Where to Catch S.T.A.R. Winning Specks, Flounder and (Hopefully) Tagged Reds
Catching a tagged redfish has become the dream of many anglers along the Texas Gulf Coast.
And while they are dispersed all over the state and move around plenty once released, one thing is for sure. You have to be where redfish congregate to catch them. So here are some tips on finding summer reds in Texas.
In the summer, mid-coast reds will be feeding in seagrass beds in Aransas and Redfish Bays. Some of these areas are off limits to boats with propellers but those in which anglers can fish without restrictions are best fished with live bait. Live croaker or mullet pitched in the sand holes between grass pockets is a sure way to score on reds.
In the Laguna Madre area, anglers will be targeting reds up through fall along the edges of the Intracoastal and in the many little inlets between Corpus Christi and Port Mansfield. Topwaters like the Top Dog, Jr. and Skitter Walk are great for sight-casting to these reds in the region’s super clear waters.
Anglers should keep in mind that reds have what can best be described as a “cone of vision”. They can see about 180 degrees and the most likely strikes will be found in front of the red and perhaps just off to the side. Precision casting is important because they will rarely turn around to strike at something they only hear.
For anglers with boats, the Sabine, north Galveston and Surfside Jetties are loaded with reds right now. Look for deep holes alongside the rocks to hold the most fish with the boating cuts being a secondary and sometimes highly productive option.
Live mullet is the best bait for the jetties, but artificials will work well too. Chunking a ½-ounce gold Rat-L-Trap or a chunking a big gold spoon tipped with squid or shrimp down into the deep holes works good for the jetty reds as well. Be warned however that when fishing the lighter tackle required for using lures, the reds can easily run straight into the rocks and you will not only lose the fish but your expensive lures.
Summer months bring speckled trout out to the open waters of the bay systems, where drifting becomes important.
In the Aransas, Corpus Christi Bay area, drifting over seagrass and mixed shell is the key to finding specks. Live croaker is popular in that area but so far plastics like Little Fishies and DOA Terror-Eyz.
From Matagorda into Galveston Bay, anglers typically drift over shell and target emerging slicks, where the specks have been feeding on baitfish. Live shrimp under popping corks and topwaters are the best bets.
On the upper coast in Sabine Lake, anglers target big schools of menhaden (called shad locally) and drift with live or fresh dead shad under popping corks in the open area from about a mile north of Garrison Ridge up toward the Barrel Channel on the north end.
Anglers should also consider surf fishing for super-sized trout. Matagorda is known for its beastly summer surf trout but the around High Island should not be ignored. It has been quietly giving up impressive fish over the last few years on those days when the sandy green water reaches the beach.
As this issue reaches subscribers, flounder action will be slowing a bit, but contrary to popular belief there are still fish to be caught between the spring and summer runs.
To consistently bag good numbers of quality-sized flounder during summer, concentrate on the widest and deeper parts of cuts in a bay system. The largest concentrations of flounder are usually in the first 1/8 mile of these cuts during the dog days of summer because they have more tidal water exchange on each tidal movement, which keeps these areas somewhat cooler than the shallow backwater.
The northern tier of the Galveston Bay system holds many flounder during summer as do places in the Sabine system like Johnson Bayou and the Sabine River north toward the Dupont Outfall Canal.
Cooler water temperatures usually mean a higher content of dissolved oxygen which benefits flounder two-fold. First, it gives them more oxygen, which they need to be effective predators, and secondly it attracts more baitfish.
It is important to remember that tides dictate how flounder will be feeding. On a fast falling tide, they move in close to the drainage in tight schools. When it is falling slowly, they might scatter out around the mouth of a drainage or up into the marsh.
They will do the same thing during the first hour or so of an incoming tide. Then they will usually move into the cuts. I have always had far more success on incoming tides during summer months. In fact, I usually check the tide charts and mark off the days with the highest tides to concentrate on them.
And when these tides are running high, seek flounder along the main shorelines of bay systems. Attacking vast shorelines would be a waste of time and end up in dogged frustration so you have got to have a strategy. Instead of looking over eight miles of shoreline, narrow your search down to an eighth of a mile.
Roseau cane has an intricate system that is somewhat like a smaller version of mangrove and it gives baitfish a place to linger, hide and dodge larger predators. It is best to fish these areas during the first couple of hours of a falling tide. As the water recedes, the baitfish are removed from their cover and the predator/prey dynamic begins.
Stands of cane on any Texas bay system can hold flounder on high tides and if you luck out one of them just might be big enough to be a STAR winner.