South Padre: June 2015

South Padre: June 2015
Andre Landry caught this nice trout on a topwater in windy conditions.
Summer is still weeks away and already we’re seeing increased traffic on the Laguna. Some are well-seasoned and others are first-timers, anxious to wet a line and maybe take a fish or two home for dinner. Over the years I’ve seen boats stop in an area only because others are fishing there or maybe because they caught fish there on prior trips. This will work sometimes but with so much information available nowadays there is definitely a better way. Catching is not all luck!

This magazine, the internet, fishing shows, and tackle stores such as Bass Pro and Fishing Tackle Unlimited are all excellent sources of fishing information. DVDs such as Tobin Strickland’s TroutSupport series contain loads of useful knowledge, hints and tips. Local fishing guides are another great resource—if they are willing to share.   

I believe that anglers with decades of experience would agree; consistent catching has become increasingly difficult over the past ten or twelve years. I attribute this mostly to ever-increasing fishing effort and boat traffic. Our fishery today experiences enormous pressure and, as a result, patterns of the past that often lasted weeks seem to vanish in a few days, if they emerge at all. I say all this, not to discourage people fishing, but to encourage fishermen to fish smarter.  

Every trip out should be a learning experience with facts and details logged in journals and filed into your memory bank. We sometimes find fish relating strongly to structure and other times it’s all about the abundance of forage. Tide levels and currents also play a major role as does wind. Locating fish and gaining an understanding of their feeding patterns reminds me of a game of chess. Just when you think you have them figured out they make a move on you.

Let’s talk redfish as they have been quite unpredictable. One of our problems is that they are scattered lately as opposed to running in schools. Wind has also been a factor the past month or so dictating where we might try to fish. But despite these things, I have come to the conclusion that our better catches have been more of a timing thing. Our best bites have been relatively short, about an hour to an hour and a half, just after daybreak. Late-afternoon and continuing into evening has also been consistently good. I study solunar and tide tables religiously and take notice of current strength and direction constantly when I’m fishing. It did not surprise me to discover that our fishing was most productive during the periods of peak water movement, when boat traffic was light. This is what I mean by fishing smart.

Redfish have been fairly eager to go on topwaters during lower light periods but when they start giving us weak blowups or they charge the plugs, only to turn off at the last second, we quickly make the switch to K-Wiggler plastics. I have great faith in the Ball Tail Shad in bone diamond, flamingo and plum-chartreuse on their 1/8 ounce jigheads. Refining our wades to target potholes and sandy nooks and corners along edges of large grass beds usually produces the most strikes.

In my column last month I wrote of exceptional big trout action on my charters. Well, all good things must eventually come to an end and our sow trout numbers have dwindled dramatically. But, we’re still getting lots of nice trout! Numbers of really solid keepers averaging 20-inches has been the norm and trout have been available in many more locales than redfish. Wading in evening hours in and around bird activity has actually been pretty phenomenal. Even with poor water clarity it has been fairly easy to find limits. Shrimp are very abundant right now along the ICW and adjacent flats and guts. I expect this will continue well into summer.

Wrapping up, I also want to mention flounder as we have been finding quite a few wading for trout and reds, not specifically targeting them. Although I have not put in a dedicated effort, from the numbers we are catching without hardly trying, I will predict that focusing on the edges of the ICW, old pipeline cuts and Mansfield’s East Cut should produce excellent results. Everybody has their own flounder tricks but location and current are very important.

Lastly, with the onset of a busy summer season upon us, please be mindful of your fellow angler. Take a good look around before you motor in or blow out of an area. Others have the same right as you to enjoy our wonderful natural resources.