NOVEMBER IS SORT OF a “Middle Month” for Texas coastal fishing. This is really our fall season, compressed quite a bit.
The heat of summer is in the very recent past, and has often reached well into September. Even when we get exceptions to our normally mild winters, the “real” cold does not usually come until December. November is usually VERY pleasant, with comfortable temperatures and settled weather.
In 2018, however, it has become a year with a more than normally active tropical weather presence. Besides the Category 4 or 5 Hurricane Florence, several other disturbances of the tropical storm level came roaring across the Atlantic in September.
Issac, as I write this, appears to be headed to the lower Texas coast or maybe (hopefully) farther into Mexico. A mass of heavy rain activity is aiming for Galveston right now.
We who are in its path hope it does not intensify into a full-fledged tropical system. Last year gave us Harvey, and it would have been really nice not to have any storms for this year.
Of course, long-term effects of such storms often have an up-side. Bay systems, bars and guts, natural passes and channels, and even tidal streams get some needed flushing. This normally leaves our coastal water bodies cleaner than before the storm.
So far, our tropical activity for 2018 has not caused significant damage to either the natural resources or man-made features, so perhaps this hurricane season will be less destructive than Harvey was last year. I have hopes for this after a few nights having to get up every few hours to check the level of rising waters
The high waters and receding of same will affect coastal fishing, but hopefully for the better. Bait species such as shrimp and small baitfish, should prosper with cleaner bottom features and filtered water. As a result, pan fish and gamefish species should also be on an increase.
Until enough flushing tides have occurred to allow normal salinity to be resumed, fishing along the “bay side” of Galveston Island might be more productive than working the mainland shoreline.
The surf should be cleaner after the storms have passed and probably have new channels and cuts. Passes will be washed deeper. These changes, even if somewhat temporary, will increase fish activity, and often result in catches that would not normally occur in the surf. After a major storm several years ago, I was trying for bull reds around some new bars and cuts and came up with a nice king mackerel, instead.
Hopefully, all this extra action in the Gulf will result in November being even better without storms. Besides exotic species, reds will be in the surf, along with some nice sharks. Speckled trout will wander between the bay systems, the surf and nearshore waters.
Calm waters should allow good, smaller boats to make the trip to intercept them. For those fishermen cursed with boats a bit larger, offshore waters will be as productive as we are likely to find them.
Location: With moderate air temperatures, anyplace can be good—tidal streams, back bays, open bay water near or over reefs, as well as the passes, surf, and near-shore Gulf.
Species: Best time of the year for bull reds, as well as their smaller cousins. Those who seek them will also find speckled trout, flounders, and smaller pan fish.
Bait: Shrimp and most baitfish species will be abundant, and easily caught in a cast net or purchased from bait dealers. Lures imitating these same species can pay off well.
Best Time: Mornings and evenings are still best, but these times can be extended longer in comfort without summer’s burning sun. Night fishing is also a good bet, as it usually is.
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]