Updated on June 22, 2021
Captain Experiences: Alrighty. We're live. Hey everybody, this is Jonathan with Captain Experiences live with Captain Lee Crisler of Ocean Breeze Charters aboard the Tequila Sunrise out of Galveston, Texas. How's it going, Captain Lee?
Capt. Lee: Good. How are you, Jonathan?
Captain Experiences: Doing all right. So thanks, thanks to everybody who's tuning in. Feel free to leave your comments and questions for Captain Lee in the comments section, and we'll be sure to volley them over to him. But, we can just start with an intro for those who might not know you just yet.
Capt. Lee: Sure, absolutely. So as far as that, what do you mean?
Captain Experiences: Well, I was just saying, just give a quick intro. What you do, that kind of stuff, for anyone who might be online.
Capt. Lee: Sure. As Jonathan said we're out of Galveston, Texas. We fish out of the Galveston Yacht Basin. So it's the closest dock to the Gulf out of Galveston. So we get there fairly quickly and we like to do bluewater fishing, which is a pretty good way offshore- 50 to 60 miles.
And so we like to do a lot of trolling and then mix it up with some bottom fishing. And then during snapper season, of course, run for snapper or a mix-up depending on how long they want to charter our boat.
Captain Experiences: Cool, awesome. And then that's just kind of the general background...
Captain Experiences: Today's a little bit special because, one, we have some brand new, never before seen footage from our previous trip with Captain Lee, including the fact that Captain Lee hasn't seen it himself. We're excited to get your reaction to the action-packed stuff that we captured.
And then we also have the topwater tuna. We were lucky enough to catch a yellowfin tuna on a nomad topwater lure. Benny, who works with Ocean Breeze Charters, was there to capture it all. So we're going to be getting Captain Lee's reaction to that bite as well.
But before we get to all that, I would love to hear about a current fishing report, how things have been. You guys have been on top of the amberjack, which is now in season. And the Mahi, you said you had a cool run-in with them, so I would love to hear about all that.
Capt. Lee: Amberjack season started May 1st, so I think everybody wanted to go on Friday. Offshore fishing was a great day. Saturday, a lot of people had to cancel because the weather was rough but with our size, the boat was able to get out 40 miles and we still made a day of it.
But it just gets to the point where it's just too uncomfortable. So I was running out and ran across a big tree. I see an actual tree floating in the water, probably about a 20-foot tall tree.
That's the advantage of being on top of the flybridge, is having a bird's eye view, so they say. So I shut the boat down and turned it around and set it back up on this floating tree. We attempted to get some Mahi off of it. There weren't that many there, but we did get some. And they ended up catching some bait, things like that, too.
Capt. Lee: But that's stuff that we look for on our way out or fishing grounds as bait is key out there to catch some really good fish. And that's where you find a lot of the Mahi- I love fishing for Mahi with light tackle.
Captain Experiences: It's a lot of fun. Can you talk more about that? Because sometimes you can high speed troll for Mahi, other times you can just pitch and retrieve on structure like that tree that you found. Can you talk about how you guys did that successfully?
Capt. Lee: So Chris was on that trip with me as the first mate there, and he always has three or four reels ready to go at any time to pitch to debris, anything that we might find out there. So we'll use small things like the tandem trout rigs. We'll use those Sabikis, which'll have a bunch of a little bitty hooks like fly sized for a trout fisherman, and we'll pitch those out to 'em or we'll use what we call a “gotcha lure,” which is a little fast action, two or three-inch lure that has a lot of action.
And that's the key to Mahi.
They like color, they like flash, so you've got to be real quick with your retrieve and presentation. They're not slow fish at all.
Mahi like the speed and they're going to hit the speed, not the slow. But it's awesome. So you catch one and you leave it in the water too. So the first guy or lady to catch leaves it in the water and it keeps those Mahi around. If not, then you take the chance of them going deeper or leaving after you pull the first one out.
Captain Experiences: Wow. That's so interesting. I've never heard of that. That's really cool. That's great.
