On to the dove field this afternoon, we'll have more success there, as there are thousands of dove here in south Texas!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
December 9, 2009
Water temperatures have dropped significantly with the most recent cold fronts, leaving much of the flats, back lakes and estuaries in the below 60 degree range during some parts of the day and night. Finding warm waters that support happy, feeding predators such as reds and trout are the key to catching shallow water fish during the winter.
Shallow water sightcasting in the winter can be some of the most productive fishing of the entire year. One of the differences between winter and the other three seasons, however, is that in the winter, shallow water fish don’t always feed. When a sudden drop in temperatures occurs during the cold blast of a norther, predators make a mad dash from the skinny water to the deeper water for survival. Then, after the danger has passed when the cold winds stop blowing and the sun comes out, these fish slowly emerge from the depths to bask in the warmth. Shallow water not only cools off the fastest, but also warms up the fastest.
That’s when most anglers get a little frustrated with the fish as they are hanging around warming up in the shallow water, not really interested in feeding at all. Not only are they not really feeding, but at this time of the year, shallow water fish tend to slow down, almost like being in a type of “hibernation”. When they do start to feed, lure and fly presentation has to be very close to the “dinner plate zone”. Slowed down fish won’t expend big bursts of energy to feed, but will move an inch or two to slurp up a shrimp, crab or small fish that moves close to their mouth.
Since there is still quite a bit of grass in the flats, this darker bottom will absorb the heat of the sun. Not only should anglers key on grass, but also mud, spoil islands and slightly off-colored water. Mud is warmer than sand, spoil islands absorb heat and slightly off-colored water is warmer than clear water (floating particulates absorb heat from the sun). These places will be warmer than surrounding areas, thereby holding more bait and the predators that follow.
Avoid cold, incoming tidal waters and seek waters protected from cold winds. Both wind and cold incoming tides will inundate sun-warmed flats with cold water, chasing predators out.
Lure casters can have some fun in the winter with my all-time cold water favorite, the Baby 1-, a crank bait made by Mann. Another similar lure, the Bandit, is also a less-than –one-foot deep crank bait, just a tad smaller than a Baby. Change out the hooks on both of these lures as they are mostly a fresh water bass lure. Redfish and trout find the strong vibration and wobble of this lure almost irresistible. With less floating grass, this lure is very, very effective. Spinner baits can be added to the arsenal, along with small and medium-sized soft plastic paddletails in light, dark and natural colors. 1/16th ounce jig heads along with “flutter hooks” in the same weight let these plastics work naturally.
Don’t stop using a topwater lure, which can still be very effective under certain conditions, along with the old standby, the gold spoon.
Fly casters toss shrimp, crab and clousers in all sizes. Sometimes bigger flies are more productive when the water is cold as some predators (like big trout) enjoy “more bang for their buck”, meaning a bigger meal for the expended effort is sometimes preferred.
Tropical or warm water fly line does not like cold, crisp mornings. Stripping line off the reel can be a challenge as it remains in the coiled shape, making it hard to cast. Consult a fly line retailer to find a line that is suitable for colder saltwater temperatures.
Shallow water anglers must simply “pick their day” to find the right conditions for feeding fish. Warm, sunny, low wind days between fronts will make any sightcaster call in sick to work. On these fine winter days, prepare to catch a lot of fish, cast accurately, move the fly or lure a little slower and avoid answering the cell phone in case your boss should call.
See you on the water!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Coming in from three different directions, but all going the same place (the channel at Island Moorings), herds of redfish converged on us, passing us by like we were a duck blind or something! Getting only one or two shots at them, because they were moving so fast, we picked up a couple on topwaters, the biggest being 24". Congratulations, Jim, on the biggest fish. You have been rewarded!
Monday, October 19, 2009
The last hunting spot of the afternoon was a tank at sunset, which both dogs really enjoyed.
The next morning, conditions had done a 180 degree turn, with hard blowing north winds and cool temperatures.
My fishing clients for the day, Don and Mike, decided that they'd like to drift fish, so we picked a spot that was protected from the winds in Cayo del Grullo in Baffin Bay. Making multiple drifts, we picked up both reds and trout on soft plastics, but saw a bunch of reds and black drum in surprisingly shallow and clear water. Not many takers, though. Guess the abrupt change in conditions took them off of their feed. After a few hours of trying to keep our hats on, we headed back to the ramp for a little rest before our dove hunt that afternoon.
