January 26, 2019
2019 Annual Gulf Coast Boats Fishing Tournament
Babes on the Bay All Women’s Fishing Tournament
Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic
June 3-9, 2019
Texas Billfish Classic
Fishing the Lower Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures
By Kelly Groce
Back in August of 2018, I was in Port Aransas celebrating my father’s birthday for the weekend. On Sunday, I decided to drop some Gulf Coast Mariner Magazines at local businesses, one of them being Port “A” Outfitters. I see a man walking down the stairs who I know is Mark Nichols, the creator and owner of D.O.A. Lures. I’ve always been a huge fan of his lures, especially that dang shrimp. He’s walking right by my car so I have to say something.
“Excuse me, are you the D.O.A. man?”
“I sure am.” Mark responds.
We shake hands and chat about fishing in Stuart, Fla. where he resides. I hand him a copy of the magazine before we part ways. My day was made.
Fast forward a few months… it’s just another day at the office here in Seabrook. The phone rings and Christmas came early. Capt. Brian Barrera, who is a fishing guide and also works for D.O.A. Lures called to invite me to their 2018 Outdoor Writers Event in South Padre for four days. Without hesitation, I said I’ll be there.
The day of the trip comes, I’m listening to the Bite Me: Texas Saltwater Fishing podcast for the majority of the drive down (if you don’t listen to this podcast, you should) and daydreaming about drifting clear water with grass and sand pockets as far as the eye can see. I’ve been to South Padre three or four times prior, but it was always to go surf, never to fish.
I pull up to home base for the next few days, which is a beautiful house right on the pristine waters of the Lower Laguna Madre. When I walk in, I’m immediately greeted by D.O.A. Lures employee/local fishing guide/fish slayer Capt. Brian Barrera (if catching Texas snook and tarpon is on your fishing bucket list, Brian is your guy). As I’m relaxing and meeting fascinating people from all over the country and the industry, Mark pulls up by boat (of course he had been fishing the next canal over, catching redfish and trout). I see Mark and say “Remember me from the Port “A” Outfitters parking lot?”
He says, “Of course I do, welcome!”
The sun starts to set and a delicious feast of authentic pastor and beef tacos are being cooked on the deck overlooking the water by local restaurant, Mr. Taco. We are given D.O.A. Kits that contain their family of lures such as TerrorEyz, Swimmin’ Mullet, Shrimp, Jerk Bait, Shad, Paddle Tails and more. Capt. Brian informs everyone who their fishing guide would be for the next day, we talk a little longer and eventually everyone makes their way to bed.
DAY 1 OF FISHING
Cup of coffee… check. Breakfast taco… check. Camera and fishing gear… check. I walk downstairs and there waiting for us is a fleet of boats, mostly Shallow Sports, to take us fishing for the day. I had the pleasure of going out with local guide and super nice guy, Capt. Joel Ramos. My fishing partner was Tommy Thomson, regional sales manager at Shimano. The weather is perfect, a little overcast with a high of 75 degrees. We drive for about 30 minutes, then Capt. Joel Ramos stops, shuts off the motor and says we’re going to do a drift here. It is just what I imagined… as far as you can see clear water spotted with sand pockets and grass. I started throwing D.O.A. Lures 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in one of their newer colors Texas Croaker. It doesn’t take long and we all start catching trout cast after cast. Capt. Joel hooked up onto a pretty 22” trout on the 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Candy Corn. It appeared, the fish liked the contrast of that bright orange lure color. The night before, we were given some D.O.A. 3” C.A.L. Shad Tails in a new color that is not yet named. It’s a brown with gold flake top with a pearl colored bottom. I switched to this bait and caught a few decent trout on that lure as well. Tommy threw on the D.O.A. topwater, the PT-7 (featured on the cover) and had a huge trout blow-up on it, that was pretty exciting. The PT-7 is a fun topwater to work with a lot of action. Capt. Joel wanted to get us on some reds next, so we went to a real shallow spot along a shoreline. I stuck with the 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Texas Croaker, and Capt. Joel stuck with the 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Candy Corn. 22 was Cap. Joel’s number that day, because after a few minutes at the spot, he hooks up to a nice 22” redfish. We get some footage of the fish and let him go. Shortly after, I hook up on a red I’d say was about 20” on the Texas Croaker Jerkbait. The water was so clear it was pretty neat to see the lure hit the water and then a flash which was the redfish chasing after it. After a full day of fun and fishing, we head back to casa de D.O.A.
That afternoon, everyone is sitting around trading fish stories from the day. Mark points to me and says, “Want to go for a boat ride?”
“Yes sir” I say.
We board his Maverick Mirage skiff, which is one beautiful boat. We go for a cruise and enjoy the stunning South Padre Island sunset. SO… here I am sitting on Mark Nichol’s boat with an ice cold Corona overlooking the Lower Laguna Madre while listening to him talk about fishing and his life. Mark is incredibly knowledgable about fishing and has lived a life full of adventure. I learned that Mark grew up in Houston and his dad had a shrimp boat on Clear Lake. That 45 minutes on his boat is truly a moment I’ll never forget.
DAY 2 OF FISHING
I get paired with Capt. Lee Alvarez. He was born and raised in the area and knows these waters like the back of his hand. I felt like I was getting special treatment since it was just Capt. Lee and myself on his boat this day. There was a front coming in that night, so it was overcast and rain was on the horizon. I had to throw that Candy Corn Jerkbait after the success we had on it the day before. We did some drifts and caught tons of trout on it. We were drifting this one area and a school of about five beautiful upper slot redfish swam right in front of the boat. We saw the school of reds again and we started sight casting at them, but didn’t land one. Either way, very cool seeing fish like that. The rain started coming down pretty good, but the fish were still biting, so I was a happy camper. After all, a little water never hurt no one.