Capt. Lee: They're a schooling fish, so the mahi like to stay around the school- so they're in a feeding frenzy so that Mahi is going wild. So they're thinking that he's after bait or something and I was just trying to be on the hook.
[To book a Mahi Mahi fishing trip in Galveston with Capt. Lee, click here!]
Captain Experiences: That's awesome. It's really cool, and then you guys also got into some amberjack, right? Can you talk about that?
Capt. Lee: So, as I said, AJ season opened up Friday. We left the docks at 5:00 a.m. and cruised on out there and I guess we got there about 9:30 or so. We had some live bait in the live well that we caught the night before, some pinfish and some mullet and things like that. But there were some chub out there, Bermuda chub, which are a pretty good size, three, four-pound fish.
We decided to catch one of those and we sent it down to the bottom on the 80 wide and in the back of the corner on our boat. It started peeling off line and I hammered on the diesel engines and pulled away from the rig. And it was quite a fight. It was pretty awesome. We got that on video.
Captain Experiences: Wow. No way.
Capt. Lee: We lost a few. For us, it was a slow day, opening day. A lot of boats like to hit up that area. So you've got to be out there early and find your spot. We moseyed it around three or four spots and we got a few hookups. But, we're going after the big boys, not the smaller ones, we’re fishing big.
It's hard to get them to pull away from the rig real fast. So we had a couple of break-offs, yet we plan on going back out there again. I think I've got three trips, one with you that you had scheduled for us.
Captain Experiences: With Nathan.
Capt. Lee: So we've got some overnighters. Some guys that are booked with us on the 16th are going to hit some AJ's and get those and then run after some tuna and possibly some wahoo. Hopefully, the water temperatures warm up to bring in the Mahi, the bigger ones.
Captain Experiences: That's a real line up there between your Mahi, your wahoo, your AJs, your tuna, and your snapper. That's awesome. 'Tis the season, right?
Capt. Lee: Christmas is almost here with the red snapper.
Captain Experiences: Christmas in June, that's awesome.
Capt. Lee: Federal regulation says two fish per person. But on a 36-hour trip, we're gone from the dock for more than twenty-four hours so we're allowed a four-man limit. We're allowed state water regulations, so everybody gets to bring back four. So two limits on a thirty-six.
Captain Experiences: That's incredible. Awesome. Well, you got to catch up on some comments here. Ricky says, “What up guy?” Kenneth says, “What's up Capt. Lee?'' He's got a nice amberjack there in his pic and I'm guessing that's aboard the tequila sunrise right there. That's awesome.
Captain Lee: That was last Friday.
Captain Experiences: Nice nice, that's awesome. Chris is saying, “What's up fellas?” What's up, Chris? That kind of brings us to a nice segway with Ricky chiming in.
Captain Experiences: Can you kind of give us a trip recap on that one and what went down, how we were targeting fish, what the schedule was like. For people who are just joining us, we're going to be showing the never-before-seen video from that trip that we just got edited and cut up. And then we're going to be sharing the footage from the topwater tuna bite as well. You can kick it off with a trip recap for us Captain Lee.
Captain Lee: Which one was that? I've had so many lately.
Captain Experiences: That was the 36 hour.
Captain Lee: Oh okay, the floater trip.
Captain Experiences: Yep. Well, the first one quickly was a blackfin trip with Mark and Joe. That one was an absolute blast. We went out to the flower gardens, did some trolling, got a big wahoo, and then we spent the night just fishing the rigs for blackfin tuna and that was a complete blast. There was a triple, maybe even a quadruple hookup.
The time goes so fast when you're out there. I thought it was like 9:00 p.m and it turns out it's 3 a.m and we're still just ripping on them. It's a blast. Then we maneuvered the boat and went a little further past the flower gardens right to your secret spot and your tilefish out there.
That was pretty amazing. So that was an awesome trip. And then this recent one with Ricky and Willy, that one, it's crazy. I’m not trying to boost your ego. I think it's big enough as it is!
