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!
Billy Wagner of Saltwater Soul Apparel has started a new movement to help keep our shorelines clean, Saltwater Soul Shore Patrol. Fed up of seeing litter around the Galveston area, Billy started picking up trash by himself and posting online how much trash he would collect in such a small distance and time. The amount of fishing line, hooks, plastic and trash he collects has quickly grabbed the attention of locals who see how littered some of our bay and bayou shorelines are, not just the beaches. Let’s help Billy keep our hometown waters pristine for the fishery, ourselves and future generations. Contact Billy or follow Saltwater Soul Shore Patrol on Facebook and Instagram for more information on volunteering at clean-up events and to keep up with the latest news.
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.
Kimberly Maraldo with some of the sponsors of the tournament; Triump Cabling, Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine and Lonestar Integra Insurance Services.
By Kelly Groce
On Saturday, Aug. 17th anglers fished the Galveston Bay Complex for the 12th Annual Cougar Saltwater Open presented by the University of Houston’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communications Alumni. Being a graduate from the school of communications, it was an honor to become co-chair and help organize this tournament with the guidance of Kimberly Maraldo. With the funds raised from this tournament going to scholarships for the communications school, Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine was proud to be the media sponsor.
Scattered rain showers and wind didn’t hold the participating fisherman down that included men, women and kids. Individuals and teams brought several nice trout, redfish and flounder to the weigh-in at Topwater Grill in San Leon.
Attendees enjoyed complimentary beer from Galveston Island Brewing and whiskey from Nine Banded Whiskey. Calavera Cookers served up some tasty BBQ and pulled pork as everyone visited and enjoyed the shady palapa.
Huge thank you to all the sponsors that help make this event possible; Okuma Fishing, Bombshell’s, Triumph Cabeling & Underground Services, Lonestar Integra Insurance Services, Essentia Water, Houston Sign Company, Calavera Cookers, Cavern Solutions Inc., FS&MG Frontier Sales & Marketing Group and Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine.
Also, thank you to all the in-kind donors such as; Traw Metalworks, Nine Banded Whiskey, Sugar Land Skeeters, Texas Rattling Rigs, D.O.A. Lures, Elaine Ebner, Cougar Pride, Patty Godfrey, Emilee Fontenot, Cathy Coers Frank, Ralph Morales, Judy Wheeler, Alan’s Swampshack, Saltwater Soul, No Label Brewery, Laguna Madre Clothing Co., Typhoon Texas, Raising Canes, Karbach Brewery, Kendra Scott Sugar Land, Leslie McDonald Jr. and Galveston Island Brewing.
Congratulations to all the winners and everyone that participated in this fun tournament. We will see you next year. Go coogs!
COUGAR SALTWATER OPEN WINNERS:
Kayak/Wade Division – 1st place trout, John Liles
1st John Liles
2nd Mike Brown
3rd Grant Justice
1st Jason Blackwell
2nd Grant Justice
3rd Rayfield Conley
1st Grant Justice
2nd Vince Rinando
Boat Division – 1st place trout, Mason Dees
1st Mason Dees
2nd Rafael Pedraza
3rd Arturo Garcia
1st Audra Gould
2nd Mark Gould
3rd Mason Dees
South Texas Yacht Service owner Mark Grinstead has close to 40 years of experience.
South Texas Yacht Service handles any and all marine issues, power or sail
By Xander Thomas
There are plenty of boat yards along the coast, and certainly in the Clear Lake Area, home to marinas and great sailing areas, but any of them offering full service seems like a thing of the past.South Texas Yacht Service is one of few places that still does just that.
“Most of the yards now are what we call contractor yards, where you got 10, 12, 15, different contractors working out if the yard,” said owner Mark Grinstead.
He says that the convenience of a full service yard like this one can be priceless to someone who doesn’t want the hassle of going through a different professional for any problem that comes up.So that you do not have to act as your own general contractor by yourself, South Texas Yacht Service can do almost anything you need, all at one time, right in one place.
“You got an electrical problem, you gotta find an electrical contractor, if you got a mechanical problem, you gotta find a mechanical contractor, you got a rigging problem, you gotta find a rigger, well we do all of those things in house,” Mark said.
