South Padre: August 2020

South Padre: August 2020
AJ Harmon's first redfish while wading.

So here’s a little funny for you, with a bit of a serious twist. I have noticed recently that I can measure daily fishing success by the number of snacks I eat during a charter. The slower the bite the more I tend to eat. When we are enjoying a steady bite I eat less as I am preoccupied with fishing. I’ve put on a few extra pounds over the past month. That ought to tell you something.

We are now into the hottest part of summer with water temperatures continuously rising. This factor alone can put a damper on fishing success, but never in all my experience can I recall a summer when it has been so difficult to locate fish and get them to bite on a consistent basis. With fishing participation and boat traffic at all-time highs, even the tucked-away places I relied upon for years have been letting me down. There’s no such thing as a secret spot nowadays, and I believe our fish have changed their patterns because of it.

The majority of our fish are coming from deeper water compared to the past few months and fish in shallow water are becoming nearly impossible to approach without spooking them. Water temperatures are averaging high-80s and occasionally reaching the mid-90s, which always causes a picky bite. Topwater action has been slower than normal and most of our catches are being made with KWigglers Ball Tails on 1/4-ounce heads rather than our 1/8-ounce to keep the baits lower in deeper water.

But all is not doom and gloom. August is traditionally a rainy month for us as tropical weather events become more frequent. These storms push our tides way above normal and the influx of water from the Gulf helps reduce bay water temperatures. Cloud cover helps, too. Higher tides give us more acres of fishable water in the back bays and fish feed more predictably in cooler water.

Summertime boat traffic has pushed the majority of our redfish off the flats and into deeper water. Bumping bottom with soft plastics has been our best presentation. With the rise in tides mentioned above, I expect to see redfish returning to shorelines, edges of spoils, and back bays on the west side. Keep a weedless gold spoon handy. Hopefully, we’ll see better topwater action. Meanwhile, a pocketful of KWigglers Ball Tails and Willow Tails is probably the surest way for getting your line stretched. 

Until about a month ago, our trout were running very solid; many mid-twenty-inchers and a few upper-twenties. As the water temps reached the upper-80s the trout numbers increased but the average size declined. If the reduction in water temps I am predicting actually happens, I expect to begin seeing even greater numbers and improved size as well.

Most of our trout effort has been focused along and near the ICW and deeper, green water of old oilfield cuts. There have been lots of small fish but a limit of decent keepers can be found during solunar feeding periods when the tide is moving. This is also the time of year when stingrays can be most numerous and, believe it or not, the rays are often trailed by both trout and reds taking advantage of bait they flush from the bottom. Keep a close watch, not only to avoid stepping on one, but also for the gamefish trailing them.

Slicks are always a good sign that trout are feeding. Most of the clues are visual but their sweet aroma drifting on the wind should alert you to feeding activity occurring upwind, behind you while wading. Slicks popping repeatedly from an area are often a sign of productive bottom structure you might have overlooked and always worth investigating. Hopefully this Covid-19 thing will settle down and schools will reopen later in the month. Reduced boat traffic and cooler water temps should provide a nice boost to our trout fishing success.

The flounder and snook bites have been rather disappointing so far this summer. We haven't ruled out the snook just yet, a bunch of rain could be the spark we need. Snook thrive when the salinity declines due to rainfall and runoff. Flounder have been hard to find, even in known hotspots. Hopefully, they too will bounce back soon.  

Between changes in our weather patterns, schools (hopefully) reopening soon, reduced boat traffic, and some anglers shifting priorities toward upcoming hunting seasons, I am excited about August’s fishing prospects…especially the latter half of the month. The best fishing of summer is right around the corner!