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Texas Billfish Classic returns to Freeport Aug. 1-4

bmarlinjump Texas Billfish Classic returns to Freeport Aug. 1 4

Charity-minded tournament brings billfishing back to Freeport

By Brandon Rowan

tbclogo 150x150 Texas Billfish Classic returns to Freeport Aug. 1 4The Texas Billfish Classic celebrates its third year of bringing highly competitive billfishing back to Freeport. Over the past three years, the tourney has grown steadily and produces one of the most popular and enjoyable tournament formats on the Texas Gulf Coast.

History

The original tournament was formed in the 1980s by many of the bluewater pioneers who put Freeport on the map as a Blue Marlin hotspot in the 80s and 90s. During this time the Billfish Classic was a premier event with a rich history of record catches and great times.

In 2015, Tournament Director Jasen Gast resurrected the Texas Billfish Classic and added much more.

“One of the biggest success stories of the TBC is not the fishing, but what we are able to do on land,” Gast said. “Since 2015, the TBC has donated more than $25,000 to local and regional non-profit organizations.”

The tournament works closely with three charities – the Freedom Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and the Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run.

  • The Billfish Foundation operates worldwide to advance the conservation of billfish and associated species to improve the health of oceans and economies.
  • The Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run has delivered toys, clothing and Christmas meals via boat to thousands of needy children on the Texas coast since 2006.
  • The Freedom Alliance goes above and beyond to meet the needs of wounded warriors and their families. This includes rehab/recovery funds, customized wheelchairs, care packages to deployed troops and a scholarship fund for the children of fallen heroes.

A Patriotic Tournament

Jasen Gast has owned REHAB, a tournament winning 45’ Davis sportfisher, for five years now and has a history and passion for taking disabled children, veterans and others out on fishing trips. The opportunity to further help the needy came to Gast after meeting the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor while fishing in Costa Rica.

“I met Jasen during the Triple Crown in Los Sueños, Costa Rica. He wanted to bring a more patriotic aspect to his tournament,” Ailor said.

Since that meeting, the Texas Billfish Classic has already donated thousands to the charity and much more in the way of real life experiences and trips for our nation’s heroes.

“We are not a one and done charity,” said Pepper Ailor, who has worked with the Freedom Alliance over the past 13 years. “We stay in the lives of these heroes and bless the troops with genuine relationships.”

Each year the TBC invites a group of veterans down to Freeport to be involved in the week’s events and also embark on an offshore trip. With no cell phones or distractions, deeper connections are made during the inevitable lulls of a fishing trip and the shared exhilaration during the high excitement moments.

Veteran group after a solid day catching fish during a donated trip on Galveston Bay in 2017. Photo by Pepper Ailor.

Last year’s group of invited veterans enjoyed a great inshore fishing trip. Marine Sgt. Cory, Army Sgt. Bill, Cpl. Jeramie and Master Chief Kevin spent a day on Galveston Bay catching redfish, flounder and trout.

“He has so much fun on those trips! Jeramie’s wife Lindsey said. “He comes back with new friends and so many stories! Thank you for inviting him! He is keeping in contact with several people through text. He just had the best time!”

Great things continue to be born of the relationship between the Freedom Alliance and TBC. Dudley Wood, a tournament participant and owner of the 54’ Bertram Smoker II, even donated a hunting trip to a group of five veterans he met during the tournament last year.

Gulf Coast Mariner encourages our readers to donate and volunteer for the Freedom Alliance and other worthy veterans charities but Pepper Ailor wants to see something greater happen.

“Form a genuine relationship with a veteran.” Ailor said. “There is too big a gap between the lives of our defenders and the public sector. Our veterans need to do a better job opening up and civilians need to listen better.

Marty Griffith’s Over-Ride with the tournament record blue marlin at 410 pounds. Photo by Brandon Rowan.

