South Padre: November 2014

South Padre: November 2014
Capt. Eddie and I had a blast with this group.
Clients often ask, "What made you stop in the middle of this body of water?" My usual response is, "Because I know what's under the water." After a surprised stare I explain the bottom contour and why I believe we will find fish there. This is knowledge gained from having wade fished the area many times. Important bottom structure features; where a region of potholes begins and ends, where muddy bottom changes to sand, or perhaps where a line of grass beds grow on an otherwise barren bottom. All of this is valuable when trying to locate fish and the main reason I prefer to wade rather than fishing from the boat.

Even though our fishing has been respectable lately, it is nowhere near as good it was, say 10- to 15 years ago. Back then you could fish most any spot you knew and find decent numbers most of the time. Fish concentrations were much larger, we found them more frequently, and they remained in locales for longer periods of time.

It is quite different nowadays. To consistently catch fish we have to work a lot harder and the patterns are more difficult to interpret. Fishing pressure and boat traffic have created most of the change in my opinion. No longer can we count on fish we caught today being there tomorrow, and it is very rare for them to hold for a couple days or perhaps a week as they once did.

Back in September and October we received our usual abundant fall rains which, along with the seasonal tides, pushed water levels way above normal. Surprisingly, the water level remained much higher than I ever expected, considering that we had no real threat of a hurricane or tropical disturbance out in the Gulf. All the excess water scattered most of our fish causing us to do a lot of running around and truly hunting for a bite on most of our trips. Nevertheless, it made it all the more interesting and challenging to find them and figure out their patterns. My first premonition was to hunt the recently inundated shorelines, and this worked, but not reliably. Another surprise, on more than a few occasions we found better and more reliable action in much deeper water right off the ICW. I mention all this to drive home the point that yesterday's results and yesteryear's fishing logs could send you to the local fish market if you were hoping for a fish dinner.

Our redfish scattered more than our trout when the tides rose. There have been a few schools spotted in open water near the East Cut and Queen Isabella Causeway, but for the most part our catches have been spotty. Our best bites have been in west-side back lakes on a falling tide and, with freshwater still draining, most of the sloughs have been productive. Topwaters have been hit and miss and this has led to adopting a technique my son, Aaron, showed me. A Super Spook Jr with no hooks trailing a fly on a short leader. Quite often when all they'll give us are blowups, Aaron's trick seals the deal. The K-Wiggler Flo-Mingo Ball Tail Shad continues to be our best soft plastic. Hopefully, as the weather cools down and the tides drop, the redfish bite will heat up.

Our trout bite has been generally more reliable through this high water period although the bigger fish we were catching last month have been relatively scarce lately. Here again I expect a sharp improvement as temperatures fall and tides drop in November. By Thanksgiving it should be cold enough to dust off our Simms waders and it is usually around that time that bigger trout begin to show in good numbers. Tactics will change as we shift toward softer bottoms during northers and on the recovery days that follow. Corky Devils and Fat Boys will become go-to numbers as we work protected shorelines and spoils. A few subsurface bait flickers will be important signs during November's cold spells.I have been saying since last spring's warmup that I could hardly wait for Old Man Winter to return. Well, he's not here yet but he's on his way. As the days grow cooler and shorter, the bite always gets better. I am totally convinced that those who will tolerate the cold will not be disappointed this winter. Layer up and come join the fun!