Destination Fishing: Bull Reds in Port Fourchon, LA

November 4th, 2019

port fourchon redfish Destination Fishing: Bull Reds in Port Fourchon, LA

Alisha Soule with an absolute giant Port Fourchon redfish.

By Steve Soule | www.ultimatedetailingllc.com

I’ve taken a few short destination fishing trips this year, trying to spend more time away from my home waters and learning new areas. New challenges and new waters, and attempting to take what I’ve learned fishing my home waters of the upper Texas Coast and apply that to other areas. This is the part of fishing that I find most interesting, putting together the pieces like a puzzle and figuring out how to catch fish in new areas. Going somewhere new is always a fun, though it can be frustrating and put your skills and knowledge to the test. The satisfaction from developing a plan and finding success is one of my greatest pleasures.

This past weekend, my wife and I spent a day and a half fishing in Southern Louisiana, Port Fourchon, to be specific. This is a tiny town in a very remote part of southern Louisiana. It is an industrial port town that primarily serves the off shore oil and gas industry. Definitely not somewhere you would end up by accident. Beyond the Industrial side, Fourchon and its neighboring Grand Isle, serve the fishing community. The entire area is like an overgrown marsh, with slightly deeper secondary bays. What makes this place spectacular is that it has extreme close proximity to the deeper gulf of Mexico on the southern end and an endless supply of fresh water coming down through rivers, bayous and swampy marsh. In all honesty, this is basically the nursery for the upper gulf of Mexico.

Though I have fished here two times in the past, it was during a different time of the year. Like any fishing location, seasons will effect the location and concentrations of fish and their food sources. Before any trip to new locations, it’s always wise to do some research. try to learn a little about the lay of the land. Study maps and arial photos, look at tides, both height and movement and try to make sense of where fish might be. We got there Saturday evening on the heels of a cold front that had way more wind and rain than expected. I knew that this would cause some lingering dirty water which didn’t go well with my plan of sight casting. Some things are well beyond our control and we just have to learn to roll with them.

From the start, this was planned as a very short trip so I had to maximize my time. I had gotten one report about potential location of our target species, Bull reds. The lingering winds and dirty water did not help there, so after some driving to look at shorelines in open water, I decided i needed to try to find some protected north shore areas that may have cleaner water draining from creeks and bayous. This is where basic fish finding skills come into play. With limited time to locate and catch fish, it doesn’t make sense to fish without seeing some evidence of life.

After our trip south to look at open shorelines, I headed back north into some more protected areas, looking for birds or bait and clearer water. We made a few short drifts in areas with some moving bait and missed two big reds on top water. The blow ups were amazing but couldn’t get either of them stuck long term. We also caught a few small trout, but this was not the area where we would be able to sight cast, though we were getting much closer. Side note, I use the top water lures as search baits when I don’t know the area well or can’t see to sight fish.

Now that we were in more protected water it was time to explore areas where outgoing tide was draining from bayous out to the secondary bays. Initially I spent some time poling the boat, but it became evident quickly that I would need to cover a little more water. We would idle along about 50-100 feet from the shoreline looking for wakes from big fish and muds and as soon as we found a fish or two go back to poling. This is where you really have to start paying attention so that you can put together the patterns. Each drain had some level of life in it, bigger drains that had more current seemed to be holding big fish. Now we have a fishable pattern.

Finding a bayou or two that would wind back north into the marsh, especially those that had wide spots where there were small shallow flats seemed to be the trick to locating fish. Now its getting interesting! I would pole slowly around the points leading into bayous and started seeing both reds and black drum. Fish were not moving very aggressive so a slow stealthy approach proved to be the best plan. Many times we were able to get the boat within 10 feet of fish and with increasing light, it was becoming much easier to see them. We missed a few as is always the case in sight casting, then the fun really got started.

bull red soule Destination Fishing: Bull Reds in Port Fourchon, LA

Steve Soule releases a bull redfish.

Poling into a small flat at the bottom of a bigger bayou drain, we started seeing fish slowly crawling along looking shorelines feeding as they went. It didn’t take long before we were among them and getting good shots. our first fish was close to the boat and though it didn’t look huge when I cast at it, ended up being about 45 inches long. The fight with these big reds in shallow water is a little more intense than with their smaller counterparts. Several big runs and the usual level of disasters trying to maneuver a fish around the boat and we got her landed, photographed and released. First half of the mission was now accomplished, the only issue was it was supposed to be Alisha’s fish.

We spooked several fish during the fight with the first one and could still see and hear a few fish moving around the small flat. Back to the hunt! We worked our way around the flat, still struggling to see fish well. Then stumbled onto another slow crawling giant and it was her turn to shine. The fish was swimming slowly towards the boat and not yet aware of our presence. Alisha made a short cast, crossing the fish’s path and as it approached, gave the Buggs jig a few slight bounces to make the lure more visible. When she saw the lure, she attacked and the fight was on. It can all happen just that fast.

We had spent 2-3 hours of driving, looking and narrowing down our search pattern, then within a matter of 30 minutes, had found a nice flat that had multiple fish over 15 pounds, and landed two fish well over 20-25 pounds. This particular flat sat at just the right angle to the tide flow and was just large enough to stop a good quantity of fish and food in the outgoing tide. We saw numerous reds and several large black drum there. Now we had one pattern to look for in other areas and attempt to repeat.

We poled through several areas that looked similar, though none had quite the same layout. We found some smaller fish, that laughably would be considered on the bigger side back home in Galveston, but didn’t see as many big fish that would break 20 pounds. At this point it became evident that with the conditions we had, we would need to continue to find more protected and shallower water to continue to sight fish.

We checked a few shallower pond and lake areas, with some success, but finding any real concentration of feeding fish was not going well. We had our share of difficulties, dirty water and a pair of polarized glasses that got left in the truck, but we made the most of it and had a great time.

We knew that Sunday was going to be a great day as far as sun and wind conditions, and would be our best window of opportunity. Monday, would only be a half day, and weather conditions were supposed to be pretty good. As it often works out, when I woke up Monday morning, Conditions had worsened. Full cloud cover and increased wind. Nothing you can do except make the most of what you are given. Off we went, this time armed with a few places to start our hunt. Clouds, do not make sight fishing easy. And as you might imagine, we missed a lot more fish that we just couldn’t see until we were too close. We did manage a few fish and as we were nearing the end of our day, idling down shorelines working back towards the boat ramp we found a few reds and one more highly entertaining moment. I was standing on the casting platform with Alisha idling along and just looking for fish when we stumbled onto a small group of fish and the last fish of the day was sight cast with the outboard motor running. Made for a great laugh and a good ending to a short trip to the land of the giants.

Lots to be learned from trips like this. I find it fascinating how much fish act and feed in the same manner in totally different locations. Outgoing tides around marshes are always fun, they put fish on the move and create feeding situations that make for some great fishing. Moving prey species out into more open water where predators can easily attack. These tides generally move fish into areas where we can locate them and capitalize on their feeding. On incoming tides, look for fish to move farther into the reaches of the marsh and follow prey species to areas of safety. It is cool to see how much so these waters work on a parallel to the marshes closer to home for me. Though the area is vast and enormous compared to our marshes on the upper Texas coast, this place acts just like an overgrown Texas marsh, and once you start to look at it this way, becomes family easy to figure out.

With so many great destinations along the Gulf Coast, its just a matter of picking a spot where you want to go, spending a little time researching the area and go have some fun. I picked this area for its remote nature,(we only saw one other boat all day fishing similar water) and its notorious giant redfish. It only gets better on the southern fringe waters during winter if you want to go find giant redfish in relatively shallow water. There are fish there all year round, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Bottlenose dolphins are a regular sight and often you can sit and they will roll and play near your boat. If it’s time for a change of pace, grab a map, do a little research and go have some fun doing something completely different.

Hosted Trip to South Padre Island

November 3rd, 2019

big red 768x576 Hosted Trip to South Padre Island

Unbeatable fishing in South Padre Island, Texas.

 Hosted Trip to South Padre Island

Mariachi band played after an evening dove hunt.

By Capt. Dave Stewart

I spent the whole month of October in South Padre Island, Texas hosting 3 groups from the Carolinas to fish Laguna Madre waters. This area is beautiful, full of skinny flats with loads of grass that requires new techniques to tackle the huge prey that can hide in it. I solicited the help of several of our D.O.A. Lures guides to show these anglers are and techniques sticking trout, reds, flounder and tarpon. Weather as the cold fronts drop can and did hamper us a few days but that is the Lords will. You must adjust as our great guides did. My relaxation while anglers hit it with the guides. Oh – also had a private pool too. Great place to lounge and chill after day of fishing. I play chef – not but damn good cook! Breakfast lunch and supper every day. Suppers such as grilled pork roast, jambalaya, fish (plenty) and dove breast on grill. My big event is supper of local fare. I hired a local chef that cooks EVERYTHING from scratch – no cans. Real Mexican food at its best and believe me… she has great pleasure in cooking for us and you wont go away hungry. Hope leftovers are okay with ya!

The accommodations for the trip.

The jetties (a short run to the Rio Grande and the border) are full of mullet as the run is on. Tarpon, snook and loads of big reds hang in them. Weather dictates fish ability but awesome if can do. Inshore fishing in skinny waters hold trout and reds with a huge opportunity for BIG fish. 30″+ trout and huge schools of reds that we had up to 30”. If weather is right sight casting is a blast. Imagine casting at a huge school of over slot reds. Hook up in skinny water and hang on. No where to go but out or IN. watch the boat, say goodbye. Deeper water holds plenty and huge snook providing top water at its best. One a.m. trip hooked approximately 40 really nice snook.

I also arranged for 1 group to go dove hunting – off the shelf – limit out on big white wings full of sunflower seeds. They wanted a marichi band in the field after shoot with appetizers and beverages. Can and did do.

To top it off, they also wanted massages. Well, I can arrange it. I had a licensed massage therapist come rearrange their bones and muscles from the hard shooting and fishing.

South Padre Island is a great place to hold a team building or group trip – comradery at its best. Don’t come here just for this, beautiful area to sight see and relax on the Gulf beaches and such.

Until next time (maybe March), tight lines.

