes are turkeys.  The number will be based on the number of registrants per class. Our annual “Grog” party will follow racing on Saturday.

As part of the Competitors’ Briefing on Friday, Nov. 17, all racers are invited to attend a presentation by HYC Member and Laser Radial Youth Women’s World Champion, Charlotte Rose, who will share her on-the-water racing experiences and upcoming 2017 Youth Sailing World Championship in China later this year.  She has been nominated for the 2017 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.

The awards ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 20 will feature our chef serving up turkey and trimmings for the racers at the trophy presentation.

See the HYC Web Site for the Notice of Race for the schedule of events.  Boats may enter the Regatta through Regatta Network.

For further information, contact Event Chairmen James Liston jtliston@aol.com or Madonna Breen mbreen@embarqmail.com.

Flounder Fishing Tips From Flounder Pounder Lures

Advice from Phil and Joe Ortiz of Flounder Pounder Lures

By Capt. Joe Kent

ortiz Flounder Fishing Tips From Flounder Pounder Lures

Phil Ortiz with a big Galveston flounder.

November is by far the best month for flounder fishing along the upper Texas Coast.  It stands out so much that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department set special rules for that month that include a reduction in the daily bag limit from five to two and the limitation of hook and line (rod and reel) as the only means of catching flatfish.  With that restriction, flounder gigging is prohibited during November.

The main reason for the great fishing in November is the annual flounder migration to the Gulf of Mexico reaching its peak and flounder stacking up in such numbers around the passageways to the Gulf that they are easy picking for anglers.

Prior to the changes in the rules, anglers had a daily bag limit of 10 with a two-day possession limit.  This allowed the gigging crowd to take 10 before midnight and another 10 per person after the clock struck 12 a.m.

When the two-day limit was eliminated and the bag limit reduced to five per day, along with the November rules, flounder stocks began to rebound.

With the flatfish now back to good numbers, let’s take a look at some tips from an expert on how, where and when to fish for flounder.

Phil Ortiz, inventor and manufacturer of the popular Flounder Pounder artificial bait, is one of the noted experts on flounder and flounder fishing.  Ortiz has fished commercially for flounder and for over 20 years has devoted his time to producing one of the most prolific flounder baits on the market, the Flounder Pounder.

Recently, I interviewed Ortiz along with his brother Joe who assists him in manufacturing the baits.  We started out with what I considered the most important question and proceeded from there.

pounderlure Flounder Fishing Tips From Flounder Pounder Lures

Kent: What would you say is the most important single factor in fishing for flounder?

Ortiz: When the periods of sunlight fall, meaning shorter days, signals go off in flounder to start moving.  The shorter days translate into cooler water and give rise to frontal systems making their way to the coast.  This has a snowballing effect in that the fronts move the water out of the marshes and back bays thus telling flounder to prepare for their move.

Kent: Now that we see the flounder beginning to move, what are other factors that affect fishing?

Ortiz: The next most important is atmospheric pressure.  A drop in pressure alerts flounder that change is on the way and the movement begins.

Kent: What about tides and moon?

Ortiz: Tidal flow, whether incoming or outgoing, is 99% necessary. The moon phases are not as important; however, the better action will be during major and minor periods.

Kent: What about the actual fishing?  What color is your favorite and how do you fish for flounder?

Ortiz: Color makes no difference; in fact the bait itself is not that important.  It is all in the presentation.  I once hooked a cigarette butt to one of my jigs and caught flounder by making the bait resemble a running shad.

Kent: I recall you telling me that noise, if anything, helps flounder fishing.  Is that still true?

Ortiz: Absolutely.  Think about it, flounder lie on the bottom and any loud noise nearby will spook bait into running away.  During the exit, the spooked bait will run past an awaiting flatfish and an easy meal results.

Kent: Is November the best month to catch that big “saddle blanket” flounder?

ortiz2

Phil with another flatfish fooled by the Flounder Pounder.

Ortiz: There are a lot of large flounder caught during November; however, my experience has shown June through August to be the best time.

Kent: It is pretty well known that the smaller male flounder make an appearance first during the flounder run.  Why is that?

Ortiz: It is because they move slower than the larger females.

Kent: In closing, do you have any advice or recommendations to pass on to other fishermen?

Ortiz: Yes, I encourage fishermen to support regulations to increase the minimum size for flounder to 17 inches.  Why? Because most of the males are under 17 inches and it takes approximately four to six males to fertilize the eggs of one female.  Before recent research on this topic, it was thought that a one to one ratio was satisfactory.  Today we know otherwise.

