2018 Bay Area Houston Magazine Best of the Bay Award Winners

April 3rd, 2019

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Bay Area Houston Magazine Best of the Bay Awards! At the start of every year, we look back and reflect on the good we saw in the previous year. These are the results voted on and chosen by you, the reader!

Best Asian Cuisine

888 Asian Bistro

Best Auto Repair

Space Center Auto

Best Bank

Texas First Bank – Kemah

Best Bartender

Tara Calvert – Tommy’s Restaurant Oyster Bar

Best BBQ

Red River BBQ 

Best Breakfast

Skipper’s Greek Cafe

Best Brunch

Sundance Grill II

Best Burger

Hubcap Grill

Best Cajun Restaurant

Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar

Best Car Dealer – domestic

Ron Carter Cadillac

Best Car Dealer – foreign

Ron Carter Hyundai

Best Credit Union

JSC Credit Union

Best Café

Classic Cafe

Best City to Live

League City

Best Contractor/Remodeler

Dynamic Construction Texas

Best Dentist

Dr. J Derek Tieken

Best Entertainment Spot

T-Bone Tom’s

Best Entertainment Venue

Kemah Boardwalk

Best Family Restaurant

T Bone Tom’s

Best Gift Shop

Spruce

Best Hair Salon

Brazil N Drops

Best Hair Stylist

Bonnie Wolcott – Heist Hair Bar

Best Hospital

Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital

Best Indian Restaurant

Noon Mirch – Cuisine of India

Best Italian Restaurant

Grazia Italian Kitchen

Best Luxury Car

Cadillac

Best Margarita

El Tiempo Cantina

Best Marina

South Shore Harbor

Best Mexican Restaurant

El Tiempo Cantina

Best Oysters

Tommy’s Restaurant Oyster Bar

Best Pizza

Dan’s Pizza

Best Pub

Scotty’s Pub on the Bay

Best Realtor

Kimberly Harding

Best Resale Shop

Assistance League

Most Romantic Restaurant

Marais

Best Seafood

Tookie’s Seafood

Best Steak

T Bone Tom’s

Best Sushi

Michiru

Best Vegan Restaurant

Nokturne

Best Vocalist – Male

Claudio Sereni

Best Vocalist – Female

Kelly Williams

Best Web Design

Big Splash Web Design

Best Wine Bar

Chelsea Wine Bar

Best Women’s Apparel

The Clotheshorse

Best Women’s Boutique

Belle Lee’s Boutique

Best Yacht Club

Lakewood YC

Best Urgent Care

UTMB League City

Best New Restaurant

O2 Bistro

Many Lakewood sailors among top Bay Cup 1 Regatta finishers

April 1st, 2019

Photo of 2019 Bay Cup I on-the-water action by LYC member Elizabeth Morrell.

Lakewood Yacht Club, in cooperation with Bay Access, hosted this year’s Annual Bay Cup I Regatta March 2 with 34 boats racing under foggy and problematic wind conditions. Lakewood members held their own, however, and finished among the top in each class.

The top three finishers in each group are as follows:

PHRF Spin (Non-Sprit)
1st-Place – Leading Edge – Tom Sutton – LYC
2nd-Place – Hamburg II – Al Goethe -LYC
3rd Place – Sodalis III- Jim Demarest – LYC

PHRF (Sprit)
1st-Place – Second Star – J.D. Hill – LYC
2nd-Place – Second Wind – Chris Waters – GBCA
3rd Place – Pesto – John Barnett – LYC

PHRF Non-Spin
1st-Place – Sweet Peril – Thomas Reiser – LYC
2nd-Place – Good News – Ash Walker – LYC
3rd Place – Big D – Jim Foster – GBCA

Cruising Non-Spin Classic Canvas
1st-Place – Bad Girl – Nicole Laster – GBCA
2nd-Place – Hobgoblin – Marty Pedowicz – LYC
3rd Place – Seahorse – Michael Clark

Full racing results can be found under Racing & Regattas on the LYC website at www.lakewoodyachtclub.com

Skippers, crew, guests and numerous volunteers enjoyed the traditional post-race party at the club, which included a celebratory dinner camaraderie over drinks and an awards ceremony followed by live music by The Rustics.

