Destination Fishing: Bull Reds in Port Fourchon, LA

port fourchon redfish Destination Fishing: Bull Reds in Port Fourchon, LA

Alisha Soule with an absolute giant Port Fourchon redfish.

By Steve Soule | www.ultimatedetailingllc.com

I’ve taken a few short destination fishing trips this year, trying to spend more time away from my home waters and learning new areas. New challenges and new waters, and attempting to take what I’ve learned fishing my home waters of the upper Texas Coast and apply that to other areas. This is the part of fishing that I find most interesting, putting together the pieces like a puzzle and figuring out how to catch fish in new areas. Going somewhere new is always a fun, though it can be frustrating and put your skills and knowledge to the test. The satisfaction from developing a plan and finding success is one of my greatest pleasures.

This past weekend, my wife and I spent a day and a half fishing in Southern Louisiana, Port Fourchon, to be specific. This is a tiny town in a very remote part of southern Louisiana. It is an industrial port town that primarily serves the off shore oil and gas industry. Definitely not somewhere you would end up by accident. Beyond the Industrial side, Fourchon and its neighboring Grand Isle, serve the fishing community. The entire area is like an overgrown marsh, with slightly deeper secondary bays. What makes this place spectacular is that it has extreme close proximity to the deeper gulf of Mexico on the southern end and an endless supply of fresh water coming down through rivers, bayous and swampy marsh. In all honesty, this is basically the nursery for the upper gulf of Mexico.

Though I have fished here two times in the past, it was during a different time of the year. Like any fishing location, seasons will effect the location and concentrations of fish and their food sources. Before any trip to new locations, it’s always wise to do some research. try to learn a little about the lay of the land. Study maps and arial photos, look at tides, both height and movement and try to make sense of where fish might be. We got there Saturday evening on the heels of a cold front that had way more wind and rain than expected. I knew that this would cause some lingering dirty water which didn’t go well with my plan of sight casting. Some things are well beyond our control and we just have to learn to roll with them.

From the start, this was planned as a very short trip so I had to maximize my time. I had gotten one report about potential location of our target species, Bull reds. The lingering winds and dirty water did not help there, so after some driving to look at shorelines in open water, I decided i needed to try to find some protected north shore areas that may have cleaner water draining from creeks and bayous. This is where basic fish finding skills come into play. With limited time to locate and catch fish, it doesn’t make sense to fish without seeing some evidence of life.

After our trip south to look at open shorelines, I headed back north into some more protected areas, looking for birds or bait and clearer water. We made a few short drifts in areas with some moving bait and missed two big reds on top water. The blow ups were amazing but couldn’t get either of them stuck long term. We also caught a few small trout, but this was not the area where we would be able to sight cast, though we were getting much closer. Side note, I use the top water lures as search baits when I don’t know the area well or can’t see to sight fish.

Now that we were in more protected water it was time to explore areas where outgoing tide was draining from bayous out to the secondary bays. Initially I spent some time poling the boat, but it became evident quickly that I would need to cover a little more water. We would idle along about 50-100 feet from the shoreline looking for wakes from big fish and muds and as soon as we found a fish or two go back to poling. This is where you really have to start paying attention so that you can put together the patterns. Each drain had some level of life in it, bigger drains that had more current seemed to be holding big fish. Now we have a fishable pattern.

Finding a bayou or two that would wind back north into the marsh, especially those that had wide spots where there were small shallow flats seemed to be the trick to locating fish. Now its getting interesting! I would pole slowly around the points leading into bayous and started seeing both reds and black drum. Fish were not moving very aggressive so a slow stealthy approach proved to be the best plan. Many times we were able to get the boat within 10 feet of fish and with increasing light, it was becoming much easier to see them. We missed a few as is always the case in sight casting, then the fun really got started.

bull red soule Destination Fishing: Bull Reds in Port Fourchon, LA

Steve Soule releases a bull redfish.

Poling into a small flat at the bottom of a bigger bayou drain, we started seeing fish slowly crawling along looking shorelines feeding as they went. It didn’t take long before we were among them and getting good shots. our first fish was close to the boat and though it didn’t look huge when I cast at it, ended up being about 45 inches long. The fight with these big reds in shallow water is a little more intense than with their smaller counterparts. Several big runs and the usual level of disasters trying to maneuver a fish around the boat and we got her landed, photographed and released. First half of the mission was now accomplished, the only issue was it was supposed to be Alisha’s fish.

We spooked several fish during the fight with the first one and could still see and hear a few fish moving around the small flat. Back to the hunt! We worked our way around the flat, still struggling to see fish well. Then stumbled onto another slow crawling giant and it was her turn to shine. The fish was swimming slowly towards the boat and not yet aware of our presence. Alisha made a short cast, crossing the fish’s path and as it approached, gave the Buggs jig a few slight bounces to make the lure more visible. When she saw the lure, she attacked and the fight was on. It can all happen just that fast.

We had spent 2-3 hours of driving, looking and narrowing down our search pattern, then within a matter of 30 minutes, had found a nice flat that had multiple fish over 15 pounds, and landed two fish well over 20-25 pounds. This particular flat sat at just the right angle to the tide flow and was just large enough to stop a good quantity of fish and food in the outgoing tide. We saw numerous reds and several large black drum there. Now we had one pattern to look for in other areas and attempt to repeat.

We poled through several areas that looked similar, though none had quite the same layout. We found some smaller fish, that laughably would be considered on the bigger side back home in Galveston, but didn’t see as many big fish that would break 20 pounds. At this point it became evident that with the conditions we had, we would need to continue to find more protected and shallower water to continue to sight fish.

We checked a few shallower pond and lake areas, with some success, but finding any real concentration of feeding fish was not going well. We had our share of difficulties, dirty water and a pair of polarized glasses that got left in the truck, but we made the most of it and had a great time.

We knew that Sunday was going to be a great day as far as sun and wind conditions, and would be our best window of opportunity. Monday, would only be a half day, and weather conditions were supposed to be pretty good. As it often works out, when I woke up Monday morning, Conditions had worsened. Full cloud cover and increased wind. Nothing you can do except make the most of what you are given. Off we went, this time armed with a few places to start our hunt. Clouds, do not make sight fishing easy. And as you might imagine, we missed a lot more fish that we just couldn’t see until we were too close. We did manage a few fish and as we were nearing the end of our day, idling down shorelines working back towards the boat ramp we found a few reds and one more highly entertaining moment. I was standing on the casting platform with Alisha idling along and just looking for fish when we stumbled onto a small group of fish and the last fish of the day was sight cast with the outboard motor running. Made for a great laugh and a good ending to a short trip to the land of the giants.

Lots to be learned from trips like this. I find it fascinating how much fish act and feed in the same manner in totally different locations. Outgoing tides around marshes are always fun, they put fish on the move and create feeding situations that make for some great fishing. Moving prey species out into more open water where predators can easily attack. These tides generally move fish into areas where we can locate them and capitalize on their feeding. On incoming tides, look for fish to move farther into the reaches of the marsh and follow prey species to areas of safety. It is cool to see how much so these waters work on a parallel to the marshes closer to home for me. Though the area is vast and enormous compared to our marshes on the upper Texas coast, this place acts just like an overgrown Texas marsh, and once you start to look at it this way, becomes family easy to figure out.

With so many great destinations along the Gulf Coast, its just a matter of picking a spot where you want to go, spending a little time researching the area and go have some fun. I picked this area for its remote nature,(we only saw one other boat all day fishing similar water) and its notorious giant redfish. It only gets better on the southern fringe waters during winter if you want to go find giant redfish in relatively shallow water. There are fish there all year round, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Bottlenose dolphins are a regular sight and often you can sit and they will roll and play near your boat. If it’s time for a change of pace, grab a map, do a little research and go have some fun doing something completely different.

Mowdy Boats

robbie with boat 1024x683 Mowdy Boats

Robbie Gregory of Mowdy Boats stands with a fine example of their 25’ Catamaran. This is their most popular model.

DSC 0694 683x1024 Mowdy BoatsPremium shallow water boats being handcrafted one at a time in Port Lavaca

Photography and interview by Kelly Groce

Mowdy Boats have been built since the 1970s by Mr. Hal Mowdy of Victoria, TX. Hal was the patriarch of all the Texas boat builders. Himself, along with Steve Bell of Shoalwater Boats and Mr. Haynie of Haynie Bay Boats, were ahead of the pack and started everything we see on Texas waters today. Mr. Mowdy was a one man show and made all his boats in one color, Mowdy gray. If you wanted a boat, that’s what you were getting and it may take 7 or 8 months to get your finished boat. Mr. Mowdy was extremely dedicated to the quality and the hand craftsmanship to each and every single one of his boats.

Mowdy Boats is now located in Port Lavaca and led by Frank Crappito and his managing partner, Robbie Gregory. I was fortunate enough to take a quick road trip down to meet with Robbie, who had just returned from Houston where he had gifted each of the winners of the largest trout division of the CCA Star Tournament a Mowdy boat. Besides the Star Tournament, you’ve most likely seen these beautiful boats on the water since Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Game Wardens, Coastal Fisheries, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, all run Mowdys. Robbie gave me a personal tour of their facility and educated me on how each boat is built one at a time by master craftsmen. From swampy back-bayous to fishing out in the Gulf, Mowdys can navigate through any water condition. Enjoy.

How did you and Frank get involved with Mowdy Boats?

So the way this company came about was in 2011 when one day Frank and I were fishing on his 22’ Mowdy that took him 3 years to find. Frank and I were just shooting the breeze and talking about how great these boats are. Frank said, “Wouldn’t it be something if we could buy the mold to this 22’ and build ourselves a couple of boats?” Frank then asked if I knew Mr. Mowdy. Having guided in Port O’Connor for 20 years I know just about everybody. Frank suggested I go talk to Mr. Mowdy and see if he will sell us the mold.

The next week I met with Mr. Mowdy and asked if he would sell us the mold to the 22’ and he said, “No I won’t sell you that mold, but I will sell you ALL of my molds and ALL of my equipment. Everything but the building.” I called Frank and told him that Hal won’t sell the one mold, but he wants to sell everything. I know it was a great opportunity especially since the boats already have such a great reputation. Frank said, “If I back it, will you run it?” Without hesitation I said, “I’m in.” So basically we did a hand written contract and a week later we paid Mr. Mowdy.

