Hooked Up: September 2013

Hooked Up: September 2013
Meet Sam Stambaugh, 10 years old and a phenomenal young fisherman. Sam was literally shaking with excitement when he got on my boat that morning and blessed me with one of my most enjoyable days on the water this summer.  He caught many reds and trout on his first-ever wade trip.  He could cast like a grown man and his enthusiasm was simply contagious.  Sam is a keeper!
There are many things to love about September but not all have to do with fishing. For me, the opening of bird season is right up there with Christmas when I was a kid. College football, less boat traffic, teal buzzing the bay and early cool fronts are all things that I really look forward to this month. We are lucky to live in Texas where we get to enjoy great fishing and our other outdoor passions in excess.

School is back in session! Uh, redfish school that is. Reds will be migrating from the bays into the Gulf in full force this month. Jetty and beach fishermen will enjoy the bounty as well as anybody on the water, but the bay folks should get in on the action also. Used to be that running the flats and spotting a distant school was no big deal, but with the number of boats on the water now days, the reds seem to have changed their habits as more and more boats run across the top of them. Channels around flats, including the ICW, is where you should find the largest concentrations of them on busy boat traffic days. If you are lucky enough to fish during the week you may get to be a part of some of the old and traditional style of flats fishing. Working birds, including pelicans, will be the first places along channels that I will check if my clientele are in the mood for catching redfish. Find schools of migrating mullet to go along with that and you will be in for some serious action. Using your trolling motor along the edges of deep water dropoffs is far and away the best method for locating and staying up on them. A 1/4 ounce jig head and a Bass Assassin paddletail Sea Shad will my favorite rig for finding and catching.

Every phone call or inquiry I get, questions about the brown tide eventually come up. Yes it is still around, but location changes constantly due to weather patterns. The Upper Laguna, mouth of Baffin, and bays south of Baffin look really good, as southeast winds continue to push good water up from Mansfield. The interior of Baffin to Loyola Beach remain to be ugly and, short of a tropical storm, will continue to be that way. Are there any fish in the brown tide? Simple answer is yes, but dang sure harder to catch. With the right clients I venture off into it with mixed success. If you are willing to grind, there are some good fish to be caught in the brown water, but it is not for the guy that needs a hit every cast.

As the bait migration heads north, my Haynie will be right in line with them. Every day will present new opportunities and locations to catch fish. Something that worked yesterday may not on the next. Staying open-minded is imperative while fishing these migrations. If you have tunnel vision on fishing your favorite spot during this time of year, you may come in a little short versus the guy willing to move around and fish the signs versus the spots. Some of the best discoveries I have ever made on the water were by pure accident and thinking, "Man that looks good...let's check it out."

As of now, tides are SUPER low and have really pulled the fish off of the skinny flats. This is a good thing, as it has concentrated the fish on deeper dropoffs adjacent to flats. We are commonly finding heavy action of all species from the east side of the Laguna, Emmord's Hole, Rocky Slough, Meadows and Yarbrough. Many of the trout are dink size to low-end keeper trout. My advice is to grind it out in these areas because a big bite will happen at some point during the action. I cannot tell y'all how many times I have skipped a small trout across the surface back to me, only to have a 30+ donk tailgating the little fellow. There are a lot of personal best trout out there. Patience is the key.

The dome of high pressure over Texas has made for a slow topwater bite, even in the early morning hours. Floating grass has made treble hooked lures a pain in the you know what. The 5" Bass Assassin just continues to prevail for me, year after year, season after season. Go get you some.
Remember the buffalo. -Capt David Rowsey