Interested racers should begin preparing for Bay Cup II, the second of this two-race series. Overall trophies will be presented after that regatta Aug. 3.

“Many thanks to the racers who continue to compete in this series each year, the land volunteers, on-the-water volunteers, scorers, protest committee and Lakewood staff for the work, planning and executing all of the activities for the Bay Cup I Regatta,” said Bay Cup I Race Chairman David Comeaux.

The LYC Race Committee said it would also like to acknowledge the generous sponsors that helped make this a great sailing event including the City of Seabrook, Faron Daigle, Realtor, Little Yacht Sales, Texas Coast Yachts, Davis Marine Electronics, Sea Lake Yacht Sales, Pelican Insurance, Kevin Severance Insurance, True North Marine, Blackburn Marine, Upstream Brokers, Southwest Distilleries, Bay Area Houston Magazine and KO Sailing.

Regatta proceeds benefit the Bay Access Foundation, a not for profit charitable organization fostering amateur racing and sailing on Galveston Bay.

Contact Bay Cup I Regatta Chairman David Comeaux at davidcomeaux@live.com or 832-993-5933 for more information.

Harvest Moon, Hurricanes, and that particularly bad boy, Harvey

September 1st, 2018

By Andrea Todaro

The Harvest Moon Regatta® is probably the best known sailboat race on the Texas Gulf Coast, although even many participants do not know its history, or the role that hurricanes have played in its evolution.

The first HMR was the brainchild of three sailors from Lakewood Yacht Club. As John Broderick told the story, one Friday night at Lakewood the bar conversation turned to the need for more opportunities to sail and in particular, opportunities to get offshore. Sail maker John Cameron offered “the best sails I’ve had were late in the fall in the Gulf after the summer doldrums are over and the winter Northers haven’t started.” Competitive racer Ed Bailey agreed, saying he missed the old Texas Offshore Race Circuit (“TORC”) sailing events. Broderick, a dedicated cruiser and, at the time, Lakewood’s commodore, agreed and said, “why don’t we organize something?”

The bar talk led to discussions with members of other area sailing clubs, some of which were held at Frank’s Shrimp Hut, which is now Hooter’s in Seabrook. The first regatta, in 1987, was planned as a four race event beginning with a skippers’ meeting on Friday, Sept. 25, and a kickoff party on Saturday, Sept. 26. Racing started on Thursday, Oct. 1 and ran through the 10th with race segments or “legs” from the Galveston jetties to Port Isabel, back up the coast to Port Aransas, back to the Galveston Jetties, and then up to Marker Two at the Clear Creek channel leading into Lakewood’s homeport, Seabrook.

The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox is known as the “harvest moon” and is characterized by a bright orange color; it is followed by a “hunter’s moon. The “harvest moon” can occur as early as September 8th or as late as Oct. 7 which was the date of the “harvest moon” in 1987. Thus, in October 1987, with the races occurring between October 1st and the 10th, the Harvest Moon Regatta® was born. Seventeen yachts sailed that first year, with several bikini beach parties along the way.

In 1988, the “harvest moon” fell on Sept. 25, so the race start was scheduled for Thursday, Sept.22, but on Sept. 8 Hurricane Gilbert destroyed the Queen’s Point Marina at Port Isabel. The race start was delayed three weeks to Oct. 14 and the destination was changed to Port Aransas. Thus began the tradition of sailing to Port Aransas under a magnificent full moon, sometimes a “harvest moon” if it fell during the first seven days of October, otherwise a “hunter’s moon” if it fell on or after the 8th of October.

