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2017 Lone Star Shootout

blue marlin 2017 Lone Star Shootout

Slight Edge took first place blue marlin at the 2016 Lone Star Shootout.

Now in its 13th year, The Lone Star Shootout is an Invitational Billfish tournament known for its great format, abundant, spirited festivities, large payouts to participants and, most importantly, for its contributions to numerous charitable causes. The Lone Star Shootout provides the opportunity to compete against some of the Gulf Coast’s most talented billfish teams in a format and location that is second to none!

With the central Texas coast location in Port O’Connor, the tournament draws the top billfish tournament teams from South Texas to Florida to compete in the unique format that emphasizes billfish release, women and junior participation and a relaxed family friendly atmosphere.

Often coined “the highlight of the event” (outside of catching the winning fish), the Shootout Champion’s Party is the culmination of nearly a week of preparations, long hours, hard fishing and FUN! Praised for the generous open bar, tasty catered food, live musical entertainment and “Saloon” atmosphere, this night is the true apex of the event. The revealing of the winners and the passing on of The Perpetual Champion’s Trophy also occurs on Saturday night. This magnificent trophy is the prized possession of each year’s champion and has become one of the most sought after trophies on the Gulf Coast tournament trail.

Caracol Club has played host to the Tournament for the past 8 years and, along with the great bay city of Port O’Connor, will welcome the Tournament again this year. Known for its tranquility, laid-back fishing village atmosphere and easy access to the premier billfish spots in the gulf, the town of Port O’Connor is alive with action the entire week of The Lone Star Shootout. Numerous sponsors (and quite a few participants) are residents of or business owners in Port O’Connor and the tournament welcomes the community and visitors to come to the weigh in at Caracol Club on Saturday, July 22nd to see the beautiful boats and amazing fish being weighed in.

Last year over 45 boats competed for the title and coveted Perpetual Trophy. Online entry is currently open on the Tournament website (www.thelonestarshootout.com), along with tournament rules, scoring and side pot information, prior year’s results, photos and much more!

Don’t forget to follow all the events and photos from this year’s event on The Lone Star Shootout’s social media channels:

Participants, volunteers and Shootout guests are encouraged to actively participate on the above channels by using the “check in,” tag and share features of social media! We welcome your photos, videos and interaction!

Please find, below, a schedule of events for this year’s Lone Star Shootout. Dates and times are subject to change prior to the start of the event without prior notice. Please check the Shootout website for the most accurate, up to date information.

DATE TIME EVENTS / LOCATION

Sunday, July 16, 2017

  • 3:00 p.m. Boats may arrive. Caracol Yacht Club, Port O’Connor

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Registration and side pot entry at Lone Star Saloon
  • 7:00 p.m. Lone Star Pot Party at Lone Star Saloon. Come enjoy a delicious dinner and open bar. Dinner will be served from 7-9 p.m. Last chance to enter side pots

Thursday, July 20, 2017

  • 2:00 p.m. Mandatory Captain’s Meeting at Lone Star Saloon.
  • 5:00 p.m. Boats may depart Port O’Connor jetties

Friday, July 21, 2017

  • 12:01 a.m. START FISHING!
  • 7:00 p.m. Midnight Weigh station will be open for blue marlin only

Saturday, July 22, 2017

  • 3:00 p.m. Quit Fishing – All lines out of the water
  • 3:00 p.m. Weigh station open
  • 6:00 p.m. Boats must be in the POC jetties to turn in videos or weigh fish
  • 8:00 p.m. Lone Star Shootout Champion’s Party at Lone Star Saloon. Come join us for a fantastic steak dinner, open bar, awards presentation and live music by the Line Up Band!

2017 Billfish Tournaments

cajun canyon 2017 Billfish Tournaments

Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic

May 30 – June 5

Venice, LA

ComeFishLA.com

mgcbc logo 2017 Billfish Tournaments

Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic

June 5 – 11

Biloxi, MS

mgcbc.com

Deep Sea Roundup

July 6 – 9

Port Aransas, TX

DeepSeaRoundup.com

Poco Bueno

July 12 – 15

Port O’Connor, TX

Poco-Bueno.com

Lone Star Shootout

July 18 – 23

Port O’Connor, TX

TheLoneStarShootout.com

Bastante John Uhr Memorial Tournament

July 26 – 30

Rockport, TX

RockportTournament.com

Texas International Fishing Tournament

Aug. 2 – 6

Port Isabel, TX

tift.org

Texas Legends

Aug. 9 – 13

Port Aransas, TX

txlegends.com

Texas Billfish Classic

Aug. 16 – 19

Freeport, TX

TexasBillfishClassic.com

TWAT

Aug. 25 – 27

Port Aransas, TX

GoFishTX.com

Fools Rush In

fly fishing reds Fools Rush In

By Capt. Steve Soule

www.ultimatedetailingllc.com

It isn’t always a question of right or wrong. Sometimes it becomes more a matter of better or worse. Everyone has their own idea of how to approach each fishing situation, some well thought out, others are much more haphazard. The “approach,” the level of stealth, and knowledge of the area you are fishing can have a huge impact on success or failure when it comes to catching fish.

As anglers, most of us start each day with some form of a plan on what we want to catch and where we plan to try to catch it. With experience, these plans get better and more detailed. The bottom line is that we all benefit from having a goal in mind to accomplish each day on the water. If we give more thought to what that goal is, and how we might be able to tilt the scales in our favor when it comes to achieving that goal, we all stand to catch more fish, or at the very least, gain more knowledge that will lead to more fish in the future.

I feel certain that most experienced anglers have a plan of attack for each day that they fish. A location picked based on experience, knowledge of an area, or information about an area. Novices, or anglers newer to an area, the plan is likely not so well thought out.  This isn’t to say that a novice angler can’t or won’t catch as many fish, just that they don’t possess that level of experience to know exactly where to go or when to go to certain areas.

As an experienced angler, your goal should be to refine your knowledge and hone your fishing skills. As a novice or less experienced angler, your goal should be learn areas and develop an understanding of the structure, tides, and other factors that will influence the location and movements of the fish.

Take your time, use stealth when arriving and working the area you intend to fish.

As many times as I’ve talked about structure over there years, I realize that there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the topic. Structure goes well beyond just what we can see above the water; sometimes its obvious and sometimes its very subtle. Some of the many things that I consider structure can often be hard to detect. There is obvious structure like shorelines, reefs, rocks but sometimes the little things like grass, guts, humps and very subtle depressions are the keys to finding fish holding points and movement pathways. Finding these in shallow clear water is much easier than in open water. Wading and having actual contact with the bay floor can be a big help, and for those fishing deeper waters from a boat, learning to read a depth machine can be crucial.

Something interesting to remember, is that it isn’t just the contours of the bay floor, but also what’s on the bay floor that will impact when and where fish will be. Mud, grass, shell, clay, sand and many other things determine what type of prey will be in an area during different seasons and their predators.

