Mid-Coast Bays: November 2023

Mid-Coast Bays: November 2023

Chelsy Williams sight-casted this “Big Ugly” on a soft plastic after seeing it tailing in shallow water.

I, like so many, thought cooler fall weather would never get here. In my 22 years of guiding I cannot remember a summer season as hot and dry as this past one. Seemingly endless days of high atmospheric pressure and lower than normal tides kept us on our toes. It was hard to pattern fish; just when we thought we had discovered the best locations and feeding times things would change from one day to the next. Hardly the norm for summertime fishing. I’m not saying that the summer was a total wash, just that we had to work a lot harder for our catches than we normally do. I’m not going to lie, there were a few days when I questioned whether I should look for a different occupation. Don’t worry though, it was only a passing thought.

If you have followed my writings through the years then you are well aware that the fall season is by far my most favorite. The cooler temperatures coupled with higher than normal tides make for some fantastic fishing. The species I have the most fun with during this time is the drag pulling, rod bending, eager-to-eat redfish. No, I’m not talking about bull reds. While those can be fun in the own way, I much prefer to stalk and target redfish in the slot size of 20- to 28-inches.

I prefer to use light tackle, not just for myself, but also for my clients. Waterloo’s 6’-7” HP Lite is my go-to rod for redfish and pretty much all my lure fishing in general. The HP Lite is built on a high-modulus, medium-light, fast action graphite blank, with light tip and moderate backbone. I would much rather play my catches out instead of strong arming them to me. Lighter tackle just makes catching more meaningful and challenging. Talk about a great fight; I get a thrill every time I hook up with one of the bronze beauties using light tackle.

With the seasonally cooler water temperatures many reds will be moving off the sandy shorelines into the warmer and muddier back lakes in November. The thick grasses that inhabit our back lakes will begin to die off as the days grow shorter and water temperatures become cooler. This is good news due to the fact that in most back lakes the grass grows so thick in summer that it makes it hard to fish many backwater areas effectively. Many days I’m using a setup that includes a 5/0, 1/8-ounce weedless swimhook made by Bass Assassin. This weedless rig allows me to present my soft plastics in grassy areas without constantly snagging a bunch of grass.

Back lakes such as Mule Slough, Pringle, Power, Contee, Cedar Lake and Pat’s Bay will all be good places to start your day in November. I prefer to fish water that is slightly off-colored, not gin clear. Look for streaks of color in open water or slightly muddied windward shorelines inside the back lakes. Color change is noticed best through a good pair of Costa polarized sunglasses with amber or copper lenses. Bait is still important, keying in on the most active, for your best chances of catching.

With the seasonally higher water levels, don’t pass the opportunity to venture into some of the remote sloughs and ponds that cannot be accessed during lower water levels. You can bet the redfish will not ignore the opportunity to graze on the crabs and tiny shrimp that will be following those tides. When fishing in these tighter quarters I like to downsize my offerings. A good choice here would be Bass Assassin’s new 3.5-inch scented Lit’l P&V. Redfish found in smaller areas tend to spook easily, so downsizing your bait can be very helpful in gaining bites.

If you are fortunate enough to encounter tailing reds, remember to resist casting directly into the middle of a pod or school. Instead, place your lure to either side or just slightly in front. Hitting them with the lure or touching one with your line usually means an instant spook and game over. Most of the time, when tailing reds get spooked, they are hard to find again and reluctant to take the lure when you do.

Quick reminder on flounder regulations: November 1 through December 14 is closed season for retaining flounder by any method. Texas Parks and Wildlife implemented the change in 2021 to promote escapement to gulf spawning grounds and enhance spawning potential. This doesn’t mean we cannot still enjoy catching and releasing; just remember to let ‘em go!