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

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!

Harvey – A storm of biblical proportions

harvey bay ridge Harvey   A storm of biblical proportions

Bay Ridge in League City, like so many other neighborhoods, saw extensive flooding during Hurricane Harvey.

By George Dismukes

We have a tendency to forget the power of nature until she gets restless, raises her head and deals us a blow like Harvey who has left in its path devastation of historical if not biblical proportions, with costs estimated easily to be in the trillions of dollars. There has never been a storm like it to hit the Texas coast… EVER in the annals of recorded history. It will be spoken of for decades and used as the model when people study storms and how to respond to them.

The magnitude of the storm was enormous. The world knows by now that Houston got swatted like a fly, even though the eye of the storm hit almost 200 miles south of Houston, at Rockport. Some structures that existed before the storm have simply disappeared. Others were flattened or torn asunder and can only be razed, never repaired. FEMA estimates they will be on site for years to come trying to make sense of it all.

Then, there are some structures, some homes that, against all odds, withstood the Category 4 onslaught. Why? Could it have been luck? Hardly. When you’re dealing with a storm of this magnitude, luck hardly fits into the equation. So, precisely what is the difference between a house that has to be picked up in pieces, and the one still standing?

The Gulf Coast Mariner needed to know. After all, a large part of our readers live within a storm zone, and vulnerable to attack by the next fury of nature.

We asked two of our Mariner advertiser/builders to help us out by revealing the most vital things to do when building a house to maximize the odds that house would remain standing after a hurricane. Below are their responses. We recommend you take notes. What they have to say could save you thousands of dollars and untold heartache.

THINGS YOU SHOULD DO

All good homes begin with a sound design. Your architect/designer doesn’t just draw pleasing pictures, they are trained to know what materials must be used in vital places to make your structure strong. In addition, they are familiar with local building codes and will design your home so that it meets or exceeds those codes, thereby assuring that your home will pass inspection. If a home does not meet the local building codes, you cannot get an inspection certificate and without a certificate, you cannot get insurance.

If your home is to be built on a concrete foundation (slab), be sure the cap is no less than 4” thick and your beams are 1’ X 2’, minimum. If the house is to be constructed on pilings, contract for a reputable piling installer, like Palm Coast Pilings, who is capable of precise piling positioning and will advise you on the correct size of piling, correct spacing and depth to sink your pilings in order to keep your home level, safe and secure.

Application of steel strapping below and above (from below bottom plate to stud.) Hurricane straps from the top of the stud to the rafter; and not on alternating studs, but affixed to every stud without exception.

Things such as the kind of nails employed in your structure are far more important than most people think. Ring shank or screw shank nails used in basic framing make for a stronger structure.

Some builders use 7/16” composite wood for roof decking. Use plywood only, and in most cases, 5/8” thickness.

Before siding can be installed, you must first scab your house with plywood or pressed wood sheathing. This must be firmly nailed in frequent spacing. It will keep your house plumb and square in high winds. Without it, your home is nothing but a playhouse, vulnerable and destined for disaster.

THINGS TO NOT DO

DO NOT HIRE STORM CHASERS.  Storm chasers are people who gravitate to a disaster area following a storm or other tragedy and go door to door offering repairs at discount prices. They almost always want a hefty deposit in advance, frequently do not show up at all to effect repairs and if they do, generally perform inferior “band-aid” work which is unacceptable in every sense and do not meet local building codes. They purchase the cheapest materials they can find that do not meet the minimum specifications for the type of repair being performed; they do shoddy work. Even if you have to wait a while, contract a local firm that has a reputation to live up to, and a history of work within your community. It isn’t just the best way to go. It is the only way to go. To this end, Putnam Builders will check out any builder you are considering at no cost and let you know what rating they have.

DO NOT SKIMP ON BUILDING MATERIALS. If you make a deal with your contractor, which involves you purchasing the materials and him doing the labor, that’s fine. But do not buy things such as cheap nails. Here’s an example: If you are using treated wood, to fasten that wood, you must use ‘hot dipped galvanized’ nails. If you skimp and purchase electro galvanized nails, you will regret it because electro galvanized nails cannot stand up to the corrosiveness of treated lumber. They will rust away within a few years and your project (say for instance a deck) will literally fall apart before your eyes.

The bottom line is, you do stand a chance against the biggest, most powerful storm. But it’s not a lucky shot, it is the result of good planning and a well constructed building; a structure that was built with hurricanes in mind.

There simply are no guarantees, but you can improve the odds of being one of those lucky people who still have a house after the storm. The key:  Take nothing for granted.

