On a recent charter I was guiding a new client with minimal fishing experience. On one stop, he asked me, "Do redfish ever go deep?" I replied that indeed they do and proceeded to explain the seasonal patterns of the species. Finding fish that day had been frustrating and toward the end of my explanation I almost wished I was an offshore guide rather than inshore. Part of our problem that day was fishing the backside of a full moon, which is almost a given for tougher than average fishing.
I don't want to sound like it's all doom and gloom down here but I am experiencing the most challenging summer in my twenty-three year career as a Lower Laguna Madre fishing guide. Not only are we seeing the effects of the devastating February freeze almost daily, it doesn't help that the scorching air temperatures have caused water temperatures to rise much earlier this summer than normal. To add to the frustration, bottom grasses torn loose by the near constant winds are clogging the water column and floating on the surface. It has been nearly impossible to work lures through the stuff some days.
Suffice to say we need a change in weather and water conditions to get back on track and hopefully August will bring such a change.
August marks the beginning of tropical storm activity in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Even when storms do not affect us directly they create high tides that push cooler water into our bay system. Not wishing for a hurricane, but the low barometric pressures, overcast skies and cooler Gulf waters flowing into the bays would undoubtedly help our situation and improve our fishing.
Redfish have been generally scarce and catching them has been somewhat hit and miss. We have found small schools in isolated areas but they don't stay very long due to boat traffic and fishing pressure. The most consistent locations have been edges of spoils in early morning and a falling tide helps concentrate them in scattered sand pockets along the ICW. Even when the tides have been super low they have been vanishing like Houdini. In recent months we found success keying on schools of bait but even this pattern has become rather unreliable. A moving tide, coming or going, and focusing on channel edges and nearby potholes is my best suggestion at present.
August’s higher tides will bring the back bays back into play and the edges of channels and spoils should continue to hold redfish. Redfish love blue crabs and if you can find areas with an abundance of small crabs there's a good chance redfish can be located nearby. Small topwaters should attract lots of attention from redfish as the water begins to cool. Gold spoons and KWigglers Ball Tails and Willow Tails are also very effective.
Of all the species we target there is no doubt in my mind that our trout fishery was hit the hardest during the freeze. Areas that were covered with dinks are now void of trout of any size. With water temperatures currently being as hot as they have been, trout have stayed in deeper water. I purposely cruised the ICW with my GPS down scan; on my screen I could see balls of baitfish and larger fish in the middle of the channel. As with the redfish, once the water cools down a bit, I look for trout to begin frequenting the flats in targetable numbers and staying there for longer periods.
I will add, more now than ever, it's critical how we handle and release trout that will not be retained. The species needs every little bit of help they can get to rebound to pre-freeze numbers.
When weather permits, fishing the jetties this time of the year can bring some success. The tarpon will be in full migration along the beaches and kingfish will be roaming the jetties in good numbers. Snook fishing will be in full swing around the new and full moons as they get ready to spawn during days with optimal tide exchanges.Keep an eye on the weather forecasts as things can change quickly for the worst in August. Target days with strongest tidal flows with special attention to the day’s solunar feeding periods. Water temperature can be critical to fishing success, whether measured on your GPS unit or with a handheld thermometer and, above all, remain patient. Boat traffic will soon be lighter as school starts and preparations for hunting seasons capture the interest of many outdoor enthusiasts.
Trophy Snook Showing in Lower Laguna