On the ride back to the house, I was gathering my thoughts on the past few days of fishing. Myself alone, caught probably 70+ trout and some nice redfish in just two days on nothing but D.O.A. Lures. D.O.A. stands for Deadly On Anything, and after the non-stop catching I had experienced, that slogan is without a doubt true. These lures are like candy to fish, they can’t say no. An absolute must-have for any angler’s tackle box.
That evening, it was Mark’s birthday. The crew had got him a cake that was decorated with the D.O.A. logo and lures. Some tasty burgers were being grilled on the deck while we continued to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. My face was starting to hurt after all the laughs.
The next day, it was difficult to head back home. After the few days I got to spend with Mark and the rest of the D.O.A. Lures crew, I must say his lures are amazing, but this group of people are even better. The camaraderie I experienced was bar none. Not only did I learn a lot, but I left South Padre feeling like I had a whole new family.
The stars aligned that day I met Mark in that parking lot in Port Aransas. I never thought I would run into him, let alone be invited to South Padre to fish with him for several days. Mark’s passion for fishing and his energy is contagious. He has lit a fire for me to continue pursing my passion of fishing, writing, and photography. And for that I will forever be grateful to Mark.
Huge thanks to Mark Nichols and the entire D.O.A. Lures crew for an incredible trip. I’ll be back to catch my Texas snook. Until next time amigos!
New Year, New Beginnings
By Capt. David C. Dillman
galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012
As we usher in 2019, I always reflect on the past year. I think of the trials and tribulations that I faced in 2018, but it was also a very rewarding year. I now set my sights forward and fully embrace the challenges and rewards of this coming year.
My January starts at the 2019 Houston Boat, Sport and Travel Show. This event takes place at the NRG Center, Jan. 4-13. If you are in the market for a new boat or RV, you should attend this event. For those looking to re-power, come check out the latest technology in outboards. I will be at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth, numbers 612-613 throughout the show. Stop by, and I will be there to answer all questions about boating, boat storage, and of course fishing! The rest of my January will be filled with a much needed vacation to the blue waters of the Caribbean.
The beginning of the year, is also the time to get your boat seaworthy for this coming year. If your boat needs to go to a shop for service, this is the time. Do an inventory of what is stored in your boat. It is amazing how much “stuff” one can accumulate in your boat‘s storage hatches. Discard all non-serviceable items and check your PFDs for any defects.
On the fishing scene, look for continued good action on speckled trout along with scattered redfish. The usual winter locations, Clear Lake, Kemah/Seabrook flats, and the northern areas of Galveston Bay should hold fish. West Galveston Bay is also well known for its winter fishing.
Speaking of trout, one should keep abreast of the TPWD proposal of decreasing the trout daily bag limit. They should release their recommendation sometime in January. Hopefully, the Houston/Galveston area can make it through this winter without a major freeze event. If so, this spring we should see some really great fishing according to the fall gill net surveys from the TPWD.
I hope everyone had a great holiday season this past year. I look forward to seeing you at The Houston Boat Show.
Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations
Spend your winter at one of the five hottest fishing grounds this side of the globe.
The Tropic Star Lodge in Piñas Bay has been producing world-class inshore and offshore fishing since 1963. Nestled 150 miles southeast of Panama City, this remote destination offers access to the abundant fishing grounds of the Pacific and splendor of the pristine Darien Jungle.
Expect hot action on some of the most sought-after pelagic fish during January and February. Black and blue marlin fishing will be excellent, as are the prospects for hooking into large pacific sailfish, big cow yellowfin tuna and bull dorado.
Despite its far-removed location, the Tropic Star Lodge has accommodations and amenities to please the most persnickety of travelers.
Visit TropicStar.com for more information.
The Los Sueños Resort and Marina is a 1,100-acre master planned destination resort, offering all the services and amenities of a small city. Calm waters and short distances to one of the healthiest billfisheries in the world make it a highly popular sportfishing destination. The main attraction during winter is unrivaled action on big pacific sailfish, but yellowfin tuna and dorado make appearances as well. Visit lossuenos.com for info on charters and lodging.
Sailfish Oasis in Guatemala, “The Sailfish Capital of the World,” is home to one of the largest breeding grounds for Pacific sailfish. Guatemala holds both the conventional and fly fishing records for most sailfish released in one day. The Sailfish Oasis lodge is situated in a secure, tree-lined, residential development, on the edge of a canal that overlooks the mangroves. Their fleet of sportfishing yachts can accommodate the needs of every angler. Visit SailFishOasis.com for more information.
Cabo San Lucas is host to a strong striped marlin bite during the winter months. The action on these acrobatic fighters continues through spring and into early summer. This popular Baja destination has no shortage of accommodations and fishing charters. We recommend RedRum Sportfishing (redrumcabo.com) and Chupacabra Sportfishing (chupacabrasportfishing.com)
South Florida’s peak Atlantic sailfish season begins in January and sets off a flurry of fishing activity in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Keys and as far north as Fort Pierce. The prospect of a multi-fish day is good, as large schools of these spirited fish move up and down the coast all winter long. Trolled lures are effective but live bait fished under a kite is the most popular method.
Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick
Interview by Kelly Groce
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start painting?
Originally I am from Kazakhstan but I have lived all over Europe and Asia (11 countries to be exact) before I was even 17! Shortly after I came along, my family endured many hardships from the changing times, causing us to constantly move.
Like many young kids, I was fond of drawing, painting and anything artistic, but I tended to dedicate all of my time to this interest over anything else. Certainly it was a good focus, as no matter where we lived or what the language, I had to start learning that particular year(s), I had consistency and stability in my artwork. I think was more beneficial to me than anything.