Another successful hunt for everyone, (which included an unbelievable butterfly migration that lasted several hours...) a long drive home and a great steak dinner and then something a little unexpected happened. Sitting out in the yard having a cold beer before turning in, we were all greeted by a javelina who entered our "camp". All the dogs went nuts and so did the javelina! Armaments where drawn by almost everyone in case the javelina had friends and got aggressive. We stood him down successfully and went on with the rest of our evening!
Next morning, blowing even harder that the morning before, we all decided to pile into Capt. Aubrey Black's big Haynie for the long ride to Nine Mile Hole. Half of our group waded, the other half drifted. A couple of reds, a big handful of trout, all on topwaters, but fishing was still a little slow. We all had a great time, though! I met some great new people and got a little more "Baffin experience". I'm looking forward to our next group cast and blast. Pretty soon duck season will open..... Kelly is going to be ready!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Ladyfish this morning as far as the eye can see in the Lydia Ann Channel. Fishing with a popper fly, fishing with Mike Collins. Look at the birds diving down in the background and a dophin who almost took my hand off while I landed a 23" ladyfish....
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Getting pretty used to the routine by now, I'm feeling a little more comfortable guiding in Baffin and dove hunting as well. My black lab, Kelly, is too. She's a lot of fun to hunt with and just can't get enough of the retrieve, of course.
After a big norther blew through on Friday, we all hoped that the wind would lay for our fishing trip to the Nine Mile Hole on Saturday morning.
Of course, Mother Nature did not cooperate, so we headed out across the Laguna Salada to the South Shoreline of Baffin, around Penascal Point and toward the Land Cut. Protected water was hard to find, but the trip was just a little wooley in a couple of places. After an hour's boat ride, we entered the Nine Mile Hole.
Windy and rainy, the fishing was challenging, but we did manage to catch 10 trout and 2 reds in the few hours we had to fish. Capt. Aubrey Black's group did a little better with 4 reds, two black drum and two trout.
Heading to the boat ramp, we got back around 12:30pm. After a little breather back at the house, we loaded up and headed to the dove field around 3:00pm.
Lush, green pastures and good flights of dove greeted us for the rest of the afternoon, with great comaraderie and lots of dove shot.
Kelly had a great time retrieving for everyone, she even took some time out to smell the butterflies....
The next day, another blast of rain greeted us at the boat ramp, so we all decided to hunt again instead of fishing.
The morning turned out to be beautiful for hunting with another great time in the dove field before calling it a day and going home....
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
The absolute wonder of the change of seasons was the quick transition from summer to fall that happened this year in just one week. From hot to downright cool, from south to north winds, from low water to high water, from drought to rain, the flip of conditions will put the fish on notice. All summer long, redfish in the shallow water have had nothing to worry about. Water temperatures dropping ten degrees will certainly change their mind! Get ready for an onslaught of redfish and eventually some great trout into to back lakes and marshes. Dropping water temperatures are the catalyst to ramp up fish feeding activities after a long, hot summer.
Cooler nights and early mornings drop shallow water temperatures dramatically. The fall Equinox is bringing in tons of extra water to flood grasses and dislodge more food. A new shrimp migration will be entering the estuaries, giving fish even more of a choice. In the fall, bait of all shapes and sizes are the prey of redfish roaming the shallows. Expect to see pods of tailing fish dislodging shrimp from the grass still thick on the bottom. Watch for smaller groups ranging along the edges of the flooded grass, hunting for crabs and killifish. No mullet, pin perch, glass minnow, shrimp or crab is safe in the fall, as all bait is fair game and in a big way. Predators turn on their competitive spirit and eat voraciously as water temperatures stay cool, in preparation for the upcoming winter.
Places like Estes Cove, the Lighthouse Lakes, South Bay and the Brown and Root Flats, with easy access to all kayakers, waders, drifters and polers, act like a staging area for large groups of feeding fish. With easy access in these areas, fish move back and forth from deep to shallow water, cruising and feeding.
