Jan
21

Self-guided/chartered Coastal Blasts and Casts (Duck Hunts and Bay Fishing Trips)

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FCS goes on usually two self-guided/chartered blasts and casts (duck hunts and bay fishing trips) per duck season – one at Corpus Christi and the other at Port O’Connor (POC).

We’ve had many successful duck hunts and fishing trips but our boat captains are not guides and three of them have full-time jobs and only hunt and/or fish on weekends, so do not expect to always bag and/or catch limits on these trips.

We’ve had many successful duck hunts at both locales and have often gotten our two-duck limit of redheads.  We’ve killed a few other ducks but redheads are the predominant species on the coast, but we’ve also killed wigeons, scaups, pintails, buffleheads, green wing teal, and mergansers.

We’ve also had many successful bay fishing trips, but generally don’t do as well in the winter as we do during the warmer months.

We primarily target redfish, black drum, and speckled trout but can also catch sheepshead, flounder, jack crevalle, sharks, rays, and a variety of non-game fish such as hardheads and lady fish, so be prepared.  For lure and line recommendations see the bottom of this page.

Here are pictures of some of our successes.

Boats can include Kevin McConnell’s, Randy Rowley’s, Daryl Shipper’s, and Wayne Weilnau’s bay boats, and possibly others.  Kevin, Randy, Daryl, and Wayne can take three sportsmen in their boats, in addition to them.  For duck hunting, the boats are used to ferry the hunters to the hunting spots and then beached or anchored about 100 yards away.  We fish from the boats, unless fishermen want to wade fish.  In which case the captain’s will take the fishermen to the desired wade fishing spot(s), if the captain agrees to wade fishing.

Costs:

  • The participants (excluding the captain) will split the vehicle and boat gas, a boat wash after the event (to wash the salt and mud off), state or county park fees (if applicable), boat slip fees (if applicable), boat launch fees (if applicable), and toll road fees (if applicable).  The captains have to replace their boat batteries, trailer tires and wheel bearings, etc., and repair things like their trolling motors more quickly due to taking FCS members and guests on such trips than they would if they didn’t take FCS members and guests on such trips; therefore, they are exempt from the above expenses.
  • We’ll eat out or get drive-through food.
  • For Corpus Christi, we’ll stay in an Airbnb house or townhouse.
  • For Port O’Conner, Wayne Weilnau’s house can hold up to eight participants.  If we have more participants going than that, some will have to stay at The Inn at Clark’s (a waterfront inn on the Intercoastal) or an Airbnb house.  We’ll take the maid cleaning fee to clean Wayne’s house, the Inn at Clark’s/Airbnb cost (including an extra boat slip fee (if applicable)) and divide it by the participants (not counting Wayne).  If Wayne’s house is not available, all participants will stay at The Inn at Clarks or an Airbnb.
  • Fishermen can buy live and/or dead bait (and/or use artificial lures).  Everyone in the boat must agree how we will fish before we go out as people who want to fish with lures will become frustrated if the boat isn’t moving often, people who want to fish with live bait will become frustrated if the boat is moving (as movement will drown the bait), and people who want to fish with dead bait will also become frustrated if the boat is moving.

