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Kayak fishing with Marine Corps Veteran and Hurricane Harvey Hero Donald Justin

April 30th, 2018

Interview by Brandon Rowan

donald justin 300x298 Kayak fishing with Marine Corps Veteran and Hurricane Harvey Hero Donald Justin

Donald Justin fishing in Iraq.

Where are you from?

I was born in Hagåtña, Guam but I grew up all over America. My dad was in the military my whole life and then I joined the military myself. I settled down here in the Galveston Bay area after I retired.

What branch of the U.S. military did you serve in?

I was in the Marine Corps. I finished service there and then joined the Army and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. I was trained as a combat diver and paratrooper. I jumped out of planes and all that fun stuff. I was a machine gunner in Iraq, too – not much use for a diver in the sand. I deployed to Iraq five times between 2005 and 2011.

What do you do now that you’re out of the service?

I kayak fish a minimum four to five times a week. Sometimes I can go two to three months without missing a day of fishing.

I like to fish. It’s relaxing when I go out there. Sometimes if I spot a school of redfish I won’t even cast to them, I’ll see how long I can follow them.

But I don’t eat fish. I ate fish every day growing up, a couple times a day. I’ve fished my whole life, starting in Guam. I’ve fished all over the United States and even in Iraq.

What’s there to catch in Guam?

Mostly pelagics but also different kinds of snapper. Guam is smaller than the city of Houston and surrounded by very deep water. You can fish in 1,200 feet of water from a pier and catch tuna. The Mariana Trench is just off the shore of Guam.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever fished?

Florida Keys. I go there twice a year. I take my wife and kids and they do “wife and kids stuff” and I go fish. My favorite place in Texas is the Port Aransas area. It’s pretty good for kayak fishing because you get other stuff besides just redfish and trout without going six or seven miles offshore like in Galveston. I just picked up a Hobie Tandem Island just to go past the breakers. I’m on a mission for kingfish this year.

Do you have a favorite fishing moment?

The first time I got my son on a fish. He had just turned 4 years old and it was just a little 15” rat red, but he brought it in on his own. He casted and reeled it in all by himself on a spiderman pole and chickenboy lure.

heroes on water Kayak fishing with Marine Corps Veteran and Hurricane Harvey Hero Donald Justin

Heroes on the Water provides no-expense kayak fishing trips for veterans.

Tell me about your involvement with the community and veterans.

For the past few years I’ve been a member of Heroes on the Water – Southeast Texas Chapter, which organizes kayak fishing trips for active-duty military and U.S. veterans. They bring the kayaks and all of the fishing equipment; they supply everything. The only thing veterans need to bring is a fishing license. They started in Texas but there are chapters all over the states.

Veterans can relax out on the water for a little peace. They don’t necessarily have to fish; some just paddle around to take a break and clear their minds. Heroes on the Water concentrates on disabled veterans, but all veterans and service members are welcome.

I fell into it because it gives you a chance to be normal and meet people who have gone through the same things you have. I go out for every event I can. They need experienced people and sometimes we lack enough volunteers.

How can a veteran or volunteer get involved with Heroes on the Water?

They can visit heroesonthewater.org for information on the closest chapter, and most chapters have a Facebook page.

I understand you put your kayak collection to work during Hurricane Harvey.

Yeah, me and two neighbors on kayaks, and a handful of neighbors on big lifted trucks, got a couple dozen people out of their homes. The water was so high in some neighborhoods that we did rescues out of second story windows

Right on. In what areas did you perform rescues?

Friendswood and Dickinson. Boats were awesome for rescue but there were dry patches in some neighborhoods. So boats would tow us as far as they could go, and we would go get people and bring them back to the boats. We even rescued nine border collies that are featured in Alpo ads and commercials.

Border Collies being rescued by Donald Justin after Hurricane Harvey.

My family was affected and actually my own border collie, Murphy, rode in my kayak that day. It was a real bad time but great to see so many good people come together. Were you affected by the storm?

I live in Webster and my whole neighborhood lucked out. Everyone came together though; cooking for people, collecting donations and opening their doors. I had three people that we didn’t know live in our house for four months. Their son has special needs and there wasn’t a place for them.

