South Padre: July 2012

South Padre: July 2012

Finally the wind has begun to diminish from the constant 30-35 mph and we can once again locate concentrations of redfish on the flats by the prominent wakes they make. Lighter boat traffic on the flats helps the schools to stay together better but we cannot always pick our days.

During calm conditions in clear, skinny water; small topwaters such as the Heddon Zara Puppy have become some of my favorites for tricking redfish to bite. Redfish tend to be very skittish in shallow water, and the Zara Puppy without rattles does not make the surface noise like most topwaters. Instead, it acts just like a shrimp jumping which makes it great when targeting fish up shallow. I would like to point out that this past winter we used this bait to land several trout over nine pounds in calf deep, clear water. However, I do suggest taking off the weak treble hooks and replacing them with stronger trebles or, better yet, Gamakatsu's single Live Bait Light hooks with rings - Size 1. As a matter of fact, surface grass is already becoming a nuisance so all of my topwaters will be rigged with Gamakatsu live bait single hooks with rings in 1/0 or 2/0 depending size of the plug.

Our trout fishery continues to be outstanding in numbers and size. We are currently catching lots of little ones and good numbers in the 16 to 22 inch range. Also, commonly mixed in with these fish have been some in the four to six pound class. The areas that have yielded good numbers have been deeper pockets along the ICW, around spoil islands, and any gut or similar area adjacent to flats where water tends to dump out on falling tides. Most of our trout are being caught in waist to chest deep water.

Kelley Wigglers in plum/blue metal flake rigged on a Kelley 1/8 oz jigs have been steady producers. I suggest that if you haven't tried the Kelley Wigglers jigs, you should. Not only are they extremely sharp but also last a long time without rusting or loosing their sharpness. My favorite is that they are made on short shank hooks that allow you to hide more of the hook in the plastic which helps get it through grass and also helps when fish are short striking.

With July being one of the hotter months of the year, look for trout to go deep by midmorning. This time of the year targeting deeper holes during an evening outgoing tide can be very productive. Be on the lookout for trout slicks to pop early in the morning and late in the evenings, especially during a moving tide. Remember, the smaller and rounder the slick is in shape, the fresher it is.

We are catching flounder too. The population is on the rise and chances are good that if you target the oil field channels, the edge of the ICW, and also the Mansfield East Cut, you will find a few or perhaps even land your limit. I like to work plastics very slowly, barely moving the rod tip all the while slowly reeling in the slack. Most people will say to wait a few seconds to set the hook, but I like to set it immediately. It has been my experience that the key when trying to land a flounder is to keep the fish swimming at all times as you bring it close to the net, even if you have to turn several complete circles. Allowing it to thrash on a tight line at the surface is the reason many are lost.

The other day it occurred to me that fishing is a big open window, but the catching part is often quite small. It's up to us to plan ahead and maximize our efforts. Your fishing trip doesn't start at the dock; it begins the day before. If you keep a log, take a look and see what the fish were doing in previous years. Study the weather; there are areas that remain fishable under certain conditions and others that fish better under a specific wind. Study the tides. It's beneficial to not only know the tidal movement at stations near your planned fishing area, but also those at stations ten or fifteen miles north and south. When the currents get weak where I'm fishing I often run toward the Brazos Santiago Pass or the East Cut to catch up with it again. The general water level at my launch location often influences where I will start my day. And then you should also include the solunar tables in your homework. Like I said - for best fishing success - your trip starts the day before.