People’s Choice

The TBC continues to be one of the fastest growing competitive billfish events in Texas. The high number of billfish catches in August along the Texas shelf also adds to a spirited weigh-in and awards banquet on Saturday night. Fishing the TBC is known to be hot by day and festive at night.

“He puts on the best as far as I’m concerned,” said Dudley Wood of Smoker II. “He lets us leave during daylight and that is huge. That’s why I quit some other tournaments that start you running out at night. The safety of my captain and crew is paramount.”

“It is a great tournament,” said Shawn Kurtz, owner of Hey Girl, the winning boat of the 2017 tourney. “Jasen has put together a pretty good program. It gets better and better each year.”

New for 2018 is the inclusion of the Billfish Classic Cup trophy. The winner of the BCC will be decided by the boat with the highest total release points from both the Texas Billfish Classic and Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, and in turn, take home a minimum of $10,000 cash.

This conservation minded tournament also encourages billfish release with the highest minimum in the state for harvesting Blue Marlin at 107 inches.

Don’t miss the hot fishing and festive nights this revived classic brings to Freeport. The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend the weigh-in on Friday and Saturday.

For information or to register for the Texas Billfish Classic visit them online at www.TexasBillfishClassic.com or contact TexasBillfishClassic@yahoo.com

Yellowfin Tuna Lures After Dark

Tie on one of these proven tuna lures when drifting near semi-submersible platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

yo zuri bull pop Yellowfin Tuna Lures After Dark

Color: Mackerel. Available in 6 and 8 inch sizes.

Yo-Zuri Bull Pop

Yo-Zuri has upgraded the new Bull Pop with patented Power Body, 3X treble hooks and through wire construction to give it the durability to handle the biggest Texas tuna. The large cupped mouth creates extreme surface commotion that draws fish in from long distances.

wombat laser Yellowfin Tuna Lures After Dark

Color: Laser purple. Available in mini and full sizes.

OTI Wombat

OTI’s Wombat Chugger produces explosive topwater action to excite large tuna and trigger strikes. These poppers come fully rigged and ready to fish with Raptor XH split rings and Raptor 4X treble hooks.

Color: Pilchard. Available in over 10 colors and 3 sizes.

Halco Max 130

Look to the Halco Max 130 when tuna won’t commit to surface lures. This versatile Australian lure can be trolled but is best cast with spinning gear and steady retrieved during your drift.

Color: Black. Available in 7 colors and 3 sizes.

Shimano Pop Orca

Shimano’s Orca popper features a unique “Bubble Chamber” open mouth design based on how a jet engine turns low pressure into high pressure. Water flows through the hole at the top of the lure to create a unique bubble trail and splash. Less effort is required to work compared to traditional poppers.

TPWD Projects 82-Day Red Snapper Season

2018 red snapper season 300x225 TPWD Projects 82 Day Red Snapper Season

Private recreational anglers fishing in federal waters off the Texas coast will see a projected 82-day season starting June 1 under an agreement between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The agreement is a modified version of the Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application submitted to NMFS earlier this year, and will allow TPWD to establish the opening and closing of the red snapper fishery in federal waters off the Texas coast for private recreational anglers fishing from their own vessels in 2018 and 2019.

Based on current harvest quota estimates, TPWD projects an 82-day red snapper season in federal waters, while state waters (out to 9 nautical miles) are expected to remain open year-round. Bag and size limits will remain unchanged under the permit; 2 fish per person daily with a 16-inch minimum size limit in federal waters, and 4 fish per person daily with a 15-inch minimum in state waters.

In September 2017, NMFS invited each of the Gulf States to apply for an EFP that, if approved, would authorize the states to manage recreational red snapper harvest in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Texas submitted its application for an EFP in February 2018 and subsequently held three public meetings along the coast and set up a web portal online for official public comment. The public overwhelmingly supported the original EFP application and the combination of the private recreational angler sector with the for-hire sector. Under this scenario, anglers were projected to receive up to 104 fishing days in federal waters.