Misho’s Oyster Company

mishodock Misho’s Oyster Company

How Croatian native Misho Ivic built an oyster empire on the Gulf Coast

By K. Pica Kahn

misho Misho’s Oyster Company

Misho Ivic

Misho Ivic, owner of Misho’s Oyster Company, one of the three largest oyster producers in Texas, didn’t start out in Texas or in the oyster business. Originally from Croatia, Ivic’s father, an engineer and a professor, told him he needed to leave his homeland for a better life in the U.S.

“When I was 11, he said, ‘this is not a country for you,’”said Ivic. “‘Go to America, but get an education first.” He had been asked to join the communist party three times and refused. He wanted a better life for me. My father was raised by the Franciscan monks after his mother died when he was a child, and he was suppose to be a monk. Someone in our family had been a monk for 300 years.”

But life had other plans for the father. Speaking five languages, his father was one of a few people who could communicate with Yugoslavian/Croatian business people, so that and his work as an engineer helped him support his family in style. He was sent to South America where he was able to earn a good deal of money and upon his return, he was asked to be a professor. So the son also went to university to become an engineer.

He got a job in the oyster industry making $20 a day as a deckhand on an oyster boat. The second year, Ivic bought his first oyster boat, a 50-foot boat for $8,000. As his own boss, he had job security, couldn’t get fired and learned the trade. Without finishing his degree, he came to this county at the age of 32 and finished his education at the University of New Orleans as a mechanical engineer in 1976 after working for over two years in Croatia in the oyster industry.

“I was advised by a friend to go to Texas and buy an oyster lease, which I did,” said. “I came to Texas and in 1977 I bought three leases. My dad said you need to work as an engineer, so I did that too.”

He worked designing several boats and equipment. He was also involved in designing some conveyers for oysters. He now had eight boats and six leases producing 420 acres of oysters.

“In 1983, I went to work as a mud engineer making $54,000 a year as an engineer and making $120,000 in oysters. I was married by that time and had four kids, and I’m still with the same woman 45 years later.

“That was the last time I ever worked for anyone again. I had the oyster business, and I never went back to engineering. I decided we needed to buy a dock.”

However, the property he wanted in San Leon was $150,000 and he couldn’t afford it. But after Alicia, the owner went down to $50,000 and Misho had his docks.

He now has seven docks, he owns four and leases three. With six children, all but two of them work in the family business living within 15 miles of each other from League City to San Leon. They are all hard workers, he said, and they all seem to adore their father. The feeling is mutual, he says. The family’s closeness and devotion to both the family and the business helps, they believe, to make them successful.

“People can feel how much we care,” said daughter Annie. “I think it even makes our oysters taste better,” she jokes.

Emily, is a teacher in Austin and Kathy is in Croatia, involved in real estate and is a good mother. Annie, is in business with dad. Michael is his right-hand man, while Annie and Joy work in the oyster business in administration. Francis is a mom with three kids. Unlike some families they get long well and spend a lot of time together.

“I love my family and I love oysters. I eat them almost every day,” he said. “I like Gilhooley’s restaurant for oysters. I liked them so much, I bought the restaurant recently. Oysters need brackish water; part saltwater and part freshwater. Gilhooley’s make them with Parmesan cheese and charbroils them. They are delicious.

“Our oysters are not processed, have no hormones or preservatives, and they are pure as can be and very good for you. In countries where they eat a lot of oysters, there is almost no diabetes or heart disease and they attribute that to the oysters. They help blood move throughout the body. That is why they are thought of as an aphrodisiac.”

Misho’s Oyster Company is among the top three oyster companies in Texas although they sell all over the country from Texas to Virginia and Maryland. Half are sold in Texas.

“I am very proud of the company, but all my life, I have been riding a roller coaster. I never feel secure,” he said. “You never know when everything can change. If I have to, I can always go back to working on the boats, but not for $20 a day. No more deckhand for me. This time I will be the captain!”

Battle over oyster beds finally has a happy ending

oyster war Battle over oyster beds finally has a happy endingBy Mary Alys Cherry

war over oysters? While it may sound like something Hollywood would dream up for a movie, dozens of Galveston Bay families and businesses found themselves caught up in the middle of it and worried they might lose their livelihood.

That was until last Oct. 26 when Judge Lonnie Cox of the 56th Judicial District Court ruled in their favor, much to the relief of Lisa and Johnny Halili of Prestige Oysters, Stephen Hillman of Hillman’s Seafood, Michael Ivich of Misha’s Seafood and oystermen Jure Slabic and Ivo Slabic.

“There is still work to do,” their attorney, Chris Feldman, said afterwards. “We still have to litigate total attorney fees and for tortuous interference where STORM interfered with our clients’ ability to harvest oysters,” he told The Baytown Sun. “We didn’t get a final judgment but a partial summary judgment, and there are still some things to do. But the big central issue has been addressed, and this case is a victory for everyone.”

