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Gaining Knowledge

May 3rd, 2017

WayneDenaDavis Gaining Knowledge

Wayne and Dena Davis caught some nice trout with Capt. Dillman despite high winds that day.

By Capt. David C Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures409-632-0924

Albert Einstein stated that “The only source of knowledge is experience.” When it comes to fishing, I firmly believe this quote holds true. There are many written books, articles and even videos on how to catch speckled trout. Lots of that information is excellent and a great resource for gaining some knowledge about the sport. But true knowledge of how and where to catch speckled trout comes from years of experience pursuing these fish.

In my 30 years of experience guiding fishing trips, I am always asked “When is the best time to catch trout?” For the majority of people that fish, it all starts with the month of May. During the first week of May, there will be a movement of speckled trout into our bay system through the Galveston Jetties. They come from the beachfront and these fish are commonly known as “tide runners.” Do they all come at once? No, but the majority of “tide runners” come May and June. As they make their way up the Houston Ship channel, these fish split into three different directions. Some move east, others west, and some head straight up the channel depending upon the salinity of the water. That is why you will read about the increase of catches in areas like Hanna’s Reef in East Bay, and the Dollar Point area on the Western side of Galveston Bay.

June arrives and so begins our summer fishing pattern in Galveston Bay. The trout begin to seek shelter of the deeper water shell pads located in our bay system. A majority of these “tide runners” can be found near the shell pads adjacent to the Houston ship channel from Markers 52-72.  They will also filter towards the numerous gas well scattered in close proximity of the channel. With every incoming tide more fish will be pushed into this area. In my years of fishing the channel and observation, speckled trout use this area to stage and spawn.

During this time of year, trout can be caught on a variety of artificial lures, but live baits seem to produce the better results. Live shrimp and croakers are the top two natural baits. Shrimp can be fished on the bottom or under a popping cork. Croakers should be fished utilizing a carolina rig or Texas rig. Eagle Point Fishing Camp always has a great supply of both and has easy access to the above prime locations!

If you want to gain further “knowledge” of these areas, I offer guided trips out of Eagle Point. Also orientation trips can be arranged where I go in your boat. Get out and experience the great trout fishing Galveston Bay has and as always, be careful on the water.

Galveston Bay Spring Fishing

March 1st, 2017

By Capt. David C Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures | 409-632-0924

March and April is when the majority of the fishing community wipe the cobwebs off their rod and reels, crank up their outboards and set their sights on bending rods.

Spring along the Upper Coast starts with the 42nd Annual Houston Fishing Show, March 8-12 at the GRB Convention Center. This is one of the largest shows of its kind in the country. Everything fishing related from boats, tackle, fishing guides and marinas located under one roof. I will be there all week at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth #618.

On the fishing scene it all begins with the arrival of big black drum. The Galveston jetties, passes, Texas City dike and the Bolivar gas wells will all hold an abundance of these fish. The best baits to use are blue crab, dead shrimp and even crawfish. A medium/heavy action rod and reel combo, utilizing enough weight to hold the bait down on the bottom, will draw the bites. These fish range from anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds.

Sheepshead will be there for the taking as well. Literally any spot along the Galveston jetties will produce these tasty fish. Shorelines with scattered shell and pier pilings should also be good. Live shrimp under a popping cork is a great method when fished tight up against the structure. While often overlooked, they are fun to catch and offer good table fare. There is a 5 fish limit with a 15 inch minimum size.

On the speckled trout scene look for the action to first heat up around the Galveston jetties. As we move into the latter part of March, the lower Galveston Bay area, around the causeway, Campbell’s Bayou and Sand Island will hold its share of fish. In April, East Galveston Bay and the western shoreline of Galveston Bay, from the base of the Texas City Dike, Dollar Point and towards Moses Lake will hold good numbers of trout. Don’t overlook the shorelines around Eagle Point. Last year this area gave up excellent stringers of quality speckled trout.