St. Charles Bay and the lakes and shorelines of Carlos and Mesquite can be productive fall destinations that should be explored. Some places fish a north wind better than others, so analyze, on a map, how the wind will blow across and through your fishing spot. Look for jumping mullet and large pushes of water, diving birds and wading birds to locate more productive fishing places within your shallow water location. Shallow water fish like to feed into a current, whether wind blown or tidal, so plan your search accordingly. If it gets too windy, fish may fall into the deeper potholes in the flat. It’s time to change your thinking along with the conditions. Unlike summer, fall serves up a wide range of winds and temperatures. Adapt and read the conditions for best fishing success.
Topwater anglers may want to think about putting new hooks on their Super Spook, Jr.’s. Gammakatsu has a small hook (1/0) that has a little ring on it. Replace your treble (trouble) hook with this hook and you’ll collect less floating grass on the retrieve and you’ll have less hassle handling these lures and landing fish. Of course, the go-to colors are the “clown” (gold chrome, red head), black/chartreuse, bone/silver sides and the baby trout. Still, 1/8th ounce and ¼ ounce Bagley weedless gold spoons and small paddletail soft plastics in natural colors on 1/16th ounce jig heads continue to produce. Time to add a crank bait to your arsenal, either a Baby one minus or bring back the old-fashioned Cotton-Cordele broken back in gold/black. Retrieve these lures straight back or use the bass fishing technique of pulling the lure hard back to you, then pointing the rod back to the lure while you reel in the slack. At this point, the lure suspends, prior to the next pull. Both retrieving styles are deadly when floating grass is not plentiful.
Fly anglers toss that popper, clouser, crab and add a big ugly fly for big reds or trout. The fall is the time to throw just about anything.
Right now, besides the legendary fall fishing of Rockport, my mind is consumed with dove hunting and the prospect of the upcoming duck season. With my black lab pup, Kelly, I’ve had the opportunity to add some cast and blast trips to my repertoire. Kelly is a little over a year old now, and she has proven herself to be a fine dove dog on opening day, retrieving nearly 30 dove for our hunters. Working with Capt. Aubrey Black on Baffin Bay, this endeavor has been new, fun and productive. My Curlew is the perfect Baffin boat - no worries about those pesky rocks, not to mention the unmolested shallow shorelines and the magical Nine Mile Hole. If you would be interested in a dove or duck cast and blast in Baffin, just let either one of us know, there are lots of affordable custom packages to choose from which include food and lodging.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Launching at the Big Slough of the Lighthouse Lakes with three great clients, the morning was beautiful and the winds were light. Everyone was very excited at the prospect of topwater fishing. As we were unloading the kayaks, a big, ominous cloud from the north got closer and closer. I whipped out my iPhone to check the radar.
A tiny, tiny band of rain might just graze us and as we all looked at the radar, we agreed, "no big deal". Nothing was forecast for the day, in any event, just a perfect SE 10-15mph....
It was at that point that a gigantic gust of cold north wind hit us, along with a wall of smoke that turned the morning sky dark brown. Smoke, perhaps from a controlled burn at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge?
A heavy north wind blew all morning, but at lunch, it was calm and turning east. Taking a break from all that paddling (south of the boat), we enjoyed a great sandwich and some converation.
Just about the time we started to fish again, the north wind cranked up with a vengence and we found ourselves paddling straight back into the wind, back toward the boat. Fish feeding activity peaked during the storm, but totally shut down after it ended.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Capt. Aubrey Black, the best guide in Baffin, has gratiously agreed to lend me some knowledge and I am doing my best to absorb all I can, in my spare time away from Rockport.
Learning Baffin Bay is an interesting sideline for me. I realized that, ten years into my professional fishing career, that's there's more to life than poling the Lighthouse Lakes or the back lakes of San Jose Island.
Finding new, unspoiled, unfished, clear, shallow shorelines has been a quest of mine this year. I found those in Baffin Bay.
Since I'm a closet wade fisherman, learning how to fish those deeper rocks has been an interesting addition to my quest for new water. It's all about structure, but I think I'm a little too short for Baffin. I'm thinking about writing a song about it, "Too Short for Baffin"... I'll let you know!
