South Padre: November 2020

South Padre: November 2020
Giovanni Mares Jr proudly displays his catch.

Seems that many folks fail to use all their senses to aid their fishing, or perhaps I should say their catching. They just want to be out there relaxing, but they also complain often about not catching fish. Using your senses of sight, hearing, smell, and remaining alert all provide advantages in catching fish. As I'm fishing, wading most of the time, I'm constantly aware of all that’s going on around me. Activity on the surface, below the surface, and in the sky above can all provide valuable clues. Gulls, terns, and pelicans, flying and resting on the water can help in putting pieces of the puzzle together. Researching tide movements and solunar tables before the trip can also pay dividends toward your daily catching success.

November is always an exciting month for me. The weather is usually pleasant, the water is cooler, fish feed more predictably, and we’ll soon be donning our Simms waders. A sure sign that trophy trout season is drawing nearer.

The challenging part of November, especially as cold fronts become more frequent, is the high atmospheric pressure associated with the frontal system's passing. Observations over the years indicate that it takes two and a half to three days for fish to fully recover and return to normal feeding activity. One thing you can bet on though, when the urge to feed returns, they will be gorging. Hopefully, you will be at the right place and right time when it happens.  

Redfish should be plentiful this month and they will feed more aggressively. Primary forage will be mullet and small blue crabs. Anglers will do well to focus their efforts where these forage species are readily available. Crabs are generally more abundant in bays and backwater areas west of the ICW because of the softer, silty bottoms and plentiful turtle grass where they like to hide.

Redfish this time of the year will hunker on the bottom during colder weather periods and high-pressure spans. When they are spooked, they will leave a mud puff behind as they scurry away. The mud puffs are a sign to run KWiggler Ball Tails slowly along bottom rather than higher in the water column. Now don't rule out a topwater or a suspending bait like a LeLe or Corky during winter. All three baits mentioned can be good producers, even in chilly weather.

Waders usually become a daily necessity right around Thanksgiving time, which is also when we begin to notice our trout becoming noticeably heavier. Trout will still be found in sandy potholes and on sandy spoils along the ICW during the first weeks of the month, not yet having made a full-blown transition to muddier bottoms. This usually begins to occur later, around Thanksgiving or early December.

Trout are more vulnerable to colder water temperatures than redfish. What this means is they tend to bail off to deeper water during a wintry period sooner than the reds. The edges of flats and ledges bordering the ICW will be excellent places to explore this month, especially during chilly days.

If I am fishing shallow in winter, I like to throw KWiggler Willow Tails in Mansfield Margarita and Turtle Grass as they are very natural colors and can definitely make a difference when the bite is slow. Rigging in weedless fashion with the Willow Maker swim hooks helps avoid catching grass when making slow presentations. The weedless setup is also very good for probing deeper potholes that tend to warm sooner than surrounding heavy-grass bottoms.  

As we enter the winter season, I like to use an analogy of children on a playground at the start of the day in wintertime to describe trout behavior. As the children are sent to the outside courtyard before classes start, they always seem to huddle in small groups more than spreading out and running and playing as they do on warmer mornings. Maybe this makes them feel warmer, or maybe it just helps them visualize warmth. Well, fish behave in the same manner, always seeking warmth and tending to bunch together when the weather turns chilly. Keep this in mind as you search for bites later in the month.  

Wrapping up, I would like to encourage all anglers to attend Fishing Tackle Unlimited’s Inshore Fishing Expo, to be held December 12, at the Katy Freeway store. Capt. Wayne Davis and I along with other great presenters will be hosting seminars and passing on lots of useful fishing information.

Best of luck and Happy Thanksgiving!