After that, we started looking for a place. I live here in Port Lavaca and we found this facility here. We had no clue on how we were going to build the boats. After fishing one day, I was at Clark’s in Port O’Connor, which is a marina, hotel and restaurant. I was there eating and my waitress said, “What do you do?” I told her I’m a fishing guide, do some building and developing, and now a friend of mine and I just bought Mowdy Boats. She said, “My husband builds boats and he needs a job, would you like to talk to him?” It was a God send. It turns out her husband started with Mr. Haynie of Haynie Bay Boats when he was 17 years old. He is now in his ‘50s, but that’s all he’s done his entire life. After talking to each other, he agreed to come onboard to help and he brought with him a family of a father and 3 sons. That’s all they’ve ever done their whole life is build these kind of boats. So we started with the most experienced crew of boat builders that you could ever imagine. From there, we started building boats.

The 25’ Catamaran, which is our most popular boat, is amazing. There’s no other boat out there like it. It runs incredibly shallow, but it also takes the water well because of the entry. It’s stable because it has all the tributes of a catamaran with the full tunnel. You can get on one side and jump up and down and it just sits there, it doesn’t rock around. Mr. Mowdy had only sold maybe 7 or 8 of those style boats, but as we began to get them out there and some of the fishing guides picked up on ‘em and started running them, 9 out of the 10 boats we build now are the 25’ Catamaran. Everybody wants it. Word of mouth has definitely made it what it is.

Another 25’ getting the final touches. This boat was built totally to the customer’s wants and needs.

How are Mowdy Boats different from other boat companies?

Mowdy is different from other companies because this is not a cookie cutter boat. So when I build your boat… I mean I build your boat. You get to tell me what color, pick the upholstery, decide where you want this or that. It’s totally custom. We are limited production, so we do about 50 boats a year. Which is a good thing because it keeps the price point high and you as an owner keep the value up on your boat. One thing that’s for sure is that you cant find one for sale, well maybe one or two, but people don’t sell their Mowdy. They are lifelong boats. They hold their value. Some guys will keep their boat for 5, 6, or 7 years and sell their boat for more or as much as what they paid. That is unheard of when it comes to boats.

We 100% foam fill our boat, from the top of the deck to the bottom of the hull. There is no void. It’s all filled with 2 lb. closed cell foam. The foam makes for a quiet ride that you don’t get beat up on. The boat just slices through the water. Little things like that set us apart from other boats. We block the bow of our boat so when you take it off the trailer it doesn’t hang off the reverse gunnel. By having a reverse gunnel on our boats, the water hits the reverse gunnel and throws the water down making it an extremely dry ride. Our aluminum is made at another facility, but it’s our deal. All of our cup holders are insulated cup friendly, like I said it’s the little stuff. But if you fish, you know how important all those little things are. We listen to our people and we aren’t close minded. We are here to build to your taste.

Another great thing is, you can’t sink a Mowdy. Think of a surfboard that is totally encapsulated. You can punch a hole in it, but you can’t sink it. That’s a Mowdy. The 2 lb. closed cell foam can’t adsorb water.

When your boat is done, it comes with tags, registration, and everything else you need. It is ready to be picked up and put in the water. We build this boat for you and the only thing I want to see from you once you pick it up, is fish pictures.

How did you get involved with the CCA Star Tournament?

A 25’ Mowdy Catamaran in the beginning stages of being made.

My partner Frank has a good friend, Bill Kinney, who’s head of the Star Tournament. There was an opportunity that came available for the prize boat for largest trout divisions for the upper, middle and lower coast since Blue Wave Boats dropped out. Frank and I talked about it and said it was a great opportunity with CCA being such a good organization and they do a lot of good with scholarships for kids. If you are a saltwater fisherman and you aren’t entered in the Star Tournament, something is wrong with you. The prizes are great. This year there was 51,000+ entries in the Star Tournament. So we signed up for a 5 year agreement. This was our 4th year, and we are going to renew for 5 more years. Our business has definitely increased being involved with them.

Robbie and the rest of the friendly staff at Mowdy Boats welcomes you to stop by the facility in Port Lavaca to answer any of your questions or to get your new boat built and rigged. Tell them Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine sent you.

The Come and Take It Tournament: Fishing, Camaraderie and Fundraising

cati first place 1024x768 The Come and Take It Tournament: Fishing, Camaraderie and Fundraising

Team Potbellys took home 1st Place and the big check for their 24.45 lb. stringer. Congratulations to Mr. Castillo and the crew.

By Kelly Groce

On October 17-18, 2019 anglers fished the Come and Take It Tournament in Port O’Connor, Texas. This great tournament reflects The United Way of Greater Houston’s goal of engaging caring people to improve lives and build a stronger community all while having fun and fishing.

Both days, anglers had a great time on the water. The lucky ones walked away with prizes and even some cash. Some local organizations such as the Port O’Connor Fire Department and Port O’Connor Elementary were also gifted some of the tournament proceeds that were raised.

The CATI Tournament would like to thank all of the sponsors that helped make this tournament a great success. Catalyst Boat Works, Waterloo Rods, Coastline Trailer Mfg., Inc./Marty Strakos Coastline Trailers, Coastline Marine/Coastline Custom Aluminum, Passion With Purpose, Pointer Wingshooting, Avian Skies, S&S Instruments, Hookset Marine Gear, H&H Rods, Aguila Ammunition, Wet Sounds and Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine.

Congratulations to all the winners and everyone that participated and volunteered. See you next year at the Come and Take It Tournament.

THE COME AND TAKE IT TOURNAMENT WINNERS:

ARTIFICIAL

  • 1st Place – ABEL of JOKERS WILD – 23.70 lbs
  • 2nd Place – MCCLUNG of HOOKSETGEAR – 21.32 lbs.
  • 3rd Place – LAIR of HOOKS N’ HULLS – 20.97 lbs.

OPEN

  • 1st Place – CASTILLO of POTBELLYS – 24.45 lbs.
  • 2nd Place – HARBORTH of CORK SOAKERS – 22.39 lbs.
  • 3rd Place – CAMERON of SALTY SEAMEN – 20.02 lbs.

REDFISH SPOTS: CAMERON of SALTY SEAMEN – 8 SPOTS
FLOUNDER: CASTILLO of POTBELLYS – 3.30 lbs.

 

IMG 4300 1024x768 The Come and Take It Tournament: Fishing, Camaraderie and Fundraising

The CATI Tournament gifted proceeds from the tournament to local organizations such as the Port O’Connor Voluntary Fire Department, Port O’Connor Elementary and more.

Buggy Whippin: Galveston sight casting with Capt. Clay Sheward

buggs lure redfish sheward Buggy Whippin: Galveston sight casting with Capt. Clay Sheward

Capt. Clay Sheward holds up a nice marsh redfish with a double spot tail.

Story and photography by Brandon Rowan

THE WATER IS STILL AND SO AM I. The redfish swims along a flat, that is painted with a palette of green sea grass and dull colored sand, unaware of our presence. On the bow of Capt. Clay Sheward’s skiff, I feel more like a hunter in a tree rather than a fisherman. The rod in my hand is the bow and the arrow is a hair-tied Buggs jig at the end of my line.

Clay gives the word and I make a light cast behind and ahead of the red. We can see everything in the water on this calm October morning. I reel quickly to intercept the moving fish and begin jigging to tempt what I hope is a hungry fish. My heart starts beating faster as the redfish inches closer and closer to my offering. Time thickens and that half  moment seems to last an eternity before the fish inhales the Buggs lure.

BEGINNINGS

Clay Sheward, 37, was born and raised in Spring, Texas. His passion for fly fishing started very early in life.

“I’ve been fly fishing for a really long time, since 1992, when the movie A River Runs Through It came out,” Clay said. “I saw that movie with my dad and that Christmas, my family provided me a fly tying kit and a fly rod.”

This film, which won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1993, is set in early 20th century Montana and follows a pair of brothers and their love of fly fishing. Many scenes in this movie do an excellent job of capturing the camaraderie of fishing; the tense moments before the catch and the  euphoria after the fact.

Clay cut his teeth fly fishing on the local ponds and creeks near the Woodlands, but as he grew older his love of fly fishing carried him to new locations.

“Mostly, I went to the Guadalupe and the White River in Arkansas. Sometimes my family would travel to Colorado. I didn’t get to do it a whole bunch but I would practice casting in the yard to teacups. Of course, I grew up and girls came along, but I always tied flies. I still do it regularly,” Clay said.

sheward fly fishing Buggy Whippin: Galveston sight casting with Capt. Clay Sheward

OCEAN CALLING

Eight years ago, Clay’s focus shifted from freshwater to saltwater fly fishing. First from a kayak, then to an Ankona ShadowCast 18 which served him and his customers well for several years. But in 2019, Clay was searching for his perfect skiff and finally found it.

“I run a 2019 Chittum Skiffs Laguna Madre with a 50HP Tohatsu. I couldn’t be happier. The trailer is gorgeous and it is such a really nice rig. I can’t believe that I have one. It’s just unbelievable,” Clay said.

The Chittum has expanded Clay’s range and clients of Buggy Whippin Sight Fishing enjoy access to the skinniest of waters in our area.

STUDENT OF NATURE

Clay’s love and careful examination of nature has paid dividends on the flats, where subtle, easily overlooked signs can tip off the location of fish.

“I like to watch animals. It doesn’t matter if it’s just me chilling in the backyard watching birds or hawks, or even seeing my dogs’ ears perk up when they catch a scent and chase it down,” Clay said. “Sitting stream-side, watching a trout circle behind a rock and then leave during changing cloud cover and then come back to the same spot several times a day. Or watching a spider build a web completely from start to finish. That sort of thing.”

Clay recently purchased a drone to better observe wildlife in the marsh. This eye in the sky lends a totally different point of view compared to a poling skiff.

“I’ve seen some crazy things with trout and redfish schooling up on the flats with the drone,” Clay said. “I’ve seen schools of redfish following one big alligator gar. Whatever the gar did, the redfish did the same. I’ve seen bobcats back there in Green’s Lake, as well as pigs. It’s educational as hell.”

Brandon Rowan with one of many redfish caught sight casting with Capt. Sheward.

TIME RETURNS TO NORMAL and I quickly bring my first sight-casted redfish to hand. I get a “Nice Job” and a fist bump from Clay after the release. The day is early and we continue our hunt for redfish along the sandy flat.

Stingrays, so many stingrays, hover along eeriely as we the glide down the shoreline. Flounder scoot away in a trail of punctuated mud puffs and gnarled, large crabs plod on slowly. This is my first time on a poling skiff and it 100% reminds me of flounder gigging. You are able to witness the abundant life of the bay, visually scanning until your target is located and then a careful approach begins. Unlike the rapid fire retrieves of blind fan casting, you often only get a single shot, like a sniper, when sight casting to a redfish.

