South Padre: November 2013

South Padre: November 2013
While targeting snook, Reeves Craig caught this tarpon on a Rat-L-Trap lure.
I had the honor recently to sport some of the latest Simms sportswear and wading equipment. Simms sent photographer Brian Grossenbacher to join my son Aaron and me for an on-the-water photo shoot, capturing images and showcasing their products. It was a great experience and privilege to be invited to participate, and Brian was everything and more than his reputation. The weather cooperated and everything went well during the shoot. As a proud ambassador for Simms, I highly recommend their sportswear and other products made for serious fishermen. Like the slogan states, "When you step into Simms, you're stepping into the best period." Thank you Simms for making our fishing more comfortable!

September brought us much needed rain and it continued into early October. The tide was already seasonally high and the salinity level of the Laguna Madre fell with all the fresh inflow. As of this writing the tide is still noticeably higher, opening many more acres of water for fish to roam. I will say right that before all the rainfall the normal water levels made fishing pretty predictable. The presently higher tides have definitely scattered the redfish, making them hard to pattern on a daily basis. Just when you think you have them figured out, you jump out of your boat expecting to find them eager and they've pulled a Houdini vanishing act.

As soon as our water recedes the redfish will return to their usual places. Their nomadic patterns should remain but to a smaller scale as they go in and out of the shallows and into deeper water during the blue northerners that are but weeks away. Look for reds and trout to stage near deeper water during cold spells. Flats near the ICW, Mansfield East Cut and Brazos Santiago Pass can all be productive this time of the year. Fish will frequently visit and be found in some of the deeper parts of our bays and then turn around and move into the shallows to feed as the weather warms up. The good news is that these fish will feel the days getting shorter and temperatures dropping. Their instinctive behavior will cause them to feed more aggressively than normal, so there's a good chance you will see a more aggressive bite this month.

In November I will once again start paying close attention to bird activity. Brown pelicans swimming or diving means bait is plentiful nearby. The keen-eyed osprey is another good indicator that bait is abundant, even when there are no signs on the surface. Seagulls diving or resting on the water can be very helpful as well.

Currently, the afternoon/evening bite has been best for us. It seems our stronger tides have been occurring later in the day and that could be one of the reasons. Topwater action has been sporadic so we've been relying on soft plastic baits. The Kelley Wiggler ball-tail shad in pink Flo Mingo and the more natural Lagunaflauge with chartreuse tip have enticed many redfish and trout lately.

This month we should see trout feeding on a mostly mullet diet and this increases their weight very quickly. Come early winter we'll see some of the best weights of the year. The past couple of years around Thanksgiving, the numbers of bigger trout became more consistent as the water cooled into the mid to high 60s. Sandy potholes on thigh deep flats will be hotspots until cold spells drive them to deeper water. Then the pattern repeats as warmer temperatures return.

The key is to make long casts to the potholes and work the lure carefully along the edges to trout lying in ambush for easy prey. Spoil islands will once again be good producers of solid keepers and trophy trout on colder days. Keep in mind when fishing around spoils, a moving tide definitely improves your chances. The big trout will also take to roaming grassy eastside sand flats during prolonged warming periods. With the number of big trout that showed up late summer and fall, your personal best could very well be attainable in November.

Lastly, I would like to report that tarpon have showed in considerable numbers recently around the Brownsville Ship Channel, Arroyo Colorado, jetties and a few places in our bays. Reports of tarpon catches have come from Port Mansfield all the way to Port Isabel. This time of the year the jetties can be a hot spot for many species, and don't be surprised if you happen to catch small barracuda while fishing for redfish and trout.

Happy Thanksgiving, and let's get out there and make it happen!