Captain Lee: Keep going. I love it. I'm absorbing it. I don't get to fish but I love putting people on the fish. It makes me happy to make them happy and bring a lot of meat in the boat and people having a good time because I enjoy that. I enjoy being a captain.
Captain Experiences: I know, I personally appreciate it. That's what's amazing to me. You hire a guide for certain reasons and especially on these sorts of trips you really get that bargain. What people are going out with you for is that knowledge and that experience. Obviously, the personality and all that but it's not just a fun joyride, you're out there going out to catch fish.
Captain Lee: We have a really good crew, Benny and Chris, and Dave goes out with us sometimes, and everybody reacts really well with the crew. Benny and Chris are young guys and they're really outgoing and they love fishing just as much as the people love being out there and excited.
We're an exciting team to be around and that's important, to choose a boat that’s got good attitudes and the excitement there and you're pumped and can't wait to see that fish come up. That reel goes off, and you just have no idea what it is most of the time. That's the kind of crew we got, they're great guys.
Captain Experiences: And I think that'll come through in the video that we're about to see, just how much fun everybody's having. But here's Ricky again saying, “We were catching tuna tuna tuna tuna everywhere left and right if y'all got a chance you need to book with Captain Lee.” That's awesome.
Captain Lee: Hey what's up Ricky!
Captain Experiences: I'm amazed because you also have all of these different spots. You've kind of been around the block. I remember on the first trip with Mark and Joe you put in these coordinates. They're literally the name of the coordinates on the boat that’s titled tuna. We show up and within minutes we're catching a ridiculous amount of blackfin tuna.
Captain Lee: That's the difference with having a guide. They've been out there, they know what's there.
Captain Experiences: No, it's awesome. And then we're out there on this recent trip and you kind of call us all in and we're catching blackfin tuna and the sun isn't even close to setting. It's like 5/6 p.m, it's still completely bright out, and you pull us all in. We're having a good time and you go, “Hey look guys we could keep having a blast doing this sort of thing right now or we could try this other spot where I think that we're gonna have a pretty good chance of hooking up into some yellowfin tuna.”
To Willie and Ricky's credit, both of them go, “We'll trust you let's do it!” So we go out there to the Nansen oil rig and I've never seen anything like it. It looked like the water was moving left and right; there were just giant yellowfins left and right.
Captain Lee: I remember I’ve never heard somebody scream as loud as you did. You kept saying “Oh my god look over there! Oh my god, look at that, did you see that? Oh my goodness!” I was excited for you because you were so excited, it was a blast man.
Captain Experiences: You didn't see what I saw though I literally looked up like this to see a giant tuna as big as my torso 10 feet up in the air out of the water. I've never seen anything like that.
Captain Lee: That never gets old. That's awesome. To know what's out there and just this amazing place. It's like going to the zoo or the aquarium for the very first time, every time.
I was out there Saturday as rough as it was, we made the best of it. We put fish in the boat for the customers. It was rough but we showed them a good time and we worked hard for them. But I've seen some huge turtles, they had to be 200 years old and two of them were 10, 20 miles apart. But seeing those still amaze me. All the wildlife that's out there, it's an awesome place.
Captain Experiences: That's what they call it, sometimes they call it a bluewater safari and I think that's completely right.
Captain Lee: Absolutely.
Captain Experiences: Cool! Do you want to jump into this video real quick, want to get your take on it?
Captain Lee I'm excited to see it.
Captain Experiences: Awesome. So this is just a quick one-minute clip that we put together for our recent trip with Captain Lee, Ricky, Willy, Chris, Benny, all the guys. Let me see if I can do this right. All right, any last thoughts? What are you expecting out of this?
Captain Lee: Some hollering, jumping for joy, we had a good time. I know that.
Captain Lee Oh man that was awesome dude! That was great, I like that.
Captain Experiences: It's a fun little recap. It was just so much fun with those guys, catching fish on the topwater. The hollering, as you said, it's just so much fun.
