JetSurf
Haynie Custom Bay Boats
Sea Lake Yachts
Marina Del Sol
Seabrook Marina
Little Yacht Sales
Blackburn

Texas Snook with Capt. Brian Barrera

slab snook 2 300x184 Texas Snook with Capt. Brian Barrera

I waited a long time to hold a snook, especially a slab like this one. Caught on D.O.A. Lures 4” shrimp in 305 nite glow and a 3/8 oz. jig head. Photo: Cindy Nguyen

brian4 198x300 Texas Snook with Capt. Brian Barrera

Capt. Brian Barrera before releasing a slot Texas snook. Photo: Kelly Groce

BY KELLY GROCE

South Padre Island is home to not only some of the best pastor tacos, but also the only fishable population of snook in the Lone Star State. I learned this after attending the D.O.A. Lures Outdoor Writers Event. That is also where I met Cindy Nguyen who is an amazing angler that has fished all over the world. She told me stories of catching snook in Florida. I think once I told her I had never fished for a snook let alone caught one, she felt bad for me. About a month after the writers event, Cindy gets a hold of me and says, “Let’s go get us a Texas snook.” It doesn’t take much convincing to get me to visit south Tejas, especially for a bucket list fish of mine. It only made sense that we ask SPI’s own Capt. Brian Barrera to take us. Brian is an overall great fisherman, but he has snook fishing dialed-in better than anyone else in the area.

Cindy Nguyen is no stranger to catching snook, but here she is with her first one caught in Texas. Photo: Kelly Groce

Cindy and I got to SPI around noon (thank you to the cop who gave me a warning for speeding due to my excitement). We met Brian and followed him to the boat launch, which is eight minutes away from the Mexico border, jumped on his Shallow Sport Boat, Blackbeard’s Delight II, and headed towards the Brownsville Ship Channel. Brian used a 1 oz. D.O.A. jig head with a D.O.A. 3” Texas Croaker shad tail that he said the snook had been loving lately. He tied on the ole’ faithful D.O.A. 4” shrimp with a 3/8 oz. jig head on another rod, which after a spot or two, Cindy caught her first beautiful Texas snook on. We then checked out a spot where you could literally see dozens of snook in the shadows and cast right at them, it was pretty unreal. The sun started to set and Brian showed us how to catch a few more before calling it a day.

After losing a slot snook by the boat the day before, I was happy to land this one. Photo: Cindy Nguyen

The next morning, I was determined to get my south Texas snook. I played some Selena on the way to the boat launch to get the fish in the mood. As we pulled up to the first spot of the day, there was tons of fry in the water and you could see snook hitting the surface. I tossed my D.O.A. shrimp as close as I could towards the rocks and started working it back, then I felt something slam my shrimp and I heard Brian say, “It’s a snook!” It jumped a couple of times before Brian netted it. Such a cool fish to not only catch, but to release. You lip them like a bass and they suck on your thumb until they are ready to swim off. Nothing could wipe the smile off of my face after catching some snook.

If you’re looking for your next fishing trip, check out South Padre Island and Capt. Brian Barrera. He’s a great fishing guide that can not only put you on snook but also trout, redfish and flounder. During the warm months he’s chasing big tarpon if you want a shot at the silver king.

I’ll be back that’s for sure.

South Texas Saltwater Experience
Capt. Brian Barrera
Fishing Guide & Wildlife Biologist
956.755.9413
brian@doalures.com

Capt. Brian Barrera with one last snook before dark. Photo: Kelly Groce

Texas City Pride: David Fremont of Boyd’s One Stop

fremont bait Texas City Pride: David Fremont of Boyds One Stop

David Fremont with a net full of lively shrimp. Boyd’s One Stop is located at the base of the Texas City Dike and provides bait, tackle, advice and seafood to its patrons. You can find David behind the counter, helping customers or out on the Dike taking pictures for the Texas City Dike Fishing Group.

David Fremont of Boyd’s One Stop, and Admin of the popular Texas City Dike Fishing Group talks history, Texas City fishing and Boyd’s big plans for the future.

Interview by Brandon Rowan

Where are you from? Tell me about your background and how fishing became an important part of your life.

I was born on Galveston Island in 1954. My daddy worked for Amoco Oil in Texas City and moved us over here when I was a year old. I grew up a street off Bay Street, which is walking distance from the Texas City Dike. I went to work at Boyd’s when I was 14 years old, and I was one of the first kids to go to work with Gene Boyd, the original owner. He was an outboard shrimper and lived across the street from us.

He came over one day and he says “Hey you want to go to work for me? I’m going to open up that old Surfside restaurant on the Dike and have a bait camp. I’ll pay you a dollar an hour and I’ll work you to death!”

Well a dollar an hour was like hitting the lottery for me back then so I jumped on it. But he didn’t lie; he paid me but he also expected an awful lot and also taught me a whole bunch about dealing with the public. He made it perfectly clear that the customers were his bread and butter and I was a necessary evil.  But he was tough, fair and just a great guy.

I stayed with Boyd’s until I went off to the local college and then worked for Amoco, like my dad did, and I spent 35 years there. I never quit coming to the Dike and fishing and having a good time.

How did the very popular Texas City Dike Fishing Group get its start?

After I retired, Jason Cogburn, the current owner of Boyd’s One Stop, asked me if I’d like to come help with some of the advertising and social media. I didn’t know too much about it all at first, but we had a little text group that we started with. Now Boyd’s has built up its Facebook followers to about 63,000 and the text group is still active. Like, this last week we just sent one out to about 25,000 people when we had crawfish on sale.

The Texas City Dike Fishing Group started out before Facebook. There was a handful of us old timers that would meet up and fish on the Dike regularly. We started using a real primitive fishing group on the internet as a way to keep in touch when we weren’t out there fishing together. We’d share stories and how fishing was going and such.

Then when Facebook took over, we were able to migrate to that platform with our same handful of guys. I started incorporating it with Boyd’s when people would come in and want to know what was going on with the fishing scene on the Dike. I would say “Well get on my little Texas City Dike Fishing Group! We’ll add you to it and you’ll see what the latest and the greatest is on what’s being caught.”

And in no time, it just kept growing and growing and now we’ve got over 15,000 people involved. Now I can keep people informed on what’s going on and what’s happening with Boyd’s, in terms of bait and fishing tournaments. This past season, our flounder tournament had 425 people in it. We were able to give away over $8,000 as we do 100% payout.

I know you guys have had some real trophy fish brought in during your flounder tournaments.

We have! We’ve had some real good catches. This past flounder run for the Dike was a little on the slow side but that’s just mother nature. Sometimes those flounder will migrate different ways and in larger numbers. The Galveston Channel still had plenty of fish to be caught. I was over there a time or two and had some good days. Some of our regular fishermen, like Jantzen Miller, also known as the flounder guru, is a great guy and won the tournament in 2017. He tags flounder and he keeps me, and many others, informed about what the flounder are doing. He fishes a lot and caught a couple ten pounders late last summer and early fall.

drum Texas City Pride: David Fremont of Boyds One Stop

Boyd’s 2019 Drumathon tournament runs until April 15. It is a $20 entry fee and 100% payout for the winners. Visit www.boydsonestop.com to register.

 

What’s the word on the Boyd’s Drumathon Tournament?

We haven’t done one in a couple years but a lot of guys said “Hey the flounder run is over, let’s play drum!” So that’s what we did! It kicked off in February and will go until April 15. There are categories for slot and oversized drum. It’s $20 to sign up at Boyd’s or online at www.boydsonestop.com and has a 100% payout. Last I checked, we already have 125 people signed up.

Tell me more about Boyd’s owner Jason Cogburn and some of the big things he has in the works.

Jason Cogburn worked here as a bait boy many years ago and was fortunate, in that he was able to purchase the place. It had been bought and sold a few times after Gene Boyd passed away. Jason has turned it into a very nice business. He’s a family man and a man of great faith. He has started working with crawfish and it has taken over a big part of the operation. We are still very much involved with bait and tackle, but the crawfish business eats up 5 or 6 months of the year and it keeps us busy.

We just recently finished construction on our 30,000 sq. ft. crawfish and seafood facility behind Boyd’s. We are still setting it all up but that’s where we’ll bag and process our live Louisiana crawfish. Currently, we sell quite a bit of wholesale seafood to the H-E-B chain of grocery stores. We are very involved with them and ship an awful lot of crawfish to their San Antonio hub. They distribute to the stores near there and we deliver direct to many of the Houston area H-E-B locations. This also includes some large table shrimp and quite a few blue crab.

