WITH THE ARRIVAL of October, “fall” has officially “fell.”
Although the upper Texas coast might still feel like summer, somewhat cooler weather is certainly on its way. This means more pleasant and more productive fishing weather should be ours to enjoy.
Bay waters will still be temperate, so warm weather tactics will still be productive. Night fishing may well still be more comfortable and see more fishing action, but early mornings and late evenings tend to be a bit cooler and definitely more productive.
Reefs and bars in the bays will begin to hold more fish, and the need to search for deep holes will not be as great, although those spots should not be totally ignored. Wading should still be comfortable without protective gear, and the peak feeding periods should last longer than in hot summer water.
Live bait is still a top option, and also should be easier to catch and keep alive than a few months ago. More shrimp will be found in the bays, with more fish seeking them out. Top water action should be better in the cooler water.
Passes opening into the Gulf are even more productive now, as well as spots where coastal streams enter the Gulf. Speckled trout redfish, and flounders—the inshore “big three” —will all be found in these prime waters, as well as along the Gulf beachfront.
The surf zone—whether fished from a boat, by wading, or casting from the beach—will not only yield lots of these prime inshore targets, but fall visitors will include the fabulous “Bull” redfish, hard fighting jack crevalle, tough and tasty Spanish mackerel, and a wide variety of various sizes of sharks. Always possible, too, is an encounter with a true trophy—a beachfront tarpon.
Big reds, jacks, sharks, and tarpons are best sought with true “surf” rods mounting reels spooled with several hundred yards of 30- to 40-pound mono. Single strand wire leaders are most often used, for several reasons, and circle hooks have become increasingly popular.
It is common to see anglers with multiple rods resting in sand spike holders to increase the odds of a hookup. Other creatures that might come acalling include heavy stingrays—which are VERY sporty adversaries on a tight line.
Anglers who venture past the surf in a boat can find action with anything from sharks to tarpons to offshore game such as king mackerel, ling (cobia), or bottom species such as red snapper to offer frantic fishing from top water trolling to bottom fishing. Chumming and drifting baits in these areas can also be very productive.
These “inshore” waters of the Gulf of Mexico can provide fishing action to satisfy the most demanding of anglers, most of the time.
Location: Bay fishing can be VERY good in the fall, and the surf is a top spot to visit. “Nearshore” waters just off the beach can also be very productive. Of course, true offshore fishing for many species at many distances from land can be magical for those with the boats to reach them.
Species: Pretty much any “sport” or “food” species that makes an appearance in bay and Gulf waters will do so during the fall. This list is long and “storied”, and includes croaker, sand trout, speckled trout, redfish, mackerel, shark, cobia, and tarpon.
Bait: Baitfish species from shad, various sizes of mullet, and croaker will mix with shrimp, squid, and various small crabs to keep every fish “fed.”
Best Time: Early and late in the day and even after dark will still be prime times, but cooler weather will extend daytime feeding periods making this time of year good for just about anyone’s favorite schedule!
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]