A ctually, we should be working against the lion—or at least, the Lionfish. These critters are destructive to coral habitats such as the Flower Gardens reef system.
Organized events are held there to capture lionfish by spear-fishing and any other means. Lionfish are not really a factor in the eco-system of the Galveston Bays—but how else do I work the month’s astrological sign into this column?
If you think about it, there is a shortage of fish species named after lions, or the big cats in general. There are cat fish, of course, and tiger sharks, even leopard rays, but as far as I know, none named after bobcats, cougars, lynx, or even panthers.
I consider this a serious omission, one that especially shorts August—which is a fine month for saltwater fishing, as well as the birth month of many great people besides me. That such a fine month only has one fish species associated with it by name—a destructive invasive species at that—is a sad state of affairs. I am surprised several politicians haven’t rushed to correct the matter for us.
So, if we were to nominate a fish species common to the upper Texas coast to best represent the month of August—which fish would it be? I would think it should be a “celebrity” gamefish, of which many are commonly encountered in August.
Marlin might come to mind first. It would certainly be a fine choice to proudly wear the banner of August. Marlins—we get both white and blue marlin in our portion of the Gulf—are great battlers on rod and reel tackle. They make long, powerful runs, they jump often and impressively, and they are challenging to find and hook. Generally, the only drawback to marlin fishing is the expense. Charters to fish beyond the 100 fathom curve are expensive because of the necessary size and type of boat, plus the time spent on the water and the amount of fuel burned when running 60 to more than 100 miles from port and back.
Unfortunately, these drawbacks are mostly shared by other blue water gamesters such as wahoos, tunas, and bull dolphins—but the key word here is mostly. Although it doesn’t happen often enough to plan a trip by, fish usually considered deep water species are occasionally known to venture “inshore.”
From my personal time on the water, I have verified hook-ups with wahoo and white marlin at or near rigs 30 miles of so from shore. My best dolphin was taken closer in than that, and I know of one 200 pound plus yellowfin tuna taken behind a shrimp boat 45 miles out—by Captain Durwood Adams of Freeport.
Sailfish are the unheralded billfish in Texas waters. Although most that are caught are taken incidentally while trolling for marlin, sails are actually a reef species. They are encountered more often than generally known around rigs, over wrecks, and cruising underwater structure by anglers targeting king mackerel. The fisherman with a seaworthy, outboard-powered boat in the 21- to 28-foot range can every now and then find himself hooked to the trophy of a lifetime.
The inshore trophies, really, are tarpon and sharks. Both may be found from the beach up to 35 to 40 miles out. Although heavier tackle works best, either can be taken on the tackle used for kings and red snapper.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with fishing for kings and snapper—or bonito, jacks, or African pompano—another “exotic” species we’ve caught at rigs 30 miles out or closer. Neither are hefty redfish or speckled trout species to be ashamed of. The truth is, a whole lot of fish could be considered “THE fish of August.”
Location: Anywhere in salt water will have something to catch this month to be proud of. Surf and jetties, bay reefs, tidal streams, and offshore are all good—and it would be wise to sample as many of these places as you can!
Species: Anything from croaker to marlin might be your target species this month.
Bait:It’s all good when there are so many hungry “targets” in the water.
Best Time: Worth repeating from July: To dodge the heat of the day, fish early and late—or at night. Always pay attention to tidal movement.
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]