ON A WINDY AFTERNOON IN JULY, Corpus Christi angler, Chris Grapentine was tucked inside some islands in Nueces Bay doing what the often does after work—fishing for speckled trout.
He asked some of his fellow workers if they wanted to go wet a line with him, but they all had prior engagements. They missed Chris set a personal record for his biggest trout he ever caught, 9 pounds, 4 ounces, 30 3/4 inches long.
His excitement built even more when he found out his trout was the leader in the 2018 Middle Coast Division of the CCA Texas Ford Dealers/Tilson Home Corp/Capital Farm Credit State of Texas Anglers Rodeo (STAR). All the vital statistics were verified at Roy’s Bait & Tackle in Corpus Christi.
No specific location was shared. I think he knows there are other big fish there waiting for him. “I was working some guts where water was moving through,” was all he shared. He fishes Nueces Bay most of the time. “If the conditions are there, have the right wind, tides, fish are going be there,” said the 44-year old angler.
He describes Nueces as a year-around fishing destination if you know your way around it. “A unique bay, so many different varied structures, a lot of oyster reefs, abandoned wells. A whole bunch of lower units have been wasted by people who don’t know what they are doing in the Bay.”
He likes tossing a topwater bait at the trout. He’s like a fine artist in describing his fishing technique.
“Ninety-five percent of the blowups I have on topwaters is when I pause the retrieve. I cast out, give the bait a couple twitches and then I kind of get into a routine. I count, maybe twitching it a specific number of times as I retrieve the bait. Eight times and then pause. Sometimes I might pause 10 seconds, sometimes 30 seconds, all the while keeping the line tight on the retrieve. Do not stop the retrieve completely, but slow down, keeping tension on the line. A lot of times the hit comes unexpectedly when you are not looking at the lure.”
The cycle needs to be adjusted to the whims of the fish for that day. “It all depends on the activity that’s going on around you. If you can tell there are fish chasing bait fish, if they are actively feeding. You can tell if they are going to require a little bit more coaxing to bite.”
In October does it matter how early you are out on the water?
“It all depends on the moon and how actively the fish are feeding at that time,” replied Grapentine. “A lot people say after 10 a.m. the topwater bite shuts down. If you find fish actively feeding, they are not in that neutral state. They will blowup on a topwater.
“Where I fish is very tidal dependent, a lot of oyster reefs. If you have a high tide the fish are going to be closer to, or up on the top of the reef. If a lower tide, they will be down the sides of the reefs, working a little deeper water.
Does he have a favorite topwater color?
“I have two colors. Bone and the other is more of a natural color; a black back with a white belly, silver sides.”
No matter what color he uses, technique and observation are what’s important. “You kind of have to assess the attitude of the fish in the area you are fishing, how they are feeding.”
At copy deadline for this article, the question is whether Grapentine’s fish will hold on to win for him, whether he will have a new boat, and truck to pull it. First, second and third runner-ups all have fish weighing in the eight-pound range.
I think he has a good chance to be on the winners’ podium. As a side note, Chris’s present boat is a former CCA awarded boat to another angler a couple of years back. Grapentine bought if from the winner. If he wins, will he continue the legacy of his old boat, sell it to another angler? Maybe it’s got the winning touch for some other angler.
Location: Portland Shoreline
Species: Speckled trout, redfish and black drum.
Best Baits: Live shrimp and mullet
Best Time: Dawn to late morning
Email Tom Behrens at [email protected]