By Kevin Deerman
Most of the tournaments in the Gulf of Mexico are won catching one big fish. Boats set up to handle a dozen or more live tuna with high-velocity pumps often head straight offshore. However, dredge fishing for release numbers dominated our tournaments in Texas this summer as the inshore bite remained strong throughout the season.
The Billfish Pachanga, Lone Star Shootout, Texas International Fishing Tournament, Texas Women Anglers Tournament and Texas Billfish Classic were all won by teams that opted to fish natural ballyhoo spreads on the shelf rather than run out to deep water and hit the oil rigs. Normally the latter would be the norm for most of the fleet because of the higher points awarded for blue marlin. However, this year a few of the bait fishing crews were able to find blues inshore to go along with their double-digit white marlin and sailfish releases. At the Texas Women Angler’s Tournament, Tenacious, captained by Vince Ciampa, was able to produce another outstanding performance for their ladies team releasing eight whites, a blue and a sail to take the win in the one-day event. Tenacious also won the Billfish Pachanga with five sailfish, two white marlin and three blue marlin.
The top three places in the Texas Triple Crown Series were similarly occupied by dredge fishing teams, with Quantified’s Capt. Justin Drummond taking first place with 4,300 points from first place wins in both the Lone Star Shootout and Texas International Fishing Tournament. Tenacious finished second overall with 3,150 points and Rebecca tallied 2,800 points, which was enough to secure third place. Walk West, with Capt. Raleigh Morrison at the helm, took fourth place overall with 2,300 points. Their season was highlighted by a second consecutive win at the Texas Legends Tournament. Teams competing in the Gulf often split into two directions. Relying on a consistent inshore bite can be a tough decision come tournament time but these guys definitely made the right call and were on the fish all summer long.
Now that the tournaments are behind us many of our teams will be switching gears to start focusing on the upcoming hunting season. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has forecasted a healthy dove population, especially for the southern areas of the state. Our moderate summer with plenty of rain prior to hunting season has been optimal for all of the habitat in these areas. We are already witnessing some healthy whitetail deer with considerable antler growth from last year and the quail populations also seem to be very plentiful with many young birds and others already paired up again before the season.
As long as we don’t have any major storms or weather events over the next month or so we should be able to look forward to some excellent hunting in Texas.