Don’t just show up to an area and rush through it. So often I watch people on the water rush into an area, only to turn around and leave 15 minutes later. There is very little that can be gained in this approach. Unfortunately, in most cases the fish aren’t just waiting for us to arrive and throw things at them. In fact, most of the time we scare fish as we arrive and often shut down feeding behavior with our rapid and noisy arrival. This will spook fish in an area, slowing or stopping the bite temporarily.

Take your time, use stealth when arriving and working the area you intend to fish. Though it has become increasingly popular to run boats shallow and look for fish, this approach has significant short and long term impact on the environment and the fish. Starting with the obvious, sea grass and boat propellers do not mix! Some grasses recover relatively fast while others can take long periods to regrow. Prior to Hurricane Ike, there was very little natural grass growth in Galveston’s West Bay. Through man’s intervention, grasses returned and had a positive impact on bay habitat and water clarity. Fishing the same areas without the grass, was a world of difference. If just enjoying and appreciating the grass habitat isn’t enough, there is a Texas law in place that prohibits destruction of sea grasses.

Beyond the habitat impact, there is a huge short and long term impact on the fish. The sound of an outboard motor can not only be heard, but also felt by fish at a great distance. Knowing that fish are sensitive to vibration and sound should make us all aware that a hasty approach, using the big motor, doesn’t usually result in great catches.

Lets take this a step further. I know all too well how cool it is to see fish moving and feeding in shallow water, having spent over 35 years fishing shallow water from poling skiffs and other shallow water boats. I’ve seen a lot and learned a ton about fish behavior and their reaction to different things that enter their environment. Moving too fast in a poling skiff, a slight stumble when wading, and many other subtle sounds can alert fish. The practice of “burning shorelines” has way more negative impact on fish. A slow, and methodical approach will lead to much more productive fishing.

Take your time, use stealth in your approach, use the day as an opportunity to study, not just fish, and you may just learn how many things are missed by so many fishing around you. Fishing from a more methodical perspective will help you shorten the learning curve and improve your fishing not just today, but in the future as well.

Memorial Day Weekend

birdsworking2 Memorial Day Weekend

Birds working. Photo by Kelly Groce.

The start of our summertime coastal fishing

By Capt. Joe Kent

While not the official start of our summertime fishing season, Memorial Day Weekend often offers excellent conditions for both inshore and offshore fishing.  For many anglers it is their first run of the year to offshore waters.

Others focus on the jetties and bays, with all areas capable of producing some nice fish.

Most years, the water temperature has reached the 80-degree mark and, while not as warm as in the mid-summer range of July through mid-September, it is at the point when all of our summertime fish are around.

The bay waters are not so warm as to keep trout and other fish that are sensitive to dissolved oxygen levels, in deep water.  This means that wade fishing the shorelines continues to be a viable option for catching trout, reds and other fish.

During May, the jetties begin turning on with trout activity and other fish join the prized specks in feeding up and down the rocks.  May through August is prime time around the collection of granite rocks known as the North and South Jetties and many locals add still another designation, that being the Bolivar Jetties for the North and the Galveston Jetties for the South.

Regardless of which designation you use, Memorial Day Weekend is a great time to fish them.

Bird action in both East and West Bays will continue until the waters warm to the point that the fish go deeper.  Normally that does not take place until late June or early July.

kent king Memorial Day Weekend

Polly Kent with Joe Kent’s 48 pound ‘smoker kingfish’ in 1972.

Memorial Day Weekend is a Holiday Weekend that I always have looked to as the time to head offshore, conditions permitting.  My first Memorial Day trip was in 1972 and what a trip it was.  King mackerel were thick beginning about 10 miles south of the Galveston or South Jetty.  Before that I had made an offshore trip in my boat only four or five times over the previous years.

A learning experience it was.  One of the largest kings I have ever caught was landed that day.  It was a real “smoker” that weighed 48 pounds on the unofficial scales at Wilson’s South Jetty Bait Camp.

Wayne Tucker, operator of the bait camp, said the king was one of the largest he had seen.

For years thereafter Memorial Day Weekend was set aside for offshore fishing and the percentage of times we were able to make it beyond the jetties was higher than normal for offshore trips.

Some of the largest pelagic fish which include kings, ling, sharks and Dorado make it to the shallower offshore waters during May and early June, with Memorial Day right in the middle of that timeframe.

Besides good fishing and statistically good weather, the Memorial Day Weekend does not normally have the intense heat we experience later in the summer.  One advantage of fishing offshore during this time is that the crowds are much lighter than for inshore fishing.

While inshore fishing is in its prime, the weekend is one of the busiest on the water.  Normally, that does not bode well for fishing and one way to escape the heavy concentrations of boats is to head out from the jetties and enjoy the offshore.

Don’t forget the sunscreen, as the sun is intense, and that warmth of the season along with good fishing and crabbing, make Memorial Day Weekend a very special time of year.

Keep up with Joe Kent’s daily fishing report here.

Gaining Knowledge

WayneDenaDavis Gaining Knowledge

Wayne and Dena Davis caught some nice trout with Capt. Dillman despite high winds that day.

By Capt. David C Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures409-632-0924

Albert Einstein stated that “The only source of knowledge is experience.” When it comes to fishing, I firmly believe this quote holds true. There are many written books, articles and even videos on how to catch speckled trout. Lots of that information is excellent and a great resource for gaining some knowledge about the sport. But true knowledge of how and where to catch speckled trout comes from years of experience pursuing these fish.

In my 30 years of experience guiding fishing trips, I am always asked “When is the best time to catch trout?” For the majority of people that fish, it all starts with the month of May. During the first week of May, there will be a movement of speckled trout into our bay system through the Galveston Jetties. They come from the beachfront and these fish are commonly known as “tide runners.” Do they all come at once? No, but the majority of “tide runners” come May and June. As they make their way up the Houston Ship channel, these fish split into three different directions. Some move east, others west, and some head straight up the channel depending upon the salinity of the water. That is why you will read about the increase of catches in areas like Hanna’s Reef in East Bay, and the Dollar Point area on the Western side of Galveston Bay.

June arrives and so begins our summer fishing pattern in Galveston Bay. The trout begin to seek shelter of the deeper water shell pads located in our bay system. A majority of these “tide runners” can be found near the shell pads adjacent to the Houston ship channel from Markers 52-72.  They will also filter towards the numerous gas well scattered in close proximity of the channel. With every incoming tide more fish will be pushed into this area. In my years of fishing the channel and observation, speckled trout use this area to stage and spawn.

During this time of year, trout can be caught on a variety of artificial lures, but live baits seem to produce the better results. Live shrimp and croakers are the top two natural baits. Shrimp can be fished on the bottom or under a popping cork. Croakers should be fished utilizing a carolina rig or Texas rig. Eagle Point Fishing Camp always has a great supply of both and has easy access to the above prime locations!

If you want to gain further “knowledge” of these areas, I offer guided trips out of Eagle Point. Also orientation trips can be arranged where I go in your boat. Get out and experience the great trout fishing Galveston Bay has and as always, be careful on the water.