Once the processing facility is up and running and in good shape, our next phase is to build a new Boyd’s storefront, similar to a ‘mini Bucees.’ This would also include a huge tackle area and a large variety of bait, more than what we even offer now. We’ll also have a large restaurant that could seat up to 200 guests.

Tell me some of the methods/baits/tactics that make an angler successful on the Texas City Dike

When folks first come to the Dike, and they haven’t done too much homework or talked with people who fish it regularly, it can be kind of upsetting, in that the Dike is unforgiving. There are a lot of rocks under the water, especially on the Texas City channel side. For the first few miles of the Dike it’s not too bad, but as you get towards the end, you have to be able to cast out a good 30 yards or so to get past that rock line and to a good bottom. Then you either reel in as fast as you can to check your bait or if you’re fighting a fish you try to get it up as high in the water column as you can. That’s for the bigger fish like bull reds, big drum, jackfish, stingray and a few occasional sharks.

For speckled trout, most folks use popping corks during the daytime to keep live shrimp suspended above the rocks. Some guys will toss lures and do well too. At night time during the speck season, a lot of people will use lights and generators and fish them with live shrimp or lures like tandem speck rigs or glow-in-the-dark plastics.

Another reason I take pride in the Texas City Dike Fishing Group is that we are able to help newcomers catch fish. We treat everyone as an individual and I really stress friendship and camaraderie with that group.

David Fremont is no stranger to big flounder.

What is your favorite fish to catch?

Hands down flounder. That’s because I love to eat them and they’re just fun to catch. And for an old man like me, you don’t have to work that hard for them. You just get you some live finger mullet or a Gulp or lure of your choice, and either jig it around the pilings or rocks, or you can throw it out and let it sit and just relax. For many years, it was a toss up between flounder and speckled trout for me, but in my later years, I must say I really do love flounder.

I’m a flounder man myself. Do you have an all-time favorite fishing moment or experience?

I do and it makes me think of Gene Boyd because of the way he taught me about customers and getting folks excited about fishing. Before Hurricane Ike, maybe 15 years ago, it was spring break and I was out there fishing on the Dike with the big rods for bull reds and whatever would bite. A car pulls up near me and three kids jump out, early teens or preteens, and they come out near my rods and start throwing rocks in the water. I wasn’t too crazy about that.  But as I got to looking at them and the daddy trying to corral them I thought, “Hey man they’re just like me when I was that age.”

As luck would have it, one of my rods bent over so I hollered over to the kids “Hey you wanna wrestle a big fish?”

So they made a beeline, came running over and took turns fighting it. I thank the good Lord because they were able to bring in a real nice bull red. They were so happy, but not as happy as the daddy was; he was blown away!

In the course of about three hours, I counted 18 bull reds and black drum that we caught. Wore those kids out! Wore me and the daddy out too. Before they left, he told me, “You saved my life. It’s Spring Break and we came all the way from Oklahoma to Galveston Island but the beach was a washout with the weather. So I heard about the Texas City Dike, never been here before, but rolled on down and here you are. You put those boys on the fish of a lifetime and they will remember that forever.”

David saved the Spring Break of these three boys when he put them on fish after big fish.

That’s great story! Aside from fishing, what else are you passionate about?

I like taking pictures and most of the time it does involve fishing or family. But I like to share photographs of the Dike, fishing and the areas around Texas City. It’s all about keeping people excited about fishing. I like it when someone catches their first fish on the dike and shares it, or they catch their personal best.

Is there anything you want to talk about that I haven’t asked you about?

Boyd’s had its first annual Crawfest last year, and we’ve already got another one scheduled for March 30-31 at the base of the Dike. The City works with us on that and we’re very excited about it. I could talk about it all on and on.

I’m happy for you and your business and your endeavor with the magazine. All I can say is let’s get together and go fishing some time. Let’s catch a flounder!

That sounds like a plan!

Upper Texas Coast Spring Fishing

By Capt. Steve Soulewww.ultimatedetailingllc.com

sight cast redfish Upper Texas Coast Spring Fishing

Capt. Steve Soule caught this nice red while fly fishing with Capt. Clay Daniel Sheward.

Spring on the upper Texas coast brings warming temperatures, to both air and water. We have longer daylight periods and typically much more sunshine, accompanied by vigorous winds and choppy bays. It also is the time when multiple food sources return to our bay waters and shallows, flowing new life into areas of the bays that may have seemed desolate and devoid of life during the winter. The combination of springtime transitional patterns and occurrences can, and often do, confuse and complicate the plans of bay anglers.

TEMPERATURE

This time of the year, we are still in a back and forth battle with passing cold fronts and swinging temperatures, though the greater trend is warming. With this in mind, we often have to change plans based on temperature. It is key to remember that as air temperatures drop below those of the water, fish will tend to move slightly deeper, and as air warms to temperatures greater than water, they tend to move shallow. This is in part due to the comfort level of the predators, but to an even larger degree, this pattern has to do with following their food sources.

Let’s throw in a little twist to this generalization. The bottom make up of the bay areas that you fish can also play a large role in temperature as well as comfort and availability of food sources for predators. Soft or darker colored mud bottom, especially in relatively shallow water will warm faster on sunny days. This can create comfort zones for both bait species and predators alike. So, as much as we watch temperatures, we also need to be aware of the amount of sun and bay floor make up to help focus our efforts on productive areas.

sunlight Upper Texas Coast Spring Fishing

The longer days in spring trigger spawning activity for many species of fish.

INCREASING SUNLIGHT

Photo period is an often overlooked part of transitional periods throughout the year. Photo period, the number of hours of daylight versus night, triggers many things beyond the obvious additional heating of the water temperature. It’s well known that this is one of the triggers for spawning periods of fish. It also plays a large role in the timing of baitfish and other prey species returning to various areas of the bays. Coincidental timing I suppose, but since most all plant life requires sunlight to grow, its a well timed natural occurrence for the return or emergence of many of the smaller fish and crustaceans right when their food sources become more prevalent. Here’s an interesting thought about photo period and longer hours of daylight during spring. Even at the same daily temperature, longer days will yield greater warming than shorter days. This helps with the overall warming trend even on days when temps aren’t significantly warmer, purely because of the extended hours of daylight.

COMPARING SPRING & FALL

Keeping in mind that this is a transitional season, spring is one that requires more patience compared to fall. During our fall transition, the bays are at the peak of life, with numerous prey species readily available and in abundance. Much of the activity in fall centers around the mass migrations and attempted exodus from the shallows first,and then from deeper waters. Because the triggers for feeding are falling temperature, photo period decrease and changes in wind and tide, the ensuing patterns become fairly predictable.

In spring, things just don’t happen all at once. There are many factors that affect the return of bait species, and unfortunately, they don’t all happen at the same time. There are counter forces that can slow and change the timing of when they occur. With many of the returning species of bait, we are dependent on favorable offshore conditions along with onshore wind flow to bring them into the bays. Some, on the other hand must move to more open water from deeper inland, in creeks and bayous. Timing and location of these events is different every year.

THE WIND

In spring, wind plays a huge role in many ways. Wind can have an obvious effect on the location and supply of many smaller prey animals. As much as heavy south or southeast winds can make our fishing days challenging, these are much needed to speed the return of many offshore species to the bays. Even though the exact timing and amount of any given species hitting certain areas of the bays is very unpredictable, there are some things we can count on nearly every year.

The gulf passes and outlets will be the first to see many species and typically in the greatest quantities. Shortly after, the adjacent shorelines and nearby structures will gradually blossom with new life. Similarly, the upper reaches of the bays will begin to see an increase in bait flows that seek slightly higher salinities returning from low salinity areas up creeks and bayous. These are great starting points in our search for fish, knowing that these areas will consistently have the earliest increases in food supply for the predators that we seek.

Beyond the challenges of finding fish, springtime winds can make fishing unpleasant, difficult and often unsafe. Some quick thoughts on wind; how it effects fish and anglers when it comes to deciding where to fish. Logic tells us that wind can move many of the small species, especially when it works in unison with tides. Winds can drive schools of small bait to wind blown shorelines, and make movement or escape from predators very difficult. This can and will create something of a buffet line for predators who can more easily move and prey upon small species.

These shorelines are often overlooked, and some days they should be for safety. North and west shorelines that see the brunt of the spring winds are great under moderate wind days and days following hard onshore wind flows. On the days that the winds are just too high to fish these areas, it makes much more sense to fish protected shores. Again, look for the shorelines and areas that are nearer to gulf passes or upper reaches of the bays where creek flows will deposit concentrations of food.