When I was around 11 years old, I was starting to paint and draw animals and floral art at a very rapid rate. My mother would place the finished works in shops wherever we were living at the time. By the time I was 15, I was being contacted for commissioned pieces of a very wide array of subjects, including freshwater fish, birds, and a lot of floral works.
How did you get into painting wildlife?
I have from the very beginning painted a host of subjects without boundary, but I would say that the time period I started focusing mostly on marine and wildlife was 2-3 years ago. My first saltwater piece was around that time as well.
Aside from art, what else are you passionate about?
Well to be completely honest, I don’t really have much time to do much else! I paint 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and when I am caught up I try to go fishing or enjoy my time on the water. I take what I do incredibly seriously and try to give every ounce of energy I have to becoming better. After all, I have a lot of folks who have invested in me by owning originals. I would be doing them a disservice if I did not increase their piece’s value over time.
I do love to fish but unless it’s a subject I am completely new to, it really does not make the artworks any better to continually see the same species—at least for me it doesn’t, but what does improve the paintings is pure repetition. This is the only requirement needed to have the knowledge or capability to paint or draw anything with success.
What is your favorite fish to catch?
Redfish and Mahi.
Favorite location to fish or travel?
When time allows, I like to take either my paddle boat or kayak to a tiny little area in Charlotte Harbor that always is harboring at least a few hungry reds! Within the last two years my vacationing has been sort of limited, but I have really enjoyed the various beaches I’ve visited in Texas and of course the boardwalk in San Antonio was a fun time.
Favorite fishing moment?
The very first redfish I caught had a little over 13 spots and I think that’s when I fell in love with fishing and wanted to dedicate that as my predominate focus.
How can our readers purchase and enjoy your art?
I have hundreds of pieces that I do reproductions of in small numbers, apparel and a host of other things available. Easiest way to contact me is either to go to Facebook and search me out: Anastasia Musick. Also feel free to contact me on my business page: Musick Art Corporation. You can also find my website at www.AnastasiaMusick.com
Are there any foundations or organizations you are involved with that you would like to tell our readers about?
I work with CCA Texas, Florida and several kidney research foundations. In 2019 I was selected to be the Texas CCA STAR Platinum Print Artist and would like to continue working with them and others.
Winter Redfish Patterns
By Capt. Steve Soule
It’s cold, damp and dreary: the kind of weather that makes it hard to find motivation to get up and going. We are deep into daylight savings time, with short days and not nearly enough sunlight to fuel my tank, but somehow there is still some motivation to be found for winter fishing.
The bright sunny days are often few and far between. Cloudy skies and damp conditions seems to dominate our weather patterns between December and February. Where is the “upside” to this? Well, fortunately for all of us fish heads, they still have to eat.
By no means does this cover the entire weather pattern spectrum of winter, but for the shallow water enthusiast, we can start with two basic condition sets that we must learn to contend with: sunny skies or cloudy skies. With these two basic conditions, there are other trends that tend to coincide with them.
Bright & Blue
Sunny skies are typically the trend after the passage of a front, and with the bright skies an initial strong wind flow and tide movement. Sunny skies are great for the sight fisher, allowing the angler to see and target the fish. Aided by the clearer waters of winter, fish can be much more easily spotted in the shallows with bright overhead skies. This is not always an indicator of our ability to catch them, but the ability to see them is the first step when sight casting.
A Stealthy Approach
Light wind, sunny skies and clear water will require a very stealthy approach from the angler as these conditions make fish much more vulnerable and aware of potential threats to their safety. Stop well short of the areas you intend to fish or believe are holding fish and work slowly and methodically until you locate them. Loud noises, boat wakes and other pressure waves that we create can alert fish to our presence. Keep in mind that when you get a bite its definitely time to slow down and work the area more thoroughly. One of the greatest parts of winter fishing is that when you find one fish, you have likely found an area holding many fish.
Dark & Stormy
So, if sunny skies and light wind make for great sight fishing, but likely only happen once every 3-5 days, what do you do when the clouds and cooler temperatures roll back in? You must learn where the fish move as the temperatures and tides drop. It may require a fair amount of knowledge of the area you’re fishing, but falling temperatures and falling tides actually generate a fairly predictable pattern from fish.
It is important to understand about how changing temperatures effect fish movement. As a general rule, during the cooler months, if the air is warming and the water is cold, fish will move shallow as soon as the air temperature exceeds the water temperature. Much the same, when the air temperatures drop below the water temperature during cooling periods, fish will tend to move towards deeper water. Knowing this basic principle will help guide you during the winter months.
Cloudy skies have settled in, seeing the fish is virtually out of the question. Temperatures are cooler and the tides are low; where have the fish moved? Here is when you need to understand the structures in the area. Contour depth changes, reefs, and bay floor make up all play a big role in where fish will move during these conditions.
Typically, open water adjacent to the shallow marsh is the first depth contour change that will allow slight insulation from cooling water. This is also where you are likely to find some added structure like oyster reefs. Look for areas with dense dark mud as it will not only hold many small food sources, but will maintain a slight advantage in warmth as well.
Sunny vs Cloudy Days
There will be other notable differences in these two primary patterns. Periods of sunny skies, light wind and clear water will dictate the use of smaller lures and flies, stealthy approaches and much more subtle presentations to catch fish.
When the skies are cloudy and wind has returned, and especially when temperatures are falling, it often pays off greatly to increase the size of your presentation. This is when mullet imitations can bring huge catches, not just in numbers, but often in the size of the fish. Topwater “dog walking” lures and slow sinking, suspending finesse lures and twitch baits can provide rod jerking strikes that you won’t soon forget.
