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Gear

Top gear from Garmin, Huk, Lew’s, Caza Offshore and more

 

GARMIN STRIKER 300x183 Gear

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

machcrushcasting 300dpi 300x237 Gear

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

The 21 Super Cat from Haynie Custom Bay Boats

 The 21 Super Cat from Haynie Custom Bay Boats

The 21 Super Cat is the newest 21 Cat to the Haynie line. The main questions that get asked all the time is what’s the difference between the 21 Cat and the 21 SC? The 21 SC is basically the bigger brother to the 21 Cat. The beam on the 21 Cat is 8’ the beam on the 21 SC is 8’ 10” so it’s a much wider boat making it more stable. The sides on the 21 SC are higher than the original 21 Cat and the transom is also higher making it for a much drier ride. The cat sponsons on the original 21 Cat are much smaller and don’t have much V like the 21 SC does in return giving the 21 SC a much smoother and stable ride. So all in all the 21 SC is just an upgraded version of the original 21 Cat and believe it or not the 21 SC can do all the things that the original 21 Cat does so come see us today and let us build one especially for you.

Haynie non tribal jpeg 300x86 The 21 Super Cat from Haynie Custom Bay Boats

Contact us! 361-758-8486
www.hayniebayboats.com
info@hayniebayboats.com

The Keys to Shallow Redfish Success

soule2 The Keys to Shallow Redfish Success

Captain Clay Sheward with a healthy marsh redfish.

By Capt. Steve Soule

“Everything happens for a reason.”

We’ve all heard this expression, maybe not so often when we talk about fishing, but it definitely applies. As we learn an area or just learn to fish, things happen throughout the course of our days on the water. When we are novices, or less experienced, most of these things seem random or happen by chance. Whether it’s catching a fish or finding a new spot, it isn’t easy to see how the pieces of the fishing puzzle fall into place. Over time, the pieces come together, and details of how and why become much more clear.

For advanced or professional level anglers, fishing isn’t left to chance. It simply cannot be if you want to find shallow redfish success and find it regularly. I’ve learned lessons over many years and watched similar scenarios play out time and time again. The perspective of a guide, especially one who isn’t actively fishing, but more teaching and directing customers to fish is a very different one. Years of pushing a small skiff around the shallows teaches you many things. You get to watch fishing moments play out from a totally different point of view. It’s like having a grand stand seat on the front row, watching the entire scene play out in front of you, successful or not.

There is a ton to be learned both visually and with the end of the push pole about contours and bay bottom variations. My early years as an avid wader taught me many lessons that simply could not be learned from a standing in a boat. Contours, tapers and bottom composition are some of the most important factors in determining fish location and feeding pathways. These things, like so many that have led to fishing success for me are often quite subtle and the type of things that go totally unnoticed by the majority of people on the bay.

Sharpen Your Sight

I had a day several years ago fishing with a customer new to shallow water. I had met him around 5:45 am for a mid summer sight casting trip. As per my usual, the morning was spent trying to acclimate the customer to the world of shallow water fishing. Trying to teach him to see fish, even when they aren’t visible, and understand the signs. This particular day, I became much more aware of just how many signs and subtleties I look for and try to relate to customers. It was somewhere around 11 a.m. when I mentioned a small mullet jumping. This was a little more obvious than many of the things I had pointed out that morning. The customer responded that this was the first thing they were able to notice, despite me talking and pointing things out all morning. I found this rather interesting, mostly because it made me realize that the level of scrutiny I look at my surroundings, goes far beyond what most people would see.

For those new to the sport, I’m sure that it’s tough to keep up with someone like me who is constantly pointing out things of interest and trying to describe their significance. Moreover, it probably generates some concern when they can’t or simply don’t see even half of what I tell them I’m looking for. I talk about all manner of things from “mud boils” and swirls, to wakes and pushes. Not the average language for most, and among the thousands of jumping mullet, flying birds and general commotion on the water, these things aren’t easy to distinguish.

reds918 The Keys to Shallow Redfish Success

Kristen Soule’ with a shallow water redfish and a shirt borrowed from dad.

Now, when we start to take this to an even more intense level of things like seeing a two-inch white shrimp jumping 50 feet away from you, it becomes easy to understand how this can be challenging when its all so new.

In my nearly 40 years of shallow water fishing, I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with hundreds of anglers, from complete novices to those who have fished this coast much longer than I have. I’ve always made a point of trying to learn something from every situation, and there have been many days when lessons have come from people with considerably less experience. Perspectives can be so different as we progress in fishing and gain knowledge and experience.

I have a great friend and fellow angler that I have known for many years and have gotten to spend more days on the water recently. We just had a day on the water where he asked me about boat positioning. This is all important in sight fishing, especially fly fishing, and a topic that all of my friends seem to expect me to have an exact answer to. This particular day, I gave a response that had become something that I’ve come to take as fairly obvious. “Follow the contour line;” a fairly subtle depth change that runs along this particular shallow flat. Something that in my mind had become a standard practice and to me was quite visible. It took some time, zig zagging back and forth across this contour before he began to realize what I meant. Just one of the many things that has led me to greater success in finding fish.

For many years, I have made a point to take careful notice about where I see fish and as much as possible what they are doing and the direction that they are moving. When you fish shallow, you get to see so much more and the opportunities to learn are everywhere around you. If you make a practice of little things like this,  over time you can start to see patterns form that will only lead to future success. Sometimes these patterns apply within the course of a day, other times they are the type that would get logged into the memory banks as seasonal.

One of my favorites has always been trying to note what depth the fish are at. Given that most of the water I fish is shallower than most people would fish, it’s much easier to take note of. You probably wouldn’t think that the moving between 7 and 10 inches deep would make much difference, but there are many days when it really does.

roseate spoonbill

The Other Birds

Birds on the bay can be some of the best indicators around. I always tell people they are way better at finding fish than we are. We fish for fun, mostly. Birds find fish, and things that fish eat, to survive. Knowing various birds that we see around the bay and understanding what their various behaviors indicate is another invaluable tool. We all know the value of seagulls in leading us to hungry packs of trout or redfish. How many of us pay attention to a snowy egret or an ibis? If you saw three roseate spoonbills walking a shoreline, would you pay them any attention? Do you ever pay attention to pelicans? Could you even identify a loon? Every one of these birds can and will lead you to fish, along with many others. But without having seen them in action and having the experience of knowing what they mean, they just become a part of the coastal scenery.

The keys to success aren’t always obvious. I’ve told people for years that you can’t always go look for the fish. Some days you have to look for the signs of the fish. The movements visible on the waters surface; a shrimp flipping out of the water, being able to distinguish a different type of baitfish, or recognizing the difference in the way mullet jump. Being “tuned in” to your surroundings and constantly making the effort to learn and understand the “why” can only make you a better angler and one who finds success more consistently over time.

Galveston Bay Trout Fishing: The Transition

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

hutchb Galveston Bay Trout Fishing: The Transition

Hutch Burns with a nice trout.

We all can remember sitting down and chatting with our parents and grandparents as a youth. My conversations with them would usually be about memories of past times. The conversation always ended with them saying “Life is short; the older you get, the faster times goes by.”

Now, as I near the ripe age of 58, I understand what they meant. It only seemed like yesterday that the summer of 2018 began, and now the end is near. Fall is knocking on the door. Galveston Bay is about to go into a transition period.

JohnM Galveston Bay Trout Fishing: The Transition

John Michael Provenzano’s redfish.