What to Bring If Duck Hunting

  • Texas hunting license and migratory bird endorsement and federal duck stamp.  If you bought a super combo license it includes your hunting license and migratory bird endorsement, and saltwater fishing license but does not include a federal duck stamp.
  • Shotgun.  A 12 gauge piston operated semi-automatic with a 3-inch chamber is recommended.  A plug is required for semi-automatics and pumps capable of holding more than two shells in the magazine while hunting migratory game birds.
  • Camo or dull non-cloth shotgun case.  Cloth cases during waterfowl hunts tend to get muddy.  A floating case is recommended.
  • Non-lead 3″ (if your shotgun is also chambered for three inches) shotgun shells (HEVI-Steel, Winchester Xpert, or equivalent) in 2 or 3 shot – the 1550 FPS variant for steel shot and the 1500 FPS variant for HEVI-steel) are recommended.   Randy Rowley does not recommend anything smaller than 4 shot.  10 gauges and 3 1/2 inch shells in 3 1/2 inch chambered 12 gauges are overkill for ducks.  Steel shot (if of adequate size) will kill ducks – there is no need for HEVI-shot, Tungsten, Bismuth, etc.  You’ll pay a lot more for those shells and they aren’t needed.  You’ll not need more than three boxes and will probably shoot less than two boxes.
  • Camo or dull blind bag, shell bag, vest, or bandoleer.  If your shell bag is bright (e.g., a red HEB shopping bag) you’ll need to hide it well.  A floating blind bag is recommended.
  • Waterproof headlamp or cap light.
  • Camo outer hunting clothes, including cap/hat and a face mask or face paint (face coverings are absolutely essential as oily skin glows in a duck’s eyes).  You never know when it will rain on the coast, so bring rain gear.
  • Waders (absolutely essential).  Uninsulated breathable waders are recommended for warmer hunts.  Neoprene breathable waders are recommended for colder hunts (if you wear 5mm thick neoprene waders on an early season hunt you might cook yourself).  We don’t put our waders on until we reach the boat ramp, unless we’re wearing uninsulated breathable ones.
  • Bucket, stool, or folding chair.  We’ll build a blind or hunt from natural cover, so you’ll need to see over it.
  • Game shears, a fillet knife, fillet board (recommended), sharpener (recommended), three gallon-sized Zip-Lok bags (as to be legal, you’ll need to have your ducks in separate bags for separate days).
  • A medium-sized ice chest or bag to take your ducks home in.
  • Drinks and snacks (optional; drinks are highly recommended).  There are storage compartments in the boats to put your drinks and snacks in.
  • Non-mirrored sunglasses (optional).
  • Bug repellent (optional).

What to Bring If Bay Fishing

  • Saltwater fishing license.  If you bought a super combo license it includes your saltwater fishing license.
  • Rods and Reels (at least two in case you break one; no more than four).
  • Lures and/or terminal tackle for live and/or dead bait.
  • Headlamp or cap light.
  • Clothing appropriate for the season (including a cap).  You never know when it will rain on the coast, so bring rain gear.
  • A fillet knife, fillet board (recommended), sharpener (recommended), three gallon-sized Zip-Lok bags (as to be legal, you’ll need to have your fish in separate bags for separate days), and a medium-sized ice chest or bag to take your fish home in (if you get any).  If on a blast and cast you won’t need a medium-sized ice chest for your ducks and a medium-sized ice chest for your fish – one will do.
  • Drinks and snacks (optional; drinks are highly recommended).  There are storage compartments in the boats to put your drinks and snacks in.
  • Sunglasses (optional, but highly recommended).
  • Bug repellent (optional).
  • Waders (if you plan to do wade fishing; except during late spring, summer, and early fall trips).

The boat captains are required to have a life jacket for every passenger, so you won’t need one.

Randy has extras of many of the items that are listed above (e.g., waders, cap lights, stools, small ice chests, cap lights, rods and reels, lures, etc.) and will happily loan them if you let him know before we leave.  Of course, if you borrow something and break or lose it he will expect reimbursement.

For ducks, Randy usually starts out with a modified choke.  If the ducks are coming into the dekes, he’ll switch to an improved cylinder.  If the ducks are only offering long pass shots he’ll switch to full.  Most modern screw-in chokes are designed for lead and non-lead shot without a change in the pattern density.

Here is what sitting in the typical cover looks like:

Or, if we find a blind that someone isn’t using, we can try to hunt it.  Here’s what one looks like:

Randy has 59 decoys that he can bring to the coast (28 pintails, 17 redheads, six canvasbacks, six buffleheads, and two motorized mallards).  Daryl, Kevin, and Wayne also have at least a dozen decoys each.

Expectations

These blasts and casts are a service to FCS members and guests, but the Event Coordinator/leader will enforce the below expectations:

  • Follow the captain’s instructions and abide by the FCS Bylaws Regarding Conduct.
  • Pay for your share of the vehicle and boat gas, motel rooms, and boat launch fees.
  • Pay for items (that are not yours) that you broke or lost (including decoys that you shot and sank and lures that you borrowed and broke or lost).
  • Help (including helping get the boats back on the trailers).
  • Be prepared to fish (if others have to help you rig properly on the boat, it takes away from their fishing time).  This does not apply to new fishermen.
  • Control your dog during a hunt (a dog that wants to go play with the decoys or charge the ducks as they’re coming into the decoys will ruin the hunt for everyone).
  • Talk quietly, especially when ducks are coming into the decoys (ducks can hear you and will veer away).  Fish can also hear you and will swim away.
  • Don’t be rude.  Examples of rude behavior include deciding to go get coffee after the boat has already launched and your partners are ready to fish, throwing a cast net from the boat while your partners are actively fishing, and fishing with too many rods out – which prevents your partners from fishing at all.  All of these examples have happened on FCS bay fishing trips.
  • Show up.
  • Be on time.
  • Don’t have a pattern of canceling at the last minute.
  • Read the Event Coordinator’s/leader’s emails and don’t ask questions that have already been answered in the emails (and you would have known the answers for if you had read the emails).
  • Return the Event Coordinator’s/leader’s phone calls, emails, and/or texts, if he or she asks a question or asks you to acknowledge something.

