B y the end of May, we are moving into early summer fishing and hot temperatures.
Plug in the GPS settings for Estes Flats, North Mud Island, Hog Island, and Dagger Island or other locations for May action, especially when the croaker becomes available in Aransas Bay.
Captain Jack McPartland, who guides in Aransas and Corpus Christi waters, predicts that the “tide runners” will be coming into the bays, looking for a place to increase the fish populations.
In Aransas Bay, McPartland drifts the Estes Flats throwing soft plastic tails or a gold spoon for redfish. “If not drifting,” he said. “I park and throw live mullet on a weighted leader, or dead bait in a pothole.”
He describes a weighted leader as a weight above the swivel, about an 18-inch leader, and then the hook. “That way the mullet can swim around, but he can’t swim away,” he explained. “If I’m using cut mullet, I don’t put any weight on it. Just throw it in the sand pockets. Let it sit until they eat it, and they will eat it.”
Captain Garrett Frazier won’t leave home without a bait bucket of live shrimp and/or croakers if they are available. Drifting live shrimp under a popping cork is his primary go-to tactic.
Popping corks come in a variety of models; he prefers the H&H cork. “It has a titanium wire in the middle,” he said. “Connect your line off your reel to the one end of the wire; the other side to your leader. The titanium wire does not keep memory. You can use it a lot longer without out it getting bent out of shape.”
When fishing the different flats in Aransas, he uses a 16-inch leader. “I like regular monofilament for leader, 30-pound test, and 4/0 croaker offset hooks.”
Popping depends on the bait activity and how aggressive the bite is. “Pop it once and wait for four or five seconds,” he said. “If the water is real clear, calm, too much popping might actually scare them off. If the water is choppy, you might have to pop it more often.”
McPartland casts to the wells, instead of anchoring next to them. It’s too easy to lose an anchor in the trash and well structure on the bottom.
He uses 30-pound braid on his reels. “Twenty pound would be fine, but 20 pound is so thin the knots can undo themselves.
“I tell people if you are at the wells, especially if you’re throwing braid, make sure you have monofilament leader,” he advised. “If you snag on something, you’re not going to break that braid, and you end up cutting a bunch of line off your reel. Where with the monofilament leader, you just pop the leader, tie another hook on the leader, and keep going.”
McPartland uses a leader that is over two-feet long. “If you snag and break off the hook I still have 20 inches of leader to tie to. I can keep tying hooks on it until I finally run out of leader.
“I don’t use swivels; I tie line to line,” McPartland said. “It doesn’t take long to tie a new leader on, but it’s not like twist-twist and you’re finished. It has to be a certain knot.” The Modified Double Uni Knot is one knot that works. (www.saltstrong.com/articles/strongest-braid-to-braid-fishing-knot/)
For live bait, he uses a 4/0 to 5/0 Kahle hook; for dead bait a 6/0 circle hook. “Circle hooks are thicker than the Kahle hooks, and that’s why I don’t like them on live bait,” he said. “The live bait sits there jittering on that thicker hook, wears a hole in itself, and gets off the hook. Circle hooks are self-setting. By the time that rod tip cranks down the drag is ripping.”
For Captain Don Miller, anchors are expendable. “If I lose them, I haven’t lost much. You will lose anchors when fishing the wells.”
Generally, I’ll work my way around the rig,” he said. “If I don’t find them, I move on to another well. If you fish them often enough you find out which ones to fish off of and where around the well to fish.
“I’ll use a golden croaker or piggy perch if they are available. Hook the bait through the tail, using straight hooks, no trebles, number 4. I just throw them out and allow them to swim freely, let them find their own level.” His catches are mostly trout around the wells. “Every once in a while you will catch a redfish,” he said.
The Upper Laguna Madre certainly produces fish during May, but doesn’t come into being a prime location until June,” said Capt. McPartland. “In May the fish are going to be mostly shallow. The Upper Laguna Madre water depths are too deep for May.”
Email Tom Behrens at
Email Tom Behrens at [email protected]