For more on Flounder Pounder Lures, please visit www.flounderpounder.net




Galveston Bay fishing after Harvey

big speckled trout Galveston Bay fishing after Harvey

By Capt. Joe Kent

Lots of questions are being asked about the effects of the recent flood waters on the Galveston Bay Complex.  Most of the questions are centered on whether the floods have a beneficial or detrimental impact on the eco-system and what we can expect in the way of fishing this fall.

For a number of years, the Galveston Bay Complex was experiencing a serious drought that was beginning to change the ecology of the bay.  High levels of salinity and restricted flows of fresh water from rivers and creeks were taking its toll on the wetlands and back bays.

Concerns were mounting about a change in our fish patterns, in particular a possible migration of certain species of fish out of the bays and an influx of different species into the bays.  It certainly was a situation that warranted concern.

Three years ago, the first of a series of heavy flooding hit and eventually lowered the salinity levels and created some ideal conditions for growing our stocks of marine life, both fin fish and shell fish.

In most cases, flood waters entering the bays do a lot of good for the basic component of the marine life cycle and that is the estuaries.  The nutrients that are washed into the rivers and other outlets help the vegetation grow and in turn provide a sanctuary for newly hatched marine life.

This is obviously a real benefit to all who partake in saltwater recreational activities and most beneficial to anglers in all areas including those who fish offshore.

On the other hand, flood waters that contain heavy concentrations of contaminants can be detrimental to the estuaries.  Contaminants in the form of chemicals and metals are the most destructive, as they can and do kill the life line of the estuaries, the vegetation and in general pollute the waters.

troutrowan 300x141 Galveston Bay fishing after Harvey

“Well, for speckled trout especially they are going to be found in large concentrations closer to the coast.”

 

Just how our recent flood affects the sensitive balance in the wetlands is yet to be determined.

While it remains to be seen as to the effects on the estuaries, there are a few things that can pretty well be counted on as far as the effects on fishing and crabbing.

Following the floods and during the time when heavy flows of water continued to pour into the bays, we have experienced a welcomed dry spell with northerly and westerly winds dominating under low humidity.  This has helped to get the flood waters draining more rapidly. 

Most of Galveston Bay has been muddy and off color with little or no salinity.  How long this will last is anyone’s guess.

Most of the time, trout will move out of the upper reaches of the bay system and settle in areas that are closer to the Gulf of Mexico such as those around the passes and jetties.  In those areas, trout tend to stack up and become easy prey for anglers.

Using last year as an example, our heavy floods came early in the summer and were followed by a similar pattern of hot, dry weather.  It was at least two months before the bays started showing signs of improvement.

If that pattern repeats itself, it could be November before the water returns to normal around the Galveston Bay Complex.  This is especially true in light of the fact that this year’s flooding was more extensive and severe than in years past.

So what does that mean for fishing?  Well, for speckled trout especially they are going to be found in large concentrations closer to the coast.  The jetties, surf and lower Galveston Bay should hold the prized game fish for quite a while.

Reds and other fish likely will be the offering in the upper reaches of the bay system, as they are not nearly as sensitive to salinity as are trout.

Fishing with Capt. James Plaag

plaag trout stringer Fishing with Capt. James Plaag

Capt. James Plaag with a good stringer of trout.

From trout to tarpon with Capt. Plaag, the 36 year master guide of Silver King Adventures

Interview by Brandon Rowan

Where did you grow up?

I’m from Houston but I grew up down here near the water. My family has had houses here since the 1950s. So I spent all my youth down here. We had a place on Chocolate Bayou and in 1967 my family built a house in Jamaica Beach. I used to watch ZZ Top play down there on the weekends.

How long have you been guiding?

It’s been 36 years, man it goes by fast. Silver King Adventures was started in 1990. Things were tough with the ‘83 freeze when everything froze and died. Then with the ‘89 freeze everything froze and died again.

We had been trying to catch tarpon, but we didn’t know what we were doing at the time. But we had some people interested in going, and it took us a while to wire it up but we got it going. I was tarpon fishing in Louisiana some at that point too, and that’s how we started.

tarpon plaag Fishing with Capt. James Plaag

Silver King Adventures is no stranger to large tarpon.

So it all started with Tarpon?

Well, yeah that’s how the name came. One of our customers gave us that name and got roused a bit, and he made us a nice little ad. He was in that business.

What is your fishing specialty or target fish?

