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April 10, 2012

Tips for Texas Seatrout

Texans get stealthy for arm-long speckled trout while fishing on the tidal flats

It was the bronze-skinned, blue-eyed blondes hanging from the roll bars of Jeeps that first brought my buddies and me to Crystal Beach, Texas, on the Bolivar Peninsula in the late ’80s, but it was the big, hungry speckled trout riding the tides that kept us coming back long after our adolescence faded into memory.

Armed with pearl and red-tailed tandem-rigged Creme Lit’l Fishies from Granny’s Bait Camp, we’d shoulder next to a dozen other anglers wading the edge of the pass. We’d toss the lures up-current into the deep channel of Rollover Pass and allow the tide do its magic. Thump — we’d set the hook and watch an angry speck bound to the surface, lashing its head from side to side. When the fishing was good, two or three of us would have one on at the same time — when it was great, a half-dozen of us would be bowed up simultaneously.

Behold, a wader was born.

Tide and Terrain
Water temperatures, tides, moon phases and baitfish activity, among other variables, determine when and where to wade. Fish swim from passes to channels to bars to spoil islands to grass, mud, shell and sand flats, but not necessarily in that order. Am I making sense yet?

The point is: Keep it simple. Read the tides and water levels, and adjust your game plan.

When tides are bloated, speckled trout scatter along flats in knee- to waist-deep water, often as tight as they can maneuver against the shoreline. Why? That’s probably where the Snickers-size mullet are.

Great spots are back lakes and extended bayous that run to secluded marsh ponds. I like working undulating sand and grass flats on an incoming tide, tossing to sandy pockets while trout dart from the grass in ambush.

When tides are below normal, fish fall off the shorelines or stage in deeper guts. You might have to shuffle to chest-deep water and cast to deeper drop-offs to find them.

In my home waters of Matagorda, I walk down the edge of a reef in the middle of East Bay and fan-cast on top of, along the drop-off next to, and in the deep water surrounding the shell bar. All three depths hold potential, depending on the tide. When you find the sweet spot, most often determined by baitfish, work it thoroughly.

Another solid low-water locale is the edge of the Intra-coastal Waterway. The ICW extends from Sabine to South Padre Island and parallels some of the most prolific speckled trout estuaries in the Lone Star State.

I have caught some heart-pounders on the edge of East Matagorda Bay, and the number of trophy trout that have been duped by waders around the ICW spoil islands near Baffin Bay, Port Mansfield and the rest of the Lower Laguna Madre is well documented.