With the new year just getting underway, let’s address a topic that is one of the most debatable among anglers and that is when is the best time to go fishing and when is the worst.We also will address the best and worst seasons for fishing, again a very debatable subject.All of this centers around fishing the Galveston Bay Complex.
A number of years ago when the Houston Fishing Show was held in the old Albert Thomas Convention Center in downtown Houston a survey was taken of participants asking what they thought were the best and worst times to fish.
The answers were published in the Houston Post Newspaper which later became part of the Houston Chronicle.
According to the crowds visiting the show the best times are:
When you can; when the fish are biting; when you mow your grass the most often; during the Full Moon; during the New Moon; when it is overcast; when the wind is from the southeast; when winds are calm to light; summer and or fall.
The answers for the worst times were:
When the fish are not biting; when you take your vacation; during the winter months; during March; When it is stormy, windy, cold and when the tides are unusually low or high.
When reviewing the results of the survey I agreed with most of the responses for both the best and worst times.
Now, let’s take a look at what my experiences have shown as the best and worst times of year for fishing by evaluating each season.
Fishing often is good during the winter, especially the early part.While a number of species of fish have migrated away, trout, reds and a variety of pan fish are around.Winter presents two problems, one is the number of cold fronts that empty the bays and bring cold temperatures.This results in a disruption of the location of fish and their feeding patterns.
The other problem is with anglers who just do not like to be uncomfortable while fishing.Cold temperatures definitely present such problems.
Besides trout and reds, sheepshead, whiting and sand trout are good bets for action and tablefare.Toward the end of winter, the black drum run begins to take place.
In my opinion this is the worst of the seasons for fishing, especially around spring break each March.The culprit here is wind and constantly changing temperatures brought on by the continuous frontal systems.The three windiest months of the year occur during the spring and in order of magnitude they are April, March and May.The highlight of spring fishing is usually the black drum run when huge fish are caught all around the island, especially along the jetties and Texas City Dike.Some of the black drum are well over 50 pounds.
Summer is the beginning of more constant fishing and runs a close second to autumn as the choice of anglers for the best time to fish. Since offshore fishing is one of my choices, summer is my favorite time to fish, especially from mid-July to Labor Day.Just about all of the species of fish that are found around Galveston are present during the summer.
Fall is the choice of inshore anglers as fishing tends to peak in October and November and conditions are very pleasant to be outdoors.The annual croaker and flounder migrations of November add to the reasons for anglers choosing fall as the best time to fish.
In closing, I must go back to the very first reason given in the survey as the best time to go fishing and that is “when you can.” Have a great fishing year in 2020!
Every year, people make resolutions, but rarely follow through with them. Without a plan, resolutions fail miserably. Most result in failure.
I, myself, make resolutions every New Year. Rarely, do I follow through with them. This year I plan to resolve this issue. How many of us do the same; make resolutions and not follow through with them? What I hear from a lot of folks I encounter is “I really need to use my boat and fish more this year.” If you fall into this category, January and February is the best time to resolve this resolution.
The weather this time of year is “iffy” to say the least. This makes it the right time, to get your boat and fishing gear in order. Do not hesitate getting that boat into a shop for repairs and maintenance. Before doing so, take all items out of your boat. It is amazing how much ‘stuff’ you can collect during a fishing season. Discard all that is no longer serviceable. Don’t overlook your rods, reels and tackle. Get your reels serviced, rod eyes replaced, and inventory your tackle. I would also recommend having preventive maintenance performed on the boat trailer. Being organized and ready makes that first spring fishing/boating trip enjoyable and not a chore.
If you’re new to boating and fishing, do not miss the annual Boat, Sport and Travel Show at Reliant Center, January 3-12, 2020. On display will be the latest boats, boating accessories, fishing tackle, marinas and fishing charters. I will be at the show everyday in the Eagle Point Fishing Camp/Waterman’s Harbor booth. Stop by and lets chat!
Billy, Stockard and James Bragan.
On the fishing front, catches of trout, redfish, black drum and sheepshead have been good in Galveston Bay. Timing is everything this time of year. Warming periods between fronts is the key. For those who like to pursue flounder, TPWD held scoping meetings in December about further restrictions on these fish. If any change is recommended the vote will take place in Austin, during the commissioner’s hearing in March. I suggest you monitor the web for any new proposals and public comment meeting the next couple months.
I am looking forward to this coming year both spiritually and personally. I have a “plan” in place to keep my New Year’s resolutions. As a new Christian, my walk with Christ will be number No. 1 on my list, along with my upcoming marriage later in the year. I will continue to fish, which is my passion, and God willing, introduce new anglers to fishing. Lastly, I can’t say enough about the great people that keep the magazine in print. I am very blessed to write for them. Until the next issue, ‘tight lines’ and may God Bless you this coming year.
Live shrimp likely are the mostpopular and sought after bait along the Gulf Coast.While inventories at bait shops have been erratic this season, anglers willing to search a wide area around the Galveston Bay Complex usually have been able to locate live shrimp.
What does the future hold for this valuable resource?Will we have sufficient supplies for future generations? What will the cost be for Gulf Coast anglers?