For winter sight fishing my go-to lures would be a dark colored small swim or paddle tail soft plastic rigged on 1/16th to 1/4 ounce screw lock jig heads or a hand-tied Buggs lure. When the clouds roll in, it’s tough to find me not fishing a top water like a Super Spook or Spook Jr., or a She Dog or She Pup. I like natural colors like white, bone and chrome for clear water. Use darker colors for dirtier water or cloudy conditions.
When it’s time to drop below the surface, the Catch 2000 or Corky series are hard to beat. Pink, Texas chicken and chartreuse/gold are my go-to colors. Some interesting fun can also be found with shallow running twitch or crank baits. Again, all I can say is hang on! The strikes can take your breath away.
Putting It All Together
There is so much more to winter fishing than I can possibly cover here, but understanding the basic temperature change and fish movement will get you started. Digging deeper, you will start to notice that barometric pressure also plays a huge role, and understanding tides and structures are like the interlocking pieces of the puzzle.
Don’t let winter fishing intimidate you! It’s like any other time of year and just requires a different knowledge base to create success. As an added bonus, fishing during the clear water and low tide periods during winter may also provide you with the best education you will get all year.
Take this opportunity to learn more about bay floor structures, such as shallow areas, reefs, guts and deeper channel flows. This will help your overall understanding of where and how fish move around the bays.
What Happened to the 2018 Flounder Run?
By Capt. Joe Kent
Anglers all around the Galveston Bay Complex are scratching their heads in disbelief of the fact that we did not appear to have a genuine flounder run during November. Almost all of the experienced flounder fishermen are asking why the flat fish never made a concentrated run like they are supposed to during late autumn.
Was it a sign that the flounder stocks are dwindling or was it something else that interfered with the 2018 fall flounder run?
To begin with, let’s take a look at what traditionally takes place with flounder and their annual run to the Gulf of Mexico to spawn, especially in years past.
At some point after mid-September, flounder sense winter is not far away and start thinking about their move to the Gulf. Two key factors contribute to this insight, those being shorter periods of sunlight or shorter days and the water temperatures cooling from the summertime readings.
When this first occurs Galveston Bay flounder begin to move, first out of the shallower back bays and lakes and then to the larger bays, especially East and West Bays. From there they will head to the pathways to the Gulf, which include the Galveston Ship Channel, Bolivar Roads, Cold Pass, Rollover Pass and San Luis Pass.
In most years, November is when the migration reaches its peak, with flounder lining the shorelines of Pelican Island, all along upper Bolivar Peninsula and around all of the passes into the Gulf.
At that time it was “easy pickins” on flounder, as they were so concentrated that anglers could load large ice chests with the flat fish.
Several years ago, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department set a special bag limit of two flounder per person per day for November and later extended it to mid-December. Also flounder gigging was prohibited during November.
For at least three years now the annual run has fallen short of its expectations and this year it was hardly noticed, as few flounder were caught from the traditional hot spots.
The first thought is that the stocks have declined to the point that they are in trouble. All indications are that this is not the problem. All during the year, flounder were being taken in typical numbers and experienced flounder anglers reported the back bays and marshes being full of the flatfish.
What about our warmer than usual winters? That has to be a big factor and from here I would like to pass on some comments from a few of the flounder pros.
One angler sent a note to the Reel Report in the Galveston County Daily News saying:
“Here is my reason for the poor flounder run. Try to forget what you think you know about flounder running in the fall. The flounder are not leaving the bays, they are entering the bays. They have to wait till the water temperature in the bay drops down enough to run off the scavenger fish that would eat all the eggs they are leaving in their spawn.”
Another reader sent in this note:
“Has anyone wondered if the lack of flounder can be tied to the dredging of the Galveston Ship Channel! The hopper dredge has been working 24/7 for several weeks now and rumors are they are scooping up barrels of flounder. Something seems off when dredging to deepen the channel is planned when a bottom fish has its migration.”
This note came from a biologist at a popular aquarium:
“Most everyone is complaining about the poor flounder run this year. All sorts of reasons are cited; however, one thing that seems to be missed is that all flounder do not leave the bays during winter. One of the driving factors is food supply. If the small fish and crustaceans are around, flounder are slow to leave and will tend to hang around as long as food is plentiful.”
Another reader said: “We may be missing the flounder run, as the warmer weather could be causing a delay in the migration to sometime in mid to late December. If so, this would be at a time when not much fishing is taking place and possibly a major run would go unnoticed.”
Whatever your theory, the warmer winters over the past few years have to be a major factor. Hopefully the stocks of flounder will continue to be in good shape during 2019 and beyond.
Canada Takes Gold in Inaugural PanAmerican Roosterfish Tournament
With all the excitement of a World Cup soccer match, 37 anglers from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica descended on the Golfo Dulce for the first PanAmerican Roosterfish Tournament. The event was hosted by the PanAmerican Delegation, USA Angling, and FECOP, the Costa Rican representative in the PanAmerican Delegation. The inaugural event was held at Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica.
The format was Olympic style and the delegation’s purpose is to organize tournaments throughout the Americas. The organization hopes to add sport fishing to the PanAmerican Games, combine with European events and eventually be added as an eligible sport in the international Olympics.
Contestants who arrived early to pre-fish experienced great action. Jtodd Tucker, a professional bass fisherman from Georgia, took a rooster estimated at more than 50 pounds the day before. The bite was slightly off, at least by Costa Rican standards, once the actual competition started, however. With the catch and release format each fish scored one point for every inch of length measured from the tip of the head to the fork of the tail. This method was chosen because it is less stressful than weighing the fish and allowed for quicker releases back into the water.