Keep in mind that spring winds often can create more than just a comfort problem for anglers, but often a safety concern, making certain areas just not worth the effort or risk to fish.

mullet

Topwaters and plugs that imitate mullet are good choices at the start of spring. Downsize to smaller lures later in spring when predators are keying in on newly hatched baitfish.

LURES FOR SPRING

I couldn’t talk this much about springtime transition and food sources without mentioning what types of lures to throw and some timing aspects to consider. This is one of the best times to fish bigger mullet imitations, especially topwater baits, but you will often need to be patient to find success. Timing is often the key here, tides and moon position can make a big difference in getting bites.

As much as I would love to do nothing but throw topwater lures, some days you have to scale down and get lower in the water column to get bites. If you find yourself surrounded by smaller baitfish, it can be well worth the time to try some small plastic swimming tails on lighter jig heads. There are also times when only very light or natural colored baits work when all else fails. Matching the hatch isn’t always necessary but getting close to the size can help.

Something else fun to try during spring are lipped twitch baits, like those from Rapala and Bomber. The erratic darting action and slow rise or suspension on the pause can often be the trigger to get stubborn fish to bite.

TACTICS

Though spring can present challenges in many ways, it can bring equal rewards for those who pull together the many puzzle pieces. Watching tides and winds and planning accordingly can put you in the midst of schools of fish hungrily feasting on ever increasing supplies of small food.

Be prepared to adjust your plans, be thorough in your search and coverage of areas. If you are in an area that you feel sure there are fish, don’t be afraid to stick around and adjust your tactics. Some days a lure change can make all the difference.

Don’t let failure in one spot prevent you from trying other areas, and make great notes about areas that are showing abundant food. Many times the food sources will show before the predators, and knowing this will provide you with great fishing areas to return to later.

Galveston Bay Spring Fishing Outlook 2019

By Captain David C. Dillman

GalvestonBayCharterFishing.com | 832-228-8012

texas fish stringer Galveston Bay Spring Fishing Outlook 2019

Justin Clinfton caught a mixed bag fishing with his brother and two daughters.

ended my last article with me taking a trip to the warm waters and sunny beaches of Central America. It was perfect timing, as a strong cold front hit the Upper Texas Coast on the day of my departure. The forecast called for freezing temperatures, which never materialized. That was a blessing, for many states experienced their coldest temperatures in years. It is now the first week of February, as I write this article. It has been a typical winter so far on the Upper Coast; rain, wind, some cold days and lots of fog! Hopefully, we dodge any severe freezes. The old Groundhog predicts a early spring. But he has only been right around 38% of the time, about as good as our weather forecaster’s on the local news! So, what can we expect for March and April?

Starting the first week of March is the annual “Fishing Show” at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. The show runs from March 6 – 10. There will be everything about fishing under one roof; tackle, new products for the angler, boats, fishing charters and daily seminars. I will be at The Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth throughout the show. On Sunday March 10 around noon, I will be conducting a seminar on “Everything Galveston Bay, Where and When.” Come out to “ The Fishing Show,” you will not be disappointed!

Previously, some of you might have read about Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) proposing to reduce the bag limit of speckled trout along the Upper Coast. The five fish limit for trout started along the Lower Coast first and was extended to the Middle Coast a few years ago. During the TPWD commissioner’s meeting this past January, they agreed to proceed with voting on regulation changes during the next meeting. They seek to extend the daily five fish trout limit statewide. The vote for this regulation and some others will take place in Austin during the next commissioner’s meeting  March 19-20. You will be allowed to address the commissioners during the meeting on March 20.

TPWD will be holding statewide hearings about the proposed regulation changes. I advise everyone to attend one of these hearings. You will be given a chance to verbally speak and share your opinion about the proposed regulations. You may also write or email TPWD. One can keep abreast of local hearing dates and times by watching The Galveston Bay Fishing Show on Facebook and Youtube, live from Eagle Point Fishing Camp every Thursday.

Now for the fishing this March and April, I will personally concentrate my effort in East Galveston Bay. Last year the fishing was very good when the weather cooperated. Along the granite rocks known as the Galveston jetties, the Black Drum run will be in full force. Sheepshead, redfish and speckled trout will also be there for the taking. If the wind blows from the South-Southwest, fishing along the base of the Dike up to Moses Lake should produce speckled trout along with black drum. Also, don’t over look the shorelines around Eagle Point. Sometimes the fishing can be really good in spring around the pilings on those shorelines. Just a reminder for those that launch under the Kemah Bridge; those ramps have been closed. Eagle Point Fishing Camp is not far down the road and has a nice three lane ramp and is a full service fishing facility with live bait.

Boat and fishing gear checklist

texas fishing Boat and fishing gear checklist

Take the proper preparations with your gear and boat before fishing really heats up.

By Capt. Joe Kent

Spring presents an opportunity to visit about preparations needed to help ensure a trouble free time on the water during the best months for fishing that lie ahead.

During March and April many anglers and or boaters will use their equipment for the first time this year.  Many will have the unpleasant experience of launching their boat and encountering problems that ruin what would otherwise be a pleasant day on the water.

The equipment we are going to discuss includes the boat, motor and fishing tackle.  Each of those are vulnerable to damage when sitting up for long periods of time.  Finding a problem before heading out on that first trip of the season will save a lot of frustrations and expenses.

Let’s start with your boat and motor.  The number one problem according to marine mechanics is fuel that has been in the tank too long, especially untreated ethanol gasoline.  If your boat has been dormant most of the winter fresh fuel should be added along with a fuel treatment designed to enhance the fuel and absorb any water.

Ethanol based gasoline tends to break down and absorb moisture from the air, leading to expensive repairs if not addressed before running your engine.

The engine oil (for four-stroke engines) should be changed as well as the lower unit oil on all marine engines.  If you change the lower unit oil yourself, check for water. After setting up, if water is present it likely will drain to the bottom and come out first when the drain plus is removed.

Milky colored lower unit oil indicates the presence of water.  In either case, do not run the engine in gear until the source for the water is determined and repaired.  Most of the time it is a leaking seal.

Check your steering cables and fuel lines.  If cracks or noted in the fuel line, replace it.

Confirm that your bilge pump is working.  If your battery is over three years old, replace it.  Chances are it is not going to last much longer.

Before making that first trip to the ramp, crank the engine using an earmuff type fresh water flushing device.  Let it run for ten minutes and if no problems detected you are ready to head out.

While all of the above are good pointers for avoiding problems, nothing beats a check-up by your mechanic before making that first trip.  Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of trouble.

Close behind in importance is your fishing equipment and tackle. They should undergo a thorough inspection before that first fishing trip. Replace the line on your reels if they have been sitting up all winter.  Using a light penetrating oil such as WD-40, clean the outside of your reel and use a light reel oil to lubricate the internal parts.  Check the eyes on your rods for corrosion and clean or replace if necessary.

Clean out your tackle box and toss any rusty or corroded lures and hooks.  Also, check your supply of tackle.  Over the winter we often forget about items needed  for the upcoming season.

Utilizing time during March and April to prepare for the summer fishing season is time well spent.

Fishing the Lower Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures

DSC 0033 2 Fishing the Lower Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures

This beautiful Lower Laguna Madre trout couldn’t resist the D.O.A. 4″ C.A.L. Jerkbait in Candy Corn.

By Kelly Groce

Back in August of 2018, I was in Port Aransas celebrating my father’s birthday for the weekend. On Sunday, I decided to drop some Gulf Coast Mariner Magazines at local businesses, one of them being Port “A” Outfitters. I see a man walking down the stairs who I know is Mark Nichols, the creator and owner of D.O.A. Lures. I’ve always been a huge fan of his lures, especially that dang shrimp. He’s walking right by my car so I have to say something.

“Excuse me, are you the D.O.A. man?”

“I sure am.” Mark responds.

We shake hands and chat about fishing in Stuart, Fla. where he resides. I hand him a copy of the magazine before we part ways. My day was made.

Fast forward a few months… it’s just another day at the office here in Seabrook. The phone rings and Christmas came early. Capt. Brian Barrera, who is a fishing guide and also works for D.O.A. Lures called to invite me to their 2018 Outdoor Writers Event in South Padre for four days. Without hesitation, I said I’ll be there.