It’s not just that these guys can do whatever you need them to, they are good at it.
“I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years now, and most of my staff probably average about 20 years experience,” he said, “We have an experienced staff, probably the most experienced staff of any yard on the Texas coast.”
So what this means for you, is that you talk to one person about everything, you take it to one place, you get quality service, and you won’t have different people messing with someone else’s previous work – we all know how that ends up.
“We keep our employees, we don’t have a real high turn-over rate, so our work is consistent,” Mark said.
Mark says that his love of sailing and the sea started at an early age.His family lived on a boat for a few years when he was a child, and he has been around them his whole life, so this line of work just came naturally to him.He has earned a bachelor’s degree in marine transportation and has a Coast Guard license.
He says that there is almost nothing that they can’t do for you.They even take on a few complete restoration cases a year, usually.
“We handle the whole deal,” he said, “I think we’re the only yard left on the Texas coast that’s a full service yard.”
South Texas Yacht Service is located at 1500 Marina Bay Dr. #3510 in Kemah. Visit them online at www.stysyacht.com
Do we see the changefrom summer to fall? I see the signs; school begins, traffic increases, daylight is shorter and football season starts. Do fish and wildlife sense the change? To those who are observant, the movement and patterns are evident. Also, this is the time of the year that new fishing and boating regulations are enforced.
A major change to boating is the use and attachment of the motor cut off switch to operators of motor boats 26 feet and less. Saltwater fishing regulation changes are the statewide enforcement of the daily bag limit of speckled trout to 5 fish per person per day. Shark fisherman will be required to use non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks while in state waters. The size limit for Cobia (Ling) will increase to 40 inches. Fishing licenses will need to be renewed, so make sure you are legal.
Fish will begin to change their pattern, very subtlely in September and noticeable in October. In September, their slight movement will be directly related to the decrease in daylight hours. Fish will move slightly toward shallower water as it begins to cool from less sunlight. With each passing cool front, which usually begins the middle of September, speckled trout, redfish and flounder will seek the shorelines and move towards the northern reaches of the bay. This movement is a direct reaction to baitfish and shrimp migrating from the marsh to the open bay. Remember fish follow the food chain. They go where they can eat!
Anglers will be able to pursue these fish on a variety of soft plastic baits and of course, live natural baits. For flounder, live mudfish and finger mullet will be the go to baits. Although finger mullet can be scarce, Eagle Point will have some of the best mudfish available anywhere on the Texas coast. Trout and redfish will be caught on live shrimp fished underneath a popping cork. Also for those anglers who enjoy throwing artificial lures, a variety of soft plastics will do well. Anglers searching for something big should look no further than the Galveston Jetties. The annual bull redfish run will begin in September and really heat up in October. Tarpon fisherman will have a chance to get catch the largest of these creatures along the Galveston beachfront.
You can call Eagle Point Fishing Camp at 281-339-1131 to check on their bait supply. Enjoy this time of year, fishing can be fantastic!
The Valenti School of Communication Alumni Association will hold its 12th Annual Fishing Tournament – The UH Cougar Saltwater Open, on Saturday August 17th at Topwater Grill. This event funds scholarships for students currently pursuing studies in Communication at the University of Houston.
Tournament is open to UH students, alumni and the public. We encourage full family participation.
Cougar Saltwater Open shall be an inshore tournament. There will be a boat and kayak division for each category.
Awards will be given in the following divisions:
Heaviest individual redfish (20-28 inches, no oversized) boat and kayak
Heaviest speckled trout (16-25 in) boat and kayak
Heaviest flounder boat and kayak
Heaviest stringer (3 fish) : any combination of the following three fish-trout, flounder and 1 redfish boat and kayak
Shasta’s pick: bring your big ugly (any trash fish) and the heaviest one wins!
Biggest Fish, Smallest Fish, Ugliest Fish, Unusual fish, etc. (Multiple prizes will be awarded in this division)
Registration fee includes tournament t-shirt and meal at weigh in/awards ceremony.
Registration $65 per person. $20 per child (12 and under).
Weigh in will be from 2-4 P.M. at Topwater Grill. You must be in line no later than 4 p.m.
