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Kayak Fishing Tips

April 30th, 2019

brandon rowan trout Kayak Fishing TipsThat’s a paddlin’! Tales and observations from a floating piece of plastic

By Brandon Rowan

GREENER PASTURES

“Yup that’s the spot.” In the back of the marsh, far removed from the beaten path and at least several miles away from the launch. Yup, that’s the one.”

I don’t know about you, but that train of thought has definitely danced across my mind while scanning Google Earth for that new honey hole. I mean, the extra effort and difficulty will reap equal rewards right? That sometimes rings very true but is not always the case.

I made it a point to get out, paddle and explore new areas this year. Numerous trips in, I started noticing a trend: a surprising amount of good catches came from spots I typically passed during the journey to the “honey hole.”

Sometimes it was a shad flip, a hovering bird, or even a last ditch effort that put me on a location but you can’t argue with results of trout, redfish and flounder. Believe me, I won’t discount these ‘easy’ spots in the future.

HEAD ON A SWIVEL

Even subtle signs, like a single shad or mullet flip, can expose feeding fish underneath an otherwise calm water surface. Hell, what’s one more extra cast? Plus, it’s a pretty triumphant moment when the thump of a good fish confirms your suspicions.

Birds can be your guide in the marsh too. Hovering terns and gulls are a dead give away to activity but don’t discount shore walkers, like the Spoonbill. Their lives depend on their ability to find bait. Where there’s bait, there are predators.

down south lures trout Kayak Fishing Tips

I caught a lot of fish in late winter and early spring on these super model Down South Lures. Special colors, like this plum/chartreuse mullet eye and Purple Reign sans chartreuse tail, can only be found at special events like the Houston Boat Show and Fishing Show. Contact DSL owner Michael Bosse at 210.865.8999 for information on availability.

Subsurface twitch baits like this Rapala Twitchin’ Mullet are just plain fun to fish and productive, too. I caught my biggest trout of the year, 27 inches, on this olive green 06 model.

MEAT’S ALWAYS ON THE MENU

Knowledge of your area and the available forage through each season is crucial. Late winter and early spring was a great time to throw mullet imitations and I leaned on topwaters and big plastics like the Down South Lures super model.

But the days lengthened, the trees began to bloom and it wasn’t long before the bay was flush with freshly hatched bait species. Predators don’t overthink fishing locations and easy spots. They are opportunistic feeders and love easy meals. Later in spring, I starting throwing small baitfish imitations, like the smaller sized Rapala Twitchin’ Mullet.

One foggy April afternoon I was rewarded with a beautiful 27” speckled trout. I found her intercepting small shad forced back into the cove by a hard wind driven current. After a spirited fight, measurement and quick picture, I set her free and watched her swim away strong.

Egret Baits’ 2” Vudu Shrimp under an oval cork is a favorite in the marsh when fish are keyed in on itty bitty shrimp. I like pearl/chart or glow.

SHRIMP DINNER

Looking ahead to May and June, shrimp imitations will be a good bet. The surf is going to start looking real flat and I’ll be ditching the kayak for west end beach wading or seawall rock hopping. I love catching trout on topwater, but by far some of my most productive days have come from rigging a clear/gold D.O.A. Shrimp under a popping cork.

Glassy surf and its fishy possibilities are the stuff of dreams. But the stout early summer winds of the upper coast are often our reality. If that’s the case, you’ll find me in my favorite stretch of marsh chasing redfish. They eat small in my spot and rarely turn down a 2” Vudu Shrimp under a short leader and oval cork.

It’s about to get hot my friends so take care to keep yourself hydrated and safe. I hope to see you all out there!

Galveston Redfish and Trout Tactics in September

August 31st, 2016

lightfoottrout Galveston Redfish and Trout Tactics in September

Tom Lightfoot with a fat trout caught on a Slammin’ Chicken Bass Assassin Sea Shad.

By Capt. Steve Soule | theshallowist.com

September probably isn’t the first month that comes to mind for most people when it comes to great Galveston redfish and trout fishing on the upper Texas Coast. Most of us have other things on our minds, like avoiding the heat, or getting back in the swing of things with the kids back to school. Given these distractions, fishing doesn’t usually come first.

Yes, the heat can still be oppressive in September, but unbeknown to many, the fishing can be every bit as hot. Most years just surviving July and August is enough to slow down the average angler around the bay, with high temperatures and light winds. These dog days of summer can be very tough, if you’re a drift fisher; there is not much to move the boat, or if you pole a boat in shallow water it’s just downright hot. If you like to wade fish, you might find an advantage of at least being a little cooler.