Further down the flat, we have no problem tracking down more reds on this absolutely gorgeous day. Bronze backs and tails flick along the shorelines and shell points. Some of these we catch, others refuse the lure or fly, and others spook and run.

It felt like an entire day’s worth of fishing has happened but in reality only two hours have passed. But the day is young. We make a change, push off the flats and head back into the deeper recesses of the marsh.

This redfish absolutely crushed a Buggs Jig.

BUGGY WHIPPIN

Clients of Capt. Clay Sheward can expect to fish the maze of marshes and flats on the north shoreline of West Bay and the surrounding areas. There are opportunities to wade or even fish from shore. His Chittum Laguna Madre skiff has everything the fly angler could want and accommodates two fisherman.

However, you don’t need to know how to fly fish to enjoy sight casting for redfish. Catching these fish on light spinning tackle is still a blast and provides ample challenge. You will be thoroughly tested on how accurately and quickly you can place a cast.

“Scratch them on the chin” is what Clay advises when casting to a hungry redfish. It’s hard for them to resist an easy meal in front of their noses. An alternative method is to cast beyond and ahead of a fish, making sure you intercept its path.

No matter your tackle, stealth and speed are essential for success. Casts must be made quickly but delicately, without excessive movement. Heavy steps, twisting hips or any careless motion can rock the skiff and alert fish to your presence.

Clay does not sugar coat it. If you are doing something wrong, he will absolutely let you know. But the best teachers rarely coddle. Those ready to learn and listen have a high probability for an epic day of redfishing with Captain Clay Sheward.

Capt. Clay Sheward poles his Chittum Skiffs Laguna Madre along the flats.

KEEPING IT FLY

As a fledgling fly fisherman, I was eager to pick Clay’s brain on advice for those new to the sport.

“First, remember ‘Tip down, strip tight and everything will be alright,’” Clay said. “Second, if you feel like you need to go faster and harder, you probably need to go slower and softer, especially with a fly rod.”

Must-have flies include the Kwan, Clouser, Gurgler, spoon fly and any shrimp imitation with a weed guard. If Clay could only have one it would be the Kwan. He also recommends tying a loop knot, with as small a loop as possible, for most flies. He is an avid user of 16 and 20 lb tippets for his clients when targeting redfish on the upper coast. He is also a firm believer in casting whichever rod you are going to buy.

“Cast it and get what feels good to you. Redfish don’t need expensive fly reels. It’s nice to have, but not needed for reds in our area,” Clay said. “Gordy and Sons is one of the nicest fly shops in Houston. They’re no joke and the people that work there are extremely knowledgeable fly anglers.”

Although Clay’s all-time favorite fishing location is the Black Hills of South Dakota, his favorite fish to catch on the fly is the tripletail.

Umpqua’s Kwan fly, tied with bead chain eyes.

“Getting them to eat is the best because they are so stingy man! It’s got to be a perfect presentation,” Clay said. “You can get really close to them though and that gets the nerves going. I think that’s my favorite right now, but chasing a redfish with its back out of the water, and poling up to them…hunting them, that’s always going to be for me.”

THE SUN IS OUT NOW and we find ourselves deep in the marsh, floating along a back creek that is absolutely full of redfish. We glide over schools of erratic, frenzied bait as multiple big redfish cruise down the shoreline, picking them off lazily, one by one.

Clay’s oversized redfish.

It’s been several hours since we left the dock and I’ve honed in on what’s needed to effectively spot and cast to fish, thanks to Clay’s instruction.

We absolutely tore it up on that little stretch of water. After each fish caught and released, we seemed to spot another one right away. Clay caught an absolute beauty of a fish that taped out barely over 28 inches; a heartbreaker of a fish if it was a tournament day.

My favorite catch of the day was an upper slot redfish that came on a second chance. We had a pair of fish swim across our path that ignored the first presentation. They picked up speed and starting swimming away, no longer in sight. I flung out a far cast, as delicately as I could, and started jigging back to where I thought they might be. I knew I got it right when my reel’s drag started screeching.  After a rigorous fight, I brought the bronzed backed, pumpkin eyed fish in for a quick photo and release.

It was early in the afternoon but we decided to end the day on high note. The Chittum snaked its way through the marsh lanes as we made the scenic trek back to the dock. I was definitely impressed with the way the boat handled.  It took on chop with no issue, didn’t slide around the corners and granted us access to areas other poling skiffs couldn’t reach that day.

I’ve caught my fair share of redfish and I’ve got to say this was the absolute, most exciting way to catch them. If you have a background in kayaking, gigging or hunting, and you haven’t sight casted to redfish, you are missing out I’d say.

Summer and fall are Clay Sheward’s favorite times to be on the water but winter does have its perks.

“The water is so clear in the winter and it’s so fun. You can see everything on the bottom when you’re poling. You can learn so much, it’s incredible.”

Book a trip with Capt. Clay Sheward by visting buggywhippin.com, emailing claysheward@gmail.com or calling/texting 281-745-1578. Rates for two people max are 4 hours at $450, 6 hours at $550 and 8 hours at $650. Check him out on Instagram and Facebook @BuggyWhippin

Check out the heart shaped spot on Clay’s redfish!

Late Fall Galveston Bay Fishing

red fish rach Late Fall Galveston Bay Fishing

Rachel Thevenet

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

Wow. It’s hard to believe that another year has passed. I wrote this article on the verge of Halloween, and finally the Upper Coast had its first passage of a “cold front.” Although not really cold, it at least got us out of summer-like temperatures and hopefully curtailed the remaining hurricane season. Tropical Storm Imelda, wreaked enough havoc in some places along the Upper Coast of Texas.

Prior to the arrival of Imelda, Galveston Bay was flourishing with speckled trout and redfish. The fish were being caught over the entire bay system. Then when everything was setting up for some outstanding late September and October fishing in Galveston Bay, torrential local rainfall and subsequent runoff curtailed the action. I am praying that this November and December, we see a return to a near normal weather pattern and end this year with some great fishing and catches.

big ug Late Fall Galveston Bay Fishing

Barry Lofton

I am optimistic that the fish will be caught from the traditional locations for this time of year. Trinity Bay should produce it’s fair share of speckled trout and redfish in November. Both shorelines in Trinity, depending upon the wind, will be excellent choices for those who like to wade and or boat fish. Jack’s Pocket should not be overlooked. The fish were there prior to Imelda!  Also in November, the shoreline between Eagle Point and April Fool Point, has always been productive, especially with a North-Northwest wind.

December, look for the fish to be transitioning to the Northwest reaches of our bay. Tabbs, Crystal, Scott and Burnett bays will all produce fish. This area offers shelter from the winds and provides the fish with deep water protection from severe cold fronts. One of the best stringers of fish I ever caught came from this area with air temperature hovering around 30 degrees. Clear Lake should not be overlooked during this month. Again, it offers the protection from the wind and allows the fish to slide off into deeper water in case of a severe temperature drop.

In November and December the flounder fishing is in full swing! The usual places should all produce excellent catches. The Galveston Harbor would be high on my list as the top spot. Of course, shorelines adjacent to major marsh drains, passes and the Galveston Jetties are also good.

Remember to take precautions this time of year. Check the weather and dress for the conditions. I highly recommend a waterproof/windproof jacket and carrying an extra set of dry clothing. Enjoy the Holidays and remember that the Houston Boat Show begins the first week of January. I will be there at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth during the show. Eagle Point should have plenty of live shrimp and mudfish for the angler.

Galveston Live Shrimp Shortage

skrimp Galveston Live Shrimp Shortage

shrimpHong Kong food and culture

Are they in jeopardy for the future?

By Capt. Joe Kent

Live shrimp likely are the most popular and sought after bait along the Gulf Coast.  While inventories at bait shops have been erratic this season, anglers willing to search a wide area around the Galveston Bay Complex usually have been able to locate live shrimp.

What does the future hold for this valuable resource?  Will we have sufficient supplies for future generations? What will the cost be for Gulf Coast anglers?

Live shrimp are caught by shrimpers dragging their nets in the bays.  For many decades there were few regulations on shrimpers; however, as the number of bay shrimpers increased, problems began and a multitude of regulations were enacted.

Beginning in the late 1970s, shortages of redfish and speckled trout started showing up.  While fish-killing freezes had a major impact, studies showed that the bays were being over harvested by shrimpers, along with the resulting by catch mortality rate for other marine life.

The first step was to ban any future commercial shrimp trawl licenses.  While this halted future shrimpers getting into the business, it did not address the large numbers of boats working the bays day in and day out.  For that reason a “buy-back” program was started where shrimpers could sell their licenses and have them taken off of the books, meaning eliminating another shrimp boat from shrimping the bays.

After over 20 years of the buy back program and no additional permits being issued, the numbers of active shrimpers started to dwindle.

Recently, the owner of two bait shops in the Galveston area visited with me about his concerns and the problems likely to occur if something does not change.

Some of the concerns he expressed were that bait shrimpers are leaving the business at a rapid rate making it increasingly difficult to obtain dependable supplies of live shrimp.  The bait shops and camps most affected are the smaller ones that cannot justify having a designated shrimper for their supplies.

The cost of diesel, the most common fuel for shrimp boats, is increasing and the shrimp stocks are declining.  A good number of shrimp boat operators have relocated from the Galveston Bay Complex to areas where shrimp are more plentiful.

The current regulations also contribute to the problem, as they were enacted based on a much higher number of shrimp boats operating in the bays.

In the past, shrimpers would drag for both live shrimp for the bait shops and table shrimp for seafood markets.  Low table shrimp prices driven by imported foreign shrimp currently make it unprofitable for them to go after table shrimp.

Now, let’s take a look at what is going to take place if nothing changes.  Higher prices and more shortages will be the result.

As fuel prices increase, the profits for shrimpers decrease.  With the restrictions on poundage they are allowed to catch daily, the result is obvious.  Higher prices at the bait camps, for live shrimp when available.  Today, the average price for a quart of live shrimp in the Galveston Bay Complex is around $20.  If prices increased to say $35/quart would anglers continue to purchase this bait?  Also, there is a good possibility that shrimp would start selling by the dozen and not by the pint or quart.

Along the Southeast Atlantic coast, live shrimp go for between $5.00 and $7.00 per dozen.  If this practice was adopted along the Gulf Coast and if the price of shrimp rose, just think about how far a couple of dozen of shrimp at say $12.00/dozen would go during the summer when almost every fish and crab are in a feeding mode.