Mother Nature and Hurricane Gilbert are credited with the growth of the Harvest Moon Regatta® which grew steadily from the 17 yachts of 1987 to over 260 yachts in later years. The growth was due in large part to the perfect destination, Port Aransas. As John Broderick described it: “This ideal Texas port allows yacht owners and sailors to use minimal days from work to join in on what can be a most memorable overnight sail down the Texas coast during traditionally the best offshore sailing time of the year. And we can all do this in relative safety shared by some 200 other yachts.”

The race, open to sailors with no club affiliation as well as members of other area sailing clubs, became a bucket list item for many Texas sailors, many of whom had little or no offshore experience. The growth of Harvest Moon Regatta® also resulted in the formation of a charitable organization, Bay Access Sailing Foundation. Bay Access now serves as the regatta’s organizing authority, with race management provided by volunteers from Lakewood Yacht Club.

In 2015, Hurricane Patricia was forecast to envelop Port Aransas in a “catastrophic rain event” with the worst conditions forecast for Sunday morning when sailors would be required to leave the relative safety of Port Aransas City Marina for the trip back to Houston and various other home ports. Numerous warnings from weather officials eventually prompted race organizers to cancel the race for the first time in its history. Despite the race cancellation, the party in Port Aransas went on, and some of the more seasoned sailors sailed the course and were able to obtain slips in the City Marina harbor to ride out the gale force winds that arrived as forecast on Sunday morning.

In 2017, when the actual “harvest moon” again fell in October, on the 5th, Hurricane Harvey put a new twist on the story. Hitting the Texas coast near Port Aransas on Aug. 25, the storm devastated “the ideal Texas port” and dumped torrential rain on the entire Houston area. This time, instead of canceling the race or rescheduling it, race organizers decided to reformat the race as a triangle race, similar to Lakewood’s TORC event, the Heald Bank Regatta, which is traditionally held in April. Beginning and ending at the Galveston Jetties, the Regatta was followed by an awards party at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, where regatta volunteers put a special focus on raising money for the devastated Port Aransas. Port Aransas city officials were surprised to receive a check for about $20,000 from the regatta, and they are looking forward to the return of the regatta this year, although it will be many years before Port Aransas recovers to pre-Harvey prosperity.

Experience Galveston Bay’s Best: Seamah™ Texas

September 1st, 2018

By Sumer Dene

Seamah™ is the name coined by locals of the two thriving coastal towns, Seabrook and Kemah. The towns are separated by a canal that joins the Galveston Bay with the brackish waters of Clear Lake. It’s vast waterways, canals and bayou inlets snake through Seabrook and Kemah neighborhoods making this recreational area the country’s 3rd largest boating community. This coastal area offers a most unique experience in boating, with its waterfront hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, marinas and yacht clubs.

The gulf coast marine is booming with new business. The area features several quality marinas and clubs to enjoy boating, yachting and fishing. At the Endeavor Marina they maintain your boat indoors and offer high-end concierge service. This service makes it easy for you and your family to go out on the water, worry free. All you need to do is call ahead and experienced staff will prepare your boat for you. They fuel and stock your boat with ice, beverages and all of the amenities by the time you arrive for your leisurely cruise.

Seamah’s™ landmark is Lakewood Yacht Club, a beautiful private yacht club nestled on Clear Lake. The club is ranked in the top ten best yacht clubs in America. Lakewood Yacht Club has over 300 boat slips in all sizes. It’s a charming and gorgeous place to eat great food, drink cold beverages and cocktails, socialize by the pool and enjoy the bay life. It provides members exciting regattas, sailing lessons and many social and water activities. Lakewood Yacht Club serves lunch and dining and a mouth-watering Sunday champagne brunch. This is the perfect place to enjoy a wonderful waterfront lifestyle.

