South Padre: October 2018

South Padre: October 2018

Luis Salazar scored big with this 31 ¼-inch snook.

It is no secret that producing consistently good catches was much easier ten to fifteen years ago. Today is different; too many days we find ourselves grinding for every bite. No longer can we just roll up to a likely spot and wade into a bunch of fish. I’m not preaching doom and gloom, we still have great fishing in the Lower Laguna, I’m just trying to get you thinking outside the box to catch more fish.

Being a successful fisherman in today's world is going to require some study and understanding of fish migrations and daily pattern changes. This is easy for some of you because you fish frequently. But what about the average guy who gets out only once or twice a month? They fish the same spot over and over or maybe head to an area where many boats have congregated. At best they rely on a fishing report from the friend of a friend.

A fisherman, in a sense, must be like a good mechanic or a knowledgeable doctor. When you visit with one and explain the symptoms or problem, they can diagnose or point you in the right direction.

As a fisherman you have to consider all the factors such as wind, weather, tides, moon phases, solunar feeding periods, boat traffic, water temperature, where fish are holding in the water column, and season of the year.  

We trust that a good mechanic or doctor has a good education and years of experience – but an important and defining quality is their dedication and desire to continue learning.

The process of becoming a better fisherman doesn't begin at the boat ramp. During spare time, study Google Maps of areas you fish or plan to fish. Zoom in and look for sandy potholes, grass lines, and depressions you may not see while cruising past in the boat. Take time to understand the differentials from published tide predictions in areas you fish. Keep track of time and try to correlate the bite with the solunar table. Make an effort to fish at least one new spot every day. Most importantly, keep a log book. This is what I call a fisherman learning to think outside the box.

Redfish landings have increased over the past month but finding them continues to require effort. The good news is that we are seeing them prowling the flats in greater numbers than in previous months. Schools are beginning to form as expected this time of year but they are here today and nowhere tomorrow. The moon phase and the tides seem to have played a significant role; late-afternoons and evenings are best times on brighter moons to find pods and small schools cruising the flats. Higher tide levels allow us to locate redfish in nooks and crannies away from boat traffic.

Surprising for this time of the year, we are still finding some exceptional trout in the mid- to- upper-twenties class. Of course there’s also lots of little ones. Keying on slicks and schools of mullet have been the best indicators.

You probably already know that small, round slicks are far more reliable than those elongated by wind, but even these can point the way if you use them to your advantage. You just have to start well-upwind and always concentrate on any bottom structure you encounter where they might have been feeding.

Potholes in thigh- to- waist-deep water continue to give us the best results while bouncing bottom with KWigglers Ball Tails in Plum/Chart, and Mansfield Margarita. Willow Tails in Mansfield Margarita and Turtle Grass are working equally as well.

While we are enjoying a very good year on trout, I am becoming concerned with the age structure of the fish we are catching. As always, undersize to barely legal trout are available about anywhere you fish. And we have been lucky all through summer and into the beginning of fall with fish measuring in the upper-twenties. My concern is with the seeming deficiency in the twenty- to- mid-twenty age classes. This is why I encourage catch and release in the amount that I do, and especially urge careful handling of small fish. Tomorrow’s healthy fishery begins today!

I have to say this has been a banner year for snook. And from reports I have received they are ranging farther north than we ever imagined. Here on the Lower Laguna we are catching snook in areas we never thought they frequented. I'm excited and my clients are excited that we are experiencing the best snook year in the past seven. I will leave you with these words paraphrased from the legendary Lee Wulf, "A snook is too precious to be caught only once."