C oastal fishing in July offers more action than any video game, and the Galveston area is as good a spot as any.
The current state record tarpon, for example, came from a Galveston beachfront pier. Big fish in general are often available targets in mid-summer, with sharks and heavyweight sting rays also roaming close to shore.
A bit farther out, these fish will be mostly replaced by species big in sport and excitement, if not in sheer size. kings, jack crevalle, and ling will be found around rigs, over natural bottom structure and along weed lines and color changes.
The always eager to please little tunny—known almost universally as bonito—are as good a fighting fish for their size as any that lives. For those who can and will venture farther, wahoo, black fin and yellowfin tuna, plus marlin are more common than many realize along and past the 100 fathom curve.
In between these extremes, snappers— despite the tight limits and seasons, groupers, and amberjacks provide sport and excellent table quality.
The fishing opportunities of the Texas Gulf are NOT unlimited, however, with the most limiting factors being man-made. Pending new regulations will require charter boats to “log in” by radio when they leave the dock. They will also be required to radio a notification when they return. In addition, they must purchase and maintain an electronic monitor that will allow them to be tracked the whole time they are on the water.
Catch restrictions will remove much of the enjoyment—no matter how much we profess to love the sport. Not so much in Texas, but elsewhere in the Gulf, it is not uncommon for charter boats to also have commercial fishing permits to help them try to make a living. Recently some charter boat operators locally have begun operating as commercial boats with a different wrinkle, charging customers to catch fish to be sold at a fish house at the end of the trip. If the customers want fish of their own, they must buy them.
The jury may still be out on the complete legality of this technique, but if they are fishing for Highly Migratory Species (HMS)—tuna, marlin, and shark, particularly—new regulations may soon require adherance to the same Coast Guard required equipment that must be carried by strictly commercial vessels.
This includes EPIRBs, survival suits, special safety flares and vessel inspections for those boats fishing for HMS species even if they fish strictly as charter boats. This will happen unless actions by groups such as the National Charter Boat Operators Association (NACO) are able to separate those boats permitted as strictly recreational charter vessels from those wishing to fish commercially
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Location: The playing field in July is vast and varied. The surf teems with warm weather aquatic life, both bait and prey species. Inshore, the bays offer specks, reds, flounders and more, and salty tides move fish good distances up costal streams. Beachfront piers and rock groins as well as jetty passes provide a means for anglers on foot to venture some distance offshore—much farther than even the best long distance cast could reach.
Species: Reds and jacks, sharks and tarpon will be in the surf and passes enough to make fishing for them very worthwhile. King mackerel might also be within reach. Speckled trout and flounder fill out the summertime hit parade.
Bait: Live small baitfish will catch just about anything and are especially effective when sized to the intended quarry. Live shrimp will be available most of the time, and there should be no shortage of fresh dead bait of all types—shrimp, squid, mullet, and other bait species.
Best Time: The big difference between night and day is the temperature. Early and late are only surpassed by fishing at night. Wading during the day can pay off in the right spots at the right tide, but heat and sun are not only uncomfortable, but can be dangerous.
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]