Rods and Reels for Tuna Popping

tx tuna popping Rods and Reels for Tuna Popping

Throwing poppers and swimbaits at night can be extremely productive when fishing for yellowfin tuna in the Gulf. Tuna love flying fish and readily come up to the surface to feed. Long, specialized rods and heavy duty spinning reels are best for this type of fishing. From budget minded, to top-of-the-line, these rods and reels for tuna popping will get you on the right track.

oceanxtreme oti Rods and Reels for Tuna Popping

OTI OceanXtreme

MODEL: OTI-3106-765S

These are some of the highest performing, and best valued popping rods on the market today.  With shaped EVA grips, new Fuji “K” series Alconite guides, and a new padded rod sock, the OceanXtreme can defeat monsters. Depending on your needs, the 40/60 or 60/80 rods are best for our size of tuna in Texas. MSRP $249

Specifications 

  • Length: 7’6″
  • Line: 40-60lb
  • Lure: 2-4 oz
  • Weight: 17.1 oz

OTI Tuna Sniper 

MODEL: OTI-3108-808S

The newest line of Tuna Sniper rods are lighter, stronger, and have a faster taper for the longest possible casting distance and more control boat side. These rods have a moderately fast action, with a slightly faster tip section, shaped EVA grips, new Fuji “K” series SiC guides, and a new padded rod sock. The size 40 stripper guide and new 8’ length give this rod a balanced feel and lighter weight than pre-2012 Tuna Sniper rods. MSRP $449.99

Specifications 

  • Length: 8’0″
  • Line: 60-80lb
  • Lure: 2.5-5 oz
  • Weight: 18 oz

Fin-Nor LT100 Lethal

This all-aluminum body reel from Fin-Nor could be one of the best values in high-performance saltwater spinning reels today. The Lethal 100 adds a triple-supported spool shaft, a forged brass main gear and a back-up pawl and ratchet anti-reverse. MSRP $139.95

Specifications 

  • Braid Capacity: 310 yds./100 lb
  • Max Drag: 45 lbs
  • Ratio: 4.9:1 /45″
  • Weight: 30.8 oz

PENN Spinfisher V

This tough, all metal construction reel from Penn works well for tuna at a good value. Features include an anodized aluminum superline spool, five stainless steel ball bearings and a sealed drag system with 3 HT-100 washers that stays smooth during big runs. MSRP $179.95

Specifications for model SSV850

  • Braid Capacity: 650/40,  540/50,  470/65
  • Max Drag: 35 lbs
  • Ratio: 4.7:1 /42″
  • Weight: 31.6 oz

QUANTUM Cabo PT

The Cabo series is built for long-lasting, fish-stopping performance – from the indestructible TiMag® bail to the multi-layer corrosion protection. This reel utilizes hybrid ceramic bearings in high-load areas. Specifications for 80PT model. MSRP $229.95

Specifications for PT80

  • Braid Capacity: 380/65
  • Max Drag: 50 lbs
  • Ratio: 4.9:1 /38″
  • Weight: 24.9 oz

SHIMANO Saragosa SW 

A Gulf tuna staple with excellent performance at a good price. Improvements in the current Saragosa® include SW Concept design with X-Ship & X-Tough drag and durable cam oscillation system for better drag performance. Specifications for 10000 model. MSRP $309.99

Specifications for SRG10000SW

  • Braid Capacity:50/360, 65/260, 80/215
  • Max Drag: 33 lbs
  • Ratio: 4.9:1
  • Weight: 24.3 oz

ACCURATE SR-20

Accurate’s TwinSpin reels are machined from high-grade materials and can handle the Gulf’s largest tuna. Features include Accurate’s patented TwinDrag™ system, five class 5 ABEC stainless steel bearings and a skirted spool that reduces heat build-up and help trim weight. These reels are designed, manufactured and assembled in the USA. MSRP $859.95

Specifications

  • Braid Capacity: 50/425
  • Max Drag: 32 lbs
  • Ratio: 5:1
  • Weight: 26 oz

Shimano Stella SW

Widely considered one of the finest spinning reels in the world, the Stella SW can handle the largest fish swimming our waters. This reel utilizes high quality materials and technology in every aspect, including a high rigidity aluminum body, X tough drag washers at the base of the spool, a cold forged aluminum handle and forged metal internals. This latest version of the Stella is the longest casting reel yet. Specifications for 14000 size. MSRP $1,159.99

Specifications for STL140000SWBXG

  • Braid Capacity: 50/400,65/315,80/240
  • Max Drag: 55 lbs
  • Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Weight: 24.3 oz

The Galley: Red Snapper Two Ways

By Betha Merit

Red Snapper is in season and colorful, fresh recipes abound. A fun suggestion for foodies is to research several similar recipes and then add your own twist. In the South, that might be a dash of cayenne or tiny bit of minced jalapeño. Using juice from limes or clementines instead of the standard lemon is another change-up. Creative substitution is a great option with limited galley ingredients while on the water. Who knows, you might invent the seafood equivalent of the genius BLT or PBJ sandwich. Speaking of which, the world is always ready for another take on ceviche…

limecilantro snapper recipe The Galley: Red Snapper Two Ways

Lime Zest Cilantro Snapper

  • 6 (6 to 8-oz) red snapper fillets (with or without skin)
  • 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • Finely grated lime zest from two limes
  • Juice from the two limes
  • Dash or two of cayenne pepper

Brush both sides of fish with 3 Tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss together cilantro, garlic, zest half reserved lime juice, and cayenne in a small bowl.

Pan sear snapper at medium high heat about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer fish, skin side up to a platter. Sprinkle with cilantro mixture and drizzle with remaining 3 Tablespoons oil. If desired, add remaining fresh lime juice.

Side Dish Option: roasted fingerling potatoes cooked with rosemary, butter/olive oil, and garlic.

baked fish recipe The Galley: Red Snapper Two Ways

My Mom’s Baked Fish Recipe

Serves 4 (cut ingredients in half to serve 2)

  • 4 (8-ounce) red snapper fillets, about 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 fresh onion cut in rings
  • 2 bell peppers, cut in rings
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2-4 cups cooked rice. (white, brown, jasmine, wild…)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Spread the onions and peppers in a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish and place the fish on top. Dot the fish with butter. Sprinkle with a little Worcestershire sauce and parsley and cover with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes then baste fish with pan juices. Sprinkle the fish with Parmesan; if desired, place under the broiler for about 2 minutes or until the cheese browns. Spoon the vegetables and pan juices over the fish.

Serve with steamed rice.

Offshore Fishing Checklist

yamaha 150 outboard Offshore Fishing Checklist

Get ready, summer will be here before you know it.

By Capt. Joe Kent

Not too long ago, offshore fishing was a year-round sport.  While the peak of the season is from around the Fourth of July to not long after Labor Day, red snapper and other reef fish provided action all year long.