The Kemah Boardwalk is the ultimate waterfront amusement park with fine and casual dining, theme rides and seasonal events. There’s always a festival with live entertainment taking place in Seamah™. It was named one of the top 10 boardwalks in the country. You can enjoy fireworks and evening concerts all summer long. “Rock the Dock” features a live concert on Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. and fireworks begins every Friday night at 9:30 p.m. Bring your family out for a boat ride on the large speedboat the “Beast”or choose the “Fantasea,” the largest charter yacht on the Gulf Coast. Come unwind and relax with your entire family. Experience the best in dining and sightseeing Seamah™ has to offer.

Plan to stay overnight to enjoy the Kemah Boardwalk Inn. This quaint boutique hotel offers a variety of services with your own private balcony overlooking the scenic Kemah Boardwalk and Galveston Bay.

The colorful Aquarium Restaurant gives you and your family a total marine experience. Come explore and discover the deep sea mysteries and many ecosystems.

Their bar and restaurant has a 50,000 gallon tank filled with various aquatic life such as sharks, rays and fish found in Galveston Bay. The aquarium includes a rainforest exhibit with piranhas, snakes, scorpions, tarantulas and much more as well as guided tours and numerous hands-on educational programs. Experience the stingray reef where you can get up close and personal with the mystical creatures of the sea.

If you have an adventurous side, explore Galveston Bay on a 3-hour luxurious sunset dinner cruise. This private charter boat is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway or get together with friends. Windward Sea Adventures is recognized by the American Sailing Association and offers sailing lessons no matter your prior experience. Pine Gully Park has a fishing pier on Galveston Bay and overlooks the Great Texas Coastal birding trails. Take your family fishing and watch migrant birds in their natural habitat at this remarkable restored wetland.

Seamah™ is known for its fresh quality seafood establishments. People come from all over Texas to shop at the local family-owned markets. Rose’s, Emery’s Baybrooks and Golden Seafood all have a view of Galveston Bay. They are some of the largest distributors in the seafood industry in the United States and Mexico. You can enjoy a Raw Bar experience with live music and food and drinks on an outdoor deck at the Swamp Shack, Sam’s Boat or Outriggers Restaurant. Another noted eatery is The Classic Cafe’ which serves homestyle seafood and carries many delicious desserts, homemade cakes and pies. A must is to take your family out for fine dining and gorgeous views at The Flying Dutchman, Landry’s or at Villa Capri. Seamah™ is the place to experience a waterfront lifestyle at its best. Seabrook’s seafood houses feature the freshest quality seafood such as Gulf Coast fish, shrimp, oysters, crawfish and more served year-round. Come to Seamah,™ Texas. You will not be dissapointed.

Lakewood gearing up for two August regattas

August 1st, 2018

Lakewood is gearing up for two big races in August — the Bay Cup II and Heald Bank Regattas, which provide the perfect opportunity to compete against your peers on the bay and offshore as well as a chance to tune up for this year’s Harvest Moon Regatta in October.

Lakewood will host Bay Cup II Aug. 4 along with the post-race party that evening. Liquid trophies will be awarded by Southwest Spirits, and artist Robert Greaney will perform for the crowd.

The Heald Bank Regatta will be raced Aug. 17-18, followed by a celebration at the club. Andy and the Dreamsicles will provide the live entertainment.
The fun doesn’t stop in August. Follow up these races by participating in the Harvest Moon Regatta Oct. 25-28. HMR is returning to its usual format and will race from Galveston to Port Aransas.

Primary sponsors for Bay Cup II and Heald Bank include the City of Seabrook, Blackburn Marine, Davis Marine Electronics, True North Marine, Mariner Magazine, Upstream Brokers, Sea Lake Yachts, Keven Severance Insurance, OJ’s Marine, Little Yacht Sales, RejeX.com and Texas Coast Yachts.

Bay Cup II Regatta
Racers can register at www.lakewoodyachtclub.com under the Regattas tab. The registration fee for Bay Cup II is $75 and includes entry into the Skippers’ Meeting on Aug. 3, as well as a meal and two drink tickets to be enjoyed at the post-event awards party. A $5 discount is available to U.S. Sailing members. The entry fee is payable by credit card or yacht club reciprocal charge. Aug. 1st is the registration deadline.

