And So It Begins...

Hello everyone, as you’ve been able to tell, I’ve been on a writing hiatus, but I can say it’s not a result of school, which is nice.

In fact, with school now on the backburner and south Texas temperatures dipping into the 40’s, I’ve been able to start my pursuit for those elusive trophy trout. Since early October, I’ve been to the coast about a half dozen times, and almost every trip has yielded a 5-fish TX limit, however numbers of trout and redfish have been really promising. In mid-October, I was able to stay in Corpus for 3-days and each day not only yielded quick limits, but the numbers of trout caught exceed the half century mark, and that’s being conservative. The best day was on Thursday, 23 Oct, when my dad drove from New Orleans to fish with me and his efforts we’re greeted with an easy limit and a catch and release session that lasted from 0900 to lunch. The biggest trout was probably close to 4.5lbs but was not pictured only because my pops, realized when he was going to take the picture that his phone had fallen out his waders. Luckily we found it in about 6”s of water, close to where he stood while watering the local cactus’ that grow amidst the rocks bordering the spot. In short, it was a fun time and great way for a father and son to reconnect. That being said, I just returned from fishing the last two days and left not only scratching my head, but rekindling the fire I had for targeting these big fish.

If you would have sat me down and told me that I would be able to fish two days in early November with air temps hovering about 50 degrees, water temps in the low 60’s and mild winds before a major front pushes through and not catch a trophy trout, let alone A trout. I would have called you a liar, and said you have no idea what you’re talking about, but that’s what happened. I fished for close to 20 hours in 2 days and only caught 3 redfish on the same flats that produced 100’s of fish earlier in the month, and trophy fish in Feb/Mar last year. So what happened? To be honest I don’t know, but I was able to put my finger on one thing that I think caused me to be unsuccessful.

I could not find the bait. Earlier in the last two months, the flats that I predominantly fish had lots of bait, and again, that’s being conservative. Not only we’re there shrimp busting the surface, but the numbers of mullets in the air at one time, if you scanned the horizon, were close to nearly 20. It was in fish terms, and since we’re close to thanksgiving, a cornucopia of food…a big trout buffet, if you will. There was so much food that I think earlier in the month, the trout we’re predominantly targeting shrimp vs. finfish. I was always under the impression that bait is bait in a predatory game fish’s eyes, but like most living creatures, they had a “hankering” for a certain type of food. Almost like most Louisianan’s, when crawfish season rolls around, they’ll simply bypass a cheeseburger and fries to get ahold of 10lbs of boiled mudbugs. In trout terms, I think the same held true…they wanted a shrimp po-boy vs the fried fish platter…hungry yet?

But what does the aforementioned topic have to do with you not catching fish? My answer…Everything! From tournament BASS angler Elites to legendary trout masters to crappie and walleye fisherman…one coined phrase that is in their repertoire is “Find the bait…find the fish.” Never in my life have I believed that to be entirely true until I drove back discouraged on I-37 from Corpus to San Antonio. It was 2 hours of maddening thought that questioned location, technique and even whether or not my travels for the remainder of the year, be worth the investment (not really). In short, I was struggling to accept my failed attempt to catch a trophy fish (really). But I trace it back to the presence of no baitfish. 8th grade science class indicates the importance of the food chain, and since I’m the apex predator, the success of my efforts is null and void without the presence of the tiniest of organisms. Fortunately for trout and other predatory gamefish, they are smarter than me. In short, they we’re able to adapt, but I on the other hand, was not, but I do have a few theories as to what may have happened.

The first, its duck season in South TX, and unlike the Louisiana delta, there is little marshland to house such a migration. Therefore, they set up shop by the thousands on various flats, mine included. Never in my life have I been mooned by so many pintail and big grey ducks, as they dipped down into the water looking for shell or other millet lying on the bottom. In fact, most of my time spent fishing was wishing I had a slingshot and a rock, let alone a Remington 870. If a shotgun were in my tackle box, I would have fielded a limit in 6 shots and my wife and I would be eating A LOT of duck and sausage gumbo.

The second, and more relevant, is the water temperature. Although I’ve caught plenty of trout in upper 40 degree water temps, I didn’t sneeze at a water temp in the low 60’s. However when the water temps completely skip the 70’s and plummets straight to the low 60’s from the low 80’s. The shock of such a change may have pulled the bait and the fish off the flats for just a bit. I compare this thought to getting into a hot bath, the first step is rather uncomfortable, the feeling in your feet gives way to the initial shock but after your body temps recalibrate to the external temp of the water, it starts to feel really good. I theorize the same holds true in the Corpus Christi estuary…those fish, despite being cold blooded, need to acclimatize to the sudden shock of colder temps and once they do it will be “back to normal” life on the flats. If and when that happens, those big girls will be right behind them lumbering amidst the sparse grass that remains due to the dip in temps, and when that happens, I’ll be donning my waders talking sense into my brain about getting out into the cold. Ah, life as a trophy trout addict!

As many who know me would tell you, I’m not one for making excuses. The last two days humbled me as an angler, leaving me to only make excuses about my lack of productivity, but to offer menial solutions to putting together the puzzle that I often talk about. As mentioned one thing I will be more vigilant of going forward is the presence of bait. I’ve come to appreciate that concept of fishing and more importantly the meaning of that corny phrase. I hope this blog post not only highlights that main point, but for me personally, makes me and you appreciate those fishing trips that are good. Trophy trout are a tough quarry, and if you’re into looking for them, know from my experience that you are wasting your time, if you’re not fishing in the presence of bait. However, when you do have that biggun weighed up on a boga grip, know that it’ll be worth it, and that the mullet around you will jump for joy!

God Bless, Tight Lines and Good luck this trophy trout season…it’s gonna be a good one!

Chris