When tight regulations began being imposed on the recreational sector in Federal Waters, winter fishing for red snapper was virtually eliminated.

While recreational anglers do have a short window of time to catch their two fish per day limit of red snapper, the timeframe usually begins on June 1 and lasts anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks or so.  The season usually ends about the time when action on pelagic fish such as king mackerel, ling and Dorado begins to get hot.

With the exception of anglers owning large vessels, those in the 45 foot and larger range, most of the offshore boats are used on a limited basis or sit up a good part of the winter months.

The same can be said of fishing equipment and tackle, all of which leads to the point of this article and this is now is the time to get prepared for the offshore fishing season.

Many offshore anglers postpone their preparations until close to the time when they will make that first venture of the year to the rigs and other areas offshore.  In doing so, often it is discovered that the boat and/or fishing equipment is in need of repairs or service.

While there is normally no problem getting the gear in shape, it usually takes much longer than it would have earlier in the year.

March and April are excellent months to address all of this and here are some suggestions on what you should look for and respond to during the process.

Let’s start with the boat.  The gasoline tank is one of the biggest problems and it is not the tank itself, but the contents.  Gasoline that has been in the tank for several months should have a special treatment added before venturing out for the first time.  Ethanol blended fuel is the main culprit.

Although a stabilizer may have been added before storage, over time it loses its effectiveness and water will build in the tank. This is largely due to the absorption aspects of ethanol.  Water and gasoline do not mix and can cause big problems that are expensive to repair.  Check with your mechanic for a recommended gas treatment and if the gas has been in the tank for a long period of time, it may be recommended that the fuel be removed and replaced. That is much cheaper than a major engine repair.

If the gasoline is not an issue, one of the best ways to check out the other boating and fishing equipment is to make a trial run offshore.  March and April are the two windiest months of the year and the number of days offering tolerable conditions offshore is limited.

Regardless, a bay run is a good substitute.  The main thing is to be able to open up the engines and run them at cruising speed for at least thirty minutes.  During the process, check out the fresh and saltwater pumps and all other electronics.  Fuel indicators are one of the more frequent items to become stuck during storage.

Next would be the fishing equipment.  Look for rust and corrosion on tackle and if suitable for cleaning, do so, if not replace.  Reels and line are the two items of fishing gear than normally need the most attention.  If the line has been used much or has been on the reel for two seasons or more, replace it.

Reels will need to be cleaned and oiled and if you are not comfortable taking them apart and putting them back together, take them to a professional.  The cost is worth it.

You have often heard the old expression of “a stitch in time saves nine,” well nothing could be truer when preparing for the upcoming offshore fishing season.

Galveston Bay Spring Fishing

By Capt. David C Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures | 409-632-0924

March and April is when the majority of the fishing community wipe the cobwebs off their rod and reels, crank up their outboards and set their sights on bending rods.

Spring along the Upper Coast starts with the 42nd Annual Houston Fishing Show, March 8-12 at the GRB Convention Center. This is one of the largest shows of its kind in the country. Everything fishing related from boats, tackle, fishing guides and marinas located under one roof. I will be there all week at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth #618.

On the fishing scene it all begins with the arrival of big black drum. The Galveston jetties, passes, Texas City dike and the Bolivar gas wells will all hold an abundance of these fish. The best baits to use are blue crab, dead shrimp and even crawfish. A medium/heavy action rod and reel combo, utilizing enough weight to hold the bait down on the bottom, will draw the bites. These fish range from anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds.

Sheepshead will be there for the taking as well. Literally any spot along the Galveston jetties will produce these tasty fish. Shorelines with scattered shell and pier pilings should also be good. Live shrimp under a popping cork is a great method when fished tight up against the structure. While often overlooked, they are fun to catch and offer good table fare. There is a 5 fish limit with a 15 inch minimum size.

On the speckled trout scene look for the action to first heat up around the Galveston jetties. As we move into the latter part of March, the lower Galveston Bay area, around the causeway, Campbell’s Bayou and Sand Island will hold its share of fish. In April, East Galveston Bay and the western shoreline of Galveston Bay, from the base of the Texas City Dike, Dollar Point and towards Moses Lake will hold good numbers of trout. Don’t overlook the shorelines around Eagle Point. Last year this area gave up excellent stringers of quality speckled trout.

Until next time be safe on the water and enjoy what Galveston Bay has to offer.

costa rica sailfish Galveston Bay Spring Fishing

In January, my girlfriend and I visited Costa Rica for our first time. We fished aboard “Dreamworks,” owned and operated by Capt. Tom Carton and his Mate Jerry Carothers. We went 7-12 on Sailfish and lost a blue marlin estimated at 300 pounds. Capt. Tom has been fishing the area for over 25 years. He had the first Charter service in Los Suenos. I highly recommend him. You can find him on the web at captaintoms.com.

The Kraken – Galveston’s Newest Artificial Reef

galveston kraken coordinates The Kraken   Galvestons Newest Artificial Reef

GPS coordinates to the new reef are: 28 26.634 N, 94 17.168 W

kraken ship The Kraken   Galvestons Newest Artificial Reef

The Kraken prior to its sinking. Photo TPWD.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Artificial Reef Program sank a 371-ft cargo vessel, named The Kraken, earlier this year in January. Dubbed the Kraken after the mythical, squid-like sea monster immortalized on film and in literature, the vessel was sunk 67 miles off the coast of Galveston to create a new artificial reef (located at GPS coordinates  28 26.634 N, 94 17.168 W).

The Kraken began its journey in May 2016 when it was towed from Trinidad to Brownsville to be repurposed for its new life as an artificial reef 140 feet below the surface. Contractors with Cahaba Disaster Recovery LLC worked with the Artificial Reef Program to remove all fuel, oil and hazardous materials from the vessel in order to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s best management practices.

Over time, this sunken ship will become an artificial reef that attracts fish, coral and other invertebrates, as well as divers and anglers. Given its location, this wreck could become a hot spot for grouper, amberjack and snapper.

“The entire marine ecosystem benefits from artificial reef projects like the Kraken,” said TPWD Artificial Reef Program Leader J. Dale Shively. “The Gulf of Mexico has only a few naturally occurring reefs so whenever we are able to add a new structure like this, the whole area benefits from the added habitat and species diversity.”

For more information about the Texas Artificial Reef Program, please visit  tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/water/habitats/artificial_reef

Five Lures for Big Speckled Trout

These time proven big trout lures consistently produce fish over five pounds and have landed me a number of top tournament finishes.

By Capt. Steve Soule

superspookjr Five Lures for Big Speckled Trout

Super Spook Jr.

