Blue marlin, wahoo and scenic Pacific views from one of the world’s hottest sportfishing destinations.
Photography by Brandon and Meagan Rowan
Photography by Brandon and Meagan Rowan
By Capt. Steve Soule
We’ve all heard this expression, maybe not so often when we talk about fishing, but it definitely applies. As we learn an area or just learn to fish, things happen throughout the course of our days on the water. When we are novices, or less experienced, most of these things seem random or happen by chance. Whether it’s catching a fish or finding a new spot, it isn’t easy to see how the pieces of the fishing puzzle fall into place. Over time, the pieces come together, and details of how and why become much more clear.
For advanced or professional level anglers, fishing isn’t left to chance. It simply cannot be if you want to find shallow redfish success and find it regularly. I’ve learned lessons over many years and watched similar scenarios play out time and time again. The perspective of a guide, especially one who isn’t actively fishing, but more teaching and directing customers to fish is a very different one. Years of pushing a small skiff around the shallows teaches you many things. You get to watch fishing moments play out from a totally different point of view. It’s like having a grand stand seat on the front row, watching the entire scene play out in front of you, successful or not.
There is a ton to be learned both visually and with the end of the push pole about contours and bay bottom variations. My early years as an avid wader taught me many lessons that simply could not be learned from a standing in a boat. Contours, tapers and bottom composition are some of the most important factors in determining fish location and feeding pathways. These things, like so many that have led to fishing success for me are often quite subtle and the type of things that go totally unnoticed by the majority of people on the bay.
I had a day several years ago fishing with a customer new to shallow water. I had met him around 5:45 am for a mid summer sight casting trip. As per my usual, the morning was spent trying to acclimate the customer to the world of shallow water fishing. Trying to teach him to see fish, even when they aren’t visible, and understand the signs. This particular day, I became much more aware of just how many signs and subtleties I look for and try to relate to customers. It was somewhere around 11 a.m. when I mentioned a small mullet jumping. This was a little more obvious than many of the things I had pointed out that morning. The customer responded that this was the first thing they were able to notice, despite me talking and pointing things out all morning. I found this rather interesting, mostly because it made me realize that the level of scrutiny I look at my surroundings, goes far beyond what most people would see.
For those new to the sport, I’m sure that it’s tough to keep up with someone like me who is constantly pointing out things of interest and trying to describe their significance. Moreover, it probably generates some concern when they can’t or simply don’t see even half of what I tell them I’m looking for. I talk about all manner of things from “mud boils” and swirls, to wakes and pushes. Not the average language for most, and among the thousands of jumping mullet, flying birds and general commotion on the water, these things aren’t easy to distinguish.
Now, when we start to take this to an even more intense level of things like seeing a two-inch white shrimp jumping 50 feet away from you, it becomes easy to understand how this can be challenging when its all so new.
In my nearly 40 years of shallow water fishing, I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with hundreds of anglers, from complete novices to those who have fished this coast much longer than I have. I’ve always made a point of trying to learn something from every situation, and there have been many days when lessons have come from people with considerably less experience. Perspectives can be so different as we progress in fishing and gain knowledge and experience.
I have a great friend and fellow angler that I have known for many years and have gotten to spend more days on the water recently. We just had a day on the water where he asked me about boat positioning. This is all important in sight fishing, especially fly fishing, and a topic that all of my friends seem to expect me to have an exact answer to. This particular day, I gave a response that had become something that I’ve come to take as fairly obvious. “Follow the contour line;” a fairly subtle depth change that runs along this particular shallow flat. Something that in my mind had become a standard practice and to me was quite visible. It took some time, zig zagging back and forth across this contour before he began to realize what I meant. Just one of the many things that has led me to greater success in finding fish.
For many years, I have made a point to take careful notice about where I see fish and as much as possible what they are doing and the direction that they are moving. When you fish shallow, you get to see so much more and the opportunities to learn are everywhere around you. If you make a practice of little things like this, over time you can start to see patterns form that will only lead to future success. Sometimes these patterns apply within the course of a day, other times they are the type that would get logged into the memory banks as seasonal.
One of my favorites has always been trying to note what depth the fish are at. Given that most of the water I fish is shallower than most people would fish, it’s much easier to take note of. You probably wouldn’t think that the moving between 7 and 10 inches deep would make much difference, but there are many days when it really does.
Birds on the bay can be some of the best indicators around. I always tell people they are way better at finding fish than we are. We fish for fun, mostly. Birds find fish, and things that fish eat, to survive. Knowing various birds that we see around the bay and understanding what their various behaviors indicate is another invaluable tool. We all know the value of seagulls in leading us to hungry packs of trout or redfish. How many of us pay attention to a snowy egret or an ibis? If you saw three roseate spoonbills walking a shoreline, would you pay them any attention? Do you ever pay attention to pelicans? Could you even identify a loon? Every one of these birds can and will lead you to fish, along with many others. But without having seen them in action and having the experience of knowing what they mean, they just become a part of the coastal scenery.
The keys to success aren’t always obvious. I’ve told people for years that you can’t always go look for the fish. Some days you have to look for the signs of the fish. The movements visible on the waters surface; a shrimp flipping out of the water, being able to distinguish a different type of baitfish, or recognizing the difference in the way mullet jump. Being “tuned in” to your surroundings and constantly making the effort to learn and understand the “why” can only make you a better angler and one who finds success more consistently over time.
By Capt. David C. Dillman
galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012
We all can remember sitting down and chatting with our parents and grandparents as a youth. My conversations with them would usually be about memories of past times. The conversation always ended with them saying “Life is short; the older you get, the faster times goes by.”
Now, as I near the ripe age of 58, I understand what they meant. It only seemed like yesterday that the summer of 2018 began, and now the end is near. Fall is knocking on the door. Galveston Bay is about to go into a transition period.