As the ITC chemical tank fire raged for days in March, two things became very clear: a large and immeasurable quantity of petrochemical and firefighting foam runoff was going straight into Tucker Bayou, and the Bay was going to be seriously impacted.
In the immediate aftermath, Galveston Bay Foundation called for transparency in all water testing surrounding the ITC incident, and we started our own independent sampling efforts. We sincerely thank our dedicated members and volunteers who helped during this difficult time.
“Our independent sampling not only provides public access to this important environmental data, but we are also supplementing data collected by incident response, ensuring adequate monitoring and documentation of the incident,” said Sarah Gossett, Robinson Water Programs Manager at Galveston Bay Foundation.
We partnered with Texas A&M University’s Superfund Research Center and Environmental Defense Fund to test the water for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), specifically PFAs, a group of chemical compounds frequently found in industrial product and firefighting foam.
PFAs are water soluble and do not break down over time, meaning they can stay in our waterways and accumulate in wildlife and the water column. They’re found in many different products, from industrial and manufacturing equipment to cookware and disposable coffee cups. While much is still unknown about PFAs and how they interact with the human body, many of these compounds are known to be harmful to humans when ingested, and have resulted in or contributed to cancer, hormone disruption, low infant birth weight and many other issues.
Unfortunately, concerning levels of PFAs were detected in our samples from the ITC incident. Overall, the results show a definite presence of many different PFAs in the Houston Ship Channel water. The highest levels were found near ITC, but even samples that were taken from the shoreline farther downstream showed levels of concern.
Because there are no federal advisories or state standards for contact recreation waters for PFAs, little monitoring has occurred within Galveston Bay. Since the ITC fire, Galveston Bay Foundation and other agencies have increased collection of PFAs levels within Galveston Bay.
“Now that we and the public are more aware of this issue, I hope we are able to use this incident to continue monitoring our Bay for these compounds, and that standards and protocols are eventually established,” Sarah said. “We need to do a better job of monitoring these levels so we can better document baseline levels and work to detect and resolve any potential problems.”
Galveston Bay Foundation will continue to work in collaboration with Texas A&M University to conduct long-term PFA monitoring in Galveston Bay. Stay up to date on any new information from the results at galvbay.org/ITC.
Galveston Bay Foundation water testing in the Houston Ship Channel in response to the ITC fire.
Bayport Channel Collision
Less than two months after the ITC chemical tank fire, a barge-ship collision in Houston Ship Channel leaked more than 9,000 barrels of gasoline product into Galveston Bay.
In the wake of incidents like this, Galveston Bay Foundation works with partner organizations to evaluate the potential impacts the spill could have on the Bay. In this case, we have been invited by the Unified Command response to serve on a Resources at Risk committee to evaluate the impact on natural resources. Director of Conservation Phillip Smith will represent Galveston Bay Foundation on the committee.
While we have had concern over industry and government testing and sampling efforts, we are confident that Unified Command has mobilized, is actively responding to the incident, and is fulfilling environmental impact and assessment needs.
On Sunday, May 12, incident responders found a fish kill on our Kemah property, which Texas Parks and Wildlife Department confirmed as the result of the Bayport Channel Collision. Galveston Bay Foundation worked with incident response on the cleanup.
Industrial disasters are unfortunate to say the least, but our Bay is resilient. Galveston Bay Foundation plays an essential role in advocating for the health of the Bay in times of crisis and so do you. Thank you for all of your support in response to these incidents. With your help, Galveston Bay Foundation will continue to serve as guardian of Galveston Bay.
That’s a paddlin’! Tales and observations from a floating piece of plastic
By Brandon Rowan
“Yup that’s the spot.” In the back of the marsh, far removed from the beaten path and at least several miles away from the launch. Yup, that’s the one.”
I don’t know about you, but that train of thought has definitely danced across my mind while scanning Google Earth for that new honey hole. I mean, the extra effort and difficulty will reap equal rewards right? That sometimes rings very true but is not always the case.
I made it a point to get out, paddle and explore new areas this year. Numerous trips in, I started noticing a trend: a surprising amount of good catches came from spots I typically passed during the journey to the “honey hole.”