While NMFS accepted the EFP allowing TPWD to manage the red snapper fishery, it rejected the application’s plan to combine all recreational anglers into one user group. “While we respectfully disagree with that decision, we are confident that Texas can successfully manage the red snapper fishery to the benefit of anglers and the resource. As such, this is a positive step forward in our larger discussions with NMFS and the Gulf States about state-based management of the red snapper fishery,” said Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“Historically, charter boats have been included by NMFS in its allocation for recreational anglers.  As a result, I believe it was unreasonable for NMFS to refuse to include the for-hire sector under the Exempted Fishing Permit offered to Texas,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman Ralph H. Duggins. “I have advised senior representatives at NMFS that I will vigorously oppose any future efforts to privatize the charter sector through the use of individual fishing quotas.  To do so would undermine the fundamental linchpin of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation – that fish and wildlife are public resources.”

Help TPWD better manage this resource by downloading the iSnapper app on your smart phone and reporting your red snapper landings.

Galati Yacht Sales: A Name You Can Trust

galati houston Galati Yacht Sales: A Name You Can Trust

Galati Yacht Sales Texas Manager Jay Dee Jackson continues a family-owned tradition of excellence

annamaria Galati Yacht Sales: A Name You Can Trust

Galati’s first location at Anna Maria opened in 1970.

Galati Yacht Sales, a once storm ravaged Florida marina, is now a No. 1 dealership with locations in the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica. The company’s humble beginnings start with Jay Dee Jackson’s grandfather, Michael Galati Sr. in 1970.  He moved his family of seven from New York down to Anna Maria Island, Florida.

“He felt drawn to Anna Maria, as this is the name of my grandmother. He saw this as a sign and decided to purchase a marina there that had just been devastated by a storm,” said Jay Dee. “From there, he and his wife, Anna Maria, and their five children worked to rebuild the marina and grew the company to what is now Galati Yacht Sales.”

Galati now has ten locations in three countries and carries some of the world’s finest yachts, including Maritimo, Viking, Prestige, Princess and Cruisers Yachts. They offer new, pre-owned and brokerage yacht sales with the ability to accept trade-ins on new or pre-owned purchases. Their Texas location is just off 45 south on Offatt’s Bayou in Galveston.

Join the Family

Galati Yacht Sales differentiates itself from the competition with a business philosophy that this family-owned company has lived by since inception. The third generation now leads the company and the principle remains the same; a passion and love for the industry in everything they do.

Their mission statement “Consistently Exceeding The Expectations Of Our Customers,” means clients are treated like family. Michael Galati Sr. was known to say that “Our customers are always there for us, so in turn, we will always be there for our customers. We must stick together as a family, work hard and earn our customers business.”

This work ethic has not gone unnoticed. Galati has been recognized in the boating industry in more ways than one. They recently earned No.1 dealer in Boating Industry’s Top 100 Dealers Award. They have won multiple times since 2007 and have now been entered into the Boating Industry Hall of Fame.

Every Step of the Way

Galati is there for its customers and can assist for every step of a yacht purchase — an exciting process than can be a little stressful for some. Years of experience and in-house financing makes for a one-stop yacht shop. Whether you are a new boater, or an old salt, Team Galati strives to make your experience one to remember and enjoy for years.

The relationship with the Galati family does not end after your new vessel is purchased, that is just the beginning. They are always available to customers for anything they need along their boating journey. From hosting boating trips to our endless service technician support, they are happy to put in the work to help you have a more enjoyable experience on the water. For whatever your needs may be, Galati is a name you can trust.

A Team Like No Other

“Apart from our family, we have been extremely fortunate to build an incredible team over the years. Our Galveston location staff members and brokers are there to support our customers in every aspect and have led us to only build upon the values that we laid our foundation on,” said Jay Dee Jackson.

Jay Dee is the manager of the Galati Yacht Sales Texas location. “My wife, Alyssa and I moved to the area recently from Sarasota, Florida and I am a graduate of The University of Mississippi with a degree in Business Management,” said Jackson.

