FORECAST CENTER: Saltwater – July/August 2020

FORECAST CENTER: Freshwater – July/August 2020
June 24, 2020
COVID-19 IN THE OUTDOORS – July/August 2020
June 24, 2020

Live Bait Cures Hot Weather Lockjaw

SABINE LAKE & PASS

Reported by CAPT. EDDIE HERNANDEZ

Email Eddie Hernandez at [email protected]

 

WELCOME TO JULY on Texas’s upper coast. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s a little warm. Okay, it’s more than just a little warm. It’s a little hot!

All right I admit, it’s actually a lot hot. It’s dripping-with-sweat-and-your-clothes-already-wet-before-you-even-leave-the house hot!

That’s just from loading the boat with gear, drinks and ice before the sun is even up. Sadly, we’re not even to the hottest part of summer yet, which we should get to experience sometime next month.

For now though, it’s plenty hot enough and all the indicators are saying that summer is officially here. We will worry about next month when that time comes. Another sure sign that summer is upon us is that the fish seem to get lockjaw for no apparent reason when it comes to striking artificial baits.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can’t catch fish with plastics on hot summer days, because you can. It happens a lot. It’s just that, at times, some game fish, (speckled trout especially) for whatever reason, will turn up their noses at any potential meal that doesn’t have a soul.

What they want is the real thing and they won’t settle for anything less. They seem to get away from the artificial bite sometimes on very hot summer days. This is especially true if you’ve got gin-clear water conditions.

If you can’t get your hands on live bait, try downsizing your lures, fishing deeper water and hitting it as early as possible to give yourself a fighting chance. That’s the best advice I can give to those who can’t get live bait when the fish decide to get finicky.

For those who can though, live shrimp and croakers are very hard to beat. Whether free-lined, with a split shot or under a popping cork, they can work like magic when nothing else will draw strikes.

Shad and finger mullet are not bad substitutes either, and at times can be just as effective. The great thing about these baits is they’re a whole lot cheaper, unless of course you’re lucky enough to catch shrimp with your cast net.

Whether I’m fishing Galveston Bay or Sabine, the jetties are one of my all time favorite places to use live bait. If the conditions are favorable in July, it’s almost hard not to catch fish. Have one rigged about 24 inches beneath a popping cork, one with a ¼ ounce split shot about 18 inches above a khale or treble hook and another free-lined.

One of these setups should let you know pretty quickly how they want it. Quite often, the fishermen using live bait at the jetties will be netting one fish after the other while those throwing artificials will be struggling to get a bite.

This isn’t always the case, but I have witnessed it on multiple occasions. So, when the July heat really starts showing off, and the fish turn up their noses at artificial baits, give them what they want, something with a soul.

•  •  •

GALVESTON

Reported by CAPT. MIKE HOLMES

Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]

 

THERE IS MAGIC IN THE Gulf waters this month. Probing the shallow back bay waters and feeder streams or working the mostly calm surf beyond the fabled third sandbar brings happiness to just about any angler. It’s also true for those exploring the deeper waters beyond for fish species of all sizes and types.

We should plan our trips for early and late in the day to avoid the worst of the summer sun and find feeding speckled trout and redfish—either from a drifting shallow-draft boat or wade fishing. Live bait or fresh dead natural bait under popping corks will bring action from either species.

Shallow bay waters over oyster reefs and the expansive sandbars behind inlets such as San Luis Pass will be productive. Closer to the pass will occasionally bring a big jack or a school of mackerel into the mix. Sand trout and croakers will usually add fun on very light tackle and support a tasty fish fry.

The summer surf is a wonderful location for sport fishermen, with these same fish being targets for larger species as well as for fishermen. This is not the prime time for “bull” reds, but they’ll still be among the catches, along with hard fighting jack crevalle.

Tarpon will often be seen jumping in the surf. They’ll sometimes take a big live mullet, or even a fresh chunk of cut mullet. For those who seek the pull of a big fish that might be more commonly encountered, sharks of various sizes work the summer surf—some of them reaching “monster” size. Less glamorous, but just as sporting, are stingrays, which can be a strong challenge even on stout tackle.

In calm summer seas, even fairly small boats can be used to reach out a bit farther from the beach as long as the operators are safe and careful. For those who would rather keep their feet dry, fishing from one of the beachfront piers is a good bet—or even a rock groin or jetty rocks at times.

Boats a bit larger and better equipped can be the entry into a wonderful offshore fishing world, beginning just past the beachfront sandbars. Underwater rocks and other formations hold all sorts of fish. Oil rigs of various sizes are always home to many species from snapper on the bottom to kingfish and ling nearer the surface.

At times, schools of dolphins will roam close to shore. When the water is clear and calm the possibilities for sportfish are very, very good.

Of course, folks on private boats as well as commercial charter and party boats ply the further offshore waters for kings, ling, snapper, tuna, wahoo—even billfish. The Texas coast is a wonderful world for fishermen, regardless of their preference in fish size and species.

