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Woods, Wings & Water: First cold front of fall promises solid catches

Oct. 13, 2013 at 5:13 a.m.

Solid redfish were caught this week. Autumn has a way of producing the brightest of orange colors for shrimp-eating red drum.

North winds blew, thermometers dropped, windows opened, and everyone smiled. Tides receded, waters cooled, and the fish went nuts.

"It was a good week," said guide Lee Warmke, of Matagorda. "There were trout and redfish everywhere in the bay, and we caught limits on most mornings."

That sentiment was expressed from just about every other bay system on the upper and middle coast as well.

"The cool front and the rains helped drop the water temperature and really set off Galveston Bay," said Johnny Valentino of Eagle Point Bait Camp in San Leon. "There were limits of redfish on most days, and the sand trout run kicked off, too."

Sabine and Calcasieu lake anglers reported birds working over trout and redfish, while flounder began to show at the mouths of bayous on the falling tide.

"It's a good time to be on the lake," said Buddy Oakes of Hackberry Rod and Gun. "Our boats are coming to the dock with impressive catches of all three species."

The key to fall success in most bay systems from Sabine to Matagorda is the shrimp crop, and all signs point to a solid hatch of white shrimp, evident by the early bird action.

In past campaigns, when birds worked in late September and early October, the remainder of the fall through December has been a boon. Here's hoping that hypothesis holds true.

The drought has affected the shrimp crop for the past three years, and though Texas continues to suffer from lack of rainfall, timely rains this spring and summer have freshened marshes and sparked a better hatch.

"We haven't seen near this kind of action for about four years," said guide Charlie Paradoski. "I hope it holds up and gets even better."

Cooler temperatures prompted redfish to school in large pods. Like freight trains coming down the track, bronze-backs in groups of two dozen or more work the grass line for shrimp hiding in the cords and mud. Toss a soft plastic, topwater or live shrimp in front of the engine and set the hook.

"It started a little in September, but it has been getting better every day," said guide Michael Rolf. "The next few cold fronts should have pods of reds down every shoreline, and that's when it gets really good."

Galveston Bay anglers saw scattered bird action this week, but for the most part, a summer pattern continues to put fish in the boat.

"The fish we have caught still are chasing shad," said guide James Plaag of Silver King Adventures. "They are eating big shad, too - as big as my hand."

Plaag said he has chased fish on deep shell and behind slicks.

"When they are on shad, they slick up pretty good," he said. "Some have been under large schools of black drum. We have been casting and letting our Bass Assassins get below the drum, and the bigger trout have been cruising just under them."

This week could be just a teaser of what is to come when cold fronts begin to line up.

It could be a great fall.

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (binkgrimes@sbcglobal.net).

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