Texas Gulf Coast Report


It would be exaggeration to say that every mile of Texas' expansive coastline spit up a few fish this past week, but I doubt there were many fishermen who went home empty-handed.

Another solid week overall is behind us despite some questionable weather and, in a few areas, inexplicably picky fish.

Upper coast waders posted fair strings of trout to 20 inches or so on soft plastics and topwaters fished along the edges of guts around San Luis Pass.

Neil Wilkins and his son, Trey, had a good bunch of fish early in the week under the watch of Capt. Greg Francis. Wilkins went back the following day and scored again.

Jigs also produced some decent flounder from that area recently. It's still quite early to even talk about a fall flounder "run" toward the Gulf, which will be a little different this November when a new regulation cuts the daily bag limit for that month to two fish.

Guide Kyle Burges from Port Aransas took a friend of mine fishing this week. Burges reported that the trout bite down his way has been unusually tough, especially for fishermen slinging plastic.

To be sure his crew stayed busy, Burges switched them to natural baits and concentrated on a few traditional redfish areas. Reds have been reliable for weeks now along most of the coast and should remain so well into fall.

As baitfish and shrimp get flushed from the extreme back ends of mid-coast bays and marshes, anglers there are going to find out whether their trout are elusive or absent. My guess is that the fish have shifted gears and locations dramatically this summer behind an extended drought. Hypersalinity can move big bunches of fish great distances, and that may be what's behind the sluggish trout action in some spots.

In another week or so farther down the coast, where it's always super salty, action in the surf should go absolutely nuts. The Padre Island National Seashore, which offers miles of 4WD access, is a great place to sling a topwater or spoon or big jig and have it intercepted by one of a half-dozen giant, hot fish.

On the right days in coming weeks, no local would be surprised to have his or her lure eaten along that stretch of beach — while standing on dry sand and casting across the first gut — by a king mackerel, a bull red, a Spanish mackerel, a speckled trout ... or something else as mean and hungry.

Back north, along the Bolivar Peninsula, surf fishermen are slinging their cut mullet and menhaden beyond the second sandbar and garnering the increased attention of spawning-class red drum. That bite will hold up for another month, at least, but the upper coast this autumn is without several quality fishing piers, all lost a year and change ago to Hurricane Ike.

The change of season appears under way. Texas' coastal fishermen welcome it.

Editor's note: Doug Pike spent 23 years as the outdoors columnist at the Houston Chronicle, nine years and counting on radio (he's the host of the Doug Pike Show on 790 the Sports Animal), two years and counting as back-page humor columnist for Saltwater Sportsman, 10 years and counting on the masthead for Field & Stream, two years and counting on the masthead and as columnist for Texas Fish & Game, 10 years editor of Tide magazine for CCA. He has won more than 100 state and national awards for writing, photography, broadcast and editing.