Mid-Coast Bays: November 2015

Mid-Coast Bays: November 2015
Travis Gilliland—hooked up on his first-ever wade fishing trip with Capt. Gary Gray last fall.

Cooler weather has finally arrived and the fishing has been remarkable. Every year at this time, as the days get cooler and the water temperatures drop, the fishing really heats up. Cooler temperatures rejuvenate every species that lives in salt water and it is evident when it comes to catching.

With shorter days and cooler weather the widgeon grass that is currently overly abundant in our back lakes will begin to diminish, making it much easier to fish with lures. If you aren't much of a believer when it comes to surface lures, now is the time to tie one on and give it a whirl. Cooler water temperatures make for more aggressive feeding habits and topwaters really shine during this time.

On calmer days I prefer the smaller and less obnoxious plugs such as the Super Spook Jr.; clear and bone are two of my favorites. Windy conditions give us surface chop and for this I prefer a noisier plug and the MirrOlure She Dog really gets their attention. There really is no wrong way to work a surface plug; the fish will tell you the speed and how vigorously you should twitch it. Every day is different. Some days I notice that the fish will blow up or make a pass at my topwater while working a fast retrieve but not totally commit unless I slow it down. And vice-versa, working it slow some days will not compel fish to take it until I speed it up. Watch how the baitfish in the area are acting. Quite often we find if the bait is very active making lots of jumps and swirls, fish are usually more apt to take a topwater while twitching and retrieving it faster, mimicking the bait.

Look for fish to start moving off the hard sandy shorelines toward the somewhat darker, grassy-bottomed back lakes. Shell reefs will also be a go-to spot for us and this time of year San Antonio Bay really shows her best side. The salinity levels have finally returned to normal and just in time for some fabulous fall fishing. Look for birds hovering over schools of hungry trout and redfish as they feed on shrimp migrating out of the estuaries into the open bay, working their way toward the Gulf passes.

Finding "working" birds is definitely a no-brainer but there will be many days when the birds are not active and you will have to find fish the old-fashioned way. With so many shell reefs in San Antonio Bay it can be a dilemma when it comes to deciding which one to try first. Best clue to look for is bait movement of some sort. If you do not see active bait, don't waste your time. If there are fish on a certain reef it is because there is bait staged there. Most often these hungry fish will be hanging just on the drop-off waiting to make their move to bait that gets too far off the protection of the shallow crown of the reef but, during fall with the bull tides, the crown is sometimes covered by two feet or more water. If you're fishing a bull tide always work the crown before heading straight to the drop-offs.

Speaking of bull tides, with the seasonally higher water levels, don't forget to venture into some of the back lakes and ponds you would not normally be able to access during lower water levels. Redfish will be taking advantage of this scenario and will push further back into ponds and lakes following crabs, grass shrimp and smaller baitfish. Fishing in smaller quarters will deem it necessary to downsize your offering. A good option to try is Bass Assassins' scented Die Dapper on a 1/8 ounce lightweight jighead. Redfish that are found in smaller areas tend to spook easier; downsizing your bait size is a must in order to be successful.

If you haven't already checked your waders for leaks now is a good time to do so. Leaky waders on your first trip out in cooler water temperatures can sure ruin a good day of fishing. A swimming pool is a great place to check for leaks!

Thanksgiving is upon us so in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Gary and I would like to say "Thank You" to all of our friends, family, clients and sponsors that have helped us become so successful in doing what we love. We hope your Thanksgiving will be a wonderful one celebrated with great food surrounded by family and friends.