South Padre: November 2009

South Padre: November 2009
Fall reds can run large as this angler learned.
This month is widely known for the Day of Thanksgiving. It's a day of reflection, of giving and being thankful for everything that we have. Let me tell you the Lower Laguna Madre has been very generous this fall and we should all be thankful for this. The fish have been fairly easy to find and also easy to pattern. The few slow days came right after periods of heavy rainfall and overall fall fishing has been outstanding with limits of trout and redfish common on most outings.

Currently, everything is in full swing; schools of bait are plentiful and the predators are hungry as the colder weather will soon be here. For the last month and a half our bay water levels have been higher than normal and this creates lots of activity in west side back lakes, especially for redfish. Considering the rise in water level you would think the fish would be scattered; however, we have found them tight in schools sometimes numbering over one hundred fish. The sand and grass lines on the east side have also been holding large concentrations of fish. We have been intercepting schools as they enter the sand flats on a rising tide as well as when they exit these flats on a falling tide. Some of the larger trout we have come across have also been on the sand, but the most consistent trout action has been around grass beds and potholes. We continue to work smaller topwaters; in some cases that's all we throw all day.

I do have to say that the floating grass continues to be as bad as I can recall but, this hook-snaring problem should dissipate this month. Over the last few months we have shied away from many productive areas simply because the grass has been so thick. Hopefully all of this will end soon as the dead grass finds its way to the shorelines or sinks to the bottom.

Paying attention to the feeding behavior of winter birds will become critical especially on brisk mornings and chilly winter days. As cold fronts become more frequent, the bait fish will not be as visible on the surface. This is where hungry, diving birds will pinpoint the location of baitfish. As the water temperature plummets to wader-wearing level, which usually happens right around Thanksgiving Day, we will retreat from the hard sand flats and into mud-shell bottoms. On cold days, working drops-offs or channels will not be a bad idea. Spoils near the ICW are a "sure bite" situation as the water continues to cool off this month. We won't be totally putting away our topwaters, but with the cooling temperatures, we will be more apt to throw suspending or sinking baits. Our retrieves are more likely to be slower than during the fall fishing period.

This is the month when we begin to see fish laying up in shallow spoil areas to warm in the sun; keeping track of such weather conditions and opportunity can be vitally important to trophy trout hunters. Equally important is covering your own skin. Even during cloudy winter days fishermen are still at risk of exposure to harmful UV rays. I am not proud to say that for many years I did not protect myself from the sun. Just recently I began wearing a Simms "Sun-Clava" and sun gloves, and let me tell you what a difference they make. No longer is my face burning when I get off the water and I no longer sport that "raccoon" look. Best of all, my chances of developing skin cancer have dropped drastically. The color on my face has lightened so much that numerous people have asked why I hadn't been fishing. If you have not given thought to covering your face, arms, and legs, I highly suggest you start now. Over the years many people have tried to talk me into covering up and I guess it finally sunk in. Now I pass the word, "Protect yourself from the sun!"

This is the month that our bigger trout will begin to show up on a more consistent basis as they seem to feast every day. The redfish will be feasting and adding weight too, especially around the "shoulders." Let's hope we are out on the water when the feast begins. Happy Thanksgiving!