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Meet Hunter Welch of FishStix Rods

January 1st, 2018

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23316419 10215272041742208 5289314646350524275 n Meet Hunter Welch of FishStix Rods

Hunter Welch, owner and builder of FishStix Rods.

By Kelly Groce

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

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

When did you start FishStix and why?

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

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

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

What makes FishStix rods unique?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where can our readers purchase a FishStix rod?

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

Hunter & Liz Welch, Founders of FishStix™

Does FishStix host any tournaments?

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

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

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

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

Galveston Bay fishing after Harvey

September 14th, 2017

big speckled trout Galveston Bay fishing after Harvey

By Capt. Joe Kent

Lots of questions are being asked about the effects of the recent flood waters on the Galveston Bay Complex.  Most of the questions are centered on whether the floods have a beneficial or detrimental impact on the eco-system and what we can expect in the way of fishing this fall.

For a number of years, the Galveston Bay Complex was experiencing a serious drought that was beginning to change the ecology of the bay.  High levels of salinity and restricted flows of fresh water from rivers and creeks were taking its toll on the wetlands and back bays.

Concerns were mounting about a change in our fish patterns, in particular a possible migration of certain species of fish out of the bays and an influx of different species into the bays.  It certainly was a situation that warranted concern.

Three years ago, the first of a series of heavy flooding hit and eventually lowered the salinity levels and created some ideal conditions for growing our stocks of marine life, both fin fish and shell fish.

In most cases, flood waters entering the bays do a lot of good for the basic component of the marine life cycle and that is the estuaries.  The nutrients that are washed into the rivers and other outlets help the vegetation grow and in turn provide a sanctuary for newly hatched marine life.

This is obviously a real benefit to all who partake in saltwater recreational activities and most beneficial to anglers in all areas including those who fish offshore.

On the other hand, flood waters that contain heavy concentrations of contaminants can be detrimental to the estuaries.  Contaminants in the form of chemicals and metals are the most destructive, as they can and do kill the life line of the estuaries, the vegetation and in general pollute the waters.

troutrowan 300x141 Galveston Bay fishing after Harvey

“Well, for speckled trout especially they are going to be found in large concentrations closer to the coast.”

 

Just how our recent flood affects the sensitive balance in the wetlands is yet to be determined.

While it remains to be seen as to the effects on the estuaries, there are a few things that can pretty well be counted on as far as the effects on fishing and crabbing.

Following the floods and during the time when heavy flows of water continued to pour into the bays, we have experienced a welcomed dry spell with northerly and westerly winds dominating under low humidity.  This has helped to get the flood waters draining more rapidly. 

Most of Galveston Bay has been muddy and off color with little or no salinity.  How long this will last is anyone’s guess.

Most of the time, trout will move out of the upper reaches of the bay system and settle in areas that are closer to the Gulf of Mexico such as those around the passes and jetties.  In those areas, trout tend to stack up and become easy prey for anglers.

Using last year as an example, our heavy floods came early in the summer and were followed by a similar pattern of hot, dry weather.  It was at least two months before the bays started showing signs of improvement.

If that pattern repeats itself, it could be November before the water returns to normal around the Galveston Bay Complex.  This is especially true in light of the fact that this year’s flooding was more extensive and severe than in years past.

So what does that mean for fishing?  Well, for speckled trout especially they are going to be found in large concentrations closer to the coast.  The jetties, surf and lower Galveston Bay should hold the prized game fish for quite a while.

Reds and other fish likely will be the offering in the upper reaches of the bay system, as they are not nearly as sensitive to salinity as are trout.

Fishing with Capt. Bob Drisgill of Mangus II Charters

September 6th, 2017

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Captain Bob Drisgill

manguslogo Fishing with Capt. Bob Drisgill of Mangus II Charters

Interview by Kelly Groce

Captain Bob “Mangus” Drisgill is a guide out of Moses Lake fishing the Galveston Bay complex for over two decades now. Bob has led myself and teammates to two consecutive first place wins at the Galveston Bay Foundation’s Ladies Casting for Conservation fishing tournament. Winning these tournaments with Bob was a great experience, but having the honor to see his passion for fishing is the best reward. Bob has a contagious attitude and every fish caught is a special moment.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Baltimore, Md. Yup, I’m a yankee. I graduated high school in 1969.

How long have you been fishing? When did you start your guide service?
25 years at least. I’ve had my guide service for 16 years, but been doing it full time for about 11 years.

What kind of boat do you run?
A 21’ Mako Center Console with a brand new 200 HP Evinrude motor.

Do you remember your first fish?
My dad was an electrician on the railroad for 40 years. There were some docks nearby, so when I was a kid I would fish there. My first fish was a big perch.

What is your fishing specialty or target fish?
Speckled trout. I do catch a lot of redfish and flounder, but my main target fish is speckled trout.

Do you have a favorite fishing moment?
Every time I go fishing is a special moment. When anyone gets on my boat, I want to see them catch a fish. I get so excited when I see customers catch fish. When that feeling stops, I’ll stop fishing. I love catching trout, can’t get enough of that funky stuff!

Bass Assassin 4” Sea Shad in Texas Roach

If you could only have one soft plastic and one hard bait what would they be?
If I could only have one soft plastic it would be the Bass Assassin 4” Sea Shad in the color Texas Roach. It’s my favorite in off-colored water or clear water, it will catch fish. For a hard bait I would have to go with a good topwater in silver and black.