The Canadian team took a commanding lead early in the two-day event with a total of 147.5 points. Team Mexico was second with 81 points. Day Two saw Mexico win the daily with 201 points, followed by Team USA with 178 points. But Team Canada’s second day tally of 125 points was enough to earn the Gold Medal with an overall total of 272.5 points. Mexico won the Silver Medal with 199 points, just edging out Team USA (198 points) which settled for Bronze.
Two all-female teams (Costa Rica and USA) competed in this first-ever roosterfish event. Neither finished in the top standings yet both showed their male counterparts they are quite capable of competing on this level. The tournament also allowed all the teams to share conservation ideas that will benefit the fisheries in their respective nations.
“We were just a group of friends who thought it would be fun to enter a tournament,” explained Canadian angler Mike Haunton. “And we won! We have already joined the Costa Rican sport fishing and conservation group as well as the Canadian organization and haven’t even left Costa Rica yet.”
PanAmerican tournaments will be held in Canada, Mexico, Panama and again in Costa Rica in 2019. The September Costa Rican event will target tarpon.
Interview with Capt. Rex Hoyt of Texas Rattler™ in Rockport
We caught up with Capt. Rex Hoyt of Texas Rattler™ in Rockport to talk about his “world’s finest” rattling jigheads, spoons and soft plastics.
Interview by Kelly Groce
Where are you from?
I was born in Katy, Texas in 1955 and graduated from Katy High School in 1974 where I played football, basketball and baseball. I was All District offensive and defensive in football and baseball.
My love of sports and a strong work ethic helped me be elected in football to the All Greater Houston Team as a DB for 3 years. In baseball, I still hold the season records for RBI and Home Runs at Katy High School with a wood bat set in 1973 – 4 HR, 25 RBI in 18 games.
Tell us about your journey that led to the design and success of the Rockport Rattler® and now the Texas Rattler™.
My strong desire to help others catch fish and enjoy the bounty that mother nature has to offer has set the foundation of my fishing journey. These two things set in motion my invention of the rattling jig-head invention back in 2003.
First, I wanted a lure that would help my young kids catch fish off the pier without me having to buy live shrimp all the time. With a pier at my condo, they could fish every day or night, and that got expensive.
Second, as a guide depending on bait stands for live bait to catch fish and competing with other guides at 5 a.m. in the morning for live croaker or shrimp got old real fast. So I set out to invent a lure that could contend with live shrimp, croaker or fin fish. Fish have ears and can hear just like you. They are called otoliths. And, just like you, if they hear a familiar sound they will come check it out – just like you do when you hear a knock on your door.
Rattles in corks and topwater lures were proven to be effective at producing fish over the years. The rattling cork helped me make a living with live shrimp on guided trips – that rattle sound worked! They got fish to come to the surface or that area and eat the shrimp suspended under the rattling cork.
The deal was I wanted to take that rattling sound to go where the fish were actually “hanging out”. I wanted to take that rattle sound subsurface where the trout, reds and flounder are in their natural sanctuary and ambush points.
The result was that the rattling jig-head going subsurface at various depths to the game fishes actual ambush points and sanctuaries could actually compete with live bait.
The rattling jig-head put in the hands of novice anglers had them out-catching their friends using a silent jig-head by a solid 5-1 ratio or better when fishing in the same boat or wade/kayak fishing the same area. That ratio has proven itself to be a consistent ratio over the last 15 years from actual reports from recreational and tournament anglers.
In early 2003 I started using rattling jigs on my fishing charters right alongside the live bait my customers were using and the rattling jig-heads I invented could not only compete with the live shrimp or live croaker, but it consistently caught the bigger fish. I put the Rockport Rattler® on the market in May of 2003 and anglers all along the Texas gulf coast that started using them were amazed at the ability of this rattling jig-head to improve their fishing catch – both in numbers and size.
In 2009 I put the Quick-Lock on the Rockport Rattler® because the original did not have a locking device on it. It depended on the expansion and torque from the soft plastic expanding over the rattle chamber to hold the soft plastic on.
Some soft plastics slipped when casting and retrieving on the original, but anglers were catching more fish so they put up with that nuisance and kept using them.
The locking device has always been a problem on jig-heads and the rattling jig-head was no exception. So I invented the QuickLock in 2009 to solve the slipping problem.
The Quick-Lock was made adjustable from a stainless steel wire prong. The QuickLock SS wire would hold on the soft plastic but it sliced it from a fish bite so I made it where an angler could adjust it to get another grip. By getting another grip on their soft plastic an angler’s soft plastic would last longer.
By making the QuickLock “adjustable”, I was the first person to put an “adjustable locking device” on a jig-head and that is what earned me the US Patent US 7,614,178 B2. I sold the Rockport Rattler® original and QuickLock in 2013.
Since that time, the jobs were moved from Rockport, Texas overseas and the new owners are not making the QuickLock “adjustable” like my US Patent is designed and as a consequence it slices an anglers lure on the 1st fish bite.
I became frustrated with going through so many expensive soft plastics on the Rockport Rattler® on the now non-adjustable QuickLock not being made correctly – like anglers all across the USA. So I decided that since my 3 year non-compete agreement was over with, it was time to invent a new locking device for a rattling jig-head and put it on the market.
Right about that time, Hurricane Harvey made landfall at Rockport and left a wake of destruction and destroyed over 65% of the businesses. Of that number, only 1/3 of the businesses have rebuilt at this time.
So I decided I would come out of retirement and create a better rattling jig-head while creating some jobs for this community so the citizens can rebuild and the can city heal itself.
My new invention, the “universal” U-LOCK™, which I have put on my rattling jig-head and named the TEXAS RATTLER™ is amazing the way it “universally locks” on a soft plastic.
What makes Texas Rattler™ products unique from others?