September still might feel like summer during the day but slight changes in the air temperature will occur at night. The evening and early morning air will be slightly cooler and drier compared to the previous two months. This subtle change will begin to slightly lower the water temperature in the bay. This will spark a movement of shrimp and baitfish from out of the back marshes and into the main bay. Speckled trout will transition themselves, no longer seeking the depth of deep water. The fish may remain around deep water structure but will be feeding higher up in the water column. Live shrimp fished under a popping cork 4-6 feet deep will be lethal on these trout, while the “croaker bite’ will slow down.

Come October, we will see the “transition” in full swing. Passing cool fronts will lower the water levels and temperature even more, triggering a bigger movement of shrimp and baitfish from the back ends of Galveston Bay. Speckled trout will move to these areas to forage on what is exiting the marsh. Flocks of seagulls will pinpoint the location of these fish when they are feeding. Don’t rule out drifting the reefs and structure with live shrimp under corks, keying on presences of bait and slicks in the area.

Remember not all trout make this movement. Depending on the weather and cool fronts, plenty of fish will still be caught in the areas you were fishing in August. Eagle Point Fishing Camp will have a great supply of live shrimp. Those anglers in the Kemah, Seabrook and Clear Lake area can call 281-339-1131 to check on their bait supply.

It has been a long hot summer but fishing remained good. I am looking forward to fishing these months and enjoying the cooler weather. The fish seem to bite through out the day, on any given tide. Take time away from your busy schedule and get on the water!

Changing Galveston Flounder Patterns

texas galveston flounder Changing Galveston Flounder Patterns

By Capt. Joe Kent

Autumn, or Fall Fishing, as we more frequently call it, is one of the best times of the year to fish the Galveston Bay Complex, especially for flounder.

In recent years, we have discussed the changing scene of fall fishing, noting how the timing has been altered.  We likely all agree that we have seen a delay before the action gets underway; however, we have not discussed how flounder fishing has changed as a result.

Hopefully some pointers will help increase your harvests of this popular fall flatfish.

Fifty years ago, the first cold front of the season usually arrived in mid-September.  Following it, fish would start changing their patterns, as an awareness took place that winter was not far behind.

By October, the water temperature in the bays had dropped and that, combined with the shorter periods of sunlight, gave way to the action.  Flounder were noticeably more active and were beginning to make their way toward the passes and outlets into the Gulf of Mexico.

freeport flounder Changing Galveston Flounder Patterns

Colder weather brings out the big girls.

At some point between Thanksgiving and mid-December the sows are on their way and that is time for trophy flounder catches.

Today, much has changed due to the delay in the arrival of cooler temperatures. During the era we have been discussing, the water temperatures were below 70 degrees by mid-October and the first freeze of the year, albeit a light one, usually took place by late October.

The fall flounder run was well underway in October and old-timers looked at the peak of the annual run as taking place between the Full Moons of October and November.  Now that same group looks to the same lunar phase between November and December.

A good example of how this delay has been recognized was when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department imposed special flounder regulations during November, as that was the month when the annual migration reached its peak and started winding down.

Not long ago the TPWD extended the November bag limit of  two fish per person to mid-December.  When the regulation was enacted all signs pointed to November as the time for the peak and the winding down.  Now, it is well into December before the migration shows signs of running its course.

Today, the flounder run has its peaks and valleys; however, one thing that anglers are noticing is that many of the flatfish do not make the migration and remain in the bays.

The reason for this is that due to the warmer than normal conditions, bait still hangs around and with it a certain number of flounder.

During the run, there will be a few major cold fronts that empty the marshes and back bays.  When this occurs, flounder will head to deeper waters and many take the signal to move on to the Gulf.

In recent years, the after effects of the fronts do not last long and many of the fish, including bait, will head back to the marshes and back bays.  Savvy anglers have observed this and take advantage of the situation.

Flounder catches will increase as we get closer to the end of the year.

By mid-December, the majority of flounder is on its way to the Gulf or has arrived there.  Still a few stragglers will remain.

Prior to 2010 I had never caught a flounder during January or February.  In January that year a friend and I were drifting for trout in West Bay tossing soft plastics when I landed a 16-inch flounder.  What a surprise it was.

Today, successful anglers plan their trips and hit the water just before a “Blue Norther” hits or several days afterwards. Toward the end of the run, the big sows finally start their journey and that is usually after a series of major cold fronts empties the marshes and drops the water temperatures into the upper 40s.

It usually takes several of these “Blue Northers” to encourage the majority of the flounder to head to the Gulf.

At some point between Thanksgiving and mid-December the sows are on their way and that is time for trophy flounder catches.

While live shrimp, mud minnows and fingerling mullet are three of the top natural baits for flounder when the big girls are moving, live mullet up to six inches in length is the resounding preference.

Berkley Gulps, Flounder Pounders, Chicken Boys and a variety of other soft plastics also work well and give the natural baits serious competition.

Women’s Swimwear and Fishing Apparel from Scales Gear

 

b8a1d2f365c348b49fd3d5a774266b18 Womens Swimwear and Fishing Apparel from Scales Gear

MONEY2 Womens Swimwear and Fishing Apparel from Scales Gear

Adrienne Hall in the Ocean Scales bikini by Scales Gear. Photography by Kelly Groce.

Inspired by the protection and hydrodynamic advantage fish scales provide; SCALES created a unique product line using the highest quality materials that combines performance, style and comfort for their apparel and accessories. Here is some of our favorite picks from their women’s gear.

 

WAHOO BIKINI

 

WAHOO TRIANGLE TOP – A classic bikini top in a colorful-inspired Wahoo design.

 

WAHOO BAITING SUIT SOLO BOTTOM – A classic bikini bottom with added flare of the squid skirt tassels will make this bottom the talk of the boat, beach or the pool!

  • 85% Nylon
  • 15% Spandex
  • SPF 50+

 

 

OCEAN SCALES BIKINI

 

OCEAN SCALES BIMINI TWIST TOP – A twist on a timeless bikini silhouette with a flattering Ocean Scales design.

 

OCEAN SCALES BANDED BOTTOM (ADDITIONAL COVERAGE) – Extra comfortable classic bikini bottom in a colorful Ocean Scales design.

  • 85% Nylon
  • 15% Spandex
  • SPF 50+

 

 

TROPICAL SAILFISH PERFORMANCE TOP

 

A lightweight, comfortable and athletic fit performance shirt. Comes with a vibrant color sublimated print.

  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection
  • Slim Fit Design
  • Quick Drying
  • Antimicrobial
  • Moisture wicking technology
  • 4.1 oz 100% Microfiber

 

 

GIRLY TUNA BOARDSHORT

 

SHOP ONLINE AT WWW.SCALESGEAR.COM

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/scalesgear

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/scales_gear

 

Model Adrienne Hall in the Wahoo Baiting Suit by Scales Gear. Photography by Kelly Groce.

 

Saltwater Fishing Tips for Summertime Visitors

 

speckledtroutyouth Saltwater Fishing Tips for Summertime Visitors

Abby Gonzalez happily shows off her trout.

By Capt. Joe Kent

Each summer, hundreds of visitors flock to the Gulf Coast for vacation and to enjoy some of the best saltwater fishing around.  Many, however, are not experienced in saltwater fishing and others have had limited experience and have had difficulty catching fish.

Perhaps a few of the pointers discussed in this article will contribute to some successful fishing while here. While a few visitors have never been fishing, others have had experience freshwater fishing which they soon find out is very different than saltwater fishing.

For over 12 years I have been the fishing columnist for the Galveston County Daily News, writing a daily column about Galveston area fishing.  During those years, vacationers have asked a lot of questions about how, when and where to fish and from them we will focus on those asked most frequently.

