Hooked Up: May 2017

Hooked Up: May 2017
John Brown from Virginia made a long haul to Texas to pull on some great trout and reds for four days.
By the time this article makes it to mailboxes and newsstands our Simms waders will be back in the closet and we will be wading wet. Hard to believe it has arrived so quickly but such is the annual cycle. 

Early April started bringing us a bit of new water from the gulf. Overnight, we started catching skipjacks alongside our trout bite and giant schools of cownose rays have invaded the bay. The rays are not much for sport but standing on the bow of the boat and watching these stealthy creatures glide along by the hundreds in clear water is mesmerizing to even the saltiest of anglers. They are just one of the first clues of what is to come via the gulf.

The bait fish and game fish that ride the spring tides back into the bay is what makes May one the best fishing months of the year here in the Coastal Bend. Along with great numbers being landed in general, we will still be catching some super-fat trout that are egg-laden and about to complete their first spawn of the season.

In fact, if you are registered in the CCA Texas S.T.A.R., Memorial Day Weekend (when the tournament opens) and the days that follow can be one of the best opportunities to land a tournament winning trout south of the JFK Causeway. But don’t delay – the window of opportunity is fleeting. Rolling into June, increasing numbers of the really big girls will be spawning very actively and the chances for a spawn-heavy nine or ten-pounder will be diminishing by the day. Impressive numbers of seriously solid fish will remain for several weeks, and between the gulf trout finding their way into the bay and schools of roaming redfish, it's hard not to be giddy over the prospects the Mother Lagoon has to offer.

With so many areas looking primed for big trout, it is sometimes hard for me to decide where to go first when beginning a day on the water. This is a good problem to have, and one that I and most other guides are not so blessed to deal with regularly. Trout are already dropping eggs, so my first thought is of areas that hold a lot of grass. Unlike bass, trout do not spawn in nests and do not hang around to protect their eggs once released.

What spawning trout do is slip into areas where thick grass is prevalent, waters are shallow and warm, and release their roe for the males to fertilize. Catching unusual numbers of grunting males is actually a good indicator that larger females are in the immediate area. 

The south shoreline of Baffin, amongst the rocks and shoreline of Rocky Slough, the flats of Yarbrough, and the spoil islands of the Laguna (Nighthawk Bay) are ideal spawning areas that will hold all the necessary structure and water depths to attract the big females. Mix these areas with a stable bait supply and we should all be on our way to some good fishing – and big catching.

Fishing has been pretty darn good, as of this writing. Overall numbers seem to be down, but that has much to do with us concentrating on larger fish versus just getting any kind of bite. Most of our efforts have been concentrated in Baffin and will remain so as the green water rolls in from down south. 

As the charter day winds down we always check a few spots in the Laguna on the way back to Bluff's Landing. The Upper Laguna is definitely where the redfish action is most reliable and I do not foresee that changing through summer. Regardless of your take on reds, to me, they are still a hoot to catch. One thing to remember is that reds and trout are eating the same thing and it is very common to pull a big trout out of a school of reds. 

On a final note, the trout are full of eggs and in the process of dropping them to be fertilized by pesky, grunting males. If there is ever a time to practice catch and release it is now to enhance the future of trout fishing. Contrary to old-timer’s beliefs, there is not an endless supply of fish in the bay. No matter if we are grinding with lures or soaking croaker, it is in all of our best interests to be good stewards of the fishery so that we have one for years to come.   

Remember the buffalo!  -Capt. David Rowsey