What is the biggest mistake you see fisherman making?
The biggest mistake I see is boaters not having respect for other boaters. There’s no etiquette anymore. Everybody’s got fish rage, it’s just like road rage out there.

Fisherman also need to educate themselves on how to handle and release fish the proper way. People take photos of fish and put it back in the water, which is fine, but who knows if it’s going to live. They aren’t freshwater fish, these are saltwater fish.

What are some things anglers should key in on during September and October to be successful fishing?
September and October is a transition going from summer to fall. It’s like February to March in the spring time. I’d say key in on bird action, especially in October. Seagulls will start working early morning in the bay system, which will tell you where the trout are. Not as much big trout action in September or October, but should be able to find plenty of redfish. You’ll catch the occasional flounder until late November, when it starts getting colder outside.

Capt. Bob Drisgill’s target fish is speckled trout.

Do you have a favorite tide stage for fish?
A good incoming tide with a light southeast breeze, which you rarely get, but that’s my favorite. I will fish either incoming or outgoing, but I like incoming the best.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in our area from when you first started fishing?
There has been an explosion of the amount of people on the water. There’s nothing secret anymore with cell phones and social media, it wasn’t like that 15 years ago. Environmentally wise it’s changed, especially with the power plants over the years. They dumped a lot of stuff in the water that wasn’t supposed to be dumped.

Favorite place you’ve ever fished?
My backyard, Moses Lake.

Is there anything you’d like to see changed in the regulations or conservation efforts?
Well, people are pushing for this 5 fish limit for speckled trout. I don’t see a problem with keeping the 10 fish limit on the trout. The population of specks in Galveston Bay is plentiful. And as far as redfish goes, we have a 3 fish limit with 1 oversized that I think is a good deal.

As far as conservation goes, I really appreciate what the Galveston Bay Foundation does to help our bay prosper.

Also, if people stop throwing stuff like fishing line and other trash in the water, that will help out. It’s bad for our wildlife and can cause problems for boats. Everyone needs to be more conservative.

Aside from fishing, what else are you passionate about?
If I’m not fishing you can find me in the poker room. I love to play poker. I have a passion for competition with myself and amongst others. That’s why I like fishing so much.

Contact Capt. Bob Drisgill by phone at 409-682-9106 or go to www.mangus2charters.com.

 

Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine Takes Home 1st Place Heaviest Stringer Guided at the Ladies Casting for Conservation Fishing Tournament for Second Year in a Row

July 25th, 2017

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(From left to right) Colie Blumenshine, Bob Drisgill, and Kelly Groce took home 1st place Heaviest Stringer – Guided for the second year in a row at the 2017 Ladies Casting for Conservation fishing tournament.

Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine’s team, Kelly Groce and Colie Blumenshine, took home 1st place Heaviest Stringer Guided at the Galveston Bay Foundation‘s Ladies Casting for Conservation fishing tournament on Saturday, July 22 at Stingaree Restaurant & Marina. This is the second time in a row that these lady anglers have won 1st place heaviest stringer.

Bob Drisgill of Mangus II Charters was their guide again for this year’s tournament. The beginning of the day started out slow with storms brewing in the distance, but they managed to dodge all the rain. Around 10:30am things changed and they caught trout from 20-25 inches. Colie Blumenshine ended up catching her personal best trout which was 25 inches.

Ladies Casting for Conservation is a fun fishing tournament and also raises funds to keep our bay beautiful. We would like to thank the Galveston Bay Foundation and all the other sponsors of this tournament for putting on a great event. The ladies were especially excited about their new Castaway Rods that they won along with their plaque. We at Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine are looking forward to being a sponsor and participating in next year’s tournament.

20369643 1880308975622840 4724894160214666789 o Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine Takes Home 1st Place Heaviest Stringer Guided at the Ladies Casting for Conservation Fishing Tournament for Second Year in a Row

Colie Blumenshine’s personal best trout, 25 inches.

Great Results for Texas Sailors at High School Champs

November 1st, 2016

The Texas raised sailors did a great job at the High School Nationals held right here in Galveston Bay.  Here is a “shout out” to four local stars and the amazing new facility, Sea Scout Base Galveston, that hosted the races:

  1. In the Laser Full Rig Division, Max Guerreiro took second place and Ford McCann took third. Awesome!  Results: http://scores.hssailing.org/f16/laserperformance-cressy-full/
  2. In the Laser Radial Division, Charlotte Rose finished third overall (and was the second girl) and Carly Broussard finished 10th(and was the fourth girl).  Awesome!  Results:  http://scores.hssailing.org/f16/laserperformance-cressy-radial/
  3. The championships were held right here in Galveston Bay at the new Sea Scout facilityhttp://ssbgalveston.org/).  It is an amazing facility and many in our community do not know about it, yet (here is a link to high schools already using it: http://ssbgalveston.org/community.php#anchor1).
  4. I recommend visiting this 200+ bed facility it and hope that it hosts many more regattas (Link to view facility: http://ssbgalveston.org/events.php  AND http://ssbgalveston.org/events_contact.php).  There were great views for watching the races… from shore!  The downwind mark was only 20 yards away from the spectators.
  5. College Singlehanded Nationals will be there this coming weekend.  http://2016singlehanded.collegesailing.org