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Archived News Articles that Captain Shellie and Captain Gary have been featured in:
A Reel Woman - Victoria Advocate - May 29,2007
A REEL WOMAN
Seadrift's Gray has made fishing more than a hobby
May 29, 2007 - Posted at 12:00 a.m.
BY DON MUNSCH - VICTORIA ADVOCATE
Fathers and sons have often used fishing as a way to bond.
Shellie Gray and her mother, Sandy Zimmer, bonded by fishing, too.
Zimmer started taking Gray fishing when she was 3 or 4 years old.
"She took to it real well - I loved to fish and so did she," Zimmer said, adding she inherited her love of fishing from her father.
Gray's lifelong love of fishing has turned into a profession with many rewards, including having a fishing rod named after her, being on the water five days a week, and being named team of the year in a fishing series of the year with her husband and business partner, Gary Gray.
Gray, 35, is a professional fishing guide with Bay Ray Guide Service in Seadrift.
Gray, one of four female fishing guides from Port O'Connor to Port Mansfield in South Texas, and she has been fishing guide for five years. Her husband has been a fishing guide for 21 years.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
She started out as a fishing guide by helping her husband.
"He had a lot of overflow, and he also was having to turn away a bunch of his repeat customers and he hated doing that," she said. "Since I've been fishing since I was a little girl, I was his deckhand for a little while, and then I got my license and starting picking up his overflow."
Shellie and Gary were named 2006 Team of the Year in the Texas Redfish Series in September. There were 151 teams.
"It was about consistency in those tournaments, because it is a series," she said. "There are different venues along the Texas coast, ranging from Galveston down to Corpus Christi. ...We were very proud to be consistent, because that is what it takes to win tournaments."
She said she and Gary winning the series as a husband/wife team was "just icing on the cake."
When asked why she doesn't choose a woman as her fishing partner, she said she doesn't view the matter from a gender standpoint. Instead, she said she wants to be the best, and her husband is an excellent angler, and "I don't think I could do better fishing with anybody else."
Gary Gray, 44, said his wife's fishing talent is "as good as any guy I know" and he knows many men who use Shellie's rods. He thinks fishing gear companies will respond to the female market because women are buying boats and going fishing without "waiting for their husbands to take them out."
Learning and doing the craft As could be guessed, men dominate the fishing guide service profession. But part of the reason may be because women may not want to be fishing guides because they have young children at home, she said.
Fishing guides' days begin around 3:30 to 4 a.m. and usually don't end until after dark, so many women would be concerned about both child care and time spent away from home, she said.
"It is a tough job," she said of the fishing guide service. "Of course, it's mental, but it's also very physical and it's long hours. A lot of women may not want to be exposed to the elements of the weather. And you know, growing up, I think some girls are taught to shop, and then there are some that are taught to be outdoors people. Like I tell a lot of lady anglers that are curious about fishing and buying their own boats, I just remind them that men started off somewhere, too. You guys weren't born knowing how to drive a boat. Men make the same mistakes as women do."
The Grays can be reached at bayrat.com or 361-785-6708
Front Cover - Gulf Coast Connections - June 2003
Beat the Heat - Go Deep - Texas Outdoor Journal - August 2001
Beat the Heat - Go Deep
Texas Outdoor Journal - August 2001
Partial clipping of complete article
While Baffin has rocks, San Antonio Bay has built a reputation on its numerous shell reefs. Capt. Gary Gray of Bay Rat Guide described this bay as two halves. On the south side of the inter-coastal Canal that bisects this bay is where the deepest water at eight feet is held. The south side also has the fewest number of reefs. Lots of reefs are noted on some charts north of the Inter-coastal with many more that are unmarked.
When fishing the south portion of San Antonio Bay, Gary will drift reefs like Middle Ground or Panther. He said Panther comes up to within a foot and a half of the surface while other parts of the reef drop off to six feet or better. In places, this long reefs is 200 feet wide.
