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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!!

Galveston Bay Trout Fishing: The Transition

September 1st, 2018

By Capt. David C. Dillman

galvestonbaycharterfishing.com | 832-228-8012

hutchb Galveston Bay Trout Fishing: The Transition

Hutch Burns with a nice trout.

We all can remember sitting down and chatting with our parents and grandparents as a youth. My conversations with them would usually be about memories of past times. The conversation always ended with them saying “Life is short; the older you get, the faster times goes by.”

Now, as I near the ripe age of 58, I understand what they meant. It only seemed like yesterday that the summer of 2018 began, and now the end is near. Fall is knocking on the door. Galveston Bay is about to go into a transition period.

JohnM Galveston Bay Trout Fishing: The Transition

John Michael Provenzano’s redfish.

September still might feel like summer during the day but slight changes in the air temperature will occur at night. The evening and early morning air will be slightly cooler and drier compared to the previous two months. This subtle change will begin to slightly lower the water temperature in the bay. This will spark a movement of shrimp and baitfish from out of the back marshes and into the main bay. Speckled trout will transition themselves, no longer seeking the depth of deep water. The fish may remain around deep water structure but will be feeding higher up in the water column. Live shrimp fished under a popping cork 4-6 feet deep will be lethal on these trout, while the “croaker bite’ will slow down.

Come October, we will see the “transition” in full swing. Passing cool fronts will lower the water levels and temperature even more, triggering a bigger movement of shrimp and baitfish from the back ends of Galveston Bay. Speckled trout will move to these areas to forage on what is exiting the marsh. Flocks of seagulls will pinpoint the location of these fish when they are feeding. Don’t rule out drifting the reefs and structure with live shrimp under corks, keying on presences of bait and slicks in the area.

Remember not all trout make this movement. Depending on the weather and cool fronts, plenty of fish will still be caught in the areas you were fishing in August. Eagle Point Fishing Camp will have a great supply of live shrimp. Those anglers in the Kemah, Seabrook and Clear Lake area can call 281-339-1131 to check on their bait supply.

It has been a long hot summer but fishing remained good. I am looking forward to fishing these months and enjoying the cooler weather. The fish seem to bite through out the day, on any given tide. Take time away from your busy schedule and get on the water!

Is it time to lower the limit on speckled trout?

April 30th, 2018

blumentrout Is it time to lower the limit on speckled trout?

Speckled trout. Photo by Garrett Blumenshine.

By Capt. Joe Kent

Almost every time the subject of lowering the number of fish anglers can retain crops up, a controversy arises that seems to draw a line in the sand.

Part of the problem is that there remain a large number of anglers who grew up fishing under no size or bag limits for saltwater fish.  Fifty years ago anyone would have been laughed at if they suggested placing a limit on the number of fish an individual could keep, let alone place any size restrictions on the catches.

After all, there was an endless supply of finfish and shellfish swimming the coastal waters and there was no way fishermen could even dent the populations.

Unfortunately, it did not take long to prove otherwise, as freeze events and overfishing by both commercial and recreational anglers began taking their toll on our stocks of trout, redfish and flounder.

Toward the end of the 1970s, when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) was compelled to take action, the bag and size limits imposed were met with resistance by many in the fishing community.

That mentality continues to exist and was noticeable as recently as seven years ago when the TPWD held public hearings soliciting comments and opinions from anyone affected by any change in the bag limits for trout.

One meeting that was held at the TPWD Dickinson Lab almost got out of hand, as guides, marina operators and others were quite vocal in their opposition to any reduction in the number of trout allowed.

While the TPWD passed on the concerns expressed for the upper Texas Coast, they did recommend and had approved by the commissioners a reduction from 10 to five trout for anglers fishing the lower and middle coasts.

As an outdoor writer and columnist, I have been noticing an increasing number of sportsmen, including fishing guides and others with commercial interests in fishing, supporting a change in the rules.

Many of those same individuals were among the loud protesters at the hearings mentioned earlier.

I asked several of those I personally know what brought about their change of attitude?  Universally, they said that it was concern over the long-term survival of our stocks of trout.

One well-known fishing guide pointed out that the problem was of an environmental nature and that while recreational fishermen had a minimal impact, the solution required sacrifices on all ends.  There is not much individuals can do about devastating floods or severe droughts; however, they can do their part as stewards of our wildlife resources.

Each year there are increasing numbers of anglers fishing the Galveston Bay Complex and we are at the point that our resources of trout and other fish just cannot handle all of the added pressure.

At this point trout appear to be the only finfish about which there are concerns.  Reds have a three-fish slot limit and seem to be thriving well around the Galveston Bay Complex.

Several years ago the bag limit for flounder during the majority of the year was reduced from 10 to five and all indications are that the stocks are rebounding well following that change.

While anglers have a voice in the matter, the answers are going to have to come from the TPWD.  If the parties are in agreement, the process should be fairly easy to get initiated. The legislative procedures will begin to get the regulatory changes into law.

Hot Weather, Hot Galveston Fishing

July 4th, 2016

spectacular trout reds Hot Weather, Hot Galveston FishingBy Capt. David Dillman

Spec-tacular Trout Adventures | 832-228-8012

The dog days of Summer are upon us along the Upper Coast. July and August are the warmest months of the year. Typically, winds are light and the temperatures can climb toward the 100 degree mark. Galveston fishing can be just as hot, but heat related health problems are a concern. I have personally suffered problems from the heat of our Texas summer. It should not be taken lightly.

Here are a few tips I can offer to combat heat related illness. Prevention is the key!

  1. Wear light colored and loose fitting clothing. I prefer lightweight 100 percent cotton clothing.
  2. Keep hydrated. Drink lots of water. Sport drinks are fine such as Gatorade, Powerade, etc…but always follow the 2:1 rule. One sports drink then 2 bottles of water.
  3. Avoid energy drinks, soda and alcohol. These drinks dehydrate you!
  4. If you find yourself not sweating, this is a serious sign of heat exhaustion. Seek a cool shaded area immediately. Slowly start to consume cool water. Something cool can be applied to the neck area. If symptoms worsen, seek medical attention.

On the fishing side, July and August are excellent months to catch speckled trout. As I type, Galveston Bay had its second influx of fresh water this year. The Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers both released lots of water downstream. Hopefully we have seen the last of the torrential rains this year. During July/August deep water structure will be the key to locating schools of Speckled Trout. The oyster reefs along the channel from markers 52-62 will yield good catches of trout. The adjacent gas wells known as the “Exxon A-Lease” will hold fish. These wells produce nice catches every year during this period.

As we move towards the second week of August, Trinity Bay should start seeing improved catches coming from the numerous wells and deep water shell reefs. The fishing in Trinity has been almost non-existent since the April floods.

Eagle Point Fishing Camp provides easy access to the channel, wells and Trinity Bay. With ample parking, a three lane boat ramp, fuel and live bait, they provide all that anglers need for a great day of fishing. Remember to be courteous on the water. Tight Lines!

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