Recently I received an email from a reader who said they caught what they thought at first was a decent speckled trout but when they took it out of the net they realized it was a huge sand trout. I caught some that size under the birds fishing a Gulp! Swimming Mullet under a popping cork.
Sand trout are back in big numbers and size thanks to more than a decade of bycatch reduction in the shrimping fleet. Sand trout were caught to the tune of hundreds of millions in shrimp trawls Gulf-wide according to federal research and now with low shrimping effort and the remaining fleet much more bycatch conscious, we are seeing tons of sandies.
Ditto for large croaker.
Growing up I heard about “bull croaker” but never saw one until four years ago when I caught one that weighed 2.5 pounds once again under the birds in the lake. One study showed nearly a billion croaker caught in trawls Gulf-wide annually in the 90s and with bycatch reduction efforts we are seeing more and bigger croaker as well. Both of these species are great to eat and fun to catch and right now is a good time to do it. My pick for the best place to catch sand trout are in deep holes near shell in the Intracoastal Waterway and also deep holes at our various jetty systems along the coast.
For some reason these areas has always given up the best croaker and with bigger ones roaming Texas waters I would not be surprised if someone pulls out a monster like I caught or one even bigger. After all, the state record weighed more than five pounds.
Think about a five pound croaker. A six ounces can double over a trout rod so one that size would definitely put your tackle to the test.
Chester Moore, Jr.