Early September showers have given us a few sub-100° days but a genuine cold front is still a long way off. Hopefully by the time this article reaches you some measure of a north wind will be passing through. After being in numerous areas of the state hunting birds in September, I have confirmed what I have long known. It may be hot in Corpus Christi but that gulf breeze is worth its weight in gold. The inland areas I have visited are just stifling and dangerously hot. Time to get my webbed feet back in the saltwater!
October is a weird month in the Upper Laguna and Baffin. Not particularly my favorite, but there are still fish that need catching and I'm the one that gets to figure it out. Weather patterns are the main culprit in the funny bite down here. As continued hot weather prevails, the first fronts start showing up like small ghosts. These fronts are rarely strong enough to put the trout into a winter mode but they are generally sufficient enough to break up the normal warm weather pattern you have been relying on. I'll be the first to admit that it can make for a tricky lure bite. Toward the end of the month fronts will be more frequent, water temperatures will be stable to declining, and the trout bite will start to have some consistency to it. These are the days I'm looking forward to, although it doesn’t usually come around until later in the month.
After keeping records for many, many years, it's easy for me to flip through seasonal data and refresh my memory on specific patterns that have produced in the past. Just about every year has some kind of new discovery that I observed that particular season; some good, some bad, but one thing that has always been consistent is the productivity of waters along the ICW spoil islands for a great trout and redfish bite.
If you have any knowledge of fish migrations, you already know that the ICW is like a six-lane super highway for many fish to get to the gulf waters for the winter – especially mullet and other baitfish. That super highway has submerged and exposed spoil islands on just about every inch of it. Those spoil islands serve as rest areas for those mullet making the long haul and fast-food stops for the gamefish.
Many areas of the spoils are laden with potholes and guts (ambush spots) for the trout and reds to devour these migrating fish. If you will spend the time to locate these specific areas, that number in the hundreds, when mullet are active or even rafted up you are really going to get into what could be a very special day on the water. I do not
mean to sound like Captain Obvious but keep in mind that mullet have tails and are heading north; i.e. here one day and likely moved on the next. Don't be a spot fisherman is the point I’m trying to make. Become a hunter and travel with the heard like a plains Indian.
As cold fronts become consistent, and true winter patterns begin developing, get prepared!
This transition month of October is the perfect time to go through all gear, test waders for leaks if you haven't already treated yourself to a pair of Simms, (the G4 style is my favorite). Buy a new 6’-6” Waterloo Slam Mag (perfect Corky rod). Put new line on the Concept Reels (E and Z models for me), clean and oil bearings, replace rusted hooks on your Paul Brown Original Corkys and MirrOdines, and restock the Bass Assassins.
Give the Haynie boat and Mercury some love too. Make sure the gas in the tank is still good, change the spark plugs, install a new water pump, and have your prop rebuilt. Nobody is better for this than Baumann Marine Propellers in Houston.
I know this all seems elementary, but I have witnessed metric tons of unpreparedness on my charters from guys that haven’t done a thing to their equipment since last spring and expect to come out firing like Wild Bill Hickok…and end up more like Barney Fife ten minutes into it.
As we start making the big run into trophy trout season, let me remind everyone of something. There are about 100x more people utilizing the bay now than there were just ten years ago. The resource is getting hammered and everyone knows it. If you want to catch quality fish for years to come, police yourselves and release all trout longer than 20-inches. Don't wait on TPWD to make you do it. Be proactive and do what you know is the right thing.
Remember the buffalo! -Capt David Rowsey