Right now we are tarpon fishing. We’ll still go trout fishing if the beach is no good but we’d rather be fishing for tarpon.

So you’re spending a lot of time a couple miles off the beachfront?

Sometimes we’ll get 10 miles out. I’ve caught them in 67 feet of water down to 7 feet of water; it all depends on where you can find them. They are the hardest fish on the planet to find and catch.

What lures/baits are you using for tarpon?

We quit fishing with bait maybe about 15 years ago. We make our own little lures. We still use Coon Pops. Coon is one of my best friends. I learned a whole lot from him; he’s probably the best tarpon fisherman I’ve met in my whole life. We make our own stuff, but we got a lot from him.

How did you get your start fishing?

I cut my teeth fishing the canals at my Grandma’s house in Jamaica Beach. I was about 8 and would ride my bike to the water. With dead shrimp I would catch croaker, hardheads and little redfish. If it bit, I would catch it.

Do you have a favorite fishing moment?

There’s two moments. We caught a really big tarpon one year. The fish was 6’9” with a 50 inch girth and weighed 238 pounds.

The other is from Panama. We were on the Gotcha in Panama City and we took it to Piñas. It’s probably the finest place I’ve ever been in my life. We saw about 15 or 16 fish, caught about 8 or 9. Half blues and half black marlin.

MirrOlure 51MR CH and Bass Assassin in Red Shad.

If you could only have one soft plastic and one hard bait, what would they be?

I’d take a 51 series MirrOlure in chartreuse/gold and a red shad Bass Assassin. I work for both of those companies, but if I didn’t, the answer would still be the same. I put my son through school on that red shad color.

What is the biggest mistake you see fisherman making out there?

They don’t put in the effort. There’s the old saying that you get out what you put in. Fishing is not just throwing your stuff out there and getting them; it doesn’t work like that. If just want a boat ride, that’s all good and fine, but if you actually want to catch something, you have to put in more than just a lackadaisical effort.

What are some things anglers in the Galveston Bay Complex should key in on during September and October to be successful?

September is a hard month for trout fishing. It’s a transition month. You have a major spawn in April and a little bit bigger than a minor spawn in September. September is probably one of the worst months to try and catch a trout. You can, and someone might tell me “Man you’re stupid, we kill them in September.” Yeah, well you might, but by and large it’s not that good.

If the weather is good then September is the best month to catch Tarpon. October is the same for those first three weeks if it’s calm. That’s when the big fish are there. It’s a really good month. October is also a good trout fishing month. Those birds will start working and it gets pretty easy. But September can be tough inshore. For me that month is made for tarpon fishing and dove hunting.

Do you have a favorite tide stage to fish?

It depends on the time of year and where you are fishing.  If you’re fishing the marsh during winter, then you got to have an outgoing tide. If you’re fishing near the ship channel, deep water shell or well pads, then the fish will be biting on the incoming tide.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in our area from when you first started compared to today?

The biggest change? It’s a thing called a cell phone. It totally ruined fishing and I’ll throw croakers in there, too. It used to be that you could stay on a school of fish for two weeks, now you can’t stay on them for 2 hours before someone picks up the phone and tells the world “Hey I saw this dude on the fish over here and they’re getting them.”

The information highway brother…the coconut telegraph is a killer.

James with a 5 pound bass.

Do you have a new recently discovered lure or technique you’d like to share with our readers?

In these last three years we’ve been fishing a lot like they fish swimbaits for bass. Instead of jigging them, we use them like a search bait. That’s where the paddletail comes into play, like a Bass Assassin Sea Shad. Once you get your speed down and find the fish, whether it’s the bottom or top of the water column, it’s easy. That way you can tell clients to cast, let it fall for X amount of seconds and then bring it back on a medium retrieve.

Favorite place you have ever fished?

It’s definitely Panama.

Is there anything you’d like to see changed in the current regulations?

Do away with the croaker. Sooner or later the guides are going to fish themselves out of business and everyone will be wondering why. What it enables you to do is to target the individual fish you wouldn’t catch otherwise. I could go out there with a lure and I might catch one and I may not, but you drag that croaker through there and you can target the individual big breeder fish.

So you’ll have one boat load up with 15 or more 3 – 5 pound trout before they head in. Then you’ll have 30 boats out there doing the same thing. Add it up in pounds and it doesn’t take long to see the problem.

If you want to fish with finfish, then get you some piggie perch. Put some effort into it. Piggie is a better bait than a croaker, but you have to put some more effort in to use them.