"In the summer most of the trout are caught in water four to five deep," he said, "However where you fish on the reef is equally important.
"You need to fish the irregularities," he continued, "When learning a reef you will need to watch your electronics and where the reef jumps up from five or six feet to three feet is where the fish will hold."
Gray credits his Dad with teaching him about structure while he was growing up. "Look at bass anglers that fish long points during the summer," he began. Our reefs are similar to those long points and while the variance is the structure may be as little as six inches, that is enough difference to hold fish."
Where Gray sets up depends on the particular situation. "The first thing to look for is obvious signs of feeding activity like slicks," he advised. "In the absences of slicks in the deep water I will fish the down current side. On reefs with the water breaking over the top of a reef where the fish can't swim across I will fish the current side because the bait is likely to be stacked up on that side.
"Sometimes I may anchor right on top of a reef and fish the down current side, particularly if the current is strong," he continued, " In this situation, cast with the wind and let the bait bounce over the shell, keeping your slack out as the bait drifts over the reef."
Gray said the perfect situation is when there is just enough current to allow him to cast to the reef and then jig the bait back like a worm. He said to just pop it up and then let it sink back down.
He also suggested using a heavier jig-head to get the lure down to the bigger fish which will be holding closer to the bottom. "If you fish too fast in the summer you will only be covering the upper portion of the water column and probably catching smaller fish, "he said. "Fishing in the summer is similar to fishing in the winter as in both seasons extreme temperatures make the fish more sluggish. Slow down and you will catch more fish."
Wind doesn't slow saltwater action - Victoria Advocate Outdoors - April 2, 1998
"Wind doesn't slow saltwater action"
Victoria Advocate Thursday, April 12,1998
Partial clipping of complete article
For at least three weeks, windy conditions plagued mid-coast saltwater fisherman. On Saturday morning, the southeast wind wasn't anything new for Gary Gray of Bay Rat Guide Service to deal with when he left the docks at Charlie's Bait Camp at Seadrift with Andy Baker Sr. and his son, Andy, of Kingwood.
The wind was blowing 15 mph with gusts to 20 in the morning and by the afternoon it was blowing a steady 20.
The strong winds didn't slow the trio's trip to protected areas of San Antonio Bay. They limited out on speckled trout from 18 to 25 inches by noon and then went to work on stringing limits of redfish from 21-25 inches. They picked up the last red before 4. The 25-inch speck weighed 5 pounds.
The specks and reds hit live shrimp under a rattle cork and a CT mullet (with 1/16th-ounce jighead) by What's Bittin' Bait Co. of La Marque while drift fishing.
They used Shimano Chronarch bait-casting and Shimano Stradic spinning reels, 7- and 7½-foot All Star rods and Berkley Trilene 12 pound test line.
Gray, who has been guiding since 1986, will provide more insight on fishing the back bays off Port O'Connor and Seadrift during his talk tonight at the April meeting of the Mid-Coast Conservation Association - Texas.
During their Saturday trip, Gray said "we were fishing in water 2 feet deep down to a foot. There was one streak down the middle of the bay that was clear. We caught the trout out of the clear water in the morning.
"In the afternoon, we caught the reds in muddy water and we caught a couple more trout out of the muddy water. We were drifting with the anchor but the wind was speeding up the drifting quite a bit.
While the north wind plays havoc with the redfish and trout action in mid-coast bays, the Victoria guide said a south-south wind is more suitable for the Port O'Connor - Seadrift area.
"With the south-southeast wind, I knew we wouldn't have any problem catching fish." Gray said. "You can always find protected water in the San Antonio Bay area.
"We had south-southeast wind Saturday. That wind direction is a better wind for our bay system. A north wind stirs up the mud and it's more uncomfortable with a north wind.
South-southeast wind pushes the silt to the north shore. When the wind switches, it loosens the silt and makes the water muddier than a south wind and drops the tide."