Live shrimp are caught by shrimpers dragging their nets in the bays.For many decades there were few regulations on shrimpers; however, as the number of bay shrimpers increased, problems began and a multitude of regulations were enacted.
Beginning in the late 1970s, shortages of redfish and speckled trout started showing up.While fish-killing freezes had a major impact, studies showed that the bays were being over harvested by shrimpers, along with the resulting by catch mortality rate for other marine life.
The first step was to ban any future commercial shrimp trawl licenses.While this halted future shrimpers getting into the business, it did not address the large numbers of boats working the bays day in and day out.For that reason a “buy-back” program was started where shrimpers could sell their licenses and have them taken off of the books, meaning eliminating another shrimp boat from shrimping the bays.
After over 20 years of the buy back program and no additional permits being issued, the numbers of active shrimpers started to dwindle.
Recently, the owner of two bait shops in the Galveston area visited with me about his concerns and the problems likely to occur if something does not change.
Some of the concerns he expressed were that bait shrimpers are leaving the business at a rapid rate making it increasingly difficult to obtain dependable supplies of live shrimp.The bait shops and camps most affected are the smaller ones that cannot justify having a designated shrimper for their supplies.
The cost of diesel, the most common fuel for shrimp boats, is increasing and the shrimp stocks are declining.A good number of shrimp boat operators have relocated from the Galveston Bay Complex to areas where shrimp are more plentiful.
The current regulations also contribute to the problem, as they were enacted based on a much higher number of shrimp boats operating in the bays.
In the past, shrimpers would drag for both live shrimp for the bait shops and table shrimp for seafood markets.Low table shrimp prices driven by imported foreign shrimp currently make it unprofitable for them to go after table shrimp.
Now, let’s take a look at what is going to take place if nothing changes.Higher prices and more shortages will be the result.
As fuel prices increase, the profits for shrimpers decrease.With the restrictions on poundage they are allowed to catch daily, the result is obvious.Higher prices at the bait camps, for live shrimp when available.Today, the average price for a quart of live shrimp in the Galveston Bay Complex is around $20.If prices increased to say $35/quart would anglers continue to purchase this bait?Also, there is a good possibility that shrimp would start selling by the dozen and not by the pint or quart.
Along the Southeast Atlantic coast, live shrimp go for between $5.00 and $7.00 per dozen.If this practice was adopted along the Gulf Coast and if the price of shrimp rose, just think about how far a couple of dozen of shrimp at say $12.00/dozen would go during the summer when almost every fish and crab are in a feeding mode.
Summertime anglers know how many shrimp are lost to bait snatchers and take that into consideration when purchasing live bait.The result would be an unaffordable fishing trip at the higher prices.
While there is not much we can do about the foreign shrimp competition or fuel prices, one thing that should take place is for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to reevaluate the poundage limitation for bay shrimpers considering that there are much fewer shrimp boats on the water today.
The TPWD has done an excellent job of managing our wildlife resources and hopefully they will continue that trend by doing what is best for our future supplies of live shrimp.
Capt. Aubrey Black and the love of his life, Capt. Sally, combined their talents, experience and passion for the outdoors and started the fishing and hunting lodge of their dreams, Baffin Bay Rod and Gun.
By Kelly Groce
On October 3, 2019 the fishing community unexpectedly lost one of the great ones, Capt. Aubrey Black of Baffin Bay Rod and Gun. Aubrey was a kind and wonderful man whose passion was putting his clients on their personal best speckled trout.
Together, Aubrey and his wife, Capt. Sally, achieved their dream of having a first-class fishing and hunting lodge on Baffin Bay. Sally is absolutely devastated by the loss of Aubrey, but very thankful for all of the outpouring support from friends, family and the fishing community.
To keep Aubrey’s legacy alive, Capt. Sally and the entire crew at Baffin Bay Rod and Gun invite everyone to continue booking fishing and hunting trips at “The Last Best Place on the Texas Coast.”Visit them online at www.baffinbayrodandgun.com
There are probably not many people reading this article or others in this magazine that don’t have a great respect of fish, wildlife and the great outdoors in general. I know that over many years of fishing and spending time on and around coastal waters, my appreciation of the natural beauty and numerous species it supports has only grown greater.
With the vast majority of us spending too many days in offices, stuck on highways, and staring at small screens, time spent outdoors only grows more precious. It has always felt like time well spent, whether fishing for fun or for money as a tournament angler or guide. Understanding the value of the natural resources we have and consciously working to ensure that we can continue to enjoy it for many generations to come is of paramount importance.
CHANGING OF THE BAY
For those that are younger, newer to an area, or just haven’t spent as much time along the coastal waters, change definitely won’t be so noticeable. For those who have been on and around the coast for 10, 20 or 30 more years, change is striking and often disturbing. Coastal development, land erosion, dredge work and many other factors affect the bays and waterways. Some of these factors are just a part of nature and will happen regardless of human impact. Others are a direct effect of our desire to be on or near the water and the need for infrastructure and transportation in and around waterways. Those of us on the upper Texas Coast utilize and enjoy one of the most heavily populated and heavily trafficked bays in Texas.
