by Captain Chris Martin
They after-tax day the fish didn’t seem to lose their luster to Uncle Sam. The lodge welcomed the sixth man group Kevin F for two-one half-day trips on San Antonio Bay and the Back Lakes. The limits to near limits of speckled trout under calmer morning winds gave way to a more slim afternoon bite u der higher winds. Today’s trout were much larger than the past few days and there were fewer undersized so when you were ON you just knew it was another 18″! With the increasing winds of late afternoon the redfish bite improved and while we did not get limits we left them biting when we had to leave them…one thing you do not want to miss at Bay Flats are the evening appetizers and camaraderie under the awning of the outdoor kitchen. So the “high fives” and “knuckle bumps” of the fishing led to hand shakes and “congrats” of happy hour and all seemed satisfied of the days “work”.
Captain Nick Dahlman
Caught near limits of trout today drifting 3-5 ft. of green streaked water. Fish were holding on a mud/grass/shell mix bottom. Weather was mostly cloudy all day with winds ESE 15-25 mph.
Unfamiliar Can Be Favorable
It’s the middle of April, and the weather channel says we’re in store for the warmest day we’ve had yet. I’d been off of the water the past week, and I wanted to spend the next couple days hunting for a good trout bite so I would be fully prepared for when a group of close friends arrived later in the week for a fun-filled weekend of fishing. I awoke on the first of this two day scouting adventure only to find that my boat had been completely drenched from heavy dew that had formed overnight, and I could tell that the day’s humidity was probably going to be approaching a level I might expect to see in June and July. I prepared for the day by telling myself that I was primarily going to only be scouting on this day, and that my goal was to spend very little time actually fishing. I wanted to find bait activity, not just bait. I was underway as the sky brightened, on my way across the bay to the protection of the southern shoreline. A southeast wind of about 15mph was forecasted for the day, so I wanted to be looking for bait in places where I thought I would find the most attractive water.
Same Old Dance
I spent the majority of the first morning visiting several of the areas that had recently produced for me. In some cases, I found the presence of bait fish – sometimes pods and pods of bait fish – but, very little of the bait was really “active”. Sure, I saw the occasional jumping mullet, but nothing at all out of the ordinary. Many of the stops I was making were in areas of mud and grass, with a little oyster shell thrown in here and there. And it seemed that whenever even a small amount of shell was in the mix of structure there was more activity on the part of the bait fish in those areas. My travels throughout the first day turned out carrying me past a place I had never fished in all the years that I’ve been fishing. I had never really paid much attention to this place until this morning when I happened to notice mullet-after-mullet being driven feverishly to the surface. Now then, I don’t mean that there were dozens of mullet jumping all at the same time, all in the exact same place. Instead, I saw a scattered pattern of consistent mullet jumps over an approximate two-to-three acre area. I stopped the boat and peered into my binoculars for a closer look. I never saw anything other than the mullet, but I saw a lot of them. I also saw what appeared to be the crowns of two separate oyster pads that looked to be about fifty yards apart from each other, and noticed that most of the mullet activity was taking place in very close proximity to, or right above, the areas where the oyster happened to be located. I made note of what I had seen, and then made my way on down the shoreline to the next place I wanted to visit.
Try My Luck
The next morning I got an earlier start, as I wanted to actually spend time fishing in some of the places I had been the previous day. All the way across the bay I couldn’t think of anything other than wanting to try my luck in the place where I had seen all of the mullet jumping around the shell – the place where I had never stopped to fish before. About fifteen minutes later, I was there. I approached quietly, and anchored the boat about one-quarter mile from the shoreline that I wanted to wade into. The first light of day was just making its way into the sky as I hopped over the side of the boat and into the water. Like I said, I’d never waded this portion of this shoreline, so I’d tied a pearl/chartreuse slow-sinking Corky to the end of my line so I could explore the water ahead of me as I made my way toward the shell pads.
The Next Cast
There was enough light in the sky that I could now begin to tell that I was still quite a distance from the shell pads. It wasn’t but a moment later that I had what I believed to be my first hit of the day. I quickly retrieved my lure and immediately placed it right back where it had just come from. Again, a bump, but this time I wrote it off as being shell that my lure was probably nudging as I reeled it in. My next cast was a little more to the left, which was directly in front of my wading path. My previous few steps had gotten a bit softer, so I figured that I may now be casting into soft mud as I made my way toward the shell pads. The lure hit the water and began its descent when it was suddenly met with a huge load of resistance. I leaned back and set the hook, and the fight was on. Moments later, one of the most beautiful reds I’d ever seen swam exhausted at my side. I caught one more keeper red in that exact same spot before moving on to the mullet at the shell pads.
As I began approaching the first shell pad, I had a little trouble keeping the Corky off the shell, so I quickly switched to a favorite top water plug I was carrying with me. I made some casts with the surface walker in water that was 3-4 feet deep, but as soon as I placed the lure in 1-2 feet of water closer to the first shell pad, the bite seemed to be almost unstoppable. There were a lot of undersized trout in the mix, but I was able to catch and release three trout over twenty inches before I left them biting. The key that day had been the active bait and the shell. Another key for that day, one that I had almost forgotten, was the importance (once again) of fishing the signs, and not the spot. Remember to practice CPR, “Catch, Photo, and Release”, whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O’Connor/Seadrift region.