Variety Pays: Team Shake N Bake Takes Second in Plugger Open Pro-Am Trout Series Matagorda Tournament

Although a bit windy, we just said goodbye to a very pretty springtime weekend blessed with blue skies and pleasantly cool temperatures. It was also one that my friends Danny Marshall and Mike Pickell of Seabrook are not likely to forget anytime soon.
 Fishing the Matagorda Bay System for only the second time in their lives, Marshall and Pickell (who constitute fishing tournament team “Team Shake N Bake”) took second place in the 2008 Plugger Open Pro-Am Trout Series event held out of Matagorda Saturday, April 19. The duo’s three-trout catch came to 15 pounds, 5 ounces.Team Shake N Bake Plugger 2nd
Congratulations as well to tournament competitor Chris Ramsey and partner, who, with a collective trout catch of 17 pounds, 2 ounces, netted first place honors in the event. Forty-eight avid trout anglers competed in the one-day event, held out of Matagorda Harbor. (I do not currently have any details from Ramsey, but will post more information as it becomes available. Why? We can all learn a lot from the folks who fish events like this, especially if you apply that information to your every-day angling approaches.)
 Marshall is a longtime friend who, as a day job, serves as the animal control officer for the City of Seabrook. Pickell, whom I met recently, is an officer with the Seabrook Police Department.
 These guys fish with a vengeance, and remind me of the Gonzo days when the concept of sleep took a distant,  last-place finish after the always-overriding necessities of fishing. Both are excellent anglers, and the fact that they were able to approach Matagorda Bay System waters with such meager previous experience in the area speaks volumes for a couple of things … one, their ability to “read the water,” regardless of locale, and use weather and tide information to pinpoint productive fishing locales (said info is available right here 24 hours a day on; and, two, their willingness to experiment with different lures and retrieves in order to get the results they need.
 So many of us, so quickly, fall into narrow provincial patterns. I have had more than one guy tell me that the chartreuse “Brand X” topwater is the only lure to use, that nothing else will produce, that casting anything else is a waste of time and energy, only to find that he never fishes anything but Brand X topwaters. You can paint yourself into a pretty restrictive corner with that mindset. My fishing cap is off to Marshall and Pickell for adapting to what they believed the fish would want as opposed to what they would prefer to catch them on, regardless of long-established provincial preferences or even those of sponsors.
 For the four dozen hardcore competitors who set out on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway early Saturday morning, early-morning conditions were as good as they were going to get. “We started out with great conditions, light winds out of the northeast that then switched to the east-southeast at 10 to 15 miles per hour,” Marshall reports. “We didn’t pick up our first fish until 11:00 am. The bite really never turned on. We moved to a couple of different spots,” he continues, “and finally found some active bait around 1:00 that ended up paying off big-time.”
It’s no secret to longtime trout-fishing regulars, but locating concentrated bait and forage is virtually imperative to locating gamefish. From there on, it’s a matter of picking the proper pattern … the right bait, worked with the just-right retrieve.
“We threw a variety of lures,” Marshall says, “MirrOlure Top Dogs and Top Dog Juniors, Rapala SkitterWalks, MirrOlure Catch 2000s, Corkys, Saltwater Assassins, Berkley Gulps and Stanley Wedgetail soft plastics. The latter lure, Marshall notes, accounted for his first fish of the day.
“My first ‘stringer fish’ came on a 3-inch Berkley Gulp Shrimp in the new penny pattern,” Marshall explains. “I rigged the bait beneath a popping cork and worked it with a 6-foot, 6-inch medium-fast-taper titanium rod made by Woodee Rods USA.” Woodee Rods USA, owned by veteran Richmond, Texas aluminum fabricator Gary Robertson (Espandre Marine Products, located on the Web at is among Team Shake N Bake’s premier sponsors. Having fished the high-end Texas-made sticks under a broad variety of often-rough conditions, Marshall and Pickell assure me they are duly impressed. Given the vast number and variety of fishing rods they have tested and used in recent years, that is indeed saying something. I know these guys well enough to know that a sponsorship, in itself, is not enough to induce them to switch exclusively to a given brand of fishing rod or any other angling-related product.
Like I said, they take their fishing very seriously. If stuff is poorly made, no matter the price, they pass on it. Accordingly, when Houston-area tackle store owners see these guys coming, they breathe a big sigh of profit-related relief. Passionate trout fishermen do not tend to be price-driven purchasers. (Should that be a point of contention, check the price tag on a top-end Shimano baitcaster next time you drop by the sporting goods store.)
“I caught the second big fish for our stringer at 2:00 on a black-and-chrome Rapala SkitterWalk with the same rod,” Marshall continues. “At 3:15 p.m., with only 15 minutes of fishing time left before we had to head back to the weigh-in, Mike kicked it in gear with a 6-foot, 3-inch medium-fast Woodee Titanium Series rod and picked up our third big trout. He was casting the new penny 3-inch Berkley Gulp, and that fish took us up to a little over 15 pounds.”
Again, the final tally came to 15 pounds, 5 ounces, for a fishing duo who had only fished the local waters once before … also, during a tournament.
This coming weekend, Marshall and Pickell, along with a pretty extensive host of other competitors (usually around 150 anglers) will fish the Speck-Tackular trout tournament slated for the Galveston Bay System out of Sanddollar Autoplex on Galveston Island (for details, go to
 I don’t fish near as many tournaments as I used to, nowadays preferring to go at it on my own schedule and at my own pace. Nonetheless, I keep my radar tuned to the guys who regularly participate in Western Gulf fishing tournaments.
 I went to the University of Houston to get my journalism degree (they didn’t offer a “Troutology” major). Ever since I graduated in August of 1979, I’ve been fortunate to have … as a reporter and photographer … learned some incredibly useful lessons from some of the most knowledgeable saltwater fishermen in the country.
 I’ve learned a lot, not the least of which is the fact that a person needn’t be a celebrity tournament angler, or even professional guide, to possess valuable angling-related knowledge. Guys like Marshall and Pickell, should they choose to do so, could more than hold their own as pro guides.
 Meanwhile, as they and others continue to ply coastal waters with new approaches and innovative techniques, I am still busy taking notes.
 Here’s hoping that you might be willing to share some experiences and tips of your own, and that some of what is shared here on, or via one of our upcoming videos or currently-in-progress book, “Larry Bozka’s Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide: Coastal Angling Strategies and Techniques,” helps you add at least a few more ounces to a stringer or livewell of your own.

One Response to “Variety Pays: Team Shake N Bake Takes Second in Plugger Open Pro-Am Trout Series Matagorda Tournament”

  1. Fishing » Blog Archive » Variety Pays: Team Shake N Bake Takes Second in Plugger Open Pro … responds:

    […] Ishrath Humairah wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt… skies and pleasantly cool temperatures. It was also one that my friends Danny Marshall and Mike Pickell of Seabrook are not likely to forget anytime soon. Fishing the Matagorda Bay System for only the second time in their lives, […] […]

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