Some might think it strange that I feel August is the premier month for offshore fishing on the Texas coast.
The August heat can be oppressive--even dangerous--and must be allowed for, but the seas in August will be usually the calmest of the year, and consistent if no tropical weather comes to visit. For the fellow with a smaller boat (anything in the 17- to 21-foot or so class), a flat Gulf is often worth carrying extra sunscreen. Been there, done it.
One of my lifes greatest achievements was when I got the generator installed in my old 31 Bertram to run the AC--but you cant fish a lot from inside the cabin. A good general rule is to leave early, do your drifting and chumming while it is still relatively cool, then troll through the heat of the day to make your own breeze. And by the way, start that trolling by going back through the chum line, to start with any fish that may still be looking for a free meal there.
With the generally weak economy and remarkably high fuel prices, I am not going to spend a lot of time extolling the virtues of deep water fishing this month. For those who can afford enough boat and the cost of running far offshore for tuna and billfish---I envy you. Most of us, however, will probably be looking for sport closer to the shoreline. Luckily, there will be a lot of sport to be had in that area---even in the span from the beach to nine nautical miles out which is claimed by the State of Texas. Spanish mackerel will often be found in huge schools, usually mixed with bluefish and working bait right at the surface. While they may or may not hit a trolled bait, a bit of chum and appropriately sized natural bait will often do the trick, and once they are "started," jigs or small spoons cast to them will pay off. King mackerel will be found closer to shore in August than in most of the year, and rigs, buoys, weed lines and other floating debris harbor ling and schoolie dolphin. Always have some sort of chum on board. I prefer tiny menhaden caught in a cast net for both their "flash" and scent, but bits of bait shrimp will work. When dolphin are finicky, some freebies will usually get them going, and this also works to pull a ling out of cover or draw kings in open water. The bag limit on Spanish mackerel is 15 per day, minimum length 14", kings are limited to 2 per day of 27" or better. Cobia (ling) also have a limit of two per day, 37" minimum length. Should you get into a school of frisky dolphin, there is no size or bag limit except that which we impose on ourselves in the interest of general conservation. Strangely, while few people fish for triggerfish on purpose, and NOAA Fisheries lists them as undergoing overfishing, the bag limit--yes, there is one--in Texas waters is 20 per day, with a 16" minimum.
Shark fishing probably peaks in August, for everything from the little ankle biters to true sea monsters. Remember that the bag limit on all shark species is one per day. For smaller species like sharpnose, bonnethead, and blacktips the minimum length is 24", for all other species the length is 64". Many species of shark are now off limits to anglers, although some of these may be hard to identify and most will not be found within Texas waters. Of those that could be encountered, the sand tiger, sandbar, and silky should be released.
When red snapper are found in Texas waters---think shrimp boat wrecks and close rigs---you must use circle hooks with bait, but the season is open year round with a bag limit of four per day of 15" or better.
THE BANK BITE
Location: Piers may be the best spots for shore bound fishermen this month
Species: Trout, reds, flounder, pan fish, bigger game off beachfront T-heads.
Best Baits: Live bait will always be best, but use what you can get---including artificials.
Best Times: Combine a good tidal movement with a lighted pier at night for optimum results.
Capt. Mike Holmes runs tarpon, shark, and bluewater trips on a classic 31 Bertram. To book a trip,