Larry Smith joined Team Galati 13 years ago and boasts 46 years of experience in the marine industry. “It is a pleasure being associated with a company that puts customer service at the top of their priorities!” said Smith.

David Hunt is a native of Seabrook and continues his life-long love of the water and a passion for boats. He is a third generation member of Lakewood Yacht Club and a past president of the Gulf Coast Yacht Brokers Association. “I pride myself on my honesty, attention to detail, and desire to always act in my client’s best interest. Our marketing can make sure that your yacht is exposed to buyers throughout the world,” said Hunt.

Cory Webster is a native Texan and has spent the past 17 years developing his expertise in the boating business. Over the years, Cory has been fortunate to represent some of the best boating and yachting brands. “Working side by side with the best of the best in manufacturing, dealers and salespeople in this industry gets me excited. Seeing their values, passion and innovation keeps our business going strong!” said Webster.

Jordan Butler was born and raised in Galveston. The son of a well-respected captain, he was exposed to both the sportfishing and boating scenes at an early age. “Boating and fishing has always been a huge part of my life. I will always have a lifelong passion for going offshore and being on the water,” said Butler.

Randy Bright is a native Texan and has held every position in the competitive marlin fishing world as an owner, captain, angler and cockpit/wire man. “I stay very involved with many of my clients through the Houston Big Game Fishing Club events and several Gulf Coast and international fishing tournaments. I enjoy the friendships that I develop before and after the sale and spend time fishing, boating and traveling with clients particularly to the Bahamas and Costa Rica,” said Bright.

Galati is a certified dealer for Viking Yacht Sales.

Start Your Adventure Now

The boating season is just around the corner. Get in touch with Galati and they’ll get you on course to owning the boat or yacht of your dreams. Visit them in person at 7819 Broadway St., Suite #100 Galveston, Texas 77554. Call them at (409) 741-8716 or view inventory online at galatiyachts.com. Find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @galatiyachtsales

Youngster Lands Big Bull Dorado

dorado holden Youngster Lands Big Bull Dorado

Eleven-year-old Will McLemore of Houston landed this 67” dorado while fishing with Capt. Brett Holden and the crew of the Booby Trap out of Los Sueños, Costa Rica. He also released his first ever blue marlin!

His father, Scott McLemore, also released a marlin just minutes later on their half day trip just 20 miles from the marina.
The big dorado took a live tuna, bridled with a circle hook, while fishing for Marlin near a floating log.

“There are a lot of big dorado this year,” Capt. Holden reported. “We have landed more this season than the past three years combined.”

For more information on Los Sueños, visit www.lossuenos.com. For more on the Booby Trap, visit www.boobytrapfishingteam.com

Fishing & Winning POCO

poco chum on Fishing & Winning POCO

By Janie Goldman

League City resident, Rodney DeVillier, Captain of Chum On, and owner of One More Cast Charters, (www.omccharters.com), brought in the winning 551 lb., 109 inch Blue Marlin in the annual Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament.

The win was celebrated by boat owner Dr. Kevin Horn, a Baytown orthopedic surgeon, and crew members Chris Horn (angler who brought in the winning fish), Ben Horn, David Horn, Jake Horn, Michael Horn, Shaun Essery and Joey (Sully) Sullivan.

Poco Bueno, is an invitation-only, family-run fishing tournament held every July in Port O’Connor. It was founded in 1969 by Walter W. Fondren and several friends with the intention to draw attention to Port O’Connor and the rich resources it has to offer fisherman.

Captain Rodney DeVillier, who runs the marine electronics department at Fathom Maritime service, says he has been participating in POCO since 1999.  In that first year they won third place and won again in 2002 with the second place prize.   Rodney explained that even though this year there was an option to weigh in on the second day, they choose to weigh in on the first day because it can bring in an extra $15,000. In addition, cooling the fish overnight can cost you some weight.