September still might feel like summer during the day but slight changes in the air temperature will occur at night. The evening and early morning air will be slightly cooler and drier compared to the previous two months. This subtle change will begin to slightly lower the water temperature in the bay. This will spark a movement of shrimp and baitfish from out of the back marshes and into the main bay. Speckled trout will transition themselves, no longer seeking the depth of deep water. The fish may remain around deep water structure but will be feeding higher up in the water column. Live shrimp fished under a popping cork 4-6 feet deep will be lethal on these trout, while the “croaker bite’ will slow down.
Come October, we will see the “transition” in full swing. Passing cool fronts will lower the water levels and temperature even more, triggering a bigger movement of shrimp and baitfish from the back ends of Galveston Bay. Speckled trout will move to these areas to forage on what is exiting the marsh. Flocks of seagulls will pinpoint the location of these fish when they are feeding. Don’t rule out drifting the reefs and structure with live shrimp under corks, keying on presences of bait and slicks in the area.
Remember not all trout make this movement. Depending on the weather and cool fronts, plenty of fish will still be caught in the areas you were fishing in August. Eagle Point Fishing Camp will have a great supply of live shrimp. Those anglers in the Kemah, Seabrook and Clear Lake area can call 281-339-1131 to check on their bait supply.
It has been a long hot summer but fishing remained good. I am looking forward to fishing these months and enjoying the cooler weather. The fish seem to bite through out the day, on any given tide. Take time away from your busy schedule and get on the water!
By Capt. Joe Kent
Autumn, or Fall Fishing, as we more frequently call it, is one of the best times of the year to fish the Galveston Bay Complex, especially for flounder.
In recent years, we have discussed the changing scene of fall fishing, noting how the timing has been altered. We likely all agree that we have seen a delay before the action gets underway; however, we have not discussed how flounder fishing has changed as a result.
Hopefully some pointers will help increase your harvests of this popular fall flatfish.
Fifty years ago, the first cold front of the season usually arrived in mid-September. Following it, fish would start changing their patterns, as an awareness took place that winter was not far behind.
By October, the water temperature in the bays had dropped and that, combined with the shorter periods of sunlight, gave way to the action. Flounder were noticeably more active and were beginning to make their way toward the passes and outlets into the Gulf of Mexico.
At some point between Thanksgiving and mid-December the sows are on their way and that is time for trophy flounder catches.
Today, much has changed due to the delay in the arrival of cooler temperatures. During the era we have been discussing, the water temperatures were below 70 degrees by mid-October and the first freeze of the year, albeit a light one, usually took place by late October.
The fall flounder run was well underway in October and old-timers looked at the peak of the annual run as taking place between the Full Moons of October and November. Now that same group looks to the same lunar phase between November and December.
A good example of how this delay has been recognized was when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department imposed special flounder regulations during November, as that was the month when the annual migration reached its peak and started winding down.
Not long ago the TPWD extended the November bag limit of two fish per person to mid-December. When the regulation was enacted all signs pointed to November as the time for the peak and the winding down. Now, it is well into December before the migration shows signs of running its course.
Today, the flounder run has its peaks and valleys; however, one thing that anglers are noticing is that many of the flatfish do not make the migration and remain in the bays.
The reason for this is that due to the warmer than normal conditions, bait still hangs around and with it a certain number of flounder.
During the run, there will be a few major cold fronts that empty the marshes and back bays. When this occurs, flounder will head to deeper waters and many take the signal to move on to the Gulf.
In recent years, the after effects of the fronts do not last long and many of the fish, including bait, will head back to the marshes and back bays. Savvy anglers have observed this and take advantage of the situation.
By mid-December, the majority of flounder is on its way to the Gulf or has arrived there. Still a few stragglers will remain.
Prior to 2010 I had never caught a flounder during January or February. In January that year a friend and I were drifting for trout in West Bay tossing soft plastics when I landed a 16-inch flounder. What a surprise it was.
Today, successful anglers plan their trips and hit the water just before a “Blue Norther” hits or several days afterwards. Toward the end of the run, the big sows finally start their journey and that is usually after a series of major cold fronts empties the marshes and drops the water temperatures into the upper 40s.
It usually takes several of these “Blue Northers” to encourage the majority of the flounder to head to the Gulf.
At some point between Thanksgiving and mid-December the sows are on their way and that is time for trophy flounder catches.
While live shrimp, mud minnows and fingerling mullet are three of the top natural baits for flounder when the big girls are moving, live mullet up to six inches in length is the resounding preference.
By Brandon Rowan
It was Wednesday night and the Texas Billfish Classic’s Kick Off Party was in full swing. It was good times, great food, cold drinks and plenty of early entry giveaways from Costa Del Mar, YETI and more. Tournament director Jasen Gast and company put on one hell of an event.
As the party was winding down, for some of us, my wife Meagan and I said our goodbyes. We headed to the truck and I spotted an old friend I’ve fished with many times over the years.
“YAMAGUCHI!” I yelled.
Capt. Mark Yamaguchi and I shook hands and instead of a hello/goodbye I got an invitation.
“Hey man, we need you. We’re short and need someone who can fish tuna.”
For someone who is, uh, not much of a morning person, tuna fishing until sunrise is one of my favorites. After a thumbs up from my better half, it was game on and I rushed home to prep my gear.
The next morning I met the crew and we headed out from Freeport. Jack Beal, owner of $EA DOLLAR$, runs a tight ship with a solid crew. First mate Adam was the youngest of us but already boasts years of experience in multiple fisheries. I also met trolling experts Fred, who has fished with Jack for over 25 years, and Gary who has over 30 years experience in various countries. On night crew with Mark and I, was Matt and Kurt who brought in first place tuna during last year’s tournament.