The controversy got its start back in early 2013 when the owners of Jeri’s Seafood, Ben Nelson and his son-in-law, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Tracy Woody, set up a separate company named the Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management (STORM).

Then, the next spring, it was learned that the Chambers Liberty Counties Navigation District had awarded STORM a 30-year lease on more than 23,000 acres of submerged land – the better part of Galveston Bay, as one person put it — for $1.50 per acre initially. This despite the fact the land was already privately leased from the state and is normally leased by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Normally, the navigation district’s job is to improve and oversee waterways, not the harvesting of oysters. That’s the job of the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, which leases the reefs.

Shock spread around the bay, still recovering from Hurricane Ike damages, creating a firestorm of dissent from oystermen and the Texas Parks and Wildlife, which manages dredging rights in the area. “They can’t do that can they?” was a frequent question on the lips of oystermen, oyster aficionados, just about everyone who had never heard of a navigation district having the authority to take such an action.

If the courts upheld STORM’s claim, it would have jeopardized all oystermen around the bay. Lisa Halili and other Galveston Bay oyster company owners promptly sued. “This can’t happen,” Halili remembers her son saying to her. “We can’t make a living.”

Now, she said last year after the Cox ruling, “thanks to Judge Lonnie Cox, we are all free to go back to our way of life. For two years, this illegal lease has added to the heartaches of the good people who make their livelihood harvesting oysters. Their life’s work was threatened and jeopardized by . . . dealings on the part of the Navigation District.”

The owners of Jeri’s Seafood and STORM were not happy with the verdict against them and took the fight all the way to the Texas Supreme Court, which denied their request to review the Galveston County ruling – ending their illegal lease for good.

Meanwhile, the Galveston County oystermen have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, claiming their constitutional rights have been violated by a conspiracy by Navigation District board members trying to help one company, Jeri’s Seafood, take control of Galveston Bay.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that the Navigation District knew the lease was an under-the-table type of agreement and failed to consider giving the lease to any other party other than STORM, even though they were aware that the plaintiffs and other oystermen were competitors and had competing leases with the state, and that the District failed to seek approval for the lease with Texas Parks and Wildlife. The suit also seeks damages for lost income during the period the oystermen were unable to cultivate and harvest oysters from their leases.

Fishing & Winning POCO

poco chum on Fishing & Winning POCO

By Janie Goldman

League City resident, Rodney DeVillier, Captain of Chum On, and owner of One More Cast Charters, (www.omccharters.com), brought in the winning 551 lb., 109 inch Blue Marlin in the annual Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament.

The win was celebrated by boat owner Dr. Kevin Horn, a Baytown orthopedic surgeon, and crew members Chris Horn (angler who brought in the winning fish), Ben Horn, David Horn, Jake Horn, Michael Horn, Shaun Essery and Joey (Sully) Sullivan.

Poco Bueno, is an invitation-only, family-run fishing tournament held every July in Port O’Connor. It was founded in 1969 by Walter W. Fondren and several friends with the intention to draw attention to Port O’Connor and the rich resources it has to offer fisherman.

Captain Rodney DeVillier, who runs the marine electronics department at Fathom Maritime service, says he has been participating in POCO since 1999.  In that first year they won third place and won again in 2002 with the second place prize.   Rodney explained that even though this year there was an option to weigh in on the second day, they choose to weigh in on the first day because it can bring in an extra $15,000. In addition, cooling the fish overnight can cost you some weight.

When asked what he especially enjoys about the Poco Bueno tournament in Port O’Connor, DeVillier explained that the format and rules are different from other tournaments.  It’s all about tradition.

He plans to continue participating in POCO for as long as it continues to keep its traditions and the intentions of its founders.

Texas Billfish Tourney Results

seadollars Texas Billfish Tourney Results

$ea Dollar$ did well on tuna at the Texas Billfish Classic.

TEXAS BILLFISH CLASSIC

Overall Point Leaders

1. Hey Girl 1,450

2. Smoker II 1,000

3. A-Team 650

Blue Marlin Division

1. Hey Girl 1,450

2. Smoker II 1,000

3. A-Team 650

Billfish Release Division

1. Hey Girl                 

2. Smoker II                      

3. A-Team

Tuna Division

1. Kurt Pantle – $ea Dollar$ – 59.5#

2. Cody Stephens – $ea Dollar$ – 53.2#

3. Trey – Bimini Babe – 50.6#

Wahoo Division

1. Michael Milan – Fool’s Gold – 24#

2. Gretchen Childress – Panacea – 21.8#

TOP FEMALE ANGLER

Diana Wood – Blue Marlin Release

TOP JUNIOR ANGLER

Miles Harper – Blue Marlin Release

Backlash 36 Texas Billfish Tourney Results

Backlash’s big blue marlin.