Galveston Bay has an uncanny ability to withstand catastrophic events and rebound amazingly well. With near constant dredge work, endless barge and ship traffic, an enormous amount of recreational users, run-off water that none of us want to know the content of, and an occasional spill or collision leaking hazardous chemicals into the system, its truly miraculous how abundant this fishery remains. Wildlife in and around Galveston Bay seems to somehow pull through many challenges. The diversity of the system plays a huge role in this; three major Gulf inlets(for the moment), numerous rivers, creeks and bayous that empty into it and vast satellite nursery areas around the bay provide habitat. Given these facts, plus the sheer size of the bay, fish and other sea creatures seem to thrive on their ability to move around the bay system under varying conditions.
Fish and their food sources move around the bay every year, for the reasons listed above and many others. Couple this fact with the not-always-great water conditions and the prospect of catching fish can become daunting. Kudos to those who have figured out how to consistently catch fish here or in any saltwater bay system, as it is often difficult.
Clay Sheward and Rick Spillman with a double hookup on redfish.
Having fished the upper coast for a little over 30 years now, I’ve experienced good and bad. I’ve had more tough days of fishing than I care to admit or recall. I’ve found some great success, and always tried to keep track of how and why, so that I could hopefully repeat those days. I’ve seen some staggering changes and of course developed some very strong opinions based on years of observation.
Though I do eat fish from time to time, and killed more fish in the past for tournaments than I wish that I had, I have come to a point where I only take fish that I can eat that day. I have two primary reasons for this: first, I can assure you that fresh fish tastes much better than frozen. Second, for me, the enjoyment of fishing has always been about the chase and pleasure of fishing and catching them, rather than eating them.
There are laws in place designed to help control and maintain the fish populations that do a reasonably good job of ensuring that we will be able to enjoy the resource for many years to come. Each and every licensed fisher in the state is entitled to participate and enjoy consumption within those laws.
I’m not going to advocate change, though I was pleased when TPWD announced the reduction in speckled trout bag limit this year. I believe that decision will help overall populations. What I would really like to address isn’t the laws, changes to them or enforcement of them. I am of the opinion that those who most frequently use the resource, especially those who make their living from our fisheries, are the ones with the greatest responsibility to maintain the resource and teach future generations.
This group of people, in many cases, knows the condition of the habitat and fishery better than the politicians and lawmakers that govern over it. I have heard many different ideas and opinions about regulations and changes to them and how they will affect guides and commercial fishers. Probably the largest impact that can be controlled is that of the recreational fishing industry.
As a guide, I would say it is in your best interest to encourage that people only take the fish they plan to eat within a short period of time. Definitely, do not catch an additional limit and keep for your customers, since this has been a law for many years now. And as a steward of the fishery and in the interest of ensuring you have fish to catch in the future, encourage catch and release. Trust me, your customers book you because they enjoy fishing with you and respect your knowledge and want your guidance. They aren’t showing up because they have found the best way to feed their families. And yes, they will continue to come back to fish as long as there are fish to catch.
Now that we have jumped onto the catch and release train, we can start thinking about the impact we have there. I’ve spent a lot of years fishing primarily catch and release and have learned a lot about how to make sure fish survive and swim away healthy. I’m going to list some very basic rules to help make sure that are efforts are rewarded with a thriving population of fish.
TIPS FOR CATCH & RELEASE
Fight fish quickly to help reduce stress and exhaustion effects
Minimize the time fish are out of the water. They can’t breathe when there isn’t water passing their gills!
Avoid putting fish in contact with dry surfaces. It removes their protective slime. (wet hands to grab, keep off of hot boat decks)
If you can, release the fish without removing from the water.
Hold fish horizontally when out of the water. They don’t have support for internal organs so holding vertically can cause damage.
If possible, don’t hold fish by lips or jaws. ( Lipping and weighing devices that hold fish by lip or jaws can cause serious damage to connective tissue around the jaw.
Always attempt to revive fish by holding in water by the tail until they can swim away strongly.
If you’re going to measure a fish, wet the ruler.
Don’t force the jaws of a fish to overextend with lipping tools
A FEW MORE THOUGHTS
Fish are fairly durable and can handle being caught and released, but limiting adverse effects helps to make sure our efforts aren’t in vain. Making the effort to encourage and practice catch and release among recreational anglers and guides will almost certainly have a bigger impact on fisheries than regulations. I’ve never been one to believe that government knows or can react fast enough to be the best steward of resources. I firmly believe that as recreational users of the fishery, we stand to lose the most so we should work to maintain it. Killing 30 fish for your customers may be your right, but posting pictures of dead fish in a cooler or on the deck of your boat probably isn’t the best way to market how you help to keep our fishery strong.
Just because you have the opportunity to fish every day, doesn’t mean you should kill fish every day. One day you may just run out of fish. Killing a big trout or redfish for food isn’t great; expect parasitic worms and mushy trout fillets. Plus, the giant rib cage of a bull red yields much less meat than expected. These fish are also important spawners and make future fish generations possible. The same does not apply to flounder fillets, but we do need to maintain a strong breed stock.