When asked what he especially enjoys about the Poco Bueno tournament in Port O’Connor, DeVillier explained that the format and rules are different from other tournaments.  It’s all about tradition.

He plans to continue participating in POCO for as long as it continues to keep its traditions and the intentions of its founders.

Texas Billfish Tourney Results

seadollars Texas Billfish Tourney Results

$ea Dollar$ did well on tuna at the Texas Billfish Classic.

TEXAS BILLFISH CLASSIC

Overall Point Leaders

1. Hey Girl 1,450

2. Smoker II 1,000

3. A-Team 650

Blue Marlin Division

1. Hey Girl 1,450

2. Smoker II 1,000

3. A-Team 650

Billfish Release Division

1. Hey Girl                 

2. Smoker II                      

3. A-Team

Tuna Division

1. Kurt Pantle – $ea Dollar$ – 59.5#

2. Cody Stephens – $ea Dollar$ – 53.2#

3. Trey – Bimini Babe – 50.6#

Wahoo Division

1. Michael Milan – Fool’s Gold – 24#

2. Gretchen Childress – Panacea – 21.8#

TOP FEMALE ANGLER

Diana Wood – Blue Marlin Release

TOP JUNIOR ANGLER

Miles Harper – Blue Marlin Release

Backlash 36 Texas Billfish Tourney Results

Backlash’s big blue marlin.

LONESTAR SHOOTOUT

Tournament Champions

  1. Done Deal, owner Jon Gonsoulin, Capt. Jason Buck, 2,250 pt

Billfish Release

  1. Done Deal, owner Jon Gonsoulin, Capt. Jason Buck, 2,250 pt

Blue Marlin

  1. Backlash, owner Jackie Hunter, Capt. Glen Kusenberger, 566 lb

Tuna

  1. Relentless Pursuit, owner Dennis Pasentine, Capt.  Josh Jones, 153.5 lb

Dolphin

  1. Sun Doll, owner Paul Keller, Capt. Gary Middletone, 34 lb

Wahoo

Red Tide, owner Dan Sugulas, Capt. Dan Sugulas, 46.5 lb

Top Captain

Jason Buck, Done Deal

Top Mate

Chris Marshall, Done Deal

Top Junior Angler

Kanon Lasserre, Draggin’ Up

Chum On’s winning marlin.

POCO BUENO

Billfish Release

  1. Doc Holiday, 1500 pts, 2 Blues

Blue Marlin

  1. Chum On, Chris Horn, 551 lb

Tuna

  1. Doulos, Adam Lozano, 130.5 lb

Dorado

  1. Maverick, Lee Daughdrill, 40.5 lb

Wahoo

  1. Whiskey Business, Jimmy Guinn, 33.0 lb

Choose the right fishing weight

fishing weights Choose the right fishing weight

The different types of fishing weights.

By Capt. Joe Kent

While writing the fishing report each day for the Galveston Daily News, there are many questions that readers ask about fishing and fishing equipment.  One question that crops up fairly often has to do with fishing weights.

The inquiries are generated by anglers who shop at tackle stores or bait shops and see a wide variety of weights on the shelves and are curious as to how to distinguish between the choices.  Another common question about weights has to do with a recommendation of what weight or weights should be used for a particular type of fishing.

Hopefully this article will shed some light on those questions and provide some useful information about how and when to use the various weights.

Browsing around the fishing weight displays in tackle shops can be a confusing adventure, as most of the larger operations have dozens of different types on display with only a few being popular with fishermen.

Determine Your Use

Before getting into the various weights available, let’s address a basic question.  For what type of fishing is the weight designed?  Casting for trout and reds involves different types of weights than say surf fishing or offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.  Pier fishing also has its unique type of weights.

For most types of fishing, the objective is to get your bait down with the least amount of weight.  Currents, wave action and wind all effect the choice of weights.

When viewing the choices of weights at most tackle stores there are several that stand out and for purposes of this article we will focus on the most popular along the upper Texas coast.

croak 153x300 Choose the right fishing weight

Photo of Atlantic Croaker caught on a headboat off the coast of Ocean City Maryland.