LONESTAR SHOOTOUT

Tournament Champions

  1. Done Deal, owner Jon Gonsoulin, Capt. Jason Buck, 2,250 pt

Billfish Release

  1. Done Deal, owner Jon Gonsoulin, Capt. Jason Buck, 2,250 pt

Blue Marlin

  1. Backlash, owner Jackie Hunter, Capt. Glen Kusenberger, 566 lb

Tuna

  1. Relentless Pursuit, owner Dennis Pasentine, Capt.  Josh Jones, 153.5 lb

Dolphin

  1. Sun Doll, owner Paul Keller, Capt. Gary Middletone, 34 lb

Wahoo

Red Tide, owner Dan Sugulas, Capt. Dan Sugulas, 46.5 lb

Top Captain

Jason Buck, Done Deal

Top Mate

Chris Marshall, Done Deal

Top Junior Angler

Kanon Lasserre, Draggin’ Up

Chum On’s winning marlin.

POCO BUENO

Billfish Release

  1. Doc Holiday, 1500 pts, 2 Blues

Blue Marlin

  1. Chum On, Chris Horn, 551 lb

Tuna

  1. Doulos, Adam Lozano, 130.5 lb

Dorado

  1. Maverick, Lee Daughdrill, 40.5 lb

Wahoo

  1. Whiskey Business, Jimmy Guinn, 33.0 lb

Choose the right fishing weight

fishing weights Choose the right fishing weight

The different types of fishing weights.

By Capt. Joe Kent

While writing the fishing report each day for the Galveston Daily News, there are many questions that readers ask about fishing and fishing equipment.  One question that crops up fairly often has to do with fishing weights.

The inquiries are generated by anglers who shop at tackle stores or bait shops and see a wide variety of weights on the shelves and are curious as to how to distinguish between the choices.  Another common question about weights has to do with a recommendation of what weight or weights should be used for a particular type of fishing.

Hopefully this article will shed some light on those questions and provide some useful information about how and when to use the various weights.

Browsing around the fishing weight displays in tackle shops can be a confusing adventure, as most of the larger operations have dozens of different types on display with only a few being popular with fishermen.

Determine Your Use

Before getting into the various weights available, let’s address a basic question.  For what type of fishing is the weight designed?  Casting for trout and reds involves different types of weights than say surf fishing or offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.  Pier fishing also has its unique type of weights.

For most types of fishing, the objective is to get your bait down with the least amount of weight.  Currents, wave action and wind all effect the choice of weights.

When viewing the choices of weights at most tackle stores there are several that stand out and for purposes of this article we will focus on the most popular along the upper Texas coast.

croak 153x300 Choose the right fishing weight

Photo of Atlantic Croaker caught on a headboat off the coast of Ocean City Maryland.

Pier and Bank Fishing

For bank and pier fishermen who cast baits with a double drop leader and weight at the bottom, the most popular are the bank sinker, pyramid and bell weights.  All come in varied sizes and are designed to get the rig (leader, hooks and weight) to the bottom quickly before the “trash fish” attack on the way down is successful.

This type of fishing is great for pan fish and is the most convenient and popular style when fishing from piers, rock groins and jetties with dead bait.

Live shrimp is a top choice for speckled trout.

Live Bait

When using live bait, other weights are the answer and again the objective is to get your bait out there and to a depth where the fish are feeding.  This is much more challenging than just getting your baits to the bottom.

Current strength is the key to choosing the right weight and just as important, the type of weight.  When fishing for most game fish, whether from a pier, wading or a boat, a slip weight is the best choice.  Slip weights include egg weights and the easily changeable rubber grip weights and pinch weights.  All are found in various sizes and again the choice is determined by where you want your bait in relation to the current flow.

Another of the detachable weights is the split shot which is easily attached and removed from fishing lines and is one of the smaller weights.  This weight is popular with anglers free-lining bait with little resistance.

Surf Fishing

One weight that gets more attention or curiosity than most is the odd looking surf fishing bait called the Sputnik.  The name comes from its resembling a satellite with antennas.  This bait is popular with surf fishermen as it digs into the sand and is not nearly as affected by wave action and tidal flow as other weights.  It also is popular with anglers fishing rocky or debris filled areas, as the wire protrusions we call antennas are much more easily removed from being stuck in the rocks or debris.

Red grouper

Offshore Fishing

Finally, we deal with offshore weights.  While heavy pyramid, bank and egg weights are popular for getting baits down to the reef fish, the trolling weights have been found to move the rigs faster to the bottom.  The reason is their slim design that does not displace as much water as other bottom weights.

While there is a desirable and proper weight out there for whatever your choice of fishing, remember the key to all of this is to get your bait to its desired location with the least amount of resistance.