Summertime anglers know how many shrimp are lost to bait snatchers and take that into consideration when purchasing live bait.  The result would be an unaffordable fishing trip at the higher prices.

While there is not much we can do about the foreign shrimp competition or fuel prices, one thing that should take place is for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to reevaluate the poundage limitation for bay shrimpers considering that there are much fewer shrimp boats on the water today.

The TPWD has done an excellent job of managing our wildlife resources and hopefully they will continue that trend by doing what is best for our future supplies of live shrimp.

TIE ONE ON: Capt. Wayne Davis

wayne snook TIE ONE ON: Capt. Wayne Davis

WE ASK captains, guides and those in the industry what they’re throwing, for what species and what they’re drinking after a long day of fishing.

WAYNE DAVIS: Full-time fishing guide of Hook Down Charters specializing in wading with artificial lures in Port Mansfield, Texas. www.kwigglers.com | 210-287-3877

kw willow tail TIE ONE ON: Capt. Wayne Davis

The Willow Tail comes in a variety of fish catching colors.

First, I use soft plastics (KWigglers) 95% of the time, the other five percent you can catch me throwing topwaters.  Over the last couple years, I have found myself throwing the Willow Tail Shad (WTS) most of the time.  This is a very effective shallow water bait and I always rig it on our 2/0, 1/8 oz. short shank black nickel hook.

All of my charters are done wading with artificial lures. I am never fishing over 3 feet, and most of the time it is less than thigh deep. With the WTS and small jighead I can effectively, and with control, work the lure in just about any condition (grass, potholes, ledges etc..)

Every short twitch with the rod tip makes that WTS tail flip flop around – I believe the lackadaisical attitude of the bait entices a strike from just about any fish.  The WTS is a lazy bait, not designed for a simple cast and retrieve method.  The angler should work the bait.  The mere profile of the WTS is in and of itself luring to big fish.

Over the last two years I have been targeting and have been able to somewhat pattern South Texas Snook.  To date, I have landed 52 during my trips.  Almost all of them have been over 28 inches, with the largest one taping out at 35 inches and 13 pounds. All have come on the Willow Tail.  I also caught the STAR winning trout while snook fishing – a 31+ incher at 9.5 pounds.  Since I am a licensed captain I do not qualify for CCA STAR so the fish was released (it would have been anyway).

As far as a dock cocktail after a day of fishing – well of course the “Wiggler.” White rum, cranberry and a splash of grapefruit juice. I took it to our local restaurant in Port Mansfield, The Pelican, and they loved it so much they put it on their menu and it is the number one selling cocktail.

Viking Unveils Valhalla Line of Center Consoles

v37what Viking Unveils Valhalla Line of Center Consoles

The V-37 shines as a versatile coastal or offshore fish-raising thoroughbred with the legs to run long distances powered by either twin or triple outboards.

From the brilliant and innovative minds and builders of Viking Yachts, the new and exhilarating Viking Valhalla is here

This sleek new Viking is what center console boating dreams are made of, offering a high-end spin on your average center console.

The well renowned Viking Yachts builder has created a Valhalla V-33, V-37 AND V-41 that sets evolutionary standards in performance, engineering, quality and fishing capabilities. While strong in functionality and durability, the Valhalla does not withhold gorgeous craftsmanship and design.

Some of the impeccable features of the new Valhalla line include gently-sloped S-shaped sheers, double forward chines, helm pods, raised toe rails and abundant seating throughout. On deck, a raised transom live well, in-deck fish boxes, rod holders, a port dive door and storage space galore, just to name a few of the key features of this new center console.

The new Valhalla line certainly does not lack in power, with four-stroke outboards firing these impressive vessels from 300 to 425 in twin, triple or quad engines depending on length. A standard for the Valhalla line is power-assist hydraulic steering, and joystick helm control systems, are of course, an option for any of the models. Stepped hulls, as well as the direct-fuel-injected engines allow for exceptional fuel economy and range.

Bring all of the fishing equipment you need and more for offshore trips and coastline trips alike. This center console allows for plenty of storage of all of the trimmings needed for fishing and hosts top-notch fishing equipment for your days on the water.

This remarkable new creation from the Viking family is sure to impress, with all of your fishing, travel, durability and power needs, the Valhalla is unique in its class. For a more in depth look at the new Viking Valhalla line please contact our Galveston or Clear Lake offices at 409-741-8716.

Remembering Capt. Aubrey Black

baffin bay rod gun Remembering Capt. Aubrey Black

Capt. Aubrey Black and the love of his life, Capt. Sally, combined their talents, experience and passion for the outdoors and started the fishing and hunting lodge of their dreams, Baffin Bay Rod and Gun.

aubrey black Remembering Capt. Aubrey Black

By Kelly Groce

On October 3, 2019 the fishing community unexpectedly lost one of the great ones, Capt. Aubrey Black of Baffin Bay Rod and Gun. Aubrey was a kind and wonderful man whose passion was putting his clients on their personal best speckled trout.

Together, Aubrey and his wife, Capt. Sally, achieved their dream of having a first-class fishing and hunting lodge on Baffin Bay. Sally is absolutely devastated by the loss of Aubrey, but very thankful for all of the outpouring support from friends, family and the fishing community.

To keep Aubrey’s legacy alive, Capt. Sally and the entire crew at Baffin Bay Rod and Gun invite everyone to continue booking fishing and hunting trips at “The Last Best Place on the Texas Coast.”  Visit them online at www.baffinbayrodandgun.com

Experience New Adventure with JetSurf

jordan Experience New Adventure with JetSurf

JetSurf CEO Jordan Davlin

Clear Lake entrepreneur and CEO of JetSurf Houston, Jordan Davlin, has brought new life to Clear Lake with the new and exciting sport of Motosurf. Think personal watercraft crossed with a wakeboard, add a hint of dirt-slinging and an engine-buzzing motorbike; that’s JetSurf. You have got to give it a try!

The JetSurf carbon fiber board is extremely light-weight (less than 10 lbs.) and comes with a motor. The motor makes it so that you can ride and carve on the water with just the press of a button on a handle that you hold onto. This water sport is extremely safe and anyone from a beginner to someone who is very experienced can have fun with it. JetSurf is perfect for anyone who loves the water, male or female.

If you want to learn how to ride then JetSurf Academy Houston is the perfect answer. Jordan can give you lessons right outside of his showroom on Clear Lake. Or, JetSurf now has a JetSurf Academy on Lake Longhorn off Highway 96 in League City. Lake Longhorn is a private, man-made lake that provides extremely calm water and no other boat traffic for a relaxing and less intimidating environment to learn how to ride.

Become a JetSurf Racer

If you want to take it to the next level, then join MotoSurf WorldCup or MotoSurf Continental Cup events and start your Motosurf career as a racer. The MotoSurf Continental Cup gives every rider an opportunity to start a racing career. Continental Cup consists of these divisions – MotoSurf Continental Cup Europe, MotoSurf Continental Cup Asia and MotoSurf America. Anyone can come, race, and have fun on a race course with others. MotoSurf Continental Cup is a great way to collect your first racing experience on your JetSurf. MotoSurf WorldCup is the very first motorized surfboard racing series in the world, established back in 2013. JetSurf is an easy craft to be carried by plane or car. Simple traveling across the globe makes MotoSurf racing one of the most affordable motorsport disciplines nowadays. MotoSurf WorldCup is raced on a race course built from buoys. It offers a super intense racing feeling to the riders and great watching opportunities to the spectators on the shore.

Whether it’s just for fun or to become apart of the racing circuit, stop by to see Jordan at the JetSurf Houston showroom here in Seabrook. He’s more than willing to answer any questions you may have, get you set up for a lesson, or sell you your very own JetSurf board. Also, stay tuned for some exciting news about JetSurf events coming to the area in 2020.

JetSurf Houston

www.jetsurfhouston.com

Endeavour Marina

3101 E. Nasa Pkwy, Suite H.

Seabrook, TX 77586

Making Dreams Come True

eric simmons Making Dreams Come True

Eric Simmons, owner of ES Custom Boats and Simmons Custom Rigging, builds high performance, shallow draft boats.

Eric Simmons of ES Custom Boats and Simmons Custom Rigging builds dream boats one hull at a time

By Brandon Rowan

In 2003, tournament angler and fishing guide Eric Simmons had a decision to make: continue guiding or focus on a dream of building his perfect boat. Fast forward sixteen years later, and Simmons is making others’ dreams come true with his shallow draft, ultra high performance boat, the Revolution.

“The Revolution series builds on our history of know-how,” Eric Simmons said. “We’re always evolving and building a better product.”

trophy trout trophies Making Dreams Come True

Eric’s tournament background played a role in the design of his high speed boats.

BIRDS BEFORE BOATS

Born and raised in Freeport, Eric’s first love was duck hunting and all he ever wanted to do. Needing something to do in the offseason, he later discovered a second love, fishing.

“As soon as I could, I got a boat and a truck and started fishing up and down the Texas Coast. I didn’t come from a big hunting or fishing family so I’m not sure where I got it from. But I loved it. I made a lot of good life long friends doing that,” Simmons said.

Eric was fortunate to be up-and-coming during a lot of the big Mickey Eastman Troutmasters style tournaments. These life experiences shaped his boat’s design.

“Tournament anglers like the Revolution. It’s a boat race with some fishing sprinkled in there, so we do cater to that,” Simmons said.

Through guiding and tournaments, Eric gained a lot of knowledge and insight on what he wanted to see in his perfect fishing boat. Slowly over time he realized what he was looking for didn’t exist. And despite no formal education in nautical design, he decided he was going to build his own. The rest is history.

“I am self taught, a student of the game. I had the desire and want to do it,” Simmons said.

ES Custom Boat’s Revolution is powered by Mercury Racing Outboards.

A LEAGUE APART

The Revolution is CAD designed and blends efficiency with shallow water capability. There’s a lot of shallow draft cats out there but that’s not what sets the Revolution apart.

“The handling characteristics of our boats stand alone,” Simmons said. “The performance and speed are in a different league. Our hulls have some of the best ride quality out there.”

The Revolution is made to order and a waiting list of 12-16 months is typical. But good things come to those that wait. Customers of ES Custom Boats have the privilege of truly crafting their dream boat from the ground up.

“We have a hull and deck mold, but the color, the way you lay it out, and your style of fishing has a lot to do with the end result, as well as your budget and imagination,” Simmons said. “It’s fun to do each one. They’re all a little bit different.”

