It’s official…summer is here. It’s going to be hot…hopefully the fishing will be hotter than the weather. Fish patterns will remain mostly unchanged until about the middle of June and then progress into true summer patterns as the water temps continue to rise.
I recall several years ago slipping into the water on a hot afternoon. Feeling the water temperature, I quickly jumped back in the boat and checked the temperature on my GPS; it read 99 degrees. I promptly left that area looking for cooler water.
Over the years I have found that you can experience an active bite up to around 88 degrees. Higher than that you will notice the fish becoming sluggish and unwilling to eat. This is due to super-heated water containing less dissolved oxygen. Keep this in mind as we get further along into summer. Equipping your boat with a GPS unit that records water temperature can be very critical to success in summer and also during winter.
The same as water temps rising, so will the boat traffic, and this too will alter fish patterns and behavior. During the busiest hours, say between 9:00am and 2:00pm, fish will seek shelter in deeper, less-trafficked areas such as spoils with deep water nearby. Fishing in the first hours of daylight and again into evening can be your best bets for productive outings.
High winds have been a constant factor the past month and a half and it seems likely this could continue into June. There's nothing we can do about nature but check out my video in this month's article explaining how to work with the wind.
Slot-size redfish have been very plentiful and I would say it has been quite a while since we have caught so many undersized reds. With that said, I believe the future for the redfish fishery looks promising.
On calmer days, we're finding redfish in open bay water and generally in all the places where they should be. Windier days are different; our best success has been in protected areas, sometimes along windward shorelines, or working the birds. Windward shorelines are known for bait stack-ups and the predators will often be right there with the bait. Protected areas always hold the best water clarity but it doesn't always mean the fish are there. It’s encouraging to know that when they are there they will be more apt to take an artificial bait.
Another option for the windiest days is to wait for the bird action to develop. Strong wind stirs the bottom causing shrimp and small crabs to rise in the water column. Redfish take full advantage and their feeding activity attracts seagulls that hover and swoop down to snatch whatever the reds push to the surface. We see this frequently during solunar feeding periods and it doesn’t matter what color the water is.
Trout have been showing in better numbers than I expected and we are catching decent numbers of both slot and undersize fish. Teaching proper handling and release of all sizes is crucial to aiding the rebound of the fishery. I am pleased that so many of my clients have opted to practice full catch and release of their trout, even though they are showing in surprising numbers here on the southern portions of the Lower Laguna.
Slicks can be observed popping throughout our bay when the trout are feeding, quite often in deeper water with the elevated water temperatures. Locating areas with plenty of active mullet has been the best way to find a steady bite. Here again, making note of water temps can be the ticket.
Perhaps the best news is that the flounder population has exploded, and that's no exaggeration. We are catching flounder out on the flats regularly in potholes. Targeting them in known holding areas such as cuts and old channels has also been quite productive. Edges and points of spoils have also been holding targetable numbers. Believe me when I say we haven’t seen this in many years.