Well, aside from helping others and fishing, what else are you passionate about?

Old BMWs. I have 22 various BMWs. I’m driving a 1990 BMW today that’s probably nicer inside than most 2018 models; no stains, rips, tears…everything is flawless.

Wow, is that your favorite BMW?

No, that’s the only one I’m willing to put miles on. My favorite is my 1991 E30 318is; it was only available for one year here in the States. It’s a slick top, turboed and has everything done to it. I’m giving it to my son one day. (without the turbo).

Galveston Marsh Fishing and Kayaking Report

August 24th, 2016

redfish 1 Galveston Marsh Fishing and Kayaking ReportBy Cody Phillips of Galveston Kayak Charters

During the middle of summer, it’s hard to get your fix AKA time on the water. That’s why this time of year until the first signs of fall, I am on the water by 3 a.m. With temps hovering around a hundred by midday water temps are well into the nineties. This makes me focus my fishing in or around marsh. This time of year I make sure there is plenty of foliage to keep the water cool into the mid day hours. Using this strategy has kept my clients and I on solid redfish during this heat wave. It’s amazing a couple of degrees in water temp will make or break a marsh fishing adventure. I’ve put this theory to the test up and down the Texas coast and the end results are all the same big red fish in less than 2 feet of water.

mambo mullet 3.gif Galveston Marsh Fishing and Kayaking Report

Egret Baits Mambo Mullets in Golden Nugget

Preferred baits:

When it comes to baits of choice Egret Mambo Mullets in Golden Nugget and solid chartreuse have been my go-to. Then Egret Wedgetails in Plumb/Chartreuse for fishing over thick grass and cover.

Preferred boats:

One of the kayaks I recommend is the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13. This boat is incredibly fast able to paddle long distances with little too much effort. Another reason is it is a very quiet hull enable to go in the shallowest of marshes when the tide is below normal.

Native Watercraft's Versa Board Angler

Native Watercraft’s Versa Board Angler

The second boat I recommend is Native Watercraft’s Versa Board Angler. It is a crossbreed between a paddle board and a kayak. This boat is very wide and glides across the water. This is a great advantage when you’re standing up push polling through the marsh sight casting redfish.

To book a trip with Cody, call 832-339-4441.

Cristina Maldonado

Cristina Maldonado with a beautifully spotted redfish out of Galveston.

Phillip Grosman with his first ever redfish.

Phillip Grosman with his first ever redfish.

 

Galveston Marsh Fishing and Kayaking Report

July 5th, 2016

cody hobie Galveston Marsh Fishing and Kayaking Report

Cody Phillips with another good red.

By Cody Phillips

egret baits wedgetail Galveston Marsh Fishing and Kayaking Report

Egret Baits Wedgetail Mullet

With all the rain this month, most kayak anglers were deterred from getting on the water. The rain has stacked fish in certain locations up and down the coast. Those who have braved the weather were rewarded with full stringers of speckled trout and redfish. This time of year, the Gulf pushes tons of small baitfish into the bays including brown shrimp, shad, croaker and glass minnows. That’s why my lures of choice have been Wedge tails in blk/chartreuse or chartreuse and Vudu Shrimp by Egret Baits. Last week, the big gulf shrimp hit the coast. Many people were taking advantage of this by cast netting on the beach front and loading up.

Marsh report:

With the higher than normal tides, we have taken full advantage by locating schools of redfish in the back marshes. Groups of 10 to 25 reds have been swimming the banks destroying anything in their paths. If you’ve never experienced this you need to put it on you bucket list. I’ve witnessed this hundreds of times and my adrenaline still skyrockets every time. If you can cast a rod and reel, you can guarantee a redfish on the end of your line.

Preferred boats:

hobie-pro-angler

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler

The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is favored because I can cover tons of water with half the effort thanks to the mirage drive. Also having your hands free increases your catch percentage on the water by being able to fire a bait at any fish that shows their location. Seconds can be the difference between you hooking up with a fish.

hobie-outback

Hobie Mirage Outback

The Hobie Mirage Outback also has all the advantages like the Pro Angler but is a lighter hull that allows you to load and unload by yourself. This boat maneuvers very well with minimal effort.