Hooked Up: August 2020

Hooked Up: August 2020
Pat Murphy is new to wading with lures but has put in many days with me this summer.  Results of putting in the time and work are greater every trip. CPR!

Well, the end of summer will soon be within our grasp. Speaking for myself, I'm pretty happy about that as the days have been long and too hot. I'm having clients meet me very early in the morning hoping to pull off a good trout bite and beat the afternoon baking.

August can be a pretty tough month to fish in all Texas waters. Some bays will shine a little brighter, especially those with good tidal flows from the gulf. Unfortunately, Baffin doesn't have this and our water temperatures usually become quite elevated. As previously mentioned, it is critical to start your day early down here if catching trout is your preferred game. The dark of early morning until 0900 or so is going to be your peak bite on lures. When the stars align, meaning that the conditions are calm and you have found a school of mullet circling a rock formation, you better buy some lotto tickets because this scenario can keep you in quality fish all day long…even in August’s heat.

The heat of the summer finds me "rock hopping" with the trolling motor more than any other time of the year. I typically wade 98 out of 100 days, but August heat changes things for anglers wanting to focus solely on trout. The deeper rock formations in Baffin are awesome fish attractors and provide much cooler water to help beat the heat. Mullet use them for safety and also for forage, trout especially use them for shade, safety, and hunting grounds.

This time of year we have large schools of mullet throughout the bay system. As they make their way through the bay you can be assured there are trout cruising with them, waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of a straggler here and there. At some point these mullet are going to make it to any number of the hundreds of rock formations in Baffin. 

My best guess is that they feel safe amongst the rocks (and they probably are to some extent), but this is the perfect opportunity for the trout to corral them and keep them pinned down. As the mullet congregate on the rocks and begin to sense predator presence the school gets tighter and tighter. For every mullet that braves an escape to a safer place, there are multiple trout ready to pounce on the one that broke from the safety of the formation.

From a fisherman's perspective, this is as good a scenario as you could ever ask for and the catching will be almost be automatic…provided the angler practices good judgement. What I mean by that is the approach must be made quietly, staying a long cast away from both the trout and the mullet school. 

Any number of lures will work but a lure that suspends or sinks slowly, such as a MirrOdine or a Bass Assassin on a light jighead, is going to provide a more prolonged bite opportunity. Why, you ask? There is no doubt you could catch a few on topwater, but the commotion of working the lure and the inevitable blowups that follow can be just enough to cause the school to bust out and scatter. We don’t want that!  

The ideal way to approach it is to cast outside of the school and entice the trout on the farthest edges. Less commotion makes for catching many trout versus a few. When you have exhausted the edge bite you can begin working in closer with each successive cast. I have used this technique with great success for many years. It has not only worked well on the Baffin rocks but also on shell humps in bays as far north as East Matagorda and wrecks on the beach. 

In closing, I will also add that we are seeing good schools of black drum throughout the Upper Laguna and Baffin right now. They are far and away the largest biomass of fish in our waters. They are also the best eating, in my opinion. If clients want fish to take home, drum are pretty easy to catch on any darker shade of Gulp baits. A big bonus to working a school of drum is that there are often a few good trout staged on the outside edges of the drum school, grabbing a free meal as the foraging drum spook smaller bait off the bottom. Food for thought.

Police yourselves. Give back and be a good steward of the bay. Release trout over 20 inches!

Remember the buffalo!  -Capt. David Rowsey