J UNE IS THE FIRST MONTH of actual summer on the upper Texas coast. June can bring with it the hot, sunny days our section of the coast is most known for.
Although temperatures are certainly not as hot as the days of August yet to come, they’re are much more comfortable, for the most part, in early morning, late evenings—and at night. Night fishing can be very good even during the coldest months,but in warmer weather it does not require extra heavy clothing and deicers to produce warmth.
June is not usually hot enough to cause fish to feed at night for the comfort, but the bait they seek is often more abundant during hours of darkness. This is especially true if tidal currents reach their peak at nighttime, as can often happen. With the “movement” of coastal waters, bait species move, also.
They follow the currents looking for food, and are, in turn, followed as food by larger predatory species. Schools containing large numbers of all bait species from shrimp to small finfish draw the attention of feeding speckled trout and smaller sand trout. Redfish will often be in the mix, in smaller numbers, but often larger sizes. Flounders and to some extent black drum – the smaller “puppy drum” – will also follow schools of bait at night, like a 10-pound drum I caught one night around a dock in Chocolate Bayou on a bait I had meant for flounder.
Bait species and the species feeding on them might gather in various places for different reasons, shelter and food—preferably a combination of the two. They will be found in the same spots that attract these species during daylight hours, but after dark they often move to places they don’t feel as safe. This could be coastal streams, structure provided by jetties, rock groins, and many other forms of man-made structure, such as docks either along relatively open shoreline, or in marinas.
Marinas offer docks, pilings, and relatively deep water. They are mostly lighted at night and have less boat and pedestrian traffic. Huge schools of small shad, or menhaden, often congregate in these areas. Any larger predatory species from “junk” catfish to reds and trout will be attracted to such an easy feeding ground.
Having spent a lot of time in a few marinas on the upper coast, in both day and night, I was able to observe bait and fish activity on many occasions. I have also spent time fishing around various industrial docks at night.
With the large amounts of “bait” available, fishing with either live or “fresh dead” bait can be a “sure thing”, but small artificial lures, such as the tandem “speck rig” jigs sold with their own monofilament leaders can sometimes produce faster strikes than natural bait. Because there WILL be larger fish around all this feeding activity, a gold or silver spoon cast to the outskirts of the main areas of activity can be very productive.
My original involvement in such activity was when seeking bait, such as small shad to use as offshore chum, and it was hard not to notice the activity of feeding fish while cast-netting bait. Being able to catch some specks “for the pan” while there mainly to care for my boat was always an extra attraction.
The Gulf Coast has a lot of those, for those willing to look for them.
Location: Structure provided by docks and pilings. Recreational docks should be chosen over industrial installations, for safety reasons. Such structure is found often on inshore channels and coastal bayous.
Species: Under the right water conditions, speckled trout, redfish, flounder, and black drum will be found.
Baits/Lures: Shrimp and baitfish caught “on sight” work very well, also small jigs, either nylon-skirted or with plastic bodies are good. Spoons draw strikes from large fish.
Best Times: High tides and the periods leading up to them, and to their decline.
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]