The economic impact of oysters

hillman oyster The economic impact of oysters

Cliff Hillman, owner of Hillman’s Seafood on Dickinson Bayou has been harvesting oysters from Galveston Bay since the 1970s.

By K. Pica Kahn

Oysters are good for the Texas Gulf Coast for numerous reasons including the economic impact on the state. An unusual species, they also contribute to the health of the surrounding ecosystem through filtration of the area in which they live.

“Here are the oyster landings (meat-weight, lbs) and ex-vessel value ($) for each year from 2000 through 2016,” said Lance Robinson, deputy division director, Coastal Fisheries Division Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. “This includes the data for 2017 through May, leaving six months of landings from June through December that will need to be added.

“Landings are calculated in pounds of ‘meat-weight’ which subtracts the weight of the shell. The value is reported as ex-vessel value, which is the price paid to the fisherman by the dealer/buyer. To calculate the value of the oyster fishery to the state’s economy, economic multipliers are used to account for how these dollars move through the economy (e.g. fisherman takes money earned from catching/selling oysters and buys gasoline, groceries, clothes, etc.)”

For commercial fisheries in Texas, this multiplier is 1.8. In taking the ex-vessel value for the 2016 season ($13,715,122) and multiply by 1.8, the total value is $24,687,219.60, which would be the contribution to the Texas economy from the commercial oyster fishery for that year.

“Regarding the ecological value of oysters to coastal ecosystems, combine the ecosystem services and the valuation estimates of these services,” said Robinson. “Another analogy in trying to explain the value of oyster resources is through their water filtering capacity and thus improvements to water quality. A single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons per day as they filter out microscopic algae (phytoplankton) upon which they feed.

“Algae and other particles that are too big to ingest, are encapsulated in mucous material within the shell. These materials are not ingested by the oyster, but the encapsulated packets, known as pseudofeces, are extruded from the shell and falls upon the reef where other small organisms (shrimp, crabs, etc.) feed upon this material. Using an average density of 10 oysters per square meter, 130 acres of oyster reef would be capable of filtering approximately 260 million gallons of water per day.”

“According to the Greater Houston Partnership, by comparison, the city of Houston’s 39 wastewater treatment plants had a combined average daily wastewater treatment flow in 2009 of 252 million gallons per day,” said Robinson.

“Oysters don’t purify the water like a wastewater treatment plant, but it’s an impressive statistic that 130 acres of oyster can remove sediment and other particulates from our bays at the same volume that is used by the city of Houston.”

Oysters as Aphrodisiacs – Fact or Fiction?

venusbirth Oysters as Aphrodisiacs   Fact or Fiction?

“The Birth of Venus” by Sondra Botticelli.

By K. Pica Kahn

candle light dinner out, a bottle of wine, a plate of oysters and the mood is set. It is a foregone conclusion that the supper is foreplay for the evening. Often hailed as an aphrodisiac, the succulent morsels, are suggestive at best, of romance. Myth or fact, the reputation of the oysters precedes the stories such as the prolific lover Casanova, who supposedly ate 50 oysters for breakfast. Scientists have been trying to prove or disprove the rumors for eons.

According to legend, Aphrodite sprang from the sea on an oyster shell and immediately gave birth to a son. Not surprisingly, seafood, especially oysters, have long had a reputation as aphrodisiacs. The Romans called Aphrodite Venus, and her creation story has inspired much art including the famous 15th century painting “The Birth of Venus” by Sondra Botticelli.

Oysters contain hormone-inducing amino acids effective in spring which is supposed to add to the effect. Spring is the time of year when the shellfish have their greatest potency as an aphrodisiac. American and Italian researchers studied bivalve molluscs, a group of shellfish including oysters, which were found to be rich in a rare amino acid that triggered increased levels of sexual potency.

A 40-year scientist George Fisher, a professor of chemistry at Barry University, Miami, who led the research team with his graduate student Raul Mirza and Antimo D’Aniello, of the Laboratory of Neurobiology in Naples, believes this is the first scientific evidence of the proof of oysters as an aphrodisiac.

For many years, the myth speculated the power of oysters centered on the refueling powers of the high zinc content of a mineral found in sperm. Men lose between one and three milligrams per ejaculation.

Fisher and his team, partly funded by the United States National Institutes of Health, took samples of bivalve molluscs from fish markets near Dr. D’Aniello’s Naples laboratory. According to Fisher, using a process called high-performance liquid chromatography to identify which amino acids were present and in what quantities, the team found two unusual ones – D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), unusual amino acids not found in nature.

Results in earlier experiments by D’Aniello found that injecting rodents with the amino acids triggered a chain reaction of hormones that ended with the production of testosterone in males and progesterone in females. An increase in these levels of those hormones in the blood creates more sexual activity. “Spring, when the molluscs themselves are breeding, is best. There is the highest concentration of these two amino acids then.”

