We ask captains, guides and those in the industry what they’re throwing, for what species and what they’re drinking after a long day of fishing.
D.O.A. Lures Bait Buster in 309 Glow/Gold Rush Belly and 3″ C.A.L. Shad Tail in 455 Texas Croaker.
I’m doing a lot of snook and juvenile tarpon fishing right now. With that being said, the trusty Shimano is always rigged up with a D.O.A. Lures Bait Buster, in a variety of colors worked “low and slow,” or I’m burning a D.O.A. 3” shad tail in anything with chartreuse on a 1/2 to 1 oz. jighead through the thermocline where the fish like to hang this time of year.
Once back at the dock after a long day in the elements, I like to have a Kimo Sabe Mezcal Reposado on the rocks or an old fashion. And bartender… keep ‘em coming!
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.
WE ASK captains, guides and those in the industry what they’re throwing, for what species and what they’re drinking after a long day of fishing.
WAYNE DAVIS: Full-time fishing guide of Hook Down Charters specializing in wading with artificial lures in Port Mansfield, Texas. www.kwigglers.com | 210-287-3877
The Willow Tail comes in a variety of fish catching colors.
First, I use soft plastics (KWigglers) 95% of the time, the other five percent you can catch me throwing topwaters.Over the last couple years, I have found myself throwing the Willow Tail Shad (WTS) most of the time.This is a very effective shallow water bait and I always rig it on our 2/0, 1/8 oz. short shank black nickel hook.
All of my charters are done wading with artificial lures. I am never fishing over 3 feet, and most of the time it is less than thigh deep. With the WTS and small jighead I can effectively, and with control, work the lure in just about any condition (grass, potholes, ledges etc..)
Every short twitch with the rod tip makes that WTS tail flip flop around – I believe the lackadaisical attitude of the bait entices a strike from just about any fish.The WTS is a lazy bait, not designed for a simple cast and retrieve method.The angler should work the bait.The mere profile of the WTS is in and of itself luring to big fish.
Over the last two years I have been targeting and have been able to somewhat pattern South Texas Snook.To date, I have landed 52 during my trips.Almost all of them have been over 28 inches, with the largest one taping out at 35 inches and 13 pounds. All have come on the Willow Tail.I also caught the STAR winning trout while snook fishing – a 31+ incher at 9.5 pounds.Since I am a licensed captain I do not qualify for CCA STAR so the fish was released (it would have been anyway).
As far as a dock cocktail after a day of fishing – well of course the “Wiggler.” White rum, cranberry and a splash of grapefruit juice. I took it to our local restaurant in Port Mansfield, The Pelican, and they loved it so much they put it on their menu and it is the number one selling cocktail.
Capt. Andy Salinas with a lonestar linesider that fell for a D.O.A. 4” Shad Tail in 455 Texas Croaker.
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
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.
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.
Capt. Ruby Delgado with the first snook of our trip caught on a Savage Gear topwater. Photo by Kelly Groce
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.
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.
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.
I waited a long time to hold a snook, especially a slab like this one. Caught on D.O.A. Lures 4” shrimp in 305 nite glow and a 3/8 oz. jig head. Photo: Cindy Nguyen
Capt. Brian Barrera before releasing a slot Texas snook. Photo: Kelly Groce
BY KELLY GROCE
South Padre Island is home to not only some of the best pastor tacos, but also the only fishable population of snook in the Lone Star State. I learned this after attending the D.O.A. Lures Outdoor Writers Event. That is also where I met Cindy Nguyen who is an amazing angler that has fished all over the world. She told me stories of catching snook in Florida. I think once I told her I had never fished for a snook let alone caught one, she felt bad for me. About a month after the writers event, Cindy gets a hold of me and says, “Let’s go get us a Texas snook.” It doesn’t take much convincing to get me to visit south Tejas, especially for a bucket list fish of mine. It only made sense that we ask SPI’s own Capt. Brian Barrera to take us. Brian is an overall great fisherman, but he has snook fishing dialed-in better than anyone else in the area.
Cindy Nguyen is no stranger to catching snook, but here she is with her first one caught in Texas. Photo: Kelly Groce
Cindy and I got to SPI around noon (thank you to the cop who gave me a warning for speeding due to my excitement). We met Brian and followed him to the boat launch, which is eight minutes away from the Mexico border, jumped on his Shallow Sport Boat, Blackbeard’s Delight II, and headed towards the Brownsville Ship Channel. Brian used a 1 oz. D.O.A. jig head with a D.O.A. 3” Texas Croaker shad tail that he said the snook had been loving lately. He tied on the ole’ faithful D.O.A. 4” shrimp with a 3/8 oz. jig head on another rod, which after a spot or two, Cindy caught her first beautiful Texas snook on. We then checked out a spot where you could literally see dozens of snook in the shadows and cast right at them, it was pretty unreal. The sun started to set and Brian showed us how to catch a few more before calling it a day.
