South Padre: July 2014

South Padre: July 2014
Samantha with a nice early-summer trout; all decked out in pink Fish-N-Hunt wading gear, throwing a Pink-FloMingo KWiggler.
The middle of summer will be on us before you know it. Calm, muggy mornings followed by hours of scorching sun will become the norm. Even with a nice sea breeze it will be blistering hot. I admit to having worried little about sun protection in my younger years; however, as you get older you tend to get wiser.

A few years ago I joined the Simms Fishing Products field-test team and during testing of their sun hoods and other garments I learned what I should have known all along. Nowadays you see me wearing Simms long sleeve shirts, long fishing pants and a sun hood all made of highly breathable fabric with excellent UV-Ray protection. I never dreamed I'd be wrapped so completely on blistering days but they are very comfortable and you would be amazed how good it feels at the end of a long day no burn and less fatigue!

Equally important as sun protection is a solid game plan for summertime fishing. I recommend getting an early start and approaching your fishing spots as quietly as possible, especially on calm mornings. Cutting the engine and drifting to the point where you will begin your wade can improve your success as fish spook easily when it is calm and any unnatural noise will shut them down or scatter them from preferred structure. Keep in mind that by mid-summer they've been run over almost daily for weeks, so stealth is the key here. Something else to keep in mind are the lower tide levels of mid-summer mornings beware of sand bars and other obstructions.

As I reported last month May's catching success was downright brutal at times but as the winds quieted in early June it has improved. Still not consistent with what we expect for this time of year but we have been able to pattern them more reliably.

Looking into July, with calm mornings, redfish should be easier to locate on the flats. Just recently we have been finding the reds schooling in early morning, but as always with calm conditions a soft-landing lure has the best chance. We have been using the KWigglers more than topwaters as they have been grubbing shrimp from grass and soft bottom more than feeding on the surface. Scattered bunches of "tailers" have provided exceptional excitement.

To experience this requires slow and stealthy wading, and of course you must be on a flat or shoreline where they are feeding. Locating them was tough in May's wind, and thus far in June boat traffic is a factor lots of folks cruising the flats has presented problems of another kind. Overall we are catching decent numbers but we have to search for them almost daily. The days of finding a large school that would remain congregated on a flat for days or even weeks seems to be a thing of the past.

Remember the stealthy approach and another good idea is to downsize your offerings. In topwaters this means a Heddon Spook Jr. or maybe even the Zara Puppy (with hook upgrade). The clear body color (bubble) can be very good in calm-clear water conditions.

We are currently finding lots of undersize trout and to reach a limit of decent fish usually requires considerable effort. Our best baits have been KWiggler Ball Tails in Flomingo and plum-chartreuse on 1/8 heads worked slowly near bottom. In the month of July we won't rule out a big trout; however, they will definitely be skinny from months of spawning.

At the moment, our best trout days have come from areas in close proximity to the ICW, with tide movement incoming or falling. In the coming month, think deeper than normal and handle the small fish you are releasing with extreme care. The future of our trout fishery is in your hands!

Flounder catches should improve in July. Target them along the ICW and adjacent guts. The areas close to Mansfield's East Cut with guts and dropoffs also have a reputation for good numbers of summertime flatties.

Wrapping up, I would like to say that I am excited about going to Orlando, Florida in mid-July to attend the annual ICAST show. I greatly enjoy visiting with all the manufacturers and reps for a firsthand look at the new products that will be introduced in the coming year. I look forward to giving you a report in my next article. As we go out and enjoy what we love to do this summer, let's keep conservation foremost in our thoughts. If possible, release the big spawners and keep only what you plan to eat fresh. Remember the sun protection, stay hydrated, and be courteous to other boaters. Best of fishing to you!