Mid-Coast Bays: September 2017

Mid-Coast Bays: September 2017
Julie didn’t mind striking a pose with this solid trout.

The end of summer is just around the corner and I can hardly wait. Despite the heat, our summer fishing has been very good but I look forward to the cooler days when I won't have sweat running into my eyes as we prepare for our first wade of the day.

Fish have held predictably in the same summertime pattern for the last month and I look for that to continue until we receive our first couple of cool fronts. I know it sounds farfetched but typically, in years past, our first fronts begin to appear somewhere around the second or third week of September. Until those fronts begin to arrive more regularly, fish will continue to stage along sandy shorelines that have guts and grassy patches adjacent to nearby drop-offs. The surf will continue to offer good opportunity for both trout and redfish throughout September when the weather allows us to fish it safely.

As of late, we have had many days of southwest wind which, while not rare this time of year, is definitely not the norm. The predominant wind direction in August is generally from the south with some southeast that helps push very pretty green water from the Gulf into our bays. Southwesterly flows do the exact opposite, pushing water out and turning the bays murky to sometimes muddy in color. But, even with the southwest wind and murky water conditions, fishing has remained good for us in San Antonio Bay.

When fishing the reefs in San Antonio Bay, I prefer the leeward side of the structure, beginning at the crown of the reef and wading and casting toward the deeper drop-offs. Given the elevated water temperatures this time of year, the majority of strikes will come near the bottom of the deeper areas where the water is a little cooler. Working your baits slowly is the best bet, allowing your jigs to bounce off the bottom every so often. Hanging up on shell occasionally is part of the game because it means your lure is running where the fish are most likely to be feeding.

I have been having the most luck lately using Bass Assassin 4-inch Sea Shads in the copperhead-chartreuse tail combination rigged on 1/8-ounce jig heads. You definitely want the vibration from the paddle tail and flash of chartreuse when fishing off-colored water. I believe fish pick up on vibrations first and notice color only after they have zeroed in on what is making the vibration.

Some days you have to take the good with the bad. Don't be surprised if you suddenly hit the motherload of gafftop catfish mixed into a few trout bites. These guys can be a real pain when you are in the middle of a good trout bite but don't let them persuade you to throw your hands up and vacate the area – unless the gafftops are the only fish that want your lures.

On days when the wind makes it difficult to fish reefs in open bay areas, we head instead to the leeward shorelines of San Antonio Bay. The most productive areas are usually close to drains or sloughs that connect to large areas of marsh and back lakes. The best signs for selecting a likely place to find trout and reds feeding would be bait presence and bird activity – especially pelicans.

Another great thing about the coming of fall is the general increase in tide levels. We spend quite a bit of time fishing back lakes and the seagrasses have been exceptionally thick this year, making many prime areas off limits to fishing through much of summer. As the hours of daylight grow shorter the grass will begin to diminish, and the higher tides improves the chances of getting a lure through the grassy areas. I am excited to return to some of my favorite fall season haunts.

If you are planning a wading trip this month, be advised that we have been seeing a lot of what Gary and I call “hot jellies.” Sea nettles, is their proper name – with long stringy tentacles that deliver nasty stings when they wrap your legs. They are sometimes hard to see in murky water and often sneak up on you from behind. The best defense is wearing long, lightweight fishing pants when you wade. Believe me when I say that you do not want to learn about them the hard way – wear the pants!