The days have gotten hot, especially when winds are light. If I was in my teens and needed a good summer job I think I would go into the shaved ice business and make deliveries to boaters and fishermen on the bay. Good chance that sales might be hotter than a fresh load of croaker.
Summer patterns are going to hold steady into mid-September for Baffin and the Upper Laguna, not withstanding something dramatic from the tropics. Catching numbers of trout should not be an issue but you’ll need an early start with water temps running in the mid-80s and rising. Larger trout will certainly be around but they are typically loners this time of year, not generally associating with smaller fish. Mind you, associating can be a relative term as larger trout may not be right in the midst of the schoolies, but very close by. For example; if you find a ton of small trout bites on a drop-off into deep water, adjust your focus to nearby shallow bars, flats, and shorelines for larger fish. The bites will not be as plentiful but the reward thoroughly outweighs it.
With the sun climbing, long about 10:00 am, I like to switch to sight-cast mode for reds and occasional large trout. The morning is getting warm by this hour and the trout bite is starting to dwindle anyway. What could be more fun than seeing your target, making a perfect cast, and watching them eat your lure? With miles and miles of flats and shallow spoil islands, this combination of hunting and fishing is a personal summertime favorite. Preferred conditions are clear skies with enough breeze to ripple the surface and break the glare, and bait flipping occasionally in scattered potholes. It's very easy to get caught up in this and end up far from the boat. Pack a bottle of water for the hunt.
As has been the case since way back in early winter our water quality has been superb. Baffin and the Laguna have remained trout-green to almost air-clear. I attribute this largely to the unprecedented amount of seagrass. It’s as thick as I’ve ever seen and great for clear water, but I would much rather have more bottom diversity in the form of sandy potholes (feeding areas). Seeking these areas will cut your scouting time in half if you make a mental note and return to fish them when they have a good bait supply. TPWD has always made a big deal on how long it takes for seagrass to grow but I must respectfully disagree. Having success on any small cluster of potholes for a week, I can come back in two- to three-weeks and discover new grass covering 50-75% of the sand pockets that were there. I’m sure it's different further up the coast but down here it's almost like an invasive weed.
Seems the number one question before every charter is; "What they hittin' on Captain?" Personally, I like to keep things simple. I start most mornings with a MirrOlure She Dog (choppy surface) or Top Pup (calmer conditions). I'm going to know within ten minutes if there is a surface bite worth pursuing. If I'm not feeling it I break out my 5" rattail Bass Assassin fish finder. I determine the weight of my jighead based upon bottom structure, which is usually grass. Very grassy and/or shallow gets a sixteenth ounce jighead while deeper and sandier bottom gets an eighth. Regardless of weight, I'm using a small 2/0 wide gap hook. In the case of hook size, bigger is not better when it comes to jigheads. Far and away, my favorite hardbait is the MirrOlure MirrOdine. I have gained so much confidence in this lure over the past three years that I now rely on it year-round. I recently discovered the Heavy Dine C18MR, also from MirrOlure, and find it awesome in deeper water where you want it to get down quicker. It has proven especially effective on deep rock piles along the edges of deep bars. Easy to work and very effective.
It would be hard to carve a quality living in the fishing industry without great sponsors and relationships. I'm blessed to have made many over the years. I only promote what I believe in and use on a daily basis. Saying that, I have to tip my hat to Chris Coulter and Chris' Marine. Whether it be turning a wrench, spraying aluminum, or painting a lower unit; Chris and his crew have always had my back, as well as anyone else who might be in a bind. Highly recommend!
Remember the buffalo! -Capt David Rowsey