The first night of fishing started out promising. We had cooperative seas, bait in our lights, a few fish early on poppers and easy jigging for blackfin. But our optimism faded as the hours dragged on and the sun began to rise. We busted our asses all night with no yellowfin tuna to show for it.
On Friday, conditions grew worse. The seas tumbled higher and rain pelted the boat. No matter; the sun set again and the night crew went back to work. But our luck started to change, as the air grew thick with flying fish. We netted well over a dozen flyers and sent them back out wearing circle hook jewelry. But drift after drift, we came up empty. Around 2 a.m., Mark made the call.
“Alright bring them in and lets make another drift.”
Those were the magic words. Kurt’s reel started screaming and it was fish on! The line continued to quickly peel away as Matt and I strapped him into the harness.
We knew this was a good fish but we didn’t realize how tough this one would be. A battle of wills began. Kurt gained yards and yards of line only to have the fish to strip it all away in an instant. This tug of war went on at least a dozen times before we finally saw color. Twenty minutes into the fight we were greeted with a tail, instead of the big head and open beak of a yellowfin tuna.
“She’s tail wrapped!” Adam said, gaff in hand.
The tuna must have heard him and sped back down to the deep, taking advantage by kicking that big tail, as we were unable to turn her head.
Thanks to the teamwork of the whole crew, Kurt’s unwillingness to give up and some attentive driving from Mark, we finally got the fish back to the boat. This time the line came free of her tail and the familiar circling of a doomed tuna began. We were ready.
Adam was quick with the gaff and close to 100 pounds of fresh sashimi hit the deck. It took 45 minutes of grit and hard work but she was finally in the boat. It was high fives all around!
The circle hook was stuck delicately in the corner of the mouth and came free too easily for comfort. We quickly put the tuna on ice and went back to work. Again, we drifted, jigged and popped until sunrise but that was it; one and done. Aside from a few badass blackfin, we only caught one yellowfin tuna, but it was the quality fish we were looking for.
On Saturday, $EA DOLLAR$ roared back into Freeport with a big tuna and a wahoo for the scales. I snapped a couple shots of Draggin’ Up weighing their big blue marlin from the water and then it was our turn. The tail rope was secured, the tuna was hoisted up and we held our breath waiting for the numbers.
“90 pounds on the dot!”
We had one fat tuna but it was just shy of the first place weight of 93 lbs. We took our pictures, got back on the boat, cleaned up, and made ourselves halfway presentable for the awards dinner where we were presented 2nd place tuna trophy.
It was another killer event with good food and plenty of drinks for famished, thirsty crews. Draggin’ Up came in first with their big blue marlin and were named tournament champions. The first ever Billfish Classic Cup was awarded to Bimini Babe. The night ended with TBC’s Jasen Gast and the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor presenting a donated all-terrain wheelchair to veteran Jacob De La Garza, who lost his leg in Afghanistan.
Another one was in the books with many good fish weighed and several billfish released. Jack Beal’s $EA DOLLAR$ continued a tradition of bringing big tuna to the scales. I would look for it to happen again next year.
By Xander Thomas
Doctors are now writing some patients prescriptions to eat at Olympia Grill.
Yes, according to Larry and Tikie Kriticos, they have seen this happen. “We’ve actually had doctors take a prescription pad and write ‘you need to eat at Olympia,’” Larry said. They say that because of the restaurant’s focus on healthy cooking.
“We try to, beside make them happy, cook a healthy dish for them,” Tikie said. “Our restaurants are low salt, we only use two oils, olive oil and canola, and there’s no trans fats in our cooking.”
They have always paid attention to health when it comes to their food. They don’t use preservatives in their fish and shrimp, and they only buy wild-caught. How fresh exactly is the seafood, you ask? “When he came in the door, he was looking around,” Larry likes to tell customers about the fish.
The Kriticos brothers have been working in restaurants all of their lives, beginning when they were very young and helping out in their families’ eateries. Larry says their father and uncle have always had nice restaurants in Galveston, and that’s “what we grew up in.” But they don’t completely follow their example.
Tikie says that at very young ages, he remembers unwrapping gifts Christmas morning, eating breakfast, and his father having him get ready to go to work. So to give their employees time to be with their families, he says, since they worked so many holidays, they close Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The first Olympia Grill was opened in 2004 on the Seawall, and about five years later was followed by the location on Pier 21. Now, finally, in 2018 we are getting a location on the Mainland, but the Kriticos brothers say this hasn’t been an easy task.
Tikie says that the “official” opening of the newest location has already come and gone multiple times, but that they are now looking forward to the end of September.
The important question is… What will be the incentive to get people into that door? Tikie says the happy hour specials will do just that.
“During happy hour only, it’s not on our menu, but Greek nachos,” Tikie said enticingly “with corn chips and gyro meat and tzatziki sauce and cheeses.”
What makes the food appealing is the pair of restaurants’ multitude of awards. For two years in a row, in 2014 and 2015, Olympia won Restaurant of the Year. In 2013, it was honored for the highest quality seafood in the U.S., out of 35,000 restaurants.
If you miss happy hour, don’t worry, there are plenty of items on the regular menu the brothers feel confident will not disappoint.
“Baked stuffed shrimp with a butter wine sauce,” Tikie says is one of their top best selling items, “being Greek, our hummus is the No. 1 app.”
He also says the flaming cheese is “exciting” because it “comes to your table on fire.”
Although born on the Island, their family is straight from Greece. They speak Greek, they cook Greek, and they were more than happy to settle the age-old question. It’s pronounced Yeer-oh, but Tikie says if you’re American you can say Jy-roh.
Olympia Grill’s newest restaurant is located at 2535 I-45 South in League City. For more information, email OlympiaLC@olympiagrill.com or visit OlympiaGrill.com
By Betha Merit
On the backside of summer, we aren’t quite ready for comfort food with its payload of creams, cheeses and calories. So, what are we going to do with our haul of Texas shellfish? Make a one-pot spicy broth meal with all of it. Served with crusty bread and herbed butter, of course.
