Hooked Up: November 2017

Hooked Up: November 2017
Parker Holt got us started fast on one of the last mornings before we get in our Simms waders.
November is such a highly touted month among Texas outdoorsmen. Winter trout fishing is kicking off, bows are being drawn back, rifles crack in the distance, bird dogs are on point all over the state, ducks are locked up on early-morning decoy spreads, retrievers are crashing through shallow flats and ponds, blue quail and buggies out in the mountains, bonfires at deer camp, excuses about a buck that "jumped the string" and "I must have bumped my scope." Y'all get the idea. November is just a wonderful time to be with quality friends and celebrating God's gift of the Texas outdoors.

I was on the water yesterday and it was a sight to behold. Large tides had slowed things for us in the far reaches of Baffin so the client and I decided to do some work on the north side of the bridge (JFK Causeway). I was hoping to find big pods of mullet migrating to the north, and we were not disappointed. They were, essentially, everywhere. In fact, the bay was so alive with activity that it was hard to determine where to start. 

Applying some common sense to local knowledge, I headed to an area of bars and guts along Mustang Island. The bait activity was almost obnoxious everywhere as we shut down, but looking a 1/4-mile down the shoreline, we noticed slicks that were really concentrated within a particular 100-yard stretch of water. We set up just outside of them, and started up shallow to take advantage of the southeast wind at our backs for long casts. 

As I was explaining to Hunter on how to make the approach and work the hardware parallel to the guts, he was already hooked up with a 4-pound trout. Wow! That was quick. And I hadn’t even gotten into my "smart guide talk” routine. That stretch of water produced for about three hours. There was not a fish landed on every cast, but every third cast or so the lure was at least touched or a hookup was made. A variety of gamefish were landed, with multiple Texas Slams. A magical morning to remember.

The lesson in this is that the baitfish are migrating from the bays, as they always do this time of year. The trout have been programmed by Mother Nature to gorge when this is happening. Getting a head start on fattening up for the winter, these fish, at this moment, are very vulnerable to being caught easily. 

The same patterns will be taking place in all of our southern bays throughout November. Large congregations of diving pelicans are a fast track for finding these concentrations of bait quickly, and from a distance. If you are lucky, you will be able to catch the action while wading, but do not be surprised if the water has some depth to it and you have to stay on the deck of the Haynie to get it done. 

I hate fishing from the boat but, if I am catching 3- to 6-pound trout while doing it, I'll swallow my pride for a bit. Strong fronts arriving from the north will nip this pattern in the bud, so take advantage of it now before it gets blown out.

As fronts arrive throughout the month, I will be paying very close attention to the water temperature. I truly believe this it is one of the most important factors in separating you from the crowd (and the trout). Understanding it, documenting it, and eventually learning how it affects gamefish movements in winter has been something I have long studied and paid very close attention to. 

I wish I could take credit for the thought to be an original moment of fishing brilliance but, my favorite guide, Jay Watkins, taught me the importance of it many, many years ago through his writings – long before I had the pleasure to know him. Yeah, before internet, I-phones and social media, we youngsters had to read articles to gain knowledge from the gurus. 

November will make for some gorgeous days on the water, especially the days following northers. With a little luck, the north wind will open up the canvas of grass all over the Laguna Madre and give us some potholes to cast our diving and darting Bass Assassins into. If not, you guys and gals better be prepared to invest in some suspending lures by MirrOlure. The Fat Boy and the MirrOdine are my top two choices - hands down.

Remember the buffalo! -Capt David Rowsey