South Padre: May 2011

South Padre: May 2011
Danny displays one of several big trout caught on a recent spring trip.
The spring winds have been relentless. Although it has not stopped us from fishing, it has caused us to make adjustments in the areas we choose to fish. Two gusty days and nights in a row causes lots of good water to be blown out. The good news is that when the wind lays a bit overnight the water has been clearing nicely and fishing has been remarkably good until it begins to howl again in the afternoon. More good wind related news comes in the form of dissolved oxygen content. The fish feed more aggressively and fight harder in highly oxygenated water. You could say it puts them in top shape like a well-conditioned boxer just before a title bout.

During the latter part of March the rising water temperature brought a tremendous topwater bite. Fish have been exploding violently on Skitter Walks, Top Dogs, and the Spook Jr. Pink, bone and redhead have been excellent colors and the most consistent presentation has been ripping it pretty fast to get their attention. A blowup is the signal to let it rest for a couple seconds followed by several quick twitches and that usually seals the deal.

Our best action has been in areas with lots of active bait, casting quickly behind individual baitfish as they bust the surface. There are currently huge numbers of finger-sized mullet down here in our end of the Lower Laguna Madre and that says a lot about the condition of our fishery.

When the topwater bite slows down we have been tying on Corkys and darker Kelly Wigglers, both baits have done the trick for us on redfish and trout. Over the last few weeks the afternoon and evening bites have been incredible especially when we can catch a moving tide. We have had numerous evenings when we landed a fish, lost a fish, or missed a bite on nearly every cast.

It's not a secret that stronger tides occur during the new moon and full periods, but around full moon periods the action can be pretty darn slow during daylight hours. If you're willing to wait them out, patience can and will eventually pay off. I have had many memorable trips around this time of the year where we decided to do just that (wait them out), and the reward came in trophy sizes.

I have every reason to believe that we have a great summer season ahead in the Lower Laguna Madre. Both drifting and wading, we are seeing incredible numbers of shrimp skipping on the surface and we have an abundance of blue crabs of all sizes on the shallow, grassy flats. The redfish we have been cleaning are quite often so stuffed with crabs and shrimp that it makes you wonder why they wanted to eat a fishing lure. Skipjacks are already numerous and if you can believe the old-timers; when the skipjacks are thick on the flats the trout soon will be too.

As mentioned last month, we are currently seeing lots of stingrays. I recommend you do the stingray shuffle AND wear your stingray protection. Stingrays are very opportunistic feeders and quite often you will see them settled right in amongst a school of reds ready to pounce on any small prey the reds spook up. They also seem fond of sneaking along in your mud trail when you are wading. Be careful with that back step!

I would have to say that judging from our catches, the flounder population is rebounding strongly in the Lower Laguna. A good game plan for snagging a bunch of flatties is to work the edges and dropoffs of the ICW and any channels that intersect it. Flounder bite best when the current is strong. Rigging small soft plastics on heavier jigs than you normally use on the flats is a good setup for getting your bait down to the doormats.

Summer months will soon be here and the right equipment makes our time on the water safer and more comfortable. Quality eyewear is a year round must-have, but the glare of summer sun is toughest of all on the eyes. Just recently I picked up a pair of Costa del Mar 580 Series in the Man-o'-War model and their lightness, comfort and lens clarity were instantly noticeable. The side shields on these frames block out all the glare and harmful UV. I highly recommend them to anybody shopping for quality fishing glasses.