Among the most common questions are; where to fish, equipment needed and baits.  Following those are questions about when to fish, where to fish without a boat, the best times to fish and fishing licenses.

Gear

Let’s start by addressing the equipment needed.  For inshore fishing (bays and jetties), a medium action rod and reel equipped with 10 to 15 pound test line is the most popular choice.

Among the most popular riggings are popping corks with treble hooks. Popping corks with a leader ranging from say 15 to 28 inches in length using 20 to 40 pound test line work well.  Treble hooks are the most popular, with sizes 6 to 10 being the most common.  My preference is size 8.

Prepared popping corks are available at most tackle and bait shops and my recommendation to the newcomer is to start with one of those.

In the hot summer, when the water temperature is above 80 degrees, fish will tend to be deep thereby making a bottom rig the best choice.  We call this bottom bumping and the rig is fairly simple consisting of a swivel, 15 to 24 inches of 20-30 pound leader and treble hook of the sizes mentioned earlier, or a small kahle hook.

Above the swivel, a slip sinker from 1/8 to 3/4 ounce should be used.  The size will depend on the strength of the current and the idea is to use as small a weight as possible to get the bait near the bottom.

liveshrimphook Saltwater Fishing Tips for Summertime Visitors

Best Baits

Live shrimp and croaker are the two most popular summertime baits and for the newcomer, I recommend live shrimp.  The bait camps can show you how to hook the shrimp, as it is a fairly complicated process of getting the hook just under the horn of the shrimp.

For newcomers, I do not recommend artificial baits.

Where and when to fish are not quite as easy to answer, as weather conditions have a major impact on that choice.  If you are fishing from a boat, there are many spots including the jetties, Causeway Bridge area, East and West Bays, Galveston Ship Channel shorelines and gas well shell pads.  The key for all of those areas is having tidal movement and at least fair water clarity.

Unfortunately, the locations are limited for those anglers without boats.  Fishing piers along the beachfront, Jamail Bay Park, Seawolf Park and a few private subdivision piers are about it.  For those willing to wade fish, the surf can be red hot with action during the summer.  The keys to success are light wind and good water clarity.

Moon phases play into the equation, as days on both sides of the full and dark moons offer some of the best tidal movement.  The best wind direction is a light to moderate southeast wind while the worst winds during the summer are from the southwest and east.  Wind velocity plays a big role in both of the adverse winds, as light winds from either direction are often tolerable; however, moderate to strong velocities are usually just not worth fighting.

A saltwater fishing license and stamp are needed and can be purchased at sporting goods stores, many bait shops and online at tpwd.texas.gov.  Try to get your licenses ahead of time to avoid delays on the morning of your trip.

Hopefully the information above will help you have a productive fishing trip while enjoying the many attractions that the Texas Gulf Coast has to offer.

Hot and Getting Hotter!

Tantuco Hot and Getting Hotter!

Dr. Tantuco and family after a day of red hot speckled trout fishing with Capt. Dillman.

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

Summer has finally arrived here along the Texas Upper Coast. This June, the Galveston/Houston area broke record or near record high temperatures on several days. But the trout fishing in June was really good. As the heat sets in the next two months, the trout action will only get hotter!

As the doldrums of summer set in, the water temperature rises in the bay. This rise will cause trout to seek the deep water structure Galveston Bay affords them. In July, the area known as the Exxon A-Lease should be loaded up with trout. The deep water structure of shell pads near these numerous gas wells will hold the fish to this area. Any given well in this location can be productive but some wells are better then others.

The shell pads located adjacent to the ship channel will see its share of trout too. Some of the oyster reefs are marked by PVC pipe. Some reefs must located using your depth sonar. Channel markers 50-62 are popular areas to fish in July.

In August, trout will begin their annual migration north. There will still be plenty of fish in the areas mentioned earlier. Some fish will move farther up the channel, staging on the reefs from markers 66-72 and around the tip of Atkinson Island. The wells located in the middle of Trinity Bay will also see an increase in the population of trout. These wells, just as the wells in the A-Lease, provide good structure for the fish. Trinity is a big open bay that can get rough, so plan fishing the open water there according to the wind speed and your boat’s capability.

Live natural baits work best in the heat of July/August. Live croaker and shrimp are the baits of choice this time of year. Croakers should be fished on the bottom, while shrimp can be used on the bottom or under a popping cork.

Eagle Point Fishing Camp in San Leon offers easy access to all of these areas and has a great supply of live bait during this time of year. They can be reached at 281-339-1131 for updates on conditions and bait. Enjoy the heat of the summer and its hot fishing! Remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated!!

Down South Lure Weedless Rigging

DSL flounder Down South Lure Weedless Rigging

By Brandon Rowan

This is a great way to rig a Down South Lure when fishing for flounder that are super tight to rocks, pilings or heavy shell. Fish as close as you want to structure with confidence and lose less tackle. Just be sure to tuck the barb of the hook back into the plastic and set the hook like you mean it.

bobberstoptung Down South Lure Weedless Rigging

STEP 1

Pull your rubber sinker stop onto your line. Add your tungsten bullet weight (1/8 oz., 1/4 oz. or 3/8 oz.) and slide both up your line, giving yourself plenty of room to tie on your hook.

STEP 2

Tie on a Gamakatsu 2/0 EWG worm hook with your preferred knot.

STEP 3

Push the hook into the head of your Down South Lure, about the length of the hook’s offset shank, then push the hook through the underside of the lure and thread up onto the shank.

STEP 4

Lay the hook against the plastic and visually mark where to push the hook back up through the lure. Push the hook through the belly and up through the top of the lure. Bury the tip of the hook back into the plastic. The lure should lay naturally when rigged correctly. Slide down your rubber stop and peg the weight to the lure. This keeps the entire rig compact and less likely to catch rocks or other snags.

Is it time to lower the limit on speckled trout?

blumentrout Is it time to lower the limit on speckled trout?

Speckled trout. Photo by Garrett Blumenshine.

By Capt. Joe Kent

Almost every time the subject of lowering the number of fish anglers can retain crops up, a controversy arises that seems to draw a line in the sand.

Part of the problem is that there remain a large number of anglers who grew up fishing under no size or bag limits for saltwater fish.  Fifty years ago anyone would have been laughed at if they suggested placing a limit on the number of fish an individual could keep, let alone place any size restrictions on the catches.

After all, there was an endless supply of finfish and shellfish swimming the coastal waters and there was no way fishermen could even dent the populations.

Unfortunately, it did not take long to prove otherwise, as freeze events and overfishing by both commercial and recreational anglers began taking their toll on our stocks of trout, redfish and flounder.

Toward the end of the 1970s, when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) was compelled to take action, the bag and size limits imposed were met with resistance by many in the fishing community.

That mentality continues to exist and was noticeable as recently as seven years ago when the TPWD held public hearings soliciting comments and opinions from anyone affected by any change in the bag limits for trout.

One meeting that was held at the TPWD Dickinson Lab almost got out of hand, as guides, marina operators and others were quite vocal in their opposition to any reduction in the number of trout allowed.

While the TPWD passed on the concerns expressed for the upper Texas Coast, they did recommend and had approved by the commissioners a reduction from 10 to five trout for anglers fishing the lower and middle coasts.

As an outdoor writer and columnist, I have been noticing an increasing number of sportsmen, including fishing guides and others with commercial interests in fishing, supporting a change in the rules.

Many of those same individuals were among the loud protesters at the hearings mentioned earlier.

