South Padre: July 2013

South Padre: July 2013
Working a Kelley Wiggler into waist deep potholes produced this nice trout for Randy.
We have experienced some extraordinary weather recentlywhoever heard of northers in May and early-June? The late-arriving fronts caused upper-level low pressure disturbances that created horrific south wind, which in turn made for very challenging fishing conditions. Throw in several not-so-favorable tide days, weekend tournament traffic, the normal Memorial Day crowd, and we definitely had to work for our fish. Thank goodness the wind is now more manageable and we are enjoying a larger playing field.

I blame strong south wind for scattering our redfish, although if I can say something positive, the wind pushed the tide up and we enjoyed tailing and waking action in backwater areas away from crowds that would have been otherwise dry or nearly so. The trout bite has been fairly consistent and I rate it generally decent to really good some days. Surprisingly, the flounder bite has been minimal. A few are being caught along the edges of channels but nowhere near what we expect this time of the year.

While the late northers caused cooler water temperatures for several weeks it didn't take long to recover. Due to longer and recently hotter days the shallow flats are already reaching the mid-to-high 80s and we still have plenty of hot days to goprobably hit the 90s soon.

What does that mean for fishing? During the hottest hours of the day the trout will tend to go deeper, hugging bottom. They will become sluggish and unwilling to chase or work hard for their food. Early morning and late evening will be your best bets to get on a good bite. During these warm periods I like to work plastics such as a Kelley Wiggler Ball Tail Shad near bottom just off the ICW or deeper grass flats with lots of sand pockets as they will be lying low waiting for the easiest meals and the water to cool before feeding. While exactly opposite of winter I find the hot summer trout bite similar to winter in many ways. Picking your fishing areas based upon water temperature will be critical in the coming weeks.

I mentioned earlier that redfish have been scattered on windier days. Just recently the wind laid down and it was like someone opened the floodgates and let the redfish into our bays. We found them schooled in places they had not been seen in a long time. Do keep in mind when it's extremely calm, redfish will become spooky of any slight unnatural movement or noise. Lucky for us, we can easily spot their wakes and see their tails on calm days and this really helps. Good baits for skittish reds are the Zara Puppy and also the 1/8 ounce weedless gold spoon. Smaller plastics will work too, as long they don't make an alarming splash. The tides will become generally lower later in July and we should begin to see these fish gathering around deeper holes on the flats and in the guts leading to deeper water.

Trout continue to be caught steadily around spoils along the ICW. A key to getting on a good trout bite is to set up in an area with good tidal flow early in the morning or late in the evening. Slicks are the best indicator that you are in the right spot. Always remember, the smaller and fresher the slick the better indicator it will be. I like to concentrate my efforts in sandy off-colored green water during the summer months. Surface feeding will be prevalent early in the morning and late evening and I find the Spook Jr with Gamakatsu's 1/0 live bait hooks very effective. This single hook setup also helps keep the plug working in floating grass. If that doesn't produce I switch quickly to 1/8 oz Kelley Wiggler jigs and Ball Tail Shads in either Plum/Chart or Flo Mingo. I mentioned slicks, active bait is the other primary key to a good summertime trout bite. With neither present, I'll usually keep moving. Expect lots of undersized trout and please handle them with care as they are tomorrow's trophies.

I want to mention the new Mercury Pro XS outboard I've been running for a couple of months now. I continue to be extremely pleased with its performance and especially the fuel economy, using about 33% less fuel per trip. I also want to thank Baumann Propellers for setting me up with a great prop that gets me up skinny and provides very good top end performance.

July will be hot; drink lots of Gatorade, fish early and late, and always fish with passion!