Gray points out that "when a north wind is blowing, there are not that many protected areas to fish. We have to go into the back lakes like Pringle and Contee and hope for the bait fish. It's hard to find decent water with a north wind and there are not that many places to fish.
"After a cold front, we have a high pressure system for a couple days and the fish dig down it's hard to make them bite. After the wind switches to the southeast, the high pressure goes and fishing gets real good.
"It's easier to fish on a south-southeast wind and the water is better. The bays can withstand 15-20 mph south-southeast winds.
"When the water is dead calm, it's pretty hard to fish. Some ripple is better than none. As far as the wind, it doesn't make that much difference compared to the tide movement.
"As long as you have tide movement, you will do well and as long as bait is around. You have to have bait to catch something. You can catch plenty of fish if you find the bait fish, but you have to stick with it."
Gray said " the wind seemed to have helped and I keyed on mullet and that's what I have been keying on the last month... find the bait. Fishing was hard Saturday. It wasn't easy but a steady grind.
"We had some good fishing that day but we had to key on the bait. It has been windy the last three weeks. We had one or two days when it was calm but we had to find decent water with the wind.
"We key on the bait not because of the wind, but we look for the bait year-round. This time of year we key on mullet as far as the bait goes. I look for some sign of bait fish this time of year since not all water is full of fish. I look for mullet flipping around the surface or fish chasing them.
"There are areas that are not holding any fish or very few. If you key on bait fish, the odds go way up on the success.
"For the first three months of the year when you catch the weather right, fishing is good as any time of year. We've limited out on trout and reds three times this year, which is pretty good to the past years. Reds never stop biting in the winter and trout fishing picks up in February."
San Antonio Bay pays off on Specks, Redfish - Victoria Advocate Outdoors - October 10, 1996
San Antonio Bays pays off on Specks, Redfish
Victoria Advocate Thursday, October 10,1996
Partial clipping of complete article
When it comes to saltwater fishing, Gary Gray doesn't have to travel any great distances to be successful.
Gray, who operates the Victoria based Bay Rat Guide Service, has found the upper portion of San Antonio Bay a consistent producer of speckled trout and redfish this year and in late 1995.
Recent trips have produced 10-fish limits of trout from 19 to 23 inches and three-fish limits of reds up to 24 inches.
Gary's favorite lure has been the Ghost - a topwater lure similar to a freshwater Zara Spook, Bone, red-white and white with black back colors have paid off.
"I've fished San Antonio Bay all of this year and it has been excellent," said Gray, who has been guiding for 10 years with most of the time spent covering San Antonio Bay off Seadrift. "The trout are getting bigger every year there. It has been excellent on big trout.
"We had days when we caught 30 trout and none was under 20 inches. We're fishing in 4 to 5 feet of water off reefs for trout. We're catching the reds in 2 to 3 feet of water on the flats."
"We've been fishing the northern end of San Antonio Bay since January and it has been excellent," he added. "Fishing has been getting better since the last freeze. Trout fishing has been good all year. It never slowed down. During the winter, we waded the reefs.
"I fish San Antonio Bay because it's not as crowded compared to other places but it is becoming more congested."
Gray says he favors throwing the Ghost lure on "an overcast day and when it's calm because it makes noise. We have no problem catching fish with them."
Gray points out that "you should always try them, but it's better to use a topwater lure on overcast days and when it's sprinkling. You can use them when it's sunny but early in the morning and late afternoon."
Gray said the first time he used a Ghost lure was during a Gulf Coast Troutmasters' Association tournament in Galveston Bay where he finished ninth.
When throwing a Ghost, Gray says "the lure sits in the water and when you retrieve the lure, it walks on the water ... like you're walking the dog. You work it slow. You can't work it too fast or the hooks will get tangled in the line.
"You twitch the rod but you can't move the lure over too far. You drag across the surface. The trout come up and hit it.