I asked several of those I personally know what brought about their change of attitude?  Universally, they said that it was concern over the long-term survival of our stocks of trout.

One well-known fishing guide pointed out that the problem was of an environmental nature and that while recreational fishermen had a minimal impact, the solution required sacrifices on all ends.  There is not much individuals can do about devastating floods or severe droughts; however, they can do their part as stewards of our wildlife resources.

Each year there are increasing numbers of anglers fishing the Galveston Bay Complex and we are at the point that our resources of trout and other fish just cannot handle all of the added pressure.

At this point trout appear to be the only finfish about which there are concerns.  Reds have a three-fish slot limit and seem to be thriving well around the Galveston Bay Complex.

Several years ago the bag limit for flounder during the majority of the year was reduced from 10 to five and all indications are that the stocks are rebounding well following that change.

While anglers have a voice in the matter, the answers are going to have to come from the TPWD.  If the parties are in agreement, the process should be fairly easy to get initiated. The legislative procedures will begin to get the regulatory changes into law.

Thoughts on the call for a trout limit reduction

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

dillman fishing Thoughts on the call for a trout limit reduction

Mickey and Pat Carr

Galveston Bay is the seventh largest estuary in the United States. The surface area of the bay is 600 square miles with a average depth of ten feet. The bay complex has survived floods, freezes and pollution and still continues to thrive. Changes to the bay have occurred ever since “Moby Dick was a minnow.”

In the past few years, the bay system has seen its share of droughts and floods. Ever resilient, the bay system rebounds and so does the fishery. No matter what “Mother Nature” throws at it, the bay system rebounds. This resiliency is what makes Galveston Bay such a great fishery.

There has been a recent increase in calls for a reduction in the bag limit for speckled trout. The influx of freshwater into our bay system over the past two years has made trout easy targets for some. A situation known as a “stack up” of these fish occurred in the bay and many trout were taken by anglers in the know, many of them being charter boats. Fearing another “stack up” situation this year from the recent rains and runoff this April, some anglers and charter boat captains are calling for a reduced limit of trout. The current limit is ten fish per angler and on charter boats the captains limit is excluded. A five fish limit is what this group is seeking.

dillman fishing2 Thoughts on the call for a trout limit reduction

Dick Daugird with grandkids Wade and Walker Winters.

A article that was in the Houston Chronicle dated April 4, 2018 deemed our fishery “fine and dandy” according to Glen Sutton of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. So why are some anglers and charter boat captains “beating their drum” for a reduced limit? Some of this group believes the trout population has suffered over the past couple years due to them being stacked up in one area for a few weeks. I do believe they became easy prey for some anglers, most of them on chartered boats. The question becomes, what type of conservation should be in place to protect our trout fishery?

Fact is, the average angler seldom, if ever, catches a ten fish limit of trout. They just want to go out and enjoy their fishing experience with the hope of catching a ten fish limit one day. Anglers on charter boats go out with the expectation of catching their trout limit. The captain, as the law is written, can contribute to the boat limit of speckled trout. I think we all can agree there is an abundance of charter boats on Galveston Bay. These same charter boats take a majority of trout from the bay system. So maybe we need to find a way to reduce the catches of trout on chartered boats. I know good and well that a captain fishing along with their customer catches and retains an unequal amount of trout most of the time. This ensures the captain of a quick day and full limits for the boat.

What I would propose, is that a captain CANNOT retain any fish on a chartered trip. They can fish, but with no retention or “boxing” of fish. After all, I feel the customers should be the ones catching their own fish to take home, not the boat captain.

I feel no one user group should dictate what the fish limits should be unless it is agreed upon by the majority of fishing license holders or TPWD officials and biologists.   

Haynie Custom Bay Boats – 25′ Magnum

 Haynie Custom Bay Boats   25 Magnum

haynie fd789218dbb4e21f7267ca50532332aa59d509521a94b31e82195d7d4c639a54 300x173 Haynie Custom Bay Boats   25 MagnumWith hundreds of miles of Texas coast line, Haynie custom bay boats can cover it all. From the open waters that can kick up a healthy chop on the Galveston Bay complex to the flats of Rockport, you won’t find a more superior ride. The 25 Magnum is the newest addition to the Haynie line-up and it is a monster.

The Magnum handles extremely well in choppy conditions. The hull is 24’ 11” long and has an 8’ 3” beam. This V-hull will draft in 10” of water, get up in 16-18” of water, and will run in 6-8” of water. With a 250-hp Mercury® Pro XS®, this boat will run between 55-60 mph. With a 350-hp Mercury® Verado®, it will run 65-70 mph depending on the deck layout and rigging.

All Haynie boats come on a custom aluminum Coastline Trailer built in Seadrift, Texas. Each trailer is built for your boat and comes standard with L.E.D. lights and smooth riding torsion axles.

Located in Aransas Pass, Chris’s Marine is a family owned full service marine dealership and the largest Haynie boat dealer. Stop by and visit the nice folks at Chris’s Marine and let them help you design your perfect fishing boat. The options are endless!

CHRIS’S MARINE:
1213 W. Wheeler Ave
Aransas Pass, Texas
361-758-8486
www.hayniebayboats.com
www.chrismarineboats.com

Gear Up For Spring

pfg board short Gear Up For Spring

Columbia PFG Offshore Camo Fade Boardshort

Combining good looks and high-performance, these Columbia boardshorts cover all the bases. The Omni-Wick and Omni-Shade UPF 50 fabric protects from the sun and dries quickly. Stash your keys or extra tackle in a zippered cargo pocket. These boardshorts even have a bottle opener for those celebrations on the dock or beach. Available in five digital fade colors. Shown in Cedar Redfish Digi Fade Print.

www.columbia.com

salty crew hat Gear Up For Spring

Salty Crew Mahi Trucker Hat

Choose to keep it salty with this Salty Crew trucker hat. Features a mesh back and nylon ‘dorado’ patch sewn to the front.

www.salty-crew.com

Columbia Men’s Dorado CVO PFG Shoe

This versatile shoe combines a comfortable wear-anywhere design and high-performance pedigree. Super-plush and quick-drying, the Dorado CVO PFG is built for the life aquatic with a breathable mesh upper, superior midsole cushioning, and wet grip traction. Plus, advanced water and stain repellency helps ensure a clean look whether you’re dockside or downtown. Shown in Zour/Emerald Sea

www.columbia.com

Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Twitchbait

This slow sinking lipless hard bait by Yo-Zuri exhibits an erratic darting action during a twitch and pause retrieve. Use the smaller 2 3/4” size in Ghost Shad to imitate an injured glass minnow when fishing the lights at night this spring.

www.yo-zuri.com

Yo-Zuri 3DR Minnow

Small Yo-Zuri jerkbaits have long been a secret weapon for targeting redfish and trout around nighttime light sources. New for 2018, the 2 3/4 3DR Minnow in Real Glass Minnow is a perfect forage imitation to use around causeway or canal lights.

www.yo-zuri.com

Strike King Redfish Magic Spinnerbait

Spring means high winds, high tides and murky water in the marsh. Search out hungry redfish with the extra vibration and flash from this proven Strike King spinnerbait. Shown in Black Neon Chartreuse. Available in 1/8 or 1/4 oz sizes.

www.strikeking.com

FishStix “Kitchen Sink”

The FishStix “Kitchen Sink,”  7’ Medium bait cast rod is built for throwing a little bit of everything. It has enough backbone and power to throw heavier baits such as topwaters, popping corks, live bait and crankbaits but still has a fast enough tip to be able to throw tails. It’s the perfect rod for beginners, everyday anglers, and guides because of its great versatility and dependability.

