South Padre: May 2010

South Padre: May 2010
Wet wading will be the norm in May.
The first quarter of 2010 brings back memories of brown tide during the 1990s. Through the winter months and into early spring we have had to battle stained water which, along with persistent windy conditions, has made it difficult to find a consistent pattern. I remember vividly the early 90s how tough it was to see fish much less catch them on artificials during the brown tide episodes that would blanket the Lower Laguna during the winter months.

Good news right now is that we are seeing signs of clearing. Higher tides and strong south-southeasterly wind (that we would normally curse) have been pushing lots of clean Gulf water through the Brazos Santiago Pass. Hopefully the improvement we have seen in the last week or so will continue throughout the month of May.

This spring has been a humbling experience to say the least. March and April have always been good months for big trout and numbers of trout, but not so far this year. It has been a slow grind for some of the slimmest catching I can recall; even natural bait fishermen are having a tough time.

Now brown tide is one thing and it takes us a few trips to remember how to fish in it when it shows up down here, but let me tell you a little story. I recently had the opportunity to fish Lake Calcasieu, Big Lake, as they call it in Louisiana.

Every ounce of water in that lake would qualify as "ugly" down here in the Lower Laguna Madre. The water clarity we fished every day on Big Lake would have been passed up as unfishable down here. I now have much more respect for a fish's ability to zero in on a presentation but it took solid action to change my opinion.

Calcasieu taught me how spoiled I have become. It also reminded me that fish must eat to survive and they can find and eat a lure in some very murky stuff. Upon arrival home I immediately applied the lessons I learned in Louisiana and found success landing fish in waters I used to deem unfishable. Another thing I learned was that paddle-tailed lures get bit more often than straight-bodied baits in dirty water. Maybe there is something to that "wiggling tail vibration" after all.

More good news is that we are finally catching fish on topwaters. The most common mistake I see is anglers yanking their rod before the fish has a chance to get hooked. So here's a tip for you. Cast directly into the glare of the sun. You will not be able to see what's going on, so don't even try. Just wait for the fish to crush the plug and pull hard, then set the hook. Works every time for me!

With the arrival of higher tides we are starting to see more redfish migrating to the skinny flats and holding in the potholes. As of late, the best bite has been on incoming afternoon and evening tides. Keep an eye on the birds. Terns, gulls and pelicans will become more active in May and can point the way to a gold mine of opportunity. Don't let the wind discourage you, it's bringing us cleaner water. And, until our Lagoon is all clear again, for Heaven's sake do not pass on the dirty water.

In closing, I would say we have all been humbled by recent, tough fishing. Lots of signs are pointing to many changes occurring in May and I see the promise of better fishing in the coming weeks. That south wind is pumping new water and new life into our Lower Laguna and I believe it is going to bring us excellent fishing.

I almost forgot I would like to add a big "thank you" to all my friends who stopped by the Fishing Tackle Unlimited booth during the Houston Fishing Show. For those who accepted my advice and purchased an FTU Green Rod, I look forward to hearing how they are working for you. If you missed picking one up at the show, visit either of their stores in Houston or check them out at

Good fishing to all and remember; don't be afraid to fish dirty water.