And are you still thirsty from the high heat? Let’s get creative with rum. Colorful drinks are a great, celebratory aperitif. For sure you can offer a simple rum punch of fruit juices and regular Bacardi. And for fun, try a layered drink with raspberry rum for a nod to the “red, white and blue.”
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, bay leaf, and crushed red pepper. Sauté about 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes. Stir in all the shellfish and basil, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately in bowls, with warm crusty bread and herbed butter.
Soften 1 stick of butter at room temperature. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, thyme, or tarragon. Also, add 1/4 teaspoon of dried garlic powder. Tastes better if made ahead of time for flavors to deepen.
For the minimalist! Fill glass with crushed ice. Add 2 ounces orange juice, 2 ounces pineapple juice and 2 ounces rum (plain, flavored, or spiced). Stir. Repeat as frequently as you dare.
Fill glass with ice. Pour a splash of grenadine over ice. Add 1-2 shots of Bacardi Raspberry slowly over ice, then 2 shots lemonade, then 2 shots Blue Curacao. Slow pouring keeps the layers separate, which mimics your old time 3 layer popsicle. It’s tricky.
Waterford Yacht Club will be hosting its Fifth Annual Regatta Charity benefiting the Sailing Angels Foundation on Saturday Oct. 20. This event will provide an exciting opportunity for Galveston Bay sailors to enjoy an afternoon of fun and competitive sailing. All proceeds go directly to the Sailing Angels Foundation.
The regatta will be held in Galveston Bay with the post-race activities being hosted at Sundance Grill II at 6 p.m./ Waterford Harbor Marina, 800 Mariner’s Drive, Kemah, TX 77565. Cost for the regatta is $110 per sailboat entry. Dinner tickets are $25 per person. Race participants will receive one dinner ticket, one skippers shirt and a great skippers bag of goodies if registered by the Oct. 11 deadline. Additional dinner tickets can be purchased for $25 through www.waterfordyc.com. The post-regatta event will feature dinner, music, awards, and a silent auction to support Sailing Angels. The skippers meeting will be held at Sundance Grill on Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. For tickets and additional information visit www.waterfordyc.com.
The race course will consist of a 9.62 nautical mile course in Galveston Bay outside of the Kemah channel bounded by Redfish Island, the Houston Ship Channel and Red Bluff Point. There will be both a Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker Class. This event is open to area yacht clubs, sailing clubs, and sailors. The Sailing Angels Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit charitable organization, based in the Greater Houston area. Sailing angels provides boating excursions, free of charge, to children with cognitive, physical or emotional needs and / or chronic illnesses as an opportunity for educational and recreational therapy. Also invited by the foundation are wounded warriors and military veterans. These special participants are encouraged to crew on the boat to the best of their abilities. Family members are encouraged to join in the experience. The Foundation relies on volunteers who donate their time and boats. All financing for Sailing Angels is raised through charitable donations throughout the year. More information can be found at www.sailingangels.org.
The Waterford Yacht Club Board and members encourage the Galveston Bay boating community to come together, support this wonderful charity, and enjoy a great sailing event!
By Brandon Rowan
Some Galveston Bay oyster reefs still struggle one year after Hurricane Harvey. Last August, the storm produced an unprecedented 51 inches of rain that inundated the bay with fresh water. The balance of salinity was upset and this decimated local oyster populations.
“East Bay experienced the worst of Harvey’s effects with very few live oysters left.” Christine Jensen, a TPWD Fisheries Biologist said.
“It remained too fresh for too long for most oysters to survive. Hannas Reef had 51% mortality, Middle Reef had 95% mortality, and Frenchy’s Reef had 100% mortality. Almost all of the restoration areas in East Bay were killed.”
East Bay was not the only area hit hard by Harvey.
“Some reefs on the west side of the ship channel also saw significant mortality near where Dickinson Bayou drains into the bay. Dollar Reef had 90% mortality and Todds Dump had 62%.” Jensen said.
The reefs near Dickinson Bay and East Bay have still not fully recovered.
“The reefs that experienced high mortality after Harvey will take at least two years following the storm to recover.” Jensen said. “Our samples this year are showing a later spat set (baby oysters) than usual.”
However, many areas of Galveston Bay have shown improvement. The reefs in deeper water, in the center of the Bay and near the Houston Ship Channel, were able to support several months of commercial oyster fishing during the 2017-2018 season.
Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine is proud to sponsor professional soccer club, the Bay Area Hurricanes. Club owner Brendan Keyes announced the agreement with Gulf Coast Mariner starting with the January 2019 season.
The sponsorship deal was signed by both parties on Aug. 3, 2018. It’s a one-year agreement with an optional year on both sides. Keyes said: “Gulf Coast Mariner is one of leading lifestyle magazines in Texas and will give us tremendous credibility in the Bay Area, also all over Texas. For the Hurricanes FC, this is a perfect match.”
Mariner President and CEO Rick Clapp commented: “I want to support the local professional men’s soccer club and I believe Keyes has the passion and vision to make the Hurricanes FC expand the great game of soccer.” Gulf Coast Mariner’s new logo will appear on the home jerseys of the Hurricanes FC.
Hurricanes FC announced that the new sponsorship with Gulf Coast Mariner “is the biggest sponsorship deal in the club’s history.”
Brandon Rowan, creative director/Partner of Gulf Coast Mariner, said: “We are looking forward to be working with Keyes and the Hurricanes FC.”
“The new Hurricane uniforms will be unveiled in August by Kaizen Sports, our team uniform supplier for the last 5 years,” said Keyes. “We would also like to thank Kaizen Sports for continued sponsorship providing the best uniforms for our players.”