Bay Cup II is the second in a two-race series. One or more distance races will be sailed in either Trinity Bay or Galveston Bay. Potential classes include PHRF Spinnaker, PHRF non-Spin, Cruising Spinnaker, Cruising Non-Spin Classic Canvas (using only Dacron sails), Multihull and One Design class(es).

Non-racers and other out-of-town guests can enjoy an array of nearby activities in Seabrook and the surrounding area, which offer a variety of entertainment. Walk the trails in Seabrook, visit Space Center Houston, check out the wildlife at Armand Bayou Nature Center or experience the dining and amusement options at the Kemah Boardwalk.

Overall trophies for the Bay Cup series will be given out at the post-race party on the evening of Aug. 4 in the LYC Ballroom. Robert Greaney will provide live entertainment while guests socialize and savor great food and tasty drinks.

This year’s sponsors include City of Seabrook, RejeX.com, OJ’s Marine, Little Yacht Sales, True North Marine, Texas Coast Yachts, Blackburn Marine, Upstream Brokers, Davis Marine Electronics, Kevin Severance Insurance, Sea Lake Yachts, Mariner Magazine, Bay Area Houston Magazine and Southwest Spirits.

Regatta proceeds benefit Bay Access, a not for profit charitable organization fostering amateur racing and sailing on Galveston Bay.

For further information, call LYC at 281-474-2511 or David Comeaux, Bay Cup I Regatta chairman at davidcomeaux@live.com or 832-993-5933. For visitor information, visit seabrooktx.gov

Heald Bank Regatta
The Heald Bank entry fee is $80 and includes access to the Skippers’ Meeting on Aug. 16 and a ticket for dinner and two tickets for Texas Navy Rum at the post-event awards party hosted at LYC Aug. 18. A $5 discount is available to U.S. Sailing members. Don’t miss the Aug. 11 registration deadline.

Heald Bank is an offshore regatta open to all boats of the PHRF Spin, PHRF Non-Spin, Cruising boats with a PHRF Rating (non-spin or with Spinnaker), One-Design, and Multihulls.

The Buccaneer Bash dinner and awards party will follow the race at LYC, which will include a “Pirates’ Pig Roast,” live entertainment by Andy & the Dreamsicles and plenty of Texas Navy Rum.

Sponsors of the 2018 Heald Bank Regatta are the City of Seabrook, Texas Navy Light Rum, RejeX.com, OJ’s Marine, Little Yacht Sales, True North Marine, Texas Coast Yachts, Blackburn Marine, Upstream Brokers, Davis Marine Electronics, Kevin Severance Insurance, Marine Outfitters, Sea Lake Yachts, Mariner Magazine and Bay Area Houston Magazine.

For further information, call LYC at 281-474-2511 or Heald Bank Race Chairman Bob Hunkins 281-216-4082 or rdhunkins@verizon.net.

Additional visitor information and accommodations near the club can be found at www.seabrooktx.gov

Harris County Flood Control District plans public hearings

July 11th, 2018

With Harris County planning a vote Aug. 25 on its $2.5 billion bond proposal to fund flood risk reduction projects, several meetings are being held beforehand to hear the public’s thoughts on flooding issues.

One such public hearing Tuesday, July 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. concerning the Clear Creek Watershed and involving a number of area projects, will be held at the El Franco Lee Community Center, 9500 Hall Road, just off the Beltway. The Clear Creek Watershed covers a wide area through which Clear Creek flows – Nassau Bay, Taylor Lake Village, El Lago, Webster, Friendswood and a small part of Seabrook.

Another meeting that might be of interest to Bay Area residents and concerning the San Jacinto/Galveston Bay Watershed will be held Tuesday, July 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Sylvan Beach Pavilion (1 Sylvan Beach Drive, La Porte, TX 7757) and is expected to focus more on Seabrook, Shoreacres and La Porte projects.