Pier and Bank Fishing

For bank and pier fishermen who cast baits with a double drop leader and weight at the bottom, the most popular are the bank sinker, pyramid and bell weights.  All come in varied sizes and are designed to get the rig (leader, hooks and weight) to the bottom quickly before the “trash fish” attack on the way down is successful.

This type of fishing is great for pan fish and is the most convenient and popular style when fishing from piers, rock groins and jetties with dead bait.

Live shrimp is a top choice for speckled trout.

Live Bait

When using live bait, other weights are the answer and again the objective is to get your bait out there and to a depth where the fish are feeding.  This is much more challenging than just getting your baits to the bottom.

Current strength is the key to choosing the right weight and just as important, the type of weight.  When fishing for most game fish, whether from a pier, wading or a boat, a slip weight is the best choice.  Slip weights include egg weights and the easily changeable rubber grip weights and pinch weights.  All are found in various sizes and again the choice is determined by where you want your bait in relation to the current flow.

Another of the detachable weights is the split shot which is easily attached and removed from fishing lines and is one of the smaller weights.  This weight is popular with anglers free-lining bait with little resistance.

Surf Fishing

One weight that gets more attention or curiosity than most is the odd looking surf fishing bait called the Sputnik.  The name comes from its resembling a satellite with antennas.  This bait is popular with surf fishermen as it digs into the sand and is not nearly as affected by wave action and tidal flow as other weights.  It also is popular with anglers fishing rocky or debris filled areas, as the wire protrusions we call antennas are much more easily removed from being stuck in the rocks or debris.

Red grouper

Offshore Fishing

Finally, we deal with offshore weights.  While heavy pyramid, bank and egg weights are popular for getting baits down to the reef fish, the trolling weights have been found to move the rigs faster to the bottom.  The reason is their slim design that does not displace as much water as other bottom weights.

While there is a desirable and proper weight out there for whatever your choice of fishing, remember the key to all of this is to get your bait to its desired location with the least amount of resistance.

A Word On Winter Wahoo

ilandhw A Word On Winter Wahoo

Ilander Heavy-Weights in Blue/White and Black/Plum.

winterwahoo A Word On Winter Wahoo

Jasen Gast with a monster 93-pound wahoo. Photo by REHAB Fishing Team.

Bring home some winter wahoo this season with advice from these pros.

 

REHAB FISHING TEAM

Owner Jasen Gast | Capt. Troy Day

Spread

We run a split of Yo-Zuri Bonitas in purple/black and orange/black on the corners short and Ilander Heavy-Weights in black/red, black/purple and blue/white with ballyhoo long on the outriggers.  The Bonitas are rigged on 275# 49-strand cable and the Ilanders are rigged on 175# cable with 9/0 needle eye hooks like the Mustad 7731AD or equivalent. This is not a live bait fishery, as the sharks are too thick.

Tackle

Stand up gear in the 30-pound class is the perfect tackle in our opinion. These rigs are light and fun, but still have enough strength for the occasional monster roaming out there. But, we do take the 50-pound gear along too, as they are appreciated when the wahoo are running big and for pulling bonitas on the shorts.

Tactics

Target the edge of the drop off, usually 160-200 ft. depths, but move around until you mark fish on the sounder and then stay on them. If you’re not marking well, don’t be afraid to troll wide and deeper looking for them.  Every once in a while the wahoo will be shallower, but most of the time kingfish and barracuda are thick shallow on top of the reef.

 

Also to Note:

When you get a bite, keep the rest of the spread out. Many times you will get multiple hook-ups as the lures sink while you fight the fish.

The best bite is usually very early in the morning but can be good in the evening too towards the later part of the day.

Although you are mainly targeting wahoo in January, be prepared to catch other species as well. We have caught dorado, tuna and sailfish while trolling for wahoo.

yozuribonitas

Yo-Zuri Bonita™ in Purple/Black and Orange/Black.

