"Lots of legal trout and undersized reds," is how Gary Messemer at South Bay Bait and Charters www.fishportaransas.com summed up the Port Aransas fishing this week. Gary told us that anglers fishing South Bay with mud minnows on a light No. 3 hook with no weight are finding fast action on these feisty fish. He suggests launching at Fin and Feather or the TPW Compound Harbor and hitting the submerged flats. Black drum and sheepshead are hiding around the gas wells looking for mud minnows on a Carolina rig with 1/4 ounce eggsinker. The best bite has been behind Hog Island. Look for the sheepshead on the docks and around the jetties while the black drum will hold around the rigs. "The places we usually find these fish have been unproductive," Gary adds.
Terry Stuart at TW's Bait and Tackle in Nags Head www.twstackle.com, North Carolina had just returned from Venice, Louisiana when we called. Despite bad weather, Terry was able to get on some great fishing. "It had rained 14 inches in 12 hours and the wind was blowing 25 knots," Terry said, "we were the only truck in the parking lot." The weather didn't stop them from catching fish. Terry reports that they caught over 50 reds up to 24 pounds in one day. All the fish were caught on Gulp! on a 1/4 ounce jig head under a popping cork. "If we caught that many fish in those conditions," Terry wondered, "imagine how many we could have caught on a nice day."
When we called David at Dave's Tackle Box www.davidstacklebox.com he was recovering from an epic run of sheepshead. He said that anglers fishing in Cedar Lake were whacking big fish with a live shrimp fished under a popping cork. He added that the same areas were holding flounder and speckled trout. All of the fish were caught on the oyster beds. Anglers wading the shallows were going toe to toe with some big trout. Dave said that Lee Warmky of Half Breed Guide Service www.fishingwithlee.com had two fish over 31 inches this week. Dave heard that the hot bait has been a weedless soft plastic or a topwater plug. Flounder fishing was also good. Dave said guys were catching doormat flatties under the trout. "We caught the fool out of flounder this week," he said.
It must be spring, because the first cobia was caught out of Orange Beach this week. Tom Pace at J&M Tackle www.jmtackle.com reported that several skippers reported catching cobia just off the beach with live eels crabs or 2-ounce jigs. "This is a big deal," he said. Offshore action continues to produce smiles as tuna, wahoo, and sword fish are being caught on the steps and around the oil rigs. Tom said that the tuna and wahoo are being caught on naked ballyhoo while the swords are coming at night on rigged squid. Switching gears to inshore fishing, Tom also reported that pompano are showing up in the surf. Guys soaking sandfleas or shrimp chunks on two hook bottomrigs from the beach at Eden Bar or 4 Bamas Bar are catching good numbers of good-sized pompano. He said that trout fishing is also gaining momentum with anglers finding fish at night under dock lights with topwater poppers. "In another month the trout bite will be solid," he said.
It's Spring Break on South Padre Island and the fish are ready to party. Gary Williams at Gordon's Bait and Tackle reported that the red fish action is unprecedented. "It's the best we've seen in 40 years," he said. Anglers fishing out of Port Isabelle on the South Bay or the Lower Laguna Madre are scoring large numbers of big reds with live shrimp or Gulp! shrimp under a popping cork. Guys wading the shallows are pulling a few big trout out of the deeper holes with live or artificial mullet. Gary told us that the shipping channel is holding some monster black drum. "Many of the fish are over the 52 inch maximum size limit," he said. Guys fishing the rocks at Boca Chica Beach are scoring sheepshead with a piece of shrimp on a 2/0 bronze hook. Gary says, "use a hook with a short shank and thick wire to penetrate the fish's hard mouth."
When we asked Herb at SGS Causeway Bait and Tackle for a fishing report, he gave us a weather report. "It would be good for windsurfing," he said. Herb said that when Port Arthur anglers get a break from the wind, they are catching red drum on oyster beds and under diving birds in Lake Sabine. The best of the action is on soft plastics along the Bayous and Louisiana side of the lake. Herb told us that speckled trout fishing has been hit or miss. He expects that to change as the water warms. "It's cold one day and warm the next," he says. One thing that has been reliable is sheepshead fishing from the bank at Walter Umphrey State Park and on the North Levee Road. Flounder fishing has also been good around shell banks on the north side of the lake. Again, the wind is the deciding factor in flounder fishing. "This is Texas," Herb reminds us, "so you never know what the weather will do." -Ric Burnley
This week, Captain Mike on the Annie Girl ran his final trip of the season out of Louisiana before heading home to Orange Beach. "Our last trip was one of our best," he reported, telling us that he scored yellowfin tuna up to 185 pounds and a half dozen big dolphin while fishing the rigs in Green Canyon. "I hope someone calls and books another trip," Mike said, "I don't want to go home, yet!"
The big news out of Port Aransas, Texas this week is big sheepshead on the jetties. Tom McDonnell at Port A Outfitters reported that guys dropping shrimp - dead shrimp or ghost shrimp - with a long shank hook under a small cork are connecting with some big sheepies. Other guys fishing the jetties are casting a sea lice to the shipping channel and hooking into some monster black drum. "One guy got a 65 pounder last week," he said. Tom added that the beaches are covered up with whiting and shad. The fish are swarming along the 4X4 beaches looking for shrimp, Gulp, or Fishbites on a Carolina rig with 1/4 to 1/2 ounce eggsinker. When the skippers make it offshore, Tom said, they're catching wahoo on the Southern Rock by trolling ballyhoo on Islanders. - Ric Burnley
After sputtering to a start, it looks like the yellowfin tuna bite has turned on out of Venice, Louisiana. The Reel Peace fishing team www.reelpeace.com was thick in the bite last weekend, boating yellowfin up to 157 pounds. Captain Devlin Roussel said, "It was like someone turned a switch." He also reported blackfin tuna and plenty of king mackerel. Roussel and crew are fishing with live bait, so the action is fast and the fish are furious. Captain Peace Marvel put it best, "Get off the couch and let's go fishing."
Red snapper are making hot news out of Freeport, Texas www.surfsidebeachcharters.com this week. Sharon at Surf Side Charters told us that the boats have been finding limits of reds (and releasing more) up to 30 pounds. "The best thing is that the fish are in state waters," she said. Currently, snapper fishing is off limits in federally controlled out beyond three miles. Sharon said that the best bait has been live pogies and croaker but sardines will work in a pinch. She said that the action has been centered around the Lump, Southeast Lump, and Rocks. - Ric Burnley