Let Randy know if you have any questions at randywrowley@gmail.com (his preference) or 512-922-2484.

Lure recommendations

Soft plastics – Egret Baits’ VuDu Shrimp and VuDu Vixen, Z-Man’s EZ Shrimpz, scented Jerk Shad, Paddler, and Pogy, Berkley’s Gulp Alive Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp, Shrimp, Swimming Mullet, Pogy, Ripple Mullets, Mud Minnow/coakers, Salt Strong’s Slam Shaddy, and Saltwater Jerk Shad, Zoom’s Salty Super Fluke, Norton Lures’ Sand Shad, Sand Eel, and Bull Minnow, and Bass Assassin’s BANG Die Dapper, Sea Shad, Saltwater Shad Assassin, and Saltwater Curly Tail Shad.

Soft plastics colors – salt and pepper (Bass Assassin calls it Salt and Pepper Silver Phantom), white/red, red/white, and Bass Assassin’s Chicken on a Chain (light green and white with black specks and a chartreuse tail).

Jig heads – H&H Lure Double-Eye, Pro Shad, Rattilize, Arrow Head, Cocahoe, Strike King Trokar, Bass Assassin, and Z-Man Redfish Eye and Trout Eye.  1/8, 3/16, 1/4, or 3/8 oz. in red, white, or lead.

Spoons – Nacho Daddy Loaded Nachos, Johnson’s Silver Minnow and Gold Minnow, H&H Lure’s Secret Weedless Redfish Spoon, Strike King’s Sexy Spoon, and Nichols Lures’ Mojo Flutter Spoon.  1/2 – 1 ounce in gold or silver.  These are particularly good for redfish and speckled trout.  Redfish seem to prefer gold and trout seem to prefer silver.

Topwaters – walk the dog lures like Bomber’s Badonk-A-Donk, Heddon’s Zara Spook, Zara Spook Jr., and Chug’n Spook Jr., Rapala’s Saltwater Skitter Walk and Skitter V, MirrOlure’s Series III, Pro Dog Jr., or Top Dog Jr., and Yo-Zuri 3DB Topwater Pencil and 3-D Inshore Pencil; poppers like MirrOlure’s C-Eye Poppa Mullet Surface Popper and Heddon’s Chuggar Spook; and torpedo lures like River2Sea’s Whopper Plopper.  The last two lures don’t come with saltwater hooks, so be sure to rinse the hooks with freshwater after use in saltwater.  1/2 – 1 ounce.

Lipless crankbaits/twitch baits – Bill Lewis’s Magnum Force, Mag-Trap, Knock-N-Trap, and Rat-L-Trap, MirrOlure’s MirrODine, MirrODine XL, Paul Brown’s Fat Boy, MirrOMinnow, MirrOMullett, Series III Catch 2000, 52 MR, She Dog, She Pup, Glad Shad, and XXL, and Rapala’s X-Rap Twitchin’ Minnow and Twitchin’ Mullet.  1/2 – 1 ounce.

Crankbaits – Bill Lewis’s Echo and MirrOlure’s MirrOLip 1/2 oz Suspending Crankbait.  1/2 – 1 ounce.

Hard jerk baits/swim baits – Yo-Zuri’s Pin’s Minnow Floating Swim Bait, Crystal 3-D Minnow, Crystal Minnow, 3DS 2-3/4″ Suspending Minnow, Mag Minnow, and 3-D Inshore, Bomber’s Jointed Long A, Saltwater Grade Heavy Duty Long A, and Magnum Long A, and Cotton Cordell’s Red-Fin.  1/2 – 1 ounce.

Hard bait lure colors – white with red heads, silver with red heads, silver with black backs, silver with blue backs, silver with pink backs, gold with pink backs, bone, and chartreuse.

Line Recommendations for baitcasting and spinning reels (you can use lighter line with spinning reels)

For topwater lures use mono in 12 – 15 lb. test or braid in 30 lb. test.

For diving lures use fluorocarbon in 14 – 17 lb. test or mono in 12 – 15 lb. test.

Leader Recommendations

30 or 25 lb. test fluorocarbon or mono.

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