Big shrimpers lead way to offshore action

Expect the unexpected when fishing around big offshore shrimpers. Live, dead and

The Gulf of Mexico shrimping season opened July 15 in both state and federal waters. That is nothing but good news for a whole lot of anglers looking to tangle with a variety of fish.

The opening date is based on an evaluation of the biological, social and economic information to maximize the benefits to the industry and the public. In making its determination, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Division used the best available scientific information including samples collected by using trawls and bag seines in routine data collection. The purpose of the closed Gulf season is to protect brown shrimp during their major period of emigration from the bays to the Gulf of Mexico until they reach a larger, more valuable size before harvest and to prevent waste caused by the discarding of smaller individuals.

The magic about fishing the big offshore shrimp boats is the element of surprise. You never know what’s going to be holding under or around an anchored shrimper. The big draw is the cull. Offshore shrimpers drag their nets at night and drop anchor or tie off to a rig at dawn. That’s when the deck hands finish culling the night’s catch. The cull, or bycatch, is shoveled overboard, and that’s what draws all sorts of fish that include red snapper, ling, king mackerel, jacks, sharks and bonito. Those are fish you’ll find holding around shrimpers from 1 to 25 miles offshore. Farther out, in the deeper water, it’s not unusual to find blackfin and yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dorado feeding around a shrimper.

Expect the unexpected when easing up to a big shrimp boat. A few years back, some buddies and I were fishing shrimpers off the Port Mansfield jetties, about 10 miles out. One of those boats was holding a sailfish in the shade under the hull. We tried for hours to catch that billfish but nothing worked.

On another trip, I was with Beaumont’s Dr. Curtis Thorpe on a fishing trip out of Port Aransas. We were fishing with Capt. Tommy Gueldner, who specialized in catching both yellowfin and blackfin tuna feeding in the chum line being shoveled overboard by shrimpers on the move. Talk about exciting fishing — that was it. We could literally see big yellowfins dart out of the depths to snatch a piece of chum. We did pretty much the same thing while fishing with Capt. Jerry Allen of Beaumont. He was running offshore charters out of Venice. We would ease up along a moving shrimper and pitch live baits to huge yellowfins feeding around the boats.

The anchored shrimpers that you’ll find from 5 to 20 miles off the Sabine jetties will more than likely be anchored or tied off to a rig. Those are the boats that will be holding kings, ling, bonito, jacks and sharks. Once the deck hands get through culling the night’s catch, they sleep. With no bycatch being shoveled into the water, fish can be scarce around some of the boats. That’s when a handful of fresh chum will activate a feeding frenzy for any fish holding in the shade of the hull or down deep. You can usually trade beer for fresh chum off the boats.

Catching fish around shrimpers can be done with live baits like shrimp, shad, pogies, croakers and finger mullet. Lures will work, too. Some of the best are silver spoons tipped with a whole pogie, mullet or Spanish sardine. Soft plastic jigs are deadly under shrimpers.

If you’re looking to catch a big fish, rig up with a wire leader and drift a dead mullet or chunk of jack down-current from a shrimper. That’s usually where you’ll find kings and sharks.

Dabneys catch 100 crappie 

American Personnel & Temps president Earl Frost and manager Steve Gilbert of Truckville Texas in Sour Lake co-sponsored a guided fishing trip through the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce’s Lobsterfest event in May. James and Julie Dabney of Dabney Garage Doors were the winning bidders and recently took the two up on a suggested trip where “lots of fishing action” was promised.

This would prove to be a huge understatement, as the Dabneys collected 100 crappie in under three hours.

Not only did the couple stockpile a massive amount of fillets, but there was hardly time to laugh or exchange stories, the fish were biting so fast. To catch great silent auction deals and experiences like this, join the Chamber at Spice of the Season 2016 or LobsterFest 2017. Visit for more information.

Boaters urging EPA to stop adding more ethanol to gasoline 

Just recently, the Boat Owners Association of the United States President Margaret Podlich and Government Affairs Manager David Kennedy, delivered over 24,000 comments from recreational boaters to EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to urge the agency to stop adding more ethanol to the nation’s gasoline supply.

BoatUS had asked the boating public to add their voice to a proposal to increase the amount of ethanol that must be blended into the nation’s gasoline supply for 2017. If adopted, these proposed levels will require the use of a record amount of ethanol, forcing higher-level ethanol fuel blends (including E15 or 15 percent ethanol) into gas pumps and at more gas stations.

Most marine engines are built to only work with up to 10 percent ethanol, and it is illegal to use gas containing more than 10 percent ethanol in any marine engine.