Potential projects that may impact Seabrook include:

  • Pine Gully Channel Improvements
  • Todville Bridge at Pine Gully
  • Wildlife Park Drainage Expansion
  • Lower Pine Gully Drainage Improvements
  • Improvements to Hester Gully
  • Increase depth and capacity of El Mar Ditch
  • Drainage Improvements to Miramar Subdivision
  • Drainage Improvements to Baybrook Section 1
  • Improvements to the Seabrook Slough

Citizens can view watershed area maps at:

San Jacinto and Galveston Bay:

https://www.hcfcd.org/projects-studies/san-jacinto-galveston-bay/

Clear Creek Watershed:

https://www.hcfcd.org/projects-studies/clear-creek/

Seabrook is encouraging its citizens to attend one or both meetings or email comments into Harris County Flood Control District for the upcoming bond election (HCFCD Community Input).

At this time, Seabrook does not have projects listed on the interactive map but has submitted a number of projects for consideration during this comment period before the election. This is a good chance for citizens to have their voices heard, a Seabrook spokesman said.

Fish Kill in Seabrook

June 7th, 2018

Photo by Brandon Rowan

You may be wondering “what is that smell?”

Seabrook and other coastal cities are experiencing a “fish kill,” according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. The most common cause of fish kills in Texas is low dissolved oxygen in the water. If there isn’t enough oxygen in the water, fish cannot “breathe.” While it can be the result of human activities, it is typically a natural occurrence. The last time Seabrook experienced a fish kill was in May 2014.

The region’s TPWD Kills and Spills Team are likely to survey and research the area. Many factors may have contributed to a fish kill, including but not limited to the heat, the lack of rain or even a possible algae bloom.

While the smell and sight of dead fish may be a nuisance, it is only temporary and the City of Seabrook cannot predict, prevent or fix the issue. In most instances, Mother Nature will properly dispose of the dead fish. Birds and other animals will eat the fish and the tide and weather will wash the fish back into the bay.

Due to health concerns, fishing is discouraged in areas where fish carcasses have accumulated.

You may report fish kills to Texas Parks and Wildlife by calling their 24-hour hotline at 281-842-8100. Quick response is key to helping a successful investigation. If possible please note:

  • Location, date and time
  • Water color, clarity and any odor
  • Number, size and species of affected organisms
  • Recent weather
  • Condition and behavior of animals or organism
  • Are plants or other organisms affected?

For additional information please visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/water/environconcerns/kills_and_spills/kills.phtml

Galveston Bay Complex In Dire Need Of Public Piers

December 1st, 2017

By Capt. Joe Kent

In my role as the Fishing Columnist for the Galveston County Daily News, one of the most frequently asked questions comes from readers seeking information on areas they can fish without a boat. Close behind this are inquiries from mainly families wanting to know of free fishing piers or docks where they can take the kids fishing and crabbing.

Unfortunately, the answer to both sets of questions is that there is a very limited number of spots where anglers can access the water or fish from a public pier or dock without fees being involved.

This was not the case decades ago when pubic fishing piers dotted the area around the Galveston Bay Complex including Galveston Island itself.

If it were not for having fishing piers to use, it is possible that I would not have developed my passion for fishing and learned so much from other anglers fishing close by who taught me some of the basics of saltwater fishing.

Around Clear Lake, there were numerous crabbing and fishing piers where kids and their families could enjoy a morning or day of fishing. One of the few that remains and, it could be the only one on the lake, is the pier at the Harris County Park on NASA Road 1. As a small child, I fished and crabbed from that pier many times.

Although I am not sure just how long the pier and its predecessors have been there, it has been at least 70 years.

Along with the Harris County Park Pier, there were numerous piers running out into Clear Lake and all were open to the public although I am sure some were privately owned.

