Fuel Management for Bluewater Fishing: Fishing Strategies with Today's High Fuel Prices

Bobby Byrd & John Cochrane
Fuel Management for Bluewater Fishing: Fishing Strategies with Today's High Fuel Prices
Troll between fishing spots to conserve fuel.

There is a lot of talk these days about high fuel costs and how it is impacting our daily lives. What’s even more important is how it is going to impact our fishing this summer. Many people have speculated a drop in tournament participation and fishing effort, but we have a few ideas that might be of interest.

There are several things you can do to conserve fuel and keep costs down. Leave the dock the afternoon or night before a fishing trip. Taking your time by easing out at 10 knots is a lot safer at night, saves on fuel and is much more relaxing for everyone on board. We introduced a 5:00 pm departure on our Texas legends tournament many years ago to allow an unhurried trip offshore with a daylight departure.

Navigating the jetties and coastal shipping traffic is a lot easier in the daylight and by the time the sun goes down you are well offshore, away from most of the congestion. By going offshore slowly, you save on fuel. It takes more time, but it costs less. Being able to leave from any Texas port in the Texas legends is also a big plus. For visiting boats, you don’t have to run down the coast just to enter the tournament. We accept entries by mail and at several locations along the coast. You only need to go to Port Aransas if you have a fish to weigh or video to turn in (or want to come to a great party and eat great food).

Another thing you want to consider before burning a lot of fuel is where you are going. Invest in several of the online services that keep you informed about what’s going on offshore like hilton’s real-time navigator, roffer’s Ocean Fishing Forecast, Terrafin or similar web sites. Finding out the best areas to fish before leaving the dock can save lots of fuel cost and time. With all the information available to us these days, it doesn’t make sense to leave home without it. Sea surface temperature, water color, currents, rig locations… all of these factors play a big role in where to find the fish.

One other factor to think about is fishing the lower Texas coast. The run to the fishing grounds is shorter. Try fishing out of Port Aransas or South Padre Island, especially later in the summer when the weather gets nice. There are not many deep water rigs, but there are many fishing spots closer to shore that are very productive. Most of these spots are 50 miles offshore or less, so it can really make a difference in your pocketbook.

Take advantage of every trip, especially when the weather is right and the fishing is good. You’ve already spent the time and fuel cost to get way offshore, that’s your biggest expense, why not make the most of it by staying out as long as practical. It’s pretty easy to stretch an overnight trip into another day, if you have the time off and the weather cooperates.

Once you’re out there, save fuel by trolling only, no running around. If you want to move to another rig or other fishing area, troll there. If you really want to save fuel, live baiting around a rig or drifting for tuna can really cut fuel consumption. The extra night and day puts you on the fishing grounds for the evening and morning bites which can be very productive. By doing this you get to fish more and will probably catch a lot more.

When you are ready to run in, troll inshore towards the house and keep going until you convinced you’re out of the productive zone. You can continue in at trolling speed while cleaning up the cockpit and putting things away. Take time to relax a minute, maybe grab something to eat or drink and enjoy your time on the water.

When you do run in, try to find the most economical speed. Everyone likes to go 30 knots, but it makes more sense to pull it back and conserve on fuel. A 500 gallon fuel bill is going cost you $2,000. We think you are going to see a lot more people pooling their resources and fishing together. Sharing the expenses has always been done when fishing offshore; we just think you’re going to see a lot more of it.

Many people we have talked to that fish a lot of tournaments are now picking a few that they want to fish most and going with these. One tournament you might want to consider entering this summer is the Texas Bluewater Championship that we put on each year. Basically it’s a tournament that runs all summer long from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Once you’re in the tournament you can enter any of the following categories; Blue Marlin, Swordfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Dorado and Wahoo. You can get in one or two or all of them, it’s up to you. The biggest fish of the season wins.

Any time you go fishing, you are fishing the tournament. If you catch a big fish in another tournament, no problem, it counts in this one too. It’s a fun tournament to get in because there’s no pressure and you’re always fishing it, whenever you want to. For more information about tournament fishing or to find out more about big game fishing in Texas, visit us at Tops-n-Towers we’re always happy to answer your questions.

Byrd & Cochrane is an authorized broker for Fox yacht Sales, the Texas dealer for new CABO and Riviera Yachts. Fox has an extensive inventory of brokerage boats as well and we will be glad to help you find a boat or sell yours. We specialize in sportfishing boats and motor yachts. Come by and get a great deal on your next boat. For more information call our office at 281-291-0656 or check out our website at www.byrd-cochrane.com or www.foxyachtsales.com.

Hilton’s Realtime Navigator: www.hiltonsoffshore.com
Roffer’s Ocean Fishing Forecast Service: www.roffs.com
Terrafin – Sea Surface Analysis: www.terrafin.com

MAY 24th to SEPT. 1st 2008

The tournament entry fee is $250 per boat. Participants are not required to enter the Blue Marlin category. Once entered, contestants can choose what categories they would like to compete in. For any category, the winner(s) will be determined by single fish weight, largest fish in each category. For the Blue Marlin category, the minimum weight is 400 lbs. For all categories, entries must also meet the current state and federal minimum lengths. Boats may fish anytime between May 24th and Sept. 1st – Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Anytime you go fishing you’re in the tournament. The tournament fishing area is considered the Texas Coast and adjacent waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Boats must leave from, and return to, a Texas port to qualify. No stops in non-Texas ports for any reason are allowed. See complete rules for details.

Tournaments: Any boat registered in this tournament may enter a fish caught and weighed in any major Texas fishing tournament. The entrant will be responsible for supplying documentation of weighed fish including photographs, weight, total length and short length.

Jungle rules: There are no angling rules other than the fi sh must be caught on an IGFA conventional rod and reel and boated by hand or gaff. Anyone may handle the fishing rod. No shooting, explosives, entangling devices, nets, longlines or other non-sporting devices may be used.


Blue Marlin Pot – $2,000
Captains Pot – $250 – One place only, heaviest blue marlin.
Mates Pot – $250 – One place only, heaviest blue marlin.
Yellowfin Tuna Pot – $500
Wahoo Pot – $500
Dorado Pot – $500
Swordfish Pot – $500

(Including a complete set of rules.)
Tops-N-Towers 2321 Nasa Road One Seabrook, TX 77586 281-474-4000.
Or come by Tops-N-Towers and register during regular store hours.

Tournament director – John Cochrane 409-739-4817