D’Aniello believes these findings show that the Italians have been right about oysters as aphrodisiacs for centuries, dating back to before the time of the Romans. The results are best when the oysters are eaten raw.

Some discount these findings as false, not believing in the research proving oysters as aphrodisiacs.

Myth or fact? No one knows for sure. The human mind can convince itself of almost anything. Final judgment must be left up to the individual enjoying the slippery little suckers.

In Casanova’s memoirs, Volume Six, he admitted to seducing 122 women, detailing how to best serve the delicacies.

“I placed the shell on the edge of her lips and after a good deal of laughing, she sucked in the oyster, which she held between her lips. I instantly recovered it by placing my lips on hers.”

High Tide Redfish Hunting

soule redfishing High Tide Redfish Hunting

Jeff Mckee with a 28 inch red caught on a Kickin’ Chicken Down South Lure during an ultra high tide.

By Capt. Steve Soule  |  www.ultimatedetailingllc.com

DSLkickin High Tide Redfish Hunting

Down South Lure in Kickin’ Chicken.

Redfish Love to explore! Well, I’ve made that statement many times, truth be told, it’s probably much more accurate to say that they like to hunt in the cover of heavy structures and that they will follow food nearly anywhere it goes.

Every year we have periods of extended onshore wind flows, causing elevated tides. During these periods redfish can often be very difficult to locate in shallow waters around the bay. They just seem to disappear into the fringes of the marsh. Higher water levels can make chasing skinny water reds a very challenging affair. I’ve said I would much prefer a low tide to a very high one. Low tides tend to concentrate fish into much more limited areas and make targeting them considerably easier. High tides tend to scatter fish, they spread out following small food sources deep into areas that are nearly unaccessible.

Think about the typical marsh shorelines on the Upper Texas Coast and this will start to make perfect sense. We have marshes and shorelines that are typically fringed by Spartina Grass, a relatively tall grass that does not grow under water. This grass is a shore plant that grows near and at the edge of the water all along the Gulf Coast. Spartina is the plant that first comes to mind when I think of marsh along the gulf coast.

Redfish are not slackers; they don’t have any objection to moving quite a bit to feed and traveling into heavy cover structure never seems to bother them.

At normal to low water levels, it doesn’t offer much more to the angler than a border to the water. Often providing the edge along which hungry predators feed. As tides creep ever higher during windy periods or around astronomical high tides, The roots and bases of the grass slowly flood with water. Here’s where we have to stop and think about the typical marshes along the coast. Though many marsh areas have oyster shell, as you travel farther into the back reaches, water that is typically too shallow, or doesn’t maintain the proper salinity balance, there is virtually no shell. What you will find is a predominantly mud bottom that really is devoid of structure other than bottom contours carved from tides and water flows. Knowing this, it becomes easy to imagine the difficult life that small fish, crabs and shrimp live, trying to find protective cover and sanctuary from predatory animals.

Marcos Enriquez with a stud trout that measured just over 29.” The fish ate a small kwan toad fly.

So we know that there is little structure for the smaller prey animals to hide in, which makes them very vulnerable to attack and predation. The game completely changes as the tides rise. The home of these prey species becomes a dense and food-rich jungle of lush grasses and the decaying plant food that they need to survive and grow. At the earliest moment when these small species can get to the cover of the flooded grass, they will go. It provides nearly everything that they need to thrive.

Redfish are not slackers; they don’t have any objection to moving quite a bit to feed and traveling into heavy cover structure never seems to bother them. Let’s be clear about one thing that I think is a misconception in fishing. Fish aren’t necessarily what we would call smart; they have instinctive programming. They know things happen at certain times, they know that small animals will seek out cover as it becomes available. As a matter of fact, most of the reds that follow food into to this dense cover, only a few short years earlier did the same to hide from predators as well.

Here’s where the game gets tricky. Redfish have to have water to swim. The small animals that they prey upon can get to many places that the fish simply cannot. So early in this rising high tide scenario, the fish just don’t have great opportunities, and for that reason you won’t see much feed activity. Slightly later in the tide, as the water around the grass roots and over formerly dry ground reaches 3-4 inches in depth, the feeding activity begins. This isn’t a schooling behavior with lots of fish together feeding. This is a single fish slowly stalking its meals one at a time. The fish will meander through the maze of grass patches in areas that are typically dry ground, hunting and eating one small meal at a time. You will see random small explosions followed by periods of inactivity as they move stealthily through the cover.

