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Woods, wings & water: Wildlife patterns changing with north winds

Oct. 21, 2013 at 5:21 a.m.

Large redfish have been showing in the marshes with elevated autumn tides.

Despite it saying fall on the calendar, most fish and fowl have been in warm weather mode until the recent cold front blew through this week.

"For the past 20 days, we have been getting most of our fish in 7 to 9 feet of water," said guide James Plaag. "It's the same thing we did all summer."

Plaag said most fish have been around slicks, tide lines, color changes and rafts of bait.

"The topwater bite has been pretty good," he said. "Even out of the boat, trout to 25 inches have been coming up on top. Slammin' Chicken Bass Assassin Sea Shad have worked along the shell."

Matagorda and Port O'Connor anglers have enjoyed similar results.

"The bite has been pretty good," said guide Lee Warmke. "There have been some big trout on the east end of the bay in about 5 feet of water."

Warmke said live shrimp have worked best with water temperatures climbing to 78 degrees.

"We worked fish with soft plastics on the last cold front, but when it got hot again, the trout wanted live bait," he said. "Maybe this cold snap will get them eating plastics again."

A bonus fish that has shown up in force lately is the sand trout. Not the most targeted species on the coast - but excellent tablefare - sand trout to 2 pounds have not been uncommon in East Matagorda Bay and Galveston Bay. Known for their hearty fight, "white trout" have been a welcomed addition to coolers this fall.

"These big sandies have saved the day when the speckled trout have been scattered," said guide Charlie Paradoski.

Birds should begin to work more consistently in the coming days as white shrimp leave the marsh on the falling tide. Good catches were reported under birds this week on Sabine and Calcasieu lakes, with scattered reports from Trinity and East Matagorda bay.

No one likes to sweat when they don camouflage, so hunters have enjoyed cooler temperatures and a light fleece pullover.

Specklebellies made an appearance this week on the coastal prairies along with a bounty of teal, pintails, gadwalls and shovelers. Redheads and scaup have been reported on bay flats around Port O'Connor.

Though most hunters have forgotten about doves, the South Zone remains open through Oct. 27, and doves have been building along goatweed, sunflowers and treelines near Wharton, El Campo, Hankamer and Winnie.

A much larger bird has been on the move. If you see big white avians with black wingtips heading south, it could be North America's tallest bird, the whooping crane, on its annual 2,400 mile fall migration from Canada to Texas. From the brink of extinction of 16 birds in the 1940s, whoopers, standing 5 feet tall, have wintered near the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge but have recently been found in other coastal areas and some sites in Central Texas.

There is a lot to see on an autumn day along the Texas coast. But you won't see it if you don't look.

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

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