Friday, October 9, 2009

As seen in the most recent edition of the Saltwater Angler Magazine....

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.

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