Short sided planning around your love of fishing will likely lead to long term disappointment in your catching.
The Galveston Jetties are comprised of two sets of Granite Rocks known as the North and South Jetties that extend close to five miles out from shore. The South Jetty is located on the Galveston side while the North Jetty has its home on the Bolivar side.
The jetties were built to protect the Galveston/Houston Ship Channel from erosion and wind in order to keep the entrance to Galveston Bay open for all vessels.Construction began in the late 1800s and was completed around the beginning of the 20th century.
The jetties brought a new dimension to fishing, as the rocks attracted all types of crustaceans and fin fish.Early on, anglers would catch grouper, mackerel and even red snapper along the rocks.Tarpon were also plentiful for jetty fishermen.
While most of those species are rarely found around the jetties any longer, the rocks continue to attract a wide variety of both inshore and offshore fish as well as fishermen.
While the virtues of fishing are high on the benefits offered by the jetties, there are dangers that lurk.Early on the most common fatality came from small boats rounding the end of the North Jetty to fish the Gulf side.Many times the attendant at the South Jetty Lighthouse would call in a distress report after observing a small boat capsizing in the turbulent waters at the end of the North Jetty.
For that reason and others, a cut was constructed in the North Jetty not far from shore and was and still is called the North Jetty Boat Cut.It too added another dimension for fishing and safety for boaters.
For years, the greatest peril facing jetty fishermen in boats were the strong currents found along the channel side of both jetties.Often the current would change so rapidly that boaters did not have time to react and found their boat pushed into the rocks with major damage resulting.Wakes from large vessels also were potential trouble makers and while those perils continue to exist, boaters are more aware of them today.
In recent years still another danger has emerged and that has been caused by the subsidence of the century old granite rocks.This has been a gradual process; however, the sinking continues.
Today, the submerging rocks are probably the greatest of the perils.
I have fished the jetties for well over 50 years and recall my early offshore fishing days when I would return from a trip and see the jetties from at least five miles away.Today, that is not the case, as the rocks do not become clearly visible until within a mile or less.
The big dangers come in poor light such as night time navigation or in the early morning hours.For several years now multiple mishaps have occurred where captains misjudged the end of the jetties and crashed into the rocks.The picture accompanying this article is a good example and was taken in August of this year.
During periods of higher than normal tides, such as during storm tides associated with events in the Gulf, much of the jetties are under water or barely above the surface.
While it is not feasible to raise the rocks or economical to add new layers, there are things that can and should be done.First and foremost is adding lights or lighted buoys along both jetties.
Signs also would help alert newcomers about the dangers.
While these suggestions might not eliminate all tragedies, they would be a major step and could save some lives and preserve this iconic fishing territory for generations of anglers to come.
Photo courtesy of the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship
In another close finish, Relentless Pursuit, a 95 Jim Smith based in Venice, Louisiana, was named the 2019 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion. This season marks the second time the boat has earned top honors, following a 2015 championship run. Relentless Pursuit is owned by Dennis Pastentine, with Capt. Robbie Doggett the boat’s long-time skipper. In addition to bragging rights for another season, the team takes home a custom Frank Ledbetter metal marlin sculpture and $31,625 in cash including optional entry categories.
The Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship is composed of the top five big-game tournaments in the region. The Blue Marlin Grand Championship is historically the last leg, but with Tropical Storm Barry moving west across the prime offshore waters, the tournament was cancelled for safety reasons. Done Deal, a three-time Triple Crown Champion, was tied with Relentless Pursuit before fishing started. Ties are determined by the largest marlin landed, which gave Relentless Pursuit the winning combination.
“During the Orange Beach Billfish Classic we left the dock at noon and ran four hours to reach 130 miles offshore,” Doggett explained. “Within 45 minutes we were already hooked up by the time other boats got there. The fight lasted an hour and 45 minutes. We slowly eased back in and weighed the fish the next morning.” That winning 658.2-pound blue marlin was caught on a trolled ballyhoo skirted with a pink Islander lure.
“We call it Stinky Pinky once the ballyhoo is added,” Doggett says with a laugh. “We strictly troll to cover more water and have an arsenal of 60 lures in various shades of blue, silver, purple, green and yellow. We run two rods each off the outriggers and two flat lines. We don’t have the patience to live bait, but we’ve been pretty successful with our style of fishing.”
In addition to the OBBC win, Relentless Pursuit won the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic with three blue marlin releases (no billfish were weighed) and earned series bonus participation points. Done Deal also finished with 625 points from second place release awards in the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic and the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, plus bonus points. Katie Gonsoulin was the angler on Done Deal’s big fish, a 535.5-pound blue, good for a second-place finish in the CCBC. Jason Buck is the boat’s captain and Jon Gonsoulin is the owner.
