South Padre: September 2020

South Padre: September 2020
Andi Hull had a great day wading the Lower Laguna Madre.

As a science teacher almost 20 years ago, I recall teaching my students how seasonal weather patterns can change over a period of many years. Fast forward to the present; I may not have been all that far off the mark with my predictions. In my lifetime it seems that seasonal patterns have become so unpredictable that even with advanced forecasting tools the weatherman is working harder than ever trying to get it right. Thankfully, we have passed the windiest days of early and mid-summer and calmer mornings are now the norm.

September is typically a wet month on the Lower Laguna due to tropical weather events. It's also the month when many fishermen head for the dove fields. Between the weather and dove season we usually see reduced fishing pressure. Fishing success improves as long as we do not get too much fresh water in the bays.

Fishermen, especially guides who spend many days on the water, have witnessed significant changes in fish behavior and seasonal migrations. No longer do we see vast herds of redfish roaming our flats. Today, if a school is located, word spreads quickly and they don’t stay there very long. As recent as fifteen years ago, with much less fishing pressure, we could stay on a school for weeks, even a full month.  

More than ever, it has become necessary to apply some science to our fishing plans to better understand how, when, and why these fish move. Fish change their habits due to prevailing conditions and even prior fishing knowledge goes out the window. Do you want to stay in tune? Study your tides, feeding periods, moon phases, and seasonal fish patterns to put more consistency in your catching. 

Currently, with the calmer wind conditions, locating smaller schools of redfish has been relatively easy. Their wakes in shallow water are always a dead giveaway. Having said this, it is still necessary to focus on prime solunar feeding times to get them to take our lures. The topwater bite continues to be inconsistent, which means we are relying more on KWiggler Ball Tails in plum/chart, Mansfield margarita, and the KWiggler Willow Tails in Mansfield margarita and bone diamond.

Recently, as Hurricane Hanna paid us a visit, we got a glimpse of what water levels will be like in September. Hanna’s rain and runoff coming out of the Arroyo Colorado stained the water flowing up and down the ICW. This wet season will continue and undoubtedly cause water levels to rise and stay above normal, thereby creating a much larger area for fish to roam. One of the primary keys to locating fish will be to follow the mullet as they spread over these much larger playing fields. I am going to predict that both east and west shorelines of the Laguna Madre will present lots of redfish opportunity with the higher tide levels and the bait moving higher on the flats.

Pesky little trout continue to dominate the scene just about everywhere we fish, which is a good thing for the future of the fishery. We have been concentrating our efforts in deeper water the past couple of months to locate a consistent bite but this will change in September. Higher tides will send them to back bay areas to take advantage of abundant food sources. I expect to see a big improvement in topwater action as this pattern develops.

Trout are a bit pickier than reds when it comes to salinity. Getting away from the mouth of the Arroyo Colorado and adjacent parts of the ICW where fresh water is more prevalent due to storm runoff will prove helpful. A tactic I use often in early morning to bring vicious strikes is throwing topwaters along the ICW drop-off before the boat traffic pushes them to deeper water. We quite often find limits of solid fish during the first hour of daylight…but you need an early start to take advantage.  

September can be stormy with plenty of thunder and lightning and no fish is worth risking your life. Keep an eye on the weather and be aware of your surroundings. The best precaution for avoiding dangerous storms is to move quickly away from them. We will likely see quite a few days with cloud cover, which helps reduce water temps and improves the bite. I look forward to the beginning of the fall season and the best fishing of the year right around the corner. Stay safe and dry!