•  •  •

MATAGORDA

Reported by MIKE PRICE

Email Mike Price at [email protected]

 

IN JULY IT IS BEST to go fishing early in the morning because that’s when the fish will most likely be searching for prey—and you will not get too hot.

Early in the morning the water temperature in East and West Matagorda Bays will be about 83°F. By 4 pm the water temperature will have increased to 88°F. Consequently the fish move to deeper water and stop feeding.

Shortly after first morning light, you may find redfish feeding off the shorelines. You may also find flounders, but redfish feeding signs are different from flounder. Redfish trap bait fish or shrimp against the bank and create a big commotion when attacking.

When you see this, watch which way the reds are going, be very quiet, even though they are being very noisy. Position your soft plastic or gold spoon in front of the redfish. If your lure lands over shell, you will have to reel immediately.Keep your rod tip high to prevent it from getting hung up on oyster shell, and hope it is a perfect cast.

If your lure lands on sand or mud, you can leave it until just before the redfish gets there, and then start moving it.

Flounders usually feed right next to the shoreline. When they attack prey, you see a burst of little baitfish or small shrimp. When that happens, watch that spot and be ready to drop your lure right on it when the burst happens againYou know that’s a flounder, so be prepared to play the strike as a flounder.

When fishing a soft plastic, after you feel a hit, wait until you feel the flounder swim, then set the hook. Many times, a flounder will strike the back of a soft plastic lure, missing the hook. They do this to stun their prey. Then they turn the “fish” so it goes down headfirst.

If you’re using a spoon, set the hook when you feel the bite. In contrast to reds and flounders, although trout sometimes work the shorelines, they are usually found in the guts or in the open water of the bay.

If you intend to fish the surf, try to time it so that you’re fishing at first light on an incoming tide. If the incoming tide is later in the day, you may find that the fish are still biting.

Fishing an incoming tide yields more action. Baitfish are being pushed into the guts along the shoreline by the water movement, and predator fish follow the bait.

If the surf is calm and the tide on the beach is incoming, you will probably fare better fishing the surf than in the bay. Wave action in the Gulf of Mexico and cooler water coming up from depth mixes with warm surface water oxygenates the water, whereas water in the bays on a hot, calm day is oxygen deprived.

If the surf is too rough to wade-fish, you can either fish the surf from the beach using live or fresh dead shrimp, or you can fish the bay very early in the morning.

Jeff Wiley and I were catching trout, hardheads, whiting, and small sharks in the surf shortly after first light. He caught a small hammerhead and netted and released it with no problem. But when I hooked and then watched a three-foot blacktip shark jump high out of the water, my desire to net the shark did not work out.

With the net deep in the water at the ready, I worked the shark up to it, but the blacktip shark avoided the net and darted past my right side and came around my back to my left side where my leg and butt meet and clamped down. I felt the searing pain and reached down and grabbed the shark on its underside, just below its mouth, which was not letting go, and tore it off. Then I removed the hook and turned the little blacktip loose.

What did I learn from that experience? I am not going to try to net a shark; instead, I will cut the line. I was glad I had a first aid kit in my truck. An open wound in warm salt water should be treated immediately.

In the Gulf of Mexico in July you may see a concentration of diving birds and jumping fish over a large area. This is most likely Spanish mackerels rounding up a huge school of sardines.

I was offshore in late July and witnessed this, sardines jumping as Spanish mackerels and bottleneck dolphins attacked them. We tried to catch Spanish mackerel by using light tackle and running a silver spoon through the melee quickly, but we could not get the boat in a position to make continuous casts before the whole business moved.

However, if you see king mackerels jumping among baitfish and birds attacking, there is a good chance that you will land some of those kings. We had that situation and positioned the boat to troll near the action and caught several kings that were acrobatic jumpers.

Red snappers will be in season in federal waters throughout the month of July. Usually snappers will be found below the thermocline, which can be seen on the boat’s fish-finder.

I like to drop my bait to a depth which is a little below the thermocline and wait about a minute. If no bite, I’ll drop another 10 feet. I’ll continue to lower the bait until I feel a bite or until I feel the weight hit the bottom. Then I’ll bring the weight up a little and wait for the bite.

Be sure to bring a device to deflate the expanded bladders of red snappers that you return to the water and use circle hooks. Circle hooks catch in the side of the fish’s mouth and are easily removed leaving the fish undamaged, whereas J hooks sometimes hook deep inside the fish and kill it.

•  •  •

•  •  •

Location: Campbell Bayou
Hotspot: Sand Island
GPS: N 29 20.3141, W 94 54.0286
(29.3386, -94.9005)

Campbell Bayou

Campbell Bayou Sand Island

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Soft Plastics
Contact: Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
www.gofishgalveston.com
Tips: Drifting Campbell’s Bayou can produce trout in the 16-17 inch trout. Look for bird action.