PATRON

captweigeltCapt. Darrell Weigelt

I’ve always had my best results with Yo-Zuri Bonitas in purple/black or orange/black. Troll them fast at 10-12 knots. If fish are present they will be chasing bait. At the Flower Garden Banks, fish the up current side of the bank. The wahoo move through the current upwellings. Rig the Bonitas on six feet of multi-strand cable.

pwilander

Ilander in Pink/White.

LEGACY FISHING TEAM

captdeermanCapt. Kevin Deerman

On the Legacy we always pullYo-Zuri Bonitas on the flat lines and drop one of them on the down rigger when the bite is slower. Orange/black and purple/black have always worked the best for me.

We pull weighted jet heads (not any particular brand) on the left and right riggers with an Ilander/ballyhoo on the center rigger. We pull mostly blue/white or pink/white Ilanders.

We also keep a couple of spinning rods with large spoons ready to cast after we are hooked up. We have tried pitching live blue runners out after missing a bite or marking fish but sometimes ended up with big amberjack that are mixed in with the wahoo.

When the bite is really on we try to keep it as simple as possible.

WINTER WAHOO RECAP

  • Yo-Zuri Bonitas & Ilander/Ballyhoo in your spread
  • Rig lures with multistrand cable like 49-strand
  • Keep lures out after strike for multiple hook ups
  • Best bite is very early in the morning

Gulf Bluefin Tuna: From Panama to the Gulf with Patron

gulf bluefin tuna patron Gulf Bluefin Tuna: From Panama to the Gulf with Patron

Patron’s owner Tom Shumate brought in this massive 750 pound bluefin tuna during the MBGFC’s Memorial Day Tournament. He is pictured holding the pectoral fin with his crew and Capt. Darrell Weigelt, standing left of the fish.

patron panama canal Gulf Bluefin Tuna: From Panama to the Gulf with Patron

Patron makes its way through the Panama Canal.

Captain Darrell Weigelt of the Patron on his voyage from Costa Rica to Orange Beach, Alabama.

What was it like cruising through the Canal?

The entrance into the Panama Canal begins on the Pacific Ocean side in Panama City at Balboa and ends on the Atlantic side in Cristobal. The Canal is 50 miles long from deep water in the Pacific to deep water in the Atlantic. The original elevation was 312 feet above sea level where it crosses the Continent in the rouge mountain range.

Tell us about the vessel you took through the Canal.

Patron is a custom built 65’ Ebony sportfishing boat designed by Australian designer Frank Woodnutt, and was built in Indonesia in 2005.

How long does it take to go through the Canal?

The time it takes varies with the speed of vessels making transit. Our passage through Canal started at 8:00 a.m. and ended at 4:00 p.m. That is considered a fast passage. It requires about 10 hours for an average ship to transit the Canal. Minimum speed to transit is four knots. Sailboats may not transit under sail. All vessels must transit with motor propulsion. Normally for sailboats or slow vessels the transit will take 2 days. These vessels are allowed to anchor for the night in Gamboa or Gatun Lake Anchorage.

Is there a fee required?

Yes, our fee was $5,000 including agent fees. The largest ship we saw during transit was a 1,000 foot car carrier. Fees on that ship were over $250,000

When did the new locks open and how will this impact the Port of Houston?

The new canal locks were opened last year and are used only by the largest ships. The increased volume of ship traffic is a good thing for the port of Houston because of the large amount of ships that transit and continue on to Port of Houston.

Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Season Extended

gulf red snapper Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Season Extended

This June, the United States Department of Commerce announced a reopening of the red snapper season in Federal waters for recreational anglers. The decision came mid month and was welcome news for many anglers. The original, dismal 2017 season opened June 1 and closed June 3.

The extended federal season will open each weekend, Friday to Sunday, and close again the next day on Monday. These weekend openings will continue until Monday, September 4. Fishing also will be allowed on Monday and Tuesday, July 3-4 and Monday, September 4. The minimum length is still 16 inches and two fish per person may be retained per day.

