Fall Fishing Tips

Fall fishing in Texas