D epending on the wind situation, the month of July along the coastline of Texas can be downright miserable. If the high temperatures don’t get you, the heat index will! The same goes for the fish – they get hot, too. That’s why July is one of those months when many anglers, especially those who choose to wade-fish, find it so very important that they leave the dock prior to dawn and be situated in their first “spot” of the day before the sun even thinks about peeking above the horizon. Some of this month’s best trout on record have come from such pre-dawn conditions right at first light. Many artificial enthusiasts know this part of the morning as the time just before your eyes are able to see your top water lure zigzag its way back to you as you retrieve it by what almost seems to be sheer instinct alone. It can be both the most relaxing and the most exciting time of the day, especially when you happen upon a strong trout bite atop the dark shallows that have been cooled over the course of the nighttime hours.
Shallow flats areas may get extremely warm under full-sun conditions of daylight hours, making them way too hot for most any game-fish, or for any fish for that matter! But those same waters cool under the cover of darkness, making their temperature quite attractive to various species of baitfish that may be searching for a cool alternative to the summertime heat, and also for protection from the depths during nighttime hours. It is for this reason that wading anglers should always make it a point to begin their initial wade each morning in shallow, shallow water. More times than not, baitfish can be found accumulated in numbers in ankle to knee-deep water before sunrise. You won’t be able to see them due to the darkness, but you can often shine a bright light across the water’s surface and watch the madness begin as the schools of baitfish attempt to flee as if they had been discovered doing something wrong.
At this early hour of the day, anglers will want to try to match the natural pattern of the baitfish, so keep that in mind. There will be no light in the sky overhead, so everything will probably appear to you as being very, very dark, even the color of the water. This is a great opportunity for you to hook into a “big gal” roaming the shallows eating her mullet breakfast, so tie on a mullet-imitating top water the likes of a She Dog, or equivalent, and toss it as far as you can in each direction until you get a reaction. It’s still dark at this point in the morning, so a dark-colored lure should produce results, as well as (believe it, or not) a bone or white-colored top water – the silhouette of both the black top water bait, and the white bait, will portray a vivid outline to the trout below. Keep throwing your top water baits until the sun has risen into the morning sky and is shining directly upon the water’s surface (you’ll know when to stop because you’ll probably stop getting hits on your surface walker).
Spend the rest of your morning following the bait. What does that mean? Well, as the sun continues to rise, the shallow water of the flats will only continue to get warmer. Consequently, the baitfish will begin migrating to cooler surroundings, meaning deeper water. And, what follows the baitfish? That’s right, the trout and the redfish, naturally! So you, too, want to follow the baitfish. If you happen to be wading in “trout-green” water, tie-on a brilliant-colored plastic tail and toss it into deeper water. Cast the tail from a 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock pattern out in front of you as you zigzag from shallow-to-deep and then deep-to-shallow again. This allows you to thoroughly cover all of your current real estate. If you don’t find the bite, you may wish to make a slight move until you once again discover bait activity to be plentiful.
Whatever the reasons may be, this past spring and early summer have been much more productive over that of the past few years, so we should not anticipate the month of July being any different. Remember to apply plenty of sunscreen, wade early, hydrate often, and have as much fun as you possibly can while staying safe. Until next time, tight lines to all.
Email Chris Martin at [email protected]
or visit bayflatslodge.com