Sometimes it was a shad flip, a hovering bird, or even a last ditch effort that put me on a location but you can’t argue with results of trout, redfish and flounder. Believe me, I won’t discount these ‘easy’ spots in the future.
HEAD ON A SWIVEL
Even subtle signs, like a single shad or mullet flip, can expose feeding fish underneath an otherwise calm water surface. Hell, what’s one more extra cast? Plus, it’s a pretty triumphant moment when the thump of a good fish confirms your suspicions.
Birds can be your guide in the marsh too. Hovering terns and gulls are a dead give away to activity but don’t discount shore walkers, like the Spoonbill. Their lives depend on their ability to find bait. Where there’s bait, there are predators.
I caught a lot of fish in late winter and early spring on these super model Down South Lures. Special colors, like this plum/chartreuse mullet eye and Purple Reign sans chartreuse tail, can only be found at special events like the Houston Boat Show and Fishing Show. Contact DSL owner Michael Bosse at 210.865.8999 for information on availability.
Subsurface twitch baits like this Rapala Twitchin’ Mullet are just plain fun to fish and productive, too. I caught my biggest trout of the year, 27 inches, on this olive green 06 model.
MEAT’S ALWAYS ON THE MENU
Knowledge of your area and the available forage through each season is crucial. Late winter and early spring was a great time to throw mullet imitations and I leaned on topwaters and big plastics like the Down South Lures super model.
But the days lengthened, the trees began to bloom and it wasn’t long before the bay was flush with freshly hatched bait species. Predators don’t overthink fishing locations and easy spots. They are opportunistic feeders and love easy meals. Later in spring, I starting throwing small baitfish imitations, like the smaller sized Rapala Twitchin’ Mullet.
One foggy April afternoon I was rewarded with a beautiful 27” speckled trout. I found her intercepting small shad forced back into the cove by a hard wind driven current. After a spirited fight, measurement and quick picture, I set her free and watched her swim away strong.
Egret Baits’ 2” Vudu Shrimp under an oval cork is a favorite in the marsh when fish are keyed in on itty bitty shrimp. I like pearl/chart or glow.
Looking ahead to May and June, shrimp imitations will be a good bet. The surf is going to start looking real flat and I’ll be ditching the kayak for west end beach wading or seawall rock hopping. I love catching trout on topwater, but by far some of my most productive days have come from rigging a clear/gold D.O.A. Shrimp under a popping cork.
Glassy surf and its fishy possibilities are the stuff of dreams. But the stout early summer winds of the upper coast are often our reality. If that’s the case, you’ll find me in my favorite stretch of marsh chasing redfish. They eat small in my spot and rarely turn down a 2” Vudu Shrimp under a short leader and oval cork.
It’s about to get hot my friends so take care to keep yourself hydrated and safe. I hope to see you all out there!
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!
On-the-water racing action during the 2019 Mermaid Regatta held at the Houston Yacht Club. Photo by Dmitriy Yegorov
By Babs Bukowski, DPH, RN
Houston Yacht Club recently held the Mermaid Regatta – a women’s only race. HYC is the only known yacht club at this time to have a Spinnaker fleet in a women’s only regatta. The downwind leg had 17- to 19-knot winds and boat speeds of more than nine knots.
Winner: Allie Cribbs, helmswoman of S/V Pesto, a J 105, in the Spinnaker class.
Second place: Lisa Cushing driving S/V #77, J92.
Three minutes and 3 seconds separated these two racers.
Joining Allie Cribbs on the Mermaid throne winning the perpetual trophy were:
Nicole Laster, racing S/V Bad Girl, a Cal 33-2, PHRF Non-Spinnaker. She was 2 seconds ahead of her next competitor.
Nancy Welch driving, S/V Mischief, a Catalina 380, HYC Club Handicap. Nancy won same class in 2018.
In sum, there was the 1st spinnaker competition, a photo finish (NS), and repeat winner (Club Handicap)… MER-mazing!