Captain Lee: And Ricky had that big gold pole that looked like a diamondback rattler or something. But he'd been on two trips with us and he never caught anything on that reel so like we're gonna try that today and we put it to work so that was a fun trip. It won’t always work out that way but that time the water temp was just right.
Capt. Lee: I had a friend of mine, Jason Gas, and I asked him, “Hey what's the water temperature out there? We went out before he could get back to me but when we came back I saw that the reason we were catching so many was just a little like four or five-mile strip of cooler water that held around the Nansen and the boomvang there, and that's what drew all them tuna in, that cooler water temperature. They were on fire out there. It was like they were boiling. It was awesome man.
Captain Experiences: When you're talking about water temperatures, I've heard you say it before, you want to hit a spot that's kind of right along that rip or right along that change in water temps. Or, you look for upwelling as well and things like that. But you're looking for different water temperatures for different species.
I remember the whole trip we didn't find any Mahi on this trip but you were looking for 78-degree water. Can you talk about how that's different from what the tuna might like?
Captain Lee: You can catch tuna all year round but when you have a small area like that, that’s concentrated on cooler water. That weekend when I got back and Jason had sent me the screenshot of the water temps, I was seeing water temp differently here and there. It was all over the place.
What that's going to do is it acts like a corral for the baitfish and your predator fish are going to hit that corral of baitfish because that's what they were after, was all that baitfish. But you're looking for an oasis in the desert.
Like I said, it doesn't always play out that way, it's fishing not catching. But we always have a good time onboard. You feel the sunrise. But as far as Mahi go, they’re a warmer water species. You catch them all year round, don't get me wrong, but to really target them you want warmer water temperatures. So, I love targeting big Mahi, that's probably one of my favorite fish to eat. Ocean fish, man, they're fantastic. Especially bluewater ocean fish, it's such a good table fare. Out there out of everything, water temps are important.
Captain Experiences: Cool that food is great. All that fish, we're gonna do a big blog post on the tuna that we had. Those videos were awesome.
Captain Lee: Speaking of food, I had some guys on board Saturday and the trip was rough water. It was hard to catch and even hard to troll. We had some seven-footers at five seconds out there and trolling can get a little bit difficult when they're that close in that rough. But anyway, we had some guys on board, we caught some fish, and Chris made up some ceviche for them.
I think none of them had ever had ceviche and oh man this was a winner-winner chicken dinner for them. Man, they loved it. It was like the best thing about the trip. It was awesome. So that's really good, to be able to eat some good catch out there.
Captain Experiences: Here's Kenneth, he said, “That AJ was absolutely amazing blackened and grilled!” Sounds nice.
Captain Lee: Oh man, he went home with quite a bit of AJ. So that's good. That's awesome.
Captain Experiences: Then Ray here's saying, “How can I get a job as the crew? Lol.” I've been begging to become a deckhand.
Then Ricky here says, “The dolphins were coming over, that was really cool, not only fighting the tuna but trying to get it out of the dolphins! Not to mention, the marlins.” He mentioned the marlin that we passed by. Yes, Chris is mentioning it too, that was pretty awesome.
Captain Lee: Not everybody gets to ever see something like that in person but that marlin, I think the sun was down or going down, but those blue lights of ours on the back of the stern there, the underwater lights. All I saw was half a body and a humongous tail that had to be probably four feet tall, and the stripes on them. It was just so big. I'm talking about four, five feet right from the stern.
Captain Experiences: Wow, that's amazing. Once again, bluewater safari, you never know what you're gonna see out there.
Captain Lee: Well, I’ve seen the clip you sent me. I think it was about the guys that went out there to the Nansen like the week or so after we did and caught that marlin on the troll in a center console.
Captain Experiences: I saw that! I think it died in the fight and so they couldn't remove it so they brought it in. Pretty amazing. But do you want to go ahead and see the full topwater video too that Benny catches?
Captain Lee: That was awesome. I was so excited about that one. I'm sitting here watching you. Dude I told you, “Go to the front, they're hitting at the front.” You're in the cast and we got everybody back there fishing. I say go to the front so you get a fair chunk and you can select what you want out there. It's like the grocery store. I'll take that one, it was so good. Man, that's awesome.