Capt Dave Stewart
KneEDeeP Custom Charters
www.pamlictackle.com

 

A beautiful snook that was landed while fishing with Capt. Brian Barrera.

Capt. Dave Stewart with a south Texas snook.

Capt. Ruby Delgado with an upper slot redfish.

Buggy Whippin: Galveston sight casting with Capt. Clay Sheward

November 1st, 2019

buggs lure redfish sheward Buggy Whippin: Galveston sight casting with Capt. Clay Sheward

Capt. Clay Sheward holds up a nice marsh redfish with a double spot tail.

Story and photography by Brandon Rowan

THE WATER IS STILL AND SO AM I. The redfish swims along a flat, that is painted with a palette of green sea grass and dull colored sand, unaware of our presence. On the bow of Capt. Clay Sheward’s skiff, I feel more like a hunter in a tree rather than a fisherman. The rod in my hand is the bow and the arrow is a hair-tied Buggs jig at the end of my line.

Clay gives the word and I make a light cast behind and ahead of the red. We can see everything in the water on this calm October morning. I reel quickly to intercept the moving fish and begin jigging to tempt what I hope is a hungry fish. My heart starts beating faster as the redfish inches closer and closer to my offering. Time thickens and that half  moment seems to last an eternity before the fish inhales the Buggs lure.

BEGINNINGS

Clay Sheward, 37, was born and raised in Spring, Texas. His passion for fly fishing started very early in life.

“I’ve been fly fishing for a really long time, since 1992, when the movie A River Runs Through It came out,” Clay said. “I saw that movie with my dad and that Christmas, my family provided me a fly tying kit and a fly rod.”

This film, which won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1993, is set in early 20th century Montana and follows a pair of brothers and their love of fly fishing. Many scenes in this movie do an excellent job of capturing the camaraderie of fishing; the tense moments before the catch and the  euphoria after the fact.

Clay cut his teeth fly fishing on the local ponds and creeks near the Woodlands, but as he grew older his love of fly fishing carried him to new locations.

“Mostly, I went to the Guadalupe and the White River in Arkansas. Sometimes my family would travel to Colorado. I didn’t get to do it a whole bunch but I would practice casting in the yard to teacups. Of course, I grew up and girls came along, but I always tied flies. I still do it regularly,” Clay said.

sheward fly fishing Buggy Whippin: Galveston sight casting with Capt. Clay Sheward

OCEAN CALLING

Eight years ago, Clay’s focus shifted from freshwater to saltwater fly fishing. First from a kayak, then to an Ankona ShadowCast 18 which served him and his customers well for several years. But in 2019, Clay was searching for his perfect skiff and finally found it.

“I run a 2019 Chittum Skiffs Laguna Madre with a 50HP Tohatsu. I couldn’t be happier. The trailer is gorgeous and it is such a really nice rig. I can’t believe that I have one. It’s just unbelievable,” Clay said.

The Chittum has expanded Clay’s range and clients of Buggy Whippin Sight Fishing enjoy access to the skinniest of waters in our area.

STUDENT OF NATURE

Clay’s love and careful examination of nature has paid dividends on the flats, where subtle, easily overlooked signs can tip off the location of fish.

“I like to watch animals. It doesn’t matter if it’s just me chilling in the backyard watching birds or hawks, or even seeing my dogs’ ears perk up when they catch a scent and chase it down,” Clay said. “Sitting stream-side, watching a trout circle behind a rock and then leave during changing cloud cover and then come back to the same spot several times a day. Or watching a spider build a web completely from start to finish. That sort of thing.”

Clay recently purchased a drone to better observe wildlife in the marsh. This eye in the sky lends a totally different point of view compared to a poling skiff.

“I’ve seen some crazy things with trout and redfish schooling up on the flats with the drone,” Clay said. “I’ve seen schools of redfish following one big alligator gar. Whatever the gar did, the redfish did the same. I’ve seen bobcats back there in Green’s Lake, as well as pigs. It’s educational as hell.”

Brandon Rowan with one of many redfish caught sight casting with Capt. Sheward.

TIME RETURNS TO NORMAL and I quickly bring my first sight-casted redfish to hand. I get a “Nice Job” and a fist bump from Clay after the release. The day is early and we continue our hunt for redfish along the sandy flat.

Stingrays, so many stingrays, hover along eeriely as we the glide down the shoreline. Flounder scoot away in a trail of punctuated mud puffs and gnarled, large crabs plod on slowly. This is my first time on a poling skiff and it 100% reminds me of flounder gigging. You are able to witness the abundant life of the bay, visually scanning until your target is located and then a careful approach begins. Unlike the rapid fire retrieves of blind fan casting, you often only get a single shot, like a sniper, when sight casting to a redfish.

Further down the flat, we have no problem tracking down more reds on this absolutely gorgeous day. Bronze backs and tails flick along the shorelines and shell points. Some of these we catch, others refuse the lure or fly, and others spook and run.

It felt like an entire day’s worth of fishing has happened but in reality only two hours have passed. But the day is young. We make a change, push off the flats and head back into the deeper recesses of the marsh.

This redfish absolutely crushed a Buggs Jig.

BUGGY WHIPPIN

Clients of Capt. Clay Sheward can expect to fish the maze of marshes and flats on the north shoreline of West Bay and the surrounding areas. There are opportunities to wade or even fish from shore. His Chittum Laguna Madre skiff has everything the fly angler could want and accommodates two fisherman.

However, you don’t need to know how to fly fish to enjoy sight casting for redfish. Catching these fish on light spinning tackle is still a blast and provides ample challenge. You will be thoroughly tested on how accurately and quickly you can place a cast.

“Scratch them on the chin” is what Clay advises when casting to a hungry redfish. It’s hard for them to resist an easy meal in front of their noses. An alternative method is to cast beyond and ahead of a fish, making sure you intercept its path.

No matter your tackle, stealth and speed are essential for success. Casts must be made quickly but delicately, without excessive movement. Heavy steps, twisting hips or any careless motion can rock the skiff and alert fish to your presence.

Clay does not sugar coat it. If you are doing something wrong, he will absolutely let you know. But the best teachers rarely coddle. Those ready to learn and listen have a high probability for an epic day of redfishing with Captain Clay Sheward.

Capt. Clay Sheward poles his Chittum Skiffs Laguna Madre along the flats.

KEEPING IT FLY

As a fledgling fly fisherman, I was eager to pick Clay’s brain on advice for those new to the sport.

“First, remember ‘Tip down, strip tight and everything will be alright,’” Clay said. “Second, if you feel like you need to go faster and harder, you probably need to go slower and softer, especially with a fly rod.”

Must-have flies include the Kwan, Clouser, Gurgler, spoon fly and any shrimp imitation with a weed guard. If Clay could only have one it would be the Kwan. He also recommends tying a loop knot, with as small a loop as possible, for most flies. He is an avid user of 16 and 20 lb tippets for his clients when targeting redfish on the upper coast. He is also a firm believer in casting whichever rod you are going to buy.

“Cast it and get what feels good to you. Redfish don’t need expensive fly reels. It’s nice to have, but not needed for reds in our area,” Clay said. “Gordy and Sons is one of the nicest fly shops in Houston. They’re no joke and the people that work there are extremely knowledgeable fly anglers.”

Although Clay’s all-time favorite fishing location is the Black Hills of South Dakota, his favorite fish to catch on the fly is the tripletail.

Umpqua’s Kwan fly, tied with bead chain eyes.

“Getting them to eat is the best because they are so stingy man! It’s got to be a perfect presentation,” Clay said. “You can get really close to them though and that gets the nerves going. I think that’s my favorite right now, but chasing a redfish with its back out of the water, and poling up to them…hunting them, that’s always going to be for me.”

THE SUN IS OUT NOW and we find ourselves deep in the marsh, floating along a back creek that is absolutely full of redfish. We glide over schools of erratic, frenzied bait as multiple big redfish cruise down the shoreline, picking them off lazily, one by one.

Clay’s oversized redfish.

It’s been several hours since we left the dock and I’ve honed in on what’s needed to effectively spot and cast to fish, thanks to Clay’s instruction.

We absolutely tore it up on that little stretch of water. After each fish caught and released, we seemed to spot another one right away. Clay caught an absolute beauty of a fish that taped out barely over 28 inches; a heartbreaker of a fish if it was a tournament day.

My favorite catch of the day was an upper slot redfish that came on a second chance. We had a pair of fish swim across our path that ignored the first presentation. They picked up speed and starting swimming away, no longer in sight. I flung out a far cast, as delicately as I could, and started jigging back to where I thought they might be. I knew I got it right when my reel’s drag started screeching.  After a rigorous fight, I brought the bronzed backed, pumpkin eyed fish in for a quick photo and release.

It was early in the afternoon but we decided to end the day on high note. The Chittum snaked its way through the marsh lanes as we made the scenic trek back to the dock. I was definitely impressed with the way the boat handled.  It took on chop with no issue, didn’t slide around the corners and granted us access to areas other poling skiffs couldn’t reach that day.

I’ve caught my fair share of redfish and I’ve got to say this was the absolute, most exciting way to catch them. If you have a background in kayaking, gigging or hunting, and you haven’t sight casted to redfish, you are missing out I’d say.

Summer and fall are Clay Sheward’s favorite times to be on the water but winter does have its perks.

“The water is so clear in the winter and it’s so fun. You can see everything on the bottom when you’re poling. You can learn so much, it’s incredible.”

Book a trip with Capt. Clay Sheward by visting buggywhippin.com, emailing claysheward@gmail.com or calling/texting 281-745-1578. Rates for two people max are 4 hours at $450, 6 hours at $550 and 8 hours at $650. Check him out on Instagram and Facebook @BuggyWhippin

Check out the heart shaped spot on Clay’s redfish!

Late Fall Galveston Bay Fishing

November 1st, 2019

red fish rach Late Fall Galveston Bay Fishing

Rachel Thevenet

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

Wow. It’s hard to believe that another year has passed. I wrote this article on the verge of Halloween, and finally the Upper Coast had its first passage of a “cold front.” Although not really cold, it at least got us out of summer-like temperatures and hopefully curtailed the remaining hurricane season. Tropical Storm Imelda, wreaked enough havoc in some places along the Upper Coast of Texas.