Fleur de Lis, a 72 Viking run by Capt. Scooter Porto and owned by Jeff Landry, was the third-place team in the 2019 GCTC standings with 500 points. The boat weighed the heaviest blue (602.7 pounds, angler Hunter Myers) in the CCBC, along with bonus points. Fleur de Lis is based in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
“This was a total team effort,” Doggett says of the 2019 Championship run. “This season was all about our former team mate, Dale Artigue, who passed away just before the holidays. His spirit was always with us in the cockpit. There are so many talented and hard-working crews fishing the Gulf that it makes competing against guys of this caliber such an incredible experience.”
Marking its ninth season, the 2019 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship was presented by Invincible Boats and Grander Marine. The five legs include the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic and the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.
For 2019 GCTC Director Scott Burt commissioned a commemorative trophy that will be on permanent display at The Wharf Marina’s Outfitter’s Store. Created by marine metal artist Frank Ledbetter, the perpetual trophy will sit atop a rotating base and will feature all previous Triple Crown Champions. Relentless Pursuit will now have to decide where to display its second GCTC Championship blue marlin.
“It was a tough season with all the weather issues, but Capt. Robbie, Dennis and Team Relentless Pursuit once again lived up to the boat’s name and came out on top,” Burt said. “Congratulations to them and well done to all the competing boats. We look forward to another exciting finish as the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2020.”
Capt. Ruby Delgado with the first snook of our trip caught on a Savage Gear topwater. Photo by Kelly Groce
This is the view surrounding each key island in the Everglades. A school of tarpon swam by shortly after this photo was taken.
By Kelly Groce
The Florida Everglades is a dream land for any angler. Its pristine waters, remote location and wide range of wildlife will have any fisherman questioning their flight back home before the trip is even over. With no cell phone service and miles upon miles of crystal clear flats glistening with shark fins in the distance, the opportunity to catch a bucket list or fish of lifetime are around every corner. I left that day with a new species to add to my list; my first tarpon.
Cindy Nguyen, Capt. Ruby Delgado and myself spent the first few hours of the day catching snook and speckled trout on a variety of Savage Gear topwaters thanks to Sam Root who poled us around on his Maverick skiff. The sloppier we worked our topwaters, the more the snook couldn’t resist it. Fishing with a topwater has to be one of my favorite approaches, especially when it’s for snook.
Sam Root had to get in on the snook topwater bite from his poling platform.
After eating lunch with a breath taking view of gin clear water, Sam poled us around a small key island. I pitched my small swim bait next to the grass beds. As my bait starts to drop down, a couple of 30 inch tarpon emerge from under the beds. I slowly start reeling it in and one takes my bait. He did an acrobatic dance for me as I shouted with excitement and high fives ensued. The silver king is a stunning fish to see.
In one day we saw schools of tarpon, manatees, snook, speckled trout, redfish, grouper, mangrove snapper, barracuda, stingrays, alligators, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, and more. Exploring the Everglades is like something out of a Hemmingway book; pure adventure. Its untouched beauty should make it a top place for any fisherman to visit.
Cindy Nguyen’s first cast of the day resulted in this beautifully spotted trout.
Our morning greeting to the beautiful Florida Everglades.
Ruby suggested I work my topwater a little sloppier and immediately I caught this snook.
Capt. Bartt Caron and myself doubled-up on slot redfish while drifitng Land Cut. D.O.A. 3” C.A.L. Shad Tail in 350 Purple/Chartreuse and 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in 455 Texas Croaker. Photo: Brian Barrera
UPPER LAGUNA MADRE – BAFFIN BAY – LAND CUT
By Kelly Groce
Bill Carson of Humminbird, was all smiles and laughs while catching trout on D.O.A. 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in 455 Texas Croaker. Photo: Kelly Groce
Early in April, I got a call from talented fishing guide, surfer and all around waterman, Capt. Joey Farah, that reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Texas country singer, Gary P. Nunn, “Meet Me Down in Corpus.” Joey invited me to fish the Upper Laguna Madre area with D.O.A. Fishing Lures for their spring Outdoor Writers Event. Baffin Bay and Land Cut are places that I’ve dreamed of fishing for quite awhile and these writers events are always a blast, so without hesitation I was in.
Let me familiarize you with the Land Cut if you don’t know already. Land Cut is a 25-mile stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway between Padre Island and Port Mansfield. On one side you have the Padre Island National Seashore and on the other side is the Kenedy Ranch. It’s a beautiful and remote area that takes about an hour by boat to get to. The fishing is phenomenal there and without a doubt one of the prettiest stretches of the Texas coast I’ve laid eyes on.
My fishing buddies for the event were Bill Carson, Field Marketing Manager of Humminbird, and Capt. Brian Barrera, D.O.A. Fishing Lures’ Manager of Marketing and Business Development, and a fishing guide on South Padre Island that specializes in catching snook and tarpon. Our fishing guide was Capt. Bartt Caron. Bartt is an extremely knowledgeable big trout fisherman that knows the Upper Laguna Madre like the back of his hand. When he speaks about fishing, you listen. Bartt owns a beautiful 25’ Haynie Bigfoot with a 350HP Mercury on the back. That thing hauls ‘tater!