Captain Experiences: I knew it was fun and I was rocking. I was just throwing it out there and all the hooting and hollering was just a blast.
Captain Lee: I also want to say hi to my daughter and my wife. The last time I was on here they say hey I didn't say anything so hi to Carla and Olga. And my sons, I got one son in Okinawa, he just sent me a message and I'm trying to find the video so he's serving over there right now and the other one's in Austin, Wesley.
Captain Experiences: We've been hoping that they could find the video and tune in.
Captain Lee: I think my son Wes was on board but anyways, let's check out that video, that catch.
Captain Experiences: Let's do it. Can you see it?
Captain Lee: I can.
Captain Lee: That guy was so pumped up. I think everybody was.
Captain Experiences: Yup, oh I was super pumped. This is probably the coolest thing I've ever done, honestly.
Captain Lee: Look how smooth. There was an easy rider who asked me hey how were the waves out there? They didn't go out because they thought it was gonna be rough, look at that, that was awesome.
[video dialogue]: Yellowfin! Yellowfin!
Captain Lee: You can take gaff out of there. There it is. Oh man, that was nice. You get to pay the taxman. We didn’t get taxed on that trip, did we?
Captain Experiences: Oh no. There’s one yellowfin that we lost a big chunk of, at least some bite marks. But it still made it back to the boat.
Captain Lee: That’s awesome. Topwater bite.
Captain Experiences: There it was.
Captain Lee: That was exciting, man. That's something you never forget. All these memories out there. That's what life's about, memories. When you get older and think back about what you have done in life. That's awesome.
Captain Experiences: I think that you've done a lot. It's hard to quantify it but it doesn't need quantifying. It's just the cool experiences that you're able to provide other people. Normal people like myself, normal citizens, I guess. Here you are taking us all out there and showing us a great time. It really is something special, so thank you.
Captain Lee: You're welcome. I love it. I have a great time just like everybody else does.
Captain Experiences: Awesome. Here's Carla saying, “We love you and you're the best.” And then Colby tuned in from Okinawa. So that's awesome.
Captain Lee: Hey son, glad you could see this. He's been locked down over there just like us on that Coronavirus stuff. The whole world’s on lockdown. Well, we're coming out.
Captain Experiences: All the charters now are back running in Galveston as of May 1st. Coincidentally, it completely aligned with amberjack season. Who knows what kind of pandemic it would take to get in the way of Texas red snapper season.
Captain Lee: Don't do that. You're talking dirty there. Love our red snapper down here man especially out of the Western Gulf. The Western Gulf of Mexico holds so much of the population of red snapper they're just everywhere, so easy to catch.
They're easy to target but it's good to have a guide to bring you to their holes. The big spots and get some big ones. And, if you got that federal permit, you got two coming in the boat per person you want to make them count.
Captain Experiences: And you guys also on a lot of your trips can pass up some of the more accessible spots to get to those big-time red snapper spots.
Captain Lee: We stopped and we grabbed some groceries for dinner. You've been on my trip so we eat good out there. Fresh fish for the ceviche bowl.
Captain Experiences: It's delicious, as fresh as it gets.
Captain Lee: That's right. Ceviche doesn’t get fresher than that, I know that. Are you calling that one video? I was eating the bait, the blackfin tuna, man. I can't help it. It's so good. I'm cutting up chunks for the yellowfin and I got to cut me off a slice of it.
Captain Experiences: Well, it's not every day that you chum with blackfin. We had such a successful trip we're like hey let's just chop some of these tuna up.
Captain Lee: You’ve got to sacrifice some of the good fish to get to the better fish sometimes. That's what they like, that chum. Big chunks of tuna on a free line with a fluorocarbon line and a small hook. It's all about the presentation for them because their eyes are good so you gotta be real good and you gotta be better than them. You're fishing in their world so you got to know how to trick them.
Captain Experiences: Definitely. Awesome.
