If you have been reading my articles over the years you probably already know that fall is my absolute favorite fishing season. I have to admit that a big part of this has to do with my sheer joy in seeing the hottest days of summer, that always seem to drag on forever, finally coming to an end. While summertime fishing is good, the heat can really take a toll on my not-so-young (anymore) body and mental well-being. When we get those first couple of cool fronts life just seems to feel better overnight. Not only do I feel more invigorated but it seems the fish do too. I find the fish to feed much more aggressively and for longer periods in the cooler months. While the change in temperatures is what we will feel, there will also be changes in what we see.
If you aren’t familiar with the Port O’Connor/Seadrift area then you may not know that we have some of the best shallow back lake fishing anywhere on the Texas coast. Most of our back lakes are favorable for growing thick seagrasses of all varieties due to the fertile bottom soils. While these grasses have some very beneficial properties for all marine species, it can be downright difficult to fish during the summer months. Luckily, with fall’s cooler weather and shorter days, the grass will begin to diminish, setting the stage for fantastic back lake fishing.
Why? Well, when the grass is at its thickest it can be almost impossible to work any lure effectively without snagging a bunch of grass. Even when we were able to entice fish to bite in thick grass, mats of floating grass would bunch on the line allowing the fish to shake the hook. Now, with diminishing grass, we are able to target sand pockets that we all know are excellent ambush points for gamefish when they are feeding. Sight-casting to shallow water fish will be less difficult as well with less grass for them to hide in. Also, look for water clarity to improve as the cooler water temperatures will mean fewer micro-organisms such as algae and plankton in the water, allowing for better visibility of our targets.
Other points to ponder this time of year are locations to fish. This can be a little tricky in November due to weather transitions. Depending on the frequency and severity of the cold fronts this month, anglers should be prepared to explore an array of available bottom compositions. I expect that our sandy main bay shorelines will continue to hold a lot of potential, however sharp declines in water temperature following the passage of strong frontal systems can cause both trout and redfish to seek temporary refuge in sloughs and muddy-bottomed back lakes. These areas hold warmth better than hard sandy bottoms, and they warm up sooner after the front passes. A good way to learn whether fish might still be on hard sand bottoms is to search the area for baitfish activity. If you are fishing an area and are unable to detect baitfish jumping or swimming slightly below the surface, it is a pretty good sign that the gamefish have left the area, and you should look elsewhere.
I also want to mention that fishing over oyster shell this time of year can be downright phenomenal. San Antonio Bay holds more oyster reefs than any angler could ever hope to cover in a single day, even several days for that matter. Unfortunately, we had very few opportunities to fish this entire bay region due to fresh water inundation from exceptional spring rainfall that continued through summer. But, now that Cedar Bayou has been reopened and gulf water is again pouring through the pass, I am very hopeful that salinity will return to more normal levels soon. I am unable to say for sure how long it will take for the trout to return to the reefs but the reopening of Cedar Bayou could certainly do great things for San Antonio Bay and the surrounding area.One final note: I am unsure why but it seems I have been seeing more stingrays this year than ever in the past. For safety’s sake, please don’t go wade fishing without some type of stingray protection. ForEverlast Hunting and Fishing Products offers boots with stingray guards attached or, if you already have a pair of wading boots, they also offer the removable Ray Guard Shields for the low price of about $35. That’s a small price to pay for such good protection and peace of mind!
Look to the Back Lakes When the North Wind Blows