Fishing and weather heating up
The weather hasn’t been overly kind to area duck hunters, but no one else is complaining. We are currently still on a run of eight consecutive days with cool mornings, pleasant afternoons and no wind!
Other than folks that just enjoy being outdoors, the biggest benefactors of this unseasonably perfect weather have been local fishermen. The water clarity in the lake and both rivers is exceptional and surface temperatures are hovering in the mid-sixties. Most of the shrimp still exiting the marshes are small browns, but the fish could care less about the size.
Easily the most talked about bite of late has been the flounder run on both Sabine and Calcasieu. Calcasieu gets the most press because it gets the most fishing pressure this time of the year, thus generating more reports. Waders and boaters line up side by side on the shallow flats adjacent to the ship channel and while the catching can be incredibly good, you have to have a strong constitution to avoid petty confrontations.
Calcasieu also gets far more pressure as scores of Texas anglers migrate east to take advantage of the ten fish limit. The limit in Texas for the month of November is two fish.
I made two trips this past week targeting nothing but flounder and in spite of the more restrictive two fish limit, opted to stay in Texas and fish the ship channel south of the Causeway. We caught and released flounder from 2 to 6 pounds until we just got tired of catching fish.
It wasn’t nearly as crowded as the Calcasieu gig and we saw a lot of other folks doing just as well. On the second trip we fished a shallow break covered with scattered chunks of rock and debris. The bite was still very good, but we were going through an alarming number of jig heads and Gulp Mullet.
The solution proved to be switching to a Carolina rig with the Gulp Mullet rigged weedless on a 3/0 Wide gap hook. The ½ ounce slip sinker seldom if ever hung up and we eventually improved on the catching by fishing tandem baits. Two things about the tandem rig were really surprising.
When the bite would occasionally slow down, invariably one color would start producing better than the other. We were using pink on one drop and chartreuse on the other. The second was that all but one of the fish we caught over four pounds picked up both baits before we could set the hook. I guess the learning curve here is to wait a little longer when fishing two baits before setting the hook!
As far as flounder fishing the ship channel goes, I would not make the trip without two different colors of the Gulp on board. White may work as well at times, but there was absolutely no doubt that the fish would show a preference for one color or the other throughout the day.
We have also caught some very nice flounder in the river and ICW this week, but most of them were taken while fishing for trout and redfish. The preferred bait was a pumpkin-chartreuse Sea Shad or Flats Minnow rigged on a quarter ounce head. There has been no “go to” depth as we have caught them from three to 15 feet deep.
There are still some gulls to be chased both in the lake and in the ICW, but the larger trout and small schools of upper slot limit reds are transitioning from chasing shrimp to dining on finger mullet and large shad. If you are running the lake and spot gulls working right against the shoreline it is a safe bet that the reds are doing their thing and there is no “wrong” lure to throw in their direction.
The better trout now frequenting the shallow flats are eating top waters and longer tails rigged on 1/16th or 1/8th ounce heads. The Maniac Mullet and Corky Devil in glow-chartreuse and pink have also produced some trout in the 5 to 7 pound class this week.
John Downey had some folks out last week and while they were casting in one direction and catching keeper trout under the gulls he caught a seven pounder and two more over five working a topwater closer to the shoreline. That is definitely a case of maximizing your options!
Hopefully this weather will hold throughout the weekend and the bite will continue to improve. While Mom is jockeying for position and spending all of the Christmas money on Black Friday you can help her out by loading up the kids and heading to the lake. What a swap!
I wish for all of you a safe, healthy, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Keith Bessell with a very nice flounder caught while fishing the river!