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Hot Summer Galveston Trout

June 30th, 2017

DillmanTrout Hot Summer Galveston Trout

Marion and Shelia Hixon with some nice trout after a quick trip with Capt. Dillman.

By Capt. David C Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures | 409-632-0924

This May we experienced some below average air temperature and plenty of wind. Not from the usual S/SE but more N/NW due to late season cold fronts. The below normal water temperature kept our fishing at a not so typical pattern. But we should see a summer pattern develop for speckled trout this July and August in Galveston Bay.

In July, look for the trout action to center around the middle of Galveston Bay. I would concentrate my effort through channel markers 50-66. There are numerous oyster reefs adjacent to the channel. While some of these reefs are marked with PVC pipe, many are not. Being able to utilize a good depth sonar will aid you in finding the smaller shell reefs.

There are numerous gas wells in the immediate area. The wells should not be overlooked as the trout will congregate around the wells and their shell pads. The Exxon A-Lease draws the most attention but don’t overlook the other scattered gas wells.

As we roll into August, look for the trout to move farther north up the channel and into Trinity Bay. Channel markers 68 and up, all the way towards the tip of Atkinson Island will hold fish. As the fish move farther into Trinity, the numerous shell reefs and wells will see a influx of trout. Some of the most popular reefs are Dow, Beazley’s, Fisher Shoals and Trinity Reef.

The wells located in close proximity to these reefs will also be good for speckled trout. Depending upon the salinity of Trinity, the fish will continue to move farther back in the bay sooner than normal. I have caught fish in the Jacks Pocket area in late August on occasion.

Speckled trout will feed on either the topside or backside of a reef or shell pad depending upon the tide. At times they may even be found directly on top of the shell, which usually occurs during a slack tide. Utilizing live bait in the heat of the summer is the most effective way to catch these fish. Live croaker, fished either Carolina or Texas rigged is the most effective, followed by live shrimp fished deep under a popping cork.

Eagle Point Fishing Camp always holds a good supply of both croaker and live Shrimp.

Please remember that it can get really hot on the water these next two months. Wear light colored, loose fit clothing and drink plenty of water. Gatorade type drinks are okay but should be followed up by consuming 2 equal parts of water. Alcohol and energy drinks should be avoided, as well as soft drinks. They only aid in dehydrating your body. As always be careful on the water.

Fishing Oyster Reefs

December 30th, 2014

rowanredfishart1 Fishing Oyster Reefs

Fishing oyster reefs in Galveston Bay

By Capt. Joe Kent

Anglers fishing the Galveston Bay Complex often take for granted the positive effects of oyster reefs, both live and dead, on their fishing.  That is until the reefs start diminishing and the fishing is affected.

Let’s take a look at what we are discussing and how oyster reefs benefit fishing.

Oyster reefs in Galveston Bay form in the open bay along the periphery of marshes and near passes and cuts and can be either subtidal or intertidal. The reef itself is three dimensional because oyster larvae settle on the top of old shells growing upwards through the water column above the established oysters. The shells create an irregular surface that support a myriad of small marine life.

The oyster reef community is very diverse with a wide variety of shell fish, crustaceans and fin fish forming a balanced aquarium. Predators in this habitat include fish capable of crushing mollusks such as black drum, red fish, sheepshead, and blue crabs and stone crabs, which prey on small oysters with thin shells. At low tide, birds forage on the exposed oyster reef habitat.

When Houston was first settled, an ancient oyster reef (Redfish Bar) separated Upper and Lower Galveston Bay. This reef stretched from Smith Point on the east to Eagle Point on the west and had only one small gap through which shallow draft boats could pass. There were extensive oyster reefs throughout Trinity, East and West Bays as well.

Just about every species of fish caught in Galveston Bay can be found on or around oyster reefs.

redfishspots Fishing Oyster ReefsIn the latter half of the 19th century, oyster shell became a construction material and was commercially harvested. In the first half of the 20th century, oyster shell became an industrial commodity and shell dredging intensified. Millions of cubic yards of oyster shell were removed from the bay, some of it from living reefs. This practice, which greatly reduced the area covered by oyster reef habitat, was prohibited in 1969.

Hurricane Ike had a tremendous impact on oyster reef habitat in Galveston Bay. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimates that approximately 60 percent of the oyster reef habitat in Galveston Bay was covered by sediments as the storm surge moved through the bay in September 2008. Scientists do not know how long it will take for the reefs to recover.

With this background on the makeup of oyster reefs and how they are formed, let’s visit about fishing the reefs.

In my childhood years when first learning to fish Galveston Bay, oyster reefs were the prime target.  We did not have electronic equipment to locate the reefs, just a long pole that we bounced off of the bottom. If the pole had a soft landing we kept moving until the pole struck something solid and we had found oyster shells.

Just about every species of fish caught in Galveston Bay can be found on or around oyster reefs.  Fish with scales and tough mouths, such as sheepshead and both black and red drum, feed along the shell while consuming crabs and other crustaceans.

Speckled trout also are common around the shell; however, they do not have the physical traits to actually feed along the shell itself.  Trout do not have scales and their mouths are softer than the main predators feeding in and around the shell.

Trout like to feed just off of the reef during tidal movement which flushes the small marine life from their shelters.

Seasoned shell reef anglers know how to fish the reefs and plan their strategy based on tidal movement.  During slack or weak tides, they will focus on the reef itself as drum sheepshead and reds and other tough skinned, strong mouthed fish will be working the bottom.  When the tide starts moving, then trout on the periphery will be the target.

Trout will be found on the reef  itself; however, they tend to be cautious as the edges of the shell can be razor sharp.

Anglers have been reporting reduced catches in Galveston Bay over the past few years and one of the culprits likely is the reduction in acres of oyster reefs.  Hopefully our restoration program will prove successful and the sooner the better.