School is in Session
SEPTEMBER, ACCORDING TO THE CALENDAR, is when we begin to catch a break now and then from the Texas Coastal hot summers. That’s not to say that you will need a coat, but a drop of just a couple of degrees is welcome both to angler and fish.
This summer could be called the year of the shark as numerous small to larger sharks have been caught along the coast, intentionally or not. Capt. Brandon Kendrick who does a lot of fishing from the Upper Laguna Madre said he recorded 47 sharks caught, with 23 over 100 pounds. He had a 140-pound plus fish that took about an hour and a half before it made it to the boat.
“The sharks come in to breed and stay behind the shrimp boats,” said Kendrick. “We were catching them in 10 feet of water.”
In September, the speckled trout and redfish action should be good providing we don’t get any late summer interruptions with hurricanes or other tropical disturbances. In the Upper Laguna Madre, Kendrick’s clients will be throwing the normal go-to baits, live croakers, top waters or soft plastics.
“We will be fishing underwater grassy shorelines for trout, if we are wade fishing,” said Kendrick. “More than likely, we will be fishing grass flats at the edges of sand, throwing for the deep guts. If we are fishing from the boat, we will be looking for shell reefs.
“Most of my clients are fishing with croakers, free-lining. During September the croakers are usually bigger, probably three to four inches.” If Kendrick gets to choose croaker sizes he likes the 2 ½- to 3-inch croaker.
“In soft plastics we use a lot of Gambler four- or six-inch flapping shad. Favorite colors are plum/chartreuse or purple with white tail.”
If you see slicks on top of the water, with diving and circling birds overhead, the fish are “burping” after enjoying a shrimp meal. You are in the right area.
When the fish are feeding like that, you can throw just about anything and catch fish. The biggest mistake an angler can make in working a school of fish under birds is getting too close and spooking the fish off. Being able to cast a long distance is really a big key to your success. A lot of people will pull up on a slick and cast right into the middle of it.
If a slick has lots of ripples on the surface, and doesn’t increase in size, it’s probably an older slick. The fish could be 200-300 yards upwind of the recognizable slick.
Guides and seasoned old pros recommend checking water movement. If the fish are staying together, probably the next slick will pop up in front of the last known location. Fish in front of the slick movement.
Capt. Kersh likes to tie on something heavy, like a ½- or 3/8-ounce jig head with a soft plastic. “I try to pick a durable soft plastic. Down South lures makes some great ones.” His lure of choice is the Saltwater Assassin.
Why a “durable” soft plastic? “You can throw out, catch a fish, unhook it, and throw back out again with the same bait, without having to tie a new bait on.”
Capt. Carlos Garcia likes Berkley Gulps in September when catching redfish. “By the 15th the oversize redfish are moving into the bays,” he said. “The oversize redfish are moving to feed and forage before they drop their eggs and go back offshore. We do a lot of sight casting, usually fishing from the boat, drift fishing. They love Berkley Gulp, the stench of it. They are in the feeding mode.
“The Gulp really gets their attention,” continued Garcia. “I use it under a popping cork; they come up and get it. Live mullet works good. Soft plastics with a chartreuse tail work really good.” Garcia’s favorite soft plastic is the HomeRecker, “a funky tail that paddles really good. They love it.”
Garcia likes to fish drop-offs along the different islands. “There’s a lot of fish backed up there at this time of the year, just an abundance of redfish, from September 15 all the way up through October.”
Fall is in the air. It sure doesn’t feel like it, but any drop of one or two degrees feels good to fisherman and fish alike. Remember back in the early spring when we mentioned an increase of one or two degrees in water temperature would get the fish moving? Now it’s a drop of one or two in a different direction.
Email Tom Behrens at ContactUs@fishgame.com