Fall is finally upon us and there are many reasons I look forward to this season. At the risk of losing my Man Card I must admit I love it when Shellie starts putting up fall decorations around the house. She will have the pumpkins with girl and boy scarecrows on the porch. She will even have the house smelling of fall with essential oil burners and funny looking dried bouquets.
The other thing that gets me just as fired up this time of year is the fishing. We will have diminishing humidity, due to cool fronts becoming a bit more frequent. Our water levels are already where they should be for this time of year so everything seems to be in order for another great fall fishing season.
I will be dividing my time between a variety of fishing areas and chasing a variety of species between now and December, or when the first real cold fronts hit the area, whichever comes first. Here’s a quick rundown.
Let’s start with nearshore fishing. During fall I run charters for tarpon, sharks, bull reds and anything else that gets in the way of my Shallow Sport X3 filled with excited clients.
Schooling tarpon can often be seen just off the beachfront. We use large spinning reels mounted on Waterloo Tarpon Tamer rods to make long casts with a variety of artificial lures. The lure with the best track record on my charters is the Coon Pop jig. My favorite plastic for this application is the 8” Kalin’s Chartreuse Hologram Octocambo Curlytail. In addition to tarpon this rig will catch virtually any species you come across - sharks, bull reds, or larger mackerel.
When my clients are not into sightcasting schooling and rolling fish we anchor in a pass or along the beach and use live mullet about 7- to 8-inches to get the job done.
West Matagorda Bay gets a lot of my attention when clients want to target trout and slot reds. The fishing in this bay has been phenomenal through spring and summer and should only get better as the water starts to cool off. Fishing this bay in fall you will see large rafts of mullet on the shorelines – migrating toward the gulf where they spawn.
Pick your wading areas based upon irregular shoreline features – points, narrow coves, drains, and reefs. All of these offer predators places to ambush migrating mullet and other forage species.
We’re big believers in Saltwater Assassins, especially the Magic Grass and Bone Diamond colors, rigged on the Bass Assassin 1/16-ounce jighead (#05001). These two colors perform well as both light and dark shade lures.
When West Matagorda is not paying off or a hard cold front leaves the shorelines blown to hell, I usually head to San Antonio Bay and work protected shorelines or the back lakes of Matagorda Island.
The good thing about the San Antonio Bay system is that you can always find protected water. Granted you may have to share that water with more folks but we all will just have to make the best of it.
Another productive aspect of San Antonio Bay in early-fall is that each passing cold front pushes another batch of shrimp out of the Guadalupe Delta marshes. As soon as the wind calms and the water clarity is decent again you will see my Shallow Sport X3 hopping between mid-bay reefs. The white shrimp will be riding the currents, headed toward the gulf, and any portion of a reef that is swept by tide or wind-generated current can be a hotspot.
I want to mention fishing rods, namely my trusty Waterloo HP Lites and also the “new and improved” Ultra Mag, now with ten line guides. Both of these rods are great for fishing soft plastics as well as your favorite topwater plugs. The Ultra Mag has a more prominent backbone than the HP Lite, meaning that it’s a little stiffer from the handle to about 3/4 of its length where it incorporates a light tip. That light tip on both models is essential to casting distance and detecting light strikes. Favorite Saltwater Assassins for imitating white shrimp will be the Bone Diamond or Sugar and Spice.
So, with all the good fishing that will be available this fall season, I urge all anglers to be mindful of the weather, especially wary of approaching cold fronts. Our mid-coast bays can turn dangerously ugly in the space of few minutes and the middle of the bay is no place to be when it happens.
Fish hard, fish smart!