Hooked Up: October 2023

Hooked Up: October 2023

Texas Customs Double D on the lunch menu; windward shoreline, stacked bait, solunar minor feed period at noon. Released to become an 8-pounder next winter. Fish smart!

Hope this finds y’all well and enjoying some slightly cooler mornings to start the day, a bit of rain, and a shoreline to wade without twenty boats on top of you. My off-time has been filled with a minimal amount of fishing the past month, but lots of time in the field missing doves, working the dog, and getting my shoulders and eyes back into bow hunting shape. I love this time of year.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting took place last month and I was very pleased to see the turn out by sportsmen and those making a living off the resource sharing concerns with regard to the future of the trout fishery. Sustainability for quality and numbers of specks has to be at the forefront of management. Currently, I believe we are skating on thin ice. If Mother Nature dumps another freeze or killer algal bloom on us, all the money we have put in the bank since the ‘21 freeze will be lost. We certainly can’t afford that and I believe TPWD has become aware of it, without saying as much. Time will tell if common sense finally trumps prior strategies on the subject of trout management.

I’ve been waiting since late-June for October to finally roll around. It’s not some magical month as far as fish biting, but it sure makes for more comfortable days on the water, especially following the record heats we’ve experienced this summer. Being the planner that I am, and knowing that November can really kick off a sustained trout bite, I use much of October to get prepared for the details of fishing from November through May.

My personality does not allow for flying by the seat of my pants. I sometimes wish I was wired more like that, but the bottom line is that I am a stickler for details. There is no place on my Haynie for ifs, maybes, and not yets, when I’m 100% into my craft. I like to be prepared for anything that could possibly come up while on a charter, and have the confidence to handle unexpecteds as they arise. Saying that, every lure receives new hooks, 13 Fishing reels are cleaned and re-spooled with Seaguar, the big 400 Mercury has been serviced by Chris’ Marine, new hubs on the 5th Lake Trailer, jackplate is lubed, all trolling and starting batteries are tested, etc. I think y’all get the idea. If there is anything that could mess up our day, I make every effort to insure it is not because I let something slide. Put your mind at ease and control what you can control. When thoughtful preparation is accomplished, the rest will usually have a way of working out.

As mentioned last month, the bait migration from the bay to the gulf is now at its peak. All species are heading north from Baffin along the ICW and other natural drop-offs such as Emmord’s and the sandy drops along Padre Island. Trout and reds are close behind, pushing the bait up onto sandbars, spoils and shorelines to feed on this migrating buffet. If you are traveling in these areas during low light, the first indication of knowing where a good bite may be will be in your sniffer. Yep, slicks and that sweet smell of watermelon is a good indicator to slow down, figure out the structure from which it is originating, and checking it for heavy bait activity. I run in the dark every morning, and can’t even begin to tell you how often my senses draw me into new fish that have had zero pressure on them, especially this time of year. Our idea of a “hot spot” is just that, our idea. Trout are mobile and can land anywhere to feed. Just because it’s an area that you have never fished, never talked about at the dock, or you have never seen a boat on doesn’t mean it will not produce. Trust your instincts. Go with what the bait, slicks, and other signs are showing you. Being something out of the norm that you have never seen another boat fishing could very well produce an epic day on the water.

In closing, we still have a long way to go to be recovered from the freeze. If y’all want to catch quality fish again on a daily basis, do your part and practice catch and release on trout, especially those over 20-inches. I still have more faith in common sense than bureaucracy. Y’all with me on this?

Remember the buffalo! -Capt David Rowsey