More than 100 women were on-the-water representing at least 12 local, national, and international sailing/yacht clubs. Sailors traveled from Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois, Louisiana, Florida, Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Following is a list of six upcoming women’s races for 2019:
May 11, the off-shore Mermaid division of HYC’s Offshore Regatta
June 1, GBCA’s in-shore Women’s Regatta
June 15, HYC’s in-shore Catherine Spiller Race
June 16, HYC’s in-shore Fairfax Moody Race
Sept. 28, TASS’ in-shore Carol Becker Race
Oct 10-13 LYC’s off-shore Harvest Moon Regatta’s, Luna Trophy
Capt. Steve Soule caught this nice red while fly fishing with Capt. Clay Daniel Sheward.
Spring on the upper Texas coast brings warming temperatures, to both air and water. We have longer daylight periods and typically much more sunshine, accompanied by vigorous winds and choppy bays. It also is the time when multiple food sources return to our bay waters and shallows, flowing new life into areas of the bays that may have seemed desolate and devoid of life during the winter. The combination of springtime transitional patterns and occurrences can, and often do, confuse and complicate the plans of bay anglers.
This time of the year, we are still in a back and forth battle with passing cold fronts and swinging temperatures, though the greater trend is warming. With this in mind, we often have to change plans based on temperature. It is key to remember that as air temperatures drop below those of the water, fish will tend to move slightly deeper, and as air warms to temperatures greater than water, they tend to move shallow. This is in part due to the comfort level of the predators, but to an even larger degree, this pattern has to do with following their food sources.
Let’s throw in a little twist to this generalization. The bottom make up of the bay areas that you fish can also play a large role in temperature as well as comfort and availability of food sources for predators. Soft or darker colored mud bottom, especially in relatively shallow water will warm faster on sunny days. This can create comfort zones for both bait species and predators alike. So, as much as we watch temperatures, we also need to be aware of the amount of sun and bay floor make up to help focus our efforts on productive areas.
The longer days in spring trigger spawning activity for many species of fish.
Photo period is an often overlooked part of transitional periods throughout the year. Photo period, the number of hours of daylight versus night, triggers many things beyond the obvious additional heating of the water temperature. It’s well known that this is one of the triggers for spawning periods of fish. It also plays a large role in the timing of baitfish and other prey species returning to various areas of the bays. Coincidental timing I suppose, but since most all plant life requires sunlight to grow, its a well timed natural occurrence for the return or emergence of many of the smaller fish and crustaceans right when their food sources become more prevalent. Here’s an interesting thought about photo period and longer hours of daylight during spring. Even at the same daily temperature, longer days will yield greater warming than shorter days. This helps with the overall warming trend even on days when temps aren’t significantly warmer, purely because of the extended hours of daylight.
COMPARING SPRING & FALL
Keeping in mind that this is a transitional season, spring is one that requires more patience compared to fall. During our fall transition, the bays are at the peak of life, with numerous prey species readily available and in abundance. Much of the activity in fall centers around the mass migrations and attempted exodus from the shallows first,and then from deeper waters. Because the triggers for feeding are falling temperature, photo period decrease and changes in wind and tide, the ensuing patterns become fairly predictable.
In spring, things just don’t happen all at once. There are many factors that affect the return of bait species, and unfortunately, they don’t all happen at the same time. There are counter forces that can slow and change the timing of when they occur. With many of the returning species of bait, we are dependent on favorable offshore conditions along with onshore wind flow to bring them into the bays. Some, on the other hand must move to more open water from deeper inland, in creeks and bayous. Timing and location of these events is different every year.
In spring, wind plays a huge role in many ways. Wind can have an obvious effect on the location and supply of many smaller prey animals. As much as heavy south or southeast winds can make our fishing days challenging, these are much needed to speed the return of many offshore species to the bays. Even though the exact timing and amount of any given species hitting certain areas of the bays is very unpredictable, there are some things we can count on nearly every year.
The gulf passes and outlets will be the first to see many species and typically in the greatest quantities. Shortly after, the adjacent shorelines and nearby structures will gradually blossom with new life. Similarly, the upper reaches of the bays will begin to see an increase in bait flows that seek slightly higher salinities returning from low salinity areas up creeks and bayous. These are great starting points in our search for fish, knowing that these areas will consistently have the earliest increases in food supply for the predators that we seek.