“Kitchen Sink”

Length/Action: 7’ Medium

Line: 10 – 20 LBS

Lure: 3/8 -1 Oz.

Micro guides

Fuji SK2 Split Reel Seat

www.gotfishstix.com

13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel

13 Fishing is exploring the future of fishing reels with the first high performance baitcasting reel that uses zero ball bearings. The result is a quiet and far-reaching cast that won’t suffer performance loss from debris, corrosion or environmental wear. A ridiculous 22 pounds of max drag keeps even the biggest fish in check.

Weight: 6.4 oz., Line Capacity: 12/135, Ratio: 6.6:1, 7.3:1 or 8.1:1

www.13fishing.com

Wilderness Systems Ride 135

What you can see is what you catch when sight fishing for marsh redfish. This time-tested Wilderness Systems yak is stable enough for any angler to stand up in and gain a better vantage point. The 13”6’ length will keep you paddling happy vs. shorter kayaks. Shown in Mango.

www.wildernesssystems.com

 

Marsh Fishing in Spring

redfish marsh fishing Marsh Fishing in Spring

Captain Clay Sheward hooked up to a redfish deep in the marsh.

By Capt. Steve Soule

www.ultimatedetailingllc.com

Spring may be the toughest season of all to figure out on the upper Texas Coast. It’s the first of our two annual transitional periods, and in my opinion, definitely the harder of the two to get a solid grasp on when it comes to patterning. With so many factors at play, March and April can wreck even the best made plans.

To gain a better understanding, we need to think first about where we are transitioning from. In a winter season like we’ve just had, the coldest in nearly 10 years, we truly put fish into a winter pattern. This is a pattern that can be predictable and reasonable easy to describe and understand. Fish tend to move slightly deeper and hold over certain types of structure or bay substrate. Food sources, though limited have become reliable and are somewhat easy to locate as they are larger and more visible than at other times of the year.

Temperature

At the first signs of spring, anglers can often do very well. Predatory fish move from deeper to shallower water as the air and water temperatures warm. The initial warming creates added temperature to the cold blooded fish as well as their prey. This change typically makes both more active and sends predators out in search of food. But this isn’t always the easiest thing for hungry predators to accomplish.

Everything is transient in spring; both predator and prey. Temperature and barometric pressure swings wildly during this period. Weather varies from mild to violent

and boating and fishing pressure is steadily increasing.

Wind, tide, temperature and timing; all of these factors play a major role in spring fishing. But the prevalence and types of available food for predators is still limited.

Spring Prey

Winter forage, like mullet and finfish are still present but the return, or emergence of other various food sources happens at a much slower pace than their departure during fall. Wintering crabs and shrimp that have buried in mud through the cooler months will be some of the earliest additions to the menu, followed by a slow trickle of various other small baitfish species. Keep in mind that this is a slow process that is triggered more so by the “photo period” or length of daylight versus darkness than it is by temperature. Many food sources don’t truly return in force until later in spring.

Wind

Wind is always a factor in spring, especially during the first half of the season. Light wind days are few and far between, and late season cold fronts can often push us well into the small craft advisory range. This doesn’t lend itself well to great fishing days and certainly doesn’t make spring inviting for anglers. With high winds come several other factors that influence fishing. High tides and rapid barometric pressure come to mind at the top of the list.

reds Marsh Fishing in Spring

Marcos Enriquez with a nice shallow water redfish.

High Tides

Discussions on high tides seem to happen repeatedly during spring. For those who fish open and deeper water areas, the significance is reduced dramatically. For those who fish relatively shallow waters, the impact is quite substantial.

Big rising tides push small prey animals deeper into marshes and other areas where they can find cover from predation. The host of predators, like redfish, trout and flounder, will follow. Often, this puts predator and prey out of reach of most boaters and increases the overall size of the area we have to search. Fish become like needles in a haystack.

It often seems like redfish enjoy exploring new territory, and high tides are the open invitation for them to take off wandering.

Pressure

The large swings in barometric pressure during spring can provide both good and bad fishing. Changes in pressure seem to create short windows of increased feeding activity, especially when they happen in conjunction with moving tides or a moon position that would already cause fish to hunt for food. We can’t fish purely around pressure changes, not predictably anyway. You can shoot for catching the big changes as fronts approach and pass the coastline, but safety and comfort are often compromised. More often than not, most of us as anglers are stuck with the days that we can get on the water. It’s interesting to note, that even small changes in the direction of barometric pressure movement can effect fish feeding behaviors. Steady pressure, or pressure that is steadily on the rise or fall, often yields stagnant fish feeding

Timing

Timing, as I mentioned earlier, can have a huge impact on our success rates in fishing. Knowing seasonal patterns is very helpful in understanding when fish tend to feed in certain areas. If you don’t have years of fishing log information, then you can only go and hope for the best in finding actively feeding fish or rely on local information. Often, springtime doesn’t follow the typical feeding periods normally associated with summer. Don’t be one of the anglers that hunt out a summer feeding pattern this early in the year.

Bottom line, springtime fishing requires more thought on average than any other season along the coast. Careful planning, understanding the conditions, researching or having years of experience can help greatly. Knowing the available food sources, and making appropriate adjustments in your lure arsenal can pay off with big dividends. Most of the new arrivals of prey animals are quite small, which often leads to day where even larger predatory species are focused on eating small but numerous meals.

With careful planning, and an educated approach, spring can pay big dividends of big trout. But, if you think that you’re going to find a summer pattern just because of the rapid warm up, you will be in for quite the surprise.

Get out and enjoy the warmer weather, and don’t be discouraged by the difficulties. Instead, use the time wisely to cover more water and seek out the patterns hidden within the season.

Fishing After a Cold Winter

max conner trout Fishing After a Cold Winter

Max Conner with a solid stringer of trout and reds.

What will the effects of our icy winter have on fishing?

By Capt. Joe Kent

Beginning in mid-December, the Galveston Bay Complex experienced one of its coldest winters in years.  Many of the anglers have not been through a severe winter from an historical perspective. You have to go back into the 1990s to find when we had subfreezing temperatures along the Texas Coast that lasted more than a short time.

Severe cold is not anything new to the Galveston Bay Complex; however, the number of days of subfreezing conditions has progressively dropped over the last decade.

A frequently asked question by readers of the Galveston County Daily News is how will all of the bitter cold weather affect fishing during 2018?

The answer is that it is hard to pinpoint; however, there are several indicators that tell us that when the weather warms, normal fishing patterns should return.

In the good news department, it appears that there were no major fish kills during the multiple freeze events that took place.  While fish kills were reported, most of the finfish were forage fish, mainly mullet, menhaden and small fish of all species that were not large enough to tolerate water in the 40 degree range very long.

One of the reasons the stocks of gamefish survived well is that they had time to get acclimated to the cold and had moved into areas offering deep, protected waters.

Last January, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department exercised its right to close certain bodies of water when freeze events took place.  This is the first time the TPWD has exercised that option and the areas around the Galveston Bay Complex that were affected were Moses Lake in the vicinity of the flood gates and most of Offatts Bayou.

Both areas are known to hold large concentrations of trout and other fish when the water temperatures fall into the low 40s or lower.  In those pockets of deep water, fish are sluggish and easy prey for anglers.

Shortly after one of the freeze events in the early 1960s,  I fished with a friend at the Blue Hole in Offatts Bayou and recall catching close to 50 trout (there were no size nor bag limits back then) with many of the fish being snagged by the treble hooks on my Bingo Lure.

