Coast Monthly poses 10 questions to an intriguing resident of the Texas Coast.
Max Conner, 15, knows more about tackle and tides than most adult pro anglers. Max’s grandfather, Richard Conner, who is raising the young angler, bought The Lasker Inn five years ago and moved from Pearland to Galveston just so Max could pursue his passion for fishing.
Max has won many tournaments and has a serious following on social media, including by sponsors. And he fishes every chance he gets.
At what age did you start fishing?
I had a Zebco 33 when I was 2 and used to sit beside my Poppa’s swimming pool and catch the Polaris (pool cleaner) as it rolled around the bottom of the pool. It was about six years ago, at age 9, that I knew fishing was all I wanted to do. Me and my Poppa lived in Houston and every weekend we’d head to Galveston on Friday afternoon and fish until Sunday night — then do it all over again the next week. We’d stay on the 61st Street Fishing Pier or Jimmy’s Pier at 91st and fish all night.
What was your best day out on the water?
Any day on the water is my best day. I’ve had some great highlights, like multiple shark catches in a single day; limits of huge trout or flounder; two lines going off at the same time on the beach; but in late September, the jacks starting coming in with the cooler weather.
We were just 100 yards off the beach and killing them one after the other. Winning tournaments is a best day, too. But really, if I catch fish that day, it’s the best day ever.
Do you have a favorite fish?
There is nothing like hearing the roar of your line when you hook up on a shark. I usually yak my baits out 300 or 400 yards so they are so much fun to fight and land on the beach. They make for a great picture, but then I always release them. Now, to eat, there is no better fish than flounder.
What’s the best bait to use?
I’m crazy about Down South Lures. I’ve caught massive trout and reds on Down South Lures. They are definitely my go-to lures. Michael Bosse owns Down South Lures and has become a good friend, too. Kelli Prescott provides me with Egret baits — great for top water — she is awesome to fish with, too. Steve Brown makes killer top-water lures, too, that I love to use for trout.
What’s you favorite fishing gear?
I only use FishStix rods for light tackle, trout fishing. Hunter Welch and his wife, Liz, own FishStix and they have been building my rods and sponsoring me for a while. Louis Thomas out of Corpus Christi builds my surf rods and he does an awesome job, too. Michael “Sharky” Marquez is a popular local fishing guide and good friend, too. He has a clothing line — MonstaFishin — and I usually have on a MonstaFishin shirt and cap. Very comfortable and dries quickly when you get it wet.
Where’s your favorite fishing spot?
Only recreational fishermen will tell you their favorite spots. Most of my friends here on the island are real serious about our fishing and do not share our favorite spots – it’s a very territorial thing with professional anglers.
Do you have any tips you’d like to impart to others?
I’ve always listened to others, usually older, more experienced guys, in order to learn more. I’d listen, watch and learn from all the regular guys on the pier fishing at night. I watch a lot of videos — proper jig techniques, knot tying, careful release of fish and lots of fishing shows — then I just try everything I’ve watched and learn how to make it work for me. Fishing is like anything — if you have the fire for it and it’s your passion, you will find a way to do it rain or shine. I like to teach the younger kids how to bait their hook or release a fish, but when the fishing is slow, it’s hard to teach patience, and if you are serious about fishing, you must learn patience.
What do you like best about fishing?
I like most to fish with experienced guys or my friends that are guides — that way everyone is on the same page and we can just fish. Oh, and share stories. Yes, fish stories are for real and everyone has them to tell. But honestly, I spend a lot of early morning hours on the West End wading alone. The still of the water and watching the sun come up is pretty awesome and then the first catch is always amazing.
What do you want to be?
I’d love to be a professional guide — getting paid for what you love and live for has to be the most rewarding career. I have lots of friends who are guides and I fish with many of them often. They are on the water all day — fishing all day — and having a blast. It’s hard work — getting up early, getting the boat ready, then helping your guests bait hooks, take off fish and untangle lines — but the smiles you see when they catch the “big one” makes it all worth it. I like learning about all things fishing and trying new rods, tackle and fishing spots, but I like to share my knowledge, too. So, I think in the end I’ll just have a fishing show. There are lots of pro anglers on television, but I’ll be the youngest.
What’s your favorite thing about living on the Texas Coast?
The coolest thing about living on the coast, in Galveston, is that there are so many places to fish. The surf, piers, jetties and West Bay system provide something to catch year-round. I check the wind direction each morning before school, so I know exactly where I’ll be fishing that afternoon. And, if the winds change, I can quickly change gear and direction, but I will get the fish. I will fish rain or shine.