Everything starts with an idea on paper. Once a plan is in place, the hull is created at the glass shop, gel coat is sprayed and the deck and fuel tanks are added. The hull then moves to the rigging shop where it stays for two to three weeks. Engines, electronics, aluminum work and any and all marine accessories are added. A Power-Pole shallow water anchor system is affixed to every boat. Eric prefers top-shelf, hand picked products from companies like Power-Pole, Simrad, Wet Sounds Audio and Mercury Racing.

The Revolution is outfitted with Simrad electronics.

“I am OEM with Mercury and Mercury Racing. I’ve always liked their product; it has given us an edge. They have a full array of factory props that work well with our boats. Sometimes with custom props you never know what you will get from one to the other,” Simmons said.

The Revolution also features high quality anodized Jack Plates from Bob’s Machine Shop in Florida. Theirs is a superior design; strong, simple and very fast. Eric prides himself on attention to detail and total control over quality.

“We do say no to certain ideas because we may have tinkered with it and realize it didn’t work. We like to keep control so there’s no oddball boats out there somebody isn’t happy with. We don’t go with who is going to give us the deal but who is going to give us the best results,” Simmons said.

The Revolution comes in two lengths, the 23 and 25. Both perform similarly and are a matter of preference. The 23 is preferred by solo anglers, smaller groups and those who don’t have the space to accommodate the 25.

THE FUN PART

Once work is completed in the rigging and aluminum shops, the boat is turned over to Eric.

“I get the fun part of water testing each one,” Eric said with a smile. “My job is to make sure she floats and quality control every little thing I can find.”

After that, the boat is detailed, another checklist is completed and she is out the door to a happy new owner. ES Custom Boats currently produces three boats a month but Eric’s goal for 2020 is to build a boat a week. And if that isn’t enough to keep them busy, Simmons Custom Rigging also outfits boats of other makes, with several aluminum or rigging jobs a year. The shop recently outfitted a bare hull Majek with a riser box, complete aluminum work and the console.

Another attractive aspect for customers of ES Custom Boats is the resale value. A lot of custom boats take a dive in value the second they leave the yard.

“Our resale value is extremely high,” Eric said. “A lot of my return customers have reported that they’ve broken even or made money when they sell. It’s not guaranteed but it seems to be the case out there.”

Eric Simmons with one of his custom coolers and “office security.”

FAMILY GUY

When Eric isn’t in the shop or tinkering with designs, he is passionate about his family.

“We like going out on the boat in the summer time,” Eric said. “We’re a boating family, that’s my biggest thing. I have three kids with my wife Candace; Hailey is 10, Cole is 12, and Olivia is 15 and has her driver’s permit.”

But with the kids back to school, Eric’s attention turns to his two favorite fishing targets, trout and redfish.

“I like winter time fishing. The bays are a lot quieter, there’s less people out there and you’re after a different caliber of fish. That’s what I really enjoy.”

For more information on building your dream boat, visit simmonscustomrigging.com or call the office at (832) 864-2331

SanJuanYachts Unveils New Luxury Sportfishing Yacht

sanjuanyachts sj32 prototype honda marine acura nsx lifestyl 300x200 SanJuanYachts Unveils New Luxury Sportfishing Yacht

SanJuanYachts New SJ32 Prototype Model Powered by Honda Marine

Company Expands Reach from Pleasure Boats with Launch of All-New SJ32 Prototype at IBEX 2019

New Yacht Powered Exclusively by Honda BF250 Outboard Motors with Intelligent Shift and Throttle

  • SanJuanYachts, manufacturer of luxury motor yachts, unveils its SJ32 prototype, a new luxury center-console sportfishing yacht, marking the company’s first expansion of its product lineup beyond the premium pleasure boats category.
  • The all-new SanJuanYachts center console SJ32 prototype, showcased at IBEX 2019, is powered exclusively by twin Honda Marine BF250 Intelligent Shift and Throttle (iST®) electronically controlled high-power outboard motors—the newest evolution in the Honda Marine product line.
  • The SJ32 luxury sportfishing yacht offers a beautiful, unique hull design, luxurious appointments and innovative, functional features suitable especially for anglers.
  • During its initial sea trials, the SJ32 prototype performed extremely well at speeds in excess of 55 mph with extreme maneuverability and ride performance.

At the 2019 International Boat Builder’s Exhibition (IBEX) trade venue, SanJuanYachts, manufacturer of luxury motor yachts, today unveiled its all-new SJ32 luxury sportfishing yacht prototype. The launch of this new model marks the Company’s first expansion of its product lineup beyond the premium pleasure boats category. Founded in 1998, SanJuanYachts is a luxury yacht company that embraces the simple vision of redefining the motor yacht, priding itself on singular customer focus in the crafting and high-performance engineering of 30-48-foot vessels. The Company also offers services that include yacht building, management and outfitting.

The new SanJuanYachts center console SJ32 prototype, powered exclusively by twin Honda Marine BF250 Intelligent Shift and Throttle (iST®) electronically controlled outboard motors, is making its debut at the Honda Marine indoor booth, #3-925, as well as at outdoor exhibit #9117 and dock exhibit #14-D. Now on sale at Honda Marine dealers nationwide, the Honda BF250 iST outboard motor marks the newest evolution in the Honda Marine product line, integrating innovative design, a sleek new Progressive V Form style, improved corrosion resistance, streamlined maintenance and an expanded number of rigging options for ease of use.

Innovative, Luxurious Yacht Design

The SanJuanYachts SJ32 was designed and built to precise, exacting standards for the ultimate in sportfishing. The renowned yacht architect Ward Setzer utilized 25 years of experience in boat design, taking on the assignment to produce a luxury fishing yacht with a beautiful, unique hull design, luxurious appointments and functional features suitable especially for anglers. Standard model features include a high cuddy for comfortable standing; open decks for full walkaround clear of rods and posts; custom hard top with built-in recessed lighting, speakers and glove boxes; transom sink with Scandvik compact fold-and-swivel faucet; Thetford Silence 2G Plus short toilet and black water system; port and starboard fishbox deck hatches with molded storage bins; pop-up cleats; and premium, high-performance appointments of glass, stainless steel, teak and bronze throughout.

Exclusive Power Alliance with Honda Marine

The SanJuanYachts SJ32 was designed exclusively in partnership with Honda Marine, marketer of a complete range of four-stroke outboard marine engines. For 55 years, Honda Marine has set new benchmarks for fuel efficiency, quiet operation, and low emissions with its comprehensive line of four-stroke outboard engines that share the same unparalleled durability, quality, and reliability of its legendary automobiles. The performance of Honda Marine four-stroke portable outboards is attributed to a number of exclusive technological features such as Honda’s legendary Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control™ (VTEC™). First debuting in the high-performance Acura NSX sports car, VTEC™ technology has since been integrated into the design of a range of higher-power Honda Marine engines, providing an unmatched blend of power, torque, and efficiency at any speed.

“Our partnership with Honda Marine began on day one, and we designed the SJ32 exclusively for the Honda BF250 iST engines. SanJuanYachts had been interested in entering the sportfishing market for some time but didn’t have total confidence to be successful until we collaborated with Honda Marine,” said Gilbert Villarreal, Chief Executive Officer of SanJuanYachts. “Meeting with all of our suppliers and providing comprehensive marine engineering knowledge and experience, Honda has become an invaluable partner. Our team knew we could merge the SanJuanYachts heritage with the Honda reputation of premium engine technology and performance to produce a luxury fishing yacht that would stand alone in its class.”

Innovative, High Performance Engineering

The entire hull of the SJ32—including deck, liner, cuddy, and hardtop—is infused in one single process, resulting in a stronger, more lightweight vessel than competitive models. Powered by twin Honda Marine BF250 iST outboards, initial sea trial performance testing demonstrated that the SJ32 prototype can support speeds as high as 55 mph. The SJ32 is designed to be extremely maneuverable with the Honda BF250s positioned for balance and stability. The yacht can spin and maneuver in its own length with intuitive ease utilizing the SeaStar Solutions electronic joystick controls. Additional specifications of the SJ32 prototype include:

  • Length Overall – 32’ (9.75 m)
  • Beam – 10.68’ (3.25 m)
  • Fuel Capacity – 280 gal.
  • Water Tank – 37 gal.

“Helping design an entirely new boat from the waterline up, it has been an exciting opportunity for Honda Marine to work with the visionaries and planners at SanJuanYachts to develop the unique, powerful new SJ32 prototype,” said Michael Rickey, Senior Manager, Honda Marine. “Among marine engine manufacturers, Honda has unparalleled experience in engine performance across the whole spectrum of automotive, racing, jet, powersports, power equipment and marine applications. Honda believes in the power of dreams, and we are proud to help SanJuanYachts realize its own dreams of designing a new luxury yacht and break into a new market.”

The new SanJuanYachts SJ32 sportfishing yacht prototype showcased at IBEX 2019 features a custom thermal orange paint scheme inspired by the Acura NSX. The all-new SJ32 models are expected to range from $300,000 through $450,000, depending on the level of customization required by customers for exteriors, interiors, propulsion/auxiliary systems, navigation, paint/finish, electronics, and commissioning items.

 

Catch and Release Tips

souleredfish Catch and Release Tips

Steve Soule releases a slot redfish with care.

Caring for your catch: Handling fish and releasing properly

By Steve Soule | www.ultimatedetailingllc.com

There are probably not many people reading this article or others in this magazine that don’t have a great respect of fish, wildlife and the great outdoors in general. I know that over many years of fishing and spending time on and around coastal waters, my appreciation of the natural beauty and numerous species it supports has only grown greater.

With the vast majority of us spending too many days in offices, stuck on highways, and staring at small screens, time spent outdoors only grows more precious. It has always felt like time well spent, whether fishing for fun or for money as a tournament angler or guide. Understanding the value of the natural resources we have and consciously working to ensure that we can continue to enjoy it for many generations to come is of paramount importance.

CHANGING OF THE BAY

For those that are younger, newer to an area, or just haven’t spent as much time along the coastal waters, change definitely won’t be so noticeable. For those who have been on and around the coast for 10, 20 or 30 more years, change is striking and often disturbing. Coastal development, land erosion, dredge work and many other factors affect the bays and waterways. Some of these factors are just a part of nature and will happen regardless of human impact. Others are a direct effect of our desire to be on or near the water and the need for infrastructure and transportation in and around waterways. Those of us on the upper Texas Coast utilize and enjoy one of the most heavily populated and heavily trafficked bays in Texas.