Another thing I’ve talked about is putting a slot limit on the trout. Knock the minimum length down to 14 inches so Joe Blow can go out and catch his 10 fish. And then anything from 20 to 25 inches just put them back. Most customers want fish they can keep, so they could box the smaller eating fish and let the big ones go.

Aside from fishing, what else are you passionate about?

Dove hunting. But with fishing we go with the old saying “Can’t stop, won’t stop.” That’s what we do; we fish. Cameron, my son, is the same way. It’s what we do.

Do you fish any tournaments?

I’ve fished a couple tournaments this year. I’ve been lucky enough to place in just about every one of them. I don’t go after it hard anymore though. Them boys that fish those tournaments in wintertime, they’re good, they catch them. They’re young and they’ll make long runs.

We fish the Seabrook Saltwater Derby every year.  We’ve won something in that one just about every time. I fish with Jason Nolan. He just called me about it, it’s coming up on September 29.

Uh oh, we got some competition (laughs). Team Gulf Coast Mariner will be fishing that one too.

Well I hope y’all do good, but I hope I do better (laughs).

How can someone contact you for a guided trip?

Give me a call at (409) 935-7242,  email info@silverkingadventures.com or visit www.silverkingadventures.com. Tarpon fishing will be hot and inshore fishing during the fall is the best all year.

Blueprint for the Great American Dream

prestige oyster Blueprint for the Great American Dream

Lisa and Raz Halili of Prestige Oysters.

The story of Prestige Oysters

By K. Pica Kahn

halilis Blueprint for the Great American Dream

Johnny and Lisa Halili.

It is a love story,  and a story of the American dream. Johnny Halili, a little boy in Albania, never dreamed he would be an oyster mogul in the U.S. In the 1970s, coming from his home country to Chicago, he began his American work life in a car wash. Drifting from job to job, he heard from his cousin that there was work in Louisiana; so off he went.

Working on a boat for the first time, he was a deckhand and worked very hard for years. Eventually he bought his own oyster boat, the Lady Katherine, and that is when his successful American dream life began.

Prestige Oysters is a private family run business which continues with his best deckhand Lisa, who later became the love of his life and his wife. Working through all kinds of weather, they never gave up their dreams. The couple are now joined by their son Raz in this family owned and run business. The company has two full-time processing plants providing market for over 100 boats from Texas to Louisiana and Maryland.

The family was able to increase their business with the acquisition of the Quintus 350L high-pressure processing machine and CryoQuick tunnel to process oysters. In 2013, the company acquired Joey’s Oyster Company’s state of the art facility with HPP technology in Amite, Louisiana.

Rescue Bae

Raz Halili took to the flooded streets after Harvey to rescue people and animals alike. He has gained national attention after one of his rescue photos went viral. He has been affectionally dubbed ‘Rescue Bae.’

“HPP is one of the most clean and advanced food processing technologies. It is the size of a small room,” said Raz. “It does 1,200 oysters at a time in high pressure. We buy from other people, and we have our own boats. We also buy from independent contractors from South Texas up to Maryland. Oysters are a very popular appetizer. They are a delicacy – a romance between ocean and man ”

The High-Pressure process is a food processing method using water and elevated pressures to achieve consumer desired goals.  In 1990s, HPP emerged as a method of processing food, but not until the 21st century was it applied to seafood.

The advancements in HPP technology over recent decades have proved this method of food processing is of the highest quality. From fresh juice to meats and seafood, HPP neutralizes listeria, salmonella, E. coli and other deadly bacteria. Their Treasure Band oysters have undergone our High Pressure Process which reduces the Vibrio Vulnificus and Vibrio Paraheamolyticus to non-detectable levels.

The idea for the purchase of the multi million dollar machine was that of the father, according to Raz.

“He really saw the value in it, and so we bought one, and it has been a great asset for us.”

According to his mother Lisa, Raz took the business to a new level, when he approached the giant Sysco Foods.

“He was just this kid with an idea, and he made it happen,” said the proud mom. “We would have never even thought of it, but after college he came on the sales side of the business and this was his venture, and he took a chance and did it for us. It made all the difference. We are very proud of him. We were just simple wholesalers, and he took us to a whole new level.

Like his father before him, the son now 31, had a vision of where he wanted to take the company.  After pitching the idea to the seafood director at the time, he felt confident this was a program with a story behind it that could sell.

“We were able to supply a year-round supply of oysters at a competitive price, and we are the first ones to have a corporate level oyster program at Sysco,” said Raz. “It was a multimillion dollar investment, but we always want to change, grow and push our company to greater highest.”

