On Galveston: November 2011

Howdy folks! Capt. Mickey here to bring you another update on fishing in the Galveston Bays region. Well, October is out of the gate, and it's finally starting to look like fall! We've had about four cool nights in a row, and the fall pattern is beginning to come together. No bird action to speak of yet, but hopefully we have some shrimp in the marsh, and when we get these water temperatures down they will move toward the bays. We are also anxious to see the flounder run get going.

November is one of our best months for numbers of trout, as well as quality, and we are just now beginning to see some big fish pulling up on the flats. What we are looking for is the water temperature to stabilize in that magical 68 to 72 range to encourage the fish that have been holding deep all summer to move up shallower along the shorelines. One of the beautiful things about fall is that there is usually plenty of fish available for everybody to catch – deep water drifters, channel fishers, waders, etc. There's enough action in enough places that you don't see everybody bunching up and fighting for a spot.

The way the fall patterns emerge and whether or not they will remain stable has a lot to do with the shrimp migrations. It all depends on how many shrimp we have. A really great fall season is one where there's lots of shrimp, and they come out of the marsh gradually, say, over a five or six week period, not all at once. It;s gonna be anybody's guess how many shrimp are in the marsh with all the high salinity in this drought. I know that over in Louisiana, they are starting to leave the marsh, so we shouldn't be too far behind. They've had more moisture over that way, and their crop may be stronger than ours, but I'm still anxious to see what happens in Calcasieu to get an early read on what might happen over here in a few weeks.

I know what you're going to say, there's Ol' Mick playing that broken record again, but the fishing across the Galveston System is holding about as good as I believe I have ever seen it. What else can I say, though; it is what it is! Yes, we had to contend with some blistering wind at certain times, but in between blows when the conditions got right, we have just flat caught the fire out of fish. East Bay has just been full of fish, Trinity is full of fish, lower Galveston, West Bay, and all the Tri-Bay area (Chocolate, Christmas, Bastrop) have all been good. All the bays are just healthy and full of fish which leads me to be very optimistic looking at our late fall and winter fishing season.

Topwaters are starting to work a little bit for shoreline waders, and we are doing pretty good in general working the deeper outskirts of the flats. These fish went from that hot weather dead-in-the-middle deep water pattern over shell to finally heading into shell in four to five feet and now the deeper edges of the flats. This is an indication to me that these fish are going to go skinny, and it is just a matter of when. If you can be there when they pull in, its going to be awesome.

Lets talk some more about that shrimp migration puzzle and the rest of the bait picture. If the shrimp turn out to be scarce, then the emphasis will be on the mullet much earlier than normal. Typically, mullet do not become the primary forage until about mid-December, but don't bank on that being the case this year. Just thinking out loud here. We have a transition to go through before anything will be set in stone as they say.

Everybody has just been smoking the reds... everywhere. Reports say they have been holding shallow and deep. I am hearing a lot of stories; some guys are saying knee deep and less. I haven't caught any that shallow or fished that shallow yet because I have had very few wade fisherman, but I have been working my boat on the flats and throwing into knee deep water. I'm not seeing them that shallow yet.

The basic question regarding redfish is how many do you want to catch? If you ride the trolling motor along the waist deep edges of the flats and avoid spooking the schools with your big engine, I believe you can have a 50-fish day anytime the conditions are anywhere close to being right. These schools have been feeding daylight to dark on little bitty shrimp that have just lately come out of the marsh. Even those big old cownose rays are in there with the redfish working those tiny shrimp over.

November looks to be a good month; whether or not it will be one for the record books will depend on bird action, and of course that goes back to the shrimp migration. East Bay has some scattered bird action, but they're not working the class of fish we are interested in just yet. A lot of small specks and tons of little sand trout. I was talking to James Plagg the other day; he went over and worked these birds all morning and ended up with about a half-dozen keepers. It's not time yet. It needs to get a little bit colder. Our skipjacks and gafftops are finally starting to leave, showing up down along the Galveston beachfront, and that's a good sign.

Speaking of the beachfront, when it is laid down and green, they are still catching good numbers of trout, but the big bonus is the redfish. Bull reds are just everywhere from Sabine Pass all the way to San Luis Pass. There are just tons of big bull reds being caught in the surf right now. That should hold for another three weeks, at least. Reports are coming out that croaker are showing up in the Intracoastal Waterway and along the Texas City Dike. The flounder run will be next.

Soft plastics and spoons are working pretty good right now. I had a guy the other day throwing spoons, and he caught a lot more fish than the rest of us on plastic.
It just tickles me sometimes how one lure will work so well one day, and then it's another lure the next day. Fish can't seem to make up their mind in these transition periods. I have a feeling the best fishing of the entire year is only a couple of cold fronts away from happening. I know it's still dove season, and the archery deer season is underway, but my prediction is that you need to leave that stuff alone for a few days and hit the water. I think we're in for a record month.