Rick Clapp is the former owner of the Houston Force, a professional APSL soccer team. Keyes was a player on Clapp’s soccer team and now both are united again.
“I am excited about promoting the game supporting a championship team as well as encouraging youth to play America’s Most Exciting Sport Soccer. They all stand at the anthem. Please come support us we will do it right I promise.”
For more information, contact Sumer Loggins at 281-474-5875 or email Sumerdene@gmail.com
By Quantum Sails
Nobody likes getting sunburned, and neither do your sails. What happens when the sun burns your sails?
If not properly protected, sunburned sails can tear while in use, stranding you and your family. Ultraviolet (UV) covers can help protect your sails and your sailing season. Even seasonal UV exposure in the Northern latitudes can cause serious problems in a short amount of time. Quantum Sails Pacific Loft Service Manager Emre Kalaycioglu has a lot of experience helping customers. Here are his tips.
If you have a furling genoa or mainsail, you probably keep it on your rig for an extended period of time. However, the elements – especially the sun – are harmful to your sails. Over the years, the sun will begin to burn out the sail’s leech, and sunburn will appear on the sail. These sunburned areas weaken over time. While sailing, stress on the sails can cause the threads to break in the weaker areas. A proper UV cover can protect your investment from the damaging UV rays of the sun.
A common misconception is that when a UV cover is installed it will last forever, but the sail cover actually needs to be maintained to last.
Something that most people overlook about their UV covers is how often they need to be re-stitched in order to last. While the UV cover can last anywhere from 4-8 seasons – depending greatly on exposure and maintenance – the thread may only last about half the lifespan of the cover, as it degrades faster than the cover itself. Bringing your sails into your local Quantum Sails loft to have the covers re-stitched will increase the lifespan of your UV covers and ultimately your sails.
Another common mistake most sailors make is keeping their sails hoisted on the boat for an extended period of time. It’s important to drop your sails and, whenever possible, keep them in a cool, dry place between sailing trips. To prevent the UV cover from deteriorating, wash your sails with fresh, clean water on a regular basis, then let them dry completely before refurling (washing and drying is very important for your sails, especially after a rainy season).
When leaving the boat, take extra caution to make sure your sails are set and won’t come loose with any strong winds. An extra sail tie could help prevent your sails from flogging, which will protect your sails and UV cover from extra wear and tear.
UV covers degrade with UV exposure and use. While a UV cover in New England may last anywhere from 6-8 seasons, that same cover in the Caribbean may only last 3-4 seasons.
It’s important to check over your sails at the beginning and end of every season. See if there are any chafed or damaged areas on your sail and UV cover. Be sure to check the side of the sail opposite the UV cover. If you see any color change on that side, it’s time to replace the UV cover as soon as possible, as the discoloration means the current UV cover has expired and is no longer protecting your sail against the sun. Delaying that replacement can cause extensive damage to the sail.
At Quantum Sails, we recommend Sunbrella UV Cover fabric. Our sewing machine thread we generally use is 138 Dabond thread for sewing UV covers – it’s thicker than what our competitors use, and thus lasts a little bit longer. We can also use UV stable thread, such as Tenara or SolarFix thread, but it’s considerably more expensive, so may not always be the best option.
For more great sailing tips and tricks or to learn about Quantum Sails, visit www.QuantumSails.com.
The Texas Billfish Classic saw continued growth in participation and a substantial increase in prize money during its third year. The TBC fleet released eight blue marlin, one white marlin, six sailfish and weighed one big blue marlin. The TBC is one of the fastest growing billfish tournaments in Texas and the only event that allows participants to leave at noon on Thursday and begin fishing right away on the same day.
Draggin’ Up, a 74’ Viking from Houston, was the only boat to weigh a blue marlin on Saturday, Aug. 4 to claim top honors in the Blue Marlin Division. Angler Sam Rasberry’s 119.5 inch blue marlin topped the scales at 514 pounds.
“We were having a slow first day with no bites, so we decided to make a move for second day. We got the bite shortly after 9 a.m.,” said Draggin’ Up Captain Kevin Deerman. “We definitely knew the fish was a keeper after second set of jumps and got the gaffs ready. Great tournament and worked out for us betting heavy in the Blue Marlin kill pots!”
In the Billfish Release Division, Bimini Babe a 74’ Viking, took home top honors with three blue marlin releases and one sailfish, while Tico Time, a 65’ Hatteras, released one blue marlin and two sailfish to finish in second place. Over-Ride, a 64’ Titan, finished in third place releasing one blue marlin.
The Bimini Babe Team was also crowned Champions of the Billfish Classic Cup. This new event was developed to reward competitive teams fishing in both the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and the Texas Billfish Classic. Owner Babe Appling, Captain Robert Jones and team left with an extra $10,000 and custom art to commemorate the big win!
The Tuna category was won by Clark Miller from Smoker II with a 93-pound Yellowfin. No stranger to the podium, Kurt Pantle on $EA DOLLAR$ came in second at 90 pounds, followed by Lee Bull on the REHAB at 50 pounds. A nice summer wahoo raised the bar pretty high as Jasen Gast and the REHAB crew pulled up his 51-pound fish, barely topping the second place fish brought in by Tiger Neal on the Smoker II. Brian Wood of Draggin’ Up, came in third at 29 pounds. The Dolphin category was taken with the only qualifying fish at 23 pounds by Chris Gavlick aboard the REHAB.
The Top Lady Angler was Emma Griffith on Over-Ride and the Top Junior Angler Award was presented to Ethan Middleton on the Change Order.
