ONE OF MY FAVORITE fishing tactics is wade fishing, especially when I am by myself.
However, as a fishing guide I pretty much discourage wade fishing for my clients for two major reasons: 1) Putting an angler in the water ups the chances for something going wrong; 2) We normally catch plenty of fish from the boat.
The waters around Rockport are prime for wading but they also present many challenges for inexperienced waders. I have been told by past clients they were expert waders. In two cases this proved to be a misrepresentation of the truth, which almost cost these anglers their lives.
What hazards do wade fishermen face? The foremost is tide currents and the force they can put on a wader. There are areas in Rockport where the current can rip over three knots. This can cause a life-threating situation if a person caught in these fast-moving waters loses his/her balance.
Debris or underwater hazards are another problem, compounded in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. It’s not entanglement that is the nemesis, but injuries from sharp objects that cut through even the finest and thickest waders.
Most waders worry more about predators—sharks, ’gators, snakes or alligator gasr and Dasyatis sabina (the Atlantic stingray). Of these the stingray is by far the biggest perpetrator. Their barbs are seldom fatal, but pose a high risk for infection. To stay safe, I recommend a few things:
1) Stay away from major inlets/outlets you are not intimately familiar with as these are highway systems for tidal currents. Any jetty system should be given a wide berth.
2) Purchase and maintain two good pair of waders, a heavy neoprene pair for cold water and a light pair for warm water. Take both with you when you go wade fishing.
3) If a wader leaks, fix it or throw it away. These are not garments that need to be used beyond their normal life span.
4) Do NOT wade in shorts, blue jeans, or long nylon pants, for even jellyfish can penetrate these garments.
5) Watch out for heat exhaustion. Rule of thumb as you start your wade go about 50 yards: if you are hot or cold change into your other pair of waders on your wade back to where you started.
6) Try on a lot of pairs of waders and don’t buy through the Internet unless you know for sure exactly the pair you want. Next month we will talk about wading techniques.
S oft plastics work well this time of year, especially darker colors such as morning glory or blue pepper neon. Bring nuclear chicken as backup. When all else fails it seems to work.
Copano Bay: Trout frequent the area just off Rattlesnake Point. Fish out about 100 yards where the deep edge transitions are. On warmer days, live shrimp under a silent cork works well. The black drum action is still decent at the mouth of Mission Bay. Use small moves to locate the drum. Peeled shrimp on a light Carolina rig works well.
St. Charles Bay: Wades just off Hail Point using new penny Jerk Shad works well for trout and reds. Slow retrieves often produce some nice flounders. On high tide, Bird Point is a good place for reds using free-lined finger mullet.
Aransas Bay: The spoil area at the mouth of Dunham is a good spot for sheepsheads using small pieces of squid free-lined with small Kahle hooks. Grass Island Reef is a good spot for black drum using peeled shrimp under a silent cork. The deeper edges of Spalding Reef are a good spot for trout. On a rising tide here, sand eels in morning glory and silver mud are the ticket.
Carlos Bay: Wades down Shell Reef are good for reds and trout using a popping cork and shrimp. Move slow and wade out far enough to cast into the edges of the reef. Some sheepsheads and black drums work the area as well.
Mesquite Bay: The mouth of Cedar Bayou is a good spot for trout using mud minnows free-lined. On warmer days fish shallow. On cooler days target the deep edges. The shoreline just off Ballou Island is a good wade for reds using finger mullet. This area can be boggy in the shallow water close to the bank, so move slowly.
Ayers Bay: Drifts down Second Chain using a bubble cork and Berkley Gulp shrimp is a good tactic for trout and keeper reds.
The Bayside shoreline on Copano Bay is a good spot to wade for reds and trout. Be careful of debris. Soft plastics work well here in new penny and nuclear chicken colors.
Email Capt. Mac Gable at [email protected]