Many Oklahomans travel to the Gulf waters off the Texas coast to enjoy saltwater fishing.
On May 30-31, five Newcastle anglers fished with Capt. Johnny Williams and Capt. Shawn Clark on a 36-hour overnight tuna safari out of Galveston’s Pier 19.
Several stops were made at production platforms and rock formations during the late morning through mid-afternoon in water from 50 to 90 feet deep.
These various stops produced a 25-pound kingfish, an assortment of grouper, vermilion snapper and red snapper from 8 to 20 pounds that were vented and released, since the red snapper fishery in federal waters didn’t open until June 1.
Around mid-afternoon Saturday, a run farther offshore began for overnight tuna fishing. The destination was the Gunnison Spar Platform, located about 125 nautical miles off Galveston. This structure is a fish magnet where yellowfin and blackfin tuna were the primary target.
Numerous drifts from near the platform to over a mile down current during the overnight period produced many blackfin tuna and five yellowfin. Fishing methods used were chrome diamond jigs, butterfly-type jigs in assorted color patterns, freelined Spanish sardines, chunk baits of bonito or blackfin tuna and various topwater poppers.
The big fish of the deepwater drifts and the trip was a shortfin mako that was estimated to weigh 300 to 350 pounds. It ate a bonito strip right at boatside.
A little after sunrise Sunday morning, the run inshore began through a calm gulf as the boat fished its way in the direction of Galveston. Stops produced vermilion snapper, grouper, barracuda, tilefish and shark.
Of the 40 anglers on board the party boat, the five Okies – Hunter Reilly, Kelly Jones, John Hibdon, Kirk Reilly and Anthony Lemigs – caught the only yellowfin tuna on the trip, five fish weighing from 35 to 43 pounds.
For information about saltwater fishing with Johnny Williams, call the Galveston Pier Office at (409) 762-8808 or (713) 223-4853.