Until next time be safe on the water and enjoy what Galveston Bay has to offer.

costa rica sailfish Galveston Bay Spring Fishing

In January, my girlfriend and I visited Costa Rica for our first time. We fished aboard “Dreamworks,” owned and operated by Capt. Tom Carton and his Mate Jerry Carothers. We went 7-12 on Sailfish and lost a blue marlin estimated at 300 pounds. Capt. Tom has been fishing the area for over 25 years. He had the first Charter service in Los Suenos. I highly recommend him. You can find him on the web at captaintoms.com.

Five Lures for Big Speckled Trout

February 27th, 2017

These time proven big trout lures consistently produce fish over five pounds and have landed me a number of top tournament finishes.

By Capt. Steve Soule

superspookjr Five Lures for Big Speckled Trout

Super Spook Jr.

If the wind is light or I’m fishing in shallow water, my first and often only choice for chasing a trophy would be the Heddon® Super Spook Jr.® in bone with silver sides. Its a small lure in the world of big trout, but that’s what makes it so deadly. Fish in shallow water are much more sensitive to noise and water movements and there are days when the subtle presentation of a smaller lure just works better. With a little practice and variation of the retrieve, you can make the Spook Jr. sound and appear large. The single ball rattle system can be worked gently without spooking fish, but if you work it hard, you can achieve a wide side to side motion with a rather loud clicking to draw them in.

heddonsuperspook Five Lures for Big Speckled Trout

Super Spook

When the chop gets a little bigger, it’s time to tie on a bigger bait. The Heddon® Super Spook® in Okie Shad, or as I have always called it, the “Jimmy Houston,” is a close tie for my all-time favorite topwater. It’s a very natural color combination that works well in dirty water, but produces in clear water when others just won’t. This is not a small top water, in size or sound, but with its more natural color scheme it can be used effectively across the spectrum of conditions. Big or light chop, shallow or deep, this one does it all and I have caught more quality trout on this lure than I could possibly count.

shedog

She Dog

The MirrOLure® She Dog 83MR in Chartreuse/Pearl is another topwater that excels in choppy conditions, but can be deadly in both dirty and clear water. It too has a single ball style rattle, but emits a much higher pitch sound than the Super Spook. I don’t necessarily turn to this one as frequently as some of the others on this list, but when conditions call for it, I always have one ready. This lure and color combination landed me my largest trout to date, a fish just over 29.5” and over nine pounds, in 2010 in Galveston.

fatboy91

Paul Brown Fat Boy

When its time to probe the depths with deadly precision, I turn to the MirrOlure® Paul Brown Fat Boy, a creation of Houston mastermind Paul Brown, probably one of the greatest lure designers to ever live. This lure can take some time to get a grip on, but once you do, it can be fished effectively from less than a foot to depths over six feet. It’s a soft plastic wrapped, cork over wire, baitfish imitating, seductive dancing, finesse bait that has been the demise of many giant trout. Because of the construction of the lure, the Fat Boy can be tuned to swim at different depths, diving slightly up or down with different bends applied to the nose or tail. Chartreuse, gold sides, white belly has always been a favorite color combo for me.

fatboypink

Paul Brown Fat Boy

It’s not really fair to say that there is a fifth in my top five, because it’s a repeat of number four. For many years, the Fat Boy in pink with silver sides has been my go-to for cold winter fishing. This selection is a standard answer concerning winter trout, but my tournament partners can vouch for the fact that in certain conditions, I would start and finish a nine hour day throwing this one lure. It landed me my heaviest trout that I have an accurate weight on, at 9.25 pounds, and has been the lure that led me to more top five finishes in trout tournaments than any other.

These are my choices and I’m sticking to them. Every lure on this list has produced trout over 7.5 pounds in the Galveston Bay system. There is no one single bait that suits every condition set or scenario that you will encounter, and this list may not work for you, but it’s mine and has not changed much over the past ten years. When its time for me to hunt big winter or spring trout, you can rest assured I will have every one of these ready to go.

Galveston Bay Winter Fishing – What to do?

January 3rd, 2017

By Capt. David C Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures409-632-0924

galveston bay speckled trout Galveston Bay Winter Fishing   What to do?

Windy Marshall with a cold weather trout.

Winter is finally here. November of 2016 was very mild, with only a few cool mornings followed by record high temperatures. December arrived and in the first week we experienced record rainfall in some areas and our first real cold front. January and February are typically cold and wet months along the Upper Coast of Texas. This is a great time to enjoy some indoor activities or things that you might have neglected. Fishing still can be good, but you just have to pick the right days according to the weather.