Clifton’s by the Sea had a huge pier running into Galveston Bay and it was known as one of the best crabbing spots around.
So, what has happened to all of our public fishing areas? Well, first of all with each passing hurricane or tropical storm, piers are badly damaged or wiped out. Since Hurricane Carla in 1961, most have not been rebuilt.

Commercial and residential waterfront development has caused many of our public locations with access to water to be taken away. This has been especially true along the west shoreline of Galveston Bay and all of Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula.

Liability was not much of a concern back in the 1960s and beyond; however, that is not the case today. Back then people assumed the responsibility for their actions; however, today, a lawsuit is waiting for any possible recovery for injury, however so slight.

Another factor preventing the rebuilding and construction of public fishing piers is the cost. First, waterfront property is sky high and the costs of construction are likewise.

The victims of all of this are the families and youth. For the Galveston Bay Complex, there is not an easy way around all of this. Do municipalities and counties want to spend their limited resources on fishing piers or for something of more use to the masses such as roads and utilities? If fishing drew a larger percentage of the population, there likely would be some concessions.

In contrast to the Galveston Bay Complex, areas along the middle and lower Texas Coast continue to provide excellent facilities for families to use for crabbing or fishing. Driving down Highway 35 from Matagorda County southward, the number of free fishing spots just glares at you.

It would be interesting to know just how many visitors and tourists those nice fishing piers draw each year. Palacios, Port O’Connor, Rockport and Aransas Pass all have to be proud of their contributions to family outings. It would be nice if more of those facilities could be built closer to the Galveston Bay area!

Galveston Bay in the aftermath of the disastrous flooding

October 1st, 2017

By Capt. Joe Kent

Lots of questions are being asked about the effects of the recent flood waters on the Galveston Bay Complex. Most of the questions are centered on whether the floods have a beneficial or detrimental impact on the eco-system and what we can expect in the way of fishing this fall.

For a number of years, the Galveston Bay Complex was experiencing a serious drought that was beginning to change the ecology of the bay. High levels of salinity and restricted flows of fresh water from rivers and creeks were taking its toll on the wetlands and back bays.Concerns were mounting about a change in our fish patterns, in particular a possible migration of certain species of fish out of the bays and an influx of different species into the bays. It certainly was a situation that warranted concern.

Three years ago, the first of a series of heavy flooding hit and eventually lowered the salinity levels and created some ideal conditions for growing our stocks of marine life, both fin fish and shell fish.

In most cases, flood waters entering the bays do a lot of good for the basic component of the marine life cycle, and that is the estuaries. The nutrients that are washed into the rivers and other outlets help the vegetation grow and in turn provide a sanctuary for newly hatched marine life. This is obviously a real benefit to all who partake in saltwater recreational activities and most beneficial to anglers in all areas including those who fish offshore.

On the other hand, flood waters that contain heavy concentrations of contaminants can be detrimental to the estuaries. Contaminants in the form of chemicals and metals are the most destructive, as they can and do kill the life line of the estuaries, the vegetation and in general pollute the waters.
Just how our recent flood affects the sensitive balance in the wetlands is yet to be determined.

While it remains to be seen as to the effects on the estuaries, there are a few things that can pretty well be counted on as far as the effects on fishing and crabbing.

Following the floods and during the time when heavy flows of water continued to pour into the bays, we have experienced a welcomed dry spell with northerly and westerly winds dominating under low humidity. This has helped to get the flood waters draining more rapidly. Most of Galveston Bay has been muddy and off color with little or no salinity. How long this will last is anyone’s guess.

Most of the time, trout will move out of the upper reaches of the bay system and settle in areas that are closer to the Gulf of Mexico, such as those around the passes and jetties. In those areas, trout tend to stack up and become easy prey for anglers.

Using last year as an example, our heavy floods came early in the summer and were followed by a similar pattern of hot, dry weather. It was at least two months before the bays started showing signs of improvement.