1st- 514.0 lbs. Draggin’ Up – Angler Sam Rasberry
Catch and Release
1st – 2,000 pts – Bimini Babe – Captain Robert Jones
2nd – 1,000 pts – Tico Time – Captain Mike Hester
3rd – 600 pts – Over-Ride – Captain Jacob Dawson
1st – 93 lbs – Smoker II – Clark Miller
2nd – 90 lbs – $ea Dollar$ – Kurt Pantle
3rd – 50 lbs – REHAB – Lee Bull
1st – 51 lbs – REHAB – Jasen Gast
2nd – 47 lbs – Smoker II – Tiger Neal
3rd – 29 lbs – Draggin’ Up – Brian Wood
1st – 23 lbs – REHAB – Chris Gavlick
Top Lady Angler
Emma Griffith on the Over-Ride
Top Junior Angler
Ethan Middleton on the Change Order
By Brandon Rowan
The Texas Billfish Classic celebrates its third year of bringing highly competitive billfishing back to Freeport. Over the past three years, the tourney has grown steadily and produces one of the most popular and enjoyable tournament formats on the Texas Gulf Coast.
The original tournament was formed in the 1980s by many of the bluewater pioneers who put Freeport on the map as a Blue Marlin hotspot in the 80s and 90s. During this time the Billfish Classic was a premier event with a rich history of record catches and great times.
In 2015, Tournament Director Jasen Gast resurrected the Texas Billfish Classic and added much more.
“One of the biggest success stories of the TBC is not the fishing, but what we are able to do on land,” Gast said. “Since 2015, the TBC has donated more than $25,000 to local and regional non-profit organizations.”
The tournament works closely with three charities – the Freedom Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and the Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run.
Jasen Gast has owned REHAB, a tournament winning 45’ Davis sportfisher, for five years now and has a history and passion for taking disabled children, veterans and others out on fishing trips. The opportunity to further help the needy came to Gast after meeting the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor while fishing in Costa Rica.
“I met Jasen during the Triple Crown in Los Sueños, Costa Rica. He wanted to bring a more patriotic aspect to his tournament,” Ailor said.
Since that meeting, the Texas Billfish Classic has already donated thousands to the charity and much more in the way of real life experiences and trips for our nation’s heroes.
“We are not a one and done charity,” said Pepper Ailor, who has worked with the Freedom Alliance over the past 13 years. “We stay in the lives of these heroes and bless the troops with genuine relationships.”
Each year the TBC invites a group of veterans down to Freeport to be involved in the week’s events and also embark on an offshore trip. With no cell phones or distractions, deeper connections are made during the inevitable lulls of a fishing trip and the shared exhilaration during the high excitement moments.
Last year’s group of invited veterans enjoyed a great inshore fishing trip. Marine Sgt. Cory, Army Sgt. Bill, Cpl. Jeramie and Master Chief Kevin spent a day on Galveston Bay catching redfish, flounder and trout.
“He has so much fun on those trips! Jeramie’s wife Lindsey said. “He comes back with new friends and so many stories! Thank you for inviting him! He is keeping in contact with several people through text. He just had the best time!”
Great things continue to be born of the relationship between the Freedom Alliance and TBC. Dudley Wood, a tournament participant and owner of the 54’ Bertram Smoker II, even donated a hunting trip to a group of five veterans he met during the tournament last year.
Gulf Coast Mariner encourages our readers to donate and volunteer for the Freedom Alliance and other worthy veterans charities but Pepper Ailor wants to see something greater happen.
“Form a genuine relationship with a veteran.” Ailor said. “There is too big a gap between the lives of our defenders and the public sector. Our veterans need to do a better job opening up and civilians need to listen better.
The TBC continues to be one of the fastest growing competitive billfish events in Texas. The high number of billfish catches in August along the Texas shelf also adds to a spirited weigh-in and awards banquet on Saturday night. Fishing the TBC is known to be hot by day and festive at night.
“He puts on the best as far as I’m concerned,” said Dudley Wood of Smoker II. “He lets us leave during daylight and that is huge. That’s why I quit some other tournaments that start you running out at night. The safety of my captain and crew is paramount.”
“It is a great tournament,” said Shawn Kurtz, owner of Hey Girl, the winning boat of the 2017 tourney. “Jasen has put together a pretty good program. It gets better and better each year.”
New for 2018 is the inclusion of the Billfish Classic Cup trophy. The winner of the BCC will be decided by the boat with the highest total release points from both the Texas Billfish Classic and Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, and in turn, take home a minimum of $10,000 cash.
This conservation minded tournament also encourages billfish release with the highest minimum in the state for harvesting Blue Marlin at 107 inches.
Don’t miss the hot fishing and festive nights this revived classic brings to Freeport. The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend the weigh-in on Friday and Saturday.
For information or to register for the Texas Billfish Classic visit them online at www.TexasBillfishClassic.com or contact TexasBillfishClassic@yahoo.com
By Capt. Joe Kent
Each summer, hundreds of visitors flock to the Gulf Coast for vacation and to enjoy some of the best saltwater fishing around. Many, however, are not experienced in saltwater fishing and others have had limited experience and have had difficulty catching fish.
Perhaps a few of the pointers discussed in this article will contribute to some successful fishing while here. While a few visitors have never been fishing, others have had experience freshwater fishing which they soon find out is very different than saltwater fishing.
For over 12 years I have been the fishing columnist for the Galveston County Daily News, writing a daily column about Galveston area fishing. During those years, vacationers have asked a lot of questions about how, when and where to fish and from them we will focus on those asked most frequently.
Among the most common questions are; where to fish, equipment needed and baits. Following those are questions about when to fish, where to fish without a boat, the best times to fish and fishing licenses.
Let’s start by addressing the equipment needed. For inshore fishing (bays and jetties), a medium action rod and reel equipped with 10 to 15 pound test line is the most popular choice.
Among the most popular riggings are popping corks with treble hooks. Popping corks with a leader ranging from say 15 to 28 inches in length using 20 to 40 pound test line work well. Treble hooks are the most popular, with sizes 6 to 10 being the most common. My preference is size 8.