Prior to the arrival of Imelda, Galveston Bay was flourishing with speckled trout and redfish. The fish were being caught over the entire bay system. Then when everything was setting up for some outstanding late September and October fishing in Galveston Bay, torrential local rainfall and subsequent runoff curtailed the action. I am praying that this November and December, we see a return to a near normal weather pattern and end this year with some great fishing and catches.

big ug Late Fall Galveston Bay Fishing

Barry Lofton

I am optimistic that the fish will be caught from the traditional locations for this time of year. Trinity Bay should produce it’s fair share of speckled trout and redfish in November. Both shorelines in Trinity, depending upon the wind, will be excellent choices for those who like to wade and or boat fish. Jack’s Pocket should not be overlooked. The fish were there prior to Imelda!  Also in November, the shoreline between Eagle Point and April Fool Point, has always been productive, especially with a North-Northwest wind.

December, look for the fish to be transitioning to the Northwest reaches of our bay. Tabbs, Crystal, Scott and Burnett bays will all produce fish. This area offers shelter from the winds and provides the fish with deep water protection from severe cold fronts. One of the best stringers of fish I ever caught came from this area with air temperature hovering around 30 degrees. Clear Lake should not be overlooked during this month. Again, it offers the protection from the wind and allows the fish to slide off into deeper water in case of a severe temperature drop.

In November and December the flounder fishing is in full swing! The usual places should all produce excellent catches. The Galveston Harbor would be high on my list as the top spot. Of course, shorelines adjacent to major marsh drains, passes and the Galveston Jetties are also good.

Remember to take precautions this time of year. Check the weather and dress for the conditions. I highly recommend a waterproof/windproof jacket and carrying an extra set of dry clothing. Enjoy the Holidays and remember that the Houston Boat Show begins the first week of January. I will be there at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth during the show. Eagle Point should have plenty of live shrimp and mudfish for the angler.

Texas Ceviche Recipe

October 3rd, 2019

best ceviche recipe Texas Ceviche Recipe

 

By Brandon Rowan

This ceviche recipe uses lemon drop peppers, which have a citrusy and peach-like flavor that perfectly pairs with seafood. Their heat is comparable to the serrano pepper. I grow my own but you can find them at Fiesta or online. There are a couple different varieties of these yellow Peruvian Aji Limo peppers, all perfect for ceviche.

I used a fresh, surf-caught speckled trout for this ceviche recipe and it was honestly the best way I’ve ever had trout. I was surprised. But use your favorite, ultra-fresh fish when making ceviche. My all-time favorite fish is definitely wahoo.

Enjoy!

Lemon Drop Ceviche

  • 1 pound of your favorite, fresh fish fillets
  • 1 whole white onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3-4 lemon drop peppers, diced
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP dried parsley
  • Pepper to taste

Soak your fillets in lime juice overnight. The next day, cut the fish into small cubes and place into a large bowl. Mince the onion and rinse with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and add to bowl. Dice the tomatoes, avocado and peppers and add to mixture. Add cilantro, salt, parsley and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Mix well and chill for one hour. Serve with your favorite chips, cerveza or tequila.

 

Making Dreams Come True

October 1st, 2019

eric simmons Making Dreams Come True

Eric Simmons, owner of ES Custom Boats and Simmons Custom Rigging, builds high performance, shallow draft boats.

Eric Simmons of ES Custom Boats and Simmons Custom Rigging builds dream boats one hull at a time

By Brandon Rowan

In 2003, tournament angler and fishing guide Eric Simmons had a decision to make: continue guiding or focus on a dream of building his perfect boat. Fast forward sixteen years later, and Simmons is making others’ dreams come true with his shallow draft, ultra high performance boat, the Revolution.

“The Revolution series builds on our history of know-how,” Eric Simmons said. “We’re always evolving and building a better product.”

trophy trout trophies Making Dreams Come True

Eric’s tournament background played a role in the design of his high speed boats.

BIRDS BEFORE BOATS

Born and raised in Freeport, Eric’s first love was duck hunting and all he ever wanted to do. Needing something to do in the offseason, he later discovered a second love, fishing.

“As soon as I could, I got a boat and a truck and started fishing up and down the Texas Coast. I didn’t come from a big hunting or fishing family so I’m not sure where I got it from. But I loved it. I made a lot of good life long friends doing that,” Simmons said.

Eric was fortunate to be up-and-coming during a lot of the big Mickey Eastman Troutmasters style tournaments. These life experiences shaped his boat’s design.

“Tournament anglers like the Revolution. It’s a boat race with some fishing sprinkled in there, so we do cater to that,” Simmons said.

Through guiding and tournaments, Eric gained a lot of knowledge and insight on what he wanted to see in his perfect fishing boat. Slowly over time he realized what he was looking for didn’t exist. And despite no formal education in nautical design, he decided he was going to build his own. The rest is history.

“I am self taught, a student of the game. I had the desire and want to do it,” Simmons said.

ES Custom Boat’s Revolution is powered by Mercury Racing Outboards.

A LEAGUE APART

The Revolution is CAD designed and blends efficiency with shallow water capability. There’s a lot of shallow draft cats out there but that’s not what sets the Revolution apart.

“The handling characteristics of our boats stand alone,” Simmons said. “The performance and speed are in a different league. Our hulls have some of the best ride quality out there.”

The Revolution is made to order and a waiting list of 12-16 months is typical. But good things come to those that wait. Customers of ES Custom Boats have the privilege of truly crafting their dream boat from the ground up.

“We have a hull and deck mold, but the color, the way you lay it out, and your style of fishing has a lot to do with the end result, as well as your budget and imagination,” Simmons said. “It’s fun to do each one. They’re all a little bit different.”

Everything starts with an idea on paper. Once a plan is in place, the hull is created at the glass shop, gel coat is sprayed and the deck and fuel tanks are added. The hull then moves to the rigging shop where it stays for two to three weeks. Engines, electronics, aluminum work and any and all marine accessories are added. A Power-Pole shallow water anchor system is affixed to every boat. Eric prefers top-shelf, hand picked products from companies like Power-Pole, Simrad, Wet Sounds Audio and Mercury Racing.

The Revolution is outfitted with Simrad electronics.

“I am OEM with Mercury and Mercury Racing. I’ve always liked their product; it has given us an edge. They have a full array of factory props that work well with our boats. Sometimes with custom props you never know what you will get from one to the other,” Simmons said.

The Revolution also features high quality anodized Jack Plates from Bob’s Machine Shop in Florida. Theirs is a superior design; strong, simple and very fast. Eric prides himself on attention to detail and total control over quality.

“We do say no to certain ideas because we may have tinkered with it and realize it didn’t work. We like to keep control so there’s no oddball boats out there somebody isn’t happy with. We don’t go with who is going to give us the deal but who is going to give us the best results,” Simmons said.

The Revolution comes in two lengths, the 23 and 25. Both perform similarly and are a matter of preference. The 23 is preferred by solo anglers, smaller groups and those who don’t have the space to accommodate the 25.

THE FUN PART

Once work is completed in the rigging and aluminum shops, the boat is turned over to Eric.

“I get the fun part of water testing each one,” Eric said with a smile. “My job is to make sure she floats and quality control every little thing I can find.”

After that, the boat is detailed, another checklist is completed and she is out the door to a happy new owner. ES Custom Boats currently produces three boats a month but Eric’s goal for 2020 is to build a boat a week. And if that isn’t enough to keep them busy, Simmons Custom Rigging also outfits boats of other makes, with several aluminum or rigging jobs a year. The shop recently outfitted a bare hull Majek with a riser box, complete aluminum work and the console.

Another attractive aspect for customers of ES Custom Boats is the resale value. A lot of custom boats take a dive in value the second they leave the yard.

“Our resale value is extremely high,” Eric said. “A lot of my return customers have reported that they’ve broken even or made money when they sell. It’s not guaranteed but it seems to be the case out there.”

Eric Simmons with one of his custom coolers and “office security.”

FAMILY GUY

When Eric isn’t in the shop or tinkering with designs, he is passionate about his family.

“We like going out on the boat in the summer time,” Eric said. “We’re a boating family, that’s my biggest thing. I have three kids with my wife Candace; Hailey is 10, Cole is 12, and Olivia is 15 and has her driver’s permit.”

But with the kids back to school, Eric’s attention turns to his two favorite fishing targets, trout and redfish.

“I like winter time fishing. The bays are a lot quieter, there’s less people out there and you’re after a different caliber of fish. That’s what I really enjoy.”

For more information on building your dream boat, visit simmonscustomrigging.com or call the office at (832) 864-2331

Catch and Release Tips

September 1st, 2019

souleredfish Catch and Release Tips

Steve Soule releases a slot redfish with care.

Caring for your catch: Handling fish and releasing properly

By Steve Soule | www.ultimatedetailingllc.com

There are probably not many people reading this article or others in this magazine that don’t have a great respect of fish, wildlife and the great outdoors in general. I know that over many years of fishing and spending time on and around coastal waters, my appreciation of the natural beauty and numerous species it supports has only grown greater.

With the vast majority of us spending too many days in offices, stuck on highways, and staring at small screens, time spent outdoors only grows more precious. It has always felt like time well spent, whether fishing for fun or for money as a tournament angler or guide. Understanding the value of the natural resources we have and consciously working to ensure that we can continue to enjoy it for many generations to come is of paramount importance.

CHANGING OF THE BAY

For those that are younger, newer to an area, or just haven’t spent as much time along the coastal waters, change definitely won’t be so noticeable. For those who have been on and around the coast for 10, 20 or 30 more years, change is striking and often disturbing. Coastal development, land erosion, dredge work and many other factors affect the bays and waterways. Some of these factors are just a part of nature and will happen regardless of human impact. Others are a direct effect of our desire to be on or near the water and the need for infrastructure and transportation in and around waterways. Those of us on the upper Texas Coast utilize and enjoy one of the most heavily populated and heavily trafficked bays in Texas.

