Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

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shoffer
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Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by shoffer »

Mwatson and I decided on a whim with the low-wind weather window we had Monday night to take the yaks out and do some night fishing. We had a protected shoreline on Galveston's west bay and mainly fished surface lights. I don't know if the super windy weekend had it so that trout could not eat, but that night was an extended prairie fire - they fed voraciously from the time we got out on the water at 10:30 pm until about 2 am when the minor ended. I easily boated 70 trout and for the first time in ages, the keeper-to-dink ratio had the keepers winning at a 4:1 keepers ratio. We did not keep any fish, but we could easily have scored double, "old" limits. And I am not talking about pencils either - my 10 fish stringer would have been 3 - 18s and the rest would have been 19-23. Almost every trout I caught was girthy and super fat, having been foraging on the abundant bait always present in April waters, and they were firm and fought hard. They were like causeway trout, or what some may call tide runners (the existence of which people debate, apparently, according to the Bite Me Podcast). Most fish came during a 1-2 am minor when it got to be every cast for a while for a full hour. Temps were 71 all night and very few mosquitos - I think I had one ear buzz all night. The moon was a half moon so the tides were not crazy, but they were slow outgoing all night and seemingly was just enough to kick the fish into strong feed mode.
Tides.jpg
Most of my trout came on a Clear/Bone/glitter 4-inch Down South on a 1/8 oz jighead. I threw topwaters into feeding fish, but not one blew up on it, so matching close to the hatch was the way to go. Since they seemed so hungry, I guess the bait just needed to be close to the 2-inch shad and 1-inch glass minnows in the lights. I got so tired of catching toward the end that I decided to tie on TSL Grasswalker rigged weedless. I love that lure for certain presentations/conditions but my hook-up ratio with it sucks (I usually miss 4 bites for every one I catch), so I thought I'd tie it on and practice for an upcoming trip to Port Mansfield. I wanted to get better at feeling the bite and setting the hook, and there's no better time to do that when you know you are in a pod of feeding fish.

Surprisingly, I did not hook or even see one red in the bunch. Come to think of it, I never hooked a sand trout either, which was odd.

Sorry, but I did not take any pix. Watson may have.

I know it is an artificial comparison, but if one used just that night as a sample size, then West Galveston Bay has fully recovered from the freeze. That conclusion would, of course, be misleading given the small sample size. Anecdotally, I went out on my boat for day trips twice in April, and zeroed out one day and caught a bunch of gafftops, a pin fish and a hardhead on the other, so I would say we still have more work to do.

In that regard, I like the 3 fish limit. We hardly keep fish anymore anyway, and I would love to see the fishery return to what it was like in the 2000's when I started saltwater fishing hard. Many old salts talk so fondly of what it was like in the 70's and 80's, so if you are one of those folks, I now know what you mean!
Last edited by shoffer on Fri May 03, 2024 12:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Ron Mc
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Re: Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by Ron Mc »

Thanks for the great report, even without fish photos.
Clear glitter doubles up for glass minnows for trout - they will eat a larger lure for slashing into a bait ball.
TSL Grasswalker Coastal Gold has scored trout for me, and you're right about hook-up ratios.
Image
I've found snook and redfish are picky about the individual bait size when they're queuing on glass minnows.
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Re: Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by Kayak Kid »

Soffer, thanks for sharing that great fishng experience. Sounds (reads) like a night to be long remembered.

I am one of the "mature" ol' timers that fished in earnest during the 60's, and 70's. Filling a large cooler with specs was considered to be a pretty good catch. No size limits, no limit on the amount of fish taken. The standard rig was live shrimp under a popping cork. Most prominent saying was, "The most beautiful sight was the bare spot on the water's surface where my cork used to be". I don't recall too many times that I didn't return with enough fillets to distribute to neighbors friends and family.

Beginning around the late 90's, I began my preference for catch and release. I truly love fishing, whether off shore trolling for large bill fish, or fishing for small brook trout with a three wt. fly rod. Yet, whether out of guilt for my early fishing excesses, my preference for steaks rather than fish, or simply having realized that my desire to spend as much time fishing as possible had nothing to do with how heavy my stringer was, I find that releasing what I catch gives me a greater sense of accomplishment than keeping them.

But, that's just me. I most certainly cast no aspersions on any fisherman who legally keeps what he catches
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Ron Mc
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Re: Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by Ron Mc »

99% of the speckled trout I harvested over my life were male, because I always fished the structure and tide where the schoolie males came to us.
I can count on one hand the number of injured females we filleted in 8 years of fishing Arroyo dock lights.

