June 1st kicked off the 2018 Red Snapper season and our 12th year of owning and operating the Gulfstar from Tarpon Springs. 12 years have gone so fast. I remember scrambling to get the Gulfstar ready for fishing, back when we purchased her she only had 3 rod holders, no fishing lights, no anchor system and I could go on and on with all the work we have done to her over the years. I guess where I’m going with this is that I am so thankful to each and everyone of you, our customers that have been so loyal to us as we have gone through growing pains and also have celebrated the most incredible catches of fish by any charter boat in the Gulf. With the trust that you give us it allows us the comfort to stick our neck out and try new places and things. Captains Jerry, James and I have been able to push the envelope over and over going further, deeper and do more exploring than any other boat in the Gulf. Thank you for believing in us and for being loyal friends and customers for these past 12 years.

This June and July were so busy it is a bit of a blur. The fishing was fantastic overall, we had great Red Snapper catches just about every trip but this year they were not the jumbos we had hoped for. Most of them were like 5-8lb models with some larger ones mixed in. We did have two very impressive snapper pushing the 30lb mark this season but those 15-20lb snapper just weren’t around.
We did have a quite impressive Gag Grouper bite for pretty much all of June and some of July. For the last 3 years it has been like this. The crew and I have speculated about the killer Gag fishing but who knows???. I’m just glad we can catch them and the snapper. Luckily all of the Gulf species were biting too, the amount of African Pompano this year was amazing, we also had large Mangrove snapper this year. Even the Yellowtail snapper were abundant, we were catching them pretty regularly and they were large, some real jumbos pushing 6lbs.

This was the busiest season we have ever had and again I thank you for trusting us with your hard earned money to do the right thing by you. We made a large investment in a new ice machine and combined with the old one we had no trips where we had ice issues this summer. We now can load up 6000 lbs of ice one every trip to ensure your catch stays as fresh as can be and have plenty for the fish cleaning and packing process at the dock.
We did have some hiccups though, and luckily most were minor mistakes. I want you to know that we are committed to being the best… and giving you the best experience that could possibly be had. We have implemented a few small changes that I think will eliminate some of these hiccups. One change is that now all crew, including captains, will be cleaning fish for you and the lead captain will be following the fish cleaning list order and weighing in the jackpot fish. This should keep things moving faster and more accurately. As you may know last year we made a sizable investment in our loaner/rental rods and reels. We offer Avet JX lever drag reels for loaner/rentals a premiere brand but we did have a situation where the line capacity was an issue for one customer as captain Jerry went further offshore in search of bigger Red snapper. We have made a purchase of much larger high end Accurate reels that have more power and line capacity so hopefully we don’t ever have that issue again. We have sent those Avet reels back to Avet for a complete cleaning and any repairs needed. They are less than 1 years old and we will be offering them for sale in the near future. They are the JX 4.6:1 ratio model and are perfect for pretty much everything up to 250 feet of water with mono and much deeper with braided line. All of them will have been serviced by Avet before we sell them so they should prove reliable and a good deal but we wont have the available until they get back, probably a few weeks.

This June was the second year that we raffled a free trip to Alaska. This years winner was Nathaniel Johnson, he and 16 other customers along with my daughter Captain Marissa, my better half Jennifer and I went to Sitka AK in the beginning of August and we had the most awesome time. The fishing was good and the scenery was great but the Gulfstar group…. Fantastic. I am working on a full report and next years Alaska trip details as well as the free raffle this week and should have it emailed out and posted next weekend.

I am also working on the 2019 Gulfstar schedule and I should have it completed soon, to mention a few changes we added some new 18 hr trips, changed the 12 hour trips to Thursdays and have more weekday deep water trips than last year. We are having some price changes too, the Middle grounds trip price has been the same since 2013 and inflation and rising costs have caught up to us. Hopefully we can not have another price increase for another 6 years after this one.

Lastly, next June 1st is our 13th anniversary and to celebrate we are having two American built custom built rods and two American made premium Accurate reels as well as several fishing tackle packages to raffle off. I don’t have all of the details worked out yet but this is big$$$ gear that several lucky Gulfstar customers will win next year. Stay tuned for more info on this!

Thanks so much for the past 12 years of adventure and I’m hopeful that future remains just as exciting.

Captain Rich Castellano