After losing a slot snook by the boat the day before, I was happy to land this one. Photo: Cindy Nguyen
The next morning, I was determined to get my south Texas snook. I played some Selena on the way to the boat launch to get the fish in the mood. As we pulled up to the first spot of the day, there was tons of fry in the water and you could see snook hitting the surface. I tossed my D.O.A. shrimp as close as I could towards the rocks and started working it back, then I felt something slam my shrimp and I heard Brian say, “It’s a snook!” It jumped a couple of times before Brian netted it. Such a cool fish to not only catch, but to release. You lip them like a bass and they suck on your thumb until they are ready to swim off. Nothing could wipe the smile off of my face after catching some snook.
If you’re looking for your next fishing trip, check out South Padre Island and Capt. Brian Barrera. He’s a great fishing guide that can not only put you on snook but also trout, redfish and flounder. During the warm months he’s chasing big tarpon if you want a shot at the silver king.
I’ll be back that’s for sure.
South Texas Saltwater Experience Capt. Brian Barrera
Fishing Guide & Wildlife Biologist
Capt. Brian Barrera with one last snook before dark. Photo: Kelly Groce
This beautiful Lower Laguna Madre trout couldn’t resist the D.O.A. 4″ C.A.L. Jerkbait in Candy Corn.
By Kelly Groce
Back in August of 2018, I was in Port Aransas celebrating my father’s birthday for the weekend. On Sunday, I decided to drop some Gulf Coast Mariner Magazines at local businesses, one of them being Port “A” Outfitters. I see a man walking down the stairs who I know is Mark Nichols, the creator and owner of D.O.A. Lures. I’ve always been a huge fan of his lures, especially that dang shrimp. He’s walking right by my car so I have to say something.
“Excuse me, are you the D.O.A. man?”
“I sure am.” Mark responds.
We shake hands and chat about fishing in Stuart, Fla. where he resides. I hand him a copy of the magazine before we part ways. My day was made.
Fast forward a few months… it’s just another day at the office here in Seabrook. The phone rings and Christmas came early. Capt. Brian Barrera, who is a fishing guide and also works for D.O.A. Lures called to invite me to their 2018 Outdoor Writers Event in South Padre for four days. Without hesitation, I said I’ll be there.
The day of the trip comes, I’m listening to the Bite Me: Texas Saltwater Fishing podcast for the majority of the drive down (if you don’t listen to this podcast, you should) and daydreaming about drifting clear water with grass and sand pockets as far as the eye can see. I’ve been to South Padre three or four times prior, but it was always to go surf, never to fish.
The view every morning before we took off for a full day of fishing and fun.
I pull up to home base for the next few days, which is a beautiful house right on the pristine waters of the Lower Laguna Madre. When I walk in, I’m immediately greeted by D.O.A. Lures employee/local fishing guide/fish slayer Capt. Brian Barrera (if catching Texas snook and tarpon is on your fishing bucket list, Brian is your guy). As I’m relaxing and meeting fascinating people from all over the country and the industry, Mark pulls up by boat (of course he had been fishing the next canal over, catching redfish and trout). I see Mark and say “Remember me from the Port “A” Outfitters parking lot?”
He says, “Of course I do, welcome!”
The sun starts to set and a delicious feast of authentic pastor and beef tacos are being cooked on the deck overlooking the water by local restaurant, Mr. Taco. We are given D.O.A. Kits that contain their family of lures such as TerrorEyz, Swimmin’ Mullet, Shrimp, Jerk Bait, Shad, Paddle Tails and more. Capt. Brian informs everyone who their fishing guide would be for the next day, we talk a little longer and eventually everyone makes their way to bed.