However, Texas state water snapper will be off limits Monday through Thursday during the extended federal season, with the exception of holidays. Texas might also gain a fall season but there has been no confirmation on this matter yet.

There is still much work to be done, but this is a victory for advocacy groups, Gulf residents and the economies of many coastal communities.

See this PDF for the full recreational regulations for red snapper and all other species.

2017 Lone Star Shootout

blue marlin 2017 Lone Star Shootout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DATE TIME EVENTS / LOCATION

Sunday, July 16, 2017

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

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

2017 Billfish Tournaments

cajun canyon 2017 Billfish Tournaments

Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic

May 30 – June 5

Venice, LA

ComeFishLA.com

mgcbc logo 2017 Billfish Tournaments

Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic

June 5 – 11

Biloxi, MS

mgcbc.com

Deep Sea Roundup

July 6 – 9

Port Aransas, TX

DeepSeaRoundup.com

Poco Bueno

July 12 – 15

Port O’Connor, TX

Poco-Bueno.com

Lone Star Shootout

July 18 – 23

Port O’Connor, TX

TheLoneStarShootout.com

Bastante John Uhr Memorial Tournament

July 26 – 30

Rockport, TX

RockportTournament.com

Texas International Fishing Tournament

Aug. 2 – 6

Port Isabel, TX

tift.org

Texas Legends

Aug. 9 – 13

Port Aransas, TX

txlegends.com

Texas Billfish Classic

Aug. 16 – 19

Freeport, TX

TexasBillfishClassic.com

TWAT

Aug. 25 – 27

Port Aransas, TX

GoFishTX.com

Memorial Day Weekend

birdsworking2 Memorial Day Weekend

Birds working. Photo by Kelly Groce.

The start of our summertime coastal fishing

By Capt. Joe Kent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kent king Memorial Day Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rods and Reels for Tuna Popping

tx tuna popping Rods and Reels for Tuna Popping

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

oceanxtreme oti Rods and Reels for Tuna Popping

OTI OceanXtreme

MODEL: OTI-3106-765S

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

Specifications 

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

OTI Tuna Sniper 

MODEL: OTI-3108-808S

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

Specifications 

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

Fin-Nor LT100 Lethal

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

Specifications 

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

PENN Spinfisher V

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

Specifications for model SSV850

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

QUANTUM Cabo PT

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

Specifications for PT80

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

SHIMANO Saragosa SW 

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

Specifications for SRG10000SW

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

ACCURATE SR-20

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

Specifications

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

Shimano Stella SW

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

Specifications for STL140000SWBXG

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

The Galley: Red Snapper Two Ways

By Betha Merit

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

limecilantro snapper recipe The Galley: Red Snapper Two Ways

Lime Zest Cilantro Snapper

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

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

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

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

baked fish recipe The Galley: Red Snapper Two Ways

My Mom’s Baked Fish Recipe

Serves 4 (cut ingredients in half to serve 2)

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

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

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

Serve with steamed rice.

Offshore Fishing Checklist

yamaha 150 outboard Offshore Fishing Checklist

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

By Capt. Joe Kent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Kraken – Galveston’s Newest Artificial Reef

galveston kraken coordinates The Kraken   Galvestons Newest Artificial Reef

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

kraken ship The Kraken   Galvestons Newest Artificial Reef

The Kraken prior to its sinking. Photo TPWD.

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

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

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

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

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

Texas Wahoo on Bad Intentions

texas wahoo sharked Texas Wahoo on Bad Intentions

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

Texas wahoo are Texas-sized at the Flower Garden Banks

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

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

 

Wahoo Recipes

wahoo ceviche recipe Wahoo Recipes

REHAB Wahoo Ceviche

By Jasen Gast | REHAB Fishing Team

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

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

Lemon-Basil Wahoo

By Debbie Conway | Bad Intentions Charters

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

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

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