South Padre: August 2019

South Padre: August 2019
Mike Romano with his first Texas snook, and a trophy at that.

Just recently a young lady shared her experience of a snorkeling trip on the Lower Laguna. She related that as some of the workers on the charter vessel prepared the people with snorkeling gear, others entered the water with trays of fish food. She went on to say that immediately the fish knew a buffet was about to be served as the fish gathered by the dozens to be fed. This technique of attracting fish surprised me, but it made sense in assuring the paying snorkel clients would get the max viewing opportunity of all the creatures in the water.

The thought of baiting (chumming) an area I plan to fish had never really crossed my mind. However, as a fishing guide, it became quickly apparent that the way we target bait concentrations is very similar.   

Redfish action continues to be steady, but something I have noticed lately with all the summer boat traffic, redfish have definitely taken to more remote areas, well away from the outboard noise and fishing pressure.

Redfish tend to move up on the skinny grass and sand flats during the early hours but retreat to deeper and cooler water come mid-morning. Currently, we are also finding scattered reds along the ICW drop-off during the hottest part of the day. Sandy potholes off spoil islands have also been productive areas to target. Even with water temps ranging mid-80s to 90 degrees, we are managing to find a redfish bite in these waist-deep holes when the tide is falling in late-afternoon.

August can be a stormy month, with tropical depressions and possibly hurricanes developing in the Gulf. Should this be the case this summer, I expect elevated tides will change redfish patterns, causing them to scatter as more acres of quiet water become available.

The KWiggler Ball Tall Shad in Plum-Chartreuse continues to be our hot redfish bait, followed closely by Mansfield Margarita. The Willow Tail Shad in Turtle Grass is another good producer when they seem to prefer more natural colors. The topwater bite has been sporadic at best in recent weeks.

Anglers targeting trout in the Lower Laguna have surely noticed the abundance of smaller fish this summer. These fish are the stock of the future, so please handle them as carefully as possible to accomplish a healthy release. I can say we are not catching full limits of trout as the hot weather has shortened the windows of opportunity but fishing the moving tides has undoubtedly helped us get on a few.

The bigger trout are still around but scattered, and their continued weight loss as spawning continues is greatly evident. If you plan to release the big ones, it's critical that you don't stress them too long because with this hot weather, their stamina and  tolerance to handling is much lower than normal.

Trout are very sensitive to water temperature, which means locating the better ones usually means keeping a close eye on my water temperature gauge. Locating structure that would normally hold feeding fish often gives us few bites when the water temps rise toward the high-80s and 90s.

What's acceptable water temperature? Right now, I would say anything less than 81° holds the greatest promise. It has been a while since I've seen my water temperature gauge showing anything in the 70s. So, it goes without saying, the bite will deep, near bottom, and slow retrieves with soft plastics have become the most productive method. Low and slow may not be the most exciting way to fish, nearly everybody would prefer throwing topwaters, but that’s the way it is and will likely remain throughout the month.

Flounder have easily been the biggest surprise so far this summer, and catching them has been a great bonus compared to the past three years. We are picking up several per day without specifically targeting them. Concentrating efforts on cuts and drains, and along the ICW drop-offs, will provide even more bites.

Snook fishing has been off the charts this summer as we continue to see and catch them in areas that have never held snook in my memory. I stress careful handling and 100% catch and release on my charters in hope that this fishery will continue to thrive for many years to come.

In closing, I would like to recognize all my sponsors that make my passion and guiding business successful: Fishing Tackle Unlimited, Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, Simms, Costa, KWiggler, AFW, AFTCO, Coastline Trailers, Majek Boats, Shimano, Power-Pole, and Ron Hoover RV and Marine of Donna.

Best fishing!