Prepared popping corks are available at most tackle and bait shops and my recommendation to the newcomer is to start with one of those.
In the hot summer, when the water temperature is above 80 degrees, fish will tend to be deep thereby making a bottom rig the best choice. We call this bottom bumping and the rig is fairly simple consisting of a swivel, 15 to 24 inches of 20-30 pound leader and treble hook of the sizes mentioned earlier, or a small kahle hook.
Above the swivel, a slip sinker from 1/8 to 3/4 ounce should be used. The size will depend on the strength of the current and the idea is to use as small a weight as possible to get the bait near the bottom.
Live shrimp and croaker are the two most popular summertime baits and for the newcomer, I recommend live shrimp. The bait camps can show you how to hook the shrimp, as it is a fairly complicated process of getting the hook just under the horn of the shrimp.
For newcomers, I do not recommend artificial baits.
Where and when to fish are not quite as easy to answer, as weather conditions have a major impact on that choice. If you are fishing from a boat, there are many spots including the jetties, Causeway Bridge area, East and West Bays, Galveston Ship Channel shorelines and gas well shell pads. The key for all of those areas is having tidal movement and at least fair water clarity.
Unfortunately, the locations are limited for those anglers without boats. Fishing piers along the beachfront, Jamail Bay Park, Seawolf Park and a few private subdivision piers are about it. For those willing to wade fish, the surf can be red hot with action during the summer. The keys to success are light wind and good water clarity.
Moon phases play into the equation, as days on both sides of the full and dark moons offer some of the best tidal movement. The best wind direction is a light to moderate southeast wind while the worst winds during the summer are from the southwest and east. Wind velocity plays a big role in both of the adverse winds, as light winds from either direction are often tolerable; however, moderate to strong velocities are usually just not worth fighting.
A saltwater fishing license and stamp are needed and can be purchased at sporting goods stores, many bait shops and online at tpwd.texas.gov. Try to get your licenses ahead of time to avoid delays on the morning of your trip.
Hopefully the information above will help you have a productive fishing trip while enjoying the many attractions that the Texas Gulf Coast has to offer.
Yo-Zuri has upgraded the new Bull Pop with patented Power Body, 3X treble hooks and through wire construction to give it the durability to handle the biggest Texas tuna. The large cupped mouth creates extreme surface commotion that draws fish in from long distances.
OTI’s Wombat Chugger produces explosive topwater action to excite large tuna and trigger strikes. These poppers come fully rigged and ready to fish with Raptor XH split rings and Raptor 4X treble hooks.
Look to the Halco Max 130 when tuna won’t commit to surface lures. This versatile Australian lure can be trolled but is best cast with spinning gear and steady retrieved during your drift.
Shimano’s Orca popper features a unique “Bubble Chamber” open mouth design based on how a jet engine turns low pressure into high pressure. Water flows through the hole at the top of the lure to create a unique bubble trail and splash. Less effort is required to work compared to traditional poppers.
By Capt. David C. Dillman
galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012
Summer has finally arrived here along the Texas Upper Coast. This June, the Galveston/Houston area broke record or near record high temperatures on several days. But the trout fishing in June was really good. As the heat sets in the next two months, the trout action will only get hotter!
As the doldrums of summer set in, the water temperature rises in the bay. This rise will cause trout to seek the deep water structure Galveston Bay affords them. In July, the area known as the Exxon A-Lease should be loaded up with trout. The deep water structure of shell pads near these numerous gas wells will hold the fish to this area. Any given well in this location can be productive but some wells are better then others.
The shell pads located adjacent to the ship channel will see its share of trout too. Some of the oyster reefs are marked by PVC pipe. Some reefs must located using your depth sonar. Channel markers 50-62 are popular areas to fish in July.
In August, trout will begin their annual migration north. There will still be plenty of fish in the areas mentioned earlier. Some fish will move farther up the channel, staging on the reefs from markers 66-72 and around the tip of Atkinson Island. The wells located in the middle of Trinity Bay will also see an increase in the population of trout. These wells, just as the wells in the A-Lease, provide good structure for the fish. Trinity is a big open bay that can get rough, so plan fishing the open water there according to the wind speed and your boat’s capability.
Live natural baits work best in the heat of July/August. Live croaker and shrimp are the baits of choice this time of year. Croakers should be fished on the bottom, while shrimp can be used on the bottom or under a popping cork.
Eagle Point Fishing Camp in San Leon offers easy access to all of these areas and has a great supply of live bait during this time of year. They can be reached at 281-339-1131 for updates on conditions and bait. Enjoy the heat of the summer and its hot fishing! Remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated!!
Z Marine North America (Zodiac Nautic), a subsidiary of world-leading inflatable and Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) manufacturer Z Nautic Group (Zodiac), has announced the launch of the new Zodiac OPEN 5.5 in the Americas. The versatile, 17’7” RIB made its debut at an exclusive, day-long media event in greater Charleston, S.C., home to the facility where Zodiac RIBS are assembled in America.
An adventurer-style Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat (RIB) with sleek lines, the new OPEN 5.5 offers a perfectly ergonomic cockpit and an exceptional reinforced deep-V hull, with control and stability even in rough conditions.
“The Open 5.5 fully expresses Zodiac’s DNA. Its versatility makes it a unique concept, matched nowhere else on the market, in line with its new slogan: ‘Keep Exploring’,” said Dominique Heber-Suffrin, CEO of the Zodiac Nautic Group.
“With its highly stable hull and tube, the OPEN 5.5 offers comfort and extra-large cargo storage. Its versatility and performance make this RIB well-suited for a variety of activities, including fishing, diving, water-skiing and cruising,” said Zodiac Nautic North America President Gary Durnan. “This is a real Swiss-Army knife of a boat.’