The hot and dry temperatures of July and August can truly make anglers work for their catch. There are some definite differences in where the redfish and trout will be when we hit drought conditions. It’s quite frequent that the fish will move from open bay shorelines, where salinities sky rocket, to marshes, creeks and rivers where salt levels in the water are more comfortable and food is more abundant. The extreme hot and dry conditions common in July and August help set up the subtle changes that September brings.

Even though we may see some high temperature days, there are some notable differences that seem to bring fish back to open water flats and create even better conditions for fish to feed consistently. September tends to be a month when we see a good bit more Gulf moisture coming onshore. This rain helps a great deal in not only bringing down the salt levels across the bay, but also by cooling the water several degrees during the peak heating hours of the day.

These late summer rains do a great job of lowering salinity without the harm of runoff, which carries dirty water to the bay that is often contaminated with everything from our streets, lawns and anything else that is upstream. This also differs greatly from spring rains where we often see huge amounts of river and creek run off which can have an adverse effect on the bay. The major difference with summer rains is that they fall directly on the bay, causing an immediate temperature and salinity drop that seems to excite shrimp and small baitfish activity and in turn, accelerates predator feeding.

So, we’ve managed to cool off the bay temperatures during the highest heat of the year, we’ve also lowered the salinity, just after peak salinities. Those two changes alone would help kick up feeding activity a good bit. We also see the peak of baitfish and crustacean growth and activity. Shrimp crops have grown, crabs come out of the marsh, numerous small species of fish are reaching sizes where they migrate out into open water and this all adds up to some great fishing.

lightfootred Galveston Redfish and Trout Tactics in September

Brenda Lightfoot with a marsh redfish caught on a weedless gold spoon.

Pick your species and pick your poison

There aren’t many techniques that aren’t effective in September, whether you choose to fish with live bait, artificial, or even fly, the bays are alive both shallow and deep. I don’t really spend much time out in open or deep water, but the change in the shallows is nothing short of exceptional. Early September is almost always a great month for finding tailing redfish, not just single fish, but schools that are often bigger than other months of the year. September is also one of the peak months for me to find larger trout in shallow water.

My approach changes little throughout the year, but for those who aren’t as familiar with shallow water, take your time in your search. Don’t run your boat directly up onto the area that you intend to fish. Come off plane early and use a troll motor, push pole or wade into the area. When looking for signs of activity, shore birds are a great sign, with active mullet being equally important. Often times these fish will slick, and redfish will stir up mud. When you get into the area you want to fish, continue to take your time and cover the water thoroughly. There are a lot of days when schools of feeding fish just don’t make a big commotion. If you’re looking for tailing reds, keep in mind that they don’t usually make much noise and the surface disturbance is minimal.

One last thought, having a shallow water boat is a great thing and opens up lots of new territory that isn’t available to many people. Keep in mind that fish are shallow for several reasons; availability of food sources, protection from larger predators and possibly at the top of the list is shelter from the noise and danger of all the boats that run in open water. So, if you choose to operate your boat in shallow water at speed when looking for fish, remember that even though you may gain some short term satisfaction, in the long run you are doing more harm than good to both the fish and the habitat. Fish tend to operate mostly on instinct, but they do get conditioned to their environment and repeatedly getting run off of their shallow feeding grounds only moves them to areas that afford greater safety.

Galveston Marsh Fishing and Kayaking Report

July 5th, 2016

cody hobie Galveston Marsh Fishing and Kayaking Report

Cody Phillips with another good red.

By Cody Phillips

egret baits wedgetail Galveston Marsh Fishing and Kayaking Report

Egret Baits Wedgetail Mullet

With all the rain this month, most kayak anglers were deterred from getting on the water. The rain has stacked fish in certain locations up and down the coast. Those who have braved the weather were rewarded with full stringers of speckled trout and redfish. This time of year, the Gulf pushes tons of small baitfish into the bays including brown shrimp, shad, croaker and glass minnows. That’s why my lures of choice have been Wedge tails in blk/chartreuse or chartreuse and Vudu Shrimp by Egret Baits. Last week, the big gulf shrimp hit the coast. Many people were taking advantage of this by cast netting on the beach front and loading up.

Marsh report:

With the higher than normal tides, we have taken full advantage by locating schools of redfish in the back marshes. Groups of 10 to 25 reds have been swimming the banks destroying anything in their paths. If you’ve never experienced this you need to put it on you bucket list. I’ve witnessed this hundreds of times and my adrenaline still skyrockets every time. If you can cast a rod and reel, you can guarantee a redfish on the end of your line.

Preferred boats:

hobie-pro-angler

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler

The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is favored because I can cover tons of water with half the effort thanks to the mirage drive. Also having your hands free increases your catch percentage on the water by being able to fire a bait at any fish that shows their location. Seconds can be the difference between you hooking up with a fish.

hobie-outback

Hobie Mirage Outback

The Hobie Mirage Outback also has all the advantages like the Pro Angler but is a lighter hull that allows you to load and unload by yourself. This boat maneuvers very well with minimal effort.

