Mid-Coast Bays: September 2011

Mid-Coast Bays: September 2011
Wayne Norrell with a nice oversized redfish caught in less than 2 foot of water - released.

It seems as though we anglers here on the mid-coast are never really happy with the weather. Our winter here was blustery cold with so many bone chilling days that I couldn't wait for the warm and glorious days of summer to return. Well here we are in the midst of Augusts legendary dog days and let me tell you I can't wait for those winter days to return - minus the bone chilling gusts of course. Speaking of wind, I cannot recall a spring and summer that could top what we've had this year. Choppy and frothy conditions kept me away from my favorite mid-bay reefs in Espiritu Santo and San Antonio Bay on a regular basis through June, July and some of August. Here lately we have been getting more good days on average and we have certainly taken advantage, but in general they have been too few.

It is no secret that fishing deeper water is imperative when it comes to catching numbers of trout in this heat. As I said in my last article, early morning starts are a must and is the best time to see good action on topwaters. I still prefer the smaller topwaters like the Super Spook Jr. in Okie Shad or a bone Skitter Walk. If fishing shallow for reds I will still be casting the Spook Jr. and Skitter Walk but will have someone throwing Mann's Bait Waker in Holographic Croaker color. Once the temperature starts to rise so does the floating grass. This is when I will go weedless. Of course this applies primarily to back lake and marsh areas, not open bay water.

With seasonally calmer winds in September I prefer to use the buddy system when fishing the open bay reefs. Instead of fishing only the windward side of the reefs I will spread customers out to both sides. This allows us to saturate the water on either side of the reef with many casts and can make finding a solid bite easier than only working one section. Bait and/or birds are still important when deciding which reef to hit. Subsurface bait is good but I really get excited when I see flipping and fleeing mullet. No, I don't mean mullet doing belly busters and acrobatic flips. I am talking about the ones that look like they are involved in a police chase running and skipping two, three and four times. This is about as good as it gets when looking for signs of feeding fish. You would be surprised how many anglers I get that don't know to cast towards a fleeing mullet when they see one.

As of late, Bass Assassin's 5 Die Dapper in the Houdini color has been working extremely well. This soft plastic is enhanced with Bass Assassins BANG fish attractant and their new liquid salt. I rig mine on an 1/8 ounce jighead tied to an eight-inch leader. This lure casts easily and seems to be a little more buoyant than other soft plastics so I tend to work my retrieve slower as well. During this hottest time of year enticing fish to hit an artificial lure can be more difficult so I am not too proud to say that you will find me using scented baits more often than usual to help make those hesitant fish a little more cooperative.

I am really concerned with the lack of rain that we have had this year. San Antonio Bay depends on freshwater inflow from the San Antonio and Guadalupe Rivers to help keep our estuary alive and productive. Our marshes which are nursery grounds for many species are highly dependent on freshwater from the rivers as well as local runoff to help keep the salinity levels normal. The Guadalupe River Delta region has historically been one of the richest estuaries on the Texas coast. The many forage species that thrive in the delta lands and marsh are very important to the future of our gamefish fisheries. And it's not just about the shrimp and crabs and baitfish it's also about the various species of aquatic plants and seagrasses. Plant life too is dependent on inflow and runoff and plants play a huge role in the health of a marsh and bay system. So I can't help but wonder what long term effect this current drought will have on the health and productivity of our beloved bays. Pray for rain and cooler weather!