New Trout Limit and Cedar Bayou

New Trout Limit and Cedar Bayou
Dustin Brownlow with rod tip held high, learning to work a bait through shallow clump shell.
September through early October brought slightly cooler temperatures and higher tides which has improved fishing conditions as well as our catches. This is great news given a very tough trout year here in the Rockport area. There were days I thought I had forgotten how to find them, and then this past week we experienced several days that would have been considered great no matter where you were on the Gulf coast.

My point in this is to demonstrate that conditions play a vital role in success. Those great days last week also had solunar feeding times falling mid-morning. This allowed the sun to rise high enough for my anglers to actually see the grass beds and potholes, thus enabling more accurate casting.

Placing your bait precisely on the structure, and at the right angle of presentation, is big-time important. I have learned over my years of fishing that Lady Luck plays a small role in our success much of the time. Sure we get lucky and stumble into areas holding fish, but the act of catching them without pushing or spooking them, along with the ability to define the perimeters of the area the fish reside in, requires pure skill. I work on my skills daily and bark constantly at my clients to do the same.

There is no substitute for hard work. Many that are experiencing tough fishing are quick to blame everyone and everything around them. My best advice to overcome tough fishing is to simply work harder. Dad used to tell me when I had a problem that if I looked in the mirror, all or at least some of the problem would be looking back at me.

I square off to fishing competition every day and do not care whether they are fishing with croaker, sea lice, cracked crab, chunks of skipjack or a fly rod; they are my competition and at day's end I want to have done better than they did. They could not have caught what they caught without being where the fish were! I am continually humbled by many of them but it never halts my effort to try and better them the next day. I continually search for knowledge that could, at days end, give me the upper hand.

I do not think I am guilty of making excuses as to why we did not catch fish even though there are times when conditions just did not allow us to do what we needed to do. So if you're having tough trips, work harder and smarter and I promise it'll pay off.

At this time there are many user groups enjoying the fishery here along the Texas coast and, naturally, there are some user conflicts. I think education to resolve these conflicts starts on the personal level and, in order to truly educate, the teacher must first have the respect of the student. There is no quick fix to the user issues, and some will never be satisfied, but this does not mean we should not be willing to try.

Most asked question this month"When will we see the results of the five trout limit and the opening of Cedar Bayou?"

The reduced trout limit will not create an instant boom in the population. What it will do instantly, though, is reduce the number of slot fish being taken. This should provide a general increase and, eventually, a larger population overall. Simply put, and I have been saying this for thirteen years, "How can keeping fewer possibly equate to having fewer?" I look forward to the daily task of trying to catch trout, redfish and flounder in the greatest possible number to satisfy my clients seeking numbers and also look forward to the possibility (in two to three years) of satisfying the larger percentage of my clientele seeking trophy trout, which they plan to release.

As for the opening of Cedar Bayou, I think we will see some immediate changes in water flow and water quality in Mesquite, southern San Antonio and the Spaulding and Carlos regions. It is going to take a few months for the bayou to seek and find its own path; this will keep the fish guessing is my guess. Distinct guts beginning to develop to the south, right up next to the beach on my latest photos, certainly look like great places for trout and redfish to stage in their quest for nourishment. Gamefish, I believe, will quickly find the water movement advantageous and seek areas where more predictable water movement will benefit the hunting process. The obvious and maybe most immediate positive result will be seen at the mouth of Cedar Bayou where it meets the gulf. Gulf-run gamefish will find the outlet and its flows favorable and begin showing there shortly.

Another of the many positive aspects of the opening of this bayou will be its attraction to anglers. More anglers in the bayou can mean less pressure along shorelines and area reefs–all good in my opinion.

On a totally different note, I have found that by allowing my mind to reset everyday just as I like to let the areas I fish reload, I am able to look at the conditions each day and enter into my hunting mode with a clearer field of vision.

There can be a distinct disadvantage at times, believing we know all there is to know. I often find myself placing undue confidence in areas where I have caught fish previously. Too often this becomes a stumbling block in the process of allowing an area the time it needs to develop. By this I mean that too often I don't stay in an area that looks good and feels good nearly as long as I probably should. I preach adamantly about this but somehow still find myself thinking of other productive areas that might yield quicker results. The only way we discover new out-of-the-way areas is to get into them and put in the time required to observe patterns developing. I honestly believe that there are still secrets out there. They may not be specific fishing locations per se, but secrets none-the-less, relative to when to be there and how to fish them.

All in all I have seen a little increase in the numbers and sizes of the trout we have been catching this month. This is due to the tides of the fall equinox, rainfall over the bays, and slightly cooler water temperatures. Look for better results this fall around the sloughs that drain the backwaters in proximity of Cedar Bayou. Good luck and keep a few if you need some and release the rest for another day.

May your fishing always be catching! -Guide Jay Watkins