Certainly we are on the edge of “D” day as this article is published, the D indicating the opening of both deer and duck seasons. Much time and expense has already been put forth just getting ready for these annual events. On the Friday before the deer season opener, our local major highways are packed to the gills with vehicles either carrying ATVs or pulling trailers with ATVs aboard. The deer hunters, being confident folks, will also be taking plenty of. The caravan reminds one of mass evacuation that we have witnessed before, except on a smaller scale.
The water fowlers will be traveling also, but not such great distances as the deer hunters. Many among that group are local folks who need only to head out early on the morning of the hunt. There are, however, still a heap of folks that do come into our area from other places. There are also the traveling duck and goose hunters that have their own hunting camps, and they will join the convoy for a distance. Add to that the waterfowl hunters that hunt with guides or outfitters, now seeming to be the majority of water fowlers, and that’s why I call Nov. 5, 2011, “D” day.
Now that the hoard of hunters have done their thing, the numbers of anglers will, at least for a time, be fewer. What’s really great is that the saltwater fish catching could hardly be much better. There are, of course, a majority of our local outdoor folks that enjoy both hunting and fishing. There are some outfitters that offer a program called blast and cast. This allows their clients to go hunting at the crack of dawn and then go fishing in the afternoon. When the weather cooperates, both ventures will be successful.
The fall of each and every year beginning in late September and going until the lake and bay water temperatures gets too cold, fish catching is just plain super. Most folks agree that the primary reason for the fall action is the cool fronts that come through the area and move the shrimp and baitfish from the marshes. The local marsh bayous that empty into the rivers, the inland lakes, and bays have been absolutely chock-full of small shrimp. Whenever there is an outgoing tide, the speckled trout, redfish and flounder will show up to feed on that bait. There will also be some tasty baitfish included that are also attractants for the larger predators.
It would seem that when the north winds and ebbing tides move the water from the marshes, the shrimp and baitfish would all be moved out. What I’ve noticed over the years is that, in the fall of year, each time the waters begin to fill the marshes, the bait seems to return. That makes it possible to score big each time that the tides and north winds come around. The bait will be in that moving water, and so will the fish.
The flounder are not considered strong swimmers, and they will locate a good spot to catch their prey and lie in ambush. Whenever they go to an area, they immediately camouflage themselves. On sandy bottoms, the flukes will cover themselves with it and they are nearly invisible. On shell or rocks, they become spotted to appear to be just part of the structure. The better time is just before the outgoing tides stops. They seem to move into the feeding areas in good numbers at that time. Don’t forget that the limit for Texas flounder in November is two per angler per day.
Most of the anglers prefer to use live bait when going after the flukes. Mud minnows, shrimp, shad and finger mullet are all good choices. Anglers that choose to use the lead-head jigs and plastic tails will also score well. With the lures, put a small piece of fresh shrimp or a gulp on the hook for better action.
Yes, there are speckled trout and redfish feeding in the same areas as are the flounder. The largest numbers of both of those fish are in the more open water. They are traveling in schools feeding upon the shrimp that have already departed from the marshes. There are large flocks of seagulls also feeding on the shrimp. The birds will show the anglers where the schools of fish are feeding. Whenever there is light or no wind, it is possible to see the fish striking on the surface as they chase the shrimp. Limit catches have been the rule rather than the exception. There specks and redfish, too. There are some good sand trout under the flocks of gulls and they are super on the table. Lead-head jigs and live shrimp have been the better offerings. With so many folks going hunting, fishing is super.
Tune in to KSET 1300 at 6 p.m. on Thursdays for Billy Halfin Outdoors and listen to the updates daily at 7:25 a.m., 12:25 p.m. and 6:25 p.m.