January begins with the Houston Boat Show, held at Reliant Center Jan. 6 – 15, the show hosts the newest boats, motors and campers for the coming year. There are numerous vendor booths, with a large section dedicated to the sportsman/fisherman. I will be at the Eagle Point Fishing Camp booth the first few days of the show. Stop by and we can visit about fishing, Galveston Bay, etc.

Yes, fishing can be good during this time of year. Fishing between the fronts will be the key to your success. The upper reaches of the bay system, namely Burnett, Scott and San Jacinto Bays, draw most of the attention this time of year. The bays offer shelter from the North winds and as long as the water stays salty, redfish and speckled trout can be caught. Sylvan Beach and Bayland Park offer the closest launches to reach these areas.

Other fishing grounds to consider are the NW/W shorelines of Galveston Bay. Sylvan Beach down to Eagle Point offers protection from a NW-W wind. The area is littered with structure like old pier pilings and numerous deep water shell reefs. The traditional winter time hotspot known as Galveston’s West Bay, will also see its fair share of action. Live bait supplies can be scarce this time of year. While most people will be throwing artificial lures, bait fisherman can check with Eagle Point at 281 339-1131 for live shrimp.

Last but not least, these months are perfect to have your maintenance completed on your rods, reels, and tackle. Also, schedule any service for your boat and motor now. Don’t wait for spring to get them in the shop. I will be in Costa Rica the middle of January catching sailfish! My boat goes to the shop soon after my return.

 I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday break! Tight Lines to all!

Galveston Bay Fishing 2016

October 31st, 2016

redcaldwell Galveston Bay Fishing 2016

Doug Cadwell with a Texas two-fer of redfish and speckled trout.

Recap of 2016 and a Look Ahead

By Capt. David C Dillman | Spec-tacular Trout Adventures409-632-0924

It has been said that the older you get, the faster time goes by. It seems like only yesterday I was penning my first article for 2016 and now I am writing the last one for the year. But 2016, for sure, is a year to remember.

Winter started off typically here on Galveston Bay. In between fronts, the fishing held consistent. The upper reaches of the bay, Scott, Burnett, Crystal and West Galveston Bay lived up to their reputation as winter hot spots. In March, and the first two weeks of April, fishing really turned on in the Texas City/ Eagle Point area for speckled trout. Great catches were coming from both locations. This sure did set the stage for Galveston Bay to have an epic year of fishing.

In mid-April of this year, an upper level low stalled over the Rocky Mountains. During the overnight hours of April 16-17 and into the morning of the 18, Houston received over 17 inches of rain, the most since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. The resulting runoff from this event flooded Trinity and Galveston Bay. This fresh water pushed the fish into lower Galveston and East Bay.

East Galveston Bay remained the best location until about the last week of May. The fish began to move back up north, following the flow of saltwater back into our bay system. Everything seemed to be getting back to normal until June 3, when the Houston area received even more rain! Another runoff event ensued, turning our bay fresh and off-colored. This time though, while some fish retreated back to East Galveston Bay and further south, lots of fish stayed in the area. They sought deeper water along the spoils and gas wells.

As we moved into June and August, the area along the ship channel spoils and gas wells, known as the A-lease wells, saw very good numbers of speckled trout and redfish. Limited supply of live bait was a problem for area fishermen during the first few weeks of summer, another adverse effect from the June flood. But by the third week of July, Galveston Bay and the fishery was back to normal. Towards the end of August, we started seeing fish make a move back into Trinity Bay and farther up the channel, a normal movement that happens every year.

September is a month of transition where schools of speckled trout are harder to locate. This certainly was the case this year. Scattered catches of redfish and speckled trout were the norm. By the end of September and the first week of October, as I type this article, fishing for trout has seen an upswing. But the problem we are experiencing is the size of the trout. Numerous undersized fish are being caught, compared to keepers. I believe this is due to the higher than normal water temperature and tide.