Location: Galveston Bay
Hotspot: Ship Channel
GPS: N 29 35.22, W 94 55.8059
(29.5870, -94.9301)

Galveston Bay

Galveston Bay Ship Channel

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live shrimp or croaker
Contact: Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
www.gofishgalveston.com
Tips: “Fish the channel from about marker 36 through 50. There are some occasional humps with water depth changes from 12-15 feet. Locate with your sonar, and use a Carolina Rig with live shrimp or croaker.
Location: Galveston
Hotspot: North Jetty
GPS: N 29 21.272, W94 43.091
(29.3545, -94.7182)

Galveston

Galveston North Jetty

Species: Shark, Redfish, and Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Shrimp
Contact: Capt. Scott Wheat
361-746-8134
[email protected]
Tips: One of Capt. Wheat’s favorite summer places to fish is under the anchored tankers and container ships waiting to come up the Galveston ship channel.

Location: Galveston
Hotspot: South Jetty
GPS: N 29 19.67, W94 41.411
(29.3278, -94.6902)

Galveston

Galveston South Jetty

Species: Shark, Redfish, and Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Shrimp
Contact: Capt. Scott Wheat
361-746-8134
[email protected]
Tips: Wheat uses live shrimp, but also frozen sardines for some fish.

Location: Galveston East Bay
Hotspot: Little Pasture Bayou
GPS: N 29 31.254, W 94 32.3179
(29.5209, -94.5386)

Galveston East Bay

Galveston East Bay Little Pasture Bayou

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Topwaters early
Contact: Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
www.gofishgalveston.com
Tips: Topwaters early such as the She Pup or the Baby Spooks. Good colors are black, chrome and chartreuse. Slow presentation, just barely walk it.

Location: Galveston East Bay
Hotspot: Hanna’s Reef
GPS: N 29 28.92, W 94 43.6559
(29.4820, -94.7276)

Galveston East Bay

Galveston East Bay Hanna’s Reef

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Soft Plastics
Contact: Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
www.gofishgalveston.com
Tips: East Bay will be crowded with trout because of the spring water runoffs, but also a lot of boating traffic. Be careful to monitor you talk because of the close proximity with other boaters. There have always been difficulties with improper boat activity.

Location: Galveston East Bay
Hotspot: Deep Reef
GPS: N 29 30.802, W 94 40.581
(29.5134, -94.6764)

Galveston East Bay

Galveston East Bay Deep Reef

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Soft Plastics
Contact: Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
www.gofishgalveston.com
Tips: As you approach an area that is holding a number of boats, use your trolling motor to ease in. When using your big motor, try to use idle speed only to not create a wake.

Location: Galveston East Bay
Hotspot: Little Hanna’s Reef
GPS: N 29 27.5209, W 94 42.3989
(29.4587, -94.7067)

Galveston East Bay

Galveston East Bay Little Hanna’s Reef

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Soft Plastics
Contact: Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
www.gofishgalveston.com
Tips: The trout have been forced out of Trinity and upper regions of Galveston Bay into East Galveston and Campbell’s Bayou area.

Location: Galveston East Bay
Hotspot: Robinson Bayou
GPS: N 29 35.0637, W 94 34.4947
(29.5844, -94.5749)

Galveston East Bay

Galveston East Bay Robinson Bayou

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Topwaters early
Contact: Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
www.gofishgalveston.com
Tips: Pockets along the bayous will hold significant numbers of fish in the seven pound range. Fish the drains and bayous.

Location: Galveston Trinity Bay
Hotspot: Dows Reef
GPS: N 29 38.932, W 94 48.436
(29.6489, -94.8073)

Galveston Trinity Bay

Galveston Trinity Bay Dows Reef

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Croaker or Shrimp
Contact: Capt. Ralph Frazier
281-337-0321
www.fraziersguideservice.com
Tips: “We definitely try to fish the jetties because you get a chance to catch a mixed bag of fish. On an incoming tide, fish the outside of the jetty; on outgoing tide, fish the channel side.” Capt. Frazier

Location: Matagorda East Bay
Hotspot: Raymond Shoals
GPS: N 28 40.449, W 95 53.898
(28.6742, -95.8983)

Matagorda East Bay

Matagorda East Bay Raymond Shoals

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Berkley Gulp Shad or live shrimp
Contact: Capt. Kendall Kersh
979-248-1871
[email protected]
www.puresaltadventues.com
Tips: Kersh uses Berkley Gulp with a 1/4-ounce jig head, jigging it, or under a popping cork. If he is using the Gulp under a popping cork, he places it about 2 1/2 or 3 feet under the cork.