If the wind is light or I’m fishing in shallow water, my first and often only choice for chasing a trophy would be the Heddon® Super Spook Jr.® in bone with silver sides. Its a small lure in the world of big trout, but that’s what makes it so deadly. Fish in shallow water are much more sensitive to noise and water movements and there are days when the subtle presentation of a smaller lure just works better. With a little practice and variation of the retrieve, you can make the Spook Jr. sound and appear large. The single ball rattle system can be worked gently without spooking fish, but if you work it hard, you can achieve a wide side to side motion with a rather loud clicking to draw them in.

heddonsuperspook Five Lures for Big Speckled Trout

Super Spook

When the chop gets a little bigger, it’s time to tie on a bigger bait. The Heddon® Super Spook® in Okie Shad, or as I have always called it, the “Jimmy Houston,” is a close tie for my all-time favorite topwater. It’s a very natural color combination that works well in dirty water, but produces in clear water when others just won’t. This is not a small top water, in size or sound, but with its more natural color scheme it can be used effectively across the spectrum of conditions. Big or light chop, shallow or deep, this one does it all and I have caught more quality trout on this lure than I could possibly count.

shedog

She Dog

The MirrOLure® She Dog 83MR in Chartreuse/Pearl is another topwater that excels in choppy conditions, but can be deadly in both dirty and clear water. It too has a single ball style rattle, but emits a much higher pitch sound than the Super Spook. I don’t necessarily turn to this one as frequently as some of the others on this list, but when conditions call for it, I always have one ready. This lure and color combination landed me my largest trout to date, a fish just over 29.5” and over nine pounds, in 2010 in Galveston.

fatboy91

Paul Brown Fat Boy

When its time to probe the depths with deadly precision, I turn to the MirrOlure® Paul Brown Fat Boy, a creation of Houston mastermind Paul Brown, probably one of the greatest lure designers to ever live. This lure can take some time to get a grip on, but once you do, it can be fished effectively from less than a foot to depths over six feet. It’s a soft plastic wrapped, cork over wire, baitfish imitating, seductive dancing, finesse bait that has been the demise of many giant trout. Because of the construction of the lure, the Fat Boy can be tuned to swim at different depths, diving slightly up or down with different bends applied to the nose or tail. Chartreuse, gold sides, white belly has always been a favorite color combo for me.

fatboypink

Paul Brown Fat Boy

It’s not really fair to say that there is a fifth in my top five, because it’s a repeat of number four. For many years, the Fat Boy in pink with silver sides has been my go-to for cold winter fishing. This selection is a standard answer concerning winter trout, but my tournament partners can vouch for the fact that in certain conditions, I would start and finish a nine hour day throwing this one lure. It landed me my heaviest trout that I have an accurate weight on, at 9.25 pounds, and has been the lure that led me to more top five finishes in trout tournaments than any other.

These are my choices and I’m sticking to them. Every lure on this list has produced trout over 7.5 pounds in the Galveston Bay system. There is no one single bait that suits every condition set or scenario that you will encounter, and this list may not work for you, but it’s mine and has not changed much over the past ten years. When its time for me to hunt big winter or spring trout, you can rest assured I will have every one of these ready to go.

Texas Wahoo on Bad Intentions

texas wahoo sharked Texas Wahoo on Bad Intentions

Dr. Bob Rose, right, reeled in this huge wahoo that got sharked on the way in. The partial fish weighed 73 pounds on certified scales.

Texas wahoo are Texas-sized at the Flower Garden Banks

Photography and Videography by Brandon Rowan | brandon@baygroupmedia.com

Bad Intentions, a 64′ Viking owned by Debbie Conway, headed out to the Flower Garden Banks late January 2017 in search of BIG wahoo. The lines hit the water at first light but the wahoo bite didn’t begin until 10 a.m. and continued until late in the afternoon. The most successful baits of the trip were Ilanders rigged with ballyhoo and trolling weights, and heavy jetheads in purple/black or halloween colors. Watch the video above to see these hard running wahoo in action.

 

Galveston Winter Fishing: Deep Or Shallow?

big speckled trout Galveston Winter Fishing: Deep Or Shallow?

Finding trout and redfish when the water goes cold

By Capt. Joe Kent

There has always been a rule of thumb for seasonal fishing.  You should fish deep in mid-summer and winter, and fish shallow in the fall and spring.  While I certainly do not disagree with that, there have been some modifications to that rule for winter fishing around the Galveston Bay Complex.

Several decades ago, anglers could pretty much rely upon the scenario that if you want to catch fish during the winter, fish in deeper waters.  One reason is that the winters were colder and more prolonged than they are today.  Still, fish tend to follow that pattern around the Galveston Bay Complex except in at least one area and that is West Galveston Bay.

West Bay, as we call it, is a relatively shallow bay with few deep holes when compared to other bays such as upper Galveston or East Bays.  West Bay is well-known for its cold weather fishing and in fact, tends to turn off during the warmer months.

corky 300x197 Galveston Winter Fishing: Deep Or Shallow?

Paul Brown’s Original Suspending Twitchbait in Copper Top.

Slow sinking lures retrieved at a slow pace produce the fish.

This small bay system that spans between the Galveston Causeway and San Luis Pass is one of the top spots to catch trophy trout during the winter and early spring.  Reds also are plentiful that time of year and when looking at the average depth it is surprising that it is so productive during the cold months.

Harry Landers, a retired and once popular fishing guide out of Jamaica Beach, told me that West Bay was a well-kept secret for winter fishing.  He felt the same way about Chocolate Bay, a shallow bay system that adjoins Lower West Bay to the north.

Landers caught many trophy-sized trout during his hey-day and placed many happy guests into trout that would go to the taxidermist rather than the kitchen.

Landers knew West Bay and Chocolate Bay like the back of his hand and shared a few of his secrets, many of which are common knowledge among fishing guides today.

While Offatts Bayou and its famous Blue Hole caught the attention of anglers during the winter, Landers was out fishing the shallower waters of West Bay.  Wade fishing, he felt, was the most productive way of fishing the shallow waters.

No doubt when freezes took place, Offatts was the place to fish. Once the water started warming, trout would venture out of the deep water looking for bait.

Mud bottoms during the afternoon tide, either incoming or outgoing, hold the warmest water and attract the small finfish and crustaceans.  In turn, predator fish such as specks and reds will be nearby looking for a winter’s meal.

Shell bottoms also are popular especially in deeper waters.

During periods of afternoon incoming tides, large sow trout can be found roaming the shorelines, especially grassy areas for bait.  Wade fishing is much preferred for trying to entice an older and wiser fish to bite, as boats make noise and noise easily spooks trout.

Another of the popular choices is narrow channels for reds.  While West Bay has a limited number of those channels, offshoots from the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) are plentiful.  Carancahua and Green’s Lakes, along with several man-made canals just north of the ICW, offer excellent action on reds during outgoing winter tides.

Winter fishing styles apply to all of the areas mentioned and probably the biggest of the techniques is a very slow retrieve of the lure.  Slow sinking lures retrieved at a slow pace produce the fish.

While there will be some good fishing in deeper waters this winter, try shallow and go for the glory that is a trophy trout.

Galveston Bay Winter Fishing – What to do?

By Capt. David C Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures409-632-0924

galveston bay speckled trout Galveston Bay Winter Fishing   What to do?

