South Padre: September 2017

South Padre: September 2017
Joey Burnett has scratched the snook species from his bucket list. 

If you compare the duties of a financial advisor and a fishing guide, you might be surprised to learn the two professions are actually quite similar. One invests your money for the best return while the other takes you fishing and teaches where, when and how to catch fish. When everything goes according to plan the client wears a huge smile.

The little I know about financial planning, I am aware that the best returns come when investments are allowed to mature. Likewise, in fishing, we must often allow a situation to develop (mature) in order to catch the best and most fish.

I had a group recently that proved this point perfectly. Knowing that we were in a good spot that had been holding a lot of fish, I explained very carefully that we might be a bit early and would have to wait for the bite to develop. Ignoring this, they took off like sprinters until I was able to coax one into hanging back. The other two took off again.

The mullet became active about 45 minutes after sunrise. Shortly, the angler that accepted my advice and I began experiencing phenomenal blowups on our topwaters, landing many nice fish. The track stars had little luck and eventually returned, in time for the tail end of the bite.

None of this happened unexpectedly or by accident. Knowing the area or structure type that fish have been using is a big plus. Understanding tide movement and solunar feeding predictions helps tremendously. Probing the entire water column, using everything from topwaters to slow-rolled plastics, defines the strike zone. And finally, allowing the situation to develop fully for maximum yield.

I mentioned in my last column that August is usually a tough month for me – so much for predictions. I am happy to say that our fishing actually improved when the winds laid and the tides fell to normal summertime lows. The water cleared without daily blasting wind and the lower tide levels concentrated fish in deeper holes. On many days the edges of the ICW have been sweet spots for catching plenty of fish.

The greatest numbers of redfish continue to roam between the Arroyo Colorado and the Land Cut. East side sand flats are holding redfish up shallow in early morning; watch for wakes and tails. Perfect for sight-fishing but a super-stealthy approach is required to get within casting range.

Even with extremely low tides, redfish have been roaming the back lakes, places where most boats do not dare venture. When the water temperature soars later in the day we have been having great success catching the same reds in deeper cuts and bowls nearby. Finding mullet is the key. The best action has been early morning with small topwaters around rafts of bait. I will offer no prediction as to when tides will return but, when they do, expect to see even greater numbers of redfish in the backcountry.

Trout continue to be our mainstay; even slow days give us enough action to continue plugging. We continue to land some upper-20s, keepers have been easy to find and, of course, lots of small fish. Belly-deep has been the depth for the better ones while we find an occasional larger trout in the shallows at first light.

Plastic baits such as the new KWigglers Willow Tail in Bone Diamond, Mansfield Margarita, and Red Shad Pro have been effective, as well as the reliable Ball Tail Shad in plum-chartreuse. Topwaters have been producing well when the bite is aggressive. September gives us lots of rain and I expect as salinity and water temps decline the trout fishing will get even better.

Flounder catches have slowed but we’re still getting some. Best bets for snagging a few are along the ICW and old oilfield cuts. While the chance landings have been fewer we continue to do when targeting them. Here again, patience is the name of the game and where you find one there are usually more. One more tidbit – flounder do not spook easily. Our editor taught me this on a tournament day a while back but that’s another story.

In closing, I am excited to announce that Capt. Wayne Davis and I will be speakers in this year's Slack Tide Event held in Jensen Beach, Florida. It will be an honor to address the fishing community from all over the nation. Our topic will be Empty Stringers, a program we are both committed to and proud to be part of that promotes conservation of our fisheries.