Galveston Bay has an uncanny ability to withstand catastrophic events and rebound amazingly well. With near constant dredge work, endless barge and ship traffic, an enormous amount of recreational users, run-off water that none of us want to know the content of, and an occasional spill or collision leaking hazardous chemicals into the system, its truly miraculous how abundant this fishery remains. Wildlife in and around Galveston Bay seems to somehow pull through many challenges. The diversity of the system plays a huge role in this; three major Gulf inlets(for the moment), numerous rivers, creeks and bayous that empty into it and vast satellite nursery areas around the bay provide habitat. Given these facts, plus the sheer size of the bay, fish and other sea creatures seem to thrive on their ability to move around the bay system under varying conditions.

Fish and their food sources move around the bay every year, for the reasons listed above and many others. Couple this fact with the not-always-great water conditions and the prospect of catching fish can become daunting. Kudos to those who have figured out how to consistently catch fish here or in any saltwater bay system, as it is often difficult.

doubleredfish Catch and Release Tips

Clay Sheward and Rick Spillman with a double hookup on redfish.

STEWARDSHIP

Having fished the upper coast for a little over 30 years now, I’ve experienced good and bad. I’ve had more tough days of fishing than I care to admit or recall. I’ve found some great success, and always tried to keep track of how and why, so that I could hopefully repeat those days. I’ve seen some staggering changes and of course developed some very strong opinions based on years of observation.

Though I do eat fish from time to time, and killed more fish in the past for tournaments than I wish that I had, I have come to a point where I only take fish that I can eat that day. I have two primary reasons for this: first, I can assure you that fresh fish tastes much better than frozen. Second, for me, the enjoyment of fishing has always been about the chase and pleasure of fishing and catching them, rather than eating them.

There are laws in place designed to help control and maintain the fish populations that do a reasonably good job of ensuring that we will be able to enjoy the resource for many years to come. Each and every licensed fisher in the state is entitled to participate and enjoy consumption within those laws.

I’m not going to advocate change, though I was pleased when TPWD announced the reduction in speckled trout bag limit this year. I believe that decision will help overall populations. What I would really like to address isn’t the laws, changes to them or enforcement of them. I am of the opinion that those who most frequently use the resource, especially those who make their living from our fisheries, are the ones with the greatest responsibility to maintain the resource and teach future generations.

This group of people, in many cases, knows the condition of the habitat and fishery better than the politicians and lawmakers that govern over it. I have heard many different ideas and opinions about regulations and changes to them and how they will affect guides and commercial fishers. Probably the largest impact that can be controlled is that of the recreational fishing industry.

As a guide, I would say it is in your best interest to encourage that people only take the fish they plan to eat within a short period of time. Definitely, do not catch an additional limit and keep for your customers, since this has been a law for many years now. And as a steward of the fishery and in the interest of ensuring you have fish to catch in the future, encourage catch and release. Trust me, your customers book you because they enjoy fishing with you and respect your knowledge and want your guidance. They aren’t showing up because they have found the best way to feed their families. And yes, they will continue to come back to fish as long as there are fish to catch.

Now that we have jumped onto the catch and release train, we can start thinking about the impact we have there. I’ve spent a lot of years fishing primarily catch and release and have learned a lot about how to make sure fish survive and swim away healthy. I’m going to list some very basic rules to help make sure that are efforts are rewarded with a thriving population of fish.

TIPS FOR CATCH & RELEASE

  • Fight fish quickly to help reduce stress and exhaustion effects
  • Minimize the time fish are out of the water. They can’t breathe when there isn’t water passing their gills!
  • Avoid putting fish in contact with dry surfaces. It removes their protective slime. (wet hands to grab, keep off of hot boat decks)
  • If you can, release the fish without removing from the water.
  • Hold fish horizontally when out of the water. They don’t have support for internal organs so holding vertically can cause damage.
  • If possible, don’t hold fish by lips or jaws. ( Lipping and weighing devices that hold fish by lip or jaws can cause serious damage to connective tissue around the jaw.
  • Always attempt to revive fish by holding in water by the tail until they can swim away strongly.
  • If you’re going to measure a fish, wet the ruler.
  • Don’t force the jaws of a fish to overextend with lipping tools

A FEW MORE THOUGHTS

Fish are fairly durable and can handle being caught and released, but limiting adverse effects helps to make sure our efforts aren’t in vain. Making the effort to encourage and practice catch and release among recreational anglers and guides will almost certainly have a bigger impact on fisheries than regulations. I’ve never been one to believe that government knows or can react fast enough to be the best steward of resources. I firmly believe that as recreational users of the fishery, we stand to lose the most so we should work to maintain it. Killing 30 fish for your customers may be your right, but posting pictures of dead fish in a cooler or on the deck of your boat probably isn’t the best way to market how you help to keep our fishery strong.

Just because you have the opportunity to fish every day, doesn’t mean you should kill fish every day. One day you may just run out of fish. Killing a big trout or redfish for food isn’t great; expect parasitic worms and mushy trout fillets. Plus, the giant rib cage of a bull red yields much less meat than expected. These fish are also important spawners and make future fish generations possible. The same does not apply to flounder fillets, but we do need to maintain a strong breed stock.

Short sided planning around your love of fishing will likely lead to long term disappointment in your catching.

Fins & Feathers

IMG 4291 1024x575 Fins & Feathers

By Capt. Joey Farah

Marbled skies of fall color hold waves of waterfowl, and hover over some of the best bay fishing in the world. Here in Texas we are blessed to enjoy the harvest basket of winter sports. Combining fins and feathers brings days of duck hunting and fishing together. Hunting waterfowl can be a excellent and easy way to introduce youth and inexperienced hunters to the hunting sports. For seasoned hunters, the beauty and strategy of the hunt, and the game taken fulfill the wild spirit in each of us. This winter come experience hunting and fishing the right way; cast and blast Texas style!

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Fall and winter prove to be some of the best fishing of the year.

CAST FOR FINS

The bays come alive with coastal gamefish as air and water temperatures drop. Deeper water and softer bottoms hold smaller creatures that help get these fish through the winter months. Shrimp, crabs, mud worms, clams and mollusks, are just some of the building blocks of the food chain. Small minnows, baitfish and sport fish follow. These gatherings, and favorable water conditions, group winter fish in areas that fishermen can enjoy some awesome catching.

Strong cold fronts may seem like a good time to stay inside and dream about boiling hot summer days on the water, but then you’ll miss some of the best fishing of the year! Whipping winds roll the bottom and bring up those hidden food sources. Redfish, trout and black drum go into a feeding frenzy with each cold front. The first day or two is usually the best; those beautiful sunny third and fourth days are usually too pretty and fishing slows. The colder the water gets, the longer it takes fish to digest their meals. This can make feeding patterns predictable but spread out. Watching the lunar feeding tables will help anglers score the right times to be on the water. Here in the Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay Area we find some of our best fishing both close and far from the dock. The flats of the Laguna Madre hold an enormous amount of bait, which migrates into the ICW Canal when it gets cold. Schools of gamefish follow, putting all those fish in one area.

We work the edges of the drop off with soft plastics for some of the most insane trout and redfish action you have ever seen! Fall bait favorites are easily the 3” DOA CAL Shad. This is the perfect imitation of a small pinfish or mud minnow. Colors should include pumpkinseed/chartreuse, purple/chartreuse, blood red and glow. The larger 5” Jerk Shad is my go-to bait for big trout in the shallows with a light 1/16 oz. DOA jighead. This combination floats and flutters like a sand eel looking for any way out of becoming a meal! The 3 and 5” DOA jerk baits also fit the bill. They imitate both a fleeing minnow as well as the sand eel profile.

The best time to hook up on the hard fighting, great tasting black drum is now! The schools of drum gather during the winter months to feed on small clams and crab. We bring in limits of these fish all winter. Live shrimp works best, as well as crab and sea lice. The absence of trash fish and pin perch during the winter months makes fishing with shrimp much easier. The rock piles of Baffin Bay and the fish funnel to the south the Land Cut, are famous for their winter fishing greatness. We anchor up on those big rock piles and use live shrimp deep under popping corks to load the box with drum, trout, and reds.

When the temperatures really drop low, we find redfish fall off of the flats by the thousands into the deeper holes. Catching big redfish every cast can be an out of body experience! Last winter we had one morning where we brought 60 redfish to hand with three anglers in about three hours! Don’t let the heater keep you out of the best fishing of the year this winter, come experience miles of grassy flats boiling with excitement.

Texas Coastlines host over 20 species of waterfowl, each very beautiful. Photo: Joseph Farah

BLAST FOR FEATHERS

Like a squadron of fighter jets, the flock of descending ducks rounded the blind and cupped in for a landing. As their feet opened for the landing, fire erupted from the line. The lead birds dropped and a few more pops dropped two more. As the ripples stretched across the sky mirrored surface, my dog leaped across the flat for the first feathered trophy of the morning.

Big game hunting is expensive and puts the stress and buildup into one shot, one trophy. Waterfowl hunting is about ACTION! Diverse species are found with each duck specialized in its own way for feeding and flying. Colors like the most beautiful skies highlight their body in a rainbow of beauty. Young hunters can grasp gun safety, responsible shooting and hunting, as well as the idea of taking a life much easier, with waterfowl versus big game hunts.

The fact that I have the best and biggest, most comfortable duck blinds makes gathering friends and family much easier. We make it easy for you to hunt hard. My clients are still high and dry in days of rain and 40 mph north winds

We usually hunt some big sets with over 250 decoys for a mixed bag and lots of action. We use smaller, more specific set ups for trophy birds and particular species. Advanced hunters are usually looking for their favorite species; this is a lot of fun hunting and setting up for that perfect trophy bird for the mount. It is sometimes hard to convince the wife to hang big deer heads on the walls. Beautiful birds go up easier in the house and office.

Ducks have some defining patterns that you must consider on the hunt. They eat, fly, rest, drink and roost. As a group, inside the region there will be some ducks doing all of these things at any given time. Ducks also trade places between the areas they do this. We hunt all day! Don’t be fooled into going in after 9 a.m! Many times you will be missing the best activity. Much like fish, the lunar feeding tables mirror their activity. They will be feeding at peak times, but traveling and landing in your decoys before and after those peak times.

Ducks always want to land with the wind in their face. Hunt where they want to be, and not were you want them to be. Birds of a feather flock together holds true. Species will land and sit with their own kind even in flocks of thousands. Motion decoys in your spread can make or break you, so don’t be set in your ways. Make changes with the actions of the birds. Calling can bring ducks in from afar, or scare them away. Soft calling is best. We don’t have a lot of loud and vocal mallards here on the coast!

This winter come experience the beauty of the Texas coast with some fins and feathers! We will be here to help you start off right and make every adventure a success. Hunt smart and safe and always be a good ambassador of the hunting community.