The day of the trip comes, I’m listening to the Bite Me: Texas Saltwater Fishing podcast for the majority of the drive down (if you don’t listen to this podcast, you should) and daydreaming about drifting clear water with grass and sand pockets as far as the eye can see. I’ve been to South Padre three or four times prior, but it was always to go surf, never to fish.

48238147 10211192088193046 4257466532084318208 n Fishing the Lower Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures

The view every morning before we took off for a full day of fishing and fun.

I pull up to home base for the next few days, which is a beautiful house right on the pristine waters of the Lower Laguna Madre. When I walk in, I’m immediately greeted by D.O.A. Lures employee/local fishing guide/fish slayer Capt. Brian Barrera (if catching Texas snook and tarpon is on your fishing bucket list, Brian is your guy). As I’m relaxing and meeting fascinating people from all over the country and the industry, Mark pulls up by boat (of course he had been fishing the next canal over, catching redfish and trout). I see Mark and say “Remember me from the Port “A” Outfitters parking lot?”

He says, “Of course I do, welcome!”

The sun starts to set and a delicious feast of authentic pastor and beef tacos are being cooked on the deck overlooking the water by local restaurant, Mr. Taco. We are given D.O.A. Kits that contain their family of lures such as TerrorEyz, Swimmin’ Mullet, Shrimp, Jerk Bait, Shad, Paddle Tails and more. Capt. Brian informs everyone who their fishing guide would be for the next day, we talk a little longer and eventually everyone makes their way to bed.

DAY 1 OF FISHING
Cup of coffee… check. Breakfast taco… check. Camera and fishing gear… check. I walk downstairs and there waiting for us is a fleet of boats, mostly Shallow Sports, to take us fishing for the day. I had the pleasure of going out with local guide and super nice guy, Capt. Joel Ramos. My fishing partner was Tommy Thomson, regional sales manager at Shimano. The weather is perfect, a little overcast with a high of 75 degrees. We drive for about 30 minutes, then Capt. Joel Ramos stops, shuts off the motor and says we’re going to do a drift here. It is just what I imagined… as far as you can see clear water spotted with sand pockets and grass. I started throwing D.O.A. Lures 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in one of their newer colors Texas Croaker. It doesn’t take long and we all start catching trout cast after cast. Capt. Joel hooked up onto a pretty 22” trout on the 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Candy Corn. It appeared, the fish liked the contrast of that bright orange lure color. The night before, we were given some D.O.A. 3” C.A.L. Shad Tails in a new color that is not yet named. It’s a brown with gold flake top with a pearl colored bottom. I switched to this bait and caught a few decent trout on that lure as well. Tommy threw on the D.O.A. topwater, the PT-7 (featured on the cover) and had a huge trout blow-up on it, that was pretty exciting. The PT-7 is a fun topwater to work with a lot of action. Capt. Joel wanted to get us on some reds next, so we went to a real shallow spot along a shoreline. I stuck with the 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Texas Croaker, and Capt. Joel stuck with the 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Candy Corn. 22 was Cap. Joel’s number that day, because after a few minutes at the spot, he hooks up to a nice 22” redfish. We get some footage of the fish and let him go. Shortly after, I hook up on a red I’d say was about 20” on the Texas Croaker Jerkbait. The water was so clear it was pretty neat to see the lure hit the water and then a flash which was the redfish chasing after it. After a full day of fun and fishing, we head back to casa de D.O.A.

The D.O.A. legend, Mark Nichols and myself on an evening boat ride.

That afternoon, everyone is sitting around trading fish stories from the day. Mark points to me and says, “Want to go for a boat ride?”

“Yes sir” I say.

We board his Maverick Mirage skiff, which is one beautiful boat. We go for a cruise and enjoy the stunning South Padre Island sunset. SO… here I am sitting on Mark Nichol’s boat with an ice cold Corona overlooking the Lower Laguna Madre while listening to him talk about fishing and his life. Mark is incredibly knowledgable about fishing and has lived a life full of adventure. I learned that Mark grew up in Houston and his dad had a shrimp boat on Clear Lake. That 45 minutes on his boat is truly a moment I’ll never forget.

DAY 2 OF FISHING
I get paired with Capt. Lee Alvarez. He was born and raised in the area and knows these waters like the back of his hand. I felt like I was getting special treatment since it was just Capt. Lee and myself on his boat this day. There was a front coming in that night, so it was overcast and rain was on the horizon. I had to throw that Candy Corn Jerkbait after the success we had on it the day before. We did some drifts and caught tons of trout on it. We were drifting this one area and a school of about five beautiful upper slot redfish swam right in front of the boat. We saw the school of reds again and we started sight casting at them, but didn’t land one. Either way, very cool seeing fish like that. The rain started coming down pretty good, but the fish were still biting, so I was a happy camper. After all, a little water never hurt no one.

On the ride back to the house, I was gathering my thoughts on the past few days of fishing. Myself alone, caught probably 70+ trout and some nice redfish in just two days on nothing but D.O.A. Lures. D.O.A. stands for Deadly On Anything, and after the non-stop catching I had experienced, that slogan is without a doubt true. These lures are like candy to fish, they can’t say no. An absolute must-have for any angler’s tackle box.

That evening, it was Mark’s birthday. The crew had got him a cake that was decorated with the D.O.A. logo and lures. Some tasty burgers were being grilled on the deck while we continued to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. My face was starting to hurt after all the laughs.

The next day, it was difficult to head back home. After the few days I got to spend with Mark and the rest of the D.O.A. Lures crew, I must say his lures are amazing, but this group of people are even better. The camaraderie I experienced was bar none. Not only did I learn a lot, but I left South Padre feeling like I had a whole new family.

The stars aligned that day I met Mark in that parking lot in Port Aransas. I never thought I would run into him, let alone be invited to South Padre to fish with him for several days. Mark’s passion for fishing and his energy is contagious. He has lit a fire for me to continue pursing my passion of fishing, writing, and photography. And for that I will forever be grateful to Mark.

Huge thanks to Mark Nichols and the entire D.O.A. Lures crew for an incredible trip. I’ll be back to catch my Texas snook. Until next time amigos!

Mark Nichols and Dave Stewart hold a massive black drum they caught on a D.O.A. C.A.L. Paddle Tail. Photo by Danno Wise

Capt. Brian Barrera stuck this beautiful 28″ trout using the D.O.A. 4″ C.A.L. Jerkbait in Candy Corn. Photo by Ed Zyak

Ed Zyak with a nice 24″ snook caught with Capt. Brian Barrera. Photo by Capt. Brian Barrera

New Year, New Beginnings

GraceSutherland New Year, New Beginnings

Grace Sutherland with a nice red

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

As we usher in 2019, I always reflect on the past year. I think of the trials and tribulations that I faced in 2018, but it was also a very rewarding year. I now set my sights forward and fully embrace the challenges and rewards of this coming year.

 My January starts at the 2019 Houston Boat, Sport and Travel Show. This event takes place at the NRG Center, Jan. 4-13. If you are in the market for a new boat or RV, you should attend this event. For those looking to re-power, come check out the latest technology in outboards. I will be at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth, numbers 612-613 throughout the show. Stop by, and I will be there to answer all questions about boating, boat storage, and of course fishing! The rest of my January will be filled with a much needed vacation to the blue waters of the Caribbean.

The beginning of the year, is also the time to get your boat seaworthy for this coming year. If your boat needs to go to a shop for service, this is the time. Do an inventory of what is stored in your boat. It is amazing how much “stuff” one can accumulate in your boat‘s storage hatches. Discard all non-serviceable items and check your PFDs for any defects.

On the fishing scene, look for continued good action on speckled trout along with scattered redfish. The usual winter locations, Clear Lake, Kemah/Seabrook flats, and the northern areas of Galveston Bay should hold fish. West Galveston Bay is also well known for its winter fishing.

Speaking of trout, one should keep abreast of the TPWD proposal of decreasing the trout daily bag limit. They should release their recommendation sometime in January. Hopefully, the Houston/Galveston area can make it through this winter without a major freeze event. If so, this spring we should see some really great fishing according to the fall gill net surveys from the TPWD.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season this past year. I look forward to seeing you at The Houston Boat Show.

Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations

Spend your winter at one of the five hottest fishing grounds this side of the globe.

tropic star lodge Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations

PANAMA

The Tropic Star Lodge in Piñas Bay has been producing world-class inshore and offshore fishing since 1963. Nestled 150 miles southeast of Panama City, this remote destination offers access to the abundant fishing grounds of the Pacific and splendor of the pristine Darien Jungle.

