Archive for the 'Saltwater' Category

2018 Resolutions for Anglers

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017
Fishing at Padres Island National Seashore. Image originally appeared in Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

Fishing at Padres Island National Seashore. Image originally appeared in Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

This is Passport to Texas Resolutions Week

When I asked Karen Marks and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Aquatic Education team if they had any New Year resolutions for anglers that they’d like to share with me, they did, and boiled them down to three little words:

Learn. Fish. Teach.

Learn to be safe on or near the water. Understand weather and water currents, and how to safely use your gear. Learn how to hold and release fish safely for you and the fish. Most of all, learn about aquatic invasive species and how as an angler you can prevent their spread.

Fish. Get outside and go fish. Buy a licenses and follow all regulations. It’s free to fish at state parks with fishing opportunities. Use established trails to access shoreline, and pick up litter along the way. Leave every area better than you found it. And invite family and friends to join you; don’t be surprised when they jump at the chance.

That brings us to teach. Volunteer at a local fishing event, help a scout group, volunteer with Parks and Wildlife or with a local veteran fishing organization like Heroes on the Water and Project Healing Waters.

Moreover, consider becoming a certified TPWD Angler Education instructor. Share your knowledge, skills and proper attitudes towards our fishing heritage, and help create a brighter future for freshwater and saltwater fishing in Texas.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Stocking Southern Flounder

Thursday, December 7th, 2017
Shane Bonnot, hatchery biologist at Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson, looks over one of several flounder brood stock tanks where fertilized eggs will be recovered.

Shane Bonnot, hatchery biologist at Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson, looks over one of several flounder brood stock tanks where fertilized eggs will be recovered.

This is Passport to Texas

Spotted sea trout, redfish and southern flounder are the top three popular sportfish. Sea trout and redfish populations are stable, but not so for Southern Flounder.

We’ve had a slow, but stead, decrease in flounder populations throughout the coast of Texas. It’s been worse in some bays than it has in others. But it’s just been a slow decline.

David Abrego oversees the hatchery program at Sea Center Texas. Data suggests fewer females, over fishing, and loss due to shrimp bycatch are some of the main issues affecting flounder. Coastal hatcheries are tasked with helping boost the Southern Flounder populations.

The whole point of the stocking enhancement program is to supplement the natural population with fish.

Former stocking team member, Shane Bonnot, says there’s a learning curve with flounder.

Flounder is totally different than redfish and trout; it’s a whole new ballgame. So, we’re at the beginning stages of learning how to culture this fish.

The process begins with capturing male brooders to fertilize the eggs. And it’s not easy to do.

You have so many factors that can go against you. Whether it’s the wind, or a strong tide. And of course, visibility is not optimal.

They breed healthy males with females at the hatchery, and after three months, they release thousands of flounder fingerlings into the bays to supplement the wild population…for your angling pleasure.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Gigging After Dark for Flounder

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017
Gigging flounder in Christmas Bay.

Gigging flounder in Christmas Bay.

This is Passport to Texas

If you think fishing is a warm weather endeavor for the daytime hours, think again. Kelly Parker and his son Coe take to Christmas Bay in the dark of night in fall and winter months to flounder—as in fishing for flounder.

It’s nice and cool. You’re not worried about a sunburn. So, it’s relaxing. You aren’t working up a sweat. And it’s just very enjoyable. Very peaceful.

The Parker’s wade into the bay armed with a gig and shining a light on the water. A gig is pole fitted with a multi-pronged spear for impaling the fish. Gigging is a legal means of harvesting flounder between December 1st and 14th. The bag limit is two fish per day.

[Kelly] Hurry. Hurry. Hurry before it goes. That cloud’s going to get over it. Go! [splash] Yeah. There you go. [Coe] That actually looks like a Gulf flounder. [Kelly] I knew there was one hiding out here somewhere. [Coe] Yeah, they’re very hard to find. And a lot of people first time gigging ask what they’re looking for. And literally you’re looking for what we call the imprint. It’s the outline of the flounder. So, it looks like a football with a tail. That’s how I kind of describe it to new people that are coming out to the sport.

This flatfish is skilled at laying low, and blending with its surroundings. Sometimes they’re closer than you think.

[Coe] Oh shoot. [Kelly] Stepped on him? [Coe] I stepped on him. I missed him. Let me see if I can find another one real quick. I saw a few over here.

Watch your step, and find fishing information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Fishing for Flounder

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017
A wily, tasty flat fish: flounder.

A wily, tasty flat fish: flounder.

This is Passport to Texas

Flounder’s flat shape and ability to blend with its surroundings, makes it nearly invisible and difficult to catch—unless you’re Brian Treadway…

I think I’ve got a hit. Fish on! Fish on! I give you the southern Flounder. They live to be about six years of age. The state record’s 13 pounds. So, a 20-inch flounder’s considered a trophy fish.

Treadway fishes for flounder in Chocolate bayou, which he says is ideal flounder habitat.

The edge of the shoreline is a prime example of what you want to fish. It’s not flat. It’s simply curvy, and lots of points. Lots of edges. Drains are coming out of the marsh. It’s just a prime example of great, great terrain for the flounder.

December 1st -14th, the daily bag limit is two flounder, taken by any legal means. The current minimum size for a keeper is 14 inches with no maximum.

Oh, shoot. I stepped on him.

When Coe Parker’s not stepping on flounder in Christmas Bay, he’s gigging them.

The tools you need for gigging are a good gig—two prong preferably. I have mine marked off with the legal size limit. You have an underwater gig light, as well as a 12-volt deer feeder battery. That’s pretty much all you need.

Gigging with the best of them. Tomorrow.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Fall Fishing in Texas

Monday, November 27th, 2017
Fly Fishing in Fall (with Reid Whittliff)

Fly Fishing in Fall (with Reid Whittliff)

This is Passport to Texas

When was the last time you went fishing? Fall weather makes spending extended periods of time outdoors more pleasant, but beyond that: fishing is simply great this time of year – saltwater and freshwater.

While Hurricane Harvey stirred things up along the coast, saltwater fishing is shines this time of year. Red drum—or redfish—are favorites of coastal anglers as they migrate into the beachfront waters of the gulf for their annual spawn.

According to veteran anglers, autumn is an ideal time to cast for tarpon and snook, too. You’ll find those farther south.

Not a saltwater fisher? No worries—there’s plenty of action in freshwater during the cooler months. With more great bass lakes than you can shake a stick at, expect to reel in some big fish as they move to shallower waters in fall.

Remember: if you reel in a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more, consider donating it to the Toyota Texas ShareLunker program for use in the spawning program.

Some bass lakes to visit this fall include Lake Fork, Falcon Lake, and Choke Canyon Reservoir.

Any time is a good time to fish in Texas, and fall may just be the best time.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.