We can accommodate the smallest and largest groups, just like welcoming you into my home. Get out and enjoy the best hunting and fishing in the world, right here in Texas! Follow all our blasts and casts on Facebook AT JOEY FARAH’S BACKWATER FISHING or call 361-442-8145.

Cast and blast events are perfect for group entertainment! Photo: Joseph Farah

Texas Grand Slams and Trophy Trout

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Capt. Andy Salinas with a lonestar linesider that fell for a D.O.A. 4” Shad Tail in 455 Texas Croaker.

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On his fourth cast of the day, Capt. Luis Flandes III landed this 28+ in. trout on a D.O.A. 4” Jerk Bait in 455 Texas Croaker. Safely released to fight another day.

Two days of fishing the Lower Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures results in remarkable fishing

Story and photos by Kelly Groce

DAY 1
After D.O.A. Lures creator Mark Nichols, Capt. Andy Salinas, videographer Johnny Lu and myself attempted to each eat a delicious breakfast burrito larger than the size of my head from Manuel’s Restaurant, we hit South Bay in South Padre Island in search of fish.

As Capt. Andy Salinas began to set our drift, I rigged up my go-to lure and color, which is a 4” jerk bait in the color 441 Figi Chix. I swear trout can’t refuse this lure, because it didn’t take long to start catching them. I saw jack crevalle hammering shrimp right behind the boat. I threw my lure towards the disturbance and got to have a fun fight with one. Next cast, a snook came speeding at my lure and my favorite sound on earth ensued… my reel peeling drag. I used 1 lure and caught 3 different species; trout, jack crevalle and snook.

Andy, Mark and Johnny all caught plenty of slot snook, redfish and flounder on 4” shad tails. The tail on those lures have amazing action that fish can’t look past.

We ended the day working a deep channel and catching black drum along the bottom. Between all of us, we caught a Texas grand slam which is a redfish, trout, flounder and snook. Not a bad day of fishing I’d say.

DAY 2
A summertime cold front blew through, so the day started out overcast and on the cooler side. On the ride out, Capt. Luis Flandes III, Mark Nichols, Cindy Nguyen and myself had all agreed that the surroundings looked like a winter day in Texas.

We began fishing a gin clear flat. On Capt. Luis Flandes’ fourth cast he hooked up to a stud 28+ in. trout. He was throwing a 4” jerk bait in the fish catching color 455 Texas Croaker. Winter-like conditions resulted in a trophy trout. After a fish like that, can the day get much better? Why yes it can. We moved to a grassy flat and Luis was plucking redfish out left and right using a Root Beer/Chartreuse jerk bait. Cindy and I doubled up on two pretty redfish, mine being the most orange colored red I have ever seen.

The fishing in South Padre is awesome. To get in on the action contact either one of these great guides, Capt. Andy Salinas or Capt. Luis Flandes III on Facebook. Thanks again for 2 great days of fishing. Tight lines!

Myself, Mark Nichols and Cindy Nguyen with 2 redfish we doubled up on using a 4″ Jerk Bait in Root Beer/Chartreuse and Texas Croaker. Photo: Capt. Luis Flandes III

Mark Nichols and Capt. Luis Flandes III enjoying a good day of fishing.

Capt. Andy Salinas with a black drum he caught on a D.O.A shrimp rigged backwards.

With one lure color, Figi Chix, I caught snook, trout, and jack crevalle. Photo: Johnny Lu

Capt. Luis Flandes had the hot hand this day of fishing.

I dare you not to laugh while on a trip with Mark Nichols.

 

Gear

10154468 600x400 Gear

FOREVERLAST Flats Wading Boots – New and improved for 2019 our Flats Predator Wading boots provide a comfort fit while bare foot wading or with stocking foot waders. Now with 6 ports the strain and drain system will not allow rocks and debris to enter and lets water out keeping them lightweight and the EVA material provides comfort fit while hard sole provides traction and stability over structure. www.foreverlast.com

 

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LAGUNA MADRE CLOTHING CO. “Taking Flight” Fishing Shirt – Always at the dock at the right time. A familiar sight of all coastal anglers. “Taking Flight”, by award winning watercolor artist Leslie McDonald, Jr. on our UPF 50 Performance Shirt. Flip to page 40 to read our interview with the artist. www.lagunamadreclothing.com

 

Shimano Stradic – The new Stradic FK utilizes Shimano’s latest technology while drawing on ways of the past. Hagane cold forged drive gear gear combined with X-Ship provides a smooth, powerful and durable reel. The sleek G-Free body provides a better weight balance to reduce fatigue. Every part has been designed to improve the anglers experience on the water. www.fish.shimano.com

 

Lifeguard Lanyard – Effective Sept. 1st, Kali’s Law requires boaters operating a vessel under 26’ to wear an engine kill switch lanyard. Tournament redfish anglers, Marty Simmons and Keith McBride from St. Augustine, FL designed this kill switch lanyard with safety and comfort while operating your vessel in mind. The Lifeguard Lanyard can be worn on your right or left ankle or wrist and is designed to stay clear of the steering wheel and other components. Our mission is to promote boater safety awareness by making the Lifeguard Lanyard a part of your day on the water. Available at Fishing Tackle Unlimited, Matagorda Tackle Shop, and Rockport Tackle Town. www.lifeguardlanyard.com

 

Laguna Salt Custom Rods – Laguna Salt Custom Rods is a family owned company where everyone plays a part into each rod that is built. Once the order is made, owner and rod builder, Michael Garza, will stay in direct contact with the buyer to ensure the components and colors are perfect. All blanks are American made and all other components are ordered in the USA. The buyer can choose any length they want their customized rod to be, choose the type of guides, grips, reel seats and colors they desire. Laguna Salt will even personalize any type of brand, name or company into the rod as well. The imagination is unlimited when it comes to the types and colors of wraps Mike and his family can personalize the rod with. A series of questions will be asked to ensure the right rod is being made for the type of fishing the buyer does. The rod featured to the right is a St. Croix SCV model 7’0” Medium Light/Fast Action rod with Cherry Picked cork rings, Fuji SIC guides and Fuji reel seat. The rod color and wrap were customized to the buyers’ wants. lagunasaltcustomrods@gmail.com

 

D.O.A. Lures Swimmin’ Mullet – The D.O.A. 5” Swimmin’ Mullet is a great cast and crank lure. The single upright hook allows you to get the lure down in the strike zone without snagging anything but the fish. Featured color above is 318 Chart/Silver Glitter. Made in the USA. www.doalures.com

University of Houston’s 12th Annual Cougar Saltwater Open is Huge Success

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Kimberly Maraldo with some of the sponsors of the tournament; Triump Cabling, Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine and Lonestar Integra Insurance Services.

By Kelly Groce

On Saturday, Aug. 17th anglers fished the Galveston Bay Complex for the 12th Annual Cougar Saltwater Open presented by the University of Houston’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communications Alumni. Being a graduate from the school of communications, it was an honor to become co-chair and help organize this tournament with the guidance of Kimberly Maraldo. With the funds raised from this tournament going to scholarships for the communications school, Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine was proud to be the media sponsor.

Scattered rain showers and wind didn’t hold the participating fisherman down that included men, women and kids. Individuals and teams brought several nice trout, redfish and flounder to the weigh-in at Topwater Grill in San Leon.

Attendees enjoyed complimentary beer from Galveston Island Brewing and whiskey from Nine Banded Whiskey. Calavera Cookers served up some tasty BBQ and pulled pork as everyone visited and enjoyed the shady palapa.

Huge thank you to all the sponsors that help make this event possible; Okuma Fishing, Bombshell’s, Triumph Cabeling & Underground Services, Lonestar Integra Insurance Services, Essentia Water, Houston Sign Company, Calavera Cookers, Cavern Solutions Inc., FS&MG Frontier Sales & Marketing Group and Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine.

Also, thank you to all the in-kind donors such as; Traw Metalworks, Nine Banded Whiskey, Sugar Land Skeeters, Texas Rattling Rigs, D.O.A. Lures, Elaine Ebner, Cougar Pride, Patty Godfrey, Emilee Fontenot, Cathy Coers Frank, Ralph Morales, Judy Wheeler, Alan’s Swampshack, Saltwater Soul, No Label Brewery, Laguna Madre Clothing Co., Typhoon Texas, Raising Canes, Karbach Brewery, Kendra Scott Sugar Land, Leslie McDonald Jr. and Galveston Island Brewing.

Congratulations to all the winners and everyone that participated in this fun tournament. We will see you next year. Go coogs!

COUGAR SALTWATER OPEN WINNERS:

KAYAK/WADE DIVISION

Kayak/Wade Division – 1st place trout, John Liles

TROUT
1st John Liles
2nd Mike Brown
3rd Grant Justice

REDFISH
1st Jason Blackwell
2nd Grant Justice
3rd Rayfield Conley

FLOUNDER
1st Grant Justice
2nd Vince Rinando

 

BOAT DIVISION

Boat Division – 1st place trout, Mason Dees

TROUT
1st Mason Dees
2nd Rafael Pedraza
3rd Arturo Garcia

REDFISH
1st Audra Gould
2nd Mark Gould
3rd Mason Dees

FLOUNDER
1st Arturo Garcia
2nd Tracy Smith

HEAVIEST STRINGER
John Liles – 12.34 lbs.

SHASTA’S PICK
1st Bradley Brown
2nd Rayfield Conley
3rd Leslie Bandiera

University of Houston Alumni member, J.P. Groce supporting the tournament.

Go coogs!

Boat Division – 1st place trout, Mason Dees

Anglers enjoy the shade of the palapa at Topwater Grill.

Live auction of a Leslie McDonald, Jr. wildlife painting.

Future UH Cougars!

Nice fish!

$EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures

seadollarscrew $EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures

The winning crew of $EA DOLLAR$, from left to right, Mark Yamaguchi, Mark Budzise, Brandon Rowan, Brandon Nelson, Adam Lewis, Brad Bull, Gary Hervey, Scott Pantle, Randy King, Kurt Pantle, Matt Taylor, Jack Beal, Ace Nelson and Fred Pyle.

Good karma and tuna tenacity fuel a continued tradition of wins at the Texas Billfish Classic

By Brandon Rowan

High stakes and hot fishing are the name of the game every year at the Texas Billfish Classic and 2019 was no different. I was back on board Jack Beal’s 60’ Bertram, $EA DOLLAR$, to keep the night crew’s tuna win streak going. Last year, we hauled in a 90 lb yellowfin tuna that fell just three pounds short of first place. That was tough. We had our sights set on being No. 1 this time around.

