July 25, 2017
July 25, 2017

A Bit of Variety

A s strange as it may sound, August can become pretty mundane.

Trout and redfish have been in their summer patterns for more than two months, and anglers can pretty much find them moving around among same areas all through summer.

You have the usual suspects: the Drum Boat, the Color Change, Holly Beach, south Bay. This column has discussed these same patterns for years. Some anglers have e-mailed me complaining about the parking lots that so many of the popular spots turn into in summer.

To these readers—and there are more than a few of them—angling success is important, but so is the opportunity to try something novel and a little exciting. This month is dedicated to these adventurous fishermen.

If your desire is a bent rod and a screaming drag, with a cooler full of fillets as a secondary desire, you might want to run your boat through Brazos Santiago Pass on a calm day, swing south and try your hand at trolling the surf line of Boca Chica Beach.

There is no telling what you’ll run into. On some days, you might find some streaking kingfish prowling the clean water that a series of calm days pushes close to the beach.

Other days, pods of arm-length Spanish mackerel might be blitzing schools of baitfish in the swells. Jackfish are always roaming the shorelines in search of trouble, and anyone seeking a good brawl can appreciate these maulers. Sometimes there are king-sized snook or tarpon out there.

Trolling the surf line doesn’t take very specialized equipment. Rod holders are always a benefit, but not a requirement. Other than that, the typical angler can get along quite nicely with typical bay tackle.

The typical seven-foot bay rod with a 2500-sized spinning reel or casting reel is fine. Make sure your reels are fully loaded with quality line. You’d be amazed at how quickly a king or a big jack can spool off 120 yards of line.

If you think you might run into kings, smacks, or even bluefish (Those gnarly little speedsters can get thick in the June surf.), then you might want to pack some wire leaders. The coated, black, braided wire leaders available almost everywhere are fine, but I prefer to make a short trace (three to four inches) of coffee-colored wire twisted straight onto my lure or hook. It’s the same rig I use casting from jetties, and I’ve found that it doesn’t seem adversely affect how trout or other leader-shy species hit.

If you are fishing for smaller species, you’d be amazed how effective the same lead head jig/plastic tail combination works for trolling. On a very slow troll (no-wake speed), a lead head tracks straight and will sink in the water column.

Shad tails, paddle tails, and especially curly tail grubs have a lot of action on the troll. The much-maligned Alabama rig is ideal for this type of fishing, especially since its origins are in the larger umbrella rigs that are popular in offshore trolling. Chartreuse patterns work well, but patterns with silver or gold metal flake or foil in them are especially effective.

Fishermen who want to focus on larger species such as kingfish, jacks, and even snook and tarpon, should turn their attention to swimming plugs or even large spoons. Medium and large broken-back plugs such as the Cotton Cordell Jointed Redfish, Jointed Bomber Long A, or Sebile Magic Swimmer are ideal for these applications.

I have long preferred the Strike King Shad when trolling or casting around the Brazos Santiago jetties. There is no reason they shouldn’t work slow-trolled along the beach.

Large spoons in the ¾ ounce to one-ounce range are also great. They provide tremendous flash and wobble when pulled behind a boat. You may need to use a one-ounce trolling or bell sinker in front of a spoon, though. They tend to track high up in the water, even on the slowest of trolls.

Another lure with intriguing possibilities is the Shimano Waxwing, which was designed for fast retrieves. Its erratic darting action could prove to be strong medicine in a trolling application.

The key to trolling the Boca Chica surf line is going slow. Keep your boat around low no-wake speed as much as you can. Let your offering out from 30 to 50 yards behind the boat and barely pop her into gear. Unless you are fishing more than two anglers on board—including the helmsman—then it may be more practical to have only one or two lines out at any given time to avoid tangles from running fish.

Safety should always be a priority. If the seas are too rough, or there is a promise of high winds in the forecast, then it may be smarter to stay inside the pass and look for fish in all the regular spots.

Also, be mindful about how far south you troll. The Mexican authorities are nowhere near as diplomatic as Americans, and if you should unintentionally cross into their territorial waters, you might lose your boat. Make sure you fish far enough off the beach that your boat doesn’t get pushed into the surf, and never, NEVER shut your motor off. If your motor has been balky, don’t even consider coming through the pass.

Being different shouldn’t be dangerous.

Email Cal Gonzales at

[email protected]


Email Calixto Gonzales at [email protected]

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