The Depths of July

The Depths of July
Bag of chips or not these fishermen got a tow back to the ramp.
The month of June certainly did its part by bringing the usual hot and muggy temperatures. As hot as the temperatures have been, our fishing has been equally red hot. As I reported last month on the healthy numbers of redfish in our bay system right now, our redfish catches have certainly reflected that they are in great shape and should remain in great shape in the years to come. As the new five trout limit is well into its first year of implementation, I see nothing but continued success for the trout population in the Lower Laguna Madre. I see a few minor changes in finding fish during the month of July. For the most part June's patterns will continue to hold true also for the month of July; except July promises to be even hotter.

As the air temperatures climb well into the high nineties and push toward the one hundred degree mark, finding the right depth of water will be a key ingredient in finding fish. As I write, water temperature is in the mid-eighties. What does that mean? During the month of July I recommend an earlier start and targeting the shallows before the sun hits these areas. Shallow water cools rapidly when the sun goes down and baitfish as well as their predators will flood into shallow grassbeds, sand flats, and shorelines to get a late night snack or perhaps an early morning breakfast, so wading or drifting some of these shallow areas is where you would want to be early in the day.

Down here in the Lower Laguna our water temperature tends to stay in the mid to high eighties throughout the summer. One way to find cooler water during this scorching period is to fish near a pass where cooler gulf water flows into the bay system. Fishing near or around the South Padre Island Causeway or Brazos Santiago Pass can have its benefits. Daily, cooler gulf water floods the nearby flats before the sun has time to heat it up. Early morning would certainly be a good time to focus on areas near these tidal zones as everything is sure to be active and hungry.

Another way to avoid the heat is to fish late into the evening. In the summertime, late evenings often means super low tides. If fishing in the evening is your choice, be sure to checkout guts, deeper holes, drop offs, or main channels that feed into flats. Find areas where the tidal flow has its maximum potential. Remember, if you have found a late evening pattern where the fish are exiting a flat as the tide drops, these fish will more than likely return to the very same flat early the next morning when the tide floods back in. The fish will generally remain in this pattern and continue their daily movements unless something like too much fishing pressure or lots of boat traffic chases them away.

As the sun climbs high and penetrates deep into the water column it is natural for trout to head to deeper water. In the middle of the day I like to fish areas with depths of five feet or more. Good bait choices in this situation will be Brown Lures Sea Devils in darker colors like plumtreuse or morning glory rigged with 1/8 oz jig heads. Gold spoons are always good summertime baits for redfish no matter what depth you find them.

Our best outings of late have required good planning and good timing. Sometimes we know the fish are present but seem to have lockjaw and this is where planning and timing comes into play. Pay careful attention to tidal movement, fishing pressure, water conditions, and wind. Time your efforts accordingly. A small change such as a fewer boats using the area, a drop or rise in water level or water temperature can sometimes encourage the fish to feed very aggressively.

Regardless of how much effort and expertise you invest in maintaining your equipment and handling your boat, problems can jump up at any time and I recommend that you always carry a big bag of chips on every trip. Where am I going with this? Well, you would think that with more boats out there during the summer months it would be easy to find help if you need it maybe, maybe not, let me explain.

One late summer evening I was stranded out on the water by myself. Everyone that passed by seemed to be looking the other way as I waved frantically for someone to help me out. No one seemed to want to lend a hand. Suddenly I got this great idea and drifted nearer the ICW and began throwing potato chips in the water. Naturally this attracted a big flock of sea gulls. I then proceeded to step on my fishing line and with my rod fully bent in the middle of all this bird activity I appeared to be on school fish in the channel.

This desperate act attracted two boats to the scene. The first to arrive figured out my ploy to get someone to tow me back to the dock. He cursed me for fooling him like I did and left the scene as quickly as he arrived. The second boater was more generous and offered to tow me in as darkness was approaching. His exact words were, "I am going to tow you in only because you really fooled me and I admire your creativity; you deserve that much."

So next time you stop at the store on the way to the boat ramp, grab yourself a bag of chips and store it in the boat. It doesn't matter what kind or brand you buy or even they get stale; seagulls are not picky at all. May you enjoy the summer fishing with the family and certainly don't forget the bag of chips.