Location: Matagorda East Bay
Hotspot: Long Reef
GPS: N 28 40.3998, W 95 53.0899
(28.6733, -95.8848)

Matagorda East Bay

Matagorda East Bay Long Reef

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Berkley Gulp Shad or live shrimp
Contact: Capt. Kendall Kersh
979-248-1871
[email protected]
www.puresaltadventues.com
Tips: In dirty water Kersh prefers a light color or a really bright chartreuse. In clear water he likes to throw a lot of pink colors

Location: Matagorda East Bay
Hotspot: Drulls Lump
GPS: N 28 42.285, W 95 50.0659
(28.7048, -95.8344)

Matagorda East Bay

Matagorda East Bay Drulls Lump

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Berkley Gulp Shad or live shrimp
Contact: Capt. Kendall Kersh
979-248-1871
[email protected]
www.puresaltadventues.com
Tips: Kersh say he catches big trout all year round here. A lot of it deals with the weather. In July a lot of the big fish move into deep water. Drifting the deeper reefs especially in Matagorda East Bay can pay off.

Location: Matagorda West Bay
Hotspot: Peninsula Shoreline
GPS: N 28 28.801, W 96 15.753
(28.4800, -96.2626)

Matagorda West Bay

Matagorda West Bay Peninsula Shoreline

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Soft Plastic shrimp tails or topwater baits
Contact: Capt. Glenn Ging
979-479-1460
[email protected]
www.glennsguideservice.com
Tips: “If the water is fairly clear, I will throw a lot of natural colors…Chicken on a Chain and Roach. For topwaters I like chrome/black back or chrome/pink back.” Capt. Ging

Location: Sabine Lake
Hotspot: Jetties
GPS: N 29 38.6029, W 93 49.584
(29.6434, -93.8264)

Sabine Lake

Sabine Lake Jetties

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: 3 inch Swimming Shad soft plastic
Contact: Capt. Adam Jaynes
409-988-3901
[email protected]
www.justfishsabine.com
Tips: Fish the channel side of the jetties when there is slow moving water. Fish the Gulf side on fast moving water.

Location: Sabine Lake
Hotspot: Sabine Channel
GPS: N 29 59.87, W 93 46.171
(29.9978, -93.7695)

Sabine Lake

Sabine Lake Sabine Channel

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Shrimp or soft plastic shrimp tails
Contact: Capt. Bill Watkins
409-673-9211
[email protected]
www.fishsabinelake.com
Tips: Capt. Watkins reports trout and redfish will be off the jetties and ship channel. Trout be at the short rigs and beachfront. Look for birds working popping shrimp.

 

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•  •  •

Locating Hot Summer Time Specks

SAN ANTONIO BAY AREA

Reported by CAPT. CHRIS MARTIN

Email Chris Martin at [email protected]

Visit Online: BayFlatsLogde.com

 

IT’S JULY, and everything is hot—you’re hot, your truck is hot, the boat is hot, the air and the water are hot, and even your rod and reel are hot. However, there’s one thing that can be even hotter than all that other stuff right now, and that’s the speckled trout bite.

If you ask Coastal Bend anglers where they like to fish for trout in July, you’re going to get mixed answers. Yet, it’s almost certain that a couple of commonly known areas along the mid-coast of Texas will be on the list.

These favorite locations feature shallow water sitting just adjacent to deeper water. Among these are the Matagorda Jetties and the miles of beachfront along the Gulf side of Matagorda Island.

In July, when winds die down to nothing, or when a small breeze is blowing off the beach, summertime speckled trout can be found roaming the shallows. Here, they find refuge away from deep-water predators.

July anglers fishing a cooperative surf can often catch some extremely nice trout an hour before sunrise between the beachfront and the first submerged sand bar. The fish will be there searching the very shallow water for an early morning snack.

If you have a good trolling motor, you can fish the shallows from the boat. However, the moment the sun rises, you’ll need to move out to the second and third sand bar. A lot of people like to wade the surf on a calm day, as you’ll often make a lot less noise walking atop a sand bar instead of fishing out of the boat.

Fishing the jetties is somewhat similar, except the shallow water along the big rocks may be upwards of four to five feet deep. A good trolling motor is extra handy amid the jetties because you can keep your preferred distance while casting up to, or parallel to the rocks. Plus, you don’t have to mess with the problems an anchor can present.

If you want to enjoy the absolute greatest trout fishing experience in either of these locations, try throwing top water baits. Along the beachfront before the sun rises, or pre-dawn along the jetties, try a medium size bait in either bone, black, or other darker color.

As the sky begins to lighten, the bite will often move off into deeper water, and the top water baits may not be as effective. At that point, reposition yourself in a bit deeper water and try your luck with a subsurface bait like a slow sinker or crankbait. If it happens to be an overcast day, try going with some of the lighter colors, or just experiment until you discover what the fish prefer.

Other prime July spots will also include the tapering banks and shores of the stretch of the ICW between Port O’Connor and San Antonio Bay. If you’re really quiet early in the morning, you might be able to actually see a big trout sitting still near the surface of the water along the ICW flats. The light might be poor; but if you look closely, you might just get lucky.

Another July favorite will be ends of oyster reefs out in San Antonio Bay that slowly drop-off into a little deeper water. Focus your attention away from the reef as the morning light gets progressively brighter, and you should be able to find them if they’re there.

Slow-sinking baits and plastic tails often prove the most effective on the summertime reefs. Try a top water near the reef itself if you pull up and lower the power-pole before the sun comes up.

