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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.

Harvey – A storm of biblical proportions

September 6th, 2017

harvey bay ridge Harvey   A storm of biblical proportions

Bay Ridge in League City, like so many other neighborhoods, saw extensive flooding during Hurricane Harvey.

By George Dismukes

We have a tendency to forget the power of nature until she gets restless, raises her head and deals us a blow like Harvey who has left in its path devastation of historical if not biblical proportions, with costs estimated easily to be in the trillions of dollars. There has never been a storm like it to hit the Texas coast… EVER in the annals of recorded history. It will be spoken of for decades and used as the model when people study storms and how to respond to them.

The magnitude of the storm was enormous. The world knows by now that Houston got swatted like a fly, even though the eye of the storm hit almost 200 miles south of Houston, at Rockport. Some structures that existed before the storm have simply disappeared. Others were flattened or torn asunder and can only be razed, never repaired. FEMA estimates they will be on site for years to come trying to make sense of it all.

Then, there are some structures, some homes that, against all odds, withstood the Category 4 onslaught. Why? Could it have been luck? Hardly. When you’re dealing with a storm of this magnitude, luck hardly fits into the equation. So, precisely what is the difference between a house that has to be picked up in pieces, and the one still standing?

The Gulf Coast Mariner needed to know. After all, a large part of our readers live within a storm zone, and vulnerable to attack by the next fury of nature.

We asked two of our Mariner advertiser/builders to help us out by revealing the most vital things to do when building a house to maximize the odds that house would remain standing after a hurricane. Below are their responses. We recommend you take notes. What they have to say could save you thousands of dollars and untold heartache.

THINGS YOU SHOULD DO

All good homes begin with a sound design. Your architect/designer doesn’t just draw pleasing pictures, they are trained to know what materials must be used in vital places to make your structure strong. In addition, they are familiar with local building codes and will design your home so that it meets or exceeds those codes, thereby assuring that your home will pass inspection. If a home does not meet the local building codes, you cannot get an inspection certificate and without a certificate, you cannot get insurance.

If your home is to be built on a concrete foundation (slab), be sure the cap is no less than 4” thick and your beams are 1’ X 2’, minimum. If the house is to be constructed on pilings, contract for a reputable piling installer, like Palm Coast Pilings, who is capable of precise piling positioning and will advise you on the correct size of piling, correct spacing and depth to sink your pilings in order to keep your home level, safe and secure.

Application of steel strapping below and above (from below bottom plate to stud.) Hurricane straps from the top of the stud to the rafter; and not on alternating studs, but affixed to every stud without exception.

Things such as the kind of nails employed in your structure are far more important than most people think. Ring shank or screw shank nails used in basic framing make for a stronger structure.

Some builders use 7/16” composite wood for roof decking. Use plywood only, and in most cases, 5/8” thickness.

Before siding can be installed, you must first scab your house with plywood or pressed wood sheathing. This must be firmly nailed in frequent spacing. It will keep your house plumb and square in high winds. Without it, your home is nothing but a playhouse, vulnerable and destined for disaster.

THINGS TO NOT DO

DO NOT HIRE STORM CHASERS.  Storm chasers are people who gravitate to a disaster area following a storm or other tragedy and go door to door offering repairs at discount prices. They almost always want a hefty deposit in advance, frequently do not show up at all to effect repairs and if they do, generally perform inferior “band-aid” work which is unacceptable in every sense and do not meet local building codes. They purchase the cheapest materials they can find that do not meet the minimum specifications for the type of repair being performed; they do shoddy work. Even if you have to wait a while, contract a local firm that has a reputation to live up to, and a history of work within your community. It isn’t just the best way to go. It is the only way to go. To this end, Putnam Builders will check out any builder you are considering at no cost and let you know what rating they have.

DO NOT SKIMP ON BUILDING MATERIALS. If you make a deal with your contractor, which involves you purchasing the materials and him doing the labor, that’s fine. But do not buy things such as cheap nails. Here’s an example: If you are using treated wood, to fasten that wood, you must use ‘hot dipped galvanized’ nails. If you skimp and purchase electro galvanized nails, you will regret it because electro galvanized nails cannot stand up to the corrosiveness of treated lumber. They will rust away within a few years and your project (say for instance a deck) will literally fall apart before your eyes.

The bottom line is, you do stand a chance against the biggest, most powerful storm. But it’s not a lucky shot, it is the result of good planning and a well constructed building; a structure that was built with hurricanes in mind.

There simply are no guarantees, but you can improve the odds of being one of those lucky people who still have a house after the storm. The key:  Take nothing for granted.