"We've been fishing from day-break until just before 2. When it's muddy, we don't use lures ... we go with live mullet. We go with Ghost lures when we fish the fall pattern I don't carry bait in the boat. I use a Hogie's Swimming Shad for a backup."
Gray said the weather hasn't been a problem until this week when a high tide scattered the red-fish and a north wind turned the water off-color.
"The best fishing is still ahead," Gray says. "Fishing is just going to get better and we'll start wading soon. The water is cold enough to wear waders.
"The birds are working but they're not right. We're going after bigger fish now.
"The birds have been working for three weeks now but the trout are small ... up to 16 inches. We're staying away from the birds and going for quality fish."
Winter Best Time to Catch Redfish - Victoria Advocate Outdoors - January 1, 1989
"Wind doesn't slow saltwater action"
Victoria Advocate Sunday, January 1,1989
Partial clipping of complete article
Port O'Connor - Gary Gray's favorite time to fish the back bays for redfish, speckled trout and flounder is in the fall.
The Seadrift guide says he prefers the fall months because "I just like looking for the fish and finding them instead of going to a particular spot where they are bunched up. That makes it too easy for everybody.
On another side, the operator of Bay Rat Guide Service doesn't hesitate to point out that "one of the best times to catch redfish is when it gets real cold. They congregate and bunch up in the holes."
When the cold weather remains in the area for several days and drops the water temperature, Gray travels to different winter "hot spots," including the Army Hole adjacent to Matagorda Island - south of Port O'Connor.
"Whenever the weather starts getting cold, the Army Hole is usually the first place I go," Gray said, "and then I try several other places. The type of cold weather I'm talking about it is when you can't feel the redfish... when your hands get numb.
There are not a lot of trout caught when it's cold but one of the best times to catch redfish is when it gets real cold. They congregate in the holes. It's also a time when a lot of places get to crowded."
Gray said "you're limited to catching black drum, redfish, and sheeps-head when it's cold. Every time I've been out during cold weather I've seen a few small trout caught in the Army Hole. I've heard of big ones being caught but I've never seen anybody catch one.
When the temperature start climbing between the northers, you can catch some trout in places other than the Army Hole, like Pringle Lake, or places next to deep water... any shallow water next to deep water.
Gray said drum and redfish are the primary catches during heavy cold spells since trout just don't feed that much. You can be fishing right on top of them and catch them.
"They can go a couple of days without eating. If they're not feeding, you're out of luck. If you're fishing when the trout start feeding, you're going to catch some. You don't know when that will happen.
"At one place we fish during winter, you might get some little bumps from the trout. On every cast you might get a tug or bump. The trout are there but they just don't feed as much in the winter. Reds feed anytime there's food.
When fishing for reds during the colder spells, Gray uses dead shrimp and artificial lures.
"I always throw out shrimp," he said, "They usually hit dead shrimp the best so that is what I go with first. Sometimes they won't hit the lure. They're sluggish and moving so slow, so I stick to the shrimp. You have to leave the bait sit in the water."
Although black drum in the 3 to 6 pound range congregate in the same areas the redfish, Gray said they are not on his "catch list."
"It just so happens that drum eat the same thing as redfish" Gray said, "I seldom fish for drum, but you usually catch them where you catch redfish.
If the redfish are not there, I will catch drum. They feed on the bottom and they're fun to catch. The 3-5 pounders are best size to catch."
The arrival of Tuesday afternoon's cold front lowered the Fahrenheit along the Texas Coast but not enough to generate a severe drop in the bay water temperature to drive the larger reds into the Army Hole.
A trip to the Army Hole south of Port O'Connor with Gray yielded five-fish limits of drum in the 3-6 pound range and a 21 inch redfish. Several reds under the 20-inch minimum size limit were caught and released. The drum were caught in 10 feet of water on dead shrimp.
