South Padre: April 2011

South Padre: April 2011
Fish can be caught even in blusterous conditions as this young angler displays.
The month of February brought the Texas coast a cold surprise; the good news is most of our bays fared quite well considering the extreme three day chill. In my part of the Lower Laguna there were signs of a fish kill, but nothing like the dreadful memory of the 1983 Christmas freeze. Spring is now upon us and the worry of freezes has passed but you can rest assured weather will continue to play a major role as this is our windiest season. Already there have been numerous days when the wind howled over thirty-five mph. Lower Laguna anglers are lucky that our abundant seagrasses contribute to decent water clarity in all but the harshest gales.

On a recent trip we awoke to gusty twenty-five mph south winds with forecasted forty mph possible in the afternoon. I tried talking my client into rescheduling. His remark was, "Do you think we have a chance of catching fish today?" And to this I replied, "We will have a small window of opportunity, and yes I think we can catch fish today."

We headed to the spot where we caught plenty the day before but to my surprise even this protected area was as murky as chocolate milk. Past experiences flashed quickly through my mind as I made the decision to cross the bay, my greatest concern was the bumpy ride my client and his two boys would have to endure. Arriving at the protected shoreline we jumped off the boat into decent water with high hopes. Our first hookup came about ten minutes into our wade and soon everybody was catching fish. We were indeed lucky as this shoreline was our only option.

The reason for sharing this experience is to point out that in April we need to keep our options open. I knew from previous experience that this particular area (my second choice) could possibly hold decent water despite the windy conditions, but in retrospect I should have gone there first. Allowing yesterday's success to control your thinking for today is not always the best plan and I could have saved my party the bumpy boat had I been on my toes.

This month the fish will be roaming the warming flats chasing bait along pothole-ridden areas. Shorelines on an incoming tide as I mentioned last month will be where you would want to be especially if the high tide occurs during low light periods of early morning or late evening. It's no secret that my favorite fishing is in the winter, but for the next two months our focus will be on trout that will display their heaviest weight as their bellies will be full of roe. In the spring, spawning trout will take full advantage of strong tidal movements that occur during new moon and full moon periods. Take the time to study your moon and tide charts to know when the currents will be strongest and the fish mostly likely to feed. Homework of this type will give you an extra advantage, and we surely need all the help we can get.

This time of the year redfish will favor shrimp and crabs, of which there is currently no shortage down here. Their noses will be rooting the bottom for these critters. It will be very common to see shrimp scurrying the surface with a redfish or two in pursuit. The back lakes will fill as the tides rise and we will have plenty of new areas to explore. I have already begun to see a fair number of stingrays so don't forget to shuffle your feet and be sure you are protected with a pair of Foreverlast Ray-Guard shields or boots.Long about the second or third week of April we should be able to fold our waders and place them in the closet until next fall. Gone will be the warm headgear, the Simms fleece garments and the extra layering that kept us warm throughout the cooler months. I remind you to make sure your topwater hooks are sharpened and ready to experience bone-crushing bites on the shallow grass flats of the Laguna. Last but not least, prepare for strong southerly winds, study your charts, and do play it safe during windy conditions by always checking the weather before you head out. Look on the bright side; these strong winds will bring new Gulf water into our bay system, and that's always a good thing. Good luck in your fishing, and don't forget your homework!