TEXAS RATTLER™ jigs: The U-LOCK™ uses the power of friction created by rubber to hold on the rubber soft plastics. The rubber housing of the U-LOCK™ vs. rubber of the soft plastic increases the friction by 250%. Secondly, as all experienced anglers know- you leave two different colored soft plastics in your tackle box together they will exchange colors, you leave them in the sun and they will melt into each other – there is a chemical reaction going on. The U-LOCK™ does the same thing. A soft plastic’s chemicals in the lure creates a tackiness when put on the U-LOCK™ that provides an extra gripping power.
TEXAS WALKING SHRIMP™: It looks like a live shrimp and has legs that swim or “walk” through the water just like a live shrimp does, especially when used under a popping cork. It can be rigged a variety of ways on hooks or jig-heads depending on an angler’s preference or what is needed at the time.
TEXAS RATTLER™ 3D Spoons: It is the only spoon on the market today that rattles, has eyes on both sides of the spoon and uses a 3D holographic fluorescent glitter on both sides to create a realistic looking belly of a fin fish. All fin fish have a white or light colored belly that reflects UV rays from the sun. The TEXAS RATTLER™ 3D Rattling Spoon is the only spoon on the market that has these advantages for anglers to fish with.
What is your favorite Texas Rattler™ product and color to use while fishing?
My favorite TEXAS RATTLER™ jig color to throw is the 1/8 oz. chartreuse/redeye rigged with a 5” plum/chartreuse soft plastic. My favorite way to fish is with a TEXAS WALKING SHRIMP™ on a TEXAS RATTLER™ Z-MAX rattling weightless hook under a popping cork. They both consistently catch the Texas Slam for me year round.
Do you have a favorite fishing moment?
I was on a fishing charter with a client and his 10 and 8 year old sons in March of 2003. Drift fishing using live shrimp under a popping cork in 2–3 foot of water I was casting for the kids and they had reeled in several trout 16”–18” trout pretty quick and Dad was happy.
When that count grew to 6–7 trout around the same size and Dad hadn’t caught any, I saw his frustration and I knew I had to do something to help him out. He wasn’t popping his cork or keeping the slack up and was missing his fish bites. I had a rattling jig-head that I hadn’t put on the market yet on my personal rod n’ reel and knew if he threw it, he’d have to at least work it and not just let it sit. So I asked him to use it. Second cast with my rattling jig-head prototype he hooks into a 26” redfish, couple trips around the boat and I net it for him.
Now he jumps back on the bow of my 24’ Carolina Skiff with a smile, some enthusiasm and casts back out. About 5 casts later he hooks into a 27” redfish. Bigger fish, wider girth, longer fight. I finally net it and put it the box and he pounds the butt of my rod n’ reel on the deck and says, “I ain’t ever using live bait again.” That was the day I knew the rattling jig-head should be in every tackle box in the USA.
What’s your favorite place that you have fished?
Cedar Bayou Fish Pass. It is a wade angler’s paradise.
Besides fishing, what else are you passionate about?
I am very passionate about creating jobs for the community of Rockport, not just so it can rebuild after the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, but to provide jobs for the future for its citizens to come home to after the next hurricane hits. As our lures are stocked nationwide over the coming years our mission is to create a work force of 10-15 people.
Fishmas Gift Guide
Gone Coastal Jewelry features the highest quality nautical and coastal jewelry along with exceptional customer service. No matter which design you choose, their necklaces, bracelets, earrings, charms, pendants, rings and more fully embody the excitement, beauty and peacefulness of coastal life. GoneCoastalJewelry.com
It dries quickly, drains water easily, and laces up fast. The latest Megavent™ hybrid shoe is made for the professional angler who needs an outsole that grips when wet, an upper that resists stains, and an overall design that performs when the excitement hits. Gulf Coast Mariner put these shoes to the test all summer in Cabo San Lucas and during the Texas Billfish Classic. They are extremely grippy boat shoes that don’t sacrifice comfort or durability. Columbia.com
Impressive vintage-styled stickers from world-famous marine artist Amadeo Bachar. These 8” Clear vinyl stickers are printed with white ink behind Amadeo’s fish illustration to preserve opacity and unmatched level of detail. Each is coated with heavy UV to stand up to the elements— rain, wind and sun without fading. Also available in prints. Visit studio-abachar.myshopify.com
The Bird & Trout knife is a much loved, lightweight tool that is enjoyed by hunters, fisherman and outdoorsmen the world over. Its lightweight one-piece construction and its versatile, ultra-skeletonized sheath make it effortless to carry and a joy to wear all day long. Made of Japanese AUS 8A Stainless Steel. Overall length 6 5/16” Blade length is 2 1/4” ColdSteel.com
Avid Angler Jewelry provides unique, realistic jewelry that has been designed and hand-crafted by fellow fishing and hunting enthusiasts. Be it sterling silver or 14k gold, these pendants, charms, pins, earrings, bracelets, tie-tacs and rings can be created to customize your collection. These inshore or offshore pieces express a love of nature and the outdoors and make a perfect gift. @AvidAnglerJewelryDesigns
With rugged construction, FatLid™ insulation and a stainless steel handle, the Rambler® Half Gallon Jug is built to take on the wild. Whenever and wherever you need it, count on an ice-cold (or piping hot) sip from your Rambler to come to the rescue. Available in 2 DuraCoat™ colors and stainless steel. Yeti.com
Give the gift of American Pride! All of your favorite Avet reels are now available in red, white and blue. The 6061 T-6 marine grade aluminum frame proudly displays our flag and features an anodized finish for superior corrosion resistance. Avet reels feature precision machined stainless steel gears and components and are proudly made right here in the good ole’ U. S. of A. AvetReels.net
Galveston Flounder Run: A Quick Guide
WHERE TO FIND THEM
A: UPPER BAY
Flounder from upper Galveston Bay begin to exit areas like Clear Lake, Dickinson Bay and Moses Lake. Fish the shorelines outside these back lakes as flounder migrate towards the Gulf.