Expect hot action on some of the most sought-after pelagic fish during January and February. Black and blue marlin fishing will be excellent, as are the prospects for hooking into large pacific sailfish, big cow yellowfin tuna and bull dorado.

Despite its far-removed location, the Tropic Star Lodge has accommodations and amenities to please the most persnickety of travelers.

Visit TropicStar.com for more information.

SergioPucci Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations

Photo by Sergio Pucci

COSTA RICA

The Los Sueños Resort and Marina is a 1,100-acre master planned destination resort, offering all the services and amenities of a small city. Calm waters and short distances to one of the healthiest billfisheries in the world make it a highly popular sportfishing destination. The main attraction during winter is unrivaled action on big pacific sailfish, but yellowfin tuna and dorado make appearances as well. Visit lossuenos.com for info on charters and lodging.

GUATEMALA

Sailfish Oasis in Guatemala, “The Sailfish Capital of the World,” is home to one of the largest breeding grounds for Pacific sailfish. Guatemala holds both the conventional and fly fishing records for most sailfish released in one day. The Sailfish Oasis lodge is situated in a secure, tree-lined, residential development, on the edge of a canal that overlooks the mangroves. Their fleet of sportfishing yachts can accommodate the needs of every angler. Visit SailFishOasis.com for more information.

Famous arch in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

MEXICO

Cabo San Lucas is host to a strong striped marlin bite during the winter months. The action on these acrobatic fighters continues through spring and into early summer. This popular Baja destination has no shortage of accommodations and fishing charters. We recommend RedRum Sportfishing (redrumcabo.com) and Chupacabra Sportfishing (chupacabrasportfishing.com)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida is a winter sailfish hot spot.

FLORIDA

South Florida’s peak Atlantic sailfish season begins in January and sets off a flurry of fishing activity in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Keys and as far north as Fort Pierce. The prospect of a multi-fish day is good, as large schools of these spirited fish move up and down the coast all winter long. Trolled lures are effective but live bait fished under a kite is the most popular method.

Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

musick tarpon Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

Anastasia Musick with her tarpon painting “Eyes on the Prize.”

Interview by Kelly Groce

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start painting?

Originally I am from Kazakhstan but I have lived all over Europe and Asia (11 countries to be exact) before I was even 17!  Shortly after I came along, my family endured many hardships from the changing times, causing us to constantly move.

Like many young kids, I was fond of drawing, painting and anything artistic, but I tended to dedicate all of my time to this interest over anything else.  Certainly it was a good focus, as no matter where we lived or what the language, I had to start learning that particular year(s), I had consistency and stability in my artwork. I think was more beneficial to me than anything.

When I was around 11 years old, I was starting to paint and draw animals and floral art at a very rapid rate.  My mother would place the finished works in shops wherever we were living at the time.  By the time I was 15, I was being contacted for commissioned pieces of a very wide array of subjects, including freshwater fish, birds, and a lot of floral works.

How did you get into painting wildlife?

I have from the very beginning painted a host of subjects without boundary, but I would say that the time period I started focusing mostly on marine and wildlife was 2-3 years ago. My first saltwater piece was around that time as well.

musick swordfish Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

“Dancing in the Moonlight”

Aside from art, what else are you passionate about?

Well to be completely honest, I don’t really have much time to do much else!  I paint 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and when I am caught up I try to go fishing or enjoy my time on the water.  I take what I do incredibly seriously and try to give every ounce of energy I have to becoming better. After all, I have a lot of folks who have invested in me by owning originals.  I would be doing them a disservice if I did not increase their piece’s value over time.

I do love to fish but unless it’s a subject I am completely new to, it really does not make the artworks any better to continually see the same species—at least for me it doesn’t, but what does improve the paintings is pure repetition. This is the only requirement needed to have the knowledge or capability to paint or draw anything with success.

“Nine Lives”

What is your favorite fish to catch?

Redfish and Mahi.

Favorite location to fish or travel?

When time allows, I like to take either my paddle boat or kayak to a tiny little area in Charlotte Harbor that always is harboring at least a few hungry reds!  Within the last two years my vacationing has been sort of limited, but I have really enjoyed the various beaches I’ve visited in Texas and of course the boardwalk in San Antonio was a fun time.

Favorite fishing moment?

The very first redfish I caught had a little over 13 spots and I think that’s when I fell in love with fishing and wanted to dedicate that as my predominate focus.

“Ambush Queens”

How can our readers purchase and enjoy your art?

I have hundreds of pieces that I do reproductions of in small numbers, apparel and a host of other things available.  Easiest way to contact me is either to go to Facebook and search me out: Anastasia Musick. Also feel free to contact me on my business page: Musick Art Corporation. You can also find my website at www.AnastasiaMusick.com

Are there any foundations or organizations you are involved with that you would like to tell our readers about?

I work with CCA Texas, Florida and several kidney research foundations.  In 2019 I was selected to be the Texas CCA STAR Platinum Print Artist and would like to continue working with them and others.

“The Prospectors Bill”

Winter Redfish Patterns

sheward Winter Redfish Patterns

Capt. Clay Sheward with a chunky 28″ redfish on the fly.

By Capt. Steve Soule

It’s cold, damp and dreary: the kind of weather that makes it hard to find motivation to get up and going. We are deep into daylight savings time, with short days and not nearly enough sunlight to fuel my tank, but somehow there is still some motivation to be found for winter fishing.

The bright sunny days are often few and far between. Cloudy skies and damp conditions seems to dominate our weather patterns between December and February. Where is the “upside” to this? Well, fortunately for all of us fish heads, they still have to eat.

By no means does this cover the entire weather pattern spectrum of winter, but for the shallow water enthusiast, we can start with two basic condition sets that we must learn to contend with: sunny skies or cloudy skies. With these two basic conditions, there are other trends that tend to coincide with them.

Bright & Blue

Sunny skies are typically the trend after the passage of a front, and with the bright skies an initial strong wind flow and tide movement. Sunny skies are great for the sight fisher, allowing the angler to see and target the fish. Aided by the clearer waters of winter, fish can be much more easily spotted in the shallows with bright overhead skies. This is not always an indicator of our ability to catch them, but the ability to see them is the first step when sight casting.

A Stealthy Approach

Light wind, sunny skies and clear water will require a very stealthy approach from the angler as these conditions make fish much more vulnerable and aware of potential threats to their safety. Stop well short of the areas you intend to fish or believe are holding fish and work slowly and methodically until you locate them. Loud noises, boat wakes and other pressure waves that we create can alert fish to our presence. Keep in mind that when you get a bite its definitely time to slow down and work the area more thoroughly. One of the greatest parts of winter fishing is that when you find one fish, you have likely found an area holding many fish.

Dark & Stormy

So, if sunny skies and light wind make for great sight fishing, but likely only happen once every 3-5 days, what do you do when the clouds and cooler temperatures roll back in? You must learn where the fish move as the temperatures and tides drop. It may require a fair amount of knowledge of the area you’re fishing, but falling temperatures and falling tides actually generate a fairly predictable pattern from fish.

It is important to understand about how changing temperatures effect fish movement. As a general rule, during the cooler months, if the air is warming and the water is cold, fish will move shallow as soon as the air temperature exceeds the water temperature. Much the same, when the air temperatures drop below the water temperature during cooling periods, fish will tend to move towards deeper water. Knowing this basic principle will help guide you during the winter months.

Cloudy skies have settled in, seeing the fish is virtually out of the question. Temperatures are cooler and the tides are low; where have the fish moved? Here is when you need to understand the structures in the area. Contour depth changes, reefs, and bay floor make up all play a big role in where fish will move during these conditions.

Typically, open water adjacent to the shallow marsh is the first depth contour change that will allow slight insulation from cooling water. This is also where you are likely to find some added structure like oyster reefs. Look for areas with dense dark mud as it will not only hold many small food sources, but will maintain a slight advantage in warmth as well.

Sunny vs Cloudy Days 

There will be other notable differences in these two primary patterns. Periods of sunny skies, light wind and clear water will dictate the use of smaller lures and flies, stealthy approaches and much more subtle presentations to catch fish.

When the skies are cloudy and wind has returned, and especially when temperatures are falling, it often pays off greatly to increase the size of your presentation. This is when mullet imitations can bring huge catches, not just in numbers, but often in the size of the fish. Topwater “dog walking” lures and slow sinking, suspending finesse lures and twitch baits can provide rod jerking strikes that you won’t soon forget.

catch2000 Winter Redfish Patterns

MirrOlure’s Catch 2000 is a great subsurface bait for winter.

