Hooked Up: October 2020

Hooked Up: October 2020
Mrs. Dara Pena with one of many great trout we released along the ICW following the bait migration into the gulf.

It has been a busy tropical weather season thus far along the Texas coast and we currently have systems developing in the Atlantic that could make it into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Hanna hit us on July 23 and just last week Category 3 Laura devastated the region along the Texas-Louisiana coast. Time will tell whether any of these new systems will develop into hurricanes. Hopefully not!

Last month I mentioned the aftereffects of Hurricane Hanna that came ashore between Baffin Bay and Port Mansfield. Since the water has subsided and cleared up we can now see some of the positives from that storm; specifically the removal of dead seagrass that has been choking out the bay bottom of the Upper Laguna for quite some time. The turbulent waters of Hanna turned over at such a violent rate that it lifted decaying grass from the shallow bay bottom and deposited it onto the shorelines of the King and Kenedy ranches.

What we are left with are areas of a perfect mix of new growth seagrass amid hard, sandy potholes. In other words, there is new structure everywhere for big trout to hang out.

October is a transitional month for the Upper Laguna and Baffin, in my opinion. While our friends from Rockport and north experience some great October fishing, the waters are still too warm for me to get that good vibe we hear so much about along parts of the middle coast and bay systems farther north. But as the latter weeks of October blesses us with a few cold snaps, I really look for a good fall pattern to develop as we head into November.

Although October can be generally hit and miss, there are still plenty of opportunities to have great days on the water this month. As mentioned in last month’s article, the bait migration to the gulf will be in full swing. The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) will serve as the main corridor for this and my focus will be the various types of structure it has created over the years. Spoil islands, sand bars, drop-offs, channel intersections, and miles of pothole-laden flats. With 30 miles of said structure lying between Summer House (northern end of the Land Cut) to the JFK Causeway, it can be a headscratcher deciding where to start if you are not on the water every day, and sometimes even if you are.

Birds working the edge of the ICW will be a great place to start, when you can find them. There will be many days when the fish will be right under them. However, I tend to use them mostly as an indicator to the whereabouts of large baitfish schools.

As a wade fisherman, I prefer to jump out on the bars, flats, and breaks into the mix of bait. You can certainly follow the birds with the boat, but I prefer the stealthier approach for trying to pick off the bigger fish that are hanging on the edges of the chaos.

Expect to catch a variety of species in these ventures. Redfish moving to the gulf will be right alongside some of the larger trout we are trying to catch. This has traditionally been my most effective method for finding the best October has to offer.

As my charter books start filling up for the winter and spring dates, I like to remind all of you wade fishermen/women that October is a great time to get your gear in order for the trophy season. Pull your waders on and take a walk in the swimming pool or nearby boat ramp to check for leaks before the weather turns cold. If you really want to be on the safe side, I highly recommend a new pair of quality waders such as the SIMMS G3 or G4 models. They are worth the price and will take the guesswork out of comfort and reliability for years to come.

Assuming most anglers will be using last season’s reels, now is the time to have them cleaned by a professional and re-spooled with Seaguar 40# Smackdown Braid, which is my personal favorite. You might also treat yourself to the newest models of 13 Fishing’s Concept Reels – A2 or C2.

Check your rods for nicks and dings that may have been incurred on prior fishing trips. Jimmy Burns at Waterloo Rods has the best quality rods you can buy, in my opinion. My current all-around go-to is the Waterloo Carbon Mag in 6’-9” length, however, the 6’-6” Carbon Mag might take the prize when using topwaters and Corkys.

Remember the buffalo!  -Capt. David Rowsey