Captain Lee: Hey, I want to say a shout out to some of our sponsors at Canyon Reels. I appreciate the reels that you have provided for us. Also, Mark with Offshore Candy, the lures that we troll, they're awesome. And Olaf at Pontchartrain Jigs, we really appreciate that and you man, of course.
Captain Experiences: Totally, no, that's perfect. Awesome. Well and anything else that you think we should touch on that we missed?
Captain Lee: Red snapper season man, it's right around the corner. It's from June 1st to, I think August 2nd. So this year it's weird how they do the regulations. I think last year the charter boats got 60 days and recreational boats got 90 or something like that.
Red snapper season is how we make our money, a lot of it, so we run hard for the government to allow us just as many days as recreational boats. It puts not only money in our pockets but money back into the community because we're gonna spend money. Whether it's maintenance, engine parts, more gear, going out with the family to dinner on vacation because we made that extra money, or whatever.
Red snapper season is a very very important part of Gulf of Mexico charter fishermen and to the private sector. So it's almost here guys so y'all better hitch your boat and get your boat down here and get ready for it.
Captain Experiences: Awesome. Carla wants you to share your red snapper recipe.
Captain Lee: Oh, it's pretty common. She likes it black. I got some seasoning, I think it’s Emerald's. Emerald's have a blackened fish seasoning that I like to put just a little bit of olive oil in the pan and seasoning up with that blackened season and sear it real good, about a minute and a half on each side. Serve it up hot.
It's going to be hot and fresh. Don't let it cool down. I tell them I'm always the one cooking it. Sometimes she will, but I'll cook it and so the cook's got to get his first so I'm sitting there and eating. I can't wait! And we don't freeze red snapper, we eat it fresh. So I'll catch what I can on it and we'll eat fish all week long until it's time to give the rest away or whatever, but we love fresh fish.
Captain Experiences: And that red snapper is so delicate it's awesome.
Captain Lee: Wonderful fish. I guess it's very sought-after. Red snapper is kind of expensive in the market too but there's plenty of it out here in the gulf so y'all come get yours.
Captain Experiences: Nice, there you go. Well, cool. On that note, we can wrap it up. I think we touched on everything: the amberjack, the tuna, the Mahi, the snapper. Captain Lee, really appreciate it.
I’m glad everybody could join us, really excited that Colby could tune in. That's awesome. We really appreciate it. That affords us the opportunity to go out and go fishing so hopefully, we can go fishing together but thank you.
Captain Lee: Thank you, I appreciate your service and your choice to do this because it was his choice. Nobody pressured him but he decided to join the armed forces and serve our country.
Anyways, missing him. He was my deckhand for a couple of years over here. He loves fishing like me and so my other son loves fishing but he loves the good life too. He's in Austin in his little fancy apartment living it up. God bless him.
Captain Experiences: Well the good life to a lot of people is what you're doing. How many people want to be a deckhand on the tequila sunrise? That's the dream we're all working towards.
Captain Lee: I got a long list. All right, well great! Thanks for having me for another interview. I appreciate it and hopefully, we can get out Friday and Saturday. It isn't looking too good but this Texas weather, you never know what's gonna happen, but I'm over here gearing up.
I've got X-caliber Rods, one of my sponsors too, and they're sending me a couple of new bent butts and a couple of new 30-50 trolling rods. So we're gonna put some fresh gear together and get out there and hopefully tear them up this season so looking forward to some good times.
Captain Experiences: That's pretty awesome. Well, we'll have to do this again in a few weeks time, in a month or so, and just check in on the start of a snapper season and see how it's all going for you. I'm sure you'll have a lot of exciting updates for us.
Captain Lee: We're gonna get out there and make some more videos, and some more memories.
Captain Experiences: Definitely. Well okay thank you, Captain Lee. Really appreciate it. And thanks to everybody who tuned in.
Captain Lee: Thank you.
Captain Experiences: Awesome, take it easy.
Captain Lee: All right. Bye.
See the following video for the full interview with Captain Lee! !yt0Lgr3ckFe4I