Not only does Capt. Brian Barrera like throwing a D.O.A. Bait Buster in 372 Pearl/Green/Red Chin, but trout like eating it too. Photo: Kelly Groce
DAY 1 OF FISHING
When I say a front blew in that morning, I mean a front blew in that morning. There were wind gusts up to 53 mph and it was raining sideways by 5:15 a.m. After the front passed, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and everyone met at Marker 37 Marina, which is on Padre Island right beside the JFK Causway.
Bartt, Bill, Brian and myself loaded up the boat and ran towards the King Ranch Shoreline. Bartt threw out the drift sock and we started doing some pretty fast drifts since the wind was still howling in the 30mph range. We fished hard til about 4:30 p.m. Everyone caught fish, but Bill was on top of the leader board catching some chunky trout throughout the breezy day. The 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in 455 Texas Croaker was definitely the ticket.
That evening back at the condo, we all congregated around as Capt. Joey Farah and Capt. Braeden Thomas fried some drum, redfish, and trout from the day’s fishing trips. Bill Carson made his famous key lime pie for us, which was a real treat. It’s always a good time talking and hanging out with the D.O.A. crew; Mark Nichols, Ed Zyak, Brian Barrera, Ruby Delgado, and Taylor Garcia. Also in good company was Cindy Nguyen, Johnny Lu, Taylor Winzeler, Robert Sloan, Dustin Cartrett, Bartt Caron, Bill Blodgett, Andrew Lassiter, Rocky Guerra and his wife Silver.
Good Friday was a perfect morning of fishing. Photo: Kelly Groce
Capt. Bartt Caron with a healthy Land Cut trout caught on a 3” C.A.L. Shad Tail in 350 Purple/Chartreuse. Photo: Kelly Groce
DAY 2 OF FISHING
Good Friday was blissful with warm temps and blue skies. Everyone was at Marker 37 Marina by 6:15 a.m. Red Bull, cold beer, D.O.A. lures, great people – check! We got to Land Cut in no time, thanks to Capt. Bartt’s Haynie, and began our drift. Since Land Cut is part of the ICW, it has shallow flats on each side with a drop off to about 12 feet of water in the middle. I was positioned at the back of the boat and started working my 4” C.A.L. Texas Croaker Jerk Bait on a 1/4 oz. D.O.A. jig head on the flats through grass and patches of sand. Before long I was hooked up on a slot redfish. Bartt and Brian were both sticking some nice trout where the flat dropped off to deeper water. They were using the 3” C.A.L. Shad Tail in Purple/Chartreuse and 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Texas Croaker. We drifted for 2 hours and steadily caught nice fish. At one point Bartt and myself doubled up on slot redfish. It doesn’t get much more fun that that. Capt. Bartt also scored a bonus flounder shortly after. We got to a slough where Bart caught a solid trout. Brian switched up to a D.O.A. Bait Buster in 372 Pearl/Green/Red Chin. I took photos and watched the guys as they caught trout back-to-back and had double hookups. Bartt finished the day off with an upper slot redfish that we all watched charge at a 3” C.A.L. Shad Tail in Purple/Chartruese on the flats. Seeing the wake from a hungry redfish is always a cool sight to see.
Another guide on the trip, Capt. Braeden Thomas, invited everyone to meet at his family’s fishing cabin on Baffin Bay. We pull up to the dock and I’m looking at a piece of Texas paradise. Joey and Braeden gave me a tour of his place that has been in the family for over 80 years. It was like a time warp to the 50’s inside. Old fishing lures, maps, catch of the day photos, and all types of other nautical nick-knacks covered the ceiling and walls. I’ve never seen a place more perfect in all of my life. From inside the cabin you can see the crystal clear water of Baffin Bay through the windows. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon than at Braeden’s fishing cabin.
This fishing cabin, overlooking the pristine waters of Baffin Bay, has been in Capt. Braeden Thomas’ family for over 80 years. Photo: Kelly Groce
Our delicious meal prepared by Chef Jeff at Fishtales Bar & Grill at Marker 37 Marina. Photo: Kelly Groce
Cindy Nguyen, Ruby Delgado and myself ended the day at Fishtales Bar & Grill at Marker 37 Marina. It was very nice walking straight off the boat to a restaurant on the water. We enjoyed a cold Modelo and conversated as Chef Jeff prepared our post-fishing meal. Chef Jeff graduated from Johnson & Wales College, which is one of the leading culinary institutions in the country and he has 30 years of culinary experience. He prepared grilled Gulf shrimp over basmati rice with baby spinach topped with a rich cilantro butter sauce and fresh roma tomatos in addition with a side of lemon scented asparagus and guacamole with lump crab topped with perfectly fried tortilla strips. I was blown away by the aromas and colors from my plate. It was almost too pretty to eat. But I did and it was the best post-fishing meal I have ever had. Delicious food combined with a view of the Upper Laguna Madre, your best buds, and a cold beverage is about all you can ask for after a day of fishing.