Image Image

Fishing canal lights, Shoffer and MWatson are targeting the same.

Overfishing depleting the fish population will not be the demise of the TX coast.
Starvation of freshwater discharge into the bay systems will be.
The summer brown tides in ULM that everyone has become used to over the past decade is an indicator.
Currently, only the Guadalupe discharge into ANWR is protected, both by court injunction for whooping crane survival, and from the Canyon tailrace coldwater fishery holding Stakeholder rights in GBRA, which GRTU won in court in the 1990s.

If you're going to make conversavation noise, do more than pat yourself on the back.
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Re: Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by shoffer »

Thanks for the post, Ron.
Last edited by shoffer on Thu May 02, 2024 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by Ron Mc »

Everyone, but I think your fishing is targeting and harvesting the right fish, won't go to waste, and fits in with conservation agenda.

Have a taco, counselor.
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Re: Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by shoffer »

Those tacos look good indeed.

At the end of the day, I applaud anyone who is truly practicing conservation (as opposed to simply virtue signaling it). That means that they have had a shift in mindset, and while that might seem small, small changes in behavior can, over time, make a big difference, especially if they influence others to do the same. Maybe we can be like the bass fisherman one day.
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Re: Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by Dandydon »

Great nightfishing report, Shoffer!
Those trout numbers & weights sound like a wondrous dream trip that you & Watson experienced.

Be aware that I'm almost fully recovered from my stomach surgeries & am ready to fish again.

Call me for your next trip so I can catch my first fish in about 8 months of recovery.//cloud.tapatalk.com/s/6633fad5bfe ... 172911.mp4

Sent from my SM-G973U1 using Tapatalk

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Re: Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by mwatson71 »

It was indeed a great night to be on the water. Work and kids have kept me busy, so I have not been out on the water as much this year. Shoffer sent me an email on Monday and said he had a window so I jumped at the opportunity.

When I launched, it took all of two minutes to tell that I was having rudder issues. I could make sharp left turns, but a right turn was near impossible. So as they say, "two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts will." I had some new lures that I bought at this year's Houston Fishing Show, one that looked exactly like the small shad in the lights. I was worried because the hooks on it are tiny but my worry was unnecessary. My second cast into an underwater green light was thumped and I thought for sure it was a red. Then I felt the head shakes and the adrenaline kicked in as I saw the flash of silver slash by my kayak. A couple of jumps later I had a plus-20" trout in the boat. A hook in the mouth and another just on the outside of the lip. A quick unhooking and off she swam. I only know it was over 20 because it was longer than the 20" rod markings. I excitedly threw again into the adjacent light and found another keeper-sized trout, guessing 17-18". Feeling as if I had blown those lights, I pedaled another 20 yards to the next light, where I found the third keeper-sized speck. If we were keeping, I would have had my limit in about ten minutes and traveling a total distance of two hundred yards.

As Shoffer said, the night was pretty much like that from 10:30p until 2:30p, which was a short trip compared to our normal outings. We were in one surface light and I watched him haul in trout after trout on back to back casts. I started trying out some of the other lures that I bought, so I wasn't catching as many, but still catching specks over 15" for most of the night/morning. Once we blew that light, he went off to another surface light, and I stayed just throwing random lures. The larger trout had left, but I caught another 15-20 specks in the 12-14" range until I decided to head back to the launch. We both had early days on Tuesday so the plan was to be off the water by 2:30-3:00a. I stopped at the two lights that I hit on the way out, and brought in two more over 20". Shoffer caught up to me and passed me as I was pedaling in circles> moments later I hear loud splashing and as I make my way over I see him land the biggest fish of the trip, probably 23-24". I try to get over to get a picture, but he has already released it.

I probably caught 40 fish, and over half would have kept. I bet Shoffer caught over 50, and over half would have kept. On the night, zero fish were kept, and I am pretty sure every one that I released had a pretty good chance at survival. I also found it odd that the only fish I caught were specks. No sand trout and no reds. I spent a decent amount of time targeting reds, but they weren't there. I've never known a red that could resist a Vudu shad slathered in ProCure.

Epic night. No pictures. I was too busy catching fish.
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Re: Night fishing - night of Mon. Apr. 29, 2017 - West Galv. Bay

Post by Ron Mc »

Michael, thanks for the detailed account.
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