I like listening to old country music. Songs that tell a story – take me back to my childhood – the good ol’ days.
We reminisce about the good ol’ days in Matagorda a lot. We still feel blessed to fish in a bay that gives you a shot at a world-class trout just about every cast. However, there were times when October was legendary.
I remember chilly earlobes, calm afternoons, and fish everywhere. In the mid-90s, it was nothing to pop countless 3- to 5-pound trout on topwaters during an evening session under the birds. I will never admit to her, but those sunsets in East Matagorda Bay sweetened the deal during my college-day courting of a sweet little Bay City girl. It will be 25 years come October14.
Back then, it was crowded to see three boats on an October weekday afternoon in East Matagorda Bay. People were more concerned with getting deer camp ready and duck blinds brushed. The past two Octobers have been pretty solid. Good shrimp hatches have spelled awesome fall fishing.
But don't be surprised if the "good ol' days" of bird action return once again this year. We have had intermittent rains throughout the spring and summer, which helps reduce salinity levels, thereby affording a better white shrimp crop.
The telltale spark that gets birds working is the amount of water in the marsh. When tides are high, which is normally the case in early autumn, shrimp retreat to the backwater areas and nurseries. Then, as tides recede, often after the first strong cold front of the year, the marsh dumps those bloated tides and shrimp ride the current to the bays.
We like to throw soft plastics and topwaters under the birds, or maybe even a MirrOlure Lil’ John under a popping cork. Some impressive sand trout stage on the bottom as well for jiggers.
Even if the birds don't work, there are still plenty of fish to catch. The bull redfish run is strong in the surf and at the jetty. Large table shrimp, finger mullet and cracked crabs are the best offerings for the big spawners. If you plan to target bull redfish, the Gulf is the spot, but don’t be surprised if you run into a 40-incher in the bay.
Swelling fall tides are a boon for redfishers. Like shrimp, when tides are high, redfish wander to the back lakes and marshes. We often Power Pole down and work the grass line, then pull up and drift down the shoreline and do it again.
Large schools of redfish tour the grass line rooting shrimp. The large "V" easing down the shoreline gives away schools of 25-50 reds, but so does the cracking pop of their jaws from inhaling small crabs and shrimp that get in the way.
September afforded the first schooling action for redfish, even in the sweltering heat. Fish just know when to get it going as shorter days spark an intrinsic reaction to spawning fish.
Times they are a changing. I still believe we have some “good ol’ days” left.