As a general rule, start your day extra early if at all possible. This allows you to enjoy the comfort of fishing during the coolest part of the day. It will also give you a chance to find some nice trout in shallow water, where it’s much easier to maneuver, especially when wading.

Have fun out there, and be safe!

•  •  •

ROCKPORT AREA

Reported by CAPT. MAC GABLE

Capt. Mac Gable

Email Mac Gable at [email protected]

Or Visit Online: macattackguideservice.com

 

IT’s HARD TO KNOW at the time of this writing just where the country and the planet will be with the many challenges the virus pandemic has posed. Boat ramps are supposed to be open soon. Fishing piers are open with all the rules of social distancing in affect:

• Maintain at least a six-foot distance from anyone not in your group.

• No groups larger than five people are allowed, except for families or people living in the same household.

• Park staff will be wearing face coverings. We strongly encourage you to do so, as well

Of course, this is all subject to change so stay connected and remember ignorance of the rules and laws is no excuse. I personally find the facemasks suffocating, but I am using them. (Don’t try exercising with them on, as hyperventilating is a real possibility. Don’t ask me how I know)

Earlier this spring, after ditching the mask on a run/walk down Lamar Beach Road, I came across an angler who seemed to have bank fishing down to a science. An umbrella protruded from the receiver hitch on his truck. Rod holders were fastened to the side of the tailgate covering, which had cup holders molded into it.

He had a fresh water wash-down tank that ran off the truck battery, and he had an ice dispenser adjacent. His live well was under the tailgate. A bubbler was humming away with a tube that ran down to the edge of the water. This doubled as a drain and fresh saltwater intake.

I observed all this within five or so strides as I jogged. At which time I stopped, grabbed my mask, did a Michael Jackson pivot, and asked the man if I could talk/bother him for a moment.

“You look familiar,” he said.

“I live down the road,” I replied.

“Are you Capt. Mac?”

“Depends on who’s asking,” I laughed.

He grinned and waved me over.

“You have quite the setup here,” I commented.

He smiled, “Well, so I’ve been told.”

I decided to inquire. “What’s that all about?” I asked, pointing to his bumper.

“That’s my nightlight and an air tank to blow the sand off,” he beamed. “Look at this.” He pointed to the bed of his truck. “Speakers for music,” he said, “all blue tooth from my truck stereo and it’s remote controlled. Those speakers are good ones.”

He beamed as he cranked up the sound so loud, I swear his lug nuts were rattling.

“All you need is a margarita,” I jested.

“Will on the rocks be okay?” He smiled as he divvied out some ice.

At this point I wondered why I was jogging and not grabbing a pole and joining him.

“Catch anything?” I asked.

He opened the ice chest under the tailgate and showed me three black drums and two reds. His chair was a sling-type from Cabela’s with an ice-cold Coke in a holder on the arm.

“Nice rods,” I said. One was a Penn Fierce the other a Daiwa Saltist.

“I have lost several the past two months,” he said. “I never fish with more than two at a time. Besides that’s all that fits on the tailgate. These fish move down the shoreline in small schools and hit the bait at about the same time.

“It’s exciting, but I tend to grab both rods and twice have had a rod jerked from my hands. Once I had two bites and missed the first only to lay the rod down. While I was fighting the other fish, the first rod got pulled into the water! Never lay a rod down that’s in the water. It’s like the fish are watching!” he laughed.

“I have an expensive boat at home, but I can’t use it these days. To be honest, I was at home licking my wounds feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t fish.

“I think my wife was tired of me moping about. She said, ‘You used to fish without a boat!’ She was right, so I adapted, overcame, persevered and had a blast getting all this stuff together.

“To tell you the truth I might just sell the boat, this style of fishing is so relaxing, and I meet a lot of people.”

“Well, you have some nice fish to clean when you get home,” I said.

“Home?” he quipped, “I fillet them, wash the fillets, bag’m and put them on ice right here, then I wash down my rods and am ready for the next fishing day.”

This man was truly in his element. It was fun just listening to him.

“When do you think they’ll open the boat ramp?” he asked as I started to jog off.

“May 1st is what I heard,” I answered back, “and please keep that stereo volume at a happy medium, I live here.”

As I broke into a fast walk he said loudly “May 1st? Maybe I WON’T sell the boat just yet!”

With both thumbs up, I jogged on.

They say Covid19 doesn’t like hot weather. All I can say is let the July Texas sun have at it! Burn baby burn!

•  •  •

MORE LARGE TROUT ARE caught this time of year in the early morning and late evening. Gator trout are energy conserving experts; they are most active in the cooler temperatures of the morning/late evening, with many large trout being caught around midnight.

Copano Bay: Drifts across Redfish Point (N 28 06.879, W 97 03.329) are good for reds using free-lined finger mullet. Slowing the drifts down with a drift sock works best. The north end of Copano Reef (N 26 08.862 W 97 06.542) is a good spot for trout using free-lined croakers with high tide being the best time.