In the bad news department, the freeze took its toll on aquatic vegetation.  There is little doubt that the plants will rebound; however, it could take a while after this long winter.  Like with all other vegetation, warm weather is the key to rebounding and growth.

The effect of the loss of aquatic plants is in the loss of cover for fish, mainly young fin fish, crustaceans and shell fish.

Over the past 10 to 20 years when mild winters were the norm, we started the spring season with a good crop of bait in the marshes and wetlands.  It remains to be seen just how badly the freezes affected that part of the marine life cycle.

Overall, I expect 2018 to be a good year for fishing, barring any catastrophic events such as major floods or droughts.

While not on the topic of fishing directly, one of the big effects of a long cold winter is on boats, especially engines and mechanical equipment.  A large number of boats have not been run for many weeks and problems likely are going to be widespread, with contaminated fuel, frozen water lines and other parts that are vulnerable to freezing weather or sitting up very long.

Before using your boat for the first time this year, check it out. For the first trip away from the dock, make it an abbreviated one and do not venture too far.

Galveston Bay Spring Fishing

sheephead Galveston Bay Spring Fishing

Phoung Nguyen with a nice sheepshead

Come On Spring!

By Capt. David C. Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures832-228-8012

always wonder how the folks up  “North” survive the winter. After these cold, cold months all I can say is “I have had enough!”

This is the first real winter in many years for “us” on the Upper Coast of Texas. The wintery mix of snow and ice was a novelty, but worrisome for those of us that enjoy the fishery of Galveston Bay. We dodged a major fish kill disaster from a devastating freeze. I think we are all ready for some sunshine and warmer temperatures. Come on spring!

This coming March and April we should experience a traditional spring fishing pattern in the Galveston Bay Complex. The traditional “drum run” will be in full swing along the Galveston Jetties. Also plenty of sheepshead, along with redfish and speckled trout will prowl the rocks. Depending on how fast the water temperature rises, these fish should make their way into lower Galveston Bay, at the end of the month.

In April, while the “drum run” is still happening, many anglers will set their “radar” on speckled trout. This winter, trout fishing was decent. It will improve significantly this month! Late season cold fronts this month can bring moderate to strong winds prior to their arrival. These winds are usually from the south-southeast. East Galveston Bay and the waters north of the Texas City Dike offer protection from the winds. Every incoming tide will push trout into these areas this month. In East Bay, Sievers Cut to Stingaree Cut and the adjacent reefs are the “go to” places. On the West side, Mosquito Island to Dollar Point offers plenty of protection and areas to fish under strong south winds. The shoreline in front of the floodgate at Moses Lake, is a good springtime spot to catch speckled trout.

Live shrimp supplies should be good, but I would call a bait camp ahead of your planned trip. In the Clear Lake – Kemah area, check with Eagle Point Fishing Camp at 281-339-1131. Eagle Point offers quick access to the above mentioned areas and is a full service marina with a boat launch. Enjoy this upcoming Spring weather. See ya on the water!

Meet Hunter Welch of FishStix Rods

16707606 1356915217663434 6942929077763324962 o 1024x576 Meet Hunter Welch of FishStix Rods
23316419 10215272041742208 5289314646350524275 n Meet Hunter Welch of FishStix Rods

Hunter Welch, owner and builder of FishStix Rods.

By Kelly Groce

Thanks for doing this interview with us, Hunter. Tell our readers about your self and how you got started building fishing rods.

My Name is Hunter Welch, growing up in East Texas, I have always had a passion for fishing. My twin brother and I grew up fishing at a private pond for most of our childhood and occasionally some lakes. As I became a teenager I began to wade fish at Rollover Pass in Bolivar, Texas. It was actually my now father-in-law that got me started. I fell in love with saltwater fishing and learning the different techniques that is required to catch fish; including how to choose the perfect fishing rod. After my wife, Liz, graduated from UT Tyler, we moved from east Texas and settled down in Bayou Vista. It was there that I began to build rods as a hobby.

When did you start FishStix and why?

When I had the idea for FishStix, I hit the ground running. I built several rods without a label or even a “brand.” I started concentrating on creating a name that was catchy, and I thought of “FishStix.” From that day the label was there, the logo was there, and all I had to do was push the brand. Almost 4 years ago, I legally filed FishStix as a business. In the beginning, FishStix was a part time job/hobby. At the time I was going to school, and I was a stay at home dad to my 2 small children. My first time to sell rods to the public was at Bay City on the Square which is where businesses set up tents and sell their items once a month. I first attended with 6 FishStix rods and sold 3 of them. The next month I sold 3 more. I attended Bay City on the Square every month for a year until finally I attended the Houston Fishing Show in March 2015. It was then that we were able to sell a lot of rods and visit with a lot of people. In the beginning, I never thought of myself as a salesman and I certainly never thought of FishStix as “the premier rod.” As months turned into years, being a salesman and selling the rods is what I enjoy most. I love to hear customers’ expressions when they feel how light and durable the rods are. I love to hear their stories of all the catches that they had, and to see them comeback and shop with us as a repeat customer. I tried to start my business on the very basic principles of trust, respect, and honor.

I have always dreamed big, so as time went on FishStix became a never-ending goal. Today my goal is to sell more rods this month than I did this time last year, talk to more people this month than I did this time last year, watch people enjoy our products, and to eventually have a FishStix in every household across the USA. Like I said, “dream big”.

Starting out, I never thought that I would be doing an interview for a very popular magazine like Gulf Coast Mariner, but by the grace of God, and our great customers, we are able to stay relevant and we are able to keep providing the best customer service and the best fishing rods on the market today.

What makes FishStix rods unique?

FishStix rods are hatched and spawned in Galveston County. Every rod that I build is in Hitchcock, Texas. FishStix is unique because it is truly a grass roots business that started from ground zero and we are working our way to the top one rod and one customer at a time.

Our rods are unique because of their loud colors, their durability, their comfort, their performance, and customer service. If you’ve ever seen our rods the first thing you notice is the colors. We pride ourselves on going outside the box when designing the rods. We custom paint the rod blanks and have even hydro dipped custom patterns on the rod blanks. Our saying here at FishStix is “FishStix is the lightest in their class and the brightest in their class!” We use and have even led the way when it comes to using neon colored thread wraps on custom fishing rods.

FishStix rods are durable because of the quality rod blanks that we use in all of our models. Our rod blanks offer the sensitivity to feel every bite, and have added strength for brute lifting power. We use only the best components for added durability. I take pride in our micro guide technology. The micro guides that we use are insert free so that you can fish all day knowing that your insert will not crack, chip, or cut your line.

FishStix Rods are comfortable because of their weight. Depending on the rod model you use, most rods weigh between 2 and 3 ounces. They are lightweight because the micro guides that we use are 83 percent lighter than standard guides. FishStix are also lighter because of the split grips and the split reel seats that we put on all of our rods. I’ve had hundreds of people telling me how using our rods have made them be able to enjoy fishing longer without hurting afterwards because the rod is so light weight.

The FishStix out performs other rods because of the micro guide technology that we use. With the micro guides you will achieve further casting distance with less backlash and less wind knots. We also have built on measurement marks for you to measure your fish by holding it up to your rod so you don’t have to worry if a fish is legal or not. The sensitivity of our rods is what really sets our rods apart from the competition. Because of the micro guide technology, we are able to keep a lot of weight off of the blank which makes the rod more sensitive. The split reel seats are as good looking as they are functional with casting and spinning models up to 54% lighter than conventional reel seats. These seats allow full contact with the rod blank and maximum blank exposure for the ultimate in sensitivity and control.