After the first dove cast and blast, I realized that I need more time on the water down there to be competent, so I have been spending some spare time there to get a little more acclimated. It's been paying off, I feel a little better about my navigation skills there.
Fishing the Nine Mile Hole, the South Shoreline of Baffin, the Land Cut, and the Meadows, just to name a few places has been a real eye opener for me. No one runs a shoreline in Baffin. Consequently, these fish are laying around in the shallow water, ready for a fly to come there way. And when it does, they jump on it like their last meal! My kind of shallow water fishin'!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
A year and four months of love, concern, training time, swimming and trust came to fruition this weekend with my black lab pup, Kelly.
Watching Kelly retrieve her first dove was breathtaking and heartwarming. Her natural abilities took over and she became a full-fledged hunting dog, not just a retriever, right before my eyes.
Just to make sure that everything was going to be ok, at first, I set myself and Kelly apart from the group a little. One other hunter was close by and happened to be a better shot than I am (but who isn't? - Aubrey, don't comment on this...).
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
This boat was unveiled last night at the NewWater Owner's Tournament.
The lighting was dim and my camera took some fuzzy shots, but, this is the most beautiful boat I have ever seen. The fit and finish is astounding and the bold design had everyone in the room with "Stilt Envy"!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
August 22, 2009
In the home stretch of summer, it’s essential for shallow water anglers to really pay attention to tides and water levels. Don’t get stranded in a back lake and have to walk out, because at this time of the year, the tide can drop out like a rock. When fishing close to the water sources of the Gulf, this is especially important. Kayakers can really benefit from these falling waters by reaching into the super shallow waters that boats can’t get to. Redfish seem to come in to the shallow water on the rising tide, but really kick off a feeding frenzy when the tide begins to drop. Time fishing just right for the best late summer action!
Lack of winds in August adds another layer of complexity at times. No tides, to wind, no feeding action. Early afternoons can make for better fishing, even though it’s really hot, with more wind which the predators really like to feed on in shallow waters. Still eating shrimp in the grass, redfish especially like a little breeze to gather and tail upon. Winds moving shallow waters help to dislodge the food hiding there. You’ll find these feeding pods of redfish in ankle-deep water, moving into the wind as they busily mow their way along the bottom. I know I’m in the right place when my boat or kayak is barely floating!
Light tackle anglers use natural colored small soft plastics rigged weedless and weightless. Fly fishermen stay small as well, a #6 all-white clouser imitates the tiny shrimp that is still a redfish’s favorite food in August.
Floating and heavy grass can be annoying for the fisherman, but it’s a redfish’s living room and kitchen. Find ways to deal with the grass because that’s where the fish are.
Blue Gulf of Mexico waters are still infiltrating the bays from the jetties. Be on the lookout in these areas for Jack Crevalle, Spanish Mackeral, Kingfish, Tarpon and the beginnings of the redfish migration on major shorelines. Gear up appropriately to take advantage of these late summer fish. 12 pound test on a 7’ medium light rod might not be enough to tangle with a 30 pound Jack!
The first cold front of the fall can’t come too soon as the middle of August in South Texas can sure be brutal. Planning right now for fall fishing, dove hunting, early teal and the beginning of duck season seems ridiculous, but it is really right around the corner. Get your new waders ordered; find a wading jacket that will keep you warm and dry and make sure hunting gear is in order. Before you know it, summer will be over and the next season will be here!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
As the morning wore on, the fishing got slower and slower. It was hot and the wind quit blowing. Hot August fishing, for sure.
Then, we dropped into the Brown and Root flats for a look and a gigantic herd of redfish showed themselves. The game was on.
Paul brought home the bacon with this nice 23" red (caught on a 1/8th ounce Bagley "textured" gold spoon) which was just perfect for the grill. Tomorrow, we are going to do it all over again!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
I am really looking forward to fishing more in Baffin, taking some clients down there to feast their eyes on some of the best fly water in Texas, and doing some cast and blast trips with Capt. Aubrey Black, the best guide in Baffin. His forte and claim to fame is trophy trout, (one of his clients, the day BEFORE I got there, caught a 10.4 pound, 31" trout!), but I can tell that his secret love is shallow water sightcasting for redfish and trout! He can even pole a skiff!