Beyond the challenges of finding fish, springtime winds can make fishing unpleasant, difficult and often unsafe. Some quick thoughts on wind; how it effects fish and anglers when it comes to deciding where to fish. Logic tells us that wind can move many of the small species, especially when it works in unison with tides. Winds can drive schools of small bait to wind blown shorelines, and make movement or escape from predators very difficult. This can and will create something of a buffet line for predators who can more easily move and prey upon small species.
These shorelines are often overlooked, and some days they should be for safety. North and west shorelines that see the brunt of the spring winds are great under moderate wind days and days following hard onshore wind flows. On the days that the winds are just too high to fish these areas, it makes much more sense to fish protected shores. Again, look for the shorelines and areas that are nearer to gulf passes or upper reaches of the bays where creek flows will deposit concentrations of food.
Keep in mind that spring winds often can create more than just a comfort problem for anglers, but often a safety concern, making certain areas just not worth the effort or risk to fish.
Topwaters and plugs that imitate mullet are good choices at the start of spring. Downsize to smaller lures later in spring when predators are keying in on newly hatched baitfish.
LURES FOR SPRING
I couldn’t talk this much about springtime transition and food sources without mentioning what types of lures to throw and some timing aspects to consider. This is one of the best times to fish bigger mullet imitations, especially topwater baits, but you will often need to be patient to find success. Timing is often the key here, tides and moon position can make a big difference in getting bites.
As much as I would love to do nothing but throw topwater lures, some days you have to scale down and get lower in the water column to get bites. If you find yourself surrounded by smaller baitfish, it can be well worth the time to try some small plastic swimming tails on lighter jig heads. There are also times when only very light or natural colored baits work when all else fails. Matching the hatch isn’t always necessary but getting close to the size can help.
Something else fun to try during spring are lipped twitch baits, like those from Rapala and Bomber. The erratic darting action and slow rise or suspension on the pause can often be the trigger to get stubborn fish to bite.
Though spring can present challenges in many ways, it can bring equal rewards for those who pull together the many puzzle pieces. Watching tides and winds and planning accordingly can put you in the midst of schools of fish hungrily feasting on ever increasing supplies of small food.
Be prepared to adjust your plans, be thorough in your search and coverage of areas. If you are in an area that you feel sure there are fish, don’t be afraid to stick around and adjust your tactics. Some days a lure change can make all the difference.
Don’t let failure in one spot prevent you from trying other areas, and make great notes about areas that are showing abundant food. Many times the food sources will show before the predators, and knowing this will provide you with great fishing areas to return to later.
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
Tommy’s Restaurant Oyster Bar is, and has always been, synonymous with the finest quality oysters, seafood, wine and spirits. A favorite among the NASA elite crowd, the eatery has been serving the entire Clear Lake community for 24 years.
The restaurant’s owner, Tom Tollett, is known for his attention to detail and the quality and has successfully engineered and remodeled the restaurant every few years. The newly remodeled Oyster Bar is simply stunning!
The new renovations have a very modern, panache feel with artistic overtones. The style of art displayed represents the many colors and tranquility found in Galveston Bay. The renowned Marjorie Slovack, a carriage trade interior designer, successfully developed a contemporary look that exudes a classy, yet relaxed atmosphere and ambience.Futhermore, RBL construction transformed Slovack’s gorgeous design into reality.
Tom Tollett is a native Louisianian from Baton Rouge, Lafayette. He collaborates with his talented team of chefs and creates a diverse selection of fresh seafood and steaks to be enjoyed by his patrons.
His authentic Louisiana recipes have been perfected and developed over the past 42 years, encapsulating a story of culture and flavor from the best of Creole and Cajun seafood.
“There are two distinct types of cuisine found in Louisiana,” Tollett says. The popular Cajun style is pure country with simplistic flavors and a variety of vegetables and peppers. On the other hand, Creole style is influenced by the city with regional spices and savory seafoods, often smothered in rich creams.”
Tommy’s Restaurant Oyster Bar consistently ranks among one of the best seafood restaurants in both Harris and Galveston County. Not only do they cater to their loyal customer base, but also offer accommodations for private parties, corporate events and special occasions.
The chefs take great pride in serving dishes and entrees of the upmost quality. The bartenders and wait staff, like their boss, pay attention to detail and customer service.