St Charles Bay: Wades near Big Sharp Point with mud minnows or finger mullet is good for reds. In high wind, free-lined is best, keeping the rod tip close to the water. A bubble cork works well here. Bird Point (N 28 08.228 W 96 57.333) is a good spot for reds and flounders. Use free-lined finger mullet for the reds and live shrimp jigged across the bottom for flounders.

Aransas Bay: The shell reefs just south of Long Reef (N 28 02.742, W 96 57.834) is a good spot for trout using free-lined croakers. Deadman Island is still holding black drum with live shrimp under a popping cork being best.

Carlos Bay: Wades near Cape Carlos shoreline early morning are good for reds and some large trout using grape colored sand eels. Drifts across Carlos Lake are good for trout using imitation shrimp under a rattle cork.

Mesquite Bay: You’ll find some reds in Beldon Dugout using free-lined finger mullet. In high wind a light Carolina rig works well. The San Jose shoreline (N 28 06.831, W 96 50.314) is a good spot for reds early morning, high tide is best, using mud minnows or fresh cut mullet on a light Carolina rig.

Ayers Bay: Ayers Reef (N 28 10.440, W 96 50.238) is a good spot this time of year for some big black drum. Wide-gapped Kahle hooks with cracked crab works best. This is patience fishing. So let the bait sit and resist reeling in unless you get a bite. Wades near Ayers Point (N 28 10.990 W 96 48.270) are good for trout using free-lined croakers.

•  •  •

CORPUS CHRISTI AREA

Reported by CAPT. JOEY FARRAH

Email Joey Farah at [email protected]

 

THE PEAK OF SUMMER fun along the South Texas Coast brings bay fishing to a boil in the Corpus Christi and Laguna Madre area. Summer conditions move the best fishing to the extremes, very shallow and the deepest areas in the bay.

Targeting the four big gamefish for coastal fishing can be a hunt, but here are some game plans to get your crew into tight lines:

Sight casting shallow-water redfish can bring up close and personal experiences. When I say shallow, I’m talking shin deep or less, redfish can swim without breaking the surface in only a few inches of water.

Crabs, shrimp, and small minnows seek the shallows away from many would-be predators. At night redfish hunt these flats where they can smell and feel vibrations easier.

At first light, anglers can catch them exposing their backs and tails as they hunt in the shallow water. Be in position at grey light, walking with or parallel to the wind at a slow quiet pace. Casting lightly weighted soft plastics such as the DOA 1/4 ounce shrimp in near clear or fire tiger colors will keep your presentation light and natural, as well as weedless.

Casting to everything that breaks the surface might bring some success. However, you should learn to see the difference between a mullet’s forked tail and round head compared to the body shape and fins of a redfish or black drum.

Determine what direction the fish is moving and make a cast that will bring the bait before the fish. As the sun rises in the sky, look for the tails to go sub-surface and use the sun to see into the water.

Some great places to start are the marshes behind Padre Island at the Fish Pass in Mustang Island State Park. Here, you’ll find miles of marsh you can walk into. The shoreline south of Bird Island Basin in the National Seashore is another great place. There, you can pull up and walk forever along a beautiful sand bottom on the backside of Padre Island.

Flounders will move toward deeper water, as they are sensitive to temperature. Look for them along the bottom up against pier poles and passes to the Gulf.

The jetties at Packery Channel are full of summer flounders. They also congregate at channel intersections within a few miles of the JFK Bridge. Key on areas with good, clean water and tidal movement.

I like white, soft plastics for flounder, or small mud minnows and finger mullet. When you catch one, a school is usually hanging in the same area. Stay out and keep fishing.

Black drum split their time in July between the skinny water with the redfish, and deeper water. Sight casting to them in both deep and shallow water can be tricky as they are very finicky eaters. Fresh dead or live shrimp on a light 1/16th ounce jig head is a good way to make a cast but still have the bait float quietly toward the fish.

At times I just peel the shrimp and use a clear leader and a #4 owner circle hook for sight casting a black drum. Look toward the Packery Channel area, the Boat Hole, and the many undeveloped housing canals on North Padre for schools of drum in deep water. The miles of shin-deep flats in Yarbarrow Pass is where we will be sight casting them in less than knee-deep water.

Summer fishing with live bait for speckled trout is at its peak in July and is very productive. The bait stands offer live croakers and piggy perch, but they are expensive. So, make sure you’re using them correctly. We free-line them with no, or very little, weight.

Some inline rattles can replace your swivel and add noise to your presentation. Texas Rattler is a great brand to use with a big #5-6 Owner wide-gap hook. Pass the hook through the hip of the bait above the anal fin. The trout will strike the bait head-first. Let it take the bait without pressure for a few feet by giving line or dipping the rod tip. Allow it to a swallow the bait before you set the hook.

We will be catching trout on soft plastics in the Land Cut every morning. Using a trolling motor to ease along the edge of the channel, we see explosive blow-ups on topwater baits at sunrise.