Quite the interesting parallel, we must stalk them in nearly the same manner in which they stalk their prey. Move too fast or make too much noise and you will alert them to your presence. These fish aren’t charging down food so they become very aware of what is going on around them. Stealth and patience are the key to chasing high tide reds, coupled with a well placed cast using flies or small soft plastics. Though there are many challenges, and surely many failed attempts to catch these fish, the successes more than make up for it. Explosive eats in super shallow water. Close range and tight quarters casts are nothing short of spectacular when the fish eat. And the fight when they have some much cover and are in very shallow water is definitely something to experience.

Don’t let the high water deter you. With thoughtful scouting and utilizing a stealthy and tactical approach, these fish can be an absolute blast to target.

Squarebill Crankbaits for Speckled Trout

squarebill speckled trout Squarebill Crankbaits for Speckled Trout

This trout attacked a KVD 1.5 at the railroad bridge near the Galveston Causeway.

THE CASE FOR SQUAREBILLS

  • Erratic wobble and ‘fleeing’ action could trigger reaction strikes from aggressively feeding fish
  • Pauses in retrieve moves lure slowly up the water column for finicky fish
  • Plastic bill is perfect for deflecting off jetty rock, reefs, pilings and other structure
  • Cover water quickly as a search bait or use when fish aren’t committing to topwaters
  • Diving depth of 2-5 feet appropriate for fishing shallow reefs and flats
  • Ease of use – young anglers could catch fish on steady reeling retrieve

By Brandon Rowan

squarebills Squarebill Crankbaits for Speckled Trout

Strike King KVD 1.5 and 2.5 squarebills. Black back chartreuse, red sexy shad, sexy shad and gold sexy shad.

I am VERY late to the party. It’s no secret that squarebill crankbaits produce quality largemouth bass. This bait dates back to the 1970s but resurged in popularity after Kevin Van Dam won the 2011 Bassmaster Classic on Strike King KVD crankbaits.

This spring on the Texas coast was windy, which was no surprise. Rather than fight my way to the fish in the salt, I returned to my roots and fished Texas reservoirs and ponds for those “green trout.” Topwaters, frogs and soft plastics are standard fare for me but I was amazed at the numbers and quality of fish I caught with my newly purchased squarebills, particularly crawfish red and chartreuse models.

This got me wondering if anyone had success fishing these bass lures in saltwater? Baits like the Super Spook, Rat-L-Trap and soft plastic jerkbait are all freshwater imports that have proven their worth on speckled trout and redfish. I scoured the web and surprisingly didn’t find much on the subject. Shallow wakebait style cranks have been used with success in the marsh but I couldn’t find any articles or videos on squarebills, which dive down 2-5 feet.

The Strike King KVD 1.5 in chartreuse/black seemed like a perfect fit for quickly searching the often stained waters of Galveston Bay. These lures are best fished fast and deflected off structure or cover. I did some testing on a recent bay trip with Gulf Coast Mariner columnist Capt. Joe Kent. We caught several keeper trout that day. All but one were caught on live shrimp. One trout hit the squarebill I was burning near the Galveston Causeway.

“Hey, it works!” I thought as we netted the catch. I believe more trout would have fallen prey to the crank’s wobble but the fish seemed to be keyed in on shrimp. Even live croaker was ignored that day.

I still have a lot more testing and casting to do but these lures could potentially be dynamite in the bay, surf and near jetties. Just remember to change out to stouter size 4 trebles on the KVD 1.5 and size 2 hooks on the KVD 2.5.

Have you caught a speckled trout on a squarebill crankbait? Send us a picture of your fish, lure in mouth, and we’ll run that image in next issue’s follow up piece. Send your pictures to art@baygroupmedia.com

 

Hot Summer Galveston Trout

DillmanTrout Hot Summer Galveston Trout

Marion and Shelia Hixon with some nice trout after a quick trip with Capt. Dillman.

By Capt. David C Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures | 409-632-0924

This May we experienced some below average air temperature and plenty of wind. Not from the usual S/SE but more N/NW due to late season cold fronts. The below normal water temperature kept our fishing at a not so typical pattern. But we should see a summer pattern develop for speckled trout this July and August in Galveston Bay.

In July, look for the trout action to center around the middle of Galveston Bay. I would concentrate my effort through channel markers 50-66. There are numerous oyster reefs adjacent to the channel. While some of these reefs are marked with PVC pipe, many are not. Being able to utilize a good depth sonar will aid you in finding the smaller shell reefs.

There are numerous gas wells in the immediate area. The wells should not be overlooked as the trout will congregate around the wells and their shell pads. The Exxon A-Lease draws the most attention but don’t overlook the other scattered gas wells.

As we roll into August, look for the trout to move farther north up the channel and into Trinity Bay. Channel markers 68 and up, all the way towards the tip of Atkinson Island will hold fish. As the fish move farther into Trinity, the numerous shell reefs and wells will see a influx of trout. Some of the most popular reefs are Dow, Beazley’s, Fisher Shoals and Trinity Reef.

