Mid-Coast Bays: October 2010

Mid-Coast Bays: October 2010
Tyler Boaz and Zach Stalder with a pair of West Matagorda Bay reds.
October means different things to different folks. Some will be filling deer feeders and checking game cameras while others will be working on duck blinds. To me it means fewer fishermen on the water during my favorite season.

The first puff of north wind automatically turns my thoughts to the bird action that will be taking place in San Antonio Bay. Hynes Bay, Guadalupe Bay and Mission Bay, the portions of the San Antonio Bay system that lie closest to the Guadalupe delta marshes, are where the action usually begins. As of early September there are already birds over schools of small specks and lots of gafftop. The trout size will increase dramatically over the next couple of weeks depending on the weather, meaning better trout will show under the birds as the water temps begin to drop and the fall shrimp migrations are in full swing.

When fishing the birds you can rig any lure just about any way you like and catch plenty of fish when the bite is hot. My method is a little different in that it keeps the bait right in front of the fish, even for folks not accustomed to jigging soft plastics, and this helps them catch fish even during a slower bite. I like to suspend the baits about eighteen inches below a float and my favorite is the Bass Assassin Kwik Cork. The Kwik Cork makes a lot of slapping and clicking noise and this attracts fish at the same time it holds the bait in the feeding zone. The trout, you see, are pushing the shrimp to the surface, so keeping the bait high in the water column makes sense. Plus, I love the look on my customer's faces when I first break out the "bobbers."

Let me tell you how this got started. Back when I was a little guy growing up in Seadrift we loved going to the head of the bay to fish the birds. Our favorite bait was Ray Carville's old Double Worm Puzzler, but we also used anything we could find in my dad's tackle box. Since we knew very little about rigging lures I said, "Heck, put a cork on it." Well, putting a cork over these lures worked so well that I'm still doing it today. And if you run into my dad at Charlie's Bait Camp; please don't tell him where all his Humps and Bingos went.

When fishing the birds, no matter where you are on the coast, there are a couple of rules that apply. First When you find a flock of gulls over a school of trout, never run into them with the big motor. Use your trolling motor for the last two hundred feet, or if you have no trolling motor, cut the outboard and drift in. Second and most important Never horn in on another man's birds. Give them room and quite often they will invite you to join the action.

By now you have probably already deduced that it really doesn't matter what color or style soft plastic you throw at fish that are gorging themselves on shrimp and shad under the birds. But if you want to change it up, try topwaters, you will have the time of your life throwing the She Dog, He Dog, Top Dog Jr. and Top Pup.

If I have talked you into trying topwaters, I'd like to ask that you please replace the treble hooks with singles. There are going to be undersized trout and some other species you may not want to take home for dinner and the single hooks will cause far less injury to the fish you will be releasing. Heck, Shellie and I even throw plugs with no hooks just to see the fish come up and smack them. It gets crazy watching three or four small trout fighting over the same plug. This may not be your cup of tea before you have your dinner fish iced down but it is a genuine hoot when you want to keep fishing and having fun after you have several in the box.

In closing I would like to remind everyone of the upcoming duck seasons. Please be on the lookout for blinds and decoy spreads where folks are set up and hunting. Give them plenty of room whether you are drifting, wading or just motoring through. Good on-the-water etiquette is simply using commonsense and treating people the way you would like to be treated. If we can all learn to be on our best behavior all the time, we can all have a lot more fun on the water.

Fish hard, fish smart!