My first fish of the day and it was a pretty one. Photo: Brian Barrera
I want to give a big thanks to Joey Farah for the invitation to the D.O.A. Lures Outdoor Writers Event. Thank you for the great memories while testing these fish-catching lures in your backyard. Next time we’re surfing too! I’m forever grateful to Mark Nichols, Ed Zyak, Brian Barrera, and Ruby Delgado of D.O.A., you guys are amazing. Also, thank you Taylor Winzeler from Laguna Madre Clothing Co. for supplying us with top notch fishing apparel. As for Chef Jeff and Marker 37 Marina, I can’t say enough good things about how well they treated us. I will be back soon!
The weather is only getting better and the Upper Laguna Madre fishery is phenomenal, so if you would like to fish this area, contact any of these knowledgable and upstanding guides; Capt. Joey Farah, Capt. Bartt Caron, Capt. Braeden Thomas and Capt. Andrew Lassiter.
Fishtales Bar & Grill at Marker 37 Marina is the perfect place to enjoy a meal by Chef Jeff after a day on the water. Photos: Kelly Groce
Nick Cantu with an impressive Lower Laguna Madre speckled trout caught with Capt. Alvarez.
There really is no better time of the year for me than right now. Baseball season has begun, summer is looming on the horizon and fishing in the Lower Laguna Madre near South Padre Island is just about as good as it gets. Throw in the fact that you can once again fish in comfortable clothing, and there really isn’t a whole lot to complain about. That is unless you don’t like a little bit of extra wind.
May and June in South Texas also means strong winds, which can sometimes blow in the 35-40 mph range. Increasing temperatures combined with hard winds on the shallow flats of the LLM often brings good fishing. When water is blown out and potholes or grass beds are nearly impossible to see, long casts with 10 lb or 12 lb FINS Windtamer Braid will get your lures out further from the boat.
This gives an angler a better opportunity to hook up when blind casting. Maintaining a good distance from fish is critical to keep from spooking them and windy days typical of this time of year will help increase that distance. In these types of conditions, one of the easiest and most effective methods for locating fish is to use a soft plastic lure worked under a popping cork.
One of my favorite techniques is to tie on a 3” D.O.A. Shrimp (Glow/Holographic Flake Belly or Nite Glow/Chartreuse) with a 1/8 to 1/16 ounce jighead fished under an oval-shaped cork. This method (which works best in 3-5 feet of murky to off colored water) has been producing great numbers of keeper sized speckled trout for my clients. Under windy conditions, popping corks make a little extra commotion for your lure and help get it noticed. With the brightest cork that you can find, give several quick jerks of the rod tip to pop the floater and let it sit still. Repeat. Vary the length of time you allow the cork to rest in the water. A fish will eat your lure when the cork is still and upright and your bait is suspended in the water column.
On many of my recent charters, my clients have been hooking up to solid 18 – 26 inch trout using a D.O.A. Shrimp tied to 24 inches of fluorocarbon leader line under a cork. Many of the trout that have been caught have been spitting up shrimp which we have perfectly matched with our lures.
The 2019 Shallow Sport Boat Owners Tournament on South Padre Island is just around the corner and this year’s tournament has some exciting new rule changes. In an effort to promote conservation, Shallow Sport has decided to change the format of this year’s tournament from an individual to a team competition. This is one of the largest boat owner tournaments in the state (263 boats registered last year) and this awesome measure will dramatically decrease the number of fish killed during the tourney and will keep our bays healthy and stocked for future generations of anglers to enjoy.
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.
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.
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!
Justin Clinfton caught a mixed bag fishing with his brother and two daughters.
I 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 meetingMarch 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.
Some ask me that question. Also: “Why do you fish out of that?” Well…let’s get into answering those questions. Kayak fishing has started to take off here in Texas, and that’s not only limited to coastal areas.With a plethora of reservoirs, lakes, creeks and bayous, chances are you have some type of water body you can access nearby.
Kayak fishing has seen tremendous growth the lastfive years. Eric Jackson owner of Jackson kayaks, says, “Fishing kayaks are booming.” He has seen how the sport has grown.
The development of more stable kayaks and high seating that aids in being able to stand up and sight cast redfish, or pitch to bass in deep cover, sure makes it easy to fish from. Who doesn’t love being that close to the action.
The ability to launch from any public boat ramp or easement is a big draw for the kayak angler.Even if you do not own a truck or trailer you can “car top” your kayak. There are plenty of options for rack systems and loading assist equipment that makes them easy to transport.Plus, adding a wheeled kayak cart will have you from your vehicle to your launch quickly.
The price point for getting into a solid kayak is a lot cheaper than getting into a basic boat/motor package. You can shell out the dough for a brand new kayak or spend some time cruising Facebook groups and Craigslist to find solid used kayaks. Most kayaks are outfitted with rod holders and gear tracks already installed. You can also add lots of options to rig it the way you like.Not to mention, with the addition of pedal driven kayaks, the amount of water you can cover has increased tremendously.
Stealth is paramount when chasing spooky redfish.
Sliding into that back lake to chase tailing reds is no problem. Accessing skinny water is a big plus for kayak fisherman. Also, sliding under bridges to access water that boats cannot can lead you to some pretty sweet spots.It sure is cool to be cruising along and drop your lure directly in front of a red fish without even making a cast. Talk about a rush!The stealth approach in a kayak is not only a benefit to inshore anglers,but also those targeting bass!