The wells located in close proximity to these reefs will also be good for speckled trout. Depending upon the salinity of Trinity, the fish will continue to move farther back in the bay sooner than normal. I have caught fish in the Jacks Pocket area in late August on occasion.

Speckled trout will feed on either the topside or backside of a reef or shell pad depending upon the tide. At times they may even be found directly on top of the shell, which usually occurs during a slack tide. Utilizing live bait in the heat of the summer is the most effective way to catch these fish. Live croaker, fished either Carolina or Texas rigged is the most effective, followed by live shrimp fished deep under a popping cork.

Eagle Point Fishing Camp always holds a good supply of both croaker and live Shrimp.

Please remember that it can get really hot on the water these next two months. Wear light colored, loose fit clothing and drink plenty of water. Gatorade type drinks are okay but should be followed up by consuming 2 equal parts of water. Alcohol and energy drinks should be avoided, as well as soft drinks. They only aid in dehydrating your body. As always be careful on the water.

Fishing Line: What Type is Best for You

fishingline 283x300 Fishing Line: What Type is Best for YouBRAID

Pros: Much stronger than mono at same diameter. No stretch, very sensitive.

Cons: Expensive, more visible in clear water, can create wild knots.

MONO

Pros: Good all-purpose line, inexpensive, stretches for shock absorption.

Cons: Susceptible to abrasion, less sensitive and has ‘memory.’

FLUORO

Pros: Virtually invisible underwater, low memory, tougher than mono.

Cons: Expensive, best used as top shot or leader.

_______________

By Capt. Joe Kent

Almost every experienced angler has his or her favorite type of line. For the most part, the choice was made early on in their fishing days and many just continue using the same type of line. This decision is usually out of habit and the fact that they are used to it and are satisfied.

Today technology has advanced the quality of most types of line and created a few new varieties.

The title of this article was chosen to prompt a discussion about what is available to anglers in the market place today.  We will explore some of the more popular types of fishing line and comment on each.

The most common types of fishing line found in tackle shops are Braided Nylon, Braided Dacron, Ultra-thin Braids, Monofilament and Fluorocarbon.

The most popular of the group is monofilament.  It continues to be touted as the all-purpose line for most types of fishing.  It is ideal for just about all reels whether spinning, casting or trolling.

It is the least expensive of all and used for leaders as well.

Braided Nylon still is favored by a large number of anglers who use conventional revolving reels.  Surf fishermen are a large part of the group who chooses this line.  It is softer and limper than monofilament and spools better on revolving reels.  While less likely to backlash, it is thicker, more visible in water and more expensive.

Braided Dacron is the choice of many offshore anglers for trolling.  It is thinner than braided nylon and has very little stretch.

Ultra-thin line was invented in the early 1990s as part of a technologically advanced research project having nothing to do with fishing. It has become a very popular choice for certain types of fishing.  We will have more on this when comparing it to monofilament.

Fluorocarbon is another high-tech product.  While considered a monofilament, it is tougher and has better abrasion resistance.  It also is less visible in water; however, it is more expensive.  Fluorocarbon line finds its calling in use for leaders.

Monofilament line is getting a lot of competition from the new variety of ultra-thin braids and among the more popular brands are Spiderwire, Sufix and PowerPro.  The appeal of the new variety of braids is in its strength to diameter ratio.  These lines have several times the breaking point of most monofilaments of comparable size.  The thinner lines offer longer casting distance, more capacity on the reel, faster sinking capabilities and far greater stretch resistance.

Of the qualities mentioned above, the two most attractive to anglers are the higher breaking point, meaning less fish lost due to the line breaking or popping as we commonly call it, and the stretch resistance which translates into quicker hook sets and being able to easily feel a soft strike.

The higher cost is one of the big drawbacks for the Spiderwire type of line.  I recall a friend purchasing a small spool of Spiderwire not long after it was introduced and before placing it on his reel, he spooled off about half of the monofilament and attached the new line to it then reeled it in with about half of his line being monofilament and the other half the new braid.  While cost savings was an issue, the other thought was in protecting the reel spool as Spiderwire and others tend to cut into the spool.

All in all, the new thinner braids are superior to monofilament; however, they come at a higher price.  Whether it is the price savings or just a habit of the anglers, monofilament continues to outsell all other types of fishing line.

Now comes the question, which line is best for your needs?  If cost is not an issue, the thinner and strong braided lines are probably the best choice.  Monofilaments still dominate the market and probably for good reason they continue to be an excellent choice for fishing line.

The best way to answer this question is to use various types of fishing line and make your own decision as to which best suits your fishing style.