Windy Marshall with a cold weather trout.

Winter is finally here. November of 2016 was very mild, with only a few cool mornings followed by record high temperatures. December arrived and in the first week we experienced record rainfall in some areas and our first real cold front. January and February are typically cold and wet months along the Upper Coast of Texas. This is a great time to enjoy some indoor activities or things that you might have neglected. Fishing still can be good, but you just have to pick the right days according to the weather.

January begins with the Houston Boat Show, held at Reliant Center Jan. 6 – 15, the show hosts the newest boats, motors and campers for the coming year. There are numerous vendor booths, with a large section dedicated to the sportsman/fisherman. I will be at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth the first few days of the show. Stop by and we can visit about fishing, Galveston Bay, etc.

Yes, fishing can be good during this time of year. Fishing between the fronts will be the key to your success. The upper reaches of the bay system, namely Burnett, Scott and San Jacinto Bays, draw most of the attention this time of year. The bays offer shelter from the North winds and as long as the water stays salty, redfish and speckled trout can be caught. Sylvan Beach and Bayland Park offer the closest launches to reach these areas.

Other fishing grounds to consider are the NW/W shorelines of Galveston Bay. Sylvan Beach down to Eagle Point offers protection from a NW-W wind. The area is littered with structure like old pier pilings and numerous deep water shell reefs. The traditional winter time hotspot known as Galveston’s West Bay, will also see its fair share of action. Live bait supplies can be scarce this time of year. While most people will be throwing artificial lures, bait fisherman can check with Eagle Point at 281 339-1131 for live shrimp.

Last but not least, these months are perfect to have your maintenance completed on your rods, reels, and tackle. Also, schedule any service for your boat and motor now. Don’t wait for spring to get them in the shop. I will be in Costa Rica the middle of January catching sailfish! My boat goes to the shop soon after my return.

 I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday break! Tight Lines to all!

Galveston Bay Webcams at Saltwater-Recon.com

causeway cam Galveston Bay Webcams at Saltwater Recon.com

The Galveston causeway cam at saltwater-recon.com

By Urs E. Schmid, President/CEO of www.saltwater-recon.com

By utilizing the latest technology in live, high definition, interactive web cameras, Saltwater-Recon.com is becoming the “Know Before You Go” resource for millions of people. Whether boating, fishing, or observing real-time conditions, Saltwater-Recon.com’s array of coastal HD cameras, combined with expert boating, fishing and weather content will give visitors the information needed to plan a safe and successful day on the water.

In addition to aiding the public with their decision-making, Saltwater-Recon.com aims to provide government entities, such as NOAA, U.S. Coast Guard, N.W.S., U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, as well as local news, and maritime logistics companies the information they need to make time-critical, and potentially life-saving, operational decisions.

It has been a long-time dream of ours to be able to look at the water from the comfort of our own home. Not everyone has the luxury of living close enough to the bay to be able to pop over and check out the water before an outing. Well, we have made that dream a reality.

With the help of our site sponsors and the Saltwater-Recon Team, CTO, Broc Adams and CFO, Larry Perez, (both BOI’s), we are using industry-leading, HD cameras that pan, tilt, and zoom with the click of a mouse to provide our users with the highest quality video stream, and YOU control the cameras! Our site allows the user to point the camera and even adjust how close they want to get with 30X zoom capabilities.

We currently have cameras in three locations; Trinity Bay, the Galveston Causeway and San Luis Pass. We are currently working on adding another three camera sites by the end of March 2017. New camera locations will include a Galveston beach cam, Seabrook and two cams at Seawolf Park to give users expansive views of the Galveston Ship Channel!

Along with our HD, interactive webcams, we also have some amazing bay/weather content including tide charts, access to weather/water information from NOAA buoys, weather radar and wind speed maps. We also have a full-time meteorologist on staff to bring our users the best, most up-to-date conditions of greater Galveston Bay.

We are also working on a very exciting new algorithm to bring bay conditions and weather forecasting into the 21st century. But that’s all we can say about that for now… please stay tuned to Saltwater-Recon.com and our Facebook page for updates on all the latest happenings and tournaments around the greater Galveston Bay complex through our EVENTS page, or check out the exclusive offers and coupons on our DEALS page.

We are excited for the opportunity to continually expand our network of cameras to bring real-time, reliable weather and bay conditions to anglers, boaters, and saltwater enthusiasts.

Going Skinny

Four small skiffs for fishing Texas marshes and backwaters

east cape caimen2 Going Skinny

east cape caimen Going Skinny

EAST CAPE CAIMEN

A little skiff with attitude. This boat is the perfect blend of beauty and function.  It can comfortably cross open bays and pole after tailing reds. It is one of the  most versatile boats in East Cape’s lineup. The Caimen is synonymous with simplicity.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Length: 17’ 10”
  • Beam: 61.5”
  • Draft: 4”- 7” (Fully Rigged w/Two Anglers & Gear )
  • Recommended HP: 25-70

407.658.7933 | www.eastcapeskiffs.com

HELL’S BAY PROFESSIONAL

The Hell’s Bay Professional is a very versatile boat for fishing a wide variety of conditions. This skiff is the perfect blend of shallow water draft, dry comfortable ride and stability. The length to width ratio of the Professional allows for easy poling, responsive turning, and has the ability to handle a variety of water conditions. If stalking the shallow flats or fishing the backcountry is what you are after, then the Professional should be your skiff of choice.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Length: 17’ 8”
  • Beam: 70”
  • Weight: 550 lbs
  • Draft: 4.5” (with engine/fuel)
  • Recommended HP: 60 – 90

321.383.8223 | www.hellsbayboatworks.com

SABINE SKIFFS VERSATILE

When Brian S. Little designed his first aluminum poling skiff he had one main design feature he wanted to accomplish; NO hull slap. Hull slap is created by waves hitting the boat at a less than desirable angle. The Versatile is designed and built to counteract the waves that cause fish spooking hull slap.

The Versatile is also designed to pole straight and allows the guide to spin the boat easily when needed. This shallow draft skiff, with a zero dead rise hull, offers a deck layout with storage for six 9’ 6” fly rods and walk-around gunnels you can actually walk around.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Length: 17’ 6”
  • Beam: 78”
  • Recommended HP: 30 – 50

281-380-7304 | sales@ultralightboatworks.com | www.sabineskiffs.com

SHALLOW SPORT 15 CLASSIC

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Length: 15’
  • Beam: 86”
  • Dry Weight 650 lbs
  • Draft (rest): 6”
  • Draft (on plane): 3”
  • Fuel Capacity: 20 Gal.
  • Recommended HP: 90
  • Max Capacity: 3

POWER

956-233-9489 | www.shallowsportboats.com

Be sure to also check out skiffs and shallow draft boats from:

Out in the cold

winter marsh redfish Out in the cold

Capt. Steve Soule with a 37-inch winter marsh red caught on a MirrOlure She Pup.