Gray uses a 3-ought hook, a 12-inch leader and two egg-shaped weights above the leader when fishing.
"Birds" Open Door to Fall Action on Speckled Trout - Victoria Advocate Outdoors - October 16,1988
"Birds Open Door to Fall Action of Speckled Trout"
Victoria Advocate Sunday, October 16,1988
Partial clipping of complete article
Seadrift - Gary Gray guided his 19-foot Sea Dart into Hynes Bay west of Seadrift as the sun began peaking over the horizon.
He kept constant watch in all directions for any size flock of seagulls that would open the door to the type of fall action on speckled trout he had been encountering for nearly a week.
Gary, who operates Bay Rat Guide Service out of Seadrift, spotted a group of birds off to the right. Some hovered over the surface while others zeroed in on shrimp being pursued by specks.
Gary eased back on the throttle and slowly moved closer to the birds, advising that is was time to tempt the specks with the double worm tails rigged under a 3-inch popping cork.
With the 115-hp engine motionless the rig drifting in 2 feet of water, it was only moments later when we learned what was in store for us on the morning trip.
Victorian Cleve Powell watched the cork on his line disappear and line started peeling off his reel. In this case, Gary said he had located some larger specks or gafftop which are found under the birds.
After turning his catch and tiring it Powell brought the fish to the surface. It turned out to be one of at least 15 gafftop in the 4 to 6 pound range that hit the artificial lures.
Jason Reese, also of Victoria, standing on the bow snapped the popping cork a couple of times before it submerged. He jerked the rod, setting the hook.
During the retrieve, the rod bent forward, signaling another strike. The rod stayed at an angle as one speck surfaced then a second.
The double catch was among several for the morning, although most of the specks measured under the 14-inch minimum limit.
There were a few times when a double catch produced two keeper sized specks and gafftop-trout combination.
By early afternoon when the south wind increased 35 specks and eight gafftop had been boxed.
"Right now is one of the best time to fish for trout," said Gary. "Working the birds is the easiest way there is to find the fish. It's the best time for youngsters to fish. It's not hard to catch them.
"We mainly follow the birds and work around them. Fall fishing is on course with past years. The same month and the same type of artificial lures.
"Right now, the white shrimp are near freshwater and once they move out the fish will go with them. They will follow the shrimp out of the bay. The birds work year-round but this is the best time of the year.
Gary says he basically "looks for the birds and then starts drifting. Even if they're sitting on the water, that's a good place to start. The fish are going deep if the birds are sitting and then they resurface.
"This type of fishing will continue until the strong cold fronts hit around December and then the trout go deep and that's when we go to the Army Hole."
Gary said he watches for two types of birds - liar birds and the trout birds. "The big seagulls dive into the water," he said, " We got into liar birds on our trips and hit the gafftop. When the birds skim the water, there's gafftop in them.
"When they sit or hover, that's when there's something there. Sometimes you get fooled. You generally find gafftop under the birds and it's not unusual for them to still be in the bays. You can catch plenty of them in shallow water."
Gary pointed out that when a speck hits the lure it "stays near the surface. When the fish goes deep, it's either a good trout or gafftop. When it pulls to the bottom, it's a gafftop or hardhead.
We'll average 20 to 25 fish per day, even when the birds aren't working. We catch the specks in the schools all the time. Most of the time the birds aren't working them.
Gary says he prefers to stay with the artificial lures when working the birds because "when you run into school of fish and the action starts, you don't have much time to be putting live shrimp on the hook.
"You have to change a plastic worm or shrimp tail at times but not like live bait. Most of the time you catch bigger fish without the cork but under the birds it's hard to tell what size your into.
I've had more luck using a cork. It suspends the lure, especially in the murky water, The trout come to the surface and feed on the shrimp. You pop the cork, let it sit a few seconds and pop again. The slower you work the bigger the fish.
"The popping sounds like shrimp splashing and trout hitting the water.
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