South Padre: April 2010

South Padre: April 2010
These guys got on a good trout bite despite the stained water.
Last month I stated that I hated to see the cold winter weather leave us. What I should have said was I hated to see the winter fishing pattern come to an end. I never thought I would say this but I am anxious for the spring wind to blow. Thanks to almost constant north wind over the past several weeks, the brown tide that was confined to the Land Cut area north of Port Mansfield has migrated down the Laguna Madre all the way to South Bay. The fish are still here, but as of early March it has been tough catching them on lures in the tea-colored water. We have already seen the tide levels building as they always do in the spring and hopefully strong southerly wind and a good push of Gulf water into the bays will improve the water clarity.

There is both good and bad in the brown tide. The good side is that it reduces the catch for a time and overall this is good for the present fishery. The bad side is that reduced water clarity blocks the sunlight from nourishing the seagrass beds and the seagrasses provide critical habitat for all marine life in the Laguna Madre.

Not all of our water has completely turned a dark tea color. Some of the areas we have been fishing have had visibility of six to twelve inches. We continue to throw suspending lures and Gambler paddletails rigged weedless with Gamakatsu Weighted Spring Lock hooks. With the water remaining fairly cold, the best retrieve has been a slow one dragged along the grass beds and into sandy potholes. Topwaters have yet to produce consistently but we have had a few days where it warmed up enough on the flats to fool redfish on top. Surely, as the water continues to warm up in April, so shall the topwater bite.

I mentioned last month that potholes are good producers in the spring months and April is when it really gets going. Look for redfish and trout to be stationed in these sandy holes. Pay attention to what's chasing your bait. This is the time of year when piggy perch will chase your lure all the way to the boat and piggies make excellent forage for trout and reds. With the onset of spring the skipjacks will once again roam the sand; trout and redfish will also begin using the sandy shallows on the east side as feeding grounds. Stingrays will also become more numerous in shallow water, so be careful wading.

During April and continuing into May our trout will be in full spawn and congregating over mixed sand-grass bottoms along shorelines swept by strong currents. I personally favor late afternoon and evening with incoming tide. By late afternoon the flats have warmed and this is one of the keys. Remember that the water will cool overnight during early spring which means fish may feed better after everything warms later in the day.

Biologists say the trout prefer to spawn in strong current. The new and full moon periods of spawning season have always been good for me and I believe it is because the tides run strongest at these times. Late evening wades around the full moon is a good choice when targeting big trout. Find a good concentration of bait on a flat where there is a good tidal flow. If it happens to be near a gut or channel I think it will increase your chances in finding a trophy. Please remember to practice catch and release so they can continue to spawn and enrich our bays.

I also expect that April will bring a good topwater redfish bite as they once again roam the flats on a consistent basis. Boat traffic will definitely increase as anglers from all over the state get the itch to be on the water. Please remember to exercise good on-the-water etiquette and also around the docks and launches. Nobody enjoys confrontations, so please be patient and kind.

As I write this I am hoping and praying for the tide to rise and the south wind to blow this ugly, stained water out of our pristine Lower Laguna Madre. Don't forget to sharpen those hooks and spool your reels with new line. Having your boats engine serviced before making the first trip of spring is also a good idea. Best of luck in the chase for a memory of a lifetime.