South Padre: May 2024

South Padre: May 2024

Capt. Aaron with a solid trout tricked with a ZMan plastic.

The spring season is in full stride; wildflowers, cactus and yucca are blooming everywhere you look. Our tides have risen to springtime highs. The shrimp hatch is happening right on cue and the fish and seagulls know it.

The south wind blows with a vengeance this time of year. I wouldn't say I like windy conditions but we can do nothing to control them. We must learn to deal with them and use them to our advantage whenever possible.

How can fishermen use wind greater than twenty-five miles-per-hour to their advantage? As I mentioned above, the shrimp hatch is occurring this month, and when the wind blows hard across the flats redfish start gorging on shrimp. This feeding activity causes shrimp to pop to the surface as they flee the hungry reds, which in turn attracts swarms of seagulls that hover above the melee, snapping up any shrimp that were lucky to escape the redfish's jaws. It all begins with the wind!

As you approach the gull activity, even if there’s only a few birds present, watch for redfish tails waving in the wind as they root along bottom flushing shrimp from the grass. Those tails are an instant giveaway, but redfish might not be the only species enjoying a shrimp dinner. If you look closer, don’t be too surprised if some of those tails belong to trout, especially if they appear around the outer edges of the activity.

The redfish bite has really turned on the past couple of weeks. It seems that most of the fish we’re finding have been in smaller groups, no big schools, and their diet of late has been mostly shrimp and small crabs. No surprise then that our ZMan KickerCrabZ have been so effective. I call it a perfect example of matching the hatch.

Westside back bays are holding reliable numbers of reds at the present time and we are also finding decent numbers on eastside sand flats. While the KickerCrabZ have been the ticket on the softer and grassier westside, I must also say that the wobble and flash of a gold spoon has been hard to beat on the sandy eastside flats. Something you should take note of is that these eastside fish may not hold long on the sand after the sun is well up. Boat traffic will definitely scatter them and shut the bite down on busy weekend days.

On the trout side of things, I credit the rising tides for our increased ability to reliably target larger fish. No real giants lately but we have been rewarded with plenty of four- to seven-pounders. It wasn't like that last month. We are currently seeing a few big trout on the sand flats, but the more significant numbers are tucked against spoils and smaller coves, away from boat traffic.

Some of the larger trout have fallen for ZMan baits, especially the Mulletron, which has excellent tail action, even when presented on a slow, straight retrieve. The PaddlerZ, Scented Streakz, and the Streakz Curly Tail have tricked plenty of small, medium, and a few larger fish.

Going back to what I mentioned earlier about trout mixing with redfish on windblown flats and feeding on shrimp under flocks of gulls – muddy water deters fishermen far more than it does fish, trout included. It’s springtime and we can expect near constant wind most of the coming month. Learn to use it to your advantage.

We hope the trout fishery returns to its former glory with the new regulations. But we all know that to help the trout fishery recover, it all starts with us being good stewards of the resource. It's good practice to keep only what you're going to eat fresh and release the rest.

May is the beginning of the busiest season on the Lower Laguna. There will be fishing tournaments every weekend with greatly increased boat traffic, making our fish spookier and tougher to catch. I suggest fishing in less congested areas, getting an earlier start, or perhaps fishing later toward evening after things begin to calm down.

The days will soon be getting hotter and long hours of casting means increased arm fatigue. A light-sensitive rod is a must and my recommendation is the Fishing Tackle Unlimited G2 Finesse. It weighs less than three ounces and has a solid backbone for muscling big redfish. Check ‘em out…get one in your hand. It’s been a game changer for me.