On Galveston: October 2011

Howdy sports fans! Capt. Mickey here to bring everybody up to speed on what's been happening across the Galveston Bay region and what we might expect during the month of October. Let me tell you, it is truly a pleasure to be bringing such a positive report.

Now if you haven't already heard, September can be one of those up and down months. Depending the tides and the weather it can be awesome or it can turn out to be four more weeks of August and the fishing can get pretty slow. I don't know what we did to deserve it but for the past month and a half we have just been tearing them up. This is the best late summer-early fall fishing I have seen in all my years. We had to work around some rather nasty southwest wind back in the latter part of August and September opened with a 100 degree norther over Labor Day (first I'd ever seen) but that all settled down and we're right back to catching 'em. I have heard of lots of limits by 7:00 am and I know these guys. I don't think they're pulling my leg.

Up here on Trinity Bay, trout fishing has been very steady. We have been working the wells nearly every day, all down through the middle of the bay, the old Sun Oil and Exxon wells, most of them have been holding fish. The ones with the big pads on the south end have been best; lots of fish stacked up on that shell. Soft plastics like the Lil John, which is turning out to be an incredible bait, (I nicknamed it The Suppository), has been a steady producer for us. It is kind of slug shaped and doesn't look like it would have much natural action but it darts like crazy when you jig it and the fish love it. Another soft bait that has been doing real well for us around these wells is the Tidal Surge split tail mullet.

I haven't been fishing East Bay much of late but I hear of some good catches when the water is clean. It really gets gutted on a southwest or west wind and that's the way we have been starting our mornings. Believe it or not, from the reports I have getting, even with all this heat, the best bite has really been about 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

I think redfish are taking over the world. In the last month big herds have been showing up all over the place and during the past week or so they have really begun to pull up shallow. We kind of lost those big herds for a while probably just hanging out in the middle of the bay somewhere but let me tell you they're back. Shoreline waders are tearing them up every day in lots of places, bulls too, way too big to keep. It's all a good sign; tells me we've got a very healthy bay system right now and we're going to be in good shape for the future.

It is really amazing to me the changes we have been seeing in our trout fishery. Just last winter TPW scheduled meetings all along the coast and came out asking everybody if they thought is was time to reduce the limit. Now I know there for a couple of years the fishing was not nearly as good as it is right now, but honestly folks, what I'm seeing so far this year and especially this summer looks like the heyday of the Galveston Bay System back in the 80s. The only significant difference I can see in the present fishery and what we had back in the 80s would be lower numbers of bigger trout, fish heavier than five and six pounds. Our numbers are solid right now and we have lots of fish up to 23-24 inches, some surprisingly long males too, maybe well begin to see the numbers of heavier fish increasing over the next year or two. I hope so. Some of the biologists say this is what you get when a major hurricane like Ike stirs up the sediment and nutrients in the marshes and the upper parts of the estuary. Ike was a disaster and I'm never going to wish for another hurricane but I sure like what I'm seeing in the trout fishery.

I mentioned the big herds of redfish we have been seeing lately and I want to talk more about how to catch fish from a big school, especially when they are holding in deeper water. Reds are naturally going to give you a longer battle in deep water than when they are caught in the shallows; that's just the way it is. It is also a fact that the longer you have to fight a fish the more things can go wrong. For years we had to put up with monofilament line. Thank God for braided line; it has just about eliminated break-offs on strong redfish. You see what happens sometimes is that we get into so many big redfish and you're fighting one, he cruises back through the herd, then pretty soon another redfish runs into you line. With mono, those other fish rubbing against a really tight line just cuts it off, but with the braided stuff we no longer have that problem; it's that much tougher and abrasion resistant.

You've probably heard what's been going on in the surf. When that surf is flat and green to the beach, at least in the early part of the day, those dawn patrol guys have been scoring field days with the trout. There have also been good numbers of redfish and Spanish mackerel being caught out there. I look for this to continue well into early fall, conditions permitting of course.

So let's size up our prospects for October. We have lots of fish, trout and reds, and the catching has been pretty easy all through summer. Right off the bat you'd think the fall fishing will be a slam dunk, and hopefully it will. But I have a couple of concerns. First is that dreaded H word. We have at least another month to go before we can let our guard down. Next is salinity. With this drought situation still going on and freshwater inflow all but dried up, our bay salinity is really beginning to shoot up there. I checked salinity last week close to the mouth of the Trinity River and found it to be 28 ppt. Over in Jack's Pocket it was 32 ppt. This is the saltiest I have ever seen Trinity Bay. Continued high salinity will take a toll on the shrimp crops, and as you probably already know, the overall shrimp population and their migrations have great influence on trout fishing. Pray for rain... not a flood... just a good old fashioned soaking rain.