South Padre: December 2021

South Padre: December 2021
Julius Cepeda is no stranger to fish of this size.

On a recent trip, even before we got started, I explained to my clients my take on how the day’s bite would develop. By the end of the day I’d hit it right on the money. Yes, it helps to be on the water frequently, but you can also benefit by studying all that is available before the fishing trip begins. Science can explain why fish feed aggressively and why they seem to completely shut down. You may ask, “What science? What do I need to be looking for?” I will answer those questions, but first, I want to make a point. 

Hitting the bullseye that day got me to thinking what type of student I was growing up. I honestly remember that until college I put forth barely enough effort to pass my classes, which led me to thinking how seriously most anglers take their fishing. Many are content with just getting out there and relaxing. As a result they have little success. Others, though, are good at figuring out fish patterns and they catch fish most of the time. Which one are you?

Now the question, “What science?” First, we do not eat twenty-four hours a day, and neither do fish. It's up to us to figure out when they are likely to feed and that involves many factors.

Next would be the Solunar major and minor feeding periods. You can study Solunar Theory on the internet and then reference the Solunar table published in this magazine for daily predictions. Keep in mind these are predictions, all the same they provide an idea of when you should be fishing and not running from place to place.

It also pays to be aware of the day’s tide predictions. I have observed that the average tide travels six to seven miles per hour in the Lower Laguna. Knowing this, we can calculate when the tide should begin moving in the area we are fishing by applying it to the distance from the tide station being referenced.

Weather is another huge factor. From experience, I know several areas that fish better with east wind. Over time, if you can make good observations about the weather and how it affects specific areas, you will be more successful in catching during those situations. Winter is upon us and weather can be unpredictable, so this is a perfect time to study the weather and how it affects fishing.

Our bay waters are in great shape and historically will only get better as winter arrives. Water and air temperatures have finally dropped below 80°, which seems a magical number for increased feeding activity. Our redfish catches have improved dramatically the past several weeks as they are showing in regular late-fall/early-winter areas. They have been aggressive, crushing topwaters during active feeds, and still taking plastics during slower periods.

I expect the reds will slip into deeper water following colder frontal passages, but should return to the flats as soon it begins to warm. Targeting deeper potholes will produce strikes during cooler days when they’re not active on flats and along shorelines. Bouncing a KWiggler Ball Tail Shad on the bottom will certainly grab their attention.

The best news this month is that we are starting to see and catch trout regularly, something we haven’t enjoyed in several months. Some of these have been in the three to five-pound class, and I have witnessed a few in the seven to eight-pound class, as well. Keep in mind the colder it gets the heavier the trout will be, if indeed this winter holds to historic patterns.

As water temps continue to decline trout will slow down in their movements and this is when slower presentations will work best, especially on colder days. The KWiggler Willow Tail and Wig-A-Lo are great baits for this time of year. My go-to colors will be Mansfield Margarita and Plum/Chart. Please remember the brutal hit our trout took during the freeze. Practice catch and release as much as possible with maybe only a few smaller keepers for a fresh meal. I have adopted a new rule on my boat. We do not keep any trout longer than twenty inches and all my clients have agreed. Let's hope the fishery rebounds sooner than later.

Mark your calendar – December 11, 2021; Capt. Wayne Davis and I will be conducting a seminar at Fishing Tackle Unlimited’s Katy Freeway location. The information we share will hopefully contribute to your ability to find and catch fish more consistently. There will be other presenters with excellent knowledge to share and FTU will have some great sales going on as well.

Merry Christmas!

Birds Can Point the Way to Great Fishing