Hooked Up: October 2019

Hooked Up: October 2019
Wacey Buro with a personal best 27-incher. Fat, late-summer trout ate a Bass Assassin. Released!

This must be what they meant when they coined the phrase, never-ending summer.  Enough already of heat indices that refuse to drop below 110°. So tired of it. October’s cool fronts are going to be more welcome than ever in my memory. Sally and I took a "cool break” in the middle of September on an Alaskan cruise. Average daytime temps were high 40s to low 50s. Everything about Alaska was very refreshing and I'm already planning a fishing vacation for the next visit.

October fishing has always been hit or miss for us down here in the Coastal Bend. Both October and November are transition months and can be a little testy, even for the guys that are on the water every day. Regardless, I will certainly be in the water trying for the largest trout God deems us worthy of, but will also be spending lots of time preparing for winter fishing, slinging arrows, and filling my sunburned nose with the sweet aroma of burning gun powder from the business end of a Benelli.

I say this every year, do forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but in all seriousness this is the time of the year when I start pulling it all together for cooler weather fishing. If you are serious about hunting trophy caliber trout, use this downtime to get ready for the coming winter and spring months. Everything from waders, tackle, rods, reels, boats, motors, etc., will be gone through with a fine-toothed comb to hopefully prevent the unexpected.

As the first cool fronts settle in and start dropping water temperatures, this will not be the time to find out that last year’s waders have sprung a leak, or that last year's coiled mono should have been swapped for fresh. What about, "I haven't used 'em since last spring…no idea why the handles won't turn." 

I hear these kinds of statements on a daily basis from rookies, new-to-me clients, and even a few of the seasoned salty crowd. You can bet that by the second trip they have it all figured out, as they only want to be paying me as their guide, not as the most expensive reel repairman on the water. If you do just a few simple things before you jump on the boat for the first cool weather trip of the season, you can spend more time fishing and less time watching your better-prepared buddy set the hook.  

Quick checklist:  Reels cleaned and new braided line installed; 40-lb Seaguar Smackdown is my favorite. Replace hooks on lures; #4 VMC on Corkys and MirrOdines, #2 on larger topwaters. Check waders for leaks; I fill mine with water as wearing them in the pool takes too long unless the leak is severe. Clean and lube corroded zippers on tackle bags, boots, etc. Organize your layering system and go back through the list a second time. None of this is hard work or very time consuming, so no excuses. Be prepared!

October and November are the only times of the year I pay serious attention to birds working in the Laguna and Baffin, and only during these months, due to bait migrations being in full swing. Birds are easy to spot and an easy to figure out, but for those of us who prefer our feet in the mud, the working birds can give us some great opportunities and insight into non-traditional wading spots that most just run right past.

The first time I ever saw my name in print, Capt. Mike McBride penned a piece for CCA’s Tide Magazine and said, "Rowsey is a master at hiding in plain sight."  Mike and I had fished together quite a few times and I was always parking the boat in some "high eyebrow" areas that boats just passed by on their way to Baffin.

I mention this because this is a time of year when I fish these highly-visible areas, and one the of most productive of these is the edge of the ICW. This channel is a virtual fish highway through the Upper Laguna. While it produces year ‘round, October makes for great wading that produces thick-shouldered trout, many in the trophy class.

There are many cuts that intersect the ICW, depressions from barges getting off course, humps, and tons of grass lines and other edges that hold fish. The ICW is possibly the most underutilized part of our bay system for catching great fish during October and November. Now is the time to discover it if you haven't already.

Remember the buffalo!  -Capt. David Rowsey