DAY 1 OF FISHING
Cup of coffee… check. Breakfast taco… check. Camera and fishing gear… check. I walk downstairs and there waiting for us is a fleet of boats, mostly Shallow Sports, to take us fishing for the day. I had the pleasure of going out with local guide and super nice guy, Capt. Joel Ramos. My fishing partner was Tommy Thomson, regional sales manager at Shimano. The weather is perfect, a little overcast with a high of 75 degrees. We drive for about 30 minutes, then Capt. Joel Ramos stops, shuts off the motor and says we’re going to do a drift here. It is just what I imagined… as far as you can see clear water spotted with sand pockets and grass. I started throwing D.O.A. Lures 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in one of their newer colors Texas Croaker. It doesn’t take long and we all start catching trout cast after cast. Capt. Joel hooked up onto a pretty 22” trout on the 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Candy Corn. It appeared, the fish liked the contrast of that bright orange lure color. The night before, we were given some D.O.A. 3” C.A.L. Shad Tails in a new color that is not yet named. It’s a brown with gold flake top with a pearl colored bottom. I switched to this bait and caught a few decent trout on that lure as well. Tommy threw on the D.O.A. topwater, the PT-7 (featured on the cover) and had a huge trout blow-up on it, that was pretty exciting. The PT-7 is a fun topwater to work with a lot of action. Capt. Joel wanted to get us on some reds next, so we went to a real shallow spot along a shoreline. I stuck with the 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Texas Croaker, and Capt. Joel stuck with the 4” C.A.L. Jerk Bait in Candy Corn. 22 was Cap. Joel’s number that day, because after a few minutes at the spot, he hooks up to a nice 22” redfish. We get some footage of the fish and let him go. Shortly after, I hook up on a red I’d say was about 20” on the Texas Croaker Jerkbait. The water was so clear it was pretty neat to see the lure hit the water and then a flash which was the redfish chasing after it. After a full day of fun and fishing, we head back to casa de D.O.A.
The D.O.A. legend, Mark Nichols and myself on an evening boat ride.
That afternoon, everyone is sitting around trading fish stories from the day. Mark points to me and says, “Want to go for a boat ride?”
“Yes sir” I say.
We board his Maverick Mirage skiff, which is one beautiful boat. We go for a cruise and enjoy the stunning South Padre Island sunset. SO… here I am sitting on Mark Nichol’s boat with an ice cold Corona overlooking the Lower Laguna Madre while listening to him talk about fishing and his life. Mark is incredibly knowledgable about fishing and has lived a life full of adventure. I learned that Mark grew up in Houston and his dad had a shrimp boat on Clear Lake. That 45 minutes on his boat is truly a moment I’ll never forget.
DAY 2 OF FISHING
I get paired with Capt. Lee Alvarez. He was born and raised in the area and knows these waters like the back of his hand. I felt like I was getting special treatment since it was just Capt. Lee and myself on his boat this day. There was a front coming in that night, so it was overcast and rain was on the horizon. I had to throw that Candy Corn Jerkbait after the success we had on it the day before. We did some drifts and caught tons of trout on it. We were drifting this one area and a school of about five beautiful upper slot redfish swam right in front of the boat. We saw the school of reds again and we started sight casting at them, but didn’t land one. Either way, very cool seeing fish like that. The rain started coming down pretty good, but the fish were still biting, so I was a happy camper. After all, a little water never hurt no one.
On the ride back to the house, I was gathering my thoughts on the past few days of fishing. Myself alone, caught probably 70+ trout and some nice redfish in just two days on nothing but D.O.A. Lures. D.O.A. stands for Deadly On Anything, and after the non-stop catching I had experienced, that slogan is without a doubt true. These lures are like candy to fish, they can’t say no. An absolute must-have for any angler’s tackle box.
That evening, it was Mark’s birthday. The crew had got him a cake that was decorated with the D.O.A. logo and lures. Some tasty burgers were being grilled on the deck while we continued to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. My face was starting to hurt after all the laughs.
The next day, it was difficult to head back home. After the few days I got to spend with Mark and the rest of the D.O.A. Lures crew, I must say his lures are amazing, but this group of people are even better. The camaraderie I experienced was bar none. Not only did I learn a lot, but I left South Padre feeling like I had a whole new family.
The stars aligned that day I met Mark in that parking lot in Port Aransas. I never thought I would run into him, let alone be invited to South Padre to fish with him for several days. Mark’s passion for fishing and his energy is contagious. He has lit a fire for me to continue pursing my passion of fishing, writing, and photography. And for that I will forever be grateful to Mark.
Huge thanks to Mark Nichols and the entire D.O.A. Lures crew for an incredible trip. I’ll be back to catch my Texas snook. Until next time amigos!
Mark Nichols and Dave Stewart hold a massive black drum they caught on a D.O.A. C.A.L. Paddle Tail. Photo by Danno Wise
Capt. Brian Barrera stuck this beautiful 28″ trout using the D.O.A. 4″ C.A.L. Jerkbait in Candy Corn. Photo by Ed Zyak
Ed Zyak with a nice 24″ snook caught with Capt. Brian Barrera. Photo by Capt. Brian Barrera