One of Tom’s major passions is to educate the community and organizations on the importance of harvesting and farming oysters sustainably, and protecting this rich resource of Galveston Bay. Tommy’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar implements sustainability in their company with the help of local businesses. Tollett works closely with the Galveston Bay Foundation to help build new oyster reefs. He has served for many years on the Board of Directors.
“This restoration project helps build valuable ecosystems for many marine organisms,” Tollett said of the Galveston Bay Foundation’s efforts.
“Oysters filter 50 gallons of water per day and keep Galveston Bay clean and safe. Oyster reefs also create a buffer from the damaging effects of storm surges and flooding. Since 2011, over 250 tons of recycled oyster shells have helped revitalize the bay instead of becoming waste in landfills. Tollett wants his customers to know the importance marine conservation. He is integrally involved in the sustainable seafood movement to keep our waterfront community a gorgeous, elegant place to live. Their goal as a company is to protect our precious Galveston Bay through oyster conservation efforts and to provide the freshest, highest quality seafood and cuisine.
Try Tommy’s Restaurant Oyster Bar for your next culinary experience. Enjoy the smashing new renovations and modern ambiance. For reservations, call 281-480-2221 or visit them online at www.tommys.com. They are located at 2555 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058.
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.
We all can remember sitting down and chatting with our parents and grandparents as a youth. My conversations with them would usually be about memories of past times. The conversation always ended with them saying “Life is short; the older you get, the faster times goes by.”
Now, as I near the ripe age of 58, I understand what they meant. It only seemed like yesterday that the summer of 2018 began, and now the end is near. Fall is knocking on the door. Galveston Bay is about to go into a transition period.
John Michael Provenzano’s redfish.
September still might feel like summer during the day but slight changes in the air temperature will occur at night. The evening and early morning air will be slightly cooler and drier compared to the previous two months. This subtle change will begin to slightly lower the water temperature in the bay. This will spark a movement of shrimp and baitfish from out of the back marshes and into the main bay. Speckled trout will transition themselves, no longer seeking the depth of deep water. The fish may remain around deep water structure but will be feeding higher up in the water column. Live shrimp fished under a popping cork 4-6 feet deep will be lethal on these trout, while the “croaker bite’ will slow down.
Come October, we will see the “transition” in full swing. Passing cool fronts will lower the water levels and temperature even more, triggering a bigger movement of shrimp and baitfish from the back ends of Galveston Bay. Speckled trout will move to these areas to forage on what is exiting the marsh. Flocks of seagulls will pinpoint the location of these fish when they are feeding. Don’t rule out drifting the reefs and structure with live shrimp under corks, keying on presences of bait and slicks in the area.
Remember not all trout make this movement. Depending on the weather and cool fronts, plenty of fish will still be caught in the areas you were fishing in August. Eagle Point Fishing Camp will have a great supply of live shrimp. Those anglers in the Kemah, Seabrook and Clear Lake area can call 281-339-1131 to check on their bait supply.
It has been a long hot summer but fishing remained good. I am looking forward to fishing these months and enjoying the cooler weather. The fish seem to bite through out the day, on any given tide. Take time away from your busy schedule and get on the water!
Bay Oil Company, a fourth generation, family-owned business, has been serving fuels and lubricants to Houston and the surrounding areas since 1921.We proudly introduce our new Marine Division, providing non-ethanol fuel to vessels and fleets of all types throughout the greater Galveston Bay system and Houston Ship Channel.
United States Coast Guard approved for over-the-water transfers, we can deliver fuel to you, service dockside fueling, or you can bring your trailered boat to our on-site bulk facility.On-demand service, 24/7 live dispatch, and customizable delivery schedules set us apart.Bay Oil Company’s Marine Division is committed to providing the highest quality fuels and services to our clients—keeping you fueled up and on time!
In the Galveston Bay system, we are currently providing fuel to the following client types:tug boats and barges, racing and pleasure boats, fishing guides, cruise lines, shipping companies, emergency and repair services, fishing fleets and luxury yachts.Our family lives right here in the Bay Area and we all own boats and love the water.It was only natural to expand our Bay Oil Company to provide products and services to our friends in the marine industry.
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!