Fishing Bull Tides & Spring Winds

February 26th, 2015

souleredfish Fishing Bull Tides & Spring Winds

Torrey Hawkins releases a 29-inch marsh red.

By Capt. Steve Soule

Spring on the upper Texas Coast brings the return of many things, sunshine and warming temperatures are what we tend to notice the most.

springmarshflies Fishing Bull Tides & Spring WindsAs much as those two factors make us rush to the bays, they are not the keys to angling success in the Spring. Though they do in fact play an important role, they are not nearly as influential as most anglers believe them to be.

Conditions, specifically those that we can easily detect above the water, are not the same as those that a predator like a redfish or speckled trout feels below the water’s surface. If I was to give my personal estimation of the two conditional factors that have the greatest influence, they would have to be water temperature and daily photo period. These are what both predator and prey feel, and are the factors that drive spawning and the return to shallow bays and estuarine waters.

Beyond sun and rising water temps, wind is probably the most notable factor for anglers, and probably the one that is the most discouraging. We can’t change the wind and it isn’t always easy to forecast, but we should all understand its impact and learn to use it to our advantage.

Strong southerly winds and powerful incoming tides of Spring are the arteries that deliver the life blood to our coastal bays and estuaries. These will typically start bringing new life as early as February, and continue well into April and even May. These bull tides bring numerous prey species, along with their food sources, back to the shallows. Each of the returning animals’ migration, whether large or small in distance, is timed perfectly by the return or resurgence of their primary food sources.

An entire article could be dedicated to prey species, their eating habits and preferred habitat, but knowing a few factors that play critical roles in locating and catching trout and redfish are worthy of mention. Blue and stone crabs, white, brown and to a lesser degree, pink shrimp, glass minnows, menhaden and shad, as well as sheepshead minnows and many more all make their annual return to the estuaries during spring. They wash inshore on incoming tides towards lower salinity estuarine waters where they can thrive and find abundant microbial food sources.

The Bass Assassin Sea Shad in Slammin’ Chicken is a good springtime marsh bait. Purple is a common color in juvenile blue crabs.

The Bass Assassin Sea Shad in Slammin’ Chicken is a good springtime marsh bait. Purple is a common color in juvenile blue crabs.

The Norton Bull Minnow in Texas Roach is good for low visibility marsh water. Use 1/16-1/8 oz jigheads with these soft plastics.

The Norton Bull Minnow in Texas Roach is good for low visibility marsh water. Use 1/16-1/8 oz jigheads with these soft plastics.

As anglers, we can all benefit from a greater understanding of the life cycles and influences within our chosen fishing grounds.

Just as these animals arrive, due to abundance of food, so do their predators. In nature, every step of the food chain is driven by three basic, instinctual needs: food, safety, and reproduction. Knowing this makes it very clear that to find our target fish, we must find its target or preferred food. As anglers, we can all benefit from a greater understanding of the life cycles and influences within our chosen fishing grounds. We must accept that sometimes the things that frustrate us the most can provide the greatest advancement in our angling skills.

Wind can make our fishing days challenging; knowing where those winds deposit concentrations of prey species can make them more productive. West Galveston Bay’s notorious winter “moss” can frustrate us to no end, but the realization that its “decay stage” provides possibly the largest food source for many returning and emerging prey species, might well make you look more closely at the areas most inundated.

Knowing some of the favorite prey species and their preferred habitat and food sources are great. Now, it’s up to you as a successful angler to locate them. Most of these small species are difficult to physically locate. Thankfully, there are some larger and more widespread animals that can help us locate the smaller food sources that often lead to greater catches. Since most every angler reading this has likely experienced fishing an area devoid of prey species and the ensuing unproductive day, we probably all can now see the importance of finding the food source.

Focus your efforts, whether on open bay shorelines, or in the marshes, on the areas populated by mullet. They are not only much easier to see, but they also eat the same decaying plant material that most of the smaller prey species dine on. Also, take the time to explore every stretch of water inhabited by shore birds such as egrets, herons, ibis and spoonbill. Areas where terns and gulls are diving are likely to have juvenile surface dwelling animals, riding currents. Many of these are extremely small and hard to see, but don’t think that hungry predators would pass up on the opportunity to feast on these helpless little morsels.

Wendell Breazele with a nice fly caught trout.

Wendell Breazele with a nice fly caught trout.

Don’t let the most transitional season deter your efforts, use this season to explore and use your angling skills to locate fish in places you haven’t often looked. You will find, that even though spring fishing can be very challenging, it can also be very productive for those who armed with knowledge. You might just find some very aggressive fish that are waiting to reward you with explosive strikes.