Who doesn’t like having fun?That’s what kayak fishing is all about.As they say “ Even a bad day on the water is better than a good day at work.”There are plenty of kayak clubs and groups all over.The camaraderie is top notch and there are a ton of anglers out there that are willing to help a newbie get started.
Let’s not forget the tournament scene.From local club trails that target bass, to redfish series with major sponsors, there are no lack of events for the competitive minded kayak angler.Most tournaments use photos of the fish caught on measuring devices called “bump boards” to determine the winners.The fish are laid on the board then photographed with an identifier code, usually written on your hand, as a way to tell apart the anglers and make sure there is no fish submitted from another time out!
Let this sink in. Last year, KBF (Kayak Bass Fishing) had multiple events, both live and online, as a means to qualify for the national championship. Over 700 anglers qualified to fish the event on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee.Guess how much money first place took home?$100,000. Plus, one of our very own anglers from right here in Texas (Dwayne Taff) took the win!I have had the honor to meet and fish with Dwayne.He shared some of his thoughts with me on the growth of the sport and tournament scene.
“As a tournament angler, its even hard for me to imagine a 100K payday for fishing out of a kayak!” He said. “It’s unbelievable how I’ve seen the sport grow in the last few years and everywhere you go you see a kayak on top of a vehicle.”
He remembers fabricating accessories himself to make things more efficient on the water and now if you can imagine it, someone has already marketed it.Businesses in the fishing industry are doing just that. The steady growth of the sport has lead many companies on board.
“There are so many kayaks out there!How do I choose which one is right for me?”That is a common question, so let me help you out.It all comes down to the type of water you fish. The Jackson Coosa HD would be a great boat for moving water like creeks and streams up in the Texas hill country.
If you are interested in fly fishing, then the Jackson Mayfly shines with its molded in reel pockets for rod storage and open deck concept to keep line from snagging/tangling while stripping back your fly.
Are you adventurous and want the challenge of targeting some offshore species?Well then, the Jackson Kraken 13.5 would be the boat for you to push your skills beyond the breakers!
What if you want a basic kayak that you can rig yourself, that is stable, lightweight, and paddles well.Then the Jackson Bite would be a great boat for you.
But my best advice to you would be to go and visit your local kayak dealer and find out when the next “on the water” demo would be.That way you can paddle different kayaks and make the best decision by paddling and checking them out in person.
So, are you ready to jump on the kayak fishing bandwagon?I hope so. If the ease of access and affordability don’t reel you in (pun intended), then the great people involved in this sport should.I hope to see you all on the water soon!
Dustin Nichols is Jackson Kayak National ProStaff and affiliated with Waterloo Rods, Kden Lures, Calibre Baits, Fuel Clothing Co., and Beck & Masten Buick GMC Coastal Bend
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 neededfor the upcoming season.
Utilizing time during March and April to prepare for the summer fishing season is time well spent.
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 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.
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.
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.
Top gear from Garmin, Huk, Lew’s, Caza Offshore and more
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
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 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.
The 37th Annual South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce Ladies Kingfish Tournament will be held on August 10-12, 2018.
The tournament is divided into two divisions, Bay and Offshore. Anglers fishing in the Bay Division will vie for trophies in the categories of Redfish, Trout and Flounder, while anglers in the Offshore Division complete in the categories of King, Bonito, Blackfin Tuna and Dolphin. Trophies will be awarded to the first four places in each category and Grand Champion Bay and Grand Champion Offshore winners will also receive trophies. Trophies will be original unique artwork from famed artist Dinah Bowman. NOTE: To qualify for Grand Champion an angler must bring in one of each fish listed in the category they are fishing in. In the event all qualifying fish are not brought in the division, the next highest number brought in will qualify.
The tournament kicks off Friday, August 10 with check-in and on-site registration from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the SPI Convention Centre. On Saturday, fishing begins at 6:30 a.m. Sea Ranch Marina II at SouthPoint is where all the action will be with Bay division weigh-in from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Offshore weigh-in from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sea Ranch Marina II at SouthPoint provides a large viewing and parking area for family and friends, and anyone else that would like to see who brings in the biggest fish. The Sunday Awards Luncheon will be held at SPI Convention Centre beginning at 11:00 a.m. All participants are invited to attend.
Early registration fees are $95.00 per angler. The registration fee includes an event bag and lunch at the Sunday awards ceremony. The early registration fee for Captains/Boat Operators, Deckhands and Guests is $25.00 and includes lunch at the awards ceremony on Sunday. Registration fees increase to $100.00 for anglers and $30.00 for Captains/Boat Operators, Deckhands and Guests after July 13. All anglers and their Captain/Boat Operators, Deckhands and Guests must be paid registrants of the tournament and have completed release forms on file with the SPI Chamber of Commerce. Tickets may also be purchased at the door for Sunday Lunch for $25.00 per person. Food will be available only with a ticket.
Join us for the 37th Anniversary Ladies Kingfish Tournament and start your own Island tradition.
If you would like additional information about the tournament please contact the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce at 956.761.4412 or email@example.com