Special Report: Cast & Blast

UPPER COAST FOCUS September/October 2023
August 24, 2023
August 24, 2023

Hunt Early, Fish Later… or Vice-Versa!

Special Report by TF&G STAFF

LISTEN: (7 minutes, 38 seconds)


HUNTING NEVER REALLY STOPS in Texas, but the heart of the hunting season begins this month. On top of that, fall is absolutely the best time for both salt and freshwater fishing and many outdoors lovers choose to combine their pursuits.

For the outdoors lover who likes to do it all there are plenty of chances to hunt in the morning and fish in the evening or vice versa. This article gives you some options and tips to find action this month and to adjust your strategies as fall turns to winter.


Dove season kicks off Sept. 1 in the North and Central Zones and Sept. 14 in the South Zone. The special white-winged dove days are Sept. 2-4 and Sept. 9-11.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) for the last couple of decades has been doing something that allows hunters to access hunting at an affordable rate, especially when it comes to dove hunting.

Black Hills Ammunition


For $48, hunters can purchase an Annual Public Hunting Permit (APH) and have an opportunity to pursue their outdoor passions on more than 900,000 acres of land.

The program’s many accomplishments include the following:

• Since the first year, the program has found acceptance from both hunters and participating landowners. Participants are enthusiastic.

• The program has grown from 10 units in six counties and 4,375 acres to many times that amount.

• Youth hunts were added in 2002 and TPWD now offers Youth Only and Youth Adult areas. 

• Numerous leases are available near San Antonio, Houston, and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas.

Archery Only Whitetail

The archery-only season for whitetail deer kicks off Sept. 30.

In several parts of the state, bowhunters get to hunt deer in the rut, which begins in October in certain parts of the state. Whitetails in the southern part of the Pineywoods start rutting in October with heavy activity centered toward the end of the season.

Diamond Ridge Cabin Company


The rut offers the best chance to score on a big buck as their defenses go down while they are in pursuit of does.

Secondly, it gives those hunters who pursue deer on public land a great chance at targeting prime areas. The National Forests and numerous wildlife management areas are packed with hunters during the general season but see relatively few bowhunters.

KT Coolers


The acorn crop in much of the region should be strong which could keep many deer from hitting feeders. Targeting natural food sources during bow season is often best anyway and is certainly more consistent for taking big bucks. They don’t get big by running straight to a feeder when it starts dispensing corn.

This of course is not legal on certain public lands.

Otherwise do your best to scout both in the field and using tools like Google Earth to check out travel corridors and food sources.

Set up your blind with the wind in your face and hopefully the deer coming out in front, and you’ll be just fine.

Take time to enjoy the woods. Listen to the sounds of morning breaking as the birds send out their wake-up calls and squirrels scurry up the trees.

Early Teal

The early teal season spans Sept. 9-24. 

Hunters can expect areas along the coast with freshwater to hold plenty of birds, especially on the front end of the season.

Kent Cartridge


Hunters should not however overlook stock tanks and reservoirs in Central and North Texas or reservoirs and sloughs in the Pineywoods. They don’t get nearly the pressure that the coast gets and there tend to be plenty of teal.

Speckled Trout

Fall is feeding frenzy time for speckled trout. Look for specks under the birds during October and November after cold fronts.

Diving gulls lead to good catches of trout feeding on shrimp. Throw silver spoons, soft plastics, and live shrimp under popping corks for best results.



This is a fun time to throw a topwater because you’re likely to get lots of hits by smaller fish. If you want a bigger trout, try using a popping cork with a large swimbait soft plastic under it. You get the surface popping action like a topwater but something for big trout which tend to be shyer to hit beneath the surface.

Largemouth Bass

Bass fishing gets overlooked in the fall.

And that’s a shame since some of the best bass fishing of the year happens during autumn.

Veronica Ringwall caught this nice largemouth on a family outing.

Veronica Ringwall caught this nice largemouth on a family outing.
(Photo: Courtesy Veronica Ringwall)

Main-lake points and creeks entering the main body of the lake are the important areas to fish at this time of year as they give the fish access to shallow and deep water and hold fair to good amounts of shad. Throw spinners and wacky worms during the midday period; fish topwaters and buzz baits early and late. Another viable option is to fish the riprap and bulkheads along some of the big marinas, especially in the evenings. These areas will hold many bass, especially after a front blows through. 

If the bites don’t come easy, use a slow-sinking lure like a Senko because they appeal to both temperature-stunted slow moving fish and aggressive feeding fish as well. 

Between fronts, look for shad bunched up around the secondary points and start fishing a crank bait with a slow retrieve. If you find fish and they are active, switch to something like a Rat-L-Trap and boost the retrieve up to medium speed.  Sometimes the shad are spread along the shorelines, stacked horizontally instead of vertically. If this is the situation, the bass can be scattered as well. This is a good time to throw a square bill crankbait since you can cover lots of water. If the fish are a little deeper try something in the medium-diving range.

Bull Reds

All the jetty systems in Texas will hold lots of huge bull redfish beginning this month. The action ranges from lukewarm to excellent depending on the presence of cold fronts and tidal flow.

Once cold fronts arrive on the Texas Coast, so do the big redfish.

Once cold fronts arrive on the Texas Coast, so do the big redfish.
(Photo: Adobe)

On the passing of late cold fronts target the eddies that form at the end of jetties. Typically, all jetties have an area at the southern tip where the current washes out a large bowl area. When the tide is strong and when it is going out, eddies form and a lot of the smaller baitfish gather in these spots. Redfish will stack up there and gorge themselves.



Probably the all-around best bait that is easily accessible at bait camps in the fall is a live mud minnow (the bigger, the better) hooked through the tail and fished on a drop-shot rig. Croaker is killer for the bull reds but for slot-sized reds,  mud minnows are great.

With the bait hooked through the tail it will swim upward and struggle a lot which draws the attention of the reds. The disadvantage is tail hooking makes it easier for the red to take the bait without getting hooked, but it tends to draw more strikes. 

Free-lining a mud minnow with a split-shot rigged six inches above the hook is also good but sometimes currents even in the eddies can be such that it’s hard for the bait to get down to the fish.

Another spot to try at the jetties are the boat cuts. They are good on both outgoing and incoming tides and can be full of reds of slot size and epic proportion.


—story by TF&G STAFF

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