Although the idea and the execution was the son’s idea, he says he learned so much from his father, from whom he got his work ethic.

“He taught me the meaning of hard work and dedication, always preaching to never take anything for granted, to help others and stay loyal to the ones who have helped you along the way. My family and I have a great appreciation of living in a free country, where you can fulfill your wildest dreams. Enjoy working hard and it will pay off.”

Oyster Appetizers, Recipes and Wine Pairings

By Betha Merit

Appetizers are multifold fun. They get the party started by whetting your appetite and teasing your tastebuds. And they can also be served as a meal in tandem with another small plate of food or two. Another idea is to plan a small gathering and have everyone bring their favorite hors d’oeuvres with a paired wine. For the following oyster recipes we suggest pairing with bubbles, from Champagne to sparkling rosé. And any crisp white wine such as Chablis or Sancerre will also pair nicely. Enjoy.

baked oyster recipe Oyster Appetizers, Recipes and Wine Pairings

Crispy Oven-Baked Oysters

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 pint shucked oysters

Use three shallow bowls. In the first bowl combine flour, salt, pepper and cayenne. In another bowl whisk eggs. In the third bowl combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley and garlic salt.

Coat oysters with flour mixture, then dip in eggs, and coat with crumb mixture. Place in greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan; drizzle with oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve with jalapeño ranch dressing for dipping.

bacon oyster recipe Oyster Appetizers, Recipes and Wine Pairings

Savory Bacon Wrapped Oysters

  • 12 ounces bacon strips cut in half
  • 1 pint shucked oysters
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (or white)
  • 1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Cook bacon in skillet style pan on medium-high heat until shrunken, but not crisp. Lay on paper towels to drain. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a shallow baking dish, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic and dry mustard. Wrap each oyster with bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place in the baking dish with sauce and bake for 15 minutes or longer. Oysters are done when the sauce bubbles and the bacon is crispy around the edges.

 

Wine Pairings

Chablis

The Chablis region is the northernmost wine district of the Burgundy region in France. The cool climate of this region produces wines with more acidity and flavors less fruity than Chardonnay. These wines often have a flinty or steely note.

Sancerre Blanc

Sancerre is located in the eastern part of the Loire valley, southeast of Orléans in France. Sancerre blanc is usually bone dry and highly aromatic with intense flavors of peaches and gooseberries.

 

Tony Chachere’s Easy Gumbo

  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 10 cups cool water
  • 1 cup Tony Chachere’s Instant Roux Mix
  • 1 lb. shrimp and 1 lb. crab meat
  • Tony Chachere Original Creole Seasoning

In a stockpot coated in pan spray, sauté vegetables until soft. In the same pot, add Tony’s Roux, 2 cups of water, 1 cup Tony Chachere’s Instant Roux Mix

Bring to a boil. After mixture begins to thicken, reduce heat to low and stir for 3 minutes. Add remaining water. For seafood gumbo, bring roux mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add shrimp and crab meat and return to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Add remaining water. Season gumbo to taste with Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning. Ladle gumbo over steamed rice and garnish with chopped green onions and Tony Chachere’s Gumbo Filé.

 

Opelousas Oyster Loaf

  • 1 Loaf French Bread, unsliced
  • Margarine
  • 1 Dozen select large oysters
  • 1 Egg
  • Ketchup
  • Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
  • 1/2 Cup light cream
  • 1 Cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Cup oil
  • Dill pickles (sliced)
  • Lemon (wedges)

Cut off top of the French Bread lengthwise and reserve. Scoop out insides and toast the loaf. Butter inside generously and keep warm. Dry oysters on absorbent paper.

In a bowl, beat egg with Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, slowly adding cream. Place oysters in egg mixture, then in bread crumbs, thoroughly covering all sides. Fry in shallow oil until brown and drain on absorbent paper.

Fill the hollow of French Bread with the fried oysters. Garnish with sliced dill pickles, lemon wedges and dabs of ketchup. Replace top, heat in oven and serve. Yields 4 servings.

Fishing with Capt. Steve Hillman

hillman speck Fishing with Capt. Steve Hillman

Steve Hillman with a mid October beauty, released after a quick photo.