The rest of the day we find schools of trout along the cabin piers and channel crossings. Soft plastics with a 1/4-ounce jig head will be best for fishing the edge of the deeper water.

Don’t forget about the beach. Some of the best summer fishing is along the prettiest beaches in the world here on North Padre Island.

Try silver spoons in the surf all day for Spanish mackerel. Then, top-waters at sunrise and sunset in the first two guts for big surf trout. The big beach piers are a great place to take the family and fish out to 600 yards into the gulf for all species. You’ll find sharks, kingfish, ling, tarpon, sheepsheads, mackerel, trout, reds, and drum, along with any and all the fish in the sea.

July is the peak of summer, and most of the busy traffic slows down on the water after the July 4th weekend. Take some time to build memories out on the inland bays of the Coastal Bend. We have it all.

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Location: Ayers Bay
Hotspot: Ayers Reef
GPS: N 28 10.434, W 96 50.3659
(28.1739, -96.8394)

Ayers Bay

Ayers Bay Ayers Reef

Species: Speckled Trout, Redfish and Flounder
Best Baits: Live Croaker
Contact: Capt. Billy Freudensprung
979-997-2244
www.facebook.com/billy.freudensprung
Tips: Look for shell piles and work the edges from a boat. Trout, redfish, and an occasional flounder can be caught. The trout are the easiest to catch using a croaker freelined.

Location: Carlos Bay
Hotspot: Cedar Reef
GPS: N 28 8.251, W 96 53.049
(28.1375, -96.8842)

Carlos Bay

Carlos Bay Cedar Reef

Species: Speckled Trout, Redfish and Flounder
Best Baits: Paul Brown Devil Eyes and Chicken-on-a-Chain soft plastics
Contact: Capt. Billy Freudensprung
979-997-2244
www.facebook.com/billy.freudensprung
Tips: Capt. Freudensprung’s favorite soft plastic is Devil Eye in a chrome with a chartreuse tail and a 1/4-ounce jig head. “It’s a great redfish lure.”

Location: Corpus Christi Bay
Hotspot: Pita Island
GPS: N 27 36.169, W 97 17.1989
(27.6028, -97.2867)

Corpus Christi Bay

Corpus Christi Bay Pita Island

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Croaker or Live Shrimp
Contact: Capt. John Little
361-816-9114
[email protected]
www.facebook.com/captjohnlittle
Tips: Capt. Little says the month of July is a great time to fish around the island using live croaker.

Location: Corpus Christi Bay
Hotspot: Shamrock Cove
GPS: N 27 45.369, W 97 9.733
(27.7562, -97.1622)

Corpus Christi Bay

Corpus Christi Bay Shamrock Cove

Species: Redfish
Best Baits: Crab
Contact: Capt. John Little
361-816-9114
[email protected]
www.facebook.com/captjohnlittle
Tips: Redfish are going to be thick around Shamrock Island especially with all the rain we have had this spring. They will be looking for new crabs, new areas to feed in the shallows.

Location: Mesquite Bay
Hotspot: Cedar Bayou
GPS: N 28 4.3309, W 96 50.832
(28.0722, -96.8472)

Mesquite Bay

Mesquite Bay Cedar Bayou

Species: Speckled Trout, Redfish and Flounder
Best Baits: Live Croaker
Contact: Capt. Billy Freudensprung
979-997-2244
www.facebook.com/billy.freudensprung
Tips: Close to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, use live croaker over shell and mud where the edges drop off.

Location: Nueces Bay
Hotspot: East Nueces Bay
GPS: N 27 52.2799, W 97 19.9979
(27.8713, -97.3333)

Nueces Bay

Nueces Bay East Nueces Bay

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Croaker or Live Shrimp
Contact: Capt. John Little
361-816-9114
[email protected]
www.facebook.com/captjohnlittle
Tips: Fresh water runoff doesn’t affect the trout like it does on other bays. The trout are used to it, and the rain cleans up the water for us, reduces high salinity.

Location: Redfish Bay
Hotspot: Bird Island
GPS: N 27 56.035, W 97 5.119
(27.9339, -97.0853)

Redfish Bay

Redfish Bay Bird Island

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Flappin Shad soft plastic by Gambler
Contact: Capt. John Little
361-816-9114
[email protected]
www.facebook.com/captjohnlittle
Tips: Nice and easy, slow and easy, pump straight up, and let it drop down. Let the tail do all he action. You will get most of your bites as the lure drops.

