What you’ll find braving the heat of Texas Bayfishing
These 105-degree days are tough on everybody — especially fishermen — but if you can stand the heat there are fish to be caught out there.
My neighbor Tom Ray and I have fished Lake Bastrop several times recently in June, July and Aug. Throughout that time, the bass school on the surface chasing shad — their favorite dinner. The fish have not been staying on the surface for very long though.
They come up, burst into the shad, and then go back down. You have to be ready and cast quickly. Small minnow-like soft baits are the best, especially when fished on a long leader under a float. When the fish come up it is very exciting, Tom and I caught almost 20 bass last week.
Bay fishing on the Texas coast has been spotty, but still has good fishing days from time to time. The coast is always at least 10 degrees cooler than San Marcos and usually carries a sea breeze.
My wife Beth and I have been taking couples from our church down to our fish house in Aransas Pass, where the ladies hit the resale shops while the men fish. Most of the men are novices when it comes to fishing. One of the men, Eddie, trailered my skiff with me to the JFK Bridge over the Intracoastal-Waterway (ICW).
The ICW runs right through the shallow Laguna Madre. On a low tide, the fish fall off the shallow flat into the canal, so we fished down the ICW on the drop-off from the flat. The fish were abundant. We saw big numbers of speckled trout, who ate our gulf shrimp rigged on lead jig heads. Most were undersized. Since the freeze, the trout’s minimum length limit has been raised from 15 inches to 17, which is a big jump.
Later in the day, I felt like I’d hooked a bigger fish, and I knew it was a big trout. He was not in the same league as the 14-inch fish that we had been releasing. When he jumped we really got excited. Eddie netted the beautiful silver, black-spotted, yellow mouth speckled trout. He measured just under the maximum length limit of 23 inches.
We caught about five nice redfish that did not quite reach the 20-inch minimum limit, but were great fighters and added to the joy of the morning.
Flounder were also on the drop-off. Most were undersized (below 15 inches), but several of those flat fish ended up in our ice box. Then Eddie hooked a big fish — it was super powerful and stayed down. I did catch a brief glance of the fish and I knew it was a huge, trophy flounder. The fish was peeling down the canal when Eddie reached up and tightened his drag on the reel. The line sounded like a rifle when it broke, it was a real rookie mistake. Don’t mess with the drag when a fish is running!
My brother Wayne and I took his boat to the canal, but decided to fish the Packery flat because the tide was wrong for fishing the canal — a low, falling tide is best. The fish go into the canal and feed on food that is washed off the flat.
The high tide sent us to the flat and it wasn’t a bad move. The flat was full of black drum fish. Fortunately, we had pulled into the bait stand and bought some dead shrimp beforehand. We tipped our lures with small pieces of shrimp and that was the ticket. We never got a hold of a big school of the drum, but we picked up seven scattered fish, most about 17 inches in length. One nice flounder ended up in the box with the drum.
Drum are great fighters and wonderful table fare. When cooked with redfish you can’t tell the difference. So don’t be afraid to face the heat and go fishing, if you quit by noon it’s bearable with solid returns.