For winter sight fishing my go-to lures would be a dark colored small swim or paddle tail soft plastic rigged on 1/16th to 1/4 ounce screw lock jig heads or a hand-tied Buggs lure. When the clouds roll in, it’s tough to find me not fishing a top water like a Super Spook or Spook Jr., or a She Dog or She Pup. I like natural colors like white, bone and chrome for clear water. Use darker colors for dirtier water or cloudy conditions.

When it’s time to drop below the surface, the Catch 2000 or Corky series are hard to beat. Pink, Texas chicken and chartreuse/gold are my go-to colors. Some interesting fun can also be found with shallow running twitch or crank baits. Again, all I can say is hang on! The strikes can take your breath away.

Putting It All Together

There is so much more to winter fishing than I can possibly cover here, but understanding the basic temperature change and fish movement will get you started. Digging deeper, you will start to notice that barometric pressure also plays a huge role, and understanding tides and structures are like the interlocking pieces of the puzzle.

Don’t let winter fishing intimidate you! It’s like any other time of year and just requires a different knowledge base to create success. As an added bonus, fishing during the clear water and low tide periods during winter may also provide you with the best education you will get all year.

Take this opportunity to learn more about bay floor structures, such as shallow areas, reefs, guts and deeper channel flows. This will help your overall understanding of where and how fish move around the bays.

What Happened to the 2018 Flounder Run?

flounder nov What Happened to the 2018 Flounder Run?

By Capt. Joe Kent

Anglers all around the Galveston Bay Complex are scratching their heads in disbelief of the fact that we did not appear to have a genuine flounder run during November.  Almost all of the experienced flounder fishermen are asking why the flat fish never made a concentrated run like they are supposed to during late autumn.

Was it a sign that the flounder stocks are dwindling or was it something else that interfered with the 2018 fall flounder run?

To begin with, let’s take a look at what traditionally takes place with flounder and their annual run to the Gulf of Mexico to spawn, especially in years past.

At some point after mid-September, flounder sense winter is  not far away and start thinking about their move to the Gulf.  Two key factors contribute to this insight, those being shorter periods of sunlight or shorter days and the water temperatures cooling from the summertime readings.

When this first occurs Galveston Bay flounder begin to move, first out of the shallower back bays and lakes and then to the larger bays, especially East and West Bays.  From there they will head to the pathways to the Gulf, which include the Galveston Ship Channel, Bolivar Roads, Cold Pass, Rollover Pass and San Luis Pass.

In most years, November is when the migration reaches its peak, with flounder lining the shorelines of Pelican Island, all along upper Bolivar Peninsula and around all of the passes into the Gulf.

At that time it was “easy pickins” on flounder, as they were so concentrated that anglers could load large ice chests with the flat fish.

Several years ago, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department set a special bag limit of two flounder per person per day for November and later extended it to mid-December.  Also flounder gigging was prohibited during November.

For at least three years now the annual run has fallen short of its expectations and this year it was hardly noticed, as few flounder were caught from the traditional hot spots.

The first thought is that the stocks have declined to the point that they are in trouble.  All indications are that this is not the problem.  All during the year, flounder were being taken in typical numbers and experienced flounder anglers reported the back bays and marshes being full of the flatfish.

What about our warmer than usual winters?  That has to be a big factor and from here I would like to pass on some comments from a few of the flounder pros.

One angler sent a note to the Reel Report in the Galveston County Daily News saying:

“Here is my reason for the poor flounder run. Try to forget what you think you know about flounder running in the fall. The flounder are not leaving the bays, they are entering the bays. They have to wait till the water temperature in the bay drops down enough to run off the scavenger fish that would eat all the eggs they are leaving in their spawn.”

Another reader sent in this note:

“Has anyone wondered if the lack of flounder can be tied to the dredging of the Galveston Ship Channel! The hopper dredge has been working 24/7 for several weeks now and rumors are they are scooping up barrels of flounder. Something seems off when dredging to deepen the channel is planned when a bottom fish has its migration.”

This note came from a biologist at a popular aquarium:

“Most everyone is complaining about the poor flounder run this year.  All sorts of reasons are cited; however, one thing that seems to be missed is that all flounder do not leave the bays during winter. One of the driving factors is food supply.  If the small fish and crustaceans are around, flounder are slow to leave and will tend to hang around as long as food is plentiful.”

Another reader said: “We may be missing the flounder run, as the warmer weather could be causing a delay in the migration to sometime in mid to late December.  If so, this would be at a time when not much fishing is taking place and possibly a major run would go unnoticed.”

Whatever your theory, the warmer winters over the past few years have to be a major factor.  Hopefully the stocks of flounder will continue to be in good shape during 2019 and beyond.

Interview with Capt. Rex Hoyt of Texas Rattler™ in Rockport

trouttx Interview with Capt. Rex Hoyt of Texas Rattler™ in Rockport

We caught up with Capt. Rex Hoyt of Texas Rattler™ in Rockport to talk about his “world’s finest” rattling jigheads, spoons and soft plastics.

Interview by Kelly Groce

Capt. Rex Trout 5.22.2018 167x300 Interview with Capt. Rex Hoyt of Texas Rattler™ in Rockport

Capt. Rex Hoyt, creator of Texas Rattler

Where are you from?
I was born in Katy, Texas in 1955 and graduated from Katy High School in 1974 where I played football, basketball and baseball. I was All District offensive and defensive in football and baseball.

My love of sports and a strong work ethic helped me be elected in football to the All Greater Houston Team as a DB for 3 years. In baseball, I still hold the season records for RBI and Home Runs at Katy High School with a wood bat set in 1973 – 4 HR, 25 RBI in 18 games.

Tell us about your journey that led to the design and success of the Rockport Rattler® and now the Texas Rattler™.
My strong desire to help others catch fish and enjoy the bounty that mother nature has to offer has set the foundation of my fishing journey. These two things set in motion my invention of the rattling jig-head invention back in 2003.

First, I wanted a lure that would help my young kids catch fish off the pier without me having to buy live shrimp all the time. With a pier at my condo, they could fish every day or night, and that got expensive.

Second, as a guide depending on bait stands for live bait to catch fish and competing with other guides at 5 a.m. in the morning for live croaker or shrimp got old real fast. So I set out to invent a lure that could contend with live shrimp, croaker or fin fish. Fish have ears and can hear just like you. They are called otoliths. And, just like you, if they hear a familiar sound they will come check it out – just like you do when you hear a knock on your door.

Rattles in corks and topwater lures were proven to be effective at producing fish over the years. The rattling cork helped me make a living with live shrimp on guided trips – that rattle sound worked! They got fish to come to the surface or that area and eat the shrimp suspended under the rattling cork.

The deal was I wanted to take that rattling sound to go where the fish were actually “hanging out”. I wanted to take that rattle sound subsurface where the trout, reds and flounder are in their natural sanctuary and ambush points.

The result was that the rattling jig-head going subsurface at various depths to the game fishes actual ambush points and sanctuaries could actually compete with live bait.

The rattling jig-head put in the hands of novice anglers had them out-catching their friends using a silent jig-head by a solid 5-1 ratio or better when fishing in the same boat or wade/kayak fishing the same area. That ratio has proven itself to be a consistent ratio over the last 15 years from actual reports from recreational and tournament anglers.

In early 2003 I started using rattling jigs on my fishing charters right alongside the live bait my customers were using and the rattling jig-heads I invented could not only compete with the live shrimp or live croaker, but it consistently caught the bigger fish. I put the Rockport Rattler® on the market in May of 2003 and anglers all along the Texas gulf coast that started using them were amazed at the ability of this rattling jig-head to improve their fishing catch – both in numbers and size.

In 2009 I put the Quick-Lock on the Rockport Rattler® because the original did not have a locking device on it. It depended on the expansion and torque from the soft plastic expanding over the rattle chamber to hold the soft plastic on.

Some soft plastics slipped when casting and retrieving on the original, but anglers were catching more fish so they put up with that nuisance and kept using them.

The locking device has always been a problem on jig-heads and the rattling jig-head was no exception. So I invented the QuickLock in 2009 to solve the slipping problem.

The Quick-Lock was made adjustable from a stainless steel wire prong. The QuickLock SS wire would hold on the soft plastic but it sliced it from a fish bite so I made it where an angler could adjust it to get another grip. By getting another grip on their soft plastic an angler’s soft plastic would last longer.