Jasen Gast and the whole TBC team put on a killer kick-off party at Freeport RiverPlace the night before fishing started. The next day, we were locked, loaded and ready to head out far into the wild blue of the Gulf. We had a game plan and wasted no time putting it into action.

There were old and new faces on board for this year’s tourney. Introductions and catching up were in order as we roared out to pelagic possibilities. Plenty of laughs and colorful conversation (you guys know who you are) kept us entertained as we neared our first stop.

juvenile mahi mahi $EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures

You never know what you will find out there. Adam Lewis holds up our “trophy” mahi.

TUNA MACHINE

As the sun set on our fishing destination, the night crew geared up and went to work. We had Capt. Mark Yamaguchi at the wheel, Matt Taylor, Kurt Pantle, his cousin Scott, and myself down in the cockpit. Several of the guys on the day crew helped out early in the night and first mate Adam Lewis made many important gaff shots.

It didn’t take long for us to put a nice yellowfin on the deck and crack open the celebration brews. $EA DOLLAR$’ night crew is a well-oiled machine of jig, pop, chum, drift, catch, gaff, rinse and repeat.

The night stayed lively as schools of fish periodically found their way into our chum line and lights. Multiple hook ups on yellowfin and big bruiser 20-30 lb blackfin tuna kept us going until sunrise.

I was absolutely stoked for Kurt’s cousin, Scott, when he landed his first yellowfin tuna, on topwater no less!

“I saw tuna busting on top, luckily I had the popper rod right next to me. I quickly cast it out and after the second pop it was on!” Scott Pantle said.

I’m real happy he got a warm welcome to Texas

 tuna fishing. Scott is from Florida, where blackfin tuna is the target species, not the bait. I was lucky enough to witness that tuna crush the OTI Wombat Popper he had tied on and oh man, it was a beautiful sight to behold.

Every one of us put a yellow on the deck that night. At sunrise, it was time to tally things up. We had 6 yellowfin in the box, including an odd fish I caught on a Williamson Benthos jig. All other fish came from drifting chunks and Scott’s one on the popper. The flying fish piercing parlor was open for business but the tuna were indifferent to our winged offerings.

After a hot shower and a good meal, I hit the bunk with explicit instructions for the trolling guys to come smack me awake if they got into a good fish. The chance to photograph a big blue marlin jumping for the sky takes priority over sleep. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

MEET JJ: The legend himself, JJ. We rescued this Pelican from the middle of the Gulf during the tournament. We were ready to turn him over to Parks & Wildlife but he jumped ship when we reached land.

FREE BIRD FRIDAY

After a good day’s rest, I was back up with camera in hand, waiting for the afternoon billfish bite. The marlin never materialized, but things stayed interesting nonetheless. We spotted a brown pelican bobbing up and down near the rig as we trolled around. We were a good 170 miles out in the middle of the ocean. This bird was in trouble.

We maneuvered over and tried to lure the pelican in through the tuna door with some bait. The poor guy was so weak, he couldn’t even muster the energy to come on board. Our flying fish net became a bird net and we scooped him up and in. We made a cozy spot in the corner with an old towel and named him “Jack Jr.”

We fed JJ as much fish as he wanted and after about 10 pieces and some water, he was content. We don’t know how he got so far out, but this lucky bird nearly became shark bait. JJ rested happily in the corner and regained his strength as he oversaw our tuna operation.

This night began much the same as the last one with a hot bite early. Line peeled away from my reel on the first drift and after a surprisingly short fight I had a respectable yellowfin tuna on the deck. The wheels of our tuna machine kept turning but that was the last yellow of the trip. But again, things stayed interesting.

JJ quickly regained his vigor and, well, actually became something of a terror. He bit Fred and a few others as they walked past. Them birds have some range with that neck! JJ’s happy little corner was on top of the livewell, so depositing flying fish in the tank became a careful procedure.

They say you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, but we forgive you JJ. A sportfisher is no place for a pelican.

JJ stayed on board for the rest of the night and watched the day crew score a white marlin and wahoo at sunrise. He didn’t care at all for the way we screamed back towards land for the weigh-in. Jack Sr. had Parks and Wildlife on the phone, but once we broke the jetties, JJ spotted some of his pelican brethren and left us behind.

“Fishermen and hunters always get a bad rap but we’re all about conservation,” Jack Beal said.

Matt Taylor, Scott Pantle and Kurt Pantle at the Texas Billfish Classic weigh in.

MOMENT OF TRUTH

Good karma paid off. When it was all said and done, we had 7 yellowfin tuna on ice, although no hundred pounders. We weren’t sure what to expect since our 90 lb fish last year was only good enough for second place. We held our breath at the weigh-in as they hung up our first fish. The scales’ flashed “49” and it was high fives and shouts all around! Not only was our win confirmed, but we also took second place with a 47 lb fish.

“If your next paycheck depended on catching a big yellowfin tuna, I would recommend you call the night crew of $EA DOLLAR$!” Matt Taylor said.

$EA DOLLAR$ was presented with a check for a cool $40,500 at the TBC awards dinner later that night. As a bonus, the whole crew walked away with bags of fresh tuna and a story we won’t soon forget.

You never know what you may see when you venture out into the Gulf of Mexico. I can’t help but imagine the sideways and disbelieving glances the other pelicans throw at JJ when he tells his tale. He came away with a strange new story to tell his buddies and so did we.

Fred Pyle and Jack Beal show off the goods.

Texas Marine Industry Bill Passing is Great News for the Boating Industry and Texas Economy

prestige520 Texas Marine Industry Bill Passing is Great News for the Boating Industry and Texas Economy

HB 4032 caps the sales and uses tax on boats at $18,750 and makes Texas competitive with other Coastal states, like Florida.

By Rick Clapp

The recent passing of the Texas Marine Industry Bill has been approved as HB 4032. It was successfully filed and signed by Texas Govenor Abbott. The passing of this marine bill will most positively impact the Clear Lake Area and Bay Area Houston Marine Region. We will now have a strong opportunity to compete with the state of Florida and other coastal states for large yachts, sailboats, and high priced center console fishing boat sales.

“The state of Texas can now return to its place among the Nation’s leaders in yacht and boating sales, and employment related to the marine industry,” said John Preston, president of the Texas Marine Industry Coalition (TMIC) and owner of the Boater’s Directory.

This bill will take effect Sept. 1, 2019 and shall effectively make the Texas marine industry competitive with other coastal states with lower tax policies for boats. The bill sets a limit on the 6.25% sales and uses tax for all taxable recreational vessels at $18,750, effectively matching the $18,000 tax that Florida enacted in 2010. The bill contains an additional provision to allow boats for use outside of Texas to temporarily remain in the state to utilize Texas marine service companies for refit and repairs.

There is also a provision to establish a fee permit system for out-of-state registered vessels if returning to or visiting Texas waters for temporary periods of time and spend money in our coastal communities. The intent and effect of each measure of the bill is to eliminate the incentives other states have been providing for large boat buyers and keep business in Texas. The bottom line is that the boat sales tax cap and additional provisions of HB 4032 will provide more boats, more boating and more business for Texas.

The bill took a tremendous amount of time, money, effort and planning, as well as an intense lobbying effort in Austin. It was heavily supported by the members of the marine industry and local communities.

“We want to thank all our members and supporters who responded to our call for action. They wrote letters and called legislators, contributed money, and made many trips to Austin. Their efforts paid off,” said Jay Dee Jackson, Treasurer of TMIC and Sales Manager for Galati Yacht Sales. “Our well-organized grass roots effort was extremely effective and we achieved the goal we sought.”

There are so many people to thank that were instrumental in passing the bill, such as Greg and Glenda Allison, John Preston, Jay Dee Jackson, Senator Larry Taylor, Representative Greg Bonnen, Genie Morrison, Dennis Paul, Ed Thompson, Todd Hunter, and Senator Louis Kolkhorst and many other rank and file members of TMIC.

Finally we all want to thank TMIC and all the local marine service people that helped pass the Texas Marine Industry Bill as it will have a major economic impact for years to come. A celebratory party is set for Nov. 9 at Lakewood Yacht Club from 6-10 p.m. For more information call 281-474-5875.

For more bill information feel free to contact the Texas Legislative committee

John Preston 832-788-2860

John Bowen 832-226-2881

Randy Bright 713-816-2165

Jay Dee Jackson 941-720-5081

tmicolation@gmail.com

www.tmicoalition.org

South Texas Yacht Service

stys mark South Texas Yacht Service

South Texas Yacht Service owner Mark Grinstead has close to 40 years of experience.

South Texas Yacht Service handles any and all marine issues, power or sail

By Xander Thomas

There are plenty of boat yards along the coast, and certainly in the Clear Lake Area, home to marinas and great sailing areas, but any of them offering full service seems like a thing of the past.  South Texas Yacht Service is one of few places that still does just that.

“Most of the yards now are what we call contractor yards, where you got 10, 12, 15, different contractors working out if the yard,” said owner Mark Grinstead.

He says that the convenience of a full service yard like this one can be priceless to someone who doesn’t want the hassle of going through a different professional for any problem that comes up.  So that you do not have to act as your own general contractor by yourself, South Texas Yacht Service can do almost anything you need, all at one time, right in one place.

“You got an electrical problem, you gotta find an electrical contractor, if you got a mechanical problem, you gotta find a mechanical contractor, you got a rigging problem, you gotta find a rigger, well we do all of those things in house,” Mark said.

It’s not just that these guys can do whatever you need them to, they are good at it.

“I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years now, and most of my staff probably average about 20 years experience,” he said, “We have an experienced staff, probably the most experienced staff of any yard on the Texas coast.”

So what this means for you, is that you talk to one person about everything, you take it to one place, you get quality service, and you won’t have different people messing with someone else’s previous work – we all know how that ends up.

“We keep our employees, we don’t have a real high turn-over rate, so our work is consistent,” Mark said.

Mark says that his love of sailing and the sea started at an early age.  His family lived on a boat for a few years when he was a child, and he has been around them his whole life, so this line of work just came naturally to him.  He has earned a bachelor’s degree in marine transportation and has a Coast Guard license.

He says that there is almost nothing that they can’t do for you.  They even take on a few complete restoration cases a year, usually.

“We handle the whole deal,” he said, “I think we’re the only yard left on the Texas coast that’s a full service yard.”

South Texas Yacht Service is located at 1500 Marina Bay Dr. #3510 in Kemah. Visit them online at www.stysyacht.com