Boy, what a whirlwind since my last column. Catching world-class snook here in Texas; attending ICAST in Orlando; fishing the Everglades; the Hunter’s and Sportsman’s Expo in McAllen; not to mention a busy charter schedule – whirlwind may actually be an understatement. For those who might not already know, ICAST is billed as the world’s largest tackle and fishing products trade show. All the big-name brands are there; Simms, AFTCO, Costa, American Fishing Wire, Power Pole, and Shimano, just to name a few, all showing off their latest and greatest reels, lures, apparel, glasses, and related equipment. What a treat it has been.
Back here in South Texas we had our 45th Annual Port Mansfield Fishing Tournament in late July with a little over 300 anglers participating in offshore and bay divisions. The weather was great but the hours in the bay division are too long in my opinion – running 6am to 5pm on both Friday and Saturday. Eleven hours in grueling summer heat leaves many bay participants (especially those who wade all day) too spent to enjoy visiting with fellow anglers and festivities at the Pavilion after submitting their fish to the weighmasters.
Fishing has been on an uptick with good catches just about every trip although redfish success continues to be less than stellar on average. Hopefully we will start to see them schooling on the flats as fall approaches. I have been focusing on our trophy snook fishery that seems to be making a great rebound. I have come to learn that linesiders have a mind of their own and you must be patient if you want to catch one, that is once you have them located. Once located, it’s a showdown to see whether angler or fish can be more stubborn. They will eat eventually, and when they do you want to be ready and fully prepared.
Here’s a teaching moment. I have some great clients who want to catch snook, they are good fisherman but show up with less than adequate leader material – usually too light. I make a practice of surveying their setups and offer a suggestion that they might want to consider upgrading to 25- or 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. Those that accept my advice usually end up with a great memory and a photo to go with it. Those who say, “Oh, I’ll be fine,” usually go home with only the memory of a brief encounter with an aerobatic snook and saltwater on their glasses. So, if you are going to a gun fight, don’t show up with a pocketknife. But I digress.
Best baits for linesiders over recent weeks have been the KWigglers Willow Tail Shad in Bone Diamond, Mansfield Margarita and Padre Punch. We have landed more than thirty snook already this year and each of them has been on the Willow Tail Shad.
As we slide into September we should start seeing improved redfish numbers and even more flounder activity. Flounder catches are already considered good to excellent but I expect it will get even better as fall approaches. Many flounder are running in the three- to four-pound range with some going a little heavier. You can find flatfish in small drains and cuts close to passes that lead to the gulf. Additionally, some are still in small drains near flats in the back bays. Like snook, flounder often require a good deal of patience so take your time and work the area thoroughly. Best baits for flounder have been the KWigglers 4-inch Paddle Tail in good ol’ Red and White. If I was allowed on one lure for flounder, that’s the one I would grab – no questions asked.
Over the next month or so I’ll be focusing my efforts along grasslines and targeting potholes. Whether wading or drifting, throw to every pothole you can reach, multiple casts when possible. I recently caught a trout, redfish and skipjack from the same pothole the size of a trashcan lid. We will also be seeing more bait lines and pods of mullet close to the East Cut in September. Following closely behind will be your trout and reds.
At the present time it would appear that everything is shaping up for an awesome fall fishing season. If you are looking forward to a fresh fish dinner, by all means keep a few. But if you already have fillets in the freezer you might think about catch and release for your next trip.Until next time, stay safe and be courteous on the water.