If that pattern repeats itself, it could be November before the water returns to normal around the Galveston Bay Complex. This is especially true in light of the fact that this year’s flooding was more extensive and severe than in years past.

So what does that mean for fishing? Well, for speckled trout especially, are going to be found in large concentrations closer to the coast. The jetties, surf and lower Galveston Bay should hold the prized game fish for quite a while.

Reds and other fish likely will be the offering in the upper reaches of the bay system, as they are not nearly as sensitive to salinity as are trout.

The Galveston Bay Complex Revival

August 1st, 2017

A snook was recently caught at the Galveston jetties

By Capt. Joe Kent

For years now almost everyone associated with the Galveston Bay Complex has had few good things to say about our fishing. There certainly was good reason to complain, as the quality of the water was driving finfish and crustaceans away.

Old timers, those who fished all around the complex during the 1940s and 50s, would tell of catches of fish that we just do not see today. Also, they would brag about the quantities of fish they would catch and give away, fish they would sell to seafood markets, or worse use for fertilizing their plants.

During that time it seemed that there was an endless bounty of seafood for the taking all over the area. Families would find good crabbing along the Houston Ship Channel as far upstream as the where the Battleship Texas is located. Nice catches of trout, croaker and other fish would come from the same area.

At some point during the 1960s it became apparent that something was happening to our stocks of crab and finfish in upper Galveston Bay and along the shores adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel.

This did not get any serious attention by our legislators until well into the 60s when quality analysis showed the water was polluted with contaminants from industries along the channel.

Further evaluations revealed that some of the rivers, bayous and creeks flowing into the bay system were bringing unacceptable amounts of contaminants in the forms of metals and sewage.

It did not take long for everyone to realize that famous phrase “Houston we have a problem.”

During that era my family and I fished out of Seabrook almost exclusively as the fishing was great and about half the distance to Galveston. Two of the more popular and productive spots out of Seabrook were Scotts Reef, an easy run from the bait camps along Toddville Road, and the spoil banks along the Houston Ship Channel which we referred to as the Bulkheads.

Kemah, across the channel was home to a party boat called the Texas Clipper and for $5.00 the boat would take anglers, or anyone just wanting an outing on the water out to the ship channel for a half-day of fishing. On weekends, the boat would make morning and afternoon trips and anglers always caught a variety of pan fish with an occasional speckled trout or red mixed in.

The fishing out of the Seabrook/Kemah area turned off toward the end of the 60s and by the early 1970s anglers were moving closer to Galveston to find fish. That is when I began fishing the jetties by boat.

At that time, more restrictions were being placed on dumping into Galveston Bay. As the environmental regulations were increasing, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department began noticing a serious decline in our stocks of fish and began setting size and bag limits for certain species.

Additionally, efforts began to start educating fishermen that there was a finite supply of fish and that good stewardship of our resources was needed to aid the recovery and provide fish for future generations.

All of this has been a slow process; however, progress has been made.

Our fishing regulations go beyond just size and bag limits and are a major contributor to the return of healthy stocks of fish. The controls over dumping of wastes into the water have resulted in better quality of water in much of upper Galveston Bay.

Still, there are a number of areas, especially along the upper reaches of the Houston Ship Channel, that carry consumption advisories for both crabs and certain finfish. A list of those locations can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

Now for the good news, which is that most of the fishing guides, including myself, are finding a wider variety of nice quality fish this year. A recent report of a snook being caught at the Galveston Jetties is a first in years. Red snapper, lane snapper, ling, mangrove snapper and king mackerel are catching the attention of anglers in lower Galveston Bay. The periodic rains this year have helped balance the salinity in the water and at this point the outlook is looking good.

We cannot let our guard down however and anglers need to increase their practice of conservation by employing catch and release of fish and retain only what they will eat for a meal or so. Also, continuous monitoring of our water quality is imperative.

All in all, our programs are working and the Galveston Bay Complex is experiencing a revival. That is good news for today’s anglers and for generations to come.