Most all Texas crews have been focused on yard work or hunting, but there has been an incredible yellowfin tuna bite for the fishermen that have found the time to venture out. After the numerous storms that came ashore in the Gulf this fall, we experienced an abundance of green/freshwater that covered a large portion of the fishing grounds off the Texas coast and lingered for a couple months. Fortunately, there were a few spar rigs and drill ships farther offshore that produced plenty of large yellowfin through the end of the year.
The tuna fishing was so good that a few charter operations took advantage of the opportunity by offering specialized long-range double overnight trips to help compensate for some of the losses incurred from increased American red snapper regulations. These boats were averaging around 20 to 30 yellowfin and numerous blackfin tuna per trip. Most of the yellowfin scaled in the 60- to 100-pound range but there were some 150- to 180-pounders mixed in.
Now that a few strong cold fronts have pushed through and the water temperature has dropped off, we have a whole other group of fishermen that are keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts. These guys are die-hards and will be targeting the large numbers of wahoo that normally show up around mid-December and stick around through March. It is not easy fishing, but it can be red-hot at the numerous banks around 100 miles off the coast. What started out with a handful of boats fishing the well-known Flower Gardens area during the late 80s has since turned into a significant Texas fishery. With bigger and more reliable outboard boats now common, many more Texas fishermen have found their own favorite areas off of the continental shelf that have produced some really amazing numbers and also trophy-size fish.
Although there were a couple of boats last year that had some good luck at the end of November, the majority of the fleet doesn’t start fishing until the kickoff of the Winter Wahoo Championship, which runs from January 1 through March 31. Last year there were 40 teams competing for more than $60,000 and the tournament sees increased participation with every passing event. Reel Hard took first place with a three fish aggregate totaling 247-pounds. TuNacity was awarded second place with 235 pounds despite having only a handful of good weather days during the three-month long window that allows crews to depart from any Texas port.
Looking forward, I’m happy to say goodbye to 2020 and hopeful that the year ahead will be better than the last. Happy New Year to everyone and cheers to many more!