Speckled trout still hanging in deep waters
We fishermen force it every year - summer. We get glimmers of heavenly sunshine in April only to head back to the closet for a jacket a week later.
It's the middle of May now, and I wore a jacket on the boat most mornings this week. Sure, it says May on the calendar, but fish see it differently, obvious by the locales they are frequenting these days.
Normally, I get lots of folks on my boat this time of year who have waded with me for years.
"We are wading, right?" is a question I got on three occasions this week.
"Do you want to wade or catch fish?" was my response.
Hey, I am craving a solid topwater session over sand and grass on the south shoreline. There is a little flat in West Matagorda Bay calling my name. But it is just not time yet.
"The fish are just not pulling up on the shorelines consistently," said guide Ray Sexton, of Palacios. "Every year is different, but this year seems to be a lot later than normal."
Sexton specializes in wading with live croakers May through September. If you didn't know it, a live, grunting, free-lined golden croaker is the best barometer, short of gill nets, of the speckled trout population. If trout are there, they seldom turn down the finfish offering. They sometimes turn down a Bass Assassin, Super Spook, Top Dog, Corky, Gulp, live shrimp or finger mullet, but rarely does a spotted seatrout not sink its fangs in a croaker.
Sexton began fishing croakers last week and had nominal success but not the catches he is accustomed to producing.
"We are wading wet, but it is still cold in the morning," he said. "These trout are not in a summer pattern yet."
Thankfully, my clients listened to my professional advice, stayed in the boat and were rewarded. We found trout to 27 inches over scattered shell and mud in East Matagorda Bay in about 5 feet of water while most waders struggled for a couple of fish apiece.
"These fish are in the middle of the bay," said guide Charlie Paradoski. "We are foolish if we don't fish for them when the weather allows because there are just as many or more big trout in deeper water than on the shorelines."
Paradoski said he waded early in the week at the pressure of his clients and had only a handful of fish, while guide Tommy Alexander's boat took trout to 28 inches while drifting deep shell.
"I tried to tell them we would catch more fish out of the boat," he said. "The next day, we went to East Bay and caught 30 trout, most of them 20-24 inches."
Reports from Sabine Lake, Galveston and Port O'Connor echo the same notion.
"We have been catching solid trout on deeper open water shell in San Antonio Bay," said guide Harold Dworaczyk of Bay Flats Lodge in Seadrift.
"Limits of speckled trout have been caught in the middle of the lake in 5-7 feet of water," said guide Randy Foreman, of Sabine Lake.
Will this pattern change with consistent warmer weather?
Sure. Any day really.
Until temps are warm enough to make a morning run without a jacket, I'll take my chances in the deep.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).