For more information, please visit www.zodiac-nautic.com
For 120 years, Zodiac has been making every moment on the water an unforgettable adventure. With extensive production, distribution and customer service operations worldwide, Zodiac is the world’s largest and oldest manufacturer of RIBs, inflatable boats, life rafts and safety equipment. With over 1 million boats sold, Zodiac is positioned and ready to help you Keep Exploring!
By Xander Thomas
A new haven for fishermen and boaters has come to Galveston Island. Marina Bar and Grill opened just over a year ago on the Galveston yacht basin, and is an ideal spot to relax for anyone out on the water for the day or for folks looking for a bite or a beer in a calm, friendly atmosphere. Owner, Paul Murdoch, says they do see the sailors and anglers often.
“They love it here” said Paul Murdoch, “they can come in from fishing and they don’t have to leave the basin to get something to eat and have a beer”
Opened in mid-2017 by husband and wife duo, Michele and Paul Murdoch, Marina Bar and Grill is a small, outdoor place where people can look out on the water, have a few drinks and watch the yachts or listen to the birds.
The menu is comprised of mostly hearty foods, like burgers, fish n’ chips, po-boys, chili and pastas, and includes some appetizers for less hungry guests, too, but most of these are heavy snacks as well. For those up a little earlier in the day, there is a breakfast menu also made up mostly of foods meant to stick with you through a busy morning.
He did inspire them to bring in an authentic version of fish n’ chips from Scotland. Although he says it is spicier than what you will find across the pond.
Paul says that there wasn’t really a reason why they chose the yacht basin specifically; or even Galveston; except that it’s where they live. He says the location was chosen just because the property was up for lease when they were ready to open their restaurant. Of course, the beautiful view of the water didn’t hurt their decision.
“We just fell in love with it” he said, “and the chance came to open up this place, we just took the chance.”
Interestingly, Paul was not even much of a cook himself to begin with, but Michele says he turned out to be a great chef! He just thought it was an interesting idea to open a restaurant. Michele, however, came up with some of the recipes that they used for the menu, like the fried brussels sprouts and the crab and jalapeno hushpuppies.
It isn’t to say that Paul has no credit in the menu; he did inspire them to bring in an authentic version of fish n’ chips from Scotland. Although he says it is spicier than what you will find across the pond.
“The only people not turned on by it are people from the UK” he said with a laugh, “it’s too spicy for them!”
He did it this way because, as he says, Texans love their spicy foods, nothing bland for us here!
So what is it on the menu that Paul recommends?
“Everything’s really good” he said with confidence. “There isn’t anything that doesn’t sell”
But if he must give a recommendation, he says that you can’t go wrong with the fish n’ chips, or for the smaller appetites, go for the hushpuppies or gator bites.
Aside from good food, he also promises a quick meal if you don’t have the time to wait.
“Not everybody wants to come and sit and take an hour for lunch” he said, “it’s not fast food, but it’s quick food.”
Along with a great meal with a nice view, though, a major draw of this spot is the calm and quiet. Since they are not on the “tourist trap travel” as he calls it, the patrons here enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle that can be other parts of the island.
“Just try it out, I guarantee you, you’ll like it” he said, “You’ll come back.”
Marina Bar & Grill is located at 715 N. Holiday Dr., Galveston TX, 77550.
By Betha Merit
Summer is in full swing! Time for grilling and refreshing drinks by the pool. Fresh herbs abound, perhaps in your own garden. Each of these recipes employs a different savory choice for a palate awakening experience. It’s a great way to discuss the nuances of herbal flavors, and discover which are the favorites.
Many offshore fresh catch options are available, including red snapper, mahi-mahi, tuna and cobia. And of course veggies are offered everywhere, from the supermarket to the farmer’s market. Enjoy these recipes one at a time or all together, if your tastebuds dare.
Place strawberry slices and basil in bottom of glass. Add vodka and muddle well with a wooden spoon. Let sit for a few minutes. Fill glass 1/2 full of ice, then fill with club soda. Splash with more wild strawberry vodka. Stir and enjoy.
In a resealable 1 gallon plastic bag, add lemon juice, oil, garlic and thyme and mix. Add the tuna and seal bag, turning over to coat. Refrigerate up to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Remove tuna from bag, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drain and discard the bag. Grill tuna, covered, over medium-hot heat or broil 4 in from the heat for 3-4 minutes on each side for medium-rare or slightly pink center.
Preheat grill to medium high heat or an oven to 425 degree F. Divide the asparagus evenly among squares. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to desired amount. Divide butter pieces among each square. Fold the foil into sealed packets. Grill for 15 minutes, flipping once. Or bake in oven for 12-15 minutes.
Carefully open the foil packets and stir to make sure the butter and seasonings are evenly coated. Squeeze with lemon wedges if desired.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Let salad chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
By Brandon Rowan
This is a great way to rig a Down South Lure when fishing for flounder that are super tight to rocks, pilings or heavy shell. Fish as close as you want to structure with confidence and lose less tackle. Just be sure to tuck the barb of the hook back into the plastic and set the hook like you mean it.
Pull your rubber sinker stop onto your line. Add your tungsten bullet weight (1/8 oz., 1/4 oz. or 3/8 oz.) and slide both up your line, giving yourself plenty of room to tie on your hook.
Tie on a Gamakatsu 2/0 EWG worm hook with your preferred knot.
Push the hook into the head of your Down South Lure, about the length of the hook’s offset shank, then push the hook through the underside of the lure and thread up onto the shank.
Lay the hook against the plastic and visually mark where to push the hook back up through the lure. Push the hook through the belly and up through the top of the lure. Bury the tip of the hook back into the plastic. The lure should lay naturally when rigged correctly. Slide down your rubber stop and peg the weight to the lure. This keeps the entire rig compact and less likely to catch rocks or other snags.