By Capt. Steve Soule | www.theshallowist.com

Winter weather has arrived on the upper Texas coast and so comes the arrival of some very different fishing. Colder air, colder water, reduced number of prey species and a different range of comfort zones dictate the location and feeding patterns of redfish and trout during the cooler months.

Finding patterns that hold through winter will increase your fishing percentages, and of the long list of factors involved, I’ve consistently found a few that truly make a difference.

mullet baitfish 300x166 Out in the cold

Mullet are largely on the menu for winter redfish and trout.

Winter Food Sources

First and foremost, in finding predatory fish in cold water is understanding the primary food sources that they feed upon. Most of the shrimp have either left the bays or will spend the majority of the winter buried in the mud. Crabs similarly disappear from the shallows, moving to deeper waters and also burying themselves in the mud. Many of the small species of bait fish will remain, though they won’t stay in water as shallow as they do in warmer months.

There are numerous species of marine worms and other small creatures that remain in the bay, though we rarely see them other than when found inside the bellies of the fish we catch. So, the primary food sources for predatory fish are the remaining small baitfish, such as mullet, mud minnows and others that hang around the shallows.

Finding fish during winter is isn’t always easy, but understanding the food sources makes a huge difference. Mullet or other bait fish species that frequently swim at or near the surface and jump, are easy targets and help anglers in locating fish. This isn’t uncommon during warming trends. When water temperatures are colder or trending down, baitfish tend to stay closer to the bay bottom and move towards deeper, warmer water, making them much more difficult to locate. Much like every other season, native guides and even seasonal natives can shed some light on the location of the food sources and of course, the predators are usually close by. What I mean by native guides is birds.

American White Pelican

Winter Bird Signs

The birds that are good indicators are much different during winter than summer or fall. The gulls and terns that were such great indicators of migrating shrimp over the past few months are typically not the birds to follow or watch for during the cooler months. My focus changes to some larger birds and some that only arrive after significant cooling. Both species of pelicans, brown and white, are voracious fish eaters and will often gang up when they locate large schools of mullet or other baitfish. And if you find large concentrations of bait in winter, odds are good that you will find predators as well. My favorite migratory bird to watch during winter is the Loon. This bird at a distance may look like the common cormorant, but when you get a little closer, its not hard to tell that they are much larger and have a large white patch on their chest. They also make a very distinct crying sound. They are incredibly adept diving birds that can swim fast and stay under water for several minutes. Finding more than one in an area diving is a great indication of schools of baitfish and predators.

I’m always on alert for shore birds such as egrets, herons, and ibis, though you won’t typically see them along the banks feeding unless we have a good warming trend going.

Winter is BIG trout time. Capt. Steve Soule caught this 27-inch trout on a Corky Fat Boy.

Temperature and Tide Factors

Most fish and marine animals spend their lives following just a few things; food, comfort and safety from predators. Temperature plays a huge role in the location and movement of both bait and predatory fish during winter. Temperature effects the food species and their movements, which in turn effects the movements of their predators. Much like us, if it’s cold, they seek warmth, which is why they inhabit certain areas during cooler weather, yet their range can spread widely when water warms. A great basic rule to understand is that if water temperatures are falling, fish will tend to mover to deeper water and as water temperatures warm, they will return to shallows.

Adding to that, this is driven by air temperature which takes time to impact the water. If temperatures are relatively stable, or the changes in temperature are not dramatic, the fish won’t feel the need to move as much as they will during more notable changes in temperature. There is an added important note, and one that we can feel and use to our advantage. As the air temperatures increase above the water temperatures, shallow water will warm fastest. As soon as this process begins, baitfish will begin to move to shallow, muddy and darker bottom areas.

Another important pattern to remember is that tides will still move fish, and can also adjust the temperature of the water in specific areas. If the air is notably warmer than the water, outgoing tides will carry warmer water out to deeper areas. In colder conditions, the opposite is often the case; incoming tides can wash more stable water temperatures into the shallows.

During the passage of winter fronts, especially those that have north or northwest winds, tides will fall sharply. The extreme low tides of winter tend to concentrate fish into very specific areas. In the marshes, the fish will fall into deeper creeks and bayous. In open water, guts, channels and soft mud near the edges of shallows will be the places to look.

Once you’ve found the fish, keep in mind that they are primarily feeding on other small fish, so use lures that imitate mullet or other bait species. Note the temperatures and the direction they are trending, either up or down. Knowing this will help determine the speed of retrieves when fishing. Like any other time when fishing, it may take some experimenting to determine exactly where the fish are and what type of presentation will work best. The good news is that once you find fish in the winter, they are typically concentrated in good numbers. Also noteworthy, if you find bigger fish, you often won’t find the smaller fish mixed in, and vice versa.

Braving the elements in winter is often rewarded with spectacular catches. Dress appropriately, take your safety and that of any passengers seriously. Dress in layers that can be removed or added as temperatures change, and get out and catch a few fish.

Wahoo Recipes

wahoo ceviche recipe Wahoo Recipes

REHAB Wahoo Ceviche

By Jasen Gast | REHAB Fishing Team

  • 1 lb. fish fillets
  • 6 juiced limes (or enough to cover the fillets)
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (minced)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers (seeded and diced)
  • 3 TBSP parsley
  • 2 TBSP cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 TBSP white vinegar

Slice your fillets into smaller strips and soak in lime juice over night. Drain the juice out and add the mixed ingredients. Chill and serve.

Lemon-Basil Wahoo

By Debbie Conway | Bad Intentions Charters

  • One 1” thick wahoo steak
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh basil
  • Fresh lemon, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove four round fillets from steak and place in baking dish. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes and basil into a bowl and pour over the fish. Salt and pepper to your taste. Lift them up to allow liquid to equalize onto bottom of dish and make sure fish is coated on both sides.

Place paper-thin slices of lemons over the entire surface of your dish for garnishment and bake in the oven at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes uncovered. Don’t over cook fish!  Remove lemon garnishment and serve fish over rice.

Texas Yellowfin Tuna 101

tunapop Texas Yellowfin Tuna 101

A Quick Guide to Fishing the Floaters

By Brandon Rowan

Night owls rejoice, Texas yellowfin tuna fishing is hot from dusk to dawn.  So, it’s pitch black and you’re bobbing along 100 plus miles offshore at the floaters (semi-submersible rigs). Well now what?

blackfin Texas Yellowfin Tuna 101

Blackfin tuna will provide all the bait and chum you need.

Jigging

First things first, you need chum. The idea is to create a tasty trail of bread crumbs for fish to follow as you drift away from the rig.  You could bring a bag of shad or other baitfish to get you started but all the chum and bait you need is right below your boat in the form of blackfin tuna.

Cousin to the yellowfin, these smaller tuna max out at around 50 pounds and swarm the night waters around the floaters.  There is no minimum length or bag limit for blackfin tuna in Federal waters.  Take the knife to smaller, football sized fish but bleed and ice the larger 15-30 pounders.  They put up a surprisingly good fight and taste nearly as good as yellowfin, just make sure to remove the large bloodline.  What is the best way to catch blackfin tuna?  Jigs are your best bet.