Galveston Bay has an uncanny ability to withstand catastrophic events and rebound amazingly well. With near constant dredge work, endless barge and ship traffic, an enormous amount of recreational users, run-off water that none of us want to know the content of, and an occasional spill or collision leaking hazardous chemicals into the system, its truly miraculous how abundant this fishery remains. Wildlife in and around Galveston Bay seems to somehow pull through many challenges. The diversity of the system plays a huge role in this; three major Gulf inlets(for the moment), numerous rivers, creeks and bayous that empty into it and vast satellite nursery areas around the bay provide habitat. Given these facts, plus the sheer size of the bay, fish and other sea creatures seem to thrive on their ability to move around the bay system under varying conditions.

Fish and their food sources move around the bay every year, for the reasons listed above and many others. Couple this fact with the not-always-great water conditions and the prospect of catching fish can become daunting. Kudos to those who have figured out how to consistently catch fish here or in any saltwater bay system, as it is often difficult.

doubleredfish Catch and Release Tips

Clay Sheward and Rick Spillman with a double hookup on redfish.

STEWARDSHIP

Having fished the upper coast for a little over 30 years now, I’ve experienced good and bad. I’ve had more tough days of fishing than I care to admit or recall. I’ve found some great success, and always tried to keep track of how and why, so that I could hopefully repeat those days. I’ve seen some staggering changes and of course developed some very strong opinions based on years of observation.

Though I do eat fish from time to time, and killed more fish in the past for tournaments than I wish that I had, I have come to a point where I only take fish that I can eat that day. I have two primary reasons for this: first, I can assure you that fresh fish tastes much better than frozen. Second, for me, the enjoyment of fishing has always been about the chase and pleasure of fishing and catching them, rather than eating them.

There are laws in place designed to help control and maintain the fish populations that do a reasonably good job of ensuring that we will be able to enjoy the resource for many years to come. Each and every licensed fisher in the state is entitled to participate and enjoy consumption within those laws.

I’m not going to advocate change, though I was pleased when TPWD announced the reduction in speckled trout bag limit this year. I believe that decision will help overall populations. What I would really like to address isn’t the laws, changes to them or enforcement of them. I am of the opinion that those who most frequently use the resource, especially those who make their living from our fisheries, are the ones with the greatest responsibility to maintain the resource and teach future generations.

This group of people, in many cases, knows the condition of the habitat and fishery better than the politicians and lawmakers that govern over it. I have heard many different ideas and opinions about regulations and changes to them and how they will affect guides and commercial fishers. Probably the largest impact that can be controlled is that of the recreational fishing industry.

As a guide, I would say it is in your best interest to encourage that people only take the fish they plan to eat within a short period of time. Definitely, do not catch an additional limit and keep for your customers, since this has been a law for many years now. And as a steward of the fishery and in the interest of ensuring you have fish to catch in the future, encourage catch and release. Trust me, your customers book you because they enjoy fishing with you and respect your knowledge and want your guidance. They aren’t showing up because they have found the best way to feed their families. And yes, they will continue to come back to fish as long as there are fish to catch.

Now that we have jumped onto the catch and release train, we can start thinking about the impact we have there. I’ve spent a lot of years fishing primarily catch and release and have learned a lot about how to make sure fish survive and swim away healthy. I’m going to list some very basic rules to help make sure that are efforts are rewarded with a thriving population of fish.

TIPS FOR CATCH & RELEASE

  • Fight fish quickly to help reduce stress and exhaustion effects
  • Minimize the time fish are out of the water. They can’t breathe when there isn’t water passing their gills!
  • Avoid putting fish in contact with dry surfaces. It removes their protective slime. (wet hands to grab, keep off of hot boat decks)
  • If you can, release the fish without removing from the water.
  • Hold fish horizontally when out of the water. They don’t have support for internal organs so holding vertically can cause damage.
  • If possible, don’t hold fish by lips or jaws. ( Lipping and weighing devices that hold fish by lip or jaws can cause serious damage to connective tissue around the jaw.
  • Always attempt to revive fish by holding in water by the tail until they can swim away strongly.
  • If you’re going to measure a fish, wet the ruler.
  • Don’t force the jaws of a fish to overextend with lipping tools

A FEW MORE THOUGHTS

Fish are fairly durable and can handle being caught and released, but limiting adverse effects helps to make sure our efforts aren’t in vain. Making the effort to encourage and practice catch and release among recreational anglers and guides will almost certainly have a bigger impact on fisheries than regulations. I’ve never been one to believe that government knows or can react fast enough to be the best steward of resources. I firmly believe that as recreational users of the fishery, we stand to lose the most so we should work to maintain it. Killing 30 fish for your customers may be your right, but posting pictures of dead fish in a cooler or on the deck of your boat probably isn’t the best way to market how you help to keep our fishery strong.

Just because you have the opportunity to fish every day, doesn’t mean you should kill fish every day. One day you may just run out of fish. Killing a big trout or redfish for food isn’t great; expect parasitic worms and mushy trout fillets. Plus, the giant rib cage of a bull red yields much less meat than expected. These fish are also important spawners and make future fish generations possible. The same does not apply to flounder fillets, but we do need to maintain a strong breed stock.

Short sided planning around your love of fishing will likely lead to long term disappointment in your catching.

Fins & Feathers

September 1st, 2019

IMG 4291 1024x575 Fins & Feathers

By Capt. Joey Farah

Marbled skies of fall color hold waves of waterfowl, and hover over some of the best bay fishing in the world. Here in Texas we are blessed to enjoy the harvest basket of winter sports. Combining fins and feathers brings days of duck hunting and fishing together. Hunting waterfowl can be a excellent and easy way to introduce youth and inexperienced hunters to the hunting sports. For seasoned hunters, the beauty and strategy of the hunt, and the game taken fulfill the wild spirit in each of us. This winter come experience hunting and fishing the right way; cast and blast Texas style!

joeyfarah 1024x768 Fins & Feathers

Fall and winter prove to be some of the best fishing of the year.

CAST FOR FINS

The bays come alive with coastal gamefish as air and water temperatures drop. Deeper water and softer bottoms hold smaller creatures that help get these fish through the winter months. Shrimp, crabs, mud worms, clams and mollusks, are just some of the building blocks of the food chain. Small minnows, baitfish and sport fish follow. These gatherings, and favorable water conditions, group winter fish in areas that fishermen can enjoy some awesome catching.

Strong cold fronts may seem like a good time to stay inside and dream about boiling hot summer days on the water, but then you’ll miss some of the best fishing of the year! Whipping winds roll the bottom and bring up those hidden food sources. Redfish, trout and black drum go into a feeding frenzy with each cold front. The first day or two is usually the best; those beautiful sunny third and fourth days are usually too pretty and fishing slows. The colder the water gets, the longer it takes fish to digest their meals. This can make feeding patterns predictable but spread out. Watching the lunar feeding tables will help anglers score the right times to be on the water. Here in the Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay Area we find some of our best fishing both close and far from the dock. The flats of the Laguna Madre hold an enormous amount of bait, which migrates into the ICW Canal when it gets cold. Schools of gamefish follow, putting all those fish in one area.

We work the edges of the drop off with soft plastics for some of the most insane trout and redfish action you have ever seen! Fall bait favorites are easily the 3” DOA CAL Shad. This is the perfect imitation of a small pinfish or mud minnow. Colors should include pumpkinseed/chartreuse, purple/chartreuse, blood red and glow. The larger 5” Jerk Shad is my go-to bait for big trout in the shallows with a light 1/16 oz. DOA jighead. This combination floats and flutters like a sand eel looking for any way out of becoming a meal! The 3 and 5” DOA jerk baits also fit the bill. They imitate both a fleeing minnow as well as the sand eel profile.

The best time to hook up on the hard fighting, great tasting black drum is now! The schools of drum gather during the winter months to feed on small clams and crab. We bring in limits of these fish all winter. Live shrimp works best, as well as crab and sea lice. The absence of trash fish and pin perch during the winter months makes fishing with shrimp much easier. The rock piles of Baffin Bay and the fish funnel to the south the Land Cut, are famous for their winter fishing greatness. We anchor up on those big rock piles and use live shrimp deep under popping corks to load the box with drum, trout, and reds.

When the temperatures really drop low, we find redfish fall off of the flats by the thousands into the deeper holes. Catching big redfish every cast can be an out of body experience! Last winter we had one morning where we brought 60 redfish to hand with three anglers in about three hours! Don’t let the heater keep you out of the best fishing of the year this winter, come experience miles of grassy flats boiling with excitement.

Texas Coastlines host over 20 species of waterfowl, each very beautiful. Photo: Joseph Farah

BLAST FOR FEATHERS

Like a squadron of fighter jets, the flock of descending ducks rounded the blind and cupped in for a landing. As their feet opened for the landing, fire erupted from the line. The lead birds dropped and a few more pops dropped two more. As the ripples stretched across the sky mirrored surface, my dog leaped across the flat for the first feathered trophy of the morning.

Big game hunting is expensive and puts the stress and buildup into one shot, one trophy. Waterfowl hunting is about ACTION! Diverse species are found with each duck specialized in its own way for feeding and flying. Colors like the most beautiful skies highlight their body in a rainbow of beauty. Young hunters can grasp gun safety, responsible shooting and hunting, as well as the idea of taking a life much easier, with waterfowl versus big game hunts.

The fact that I have the best and biggest, most comfortable duck blinds makes gathering friends and family much easier. We make it easy for you to hunt hard. My clients are still high and dry in days of rain and 40 mph north winds

We usually hunt some big sets with over 250 decoys for a mixed bag and lots of action. We use smaller, more specific set ups for trophy birds and particular species. Advanced hunters are usually looking for their favorite species; this is a lot of fun hunting and setting up for that perfect trophy bird for the mount. It is sometimes hard to convince the wife to hang big deer heads on the walls. Beautiful birds go up easier in the house and office.

Ducks have some defining patterns that you must consider on the hunt. They eat, fly, rest, drink and roost. As a group, inside the region there will be some ducks doing all of these things at any given time. Ducks also trade places between the areas they do this. We hunt all day! Don’t be fooled into going in after 9 a.m! Many times you will be missing the best activity. Much like fish, the lunar feeding tables mirror their activity. They will be feeding at peak times, but traveling and landing in your decoys before and after those peak times.