Location: San Antonio Bay
Hotspot: Chicken Foot Reef
GPS: N 28 16.204, W 96 46.813
(28.2701, -96.7802)

San Antonio Bay

San Antonio Bay Chicken Foot Reef

Species: Speckled Trout, Redfish and Flounder
Best Baits: Live Croaker
Contact: Capt. Billy Freudensprung
979-997-2244
www.facebook.com/billy.freudensprung
Tips: “The perfect size for the croaker for trout and redfish is between 3 to 3 1/2 inches. Use a #5 Mustad Ultra Point Hook.” —Capt. Freudensprung

Location: Upper Laguna Madre
Hotspot: Boat Hole
GPS: N 27 40.969, W 97 14.9989
(27.6828, -97.2500)

Upper Laguna Madre

Upper Laguna Madre Boat Hole

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Croaker or Live Shrimp
Contact: Capt. John Little
361-816-9114
[email protected]
www.facebook.com/captjohnlittle
Tips: Use a 4/0 Kale hook because the croaker down here aren’t very big, along with a 1/8 ounce barrel weight. The more natural the presentation, the better.

 

Mt. Houston Marine

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Summer Fishing is Fun on the Lower Coast

BAFFIN BAY

Reported by CAPT. GERAD MERRITT

Gerad Merritt

Email Gerad Merritt at [email protected]

Visit Online: ParadiseGuideServices.com

 

JULY IS ALWAYS a fun month on Baffin Bay. The winds have started to die down and the fish are plentiful.

This is one of my favorite times of the year to fish, even though the heat and humidity can make it tough. The fish have finished developing their patterns and are now exactly where I expect them to be.

Larger rock structures and reefs are now consistently holding nice table trout and make it exciting to throw a live croaker. Although it does not take much for a seasoned angler to get a solid thump on a croaker, some methods and techniques will work better than others. You need to have an idea of when a fish is around your bait.

Some days are different from others in that the fish just seem to be more hungry or “interested” in a bait. On these days, it’s as if you can do no wrong.

When it seems tough to accurately place a bait, it’s key to learn how to work the bait correctly. With a croaker, a slight wiggle on the end of the hook is a good sign. Once you feel the movement from your croaker, you want to get a good “pop” on the bait, to ensure it makes it a croaking sound. This lets other fish around the bait know what and where it is, in case there was any question. And then the fun begins!

Croakers are a favorite of mine and most of my customers, so I have learned plenty of tricks over the years. The most important is to pay attention to the size of your bait. In July, a croaker is normally bigger than previous months, so you have a few things to keep in mind.

When a trout bites a croaker, it ambushes it and hits the croaker from the side. However, the bigger bait this time of year isn’t always going to be bite-sized. A fish hits a croaker from the side, so it has to turn the croaker head-first in its mouth to eat it.

This means that you cannot just set the hook as soon as you feel a thump, because normally the hook is in the tail of the bait and is not in the fish’s mouth yet. Allowing the fish to free-line and swim with the bait for a few seconds is the key here.

After waiting, set the hook and land the fish. Some days they are hungrier than others and will feed more aggressively, thus allowing you to set the hook sooner. Just remember the basics and you will be successful.

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Location: Lower Laguna Madre
Hotspot: Long Bar
GPS: N 26 8.592, W 97 14.2249
(26.1432, -97.2371)

Lower Laguna Madre

Lower Laguna Madre Long Bar

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Croaker
Contact: Capt. Rudy “Jawbreaker” Romero
956-226-3561
[email protected]
Tips: Capt. Romero with July he will be fishing further south with live croaker, always looking for the big trout.

Location: Lower Laguna Madre
Hotspot: Oil Well Flats
GPS: N 26 15.079, W 97 15.943
(26.2513, -97.2657)

Lower Laguna Madre

Lower Laguna Madre Oil Well Flats

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Croaker
Contact: Capt. Rudy “Jawbreaker” Romero
956-226-3561
[email protected]
Tips: Look for areas that have long thin grass, shell along with soft clay bottoms…real thick, real long grass.

Location: Lower Laguna Madre
Hotspot: El Realto Bay
GPS: N 26 15.354, W 97 18.4649
(26.2559, -97.3078)

Lower Laguna Madre

Lower Laguna Madre El Realto Bay

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Live Croaker
Contact: Capt. Rudy “Jawbreaker” Romero
956-226-3561
[email protected]
Tips: Capt. Romero says the deeper water further south, 3-4 feet deep. Also the water “has more color, greener.”

Location: Lower Laguna Madre
Hotspot: Grass Flats
GPS: N 26 1.399, W 97 10.5606
(26.0233, -97.1760)

Lower Laguna Madre

Lower Laguna Madre Grass Flats

Species: Speckled Trout
Best Baits: Skeeter Walker, Super Spook, or Corky
Contact: Capt. Rudy “Jawbreaker” Romero
956-226-3561
[email protected]
Tips: Capt. Romero likes to use topwater lures, but not “broken backs” or soft plastic tails.

Location: South Bay
Hotspot: South Bay East Table Top
GPS: N 26 1.431, W 97 11.089
(26.0239, -97.1848)

South Bay South Bay East Table Top

Species: Redfish
Best Baits: Down South soft plastics with a 1/16 oz jig head
Contact: Capt. Ismail Yamez
956-202-5550
Tips: Look for fish sitting there in pockets, or fish swimming by you. Cast past the fish and bring the bait back to the fish.

 

Bay Flats Lodge

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