Game fish getting harder to catch in Coastal Bend
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Fishing, or should I say catching speckled trout in the Coastal Bend arena, went from feast to famine for a big majority of anglers who were able to test the waters the past two weeks.
Game fish are becoming smarter and smarter and are consistently feeding more and more in the evening and at night under the cover of darkness.
There are still a lot of trout being caught but when "conditions are tough" a small percentage of fishermen that spend the most time on the water catch 90 percent of the fish.
Most of the time, it's not the ability of the angler knowing how to catch the fish, it's knowing where the fish are located and knowing when they will eat.
I have learned a lot from all the reports that I get from night fishermen and flounder giggers.
Most of their stories start off like this, "We loaded up all of our tackle and night fishing lights onto the boat and headed across the bay. We got to the area we had planned on fishing around mid-afternoon.
"Everyone jumped out of the boat and started fishing next to a slough that fed into a lake. This is the area we were going to set up our lights as soon as the sun went down. We fished hard for five to six hours and only had a couple of keepable trout. I couldn't believe it. The conditions were perfect and there was plenty of bait in the water. Are the trout gone? We went back to the boat to turn the lights on. After eating a sandwich and allowing the lights to stay on for about an hour, we started fishing. I've never seen so many trout and reds. We caught our limit in no time. The same area we fished during the day now had an abundance of fish show up and feed at night."
Flounder men have a similar story.
Most of their stories start off like this: "We left the dock in plenty of time to find clear water that we could see the bottom in. Once we found a protected clear area we got out of the boat and started wading trying to catch a redfish before dark.
"We always take our rod and reels to fish before dark or early the next morning. After several hours of not even getting a bite, we head back to the boat. We turn the lights on and ease along the shoreline looking for a flounder to stick.
"All of a sudden the shorelines are covered up with redfish. It's like they came out of nowhere. The area we just fished is now full of redfish. Where did they come from?"
I've heard these stories over and over again the past couple of years. In my opinion the fish are in the bays but are slowly changing their feeding habits. I think mainly that it is from boating pressure. Shorelines and back lakes that keep getting run over and over again have pushed the fish into deeper water in the middle of our bays.
In the evening and in the cover of darkness the fish move up to feed. Like I mentioned in my last article, they feed while we're sleeping. The net samples taken along the Coast still show that the numbers are up and not down on speckled trout and redfish.
I've also talked to several hunters who have seen wild hogs change their way of life to survive. Hogs eat rattlesnakes and now hunters have said after several encounters they have seen the rattlesnakes not rattle their rattles when approached. Why give your position away if you are going to be eaten by a wild hog or shot! Can you believe a rattlesnake not using his rattle when approached?
Other hunters have told me that quail have changed some of their habits to survive. Not always but a big percentage of the time after a covey is flushed they fly and land ahead of the group of hunters.
The hunters and bird dogs head straight to where the covey has landed. With guns loaded they approach the quail's landing zone but there are no quail. Instead of bunching up and staying where they landed, the quail now hit the ground running and are long gone by the time the hunter gets there. They have learned how to better survive.
There will be many days this summer when the surf gets calm and trout fishing from East Matagorda to Port Aransas will be awesome.
There will be many days when the major feeding times will be between 6 to 3:30 p.m. with a good current and light winds and trout fishing will be fantastic. But there will be a majority of days each month when fishing before 6 p.m. will be extremely tough. That's when you have to really fish smart. The guides didn't catch them all. There are plenty of fish in the bays. You just might have to fish late or at night to catch them.
I'll have the latest report on the Cedar Bayou project in my next article.
Good Fishin' Captain Danny Goyen
Danny Goyen is an outdoor writer and has been guiding on the Texas Coast for over 25 years.