Ducks always want to land with the wind in their face. Hunt where they want to be, and not were you want them to be. Birds of a feather flock together holds true. Species will land and sit with their own kind even in flocks of thousands. Motion decoys in your spread can make or break you, so don’t be set in your ways. Make changes with the actions of the birds. Calling can bring ducks in from afar, or scare them away. Soft calling is best. We don’t have a lot of loud and vocal mallards here on the coast!

This winter come experience the beauty of the Texas coast with some fins and feathers! We will be here to help you start off right and make every adventure a success. Hunt smart and safe and always be a good ambassador of the hunting community.

We can accommodate the smallest and largest groups, just like welcoming you into my home. Get out and enjoy the best hunting and fishing in the world, right here in Texas! Follow all our blasts and casts on Facebook AT JOEY FARAH’S BACKWATER FISHING or call 361-442-8145.

Cast and blast events are perfect for group entertainment! Photo: Joseph Farah

Texas Grand Slams and Trophy Trout

September 1st, 2019

andy 1024x683 Texas Grand Slams and Trophy Trout

Capt. Andy Salinas with a lonestar linesider that fell for a D.O.A. 4” Shad Tail in 455 Texas Croaker.

luis flandes 880x1024 Texas Grand Slams and Trophy Trout

On his fourth cast of the day, Capt. Luis Flandes III landed this 28+ in. trout on a D.O.A. 4” Jerk Bait in 455 Texas Croaker. Safely released to fight another day.

Two days of fishing the Lower Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures results in remarkable fishing

Story and photos by Kelly Groce

DAY 1
After D.O.A. Lures creator Mark Nichols, Capt. Andy Salinas, videographer Johnny Lu and myself attempted to each eat a delicious breakfast burrito larger than the size of my head from Manuel’s Restaurant, we hit South Bay in South Padre Island in search of fish.

As Capt. Andy Salinas began to set our drift, I rigged up my go-to lure and color, which is a 4” jerk bait in the color 441 Figi Chix. I swear trout can’t refuse this lure, because it didn’t take long to start catching them. I saw jack crevalle hammering shrimp right behind the boat. I threw my lure towards the disturbance and got to have a fun fight with one. Next cast, a snook came speeding at my lure and my favorite sound on earth ensued… my reel peeling drag. I used 1 lure and caught 3 different species; trout, jack crevalle and snook.

Andy, Mark and Johnny all caught plenty of slot snook, redfish and flounder on 4” shad tails. The tail on those lures have amazing action that fish can’t look past.

We ended the day working a deep channel and catching black drum along the bottom. Between all of us, we caught a Texas grand slam which is a redfish, trout, flounder and snook. Not a bad day of fishing I’d say.

DAY 2
A summertime cold front blew through, so the day started out overcast and on the cooler side. On the ride out, Capt. Luis Flandes III, Mark Nichols, Cindy Nguyen and myself had all agreed that the surroundings looked like a winter day in Texas.

We began fishing a gin clear flat. On Capt. Luis Flandes’ fourth cast he hooked up to a stud 28+ in. trout. He was throwing a 4” jerk bait in the fish catching color 455 Texas Croaker. Winter-like conditions resulted in a trophy trout. After a fish like that, can the day get much better? Why yes it can. We moved to a grassy flat and Luis was plucking redfish out left and right using a Root Beer/Chartreuse jerk bait. Cindy and I doubled up on two pretty redfish, mine being the most orange colored red I have ever seen.

The fishing in South Padre is awesome. To get in on the action contact either one of these great guides, Capt. Andy Salinas or Capt. Luis Flandes III on Facebook. Thanks again for 2 great days of fishing. Tight lines!

Myself, Mark Nichols and Cindy Nguyen with 2 redfish we doubled up on using a 4″ Jerk Bait in Root Beer/Chartreuse and Texas Croaker. Photo: Capt. Luis Flandes III

Mark Nichols and Capt. Luis Flandes III enjoying a good day of fishing.

Capt. Andy Salinas with a black drum he caught on a D.O.A shrimp rigged backwards.

With one lure color, Figi Chix, I caught snook, trout, and jack crevalle. Photo: Johnny Lu

Capt. Luis Flandes had the hot hand this day of fishing.

I dare you not to laugh while on a trip with Mark Nichols.

 

Galveston Bay Fishing September: A Season of Change

September 1st, 2019

fish eagle point Galveston Bay Fishing September: A Season of Change

Mark Leaseburge caught redfish, trout and pompano with Capt. David Dillman.

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

Do we see the change from 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 Galveston Jetties

September 1st, 2019

jettywreck The Galveston Jetties

A Double Edged Sword for Anglers

By Capt. Joe Kent

The Galveston Jetties are comprised of two sets of Granite Rocks known as the North and South Jetties that extend close to five miles out from shore. The South Jetty is located on the Galveston side while the North Jetty has its home on the Bolivar side.

The jetties were built to protect the Galveston/Houston Ship Channel from erosion and wind in order to keep the entrance to Galveston Bay open for all vessels.  Construction began in the late 1800s and was completed around the beginning of the 20th century.

The jetties brought a new dimension to fishing, as the rocks attracted all types of crustaceans and fin fish.  Early on, anglers would catch grouper, mackerel and even red snapper along the rocks.  Tarpon were also plentiful for jetty fishermen.

While most of those species are rarely found around the jetties any longer, the rocks continue to attract a wide variety of both inshore and offshore fish as well as fishermen.

While the virtues of fishing are high on the benefits offered by the jetties, there are dangers that lurk.  Early on the most common fatality came from small boats rounding the end of the North Jetty to fish the Gulf side.  Many times the attendant at the South Jetty Lighthouse would call in a distress report after observing a small boat capsizing in the turbulent waters at the end of the North Jetty.

For that reason and others, a cut was constructed in the North Jetty not far from shore and was and still is called the North Jetty Boat Cut.  It too added another dimension for fishing and safety for boaters.

For years, the greatest peril facing jetty fishermen in boats were the strong currents found along the channel side of both jetties.  Often the current would change so rapidly that boaters did not have time to react and found their boat pushed into the rocks with major damage resulting.  Wakes from large vessels also were potential trouble makers and while those perils continue to exist, boaters are more aware of them today.

In recent years still another danger has emerged and that has been caused by the subsidence of the century old granite rocks.  This has been a gradual process; however, the sinking continues.

Today, the submerging rocks are probably the greatest of the perils.

I have fished the jetties for well over 50 years and recall my early offshore fishing days when I would return from a trip and see the jetties from at least five miles away.  Today, that is not the case, as the rocks do not become clearly visible until within a mile or less.

The big dangers come in poor light such as night time navigation or in the early morning hours.  For several years now multiple mishaps have occurred where captains misjudged the end of the jetties and crashed into the rocks.  The picture accompanying this article is a good example and was taken in August of this year.

During periods of higher than normal tides, such as during storm tides associated with events in the Gulf, much of the jetties are under water or barely above the surface.

While it is not feasible to raise the rocks or economical to add new layers, there are things that can and should be done.  First and foremost is adding lights or lighted buoys along both jetties.

Signs also would help alert newcomers about the dangers.

While these suggestions might not eliminate all tragedies, they would be a major step and could save some lives and preserve this iconic fishing territory for generations of anglers to come.

Fisherman’s Paradise: The Florida Everglades

July 1st, 2019

DSC 0693 1024x683 Fishermans Paradise: The Florida Everglades

Capt. Ruby Delgado with the first snook of our trip caught on a Savage Gear topwater. Photo by Kelly Groce

61106226 2474210565924667 2953527436114919424 n 300x271 Fishermans Paradise: The Florida Everglades

This is the view surrounding each key island in the Everglades. A school of tarpon swam by shortly after this photo was taken.

By Kelly Groce

The Florida Everglades is a dream land for any angler. Its pristine waters, remote location and wide range of wildlife will have any fisherman questioning their flight back home before the trip is even over. With no cell phone service and miles upon miles of crystal clear flats glistening with shark fins in the distance, the opportunity to catch a bucket list or fish of lifetime are around every corner. I left that day with a new species to add to my list; my first tarpon.

Cindy Nguyen, Capt. Ruby Delgado and myself spent the first few hours of the day catching snook and speckled trout on a variety of Savage Gear topwaters thanks to Sam Root who poled us around on his Maverick skiff. The sloppier we worked our topwaters, the more the snook couldn’t resist it. Fishing with a topwater has to be one of my favorite approaches, especially when it’s for snook.

Sam Root had to get in on the snook topwater bite from his poling platform.

After eating lunch with a breath taking view of gin clear water, Sam poled us around a small key island. I pitched my small swim bait next to the grass beds. As my bait starts to drop down, a couple of 30 inch tarpon emerge from under the beds. I slowly start reeling it in and one takes my bait. He did an acrobatic dance for me as I shouted with excitement and high fives ensued. The silver king is a stunning fish to see.

In one day we saw schools of tarpon, manatees, snook, speckled trout, redfish, grouper, mangrove snapper, barracuda, stingrays, alligators, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, and more. Exploring the Everglades is like something out of a Hemmingway book; pure adventure. Its untouched beauty should make it a top place for any fisherman to visit.

Cindy Nguyen’s first cast of the day resulted in this beautifully spotted trout.

Our morning greeting to the beautiful Florida Everglades.

Ruby suggested I work my topwater a little sloppier and immediately I caught this snook.

Retro Lessons In Summer Fishing

July 1st, 2019

farahtrout Retro Lessons In Summer Fishing

Big trout can still be caught in the heat of summer!

By Capt. Joey Farah

361-442-8145 Capt. Joey Farah’s Backwater Adventures

In the frantic rush of summer live bait fishing, many proven lessons for summer success are passed by. Those long days of our youth were filled with adventures and memories. Today it seems like a rush to get out and then get in. Slow it down and turn up the heat on your summer fishing this year! Here are a few not quite forgotten, but tried and true summer strategies to bring trout, reds, and flounder to hand!

Big Trout

First light is the best time to find big summer trout. Protected shorelines will be clean of floating grass, allowing anglers to dance top water plugs over skinny grass flats, shallow rocks and oysters. Big mature trout will be hunting their last meal before retreating to cover and deep water at first light.

