Whew... October is finally here! I have been anticipating this month with the cold fronts getting stronger and a chill in the morning air. Hopefully the days of dripping sweat before you can untie from the dock are all behind us and we can settle into some pleasant weather and steady autumn fishing patterns.
In the last couple of weeks I have seen little hints of the seasons changing. There are a lot more birds working over shrimp in San Antonio, Mission, Hynes and Guadalupe Bays. The fall shrimp migration is on! It will really kick into high gear when we get the first really strong fronts, then you will start catching the heavier reds and larger trout. This exodus of shrimp from nursery waters will normally last into December with some amount of bird activity, depending on the water temperatures.
October strategies should not change a lot from the strategies I used in September. The only noticeable difference is that patterns become more defined and the catching is steadier.
Surf fishing gets better for redfish and will certainly bring out the red drum fisherman in you. I have had some unbelievable surf trips in October. Hit it right and you will catch some real brutes, and plenty slot fish too.
Fishing the marsh drains of West Matagorda, Espiritu Santo, San Antonio, and Mesquite bays will really get good during the strong tidal movements of the fall season. I start my wade as far away from the drain as bait activity indicates there might be feeding underway, slowly working toward the drain itself. A couple favorite lures around the drains are the Bass Assassin 4 Sea Shad or 5Die Dapper, depends on the average size of bait present. Of course your Top Dog Jr, Top Pups, She Dogs and She Pups can also be solid choices. Work visible structure carefully along with any bait commotion you might come across.
The birds in Upper San Antonio Bay really get going following the first few frontal systems. Concentrate your efforts in the region north of ICW. Be very careful navigating lots of reefs and other obstructions not marked on your GPS.
My favorite in October is fishing the many reefs on the upper end of San Antonio Bay. I will almost always concentrate my efforts on the side of the reef that tapers slowly into deeper water. This means the western edge of the reef in most cases. On this side of the reefs there are more points jutting out or different contours in the bottom than the other side which will usually just drop off into deeper water and turn to mud quicker.
When wading or drifting these oyster shell reefs I will always have my faithful Saltwater Assassins in slammin chicken, hot chicken or baby bass colors. All of these are good shrimp imitators. I like both the 5-inch Shad and also the 4-inch Sea Shad, I will let the fish dictate which lure I choose during the day. I will rig these on Assassin 1/16 ounce jigheads. There are a couple of tips to help you better your day on the reefs.
One thing to remember when wading the shell is to always keep your movements to a minimum, meaning when you are wading, walk slowly and make fan casts, the more you walk the more crunching the fish hear from your feet on the shell. Number two is to always stop as soon as someone in your group hooks up. I see it all the time, someone hooks up and he or his buddy keeps moving into the fish, pushing them away. There is no reason to move forward once you are catching fish unless they stop biting. Which usually means you pushed them away or they just moved. The most important thing is do not block someone elses wade on any reef. This holds true on any shoreline. It gets worse every year but this year I have seen seasoned wade anglers pulling in on me when they see a rod bent over. I repeat do not block a wade!
If you are pulling into a reef that someone else is already wading and they are wading towards you, give them some room or go behind them. Better yet find your own reef to wade, there are a lot of reefs out there. I am not trying to say those guys own the bay or that reef, all I am saying is get there earlier next time or quit looking for fish using the bent rod theory.Fish hard, fish smart!