Hillman Guide Service’s big trout buff on his early years and fishing favorites

Interview by Brandon Rowan

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Galveston and grew up on Dickinson Bayou where my parents started a small seafood business in the mid-seventies.  When not fishing off of our little pier I would fish out in the bay with my dad, uncles and grandpa.  This was back when we didn’t have to venture far to catch trout, redfish and flounder.  Reefs in Dickinson Bay, Moses Lake and Todd’s Dump gave us all the action we could ask for.

It really wasn’t until my mid-teenage years that I learned how to read the water well.  I fell in love with wading and learned what slicks meant.  This is when fishing hit a whole new level for me.  I caught my first topwater trout on a chrome/ blue jumping minnow on Dickinson Reef when I was around 16 years old.  I still remember how rafts of mullet would mark the J-shaped reef.  No GPS was needed.

In 1996 I graduated from the University of Houston – Clear Lake with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management, then took a job in the chemical industry.  Within a couple of years I came back to my roots in the family seafood business to take over the marketing aspects of the business.  We would fly clients in from all over the country and I would take them fishing and golfing.

It was during this time when I realized just how much satisfaction I got from watching others enjoy catching fish.  In 2004 I obtained my captain’s license and started running trips.  Some folks told me to be careful taking something that I enjoy and turning it into a job.  I suppose this is true for some.  For me, it was the right choice.  I never intended on becoming a full-time fishing guide but the circumstances pretty much played out that way.  Now, I have some of the best regular clients that any guide could ever ask for.  Funny how things seem to work out the way you least expect.

When I started guiding I ran tarpon, bull red, shark, black drum, flounder and trout trips.  While I enjoyed all of that I realized that my true passion was fishing for trout and reds.  I’m a firm believer in sticking to what you know.  And, by doing the same thing day-in and day-out you can stay on the patterns and become better.

Do you have a favorite fishing moment?

My favorite experience is when a young man from Idaho called to book a two day fly fishing trip with me in March of 2006 for him and his father.  The first day was spent wading coves in West Bay amidst typical March stiff winds.  The bite was tough on flies, but the trout and reds were cooperative (for me) on conventional tackle.  Kurt and his dad kept their distance from me despite me constantly waving them in my direction.  They caught a few undersized trout on seaducers, clouser minnows and spoon flies.  They seemed to be happy despite not catching a bunch of fish.  The wind gave us a break on the second day and the fishing was much better.  Once again, however, they wouldn’t wade over when I was on fish.  They caught some, but I was a bit perplexed and maybe even a little disappointed that they pretty much hung out away from me in their own little world.  I pulled up to the dock at Teakwood Marina and Kurt’s father headed for the truck as he was a little tired.  Kurt handed me my check and said the following; “Captain Steve, I know that me and my dad could’ve caught more fish had we spent more time by your side or used conventional gear, but I need to tell you something.  My dad has terminal cancer and the doctors only gave him a few months to live.  He started taking me fly fishing when I was a little boy and those memories are the ones I cherish the most.  We got to relive some of those memories the past two days and I want to thank you for that.  This may be the last time I get to fish with my dad.”

As Kurt walked towards his truck tears flowed from my eyes.  I drove home thinking about how blessed I was.  That two day fishing trip with Kurt and his father will forever be etched in my memory as well as my heart.

mirrolure27 Fishing with Capt. Steve Hillman

MirrOlure MirrOdine XL

What is your favorite soft plastic and hard bait for trout if you had to choose only one of each?

My favorite soft plastic would have to be a Limetreuse Saltwater Assassin and MirrOlure’s MirrOdine XL would be my choice for a hard bait.

What is the biggest mistake you see other fishermen make?

I would have to say that the biggest mistake I see on a regular basis is other fishermen motoring over fish.  Just the other day we witnessed a boat motor through several good trout slicks then line up behind us to make a drift.  He was more concerned with what was happening on my boat then what was happening in the water around him.  This has become a daily occurrence.  I would love to see more awareness and better etiquette.

Fat redfish like this one can be found schooling in open water, September through November.

What should anglers key in on during September and October in Galveston Bay?

The early days of September are usually similar to our late summer patterns which involve drifting slicks in 7 to 11 feet of water over shell and throwing mainly soft plastics.  Depending upon the timing of cool fronts, late September and early October can become more of a transitional pattern where trout are found deep as well as shallow.  Slicks and active bait are always good telltale signs but gulls hovering over migrating white shrimp can also lead you to the fish.  Wading near marsh drains is always a good plan especially during late October.  Trout can be somewhat spread out until a true fall pattern arrives which usually occurs in November.

Do you have a favorite tide stage to fish?