A topwater bait imitates a wounded mullet or shad chased up against a shoreline by packs of trout during the night. Throw plugs that you can see at a distance; visual awareness is essential in timing your hookset, as well as aligning your technique with the soul of the ocean. Look for flats where there are signs of baitfish. Surface action, birds and good tidal flow are a good start. Later in the day, move towards deeper drop offs with smaller soft plastics like the 3”DOA CAL SHAD in natural color patterns, imitating pin perch for all-day action.

farahflounder Retro Lessons In Summer Fishing

Summer flounder are great targets around piers and docks, this flat fatty was jigged up on a DOA 3” CAL Shad glow/pink.

Flatfish

Fantastic summer flounder fishing can be as close as the dock you are standing on! Flounder are mostly a strategic ambush predator. They love to position themselves along the pilings of piers and docks. This is where small shrimp and minnows gather. They will lay just down current of the posts waiting for you to jig a small soft plastic along their sight path.

Step carefully so you don’t rock the dock and to keep your presence unknown. Flounder seem to be more aggressive towards bright colors. White, chartreuse, and pink have always been a coastal favorite. An old timer once told me never use a black net, always a green one! Black nets will send flounder on a bolting run as it looks like a dolphin. They seem to swim right into a green one.

Summer Redfish

Summertime belongs to the redfish! Chasing redfish during these long summer days can be an all day event. First light finds them digging and hunting the extreme shallows for crabs, shrimp and small baitfish. Before the sun gets bright and the shadows of birds spook surface mullet, anglers will find reds up so shallow that their tails will be cutting the surface, alerting us to their location. Walking side current will allow you to sneak up on them and project a perfect cast ahead of them.

My best baits are the DOA Shrimp and soft plastics rigged with a very light 1/16 oz. jig head, both for silent and natural sounding entry. Sight casting for reds will teach many lessons in how fish react to fishermen. At times you will watch redfish bolt towards lures at first sight, but most of the time they are very spooky and dart away from loud baits hitting the water. Cast well past the fish and bring the bait into their path. Redfish usually have a two foot sight awareness in front of them. They are used to scanning for food sources jumping up in front of their faces.

As the sun rises, switch to topwater plugs and make grid pattern casts over the flats. Scattered redfish will explode on the plugs, and allow anglers to cover large areas of water. Remember, redfish have bottom facing mouths. This means they must pounce down or turn over to get the bait off of the surface. I always let them bend the rod tip before I set the hook with topwater plugs.

The best and time proven bait for summertime redfish is the gold spoon! This lure perhaps dates back to the beginning of mankind, as bone and shell tied together to bring fish to hand and mouth. The flash and vibration of the glittering spoon awakes redfish from their resting places in thick grass. It imitates both the flash of perch and mullet, but mainly persuades them it is a fleeing crab, their favorite meal. I work my spoons with a fast retrieve with hard jerks and flutters. I adjust my presentation as needed to a light fluttering and stroking of the spoon over the bottom as well. You need to be loose and try new techniques to match the aggression and moods of the reds.

Target areas void of boat traffic, with grass and sand mixed bottom. Most redfish will be found in areas containing a good variety of bird life. Each species feeds on different things; a variety of birds means a buffet of redfish food!

Skip the bait stands and get a head start on your SUMMER FISHING! These lessons passed down from anglers of our past still hold true to our hearts and stringers here along the Texas Gulf Coast. Head out with a few pockets full of these specialized baits, concentrate on fishing and leave your stress on the beach. Summertime memories seem to last forever long past our last casts.

Whose water is this?

June 29th, 2019

sheward fish on Whose water is this?

Captain Clay Sheward starting the morning hooked up in the marsh.

Consideration and knowledge goes a long way for on-the-water etiquette

By Capt. Steve Soule

Every single one of us who boats, kayaks, fishes, goes sight seeing, jet skiing, wading or any other use of public waters has come from a different place or perspective. Some are very experienced, others have little to no experience. Each and every one of us has a different view of the resource that we share. None of us are wrong or right, though we may be highly opinionated or have well founded thoughts and beliefs. We all have a right to the use of the resource, and we all have the shared responsibility to respect and maintain what we have.

If you search the internet, or speak to people who utilize the bays and waters of the Texas Coast, or any other for that matter, you will find no shortage of opinions and arguments regarding how we come in contact with each other on the water. Over time, we start to develop the belief that we are right or someone else is wrong. This may or may not be true or correct, but we tend to believe that our way of utilizing the resource may be better than the next person’s plan.

Does a fishing boat have any more right to be in an area than a jet skier? Does a poling skiff have the right of way on a flat over a tower boat? Does a wade fisher have more right to be in a spot than a boat drifting? I believe that it is safe to answer all of those questions, and many other similar scenarios with a resounding no!

There isn’t any one of us who takes advantage of our right to access public water that has special privileges that others do not. Now, with that said, consideration of others must come into play, along with some knowledge and understanding of how your actions may impact others around us, we can all enjoy the resource.

Knowledge

In nearly every case where someone is upset with another person on the water, ignorance, or lack of knowledge is the primary issue. I don’t use the term ignorance in a derogatory manner, but truly in the sense that there is a lack of knowledge or information that causes the perceived infringement on another.

There are most definitely some cases where people act in malice towards others, either because they don’t care or they believe they have some right. For those who do this, I can only suggest that you consider the consequences. Imagine if every time a boater, or anyone on the water took revenge on every person they believed had done them wrong. Likely this will not resolve the problem, nor will it allow any involved to enjoy the water as they had planned.

Let take a look at perspectives, and knowledge of others and what they are doing. Maybe goals on the water and what would be required to achieve them. For most of us that fish, having a productive spot to ourselves, without a boat coming inside of 100 yards sounds like a good thing. In some case it may take even more room than that to keep the spot producing. This is very different than what a jet skier would want. For them it would be fun to have boats running nearby so that they can jump wakes. A very different view of how to spend time on the water and easy to see how conflicts could arise.

A wading angler, walking quietly down a shoreline, has a plan of stealthily approaching fish, and if skilled, could easily stay within casting range of fish for long periods. A drifting boat of anglers, no matter how careful, will always make more noise and spook more fish. If you haven’t spent time in clear or very shallow water, this may not have ever occurred to you. After a lifetime of fishing in both shallow and clear water situations, I can tell you that the noises we make in boats definitely alert fish to our presence and reduce our chances of catching them.

The Lateral Line

Every single thing that moves in the water, no matter how big or small, creates a pressure wave. This is like a sound signature, and tells every animal with a lateral line that there is something nearby. Most fish, can judge the size of the object or animal making the pressure wave in total darkness. This sense is one of many that keep fish safe from harm.

Once we are aware of this, and look for its impact on our fishing, we can see that even a wader can send out pressure waves and make noises that alert fish to our presence. Often this can be why one person catches fish while another nearby does not. Given that fish can so accurately “feel” sounds or movements that can indicate the presence of danger. If fish can be spooked by a wader or a quietly drifting boat, you can only imagine the reaction to a boat running through the shallows at 20 or 30 miles per hour. Sheer panic is the immediate reaction to such loud noises.

If you fish shallow water long enough, you will without a doubt, witness this first hand. In many cases the cause isn’t intentional. I seriously doubt that we haven’t all sped across a flat, through a marsh or down a shoreline looking for signs or trying to reach a destination spot, never really giving thought to fish along the way. It’s probably not that anglers have a blatant disregard for fish or fishery, but likely that we haven’t fully considered the impact of our actions.

Common Sense and Courtesy

With the ever increasing numbers of people enjoying the bays and lakes, comes greater potential of encroaching on others. Every situation is different and some are more avoidable than others. Classically the case of channels or passes from one area to another create challenges for passing boaters. Neither has any greater right or privilege, though common courtesy goes a long way.

It doesn’t really matter whether you are operating a boat, kayak, jet ski or even wading quietly, public waters are a first come first served playground, and we all want to be able to enjoy the discoveries we have found without unwanted interruptions.

Its hard to say there is any set of rules regarding distances or behavior that govern us on the water. It is however safe to say that if we all give the same consideration that we would ask, time on the water would be much more pleasant. Taking the time to understand and respect the intentions of others on the water isn’t hard and will likely yield the same respect in return. It only takes a brief moment to determine the direction a boat is drifting or poling, or the direction waders are walking, and shift your course to avoid cutting them off.

Public waters are a source of enjoyment for many varied groups; a resource that needs respect and consideration. I have no doubt that we as users of the resource can collectively do a much better job of managing that which we all love, than politicians could ever dream of. Our first hand knowledge provides a view that can’t be seen from an office and an understanding that can only come from experience. The responsibility to be the stewards, falls on each and every user, and the better we can self maintain, the less the likelihood of misguided bureaucratic management.

Fish and fisheries are not an endless resource. Having the right to run a boat basically anywhere we want doesn’t mean its always the best thing to do. Just like having the right to kill our legal limits of fish every day would not be a good way to preserve the fishery.

As much pleasure as we find in our time on the water, we probably all have the same desire to pass this along to the next generation. With a little thought and consideration, we can not only enjoy our time on the water, but also leave it in great shape so that generations to come can experience it as well.

The Good, Bad and Ugly

June 29th, 2019

dillred The Good, Bad and Ugly

James R “Chezo” Cesarini, PE.

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

As a writer, sometimes we suffer from what is known as “ writer’s cramp.” Coming up with material is not as easy as one would think. I always try to pen something that keeps my readers engaged. I definitely suffered through writer’s cramp, for this July/August article. This writing will focus on events that happened in May, first “the bad and ugly” and then “the good,” as I try to remain positive!

On the afternoon of May 10, 2019 a tug, pushing two barges, and a tanker collided in the Houston Ship Channel. The incident lead to the barge spilling a estimated 9,000 barrels of a substance called reformate. This caused a total closure of the channel, along with a seafood consumption advisory for the middle and upper portions of Galveston Bay. How an accident like this can happen is anyone’s guess. The “saving grace” is that this product floats and it evaporates quickly. Once it is gone from the water, there is no long term effect on environment or marine life. Couple this with the ITC fire earlier this spring and it has been eventful for the upper portion of Galveston Bay.

dilltroutdrum The Good, Bad and Ugly

Eagle Point VIP Robert Drew

Then if all this was not enough, Galveston Bay received a large dumping of fresh water from Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston. Then to top it off, we had sustained winds from the E-SE gusting at times to 25 knots for over two weeks. This of course did not allow the bay system to “flush” the water out through the Galveston jetties. The salinity levels dropped to below 5 parts per thousand in many areas, except in far East Bay, Lower Galveston Bay, the Jetties and West Bay. Now enough of “the bad and ugly,” and onto the “good!”