4/0 Hook TEXAS RATTLER™ Jig Series in Pink/GoldEye with U-LOCK™

By making the QuickLock “adjustable”, I was the first person to put an “adjustable locking device” on a jig-head and that is what earned me the US Patent US 7,614,178 B2. I sold the Rockport Rattler® original and QuickLock in 2013.

Since that time, the jobs were moved from Rockport, Texas overseas and the new owners are not making the QuickLock “adjustable” like my US Patent is designed and as a consequence it slices an anglers lure on the 1st fish bite.

I became frustrated with going through so many expensive soft plastics on the Rockport Rattler® on the now non-adjustable QuickLock not being made correctly – like anglers all across the USA. So I decided that since my 3 year non-compete agreement was over with, it was time to invent a new locking device for a rattling jig-head and put it on the market.

Right about that time, Hurricane Harvey made landfall at Rockport and left a wake of destruction and destroyed over 65% of the businesses. Of that number, only 1/3 of the businesses have rebuilt at this time.

So I decided I would come out of retirement and create a better rattling jig-head while creating some jobs for this community so the citizens can rebuild and the can city heal itself.

My new invention, the “universal” U-LOCK™, which I have put on my rattling jig-head and named the TEXAS RATTLER™ is amazing the way it “universally locks” on a soft plastic.

What makes Texas Rattler™ products unique from others?
TEXAS RATTLER™ jigs: The U-LOCK™ uses the power of friction created by rubber to hold on the rubber soft plastics. The rubber housing of the U-LOCK™ vs. rubber of the soft plastic increases the friction by 250%. Secondly, as all experienced anglers know- you leave two different colored soft plastics in your tackle box together they will exchange colors, you leave them in the sun and they will melt into each other – there is a chemical reaction going on. The U-LOCK™ does the same thing. A soft plastic’s chemicals in the lure creates a tackiness when put on the U-LOCK™ that provides an extra gripping power.

TEXAS WALKING SHRIMP™: It looks like a live shrimp and has legs that swim or “walk” through the water just like a live shrimp does, especially when used under a popping cork. It can be rigged a variety of ways on hooks or jig-heads depending on an angler’s preference or what is needed at the time.

TEXAS RATTLER™ 3D Spoons: It is the only spoon on the market today that rattles, has eyes on both sides of the spoon and uses a 3D holographic fluorescent glitter on both sides to create a realistic looking belly of a fin fish. All fin fish have a white or light colored belly that reflects UV rays from the sun. The TEXAS RATTLER™ 3D Rattling Spoon is the only spoon on the market that has these advantages for anglers to fish with.

What is your favorite Texas Rattler™ product and color to use while fishing?
My favorite TEXAS RATTLER™ jig color to throw is the 1/8 oz. chartreuse/redeye rigged with a 5” plum/chartreuse soft plastic. My favorite way to fish is with a TEXAS WALKING SHRIMP™ on a TEXAS RATTLER™ Z-MAX rattling weightless hook under a popping cork. They both consistently catch the Texas Slam for me year round.

Do you have a favorite fishing moment?
I was on a fishing charter with a client and his 10 and 8 year old sons in March of 2003. Drift fishing using live shrimp under a popping cork in 2–3 foot of water I was casting for the kids and they had reeled in several trout 16”–18” trout pretty quick and Dad was happy.

When that count grew to 6–7 trout around the same size and Dad hadn’t caught any, I saw his frustration and I knew I had to do something to help him out. He wasn’t popping his cork or keeping the slack up and was missing his fish bites. I had a rattling jig-head that I hadn’t put on the market yet on my personal rod n’ reel and knew if he threw it, he’d have to at least work it and not just let it sit. So I asked him to use it. Second cast with my rattling jig-head prototype he hooks into a 26” redfish, couple trips around the boat and I net it for him.

Now he jumps back on the bow of my 24’ Carolina Skiff with a smile, some enthusiasm and casts back out. About 5 casts later he hooks into a 27” redfish. Bigger fish, wider girth, longer fight. I finally net it and put it the box and he pounds the butt of my rod n’ reel on the deck and says, “I ain’t ever using live bait again.” That was the day I knew the rattling jig-head should be in every tackle box in the USA.

What’s your favorite place that you have fished?
Cedar Bayou Fish Pass. It is a wade angler’s paradise.

Besides fishing, what else are you passionate about?
I am very passionate about creating jobs for the community of Rockport, not just so it can rebuild after the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, but to provide jobs for the future for its citizens to come home to after the next hurricane hits. As our lures are stocked nationwide over the coming years our mission is to create a work force of 10-15 people.

Fishmas Gift Guide

redfish earrings Fishmas Gift Guide

Gone Coastal Jewelry

Gone Coastal Jewelry features the highest quality nautical and coastal jewelry along with exceptional customer service. No matter which design you choose, their necklaces, bracelets, earrings, charms, pendants, rings and more fully embody the excitement, beauty and peacefulness of coastal life. GoneCoastalJewelry.com

columbia megavent2 Fishmas Gift Guide

Columbia Men’s Megavent™ II PFG Shoe

It dries quickly, drains water easily, and laces up fast. The latest Megavent™ hybrid shoe is made for the professional angler who needs an outsole that grips when wet, an upper that resists stains, and an overall design that performs when the excitement hits. Gulf Coast Mariner put these shoes to the test all summer in Cabo San Lucas and during the Texas Billfish Classic. They are extremely grippy boat shoes that don’t sacrifice comfort or durability. Columbia.com

Studio Abachar Pinup Girl Stickers

Impressive vintage-styled stickers from world-famous marine artist Amadeo Bachar. These 8” Clear vinyl stickers are printed with white ink behind Amadeo’s fish illustration to preserve opacity and unmatched level of detail. Each is coated with heavy UV to stand up to the elements— rain, wind and sun without fading. Also available in prints. Visit studio-abachar.myshopify.com

Cold Steel Bird & Trout Knife

The Bird & Trout knife is a much loved, lightweight tool that is enjoyed by hunters, fisherman and outdoorsmen the world over. Its lightweight one-piece construction and its versatile, ultra-skeletonized sheath make it effortless to carry and a joy to wear all day long. Made of Japanese AUS 8A Stainless Steel. Overall length 6 5/16” Blade length is 2 1/4” ColdSteel.com

Avid Angler Jewelry

Avid Angler Jewelry provides unique, realistic jewelry that has been designed and hand-crafted by fellow fishing and hunting enthusiasts. Be it sterling silver or 14k gold, these pendants, charms, pins, earrings, bracelets, tie-tacs and rings can be created to customize your collection. These inshore or offshore pieces express a love of nature and the outdoors and make a perfect gift. @AvidAnglerJewelryDesigns

YETI Rambler Half Gallon Jug

With rugged construction, FatLid™ insulation and a stainless steel handle, the Rambler® Half Gallon Jug is built to take on the wild. Whenever and wherever you need it, count on an ice-cold (or piping hot) sip from your Rambler to come to the rescue. Available in 2 DuraCoat™ colors and stainless steel. Yeti.com

Avet Patriot Series Reels

Give the gift of American Pride! All of your favorite Avet reels are now available in red, white and blue. The 6061 T-6 marine grade aluminum frame proudly displays our flag and features an anodized finish for superior corrosion resistance. Avet reels feature precision machined stainless steel gears and components and are proudly made right here in the good ole’ U. S. of A. AvetReels.net

Galveston Flounder Run: A Quick Guide

flounder map Galveston Flounder Run: A Quick Guide

WHERE TO FIND THEM

A: UPPER BAY

Flounder from upper Galveston Bay begin to exit areas like Clear Lake, Dickinson Bay and Moses Lake. Fish the shorelines outside these back lakes as flounder migrate towards the Gulf.

B: JONES BAY

Marsh dwelling flounder will exit through Highland Bayou and into Jones Bay. Fish marsh drains, shorelines and structure.

C: WEST BAY

Flounder exit the numerous coves and marshes and either head west to San Luis Pass or east to the Galveston Ship Channel. Fish the bayou mouths, marsh drains and shorelines as flounder make their exodus.

D: BOLIVAR

Flounder congregate near the structure and wells around Bolivar as they head to the pass.

E: TEXAS CITY DIKE

Flounder will hug the rocks and shorelines of this 5-mile-long levee during their migration. This is a great location for shore-bound anglers.

F: GALVESTON SHIP CHANNEL

During the peak of the flounder fun, fish stack up as they funnel through the channel. Any given shoreline or structure can hold flounder in the GSC.