Lastly, we are unique because when you buy one of our rods, instead of helping out a giant corporation you are actually supporting a family and children that rely on it. You are helping a community, local schools and local clubs that we donate time and effort to.

Which FishStix rod is best for catching trout, flounder, redfish, etc?

We build a variety of rods and most people prefer different rods for different types of fishing. I consider our rods to be situational rods. Most people don’t always pick a rod for what types of fish that they want to catch but rather, they pick a rod based on what types of baits they want to throw efficiently. For example, I recommend our 7’ M/L to anyone that throws tails only. I recommend the 6’6” M/L to anyone who wade fishes and throws artificial lures. I recommend the 7’ Medium or the 6’6” Medium to anyone who wants to have an all-around rod to throw most any bait that can be thrown in the bays or lakes. I recommend our 7’ M/H to anyone that wants to throw heavy spoons and popping corks.

When I am fishing for trout I fish with tails and always use the 6’6 M/L because of its lightweight and durability. When I am fishing for flounder I use the 6’6” Medium because of its backbone and sensitivity. I like plenty of backbone in the rod whenever I am flounder fishing so that I can set the hook through the flounder’s face which is made predominantly of bone. I like to use my “DrumStix” when I am fishing for redfish. The DrumStix is a 7’ Medium Heavy rod that I use to throw popping corks. All of the big fish that I catch offshore or at the jetties are caught on our all-around big fish rod known as the “MVP” (Most Valuable Pole).

Do you make custom rods? If so, how can someone get a hold of you to start that process?

We make custom rods to best fit your style, your feel, and your budget. I take pride in asking questions to best understand your needs for your next rod. We custom fit each rod to the specific person who is buying that rod. Whenever you get ready for your custom rod you can call, email or leave a message on our website.

Where can our readers purchase a FishStix rod?

You can purchase a rod from our website, you can come by our shop in Hitchcock (by appointment only), or you can see us at any of the major tradeshows in your area. We do have several retail stores that carry our products. Please feel free to call or message us and we will make sure we can send you to the closest location that best suits your needs.

Hunter & Liz Welch, Founders of FishStix™

Does FishStix host any tournaments?

We host the “Who’s Your Flattie Daddy?” Flounder Fishing Tournament every year in October. This past year and for many years to come we have teamed with Coastal Brigades to raise money for their kids’ camp that they host every year in the summer time. Our tournament is the largest flounder tournament on the Gulf Coast. This past year we gave away a Dargel boat at theweigh-in and over $13,000 in prize money. You can find out more about our tournament on our website.

What can we expect to see from FishStix in the near future?

In the future for FishStix you will see us more often at tradeshows nationwide. You will find us in more stores closer to you, and you will see more options from us that push the limits of where any fishing rod has ever gone before. Stay tuned!

Contact FishStix Rods at:
903-922-3563
www.gotfishstix.com
gotfishstix@yahoo.com

Down South Lures’ Mike Bosse

mike bosse dsl Down South Lures Mike Bosse

Mike Bosse with a big trout caught on a Down South Lure in red shad.

Interview by Brandon Rowan

Where are you from?

I was born is Cypress, Texas. We moved to Chappell Hill when I was four years old. I grew up there and went to Brenham High School. We grew up fishing ponds, the New Year’s Creek and the Brazos River. Eventually, we graduated to fishing Lake Conroe, Fayette, and Gibbons Creek before I got bit by the “saltwater bug.”

DSLkickin Down South Lures Mike Bosse

Down South Lure in Kickin’ Chicken.

Tell me about the journey that led up to the design and success of Down South Lures.

Like many people, I had an extreme love for fishing. Since I pond hopped all the time, I loved to fish for bass. This inspired me to make my first lure when I was 12 years old. I cut about 3 inches off my mom’s wooden broom handle and carved a cup out of one end to make a “popper lure.” Then I grabbed an old Heddon Torpedo, took the screw-in eyelet off the nose and screwed it into the nose of my bait. The hooks were removed from the old Torpedo, and I screwed those into the bottom of my lure. I did not paint the plug; I just tied it on and went fishing. A two-pound bass was caught that afternoon on it.

Since we bass fished big lakes like Conroe, we threw a lot of Carolina rigged sickle tailed baits in deep water. We loved the way the bait swam down off the ledges when we dragged them over humps and creek beds. We were firm believers that fish ate the bait when it was falling, more often than not. Well, fast forward about 15 years and I found a love for saltwater fishing. I noticed that most of the paddle tails and tout tails did not swim on the fall like our bass worms did. After that, I began to tinker with other plastic baits, modifying them to have action while falling. It just grew from there. More and more friends were asking me to make them baits. After that I cut my own mold design. It has grown into the Down South Lure that you see today.

Were there any unforeseen challenges or surprises have you encountered while developing Down South?

One of the biggest challenges in the lure industry is that you have to prove that your bait is different and has a place in peoples’ tackle boxes. The only way you can do that is by fishing with it, and getting it into the hands of reputable fishermen. Once they see that the bait has merit, they will begin to purchase your lure. It’s very hard to get fisherman to switch from something they have been throwing successfully for years.

Another surprise to me was that it was extremely hard to get shelf space. Going into it, I figured that if I had a good product with professional packaging, I would be granted pegs. That’s not the case at all. People have to ask for your products over and over. Then you can get a spot on the wall in a tackle shop.

Michael Naymik with a 23.3″ Galveston flounder caught on Down South Lures.

What is your personal favorite DSL lure/rigging?

I’m pretty simple. I like a 1/4 oz. or 1/8 oz. 3/0 jighead rigged with either the original Southern Shad or the Super Model XL. I throw various colors, depending on the water clarity. If I had to pick one color for all clarity it would be Chicken of the C.

What colors and riggings are best for the super DSL for big trout in the winter?

I like to go with as light a jighead as possible considering the conditions. If it is windy, or the current is moving pretty good you may have to use a little heavier jighead.  If you notice that your lure is not getting down to the bottom, and there is a big bow in your slack line, you need to go heavier. My personal favorite “big fish” colors are Red Shad, True Plum, Key Lime, and Howell’s Strawberry Wine.

What kind of retrieve do you recommend when fishing DSLs?

Retrieves can vary with the conditions as well. My personal all-around favorite is to let the bait sink to the bottom and then retrieve with a twitch, twitch, pause cadence. I think fish are more reactionary feeders, and that they do not over think when feeding. That’s how they have survived this long. The twitch, twitch, pause resembles a classic “two hop” shrimp escape. Though my bait more resembles a fish swimming, or an eel escaping to the bottom, I always think that the most natural movements get the most strikes. You will notice that most of your bites will be when this bait is falling.

Do you have a favorite fishing moment? Could be a big fish or trophy but also a special fish or situation.

I have a bunch that stick out, but probably my favorite was when I was when I located some big trout while prefishing for a redfish tournament in Galveston. I was throwing my baits against a stretch of rocky shoreline. There was a lot of bait activity on that particular rock line point, so I fired my Chicken of the C in there and caught a 5 pounder. The next cast was another solid 5 pounder. I just eased away and told myself, “I’m bringing my girlfriend here first thing in the morning.”