The “good” to all this is that the bay is slowly but finally clearing up! Fishing has and will continue to be good in those areas not effected by the runoff. The big question is when will fish return to their normal pattern in Galveston Bay? Fish naturally return to the same areas year in and year out. Every incoming tide from now on will push the fish into their “normal areas” for July and August. These areas include the shell reefs of the channel, adjacent gas wells and some areas of Trinity Bay. These fish will even push farther North towards the middle of August, barring any kind of major weather system. Other “good” news is the bait situation at Eagle Point Fishing Camp is getting better. By July their live bait supply should be great, with both shrimp and croaker. Also if your in the mood for some fresh table shrimp, fresh off the boat, give them a call. They can be reached at 281 339-1131 for fishing updates, bait supply and table shrimp.

Max Conner

June 29th, 2019

max conner snook Max Conner

Max Conner with a TANK of a snook.

The young tournament winner on what it’s like growing up on Galveston and what’s next for the future

Where did you grow up and how did fishing become a big part of your life?

I have grown up with my grandfather; just two of us. As long as I can remember, we’d commute from Houston to Galveston EVERY weekend to go fishing.  Often, we’d fish all night on 61st Street or Jimmy’s Pier on the Seawall and travel home again on Sunday night.

In 2012, my grandfather changed careers and accepted a job on the island so we could move here and I could pursue my passion for fishing!  Our first Christmas after relocating, he bought me a kayak. I waded, yakked, and surf fished year round. Saltwater is truly in my soul.

max tarpon Max Conner

Do you have an all-time favorite catch or fishing moment?

I will always remember my first tarpon. I was 14 and had been fishing Bob Hall Pier in Corpus all weekend.  We went all night without a bite so I was set to fish the morning. I had a group of kids tell me that they saw a couple of fish roll in the morning, so I was determined. I was on the pier by 6 a.m. and hooked my

first fish by 6:15 a.m. but it jumped the hook. Shortly after, I threw at another one and hooked it good. I fought the fish for 10 minutes or so before netting it. It measured around 42 inches.

What’s your favorite species to catch?

Setting the hook on big trout will always be the best feeling. However, this past summer we fished for snook in Southern Florida for about a week and that definitely sealed the deal. We caught a dozen fish in the 35” to 43” range.

Favorite place you’ve ever fished?

Without a doubt my favorite place I’ve ever fished was Sanibel Island, Florida. The snook bite was incredible and we got to fly fish for tarpon in the mangroves, which has always been on my bucket list.

If you had to have only one lure, what would it be?

I’d say Down South Lures with no hesitation. It’s the most universal bait on the market. You can throw them in any kind of water and in any weather condition.

Tell us about your sponsors.

At age 14, soon after our move to the island, I met Hunter Welch of Fishstix.  We just hit it off and he began to build my rods.  Louis Thomas, of Black Marlin Rods, has built my shark rods.  Jason Paul with Stinky Pants fishing began to support me early on too.  Michael Bosse with Down South Lures has been a tremendous friend and sponsor too.

What are you studying in school and what are your plans after graduation?

I will be a Freshman at Texas A&M Galveston beginning in July. My degree is Maritime Administration. I’d like to either have my own business or work on the rigs when I graduate college.

Aside from fishing, what else are you passionate about?

Bird hunting is my second passion. Last year we added a beautiful black lab puppy to our family.  She’s now 11 months old, 70 pounds and loves to be on the water and bird hunt.

What else should we know about you?

I am thankful for my grandfather and the opportunities that he has provided for me.  He has sacrificed much for me to live near the water and chase my dreams.  I’ve been blessed and would like to always pay it forward.

Silver Kings and More On South Padre Island

June 29th, 2019

tarpon lee Silver Kings and More On South Padre Island

Capt. Lee Alvarez with a 100 lb tarpon caught near South Padre Island with Capt. Brian Barrera.

By Capt. Lee Alvarez

SouthPadreIslandFishingTrips.com | (956) 330-8654

“No, don’t hold too tight to the reel. Cause it’s a big one boy. It’s gonna pull you down now.”

That happens to be one of my favorite lines on the song Pull by Blind Melon.  It’s also exactly what was racing through my mind as a 100 lb tarpon made its first appearance on an epic jump while fishing with Capt. Brian Barrera on South Padre Island.  In an instant, with a perfectly embedded hook in its upper lip, the Silver King made its first run 125 yards parallel to the jetty towards the Gulf before another spectacular aerial show.

In the last issue, I concluded my article by mentioning the 2019 Shallow Sport Tournament on SPI.  This year, I had the pleasure of guiding Team Sportsman, consisting of Rob Youker, his 11 year old grandson McCaden Wolf, JR Torres and his daughter Crystal Torres Brice, all from College Station.  Rob is President of The Sportsman Boats in San Benito.  The Sportsman is the only authorized Shallow Sport dealer in the Rio Grande Valley and both companies have been honored as leaders in the boating industry.  Rob has led this 3rd generation company to a Top 100 Marine Dealership Award in North America for 14 consecutive years.

I met the team early in the morning at Jim’s Pier on SPI and we immediately began discussing the day’s strategy.  A few sips of coffee later and a couple of ideas traded back and forth and we were on our way to join the ant line of boats en route to check-in behind Louie’s Backyard.  We wanted to make sure we had good positioning before the 6:30 am shotgun start.  If you’ve never been in the midst of 250+ boats simultaneously racing off to their favorite fishing holes, then add it to your bucket list of things to do on the Texas coast.

Wind was a major factor this year as anglers dealt with stiff breezes in excess of 30 mph.  As I said in the previous article, I like me a little bit of gusting wind.  Team Sportsman member JR Torres also seemed to favor the breeze as he hauled in a 27 15/16” tournament winning redfish that topped the scales at 8.22 lbs and earned Team Sportsman a 1st Place finish in the Redfish Division.  This was JR’s first fishing tournament and we faced some heavy hitters as competition.  How cool is that?

Fishing on South Padre has been nothing short of exceptional as summer has officially kicked off.  Redfish action has been solid during the afternoon outgoing tide using a DOA 5.5” Jerk Bait in Texas Croaker on a 1/8 oz. jighead.  When redfish aren’t as eager to eat a lure, drift fishing the flats with cut ballyhoo has been productive.  In the cooler and deeper waters off the ICW, speckled trout can be found on both live and artificial baits.  Target visible structure while slowly crawling a lure on the bottom until you feel that thump. Black drum have been schooling up in the channels of South Bay and can make for an action packed day of fishing.  These herds of fish have been prevalent on both an incoming and outgoing tide.  At the jetties, kingfish are also beginning to show up and as I mentioned earlier, so are the tarpon.  If you’d like an opportunity at landing a Silver King on the Texas coast, give Capt. Brian Barrera a call!  Until next time, keep fishin.’

Fishing the Upper Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures

May 1st, 2019

bart me2 1024x700 Fishing the Upper Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures

Capt. Bartt Caron and myself doubled-up on slot redfish while drifitng Land Cut. D.O.A. 3” C.A.L. Shad Tail in 350 Purple/Chartreuse and 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in 455 Texas Croaker. Photo: Brian Barrera

UPPER LAGUNA MADRE – BAFFIN BAY – LAND CUT

By Kelly Groce

DSC 0237 746x1024 Fishing the Upper Laguna Madre with D.O.A. Lures

Bill Carson of Humminbird, was all smiles and laughs while catching trout on D.O.A. 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in 455 Texas Croaker. Photo: Kelly Groce

Early in April, I got a call from talented fishing guide, surfer and all around waterman, Capt. Joey Farah, that reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Texas country singer, Gary P. Nunn, “Meet Me Down in Corpus.” Joey invited me to fish the Upper Laguna Madre area with D.O.A. Fishing Lures for their spring Outdoor Writers Event. Baffin Bay and Land Cut are places that I’ve dreamed of fishing for quite awhile and these writers events are always a blast, so without hesitation I was in.

Let me familiarize you with the Land Cut if you don’t know already. Land Cut is a 25-mile stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway between Padre Island and Port Mansfield. On one side you have the Padre Island National Seashore and on the other side is the Kenedy Ranch. It’s a beautiful and remote area that takes about an hour by boat to get to. The fishing is phenomenal there and without a doubt one of the prettiest stretches of the Texas coast I’ve laid eyes on.

My fishing buddies for the event were Bill Carson, Field Marketing Manager of Humminbird, and Capt. Brian Barrera, D.O.A. Fishing Lures’ Manager of Marketing and Business Development, and a fishing guide on South Padre Island that specializes in catching snook and tarpon. Our fishing guide was Capt. Bartt Caron. Bartt is an extremely knowledgeable big trout fisherman that knows the Upper Laguna Madre like the back of his hand. When he speaks about fishing, you listen. Bartt owns a beautiful 25’ Haynie Bigfoot with a 350HP Mercury on the back. That thing hauls ‘tater!

Not only does Capt. Brian Barrera like throwing a D.O.A. Bait Buster in 372 Pearl/Green/Red Chin, but trout like eating it too. Photo: Kelly Groce

DAY 1 OF FISHING
When I say a front blew in that morning, I mean a front blew in that morning. There were wind gusts up to 53 mph and it was raining sideways by 5:15 a.m. After the front passed, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and everyone met at Marker 37 Marina, which is on Padre Island right beside the JFK Causway.

Bartt, Bill, Brian and myself loaded up the boat and ran towards the King Ranch Shoreline. Bartt threw out the drift sock and we started doing some pretty fast drifts since the wind was still howling in the 30mph range. We fished hard til about 4:30 p.m. Everyone caught fish, but Bill was on top of the leader board catching some chunky trout throughout the breezy day. The 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in 455 Texas Croaker was definitely the ticket.

