FALL IS HERE, but we haven’t quite felt the full effects yet. The forecast will be in the 80s for much of the state. Could record-setting summer temperatures be a harbinger of an extra warm autumn?
No matter how the weather breaks down, a cool down will begin at some point this month and create a transition mode on the coastal fishing end of things.
There are five things on the Texas coast you need to keep in mind that is happening right now with reds, specks, and flounder. Some of these are contingent upon that very weather transition and catching the exact moment things begin to shift.
• Wolf Packs: That’s what I call them anyway. These are the small schools of big trout that hunt for shrimp close to the shorelines. I first noticed them on the Louisiana shoreline on the eastern shore of Sabine Lake back in the early 2000s.
Trout fishing can be spotty in the early part of the month, but if you look hard, you can find the biggest ones in small groups feeding close to the shorelines.
Ignore birds on the main lake for big fish and look for shrimp scurrying along the banks and out to 50 yards from the shore. Rig up a topwater or an extra-large shrimp imitation to score on these bigger trout. Look for one or two birds feeding or maybe none at all.
However, if you find some nervous shrimp chances are you will find these smaller schools of large trout.
A DOA shrimp rigged under a popping cork is a surefire way to get bit. I like to take that same lure and skip it across the surface. This is especially effective when you’re tight to the shore and need a method of delivering a lure without the loud “sploosh’ of a popping cork hitting the water.
For anglers preferring live bait, you might want to consider an alternative that will be available in the early part of October.
If you want to catch lots of speckled trout and redfish but can’t afford live shrimp, invest in a cast net, and use shad (menhaden).
Capt. Robert Vail turned me onto live shad under a popping cork about 20 years ago. Free-lining it into a feeding school also works great. Other than live shrimp, nothing works better than shad.
Most of the shad will be in the Gulf by the end of the month so try this strategy early.
The first big cold front we get will dump much water from local marshes and with it lots of flounder.
Flounders stack up in areas where there are many back bays, marshes, and canals. Look for them stacked up in some of the bigger feeder cuts and along shorelines with heavy bait concentrations.
Before you head out for flounder, let me share with you a tip I can guarantee will increase your hook-to-land ratio.
The first step is to get a spinning rod that’s as stiff as you can find. It’s hard to find an adequately stern stick without fishing with something you could use for yellowfin tuna.
What I do is take a seven-foot, medium-heavy action rod and cut off the first foot. You want the action to be like a pool cue, virtually no give.
Next, rig your reel with braided or fusion line such as Berkley Fireline or Spiderwire. Use something with at least a 3 to 1 ratio, such as six-pound diameter to 20-pound-test. Then, screw the drag down tight.
A flounder has a very bony mouth, and the reason most anglers lose them is they never get a good hookset. This rig puts a lot of pressure on the flounder and will dramatically increase the number of fish you bring to the landing net.
The best thing about this setup with an artificial lure is that it takes only a couple of seconds to make a hookset. With mud minnows, most anglers wait at least 10 seconds before setting the hook. I use this rig for flounder. When the fish strikes aggressively, I wait for a second or so, then yank like there’s no tomorrow.
Wade fishermen will be catching some larger fish on the flats adjacent to ship channels this month.
Most of these trout are quality fish.
Look for falling high tides for the first couple of hours and then again on the last couple of a rising tide for the best action.
Topwaters will produce the biggest fish.
Since the walking the dog craze hit the Texas coast in the 1990s, many anglers forgot about chugging topwater plugs such as the Chug Bug and Pop-R or my personal favorite-the Sebile Splasher.
I fish chuggers using two different techniques: popping and ripping. Chugging involves slowly popping the lure every few seconds and letting it sit, then lather, rinse, and repeat.
Ripping is far more aggressive. It involves putting the rod tip down and forcefully pulling the lure through the water. This works great when the fish are feeding on top, but not responding to typical topwater tactics.
The redfish spawn still has some steam. So, some massive spawns occur at the jetties and the southern end ecosystems along the coast. Soaking a cut mullet or a live croaker over points in the channel and deep holes at the jetties will get your rod bent, maybe broke.
If the seas are too rough, don’t ignore deep holes in the southern end of the bays. As the redfish population matures along the coast, you’ll find more big ones in the bays themselves.
In fact, in some areas, it’s getting hard to catch reds that are not over the slot limit. In my opinion, that is a great problem to have.
Pier fishing along the Texas coast is easy and convenient. Whether you’re fishing for shark, red fish, spotted sea trout, or flounder, there’s a pier close by with plenty of room for everyone.
—story by CHESTER MOORE