G: GALVESTON JETTIES

This is your last shot at a saddle blanket before they enter the Gulf of Mexico. Fish big mullet and heavy jigs along the rocks during the outgoing tide.

big flounder 2018 Galveston Flounder Run: A Quick Guide

HOW TO CATCH THEM

THE BITE

Flounder are ambush predators, concealing themselves on the bay floor and striking when opportunity presents itself. There a couple telltale signs of a flounder strike. The most recognizable is the satisfying “thump” of a bite during your retrieve. Sometimes, the bite is more subtle and all of sudden you notice a dead weight on your line. And other times, a fish might strike viciously and move.

THE HOOKSET

The most important aspect of flounder fishing is patience!! Flounder often bite first to kill and wait before swallowing. Wait anywhere from 5 to 20 seconds before attempting to set the hook. Flounder have bony mouths and require a stout hookset. The no-stretch qualities of braided line are perfect for hooking flounder.

Down South Lure in Kickin’ Chicken, Gulp Shrimp in New Penny and H&H Grub in Glow/Chart.

BAITS AND LURES

Berkley Gulp baits are some of the best scented plastics for flounder, but any soft plastic on a quality jighead can get the job done. Scent is important and helps flounder hold on to the bait longer. Apply Pro-Cure gels to your unscented plastics, like Down South Lures, Chicken Boy Lures or Flounder Pounders.  You can also tip your jighead with a small piece of shrimp tail section.

Popular lures colors include pearl, pearl/chartreuse, strawberry/white, chicken on a chain, pink, chartreuse, new penny and many more.

Live shrimp, finger mullet and mud minnows are all popular, successful flounder baits.

It’s hard to go wrong with the real thing. The most popular live baits are finger mullet, live shrimp and mud minnows. Fish these on the bottom with a carolina rig: swivel,  weight (1/4 oz. to 1 oz. depending on water depth), a live bait or kahle hook and a 18” length of 15-20 lb mono or fluoro.

UNDERSTANDING THE FLOUNDER LIFE CYCLE

Life cycle of the Southern Flounder. Illustrations by Brandon Rowan.

Galveston Bay: 2018 Past and Present

dillman1 Galveston Bay: 2018 Past and Present

Joe Harris and David Hagemeyer

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

The Holiday season is here. Another year has come and gone and folks will begin making their plans for the holidays. If you enjoy the outdoors, fishing or hunting, this is prime time! Hunting begins in earnest and fishing can be the best of the year!

This past January and February, we experienced true winter weather along the Upper Coast. Wind, rain, and freezing precipitation greeted us throughout these two months. Some fish kills were reported, but nothing substantial along the Upper Coast.

During March and April, we did experience some late season fronts. As the weather stabilized, spring-like weather arose, as did the water temperatures. Good catches of trout came from Lower and East Galveston bay. Everything was shaping up for an excellent year of fishing.

May and June arrived and the weather took a turn for the best. Fishing in East Bay got even better, with excellent catches of speckled trout coming from the reefs. During the latter part of May, trout made their move to the middle areas of the bay. The trout catches increased around Eagle Point. In June, the wells located off of Eagle Point produced excellent catches of trout and redfish.

July and August blew in along with inconsistent winds. On any given day, the wind would blow from two or three different directions and velocity. This curtailed what was excellent trout fishing. Those who concentrated their effort on other species, were rewarded. I myself went after redfish and the action was outstanding! Winds finally settled in late August, and the trout catches rebounded, along with great catches of sand/gulf trout and drum.

This bring us to September and October. In my last article, I stated these two months were the “transition period” for Galveston Bay. Indeed it was! During the first week of September, everything was good and fish were falling into their seasonal change. Then, the Galveston area experienced rain, almost, if not every day in September. We did not have a major flush of freshwater into our bay, but in some locations, 100 year old rainfall totals were broken for the month.

dillman2 Galveston Bay: 2018 Past and Present

Maco Fowlkes, Gage Fowlkes and Mike Bishop.

In October, Florida was hit with a catastrophic hurricane, which caused our tide levels to rise 2 feet above normal. The high tides have curtailed catches. Look for tide levels and fishing to return to a normal fall pattern as more cold fronts occur.

Finally, this bring us to November and December; what I refer to as the “Holiday Season.” There is no better time for a true sportsman in Texas. Fishing between the fronts can produce some of the best catches of the year, and hunting season is wide open. On the fishing scene, the annual flounder run will be in full swing. These fish will be making their migration to the Gulf, and lots of anglers will target just these fish for their well known table fare! Trout and redfish will be plentiful in the upper end of our bay system. I will be fishing between the fronts and preparing for the annual Houston Boat Show starting Jan. 4, 2019.

Eagle Point Fishing Camp will continue to hold live bait. They can be reached at 281-339-1131 for updates on bait and fishing. Until next year, may God Bless all of you during this great time of year.

The Golden Croaker Disappearing Act

croakerkent The Golden Croaker Disappearing Act

Big croaker like this one are hard to come by these days.

By Capt. Joe Kent

While not a piece of legislation, this characterization is a question on the minds of many senior anglers who once enjoyed the annual golden croaker runs during the autumn.

October and November are the prime months for this event and for many years Rollover Pass and other passageways into the Gulf of Mexico would be lined with anglers virtually shoulder to shoulder with their baits in the water during the big runs.

During my growing up years, my dad would take me to Rollover Pass when word got out that the croaker were running, and in most instances I caught several croaker in the one to two pound category.  Dead shrimp fished on the bottom was the bait, and just about everyone around me was catching fish.

The annual migration, or run as it is commonly called, usually coincided with the annual flounder migration or flounder run.  Rollover Pass also was a popular spot to catch flounder during their migration.

Over the past three to four decades, a noticeable decline in the numbers of the big or bull croaker has taken place.  While this fish continues to make its journey to the Gulf each fall, large concentrations have not been observed.

Sporadic reports continue to come in of isolated catches of the migrating fish with a few of them being well over two pounds in weight.  Three-pound croaker were not at all uncommon during the migrations of years ago.

Croaker are a resilient fish and can reproduce often and in varied conditions. This is one reason the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has not been greatly concerned over their populations.  They are not as sensitive to salinity levels or cold temperature as many other fish.

So, we ask the question:  “What has happened to our stocks of croaker?”

For at least two decades, anglers have been inquiring about the decline in the bull croaker, especially the ones that used to dominate the migrations.  Today, questions are coming from year-round croaker anglers wondering why they are not catching as many and that the sizes seem to be getting smaller.

As a child and a teenager, I was among those anglers fishing just out of Seabrook for nice-sized croaker.  Scotts Reef, probably a mile or two from shore, was noted for its big croaker.  Not the average size of the fall migration but in the ¾ to pound and a half range.  That was a great eating size and very popular for the table.

Today, croaker remain widespread and are easily caught; however, the average size seems to be progressively declining as well as the numbers being caught.

Early on, it was thought that the bycatch from shrimp nets was the culprit; however, croaker have been enduring that for decades and the number of shrimpers on Galveston Bay is declining.

Many anglers feel that the demand for small croaker for bait, one of the top choices for speckled trout, is a major factor.  More and more bait camps are offering live croaker for bait and, when there is a shortage of live shrimp, the other top bait, croaker are usually available.

Several professional fishing guides have told me privately that the bait market for live croaker is taking its toll on the stocks and, while I am not advocating a prohibition of the sale of bait croaker, I do think a serious study of the situation is warranted and if any appropriate regulations should be enacted, they should be encouraged to help this fish rebound.

TPWD has been successful in restoring our trout and redfish populations and croaker stocks should be next on their list to build back.

2018 Seabrook Saltwater Derby Results

sbrook2 2018 Seabrook Saltwater Derby Results

The 9th Annual Seabrook Saltwater Derby took place on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Many nice fish made it to the scales, despite challenging conditions. Participants enjoyed cold beer, tacos and giveaways a-plenty at the weigh-in at CABO Clear Lake.

Heaviest Redfish

1. Brandon Perez: 9.19

2. Tyler Cervenka: 8.76

3. Daniel Marshall: 8.27

Heaviest Trout

1. Daniel Marshall: 4.07

2. Michael Fesco: 3.83

3. Troy Albright: 3.52

Heaviest Flounder

1. Gerald McDermott: 3.08

2. Michael Fesco: 2.14

3. Kyle Cervenka: 2.14

Heaviest Redfish Stringer

1. Waterloo: 23.7

2. Pullin’ 3 G’s: 21.14

3. Degens from up Country: 20.71

Heaviest Trout Stringer

1. Muy Loco: 14.31

2. Three Amigos: 11.81

3. Gig Em: 11.2

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.