That evening back at the condo, we all congregated around as Capt. Joey Farah and Capt. Braeden Thomas fried some drum, redfish, and trout from the day’s fishing trips. Bill Carson made his famous key lime pie for us, which was a real treat. It’s always a good time talking and hanging out with the D.O.A. crew; Mark Nichols, Ed Zyak, Brian Barrera, Ruby Delgado, and Taylor Garcia. Also in good company was Cindy Nguyen, Johnny Lu, Taylor Winzeler, Robert Sloan, Dustin Cartrett, Bartt Caron, Bill Blodgett, Andrew Lassiter, Rocky Guerra and his wife Silver.

Good Friday was a perfect morning of fishing. Photo: Kelly Groce

Capt. Bartt Caron with a healthy Land Cut trout caught on a 3” C.A.L. Shad Tail in 350 Purple/Chartreuse.
Photo: Kelly Groce

DAY 2 OF FISHING
Good Friday was blissful with warm temps and blue skies. Everyone was at Marker 37 Marina by 6:15 a.m. Red Bull, cold beer, D.O.A. lures, great people – check! We got to Land Cut in no time, thanks to Capt. Bartt’s Haynie, and began our drift. Since Land Cut is part of the ICW, it has shallow flats on each side with a drop off to about 12 feet of water in the middle. I was positioned at the back of the boat and started working my 4” C.A.L. Texas Croaker Jerk Bait on a 1/4 oz. D.O.A. jig head on the flats through grass and patches of sand. Before long I was hooked up on a slot redfish. Bartt and Brian were both sticking some nice trout where the flat dropped off to deeper water. They were using the 3” C.A.L. Shad Tail in Purple/Chartreuse and 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Texas Croaker. We drifted for 2 hours and steadily caught nice fish. At one point Bartt and myself doubled up on slot redfish. It doesn’t get much more fun that that. Capt. Bartt also scored a bonus flounder shortly after. We got to a slough where Bart caught a solid trout. Brian switched up to a D.O.A. Bait Buster in 372 Pearl/Green/Red Chin. I took photos and watched the guys as they caught trout back-to-back and had double hookups. Bartt finished the day off with an upper slot redfish that we all watched charge at a 3” C.A.L. Shad Tail in Purple/Chartruese on the flats. Seeing the wake from a hungry redfish is always a cool sight to see.

Another guide on the trip, Capt. Braeden Thomas, invited everyone to meet at his family’s fishing cabin on Baffin Bay. We pull up to the dock and I’m looking at a piece of Texas paradise. Joey and Braeden gave me a tour of his place that has been in the family for over 80 years. It was like a time warp to the 50’s inside. Old fishing lures, maps, catch of the day photos, and all types of other nautical nick-knacks covered the ceiling and walls. I’ve never seen a place more perfect in all of my life. From inside the cabin you can see the crystal clear water of Baffin Bay through the windows. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon than at Braeden’s fishing cabin.

This fishing cabin, overlooking the pristine waters of Baffin Bay, has been in Capt. Braeden Thomas’ family for over 80 years. Photo: Kelly Groce

Our delicious meal prepared by Chef Jeff at Fishtales Bar & Grill at Marker 37 Marina. Photo: Kelly Groce

Cindy Nguyen, Ruby Delgado and myself ended the day at Fishtales Bar & Grill at Marker 37 Marina. It was very nice walking straight off the boat to a restaurant on the water. We enjoyed a cold Modelo and conversated as Chef Jeff prepared our post-fishing meal. Chef Jeff graduated from Johnson & Wales College, which is one of the leading culinary institutions in the country and he has 30 years of culinary experience. He prepared grilled Gulf shrimp over basmati rice with baby spinach topped with a rich cilantro butter sauce and fresh roma tomatos in addition with a side of lemon scented asparagus and guacamole with lump crab topped with perfectly fried tortilla strips. I was blown away by the aromas and colors from my plate. It was almost too pretty to eat. But I did and it was the best post-fishing meal I have ever had. Delicious food combined with a view of the Upper Laguna Madre, your best buds, and a cold beverage is about all you can ask for after a day of fishing.

My first fish of the day and it was a pretty one.
Photo: Brian Barrera

I want to give a big thanks to Joey Farah for the invitation to the D.O.A. Lures Outdoor Writers Event. Thank you for the great memories while testing these fish-catching lures in your backyard. Next time we’re surfing too! I’m forever grateful to Mark Nichols, Ed Zyak, Brian Barrera, and Ruby Delgado of D.O.A., you guys are amazing. Also, thank you Taylor Winzeler from Laguna Madre Clothing Co. for supplying us with top notch fishing apparel. As for Chef Jeff and Marker 37 Marina, I can’t say enough good things about how well they treated us. I will be back soon!

The weather is only getting better and the Upper Laguna Madre fishery is phenomenal, so if you would like to fish this area, contact any of these knowledgable and upstanding guides; Capt. Joey Farah, Capt. Bartt Caron, Capt. Braeden Thomas and Capt. Andrew Lassiter.

Fishtales Bar & Grill at Marker 37 Marina is the perfect place to enjoy a meal by Chef Jeff after a day on the water. Photos: Kelly Groce

Sun Protection Out on the Water

April 30th, 2019

specktrout Sun Protection Out on the WaterMake protection from the sun a priority

By Capt. David C. Dillman

GalvestonBayCharterFishing.com | 832-228-8012

As a child, I never worried about problems associated with the sun and it’s rays. I grew up around water all my life, from swimming in our backyard pool during my early years, to spending my weekends fishing Matagorda at the family cabin. Then I got my first set of “wheels” and it was off to the beach every chance we got, as long as the sun was shining. After college, I worked a nine year stint with the YMCA. Outdoor activities were a big part of the job. Over the last 30 years I have owned and operated a fishing charter service.

Once May came around, I can remember watching television and seeing those ads for Coppertone Sun Tanning Lotion. These ads would continue all the way through Summer. I was one of those that didn’t need much help achieving that dark tan. During these three decades, the 60s, 70s, and 80s, not many of these commercials advertised the use of a sun blocking product, only tanning lotions and oils. The harmful effects of the sun’s rays were very seldom or at all mentioned.

Last August my bottom lip developed severe blisters. I fished four days in a row, in the Gulf, prior to the breakout. I went to one of those urgent care clinics and the doctor attributed the blisters to severe sunburn of the lip. This had never happened to me before but I did not question the diagnosis. After a couple weeks of medicine, blisters went away but my lip was still tender. This past March, the problem started again. This time, under the advice of a friend, I went to UTMB Dermatology. They gave me some medicine to help heal the blisters, but also ordered a biopsy of my bottom lip. After the results, I am now on a topical chemotherapy treatment, which I began in early April. All of this was caused by damage from the sun.

During the past 25 years, much more knowledge has come to light about the harmful effects from over exposure to the sun. These days, the use of sunscreen and sun protective clothing is advertised across all media platforms. I seldom used any protection at all from the sun. I can now honestly say, “take precautions from the sun!”

Trout Fishing Starts

I always called May and June the official start of “trout fishing” in Galveston Bay. For myself and some others, the “season” never stops. But starting in May, one will notice a increase in boats on the weekends and by June, people will be out seeking trout in earnest. Everything seems to fall in place for some great fishing. Lower and Middle Galveston Bay, East Bay and even Trinity Bay should all produce nice catches of trout. The closure of the boat ramps under the Clear Lake Bridge will impact lots of boaters. Eagle Point Fishing Camp is a great alternative. They boast a three lane ramp, with ample dockage, secure parking, live bait, tackle, snacks, drinks, ice and clean restrooms to accommodate your angling or boating needs for the day. They can be reached at (281) 339-1131 for updates on conditions and bait supply.

Remember to be courteous on the water and protect yourself from over exposure of the sun. See ya on the bay!!

Lower Laguna Madre Fishing

April 30th, 2019

By Capt. Lee Alvarez

SouthPadreIslandFishingTrips.com | (956) 330-8654

lee trout Lower Laguna Madre Fishing

Nick Cantu with an impressive Lower Laguna Madre speckled trout caught with Capt. Alvarez.

There really is no better time of the year for me than right now. Baseball season has begun, summer is looming on the horizon and fishing in the Lower Laguna Madre near South Padre Island is just about as good as it gets. Throw in the fact that you can once again fish in comfortable clothing, and there really isn’t a whole lot to complain about. That is unless you don’t like a little bit of extra wind.

May and June in South Texas also means strong winds, which can sometimes blow in the 35-40 mph range. Increasing temperatures combined with hard winds on the shallow flats of the LLM often brings good fishing. When water is blown out and potholes or grass beds are nearly impossible to see, long casts with 10 lb or 12 lb FINS Windtamer Braid will get your lures out further from the boat.

This gives an angler a better opportunity to hook up when blind casting. Maintaining a good distance from fish is critical to keep from spooking them and windy days typical of this time of year will help increase that distance. In these types of conditions, one of the easiest and most effective methods for locating fish is to use a soft plastic lure worked under a popping cork.

One of my favorite techniques is to tie on a 3” D.O.A. Shrimp (Glow/Holographic Flake Belly or Nite Glow/Chartreuse) with a 1/8 to 1/16 ounce jighead fished under an oval-shaped cork. This method (which works best in 3-5 feet of murky to off colored water) has been producing great numbers of keeper sized speckled trout for my clients. Under windy conditions, popping corks make a little extra commotion for your lure and help get it noticed. With the brightest cork that you can find, give several quick jerks of the rod tip to pop the floater and let it sit still. Repeat. Vary the length of time you allow the cork to rest in the water. A fish will eat your lure when the cork is still and upright and your bait is suspended in the water column.

On many of my recent charters, my clients have been hooking up to solid 18 – 26 inch trout using a D.O.A. Shrimp tied to 24 inches of fluorocarbon leader line under a cork. Many of the trout that have been caught have been spitting up shrimp which we have perfectly matched with our lures.

The 2019 Shallow Sport Boat Owners Tournament on South Padre Island is just around the corner and this year’s tournament has some exciting new rule changes. In an effort to promote conservation, Shallow Sport has decided to change the format of this year’s tournament from an individual to a team competition. This is one of the largest boat owner tournaments in the state (263 boats registered last year) and this awesome measure will dramatically decrease the number of fish killed during the tourney and will keep our bays healthy and stocked for future generations of anglers to enjoy.

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