We got up early, and I told her I was not going to fish, just run the trolling motor. We eased up to the point and she caught 3 fish very quickly to 4 pounds on a pink MirrOlure She Dog (She loves topwater and the conditions were perfect for it.) As we approached to honey hole, I told her to cast right by that one larger rock that had a wash out behind it. She gave it a perfect cast, and within 6 twitches she had a major explosion. It ended up being her largest trout ever measuring 28.5 inches. She said, let’s quit on that cast, but I wanted a flounder for lunch. We agreed to try for 15 minutes pitching around some rocks in a spot where I have caught them before. It was only 50 yards away from the trout spot. Within 5 minutes I had the solid thump of a flounder right by the boat on my Chicken of the C lure. I set the hook, and all hell broke loose. It was a big red! I told my girlfriend to get the net because I saw how many spots it had on its side. It was absolutely covered. I told her whatever you do, do not miss this fish! I’ll never hook one like this again. She got it on the first swipe. It measured 31.5 inches and had 144 spots on it. I took close up photos of both sides of the fish, and released the beauty for someone else to catch.  We never made another cast that morning. I racked the trolling motor up and we headed back to the dock. The moral of the story is, I’ve had better days with numbers of fish, but we both broke personal records that day.

This big trout was caught on a Key Lime Super Model in Mansfield with Capt. Daniel Land.

What’s your favorite place you have fished?

If I had to pick one bay system in Texas, it would be Port Mansfield. The vast grass flats are just too appealing. The deep reefs and rocks of Galveston are a close second in the state. Poling for permit in the Florida Keys is my favorite out of state adventure.

Aside from fishing, what else are you passionate about?

When I’m not fishing, I like to hang out with friends, watch football, and BBQ while enjoying a cold beverage. We enjoy going deer hunting when we get a chance as well. Recently, I have become more intrigued with deer hunting, so my tournament partner and I have secured a deer lease in south Texas for next year.

Is there any Down South Lure news or upcoming events you’d like to let our readers know about?

Yes, always be on the lookout for new and innovating products and colors that we are working on releasing. Give us a follow on Facebook and Instagram to see all the updates. We post everything up there, and feature exceptional catches on our page. As always, we will have a booth at the Houston Boat Show in January, The All Valley Boat Show in McAllen in February, and The Houston Fishing Show in March. We always have our lures and apparel on special at these shows, so come by and get a deal. In addition, we will be doing some raffles and drawings for people that stop by at these shows. As always, you can shop all of our products at www.downsouthlures.com. See you guys soon and tight lines.

The Changing Fishing Patterns Experienced in 2017

kellyspec The Changing Fishing Patterns Experienced in 2017

Gulf Coast Mariner’s Kelly Groce caught this 26 inch, 7 pound trout on artificial in East Matagorda Bay.

By Capt. Joe Kent

Fall fishing in the Galveston Bay Complex has been undergoing changes for several years now.  The biggest factor contributing to the changes has been the warmer weather over this period of time.

Likely, the most noticeable change has been in the late migration of flounder.  Another area that has evidenced this change is trout action in the upper bays.

For fall fishing patterns to get into full swing, the water temperature needs to fall below 70 degrees.  Each year, September is looked upon as being a transition month, when at some point during the month our first cold front of the season crosses the Texas Coast.  Most years we would see ambient temperatures fall into the upper 40s and lower 50s for a short period of time; however, it would be long enough to send signals to fish to get moving.

In recent years, water temperatures have barely fallen below 80 degrees in September, which continues the summertime mentality in fish.  This year it was well into October before the Galveston Bay Complex got into the low 70s.

By October, flounder should start showing signs of movement and trout action in Trinity and other bays would pick up.  Bird action has been one of the traits of October, as seagulls would work the bays feeding upon shrimp driven to the surface by schools of feeding fish, usually speckled trout.

A number of anglers sent notes or called in expressing concern over the lack of activity on specks and flounder.  Now, while there were those concerns over two of the big three, reds continued to offer excellent action.  September is usually prime time for reds around the jetties and in the surf and 2017 was no exception.  In fact bull and slot reds saved the day for fishermen during September and October.

We just have not had the strong cold fronts to hit until after October.  Until a few make their way here, fall fishing patterns will not get into full swing.

A good example of how the weather patterns have changed and affected fishing was in the new flounder regulations that came out several years ago.  Known as the Special November Rules which limit the bag limit on flounder to two fish and prohibit gigging for flounder, they applied only to the month of November.

Early on, it was noted that the annual flounder migration, for which the rules were designed to protect, continued well into December.  When written, the flounder run usually peaked around Thanksgiving and was followed by a steady decline of fish moving out of the bays.

Soon, the rules were extended to mid-December, as the migration continued well into December.  Interestingly, the Special November Rule prohibiting taking flounder by gigging ended December 1 but the two-fish limit continued.

One of the most experienced Galveston area flounder guides, a long time fisherman who has been keeping logs on flounder for decades, always said that the peak of the flounder run occurred between the Full Moons of October and November.  A few years ago, he revised his observation and pushed it forward due to the warmer weather.  Now the peak is between the Full Moons of November and December.

While the flounder run is the most obvious change, speck action follows close behind, as now we are seeing the fall pattern start in November and run well into December or early January.

January 2018 should be an interesting month for fishing if we do not have any significant freezes beforehand. While most flounder will have migrated each year there will remain a number of flounder that decide to stay in the bays.  The key is food.  If bait is available, we will see them hang around until enough marsh emptying northers blow through to send the small fin fish and crustaceans to deeper waters.

At that time, trout will be starting their winter patterns.

A New Beginning

Cruzfish2017 A New Beginning

Mike Johnson, Juan and Addie Cruz after a good day with Capt. Dillman.

By Capt. David C. Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures832-228-8012

can’t tell you how many times lately I have heard the phrase: “ I will be glad when this year is over.” For all of us that live on the coast of Texas, this is so true. South Texas coastal residents are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Here on the Upper Coast, the destruction left by the flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey is still daunting. What has become a normal routine is still not “normal” for a lot of us that reside on the coast of Texas.

What is normal? The first two weeks of January is the annual Houston Boat, Sport and Travel Show. In its 63rd year, the show begins January 5, 2018 and runs through January 14. It is the largest indoor show of its type on the Gulf Coast. It features something for everyone that attends. I will be at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth during the show. While you are there, please stop by and say hello!

Maintain Your Ride

January/February is the time to get your boat ready for the upcoming season. Before one knows it, springtime on the Upper Coast will be here. You should perform all your required maintenance on the boat and engine. If it needs to go to a repair facility, don’t hesitate. They get busy and the earlier you get it in, the better chance it will be ready by March. If you are mechanically inclined, order all your parts now. They can become scarce during high demand times.

Hot Cold Fishing

On the fishing scene, the trout population is really good. However, there is a noted decrease in the overall size. TP&W has deemed the trout fishery is good and recommended no changes in the current bag limits this coming year.

The catches of redfish have been “off the chart.” Redfish have been plentiful throughout our bay system, along with sheepshead and black drum.

This January/February, fishing should continue to be good, before and after cold fronts. The Northwest reaches and the West side of Galveston Bay will offer your best opportunity for speckled trout and redfish. As the sun rises and sets, this side of the bay receives the most sunlight. The water remains a tad bit warmer than other areas of the bay, thus holding the fish. Also, during passages of cold fronts, the adjacent water is deeper and offers protection to the fish. Eagle Point up to the Seabrook Flats, Sylvan Beach, Tabbs, Burnett and Scott Bays will be the places to fish. West Galveston Bay will also see its fair share of fish.

Live shrimp this time of year will be in short supply. Few, if any bait camps will have some, much less even be open. You can always call Eagle Point Fishing Camp to check on their bait supply. Usually, they hold live shrimp all year. Hopefully we will have a “mild” winter, and avoid a major freeze!