Blackfin are not particularly finicky and will hit just about any diamond, knife or butterfly jig you send down to the deep.  Jigs from 4 to 10 ounces with glow-in-the-dark colors seem to draw the most attention.  Yellowfin will also hit jigs although not with the regularity of blackfin. In fact, on one trip my two best yellowfin tuna, in the 50-pound class, were caught with glow-in-the-dark and blue 8-ounce diamond jigs.

To start your drift, position the boat down current of the platform and drop your jigs down.  Stay alert as you let your lure fall, many times fish will strike as the jig flutters downward. If your line suddenly goes slack, ratchet up the drag and set the hook.

The Japanese style of speed jigging can work in this situation but is tiring and not necessary when many bites happen on the fall. A slower yo-yo style of jigging is also effective, and if you’re at the right depth then sometimes a few lifts of the rod tip is all it takes to entice a bite. Load your jigging reels with color metered braid to help determine what depth the fish are feeding. Sometimes it’s 30 feet, other times it can be 300 feet.

 

Chunking

If things are going as planned, then you should have plenty of blackfin after a drift or two.  Cut your fish into one-to-two inch chunks and keep them handy in a designated chum bucket.  On your next drift have one angler continue to jig while another tosses out a handful of chunks every couple of minutes.  Set up two drift lines, one long and one short, each sporting a large bloody chunk of blackfin at the business end.

Chunking, as it is called, provides your best chance for landing big yellowfin tuna, so heavier tackle is a must.  Stout stand-up rods, 30 or 50 lb. class reels, 50 to 100 pound fluorocarbon leaders and strong 4/0 to 8/0 circle hooks are standard gear.  You don’t want to be outgunned when that 100 pounder finds its way to your chum line.  Don’t be discouraged if the bite doesn’t happen in first 15 minutes.  Many good fish have been hooked and landed far from the rig’s lights.

 

Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull Metallic Popper

Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull Metallic Popper

Pop the Top

Yellowfin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico sometimes shy away from jigs but will violently assault a topwater lure if conditions are right.  It’s a good idea to have a heavy spinning setup ready at all times for tossing poppers to surface crashing yellowfin. It is not uncommon to see tuna leap high out of the water when in pursuit of flying fish. A Shimano Saragosa or Stella loaded with 60 to 80 pound braid on a 7 – 8 foot rod is a common outfit. See this article for more detailed information on rods and reels.

The technique for working these lures is similar to the ole’ tried and true popping cork.   A flick of the rod tip causes the lure’s cupped mouth to rush forward and create a commotion.  They can also be reeled in ultra fast to create a big splashing disturbance on the surface. If the flying fish have taken to the skies, then it could be a good time to toss a popper.

 

flyfish

Tuna absolutely love flying fish.

Skimming the Big Pool

Flying fish are tuna candy. Sometimes they’re so thick they’ll fly right into the boat.  Other times they drift tantalizingly close but still out of reach. Your standard backyard pool skimming net solves this problem.  Flying fish make superb bait so collect as many as you can and put them to work on a drift line. Nothing beats the real thing.

 

A Bloody Mess

Tuna fishing is exciting, it definitely tests your arms and back – but it is not clean. You might want to wear an old shirt you don’t particularly care about. Tuna must be bled to ensure the highest quality of meat. Cut the gills or make a small semi-circle cut behind the pectoral fin to drain your fish before boxing it. You can go a step further and gut the fish, remove the head and pack the body cavity with ice if you find down time between fish. Good luck and tight lines!

tunadeck




Fishing Gear

simms womens waders Fishing Gear froggtoggs Fishing Gear

Christmas gifts for the mariner in your life

 

WADERS:

(Left) frogg toggs® Men’s Hellbender™ Stocking-Foot Wader is engineered with DriPore2Gen Technology for breathability and moisture management.

(Right) Simms® Women’s Freestone® Stocking-Foot Wader is made of 4-layer Toray® QuadraLam™ waterproof fabric that offers great breathability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

womens-boots

mens-wading-boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WADING BOOTS:

(Left) Simms Women’s Vapor Wading Boots with Vibram Soles and lightweight VaporTread™ platforms have been engineered for balanced fast hiking and wading performance. Neoprene partial liners deliver wading warmth, cushioning and easy on and off.

(Right) frogg toggs® Men’s Aransas™ Surf And Sand Wading Shoes are lightweight 5mm neoprene uppers with zipper closures, hook-and-loop ankle straps and full gussets ensure a secure, comfortable fit while sealing out sand and debris.

 

pescadorpro

KAYAKS:

Perception Pescador Pro 120 is designed with a center console for your fishfinder electronics and offers a 1-piece hull that is abrasion, UV and impact resistant for durability. The seat is removable and adjustable for comfort, and the boat provides a multitude of storage options for your tackle box, rods, paddles and other fishing essentials.

 

waterloo

FISHING RODS:

(Top) The Waterloo Phantom series is a versatile rod. Works great for various applications such as artificial and live bait. Built on a medium light, moderate fast action graphite blank with a light tip and moderate backbone. Available in 6’6”, 6’9” or 7’0”.

(Middle) The Waterloo Salinity series is a light-weight, very sensitive and versatile rod. Ideal for various applications such as small swimbaits and topwaters, and live bait. Built on a medium, moderate fast action graphite blank with a light tip and moderate backbone. Available in 7’0’ or 7’6”.

(Bottom) Same as the above Waterloo Salinity, but this is a special pink edition wrapped with teal thread.

 

penn-clashFISHING REELS:

The PENN® Clash gear train runs off Dura-Gear technology which offers a more durable and long lasting gear. 9 sealed bearings keep everything in line and moving freely while a full metal body eliminates twist caused by high drag pressure. The Clash also features a thick aluminum bail wire, slow oscillation system, Line Capacity Rings, and a braid ready spool.

13fishingreel

 

The Concept A from 13 Fishing is a smooth, lightweight reel that performs. Engineered with the right materials in the right places, it is built to withstand the rigors of competitive fishing. With 22 lbs of Bulldog drag, it will put the brakes on any fish in salt or freshwater.

 

line-cutterz

TOOLS:

Line Cutterz Ring is a sleek, adjustable ring with double-sided blade perfect for quick and efficient cutting of mono-filament and braided fishing line. Great for all types of fishing including kayak fishing, surf fishing, chartered fishing and ocean fishing. Velcro adjustable strap to fit all sizes. Two-sided stainless steel blades and stainless steel rivet set in a black ABS plastic for ultimate durability and safety.

 

 

stinkypants-stringerThe 8’ Pro-Series from Stinky Pants Fishing® is handmade in the USA using first rate materials designed for the toughest conditions. The stringers will not knot, fray, ravel or get stuck on teeth or hooks like other stringers. Simply release the stringer from the removable float and drop your days catch in the cooler. Available in a variety of colors.