David Horner likes to tell people that, aside from being on a cruise ship once, he’d never boated far enough offshore to lose sight of land. That is, not until last spring, when he bought his 320 Outrage for the express purpose of doing just that, in hot pursuit of game fish.
He’s since traveled more than a hundred miles out into the Gulf in six-foot swells and 25-knot winds. “I feel very comfortable on the boat,” David says. He pulls away from the dock at the Galveston Yacht Basin and heads toward the boat cut. Onboard with David is his high school buddy Mike Fry, an avid oﬀshore angler and surfer. The two are taking a midweek work break to get out on the water to see what they can rustle up in Galveston Bay.
“I think what really steered me in the direction of the Whaler was the safety,” David says. “A lot of it had to do with the research I did online. I saw the videos on bostonwhaler.com. And in my discussions with other boat owners and even dealers of other brands, nobody denied that Whalers are the better brand.”
He admits that being out in the rollers and losing sight of the horizon as the boat dips between the waves can be intimidating, but reiterates that he feels completely at ease on the Whaler. “I’m not normally a scaredy-cat, but I also don’t have a death wish,” he says. “I chose the boat I knew to be the original and one that I trusted.”
David bought his Outrage from the friendly staff at MarineMax of Seabrook, which serves the greater Houston area and boasts a beautiful showroom right on Clear Lake. Its convenient location just north of Galveston means that if David has a question about his boat, a helpful MarineMax employee is never far away.
Once outside the boat cut, David heads to an area just beyond the north jetty where he and Mike plan to target bay species like black drum, redfish and more. His setup involves a 100-pound swivel and a stainless steel cable that’s three feet long. He uses a 16/0 circle hook and 16-ounce egg weight on the same leader. For bait he alternates between shad and mullet.
“A usual day on the water for us involves going about a hundred miles out,” David says. “We’ll start fishing in 230 feet of water, target-ing grouper and wahoo. And then we’ll head eight to ten miles farther south and fish in 830 feet of water. It’s a big drop out there, and that’s where all the big fish like to hang.”
David talks shop as if he’s been fishing saltwater for years, but it’s a relatively new hobby for him. He grew up fishing lakes and rivers with his father and his grandfather, who actually likes to noodle for catfish. His father used to compete in bass tournaments, as well. But David wanted to try something different. “I really didn’t have an interest in lake fishing anymore,” he says. “Out here is where it’s at.”
As if on cue, David has something on the line. He works with the calmness of an old salt who has hauled everything and anything over the gunnel. That’s not to say that David lacks enthusiasm, however. He peers into the watery depths of the bay with a satisﬁed grin, but he also shows an impressive amount of patience as he lets the fish run out some line and then reels it slowly to the boat. Finally a bull red breaks the surface. Mike grabs the net, and soon they have the 38-incher in the Whaler. After a quick photo, they send the creature back into Galveston Bay.
“A bull red is just a bay-type redfish that has traveled to the offshore waters and has gotten huge,” David explains. “They’re a lot of fun to catch close to shore.”
Galveston Bay is where David likes to take his son, Colton (11), and his wife, Lisa, while they get used to being out on the water. The versatility of the 320 Outrage was a huge selling point for David, who knew he’d want to fish a little inshore with his family. He knew he needed a boat he could maneuver in shallow water or close quarters, but also something that could hack the rough conditions offshore. “I told Colton that a Boston Whaler is the safest boat a man can own,” David says. “I wanted to assure him that it wouldn’t sink.”
When the family’s not out on the water, they’re busy with Colton’s Little League football games or circle-track car racing. Sometimes they enjoy just kicking around Galveston, too. They like to stay at the San Luis Resort and indulge in the rides, museums and good food at Pleasure Pier.
The Horners live in Katy, just west of Houston. David has quick access to Galveston and other great launching spots, where he can head far out to deep waters or fish structure like oilrigs. “What I’ve enjoyed so far is the ability to target specific species,” David says. “You can target tuna here or fish for wahoo, sailfish and marlin there. You have specific areas and methods to target these fish.”
Good advice from longtime fishermen like Mike, coupled with David’s own obsessive research, has served him well in his short career as an oﬀshore angler. He rattles oﬀ some catches that include a 60-inch wahoo and a 100-pound amberjack. “It’s fun to look at the different methods and the best procedures,” David says. “I’m systematic in my approach, and that’s the same approach I took to buying a boat.”
David raves about the two nearly silent 300-hp Mercury® FourStroke Verados that power his 320. (Twin 250-hp Verados come standard.) “We were oﬀshore about 20 miles from Galveston, fishing around a rig for kingfish,” he says. “A storm popped up pretty quick behind us. We were watching it on the Raymarine® weather radar. But you get hooked up on kingfish and you aren’t really paying attention to what’s around you,” he continues. “We looked up and saw a waterspout. Mike says to me, ‘Start this thing up! Let’s get out of here!’ I said, ‘What do you mean, start this thing up? I never shut it oﬀ!’”
David owns an oilfield equipment manufacturing business and uses fishing as a way to relax. Eventually, however, he’d like to start tournament fishing on the 320 Outrage after he’s had a little more time to get his feet wet. The Boston Whaler, he says, is all set up for going pro. “I like all the under-gunnel storage. You can store stuff, yet be ready to fish with just a moment’s notice.” The Outrage has been a cinch to customize, as well. David added a Lindgren-Pitman (LP) electric reel he uses to target grouper. “You can yank them fish up oﬀ the bottom,” he says.
He enlisted the help of a specialist to tackle the wiring for the electric reel, but he says that boat owners could handle most customizations themselves. “Everything on the Whaler is done just first-class, even the manual,” he explains. “The wiring is all laid out, and you don’t have to wonder. Man, those guys build a great boat!”
Mike and David continue to shoot the breeze for a while, hoping they’ll get another bite. They’re about to call it a day when suddenly David hooks up with something that begins to peel oﬀ line. Again he reels with patience until he gets it near the Whaler. Just below the surface is a black drum that appears to be about 30 to 35 pounds. David’s grin bobs up and down in the chop, and it’s clear that even though he’s only had his Outage a short time, he’s definitely got his sea legs.
The new stroke of luck reinvigorates the collective spirit onboard, and all talk of throwing in the towel for the day dissipates. Instead, David looks at his watch, gives a little shrug at Mike, points the bow out into the Gulf and hits the throttle.