My favorite tide to fish depends on where we’re fishing but our trout seem to feed better during a tide change.  If we’re wading the mouth of a marsh drain then I like a high tide going to a low.  If we’re drifting open bay reefs then any tidal movement is best, regardless of direction.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in Galveston Bay over the years?

I could write an entire article on this subject but I suppose the most noticeable change is the bottom landscape of the bay.  Many islands are now reefs and many reefs are now gone.  Through the years the bottom structure has changed from environmental changes and man-induced changes.  We have lost more than half of our live oyster reefs and all of our rangia clam beds mainly due to Hurricane Ike and other environmental changes.

I’ve also seen the number of boats increase dramatically over the years.

Do you have a recently discovered lure or new technique you’d like to share with our readers?

I’m pretty much a creature of habit who tends to keep things simple.  That being said, I seem to be throwing more waking baits such as Strike Pro’s Hunchback this year.  It’s a subsurface hard bait that wobbles from side to side.  It has a loud rattle that tends to draw strikes when sometimes other baits won’t.  Other than that, I usually stick to the basic soft plastic and topwater program.  It really depends on what I see while we’re fishing.

Favorite place you’ve ever fished?

Hands down, my favorite place I’ve ever fished is Baffin Bay.  I love catching legitimately big trout and Baffin has produced more big trout for me than all the other bays I’ve fished combined.  Galveston Bay has produced some big trout for us through the years but not as consistently as Baffin.

Steve’s 8.25lb trout fell for a MirrOdine XL.

Is there anything you’d like to see changed in the current regulations?

The jury is still out on this question for me.  I carefully observe the changes I see on a yearly and daily basis while running my charters.  I also study the data from the Texas Parks and Wildlife, as well as others such as the Harte Research Institute.

My current opinion is that we’re struggling with habitat in this bay and fishing pressure has greatly increased.  Man-made and environmental changes have had a negative impact on our estuary.  I don’t think anyone can deny that.

The question is what changes should be made?  Is a limit reduction to 5 trout the answer?  I personally think it’s a good start.  Sustainability of our spotted seatrout as well as our habitat should be on the front burner.

Aside from fishing, what else are you passionate about?

I thoroughly enjoy fishing but my biggest passion is spending time with my family.  My wife and I only have one daughter, and she turns 16 in January.  Time seems to pass faster than ever and I don’t want to miss anything that has to do with them.  We’re a goofy little family and we can rarely have a serious conversation, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

You can contact Hillman Guide Service by calling 409-256-7937 or by emailing captsteve@hillmanguideservice.com

 

Youngster Lands Big Bull Dorado

dorado holden Youngster Lands Big Bull Dorado

Eleven-year-old Will McLemore of Houston landed this 67” dorado while fishing with Capt. Brett Holden and the crew of the Booby Trap out of Los Sueños, Costa Rica. He also released his first ever blue marlin!

His father, Scott McLemore, also released a marlin just minutes later on their half day trip just 20 miles from the marina.
The big dorado took a live tuna, bridled with a circle hook, while fishing for Marlin near a floating log.

“There are a lot of big dorado this year,” Capt. Holden reported. “We have landed more this season than the past three years combined.”

For more information on Los Sueños, visit www.lossuenos.com. For more on the Booby Trap, visit www.boobytrapfishingteam.com

Fall into Great Galveston Fishing

souleredfish 1 Fall into Great Galveston Fishing

Alisha Soule with a Galveston marsh redfish.

By Capt. Steve Soule

After what feels like an eternal summer this year, I could not be more excited thinking about fall and cooler temperatures. There are so many great things that happen on the bays, and of course the cooler temperatures don’t hurt my feelings one bit.

In mid August its still hot but one of the first major changes happens; the kids go back to school. There’s a slight drop in fishing pressure as many of us have to change our focus from entertaining kids to keeping them on track with school work and other related activities.

Tropical weather from late summer is usually the starting point of some very slight bay water cooling. The increase in even daily thunderstorms and cloud cover starts the downward trend of water temperatures. This seems to in turn trigger some slight change in fish feeding and activity periods.

Extreme daytime temps of summer can reach well into the 90’s and often leave us with fish that are sluggish and less active during the mid day periods. Scorching heat and cloudless days can push fish to slightly deeper water and definitely seem to keep fish from high levels of surface feeding. Not to say that there won’t be activity in the heat but many days it can be reduced from other peak times. Add in some heavy cloud cover and you will notice a decrease in water temp even without rain fall. Mix in some solid rainstorms with the cloud cover and its entirely possible to knock several degrees off the surface and shallow water temps.