I am optimistic that November and December fishing will get us back on track for numbers and size of trout. We are finally experiencing some cooler weather with the passing of a couple fronts. Although a true cold front has not passed, water temperatures have cooled a little. The first cold front should help drop the tides and flush the bait out of the marsh and inlets of our bay system. This should help fishing tremendously.

Eagle Point Fishing Camp will maintain a good supply of live bait through the year. Remember to be courteous to others on the water. Happy Thanksgiving, Christmas and Holidays to all!                                          

Fishing the Reefs of Galveston Bay

February 25th, 2015

travistrout Fishing the Reefs of Galveston Bay

Travis Haight with a seven-pound speck.

By Capt. Joe Kent

We addressed the effects of oyster reefs on Galveston Bay fishing in the last edition of Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine and now we will expand on this by discussing fishing the reefs of Galveston Bay.

To begin, let’s take a look at the definition of a reef.  A reef is “a ridge of rock, sand, coral etc. the top of which lies close to the surface of the sea; a ridge or mound-like structure built by sedentary calcareous organisms and consisting mainly of their remains.”

In the Galveston Bay Complex we have both natural and artificial reefs.

The natural reefs consist of oyster reefs, clam shell reefs and sand reefs.

taylorhuntertrout Fishing the Reefs of Galveston Bay

Taylor Hunter caught this five-pound trout while wadefishing.

The artificial or man-made reefs consist of shell, sand and gravel beds associated with oil and gas production facilities or old tires and steel reefs that are mainly oil and gas wells. Artificial reefs associated with oil and gas facilities are not permanent and are removed soon after the well or platform is abandoned.

Tire reefs (chaining together old tires) are beginning to become more prevalent with the demise of so many of our natural reefs.  Lower West Bay is the location of one of the popular tire reefs.

Once, oyster reefs dominated the reef picture; however, following Hurricane Ike in 2008, that

Lou Nuffer with a bull red.

Lou Nuffer with a bull red.

domination ended and now oyster reefs make up a much smaller portion or our reefs and fishing grounds.

Clam shell reefs have a presence in upper Galveston and Trinity Bays; however, they are not as prolific as in other bay systems east of here.  The few we have do offer some excellent fishing much in the same manner as oyster reefs.

Sand reefs become more numerous the closer we get to the Gulf of Mexico especially around the passes. Sand reefs should not be confused with sand bars which are defined as “ridges of sand formed in a river or along a shore by the action of waves or currents”.

While artificial reefs do not initially meet the definition of reefs, after a time they become infested with barnacles and other growth that cause them to expand in size and come within the meaning of a reef.

Now that we know more about reefs in Galveston Bay, let’s discuss how to fish them.

Reef fishing is productive in all but the coldest months of winter.  They are most productive in the spring and fall, two seasons when tides run unusually high.  The reefs most affected by this are the shell and artificial reefs.

Deeper reefs are productive all year, especially in the summer when trout go to deeper waters.  A high percentage of the deep reefs are artificial and associated with oil and gas facilities.

The best of the reefs for fishing are the live reefs that have a wealth of small marine life around which in turn starts the food chain to moving.  Farther up the food chain are the predator fish which come to feed on the lesser species such as crustaceans.

The shell and artificial reefs offer hiding places for the lower of the food chain that is until the tide begins to move and that is when the action turns on.

Fishing the reefs is best when using a float to keep the bait from snagging on the rough foundation. Live bait is the choice of most anglers.

Speckled trout have sensitive skin and are most often caught around the edges of the reefs.  On the other hand, fish with scales and strong jaws or teeth are found feeding on the bottom eating crabs, live barnacles and other residents of the reefs.  Sheepshead and black drum are two examples of the mid-reef bottom feeders.

Other fish are found feeding on the food chain as well.  Panfish are usually thick around reefs.

Sand reefs are fished mostly by wading.  Fish feed on the wide variety of marine live that burrows into the sand for shelter and, as with the shell reefs, tidal movement sends them running for safety and again that is the best time to be fishing.

Without our reefs, fishing would not be as good in Galveston Bay.  Hopefully we will see an aggressive program get underway to restore our oyster reefs and add more permanent artificial reefs.

Submit your fishing photos for our print and web editions to art@baygroupmedia.com