Mid-Coast Bays: August 2013

Mid-Coast Bays: August 2013
Fishing in late June and early July has certainly had its ups and downs. Our full moon phase coincided with some pretty stiff southwest to west wind, which drops the tide levels drastically in our middle coast bays. If that wasn't enough to change the patterns we had a north wind come through to drop the water levels to near wintertime levels. I would rather fish a low tide than one that is bulging any day, butMan! It took me a little while to find the low tide groove but we eventually got back to some decent catching.

One type of fishing comes to mind anytime someone asks where to go to catch quality fish in the month of August. The first words out of my mouth will be "the surf." Granted there are some great fish to be had by wading the many dropoffs in San Antonio, Espiritu Santo and West Matagorda bays but the quality fish I am referring to will usually be caught in the surf averaging eighteen to twenty-three inches and you can bet we are heading there every chance. Now simply being in the surf is no guarantee, trout have tails and move up and down the beach daily, but if you put forth the effort and read all the same signs you use in the bay you should be able to locate solid action.

The first sign I look for along the beach is birds, especially my old fishing buddy the brown pelican. Pelicans are great indicators of fish presence whether sitting at the water's edge, at rest on the water, or best of all swimming in the first gut. Other birds that can lead you to feeding fish are seagulls and terns actively working or resting anywhere between the first three guts, and I always take time to investigate, my go-to bird though is the good old brown pelican.

If I can't find birds within the three gut area of the beachfront I will be keying on bait fish. I look for them schooled in rafts or hopefully some type of fleeing or fast-paced swimming in the first gut. Just like in the bay, any type of bait action is a good indication our speckled friends or a group of rowdy redfish are in the area.

Now you need an effective game plan. Some prefer staying in the boat and others cannot wait to wade. If you are going to wade the surf you need to be a little more skilled as an anchorman than is usually necessary in the bay. Pay special attention to where the waves are breaking. For wading, I prefer to anchor my boat so that it rests in the second gut. I drop the anchor on the third bar and let out line until the stern of my 24' Shallow Sport is positioned right in front of the second bar. This allows for easy access in and out using my Coastline custom boarding ladder.

Word of caution is in order here: Anytime you have waves crashing on the third bar it is probably too rough to be out there. I throw this in because I see many people trying to anchor in the surf when it is too rough and, believe me, they could find their boat swamped quicker than they can get the anchor up and get underway for its self-bailing features to work effectively. So use discretion when fishing the surf as it can be very dangerous when the wind or waves get up.

My all-time favorite surf lure is the MirrOlure She Dog in either GCRRH or CHPR color pattern. Those are the colors I find to produce most consistently but there are days when any color will do. My next choices are the Bass Assassin 5" Saltwater Shad and the Vapor Shad. I will usually start with natural colors such as Baby Bass, Houdini, or Bone Diamond on 1/8 ounce Assassin heads.

Another pair of favorites that often find their way to the end of my line in the surf are the tried and true MirrOlure 51MR18 and 51MRCH. These lures cast like bullets and the rattles definitely seem to draw more strikes than non-rattlers.

I hope you will find these surf angling tips helpful. Bear in mind that weather and water conditions can change quickly in the surf and a great day of fishing can turn to disaster suddenly if you ignore early warning signs.

Fish hard, fish smart! -Capt. Gary Gray