South Padre: July 2024

South Padre: July 2024
Kathy Acosta had a great day with the redfish on a recent charter.

I want to begin this month with something that has been on my mind for years. As I travel and fish around the world I can't help but notice the conservation ethic of most of the locals, guides, and outfitters I meet. They realize the role of healthy fisheries in ensuring their livelihoods. They know that if the fisheries decline, no one will want to return, and the passion that draws us to their waters will eventually be lost.

We have laws in Texas to protect and conserve our fisheries and scientific studies are conducted to support this. Before a law is implemented, public input meetings are held around the state. All of this is good and I support it, but we as individual anglers can do even more. Let's enjoy the sport, including the catching, but only keeping what we need for a fresh meal and releasing the rest to be caught another day. Actions like these can and will make a difference toward returning our fisheries to their former glory.

It's been seven years since I implemented a Catch-and-Release Program in my charter business to promote conservation and reward anglers who voluntarily participate in this initiative. Some of my sponsors have teamed with me and the Catch and Release Effort (C.A.R.E.) Program by offering prizes to one lucky participant whose name is drawn from all who participated throughout the year. Over the years my clients have released thousands of fish that swam away to continue spawning and be caught again another day.

Currently, I would say redfish have been fair to good on the flats, although constant winds have made it difficult to determine how abundant they may be in any given area. Hopefully the weather pattern will soon change and the winds will begin to lie down in July. If and when this happens we will be able to see more fish on the flats and get a better idea how many are out there. Generally speaking, July’s calm mornings and evenings provide some of the best opportunity to locate schools of reds tailing on flats with the least amount of boat traffic.

The east side sand flats will hold redfish from early to mid-morning. After that, they tend to retreat to deeper, cooler water. During the hottest part of the day, think deep as fish will drop off to cooler water temperatures, like the ICW and other guts and channels scattered throughout our bays. Weedless gold spoons have long been a favorite summertime redfish lure. ZMan baits made of ultra-tough ElaZtech are another excellent choice as they can withstand all the piggy perch bites prevalent during the summer months.

Redfish are more heat tolerant than trout. Targeting trout during summer, I typically start in deeper water and stay deeper all day. What's deeper water? Basically, from waist to shirt pocket is where I focus the majority of my effort, working the lower third of the water column.

The summer months are known for exceptional numbers of smaller trout coming to hand. Please handle these little guys as carefully as you can and release them quickly. You never know which of them might become your 30-inch trophy in a few years.

July is also famous for sweet-smelling trout slicks. These slicks occur more often during tidal movements and solunar feeding periods. Remember, the smaller and sweeter the aroma the more recently it was created. I like to aim my casts at least 20 to 30 yards upwind of the place slicks originate. The edges of the ICW and adjacent spoil islands often hold the most slicking activity.

The hotter the better is a good rule of thumb for anglers hoping to tangle with a Texas snook. We enjoyed exceptional success with snook last summer – the best in ten years! Given the relatively mild winter, I am expecting similar or even greater success this summer.

Very similar to spotted seatrout, snook spawn during the warmer months with peaks of activity occurring during new and full moon periods. With strict harvest regulations over the years, they have thrived and become easier to target in parts of the Lower Laguna. Over the years I have heard of snook being landed in places where they were never available before and that is good news.

In my opinion Texas is headed in a positive direction regarding healthy fisheries. As I mentioned at the beginning, I travel the world and have experienced very few places that match our fisheries here in the Lower Laguna Madre.

Let's all C.A.R.E.!

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