Short days, long stringers

By September, we have typically passed peak temperatures. It’s still hot for sure, but we are beginning to trend slowly downward. Shorter daylight “photo period” helps as there is a reduction of hours of sun heating. Another slight boost to fishing is the second annual reduction of fishing and boating traffic due the opening of some shooting sports season. Teal season does put some boats on the water in select areas, but they aren’t moving around much during the first few hours of the day. In general, the reduction of boats running around tends to help “settle” the fish and allow them to spend their time doing the feeding and moving habits that are normal and less of their time trying to avoid propellers and loud noises that our boats make.

Fish the outgoing tide

One of the biggest changes, and one that affects certain parts of the bay very dramatically, is the change in tides and timing. This is a known annual event, though there is no exact repeating date when it occurs. At some time in September, we will see this change, the change of having a typical daily incoming tide in the early morning hours. Eventually we see the early morning tide turn to an outgoing swing. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you understand the number, size and varying types of baitfish, shrimp and crabs that have grown through the warmer months and have spent their time deep into marshes and up rivers and creeks, falling tides tend to become the predominant feeding time.

Knowing where some of the big numbers of prey species are makes it easier to understand how an outgoing tide can spike feeding activity. Small baitfish and invertebrates are much more subject to being moved around by the force of tides, not to mention that their food sources are moved and easily available during periods of stronger tide movement. As these tides flow and bring food out into open areas, fish tend to binge feed on more available food sources.

Conversely, on incoming and higher tides, many of the food species are able to find cover and shelter in places that make it challenging for predators to reach them.

Cool water feeding

The final change of the fall tends to come slightly later in September or early October, and is again temperature related. Though we will probably see some very mild cool fronts, the early “stout” fronts will make a huge difference in fishing. The smaller mild fronts will create small changes in bay temps and fish feeding, but as we start to see more significant fronts, feeding activity increases at a much more notable rate. Since these early fronts don’t typically bring huge temperature drops and are quickly followed by rapid warming, they don’t really cool the water that much. Stronger fronts that last longer, will create even more water cooling.

So, why does cooler water make the fish feed? In short, so many of the small prey species that arrive in the spring, have grown to maturity and are prepared to move out of the back bays, creeks and rivers and these movements are triggered by falling temperatures. Add the onset of outgoing tides and you have a perfect recipe for heavy feeding.

Fish are aggressive, food is more readily available, the boating and fishing traffic has reduced and the comfort level is significantly better to spend a day outside. Sounds like a perfect time to go and enjoy the outdoors.    

Fishing Galveston Bay in September and October

Eric Valentino dillman Fishing Galveston Bay in September and October

Eric Valentino and Capt. Dillman after a good day on the water.

By Capt. David C Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures409-632-0924

All I can say is “Wow! It’s hard to believe that summer is over. I know it is not the official end according to the calendar, but I go by the start of the school year. What can we expect for September and October this year? Hopefully no more hurricanes and a little cooler weather would be a welcome change.

Most people have their own predication if we are going to experience an early fall weather pattern. From what I am seeing and hearing, all indicators point to an early fall here in Texas. Hummingbirds have made an earlier than normal migration, I have also heard of sightings of teal along the coast. Sand trout, and plenty of them, were caught in Galveston Bay the first week of August. Normally all this happens towards the latter part of August, not the first week.

September and October are what I would consider transition months along the Upper Coast for fishing. As the water temperature drops, fish begin their migration north into the back bays of the Galveston Complex. I have already experienced the migration pattern with good action in Trinity Bay during August. In September and October we should see a bigger push of fish into the northern reaches of East, Trinity and Galveston Bays. Why? Bait, bait and more bait! Tides will begin to drop with each passing front. As the shrimp and shad get pushed out of the marsh, they become easy prey for predator fish.

So what’s the best bait?

While some fish will still be caught on live croaker, live shrimp will be the go-to natural bait. Lure fisherman will also do well, with soft plastics being the lure of choice. Eagle Point Fishing Camp will carry croaker and live shrimp during these months.

September and October is also the start of hunting season in Texas. Dove and teal season open in September for the bird hunters. Deer season is around the corner, so now is the time to prepare your lease and sight in those rifles! A special archery season for deer opens September 30.

This time of year is special for the sportsman in Texas. Get out and enjoy this transition period. Hopefully we can dodge a major weather system and enjoy this amazing time of year in Texas and the Upper Coast!