B: JONES BAY
Marsh dwelling flounder will exit through Highland Bayou and into Jones Bay. Fish marsh drains, shorelines and structure.
C: WEST BAY
Flounder exit the numerous coves and marshes and either head west to San Luis Pass or east to the Galveston Ship Channel. Fish the bayou mouths, marsh drains and shorelines as flounder make their exodus.
Flounder congregate near the structure and wells around Bolivar as they head to the pass.
E: TEXAS CITY DIKE
Flounder will hug the rocks and shorelines of this 5-mile-long levee during their migration. This is a great location for shore-bound anglers.
F: GALVESTON SHIP CHANNEL
During the peak of the flounder fun, fish stack up as they funnel through the channel. Any given shoreline or structure can hold flounder in the GSC.
G: GALVESTON JETTIES
This is your last shot at a saddle blanket before they enter the Gulf of Mexico. Fish big mullet and heavy jigs along the rocks during the outgoing tide.
HOW TO CATCH THEM
Flounder are ambush predators, concealing themselves on the bay floor and striking when opportunity presents itself. There a couple telltale signs of a flounder strike. The most recognizable is the satisfying “thump” of a bite during your retrieve. Sometimes, the bite is more subtle and all of sudden you notice a dead weight on your line. And other times, a fish might strike viciously and move.
The most important aspect of flounder fishing is patience!! Flounder often bite first to kill and wait before swallowing. Wait anywhere from 5 to 20 seconds before attempting to set the hook. Flounder have bony mouths and require a stout hookset. The no-stretch qualities of braided line are perfect for hooking flounder.
BAITS AND LURES
Berkley Gulp baits are some of the best scented plastics for flounder, but any soft plastic on a quality jighead can get the job done. Scent is important and helps flounder hold on to the bait longer. Apply Pro-Cure gels to your unscented plastics, like Down South Lures, Chicken Boy Lures or Flounder Pounders. You can also tip your jighead with a small piece of shrimp tail section.
Popular lures colors include pearl, pearl/chartreuse, strawberry/white, chicken on a chain, pink, chartreuse, new penny and many more.
It’s hard to go wrong with the real thing. The most popular live baits are finger mullet, live shrimp and mud minnows. Fish these on the bottom with a carolina rig: swivel, weight (1/4 oz. to 1 oz. depending on water depth), a live bait or kahle hook and a 18” length of 15-20 lb mono or fluoro.
UNDERSTANDING THE FLOUNDER LIFE CYCLE
Galveston Bay: 2018 Past and Present
By Capt. David C. Dillman
galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012
The Holiday season is here. Another year has come and gone and folks will begin making their plans for the holidays. If you enjoy the outdoors, fishing or hunting, this is prime time! Hunting begins in earnest and fishing can be the best of the year!
This past January and February, we experienced true winter weather along the Upper Coast. Wind, rain, and freezing precipitation greeted us throughout these two months. Some fish kills were reported, but nothing substantial along the Upper Coast.
During March and April, we did experience some late season fronts. As the weather stabilized, spring-like weather arose, as did the water temperatures. Good catches of trout came from Lower and East Galveston bay. Everything was shaping up for an excellent year of fishing.
May and June arrived and the weather took a turn for the best. Fishing in East Bay got even better, with excellent catches of speckled trout coming from the reefs. During the latter part of May, trout made their move to the middle areas of the bay. The trout catches increased around Eagle Point. In June, the wells located off of Eagle Point produced excellent catches of trout and redfish.
July and August blew in along with inconsistent winds. On any given day, the wind would blow from two or three different directions and velocity. This curtailed what was excellent trout fishing. Those who concentrated their effort on other species, were rewarded. I myself went after redfish and the action was outstanding! Winds finally settled in late August, and the trout catches rebounded, along with great catches of sand/gulf trout and drum.
This bring us to September and October. In my last article, I stated these two months were the “transition period” for Galveston Bay. Indeed it was! During the first week of September, everything was good and fish were falling into their seasonal change. Then, the Galveston area experienced rain, almost, if not every day in September. We did not have a major flush of freshwater into our bay, but in some locations, 100 year old rainfall totals were broken for the month.
In October, Florida was hit with a catastrophic hurricane, which caused our tide levels to rise 2 feet above normal. The high tides have curtailed catches. Look for tide levels and fishing to return to a normal fall pattern as more cold fronts occur.
Finally, this bring us to November and December; what I refer to as the “Holiday Season.” There is no better time for a true sportsman in Texas. Fishing between the fronts can produce some of the best catches of the year, and hunting season is wide open. On the fishing scene, the annual flounder run will be in full swing. These fish will be making their migration to the Gulf, and lots of anglers will target just these fish for their well known table fare! Trout and redfish will be plentiful in the upper end of our bay system. I will be fishing between the fronts and preparing for the annual Houston Boat Show starting Jan. 4, 2019.
Eagle Point Fishing Camp will continue to hold live bait. They can be reached at 281-339-1131 for updates on bait and fishing. Until next year, may God Bless all of you during this great time of year.
The Golden Croaker Disappearing Act
By Capt. Joe Kent
While not a piece of legislation, this characterization is a question on the minds of many senior anglers who once enjoyed the annual golden croaker runs during the autumn.
October and November are the prime months for this event and for many years Rollover Pass and other passageways into the Gulf of Mexico would be lined with anglers virtually shoulder to shoulder with their baits in the water during the big runs.
During my growing up years, my dad would take me to Rollover Pass when word got out that the croaker were running, and in most instances I caught several croaker in the one to two pound category. Dead shrimp fished on the bottom was the bait, and just about everyone around me was catching fish.
The annual migration, or run as it is commonly called, usually coincided with the annual flounder migration or flounder run. Rollover Pass also was a popular spot to catch flounder during their migration.
Over the past three to four decades, a noticeable decline in the numbers of the big or bull croaker has taken place. While this fish continues to make its journey to the Gulf each fall, large concentrations have not been observed.
Sporadic reports continue to come in of isolated catches of the migrating fish with a few of them being well over two pounds in weight. Three-pound croaker were not at all uncommon during the migrations of years ago.
Croaker are a resilient fish and can reproduce often and in varied conditions. This is one reason the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has not been greatly concerned over their populations. They are not as sensitive to salinity levels or cold temperature as many other fish.
So, we ask the question: “What has happened to our stocks of croaker?”
For at least two decades, anglers have been inquiring about the decline in the bull croaker, especially the ones that used to dominate the migrations. Today, questions are coming from year-round croaker anglers wondering why they are not catching as many and that the sizes seem to be getting smaller.
As a child and a teenager, I was among those anglers fishing just out of Seabrook for nice-sized croaker. Scotts Reef, probably a mile or two from shore, was noted for its big croaker. Not the average size of the fall migration but in the ¾ to pound and a half range. That was a great eating size and very popular for the table.
Today, croaker remain widespread and are easily caught; however, the average size seems to be progressively declining as well as the numbers being caught.
Early on, it was thought that the bycatch from shrimp nets was the culprit; however, croaker have been enduring that for decades and the number of shrimpers on Galveston Bay is declining.
Many anglers feel that the demand for small croaker for bait, one of the top choices for speckled trout, is a major factor. More and more bait camps are offering live croaker for bait and, when there is a shortage of live shrimp, the other top bait, croaker are usually available.
Several professional fishing guides have told me privately that the bait market for live croaker is taking its toll on the stocks and, while I am not advocating a prohibition of the sale of bait croaker, I do think a serious study of the situation is warranted and if any appropriate regulations should be enacted, they should be encouraged to help this fish rebound.
TPWD has been successful in restoring our trout and redfish populations and croaker stocks should be next on their list to build back.
2018 Seabrook Saltwater Derby Results
The 9th Annual Seabrook Saltwater Derby took place on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Many nice fish made it to the scales, despite challenging conditions. Participants enjoyed cold beer, tacos and giveaways a-plenty at the weigh-in at CABO Clear Lake.
1. Brandon Perez: 9.19
2. Tyler Cervenka: 8.76
3. Daniel Marshall: 8.27
1. Daniel Marshall: 4.07
2. Michael Fesco: 3.83
3. Troy Albright: 3.52
1. Gerald McDermott: 3.08
2. Michael Fesco: 2.14
3. Kyle Cervenka: 2.14
Heaviest Redfish Stringer
1. Waterloo: 23.7
2. Pullin’ 3 G’s: 21.14
3. Degens from up Country: 20.71
Heaviest Trout Stringer
1. Muy Loco: 14.31
2. Three Amigos: 11.81
3. Gig Em: 11.2
Fishing Cabo San Lucas
Blue marlin, wahoo and scenic Pacific views from one of the world’s hottest sportfishing destinations.
Photography by Brandon and Meagan Rowan
Top gear from Garmin, Huk, Lew’s, Caza Offshore and more
Garmin Striker 5cv
Finding fish is easier than ever with STRIKER 5cv fishfinder. Mark and return to your hot spots, boat ramps and docks. You also can share your favorite waypoints and routes with other STRIKER and echoMAP™ combos. Plus, it has a built-in flasher and displays speed data. Includes tilt/swivel mount, CHIRP (77/200 kHz) sonar transducer with transom and trolling motor mounting hardware and cable. $299.00 www.garmin.com
Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool SLP Series
Mach Crush baitcast reels feature Lew’s exclusive SLP Super Low Profile compact Speed Spool design in a durable graphite frame with graphite sideplates. Its high-end performance comes from a premium 10-bearing system with double-shielded stainless steel bearings and ZeroReverse anti-reverse. The main gear and crankshaft are strong solid brass. The 95mm bowed aluminum handle features oversized Winn Dri-Tac knobs to ensure a noslip grip in all conditions. The rugged carbon fiber drag system provides up to 20 lbs. of drag power. $159.99 www.lews.com
Dexter Russell Softgrip 8” Narrow Fillet Knife
The SofGrip line is the ultimate choice in nonslip handles. Available in black and white, the soft handle allows you to grip tighter to prevent slipping and increase control. Each blade comes with a proprietary DEXSTEEL, stain-free, high-carbon steel blade, with an individually ground and honed edge. Their superior blade shape allows for easier slicing while the unique edge geometry keeps them long lasting. Not to mention, the seal between the blade and the handle will not let in any water or bacteria. $31.55 www.dexterrussellcutlery.com
Huk Santiago Long Sleeve
The Santiago long sleeve is packed with performance and ready to fish hard using our technology, but is comfortable enough to wear to the bar after a day on the water. A classic button down meets Huk Performance Fishing. $64.99 www.hukgear.com
Caza Offshore The Mito
We have dialed in the perfect shape, weight and size to create a lure that should always be in your spread. The Mito was inspired by the best attributes of the highly effective plunger style lure. The keel weighted slant head swims aggressively on the troll, proven to raise fish and generate bites. The innovative head material is non-yellowing, highly chip resistant and crystal clear. This “go to” lure is excellent in all sea conditions for dorado, sailfish, marlin, tuna and all pelagic gamefish. $40.00 www.cazaoffshore.com