Pro Tips: November 2011

Pro Tips: November 2011
Bait choices for winter fishing.

November is the best of the best for fishing on the middle Texas coast. Due to the layout of the bay and its barrier islands, this section of the Texas Coast offers both the serious and the casual angler the opportunity to cash in the area's best fishing of the year. The middle Texas coast is blessed with an abundance of various types of subsurface structures. We have tons of live oyster reefs as well as shorelines laden with pristine submerged grassbeds. Add to this a vast backwater marsh system and one has the recipe for unbelievable fall fishing. Understanding how changing weather patterns influence the fishery is the key to your success.

Fronts arriving from the north will become more frequent, so we can expect a strong SE wind two to three days prior to the arrival of each system. Wind velocities, in my experience, are controlled by the severity and the speed in which the front is approaching. Dry fronts seem to pull more wind whereas fronts that bring rain seem to approach slower and draw less from the SE. This is not scientific data, just my own observations over the past thirty-three years. During the days prior to our frontal passages, you will want to concentrate your efforts on scattered shell or submerged grass structure along barrier islands and spoils. Windward spoil structure can be at its best prior to the change that is coming on the front.

The beauty of the Middle Coast is the absolute abundance of these types of structures from basically East Matagorda all the way to Corpus Christi Bay. Rockport and Port O'Connor are right in the middle of all the best stuff this time of year. Due to the way the barrier islands and the spoil islands are laid out we have lots of water to fish when weather patterns are less than favorable. This, along with excellent fishing opportunities is why the area is home to so many guides and is such a popular fishing destination. Easy access and easy fishing; that's the way we like it, right! Don't get me started on liking it easy.

Just before a front arrives is often the best time to be in your favorite fishing hole. Understand that one needs to be aware of changing conditions and have the right equipment to get you back to the dock when winds begin gusting to 35 or 40 mph as the frontal line approaches. Use common sense and put the safety of your fishing partners as well as your own first and foremost. No fish is worth dying for.

Fronts push water onto windward flats, causing false high tides and creating ideal feeding conditions for upper echelon predators. Some of the best days for big trout in our area are under these types of conditions. Knowing the safe routes to and from these types of areas will allow you to stand in and fish through the blow. The push of water from the NE also causes what I call a dumping of the bay. This simply means the water dumps out of the bay resulting in lower than normal tide levels in a very short period of time.

This little tale is hard to believe, but I have three witnesses to vouch for it. One day, a few years back in Spaulding, we experienced just such a quick drop in the tide levels; it actually grounded my boat and literally left redfish on dry land in front of several sloughs along the Black Jack shoreline. We got out of the boat and walked up and picked up live redfish and walked them to water. Honestly, it was one of the most amazing sights I had ever seen. When this dumping effect starts there is only one place to be and that is in or at the mouths of the many sloughs that feed the marsh. Bait and gamefish will both be concentrated and the feeding frenzy that occurs is nothing short of phenomenal. It is the easiest fishing of the year and possibly the best bite you will ever witness in your lifetime.

Wading is by far my preferred fishing method but in the month of November drifting the flats south of Rockport can be easy and very productive. Heavy seagrass on most of the flats in Redfish Bay holds the bottom sediments in place despite strong wind and the result is slightly sandy-green water with a good surface chop absolutely ideal conditions for this area. Depending the frequency of the fronts and strength of the winds, the waters on most of these flats gets almost too clear as water temperatures drop, making sight-casting terrific but fooling the fish more difficult. Following the fronts, the tides are lower and fish are concentrated in the areas of sandy green water. Add to this the message Mother Nature is sending out about eating all you can in preparation for winter and it is game on lots of days. In November of 2010, I experienced better fishing in Estes and Redfish Bay and am hoping 2011 will be a repeat for us. With my 24' Haynie HO, I can more easily drift with clients, using the trolling motor to position the boat on the proper drift lines in the flats. You know I would prefer to wade, but when it gets right on the flats, it does not get much easier.

Bass Assassins and the Paul Brown Original Corky by MirrOlure will be my go-to bait no matter where or how we are fishing. As mullet become more scarce, the new Die Dapper swim baits and Vapor Shad series from Bass Assassin will become very productive. We caught some of our biggest trout and redfish last year on these new baits. I hope to see many of you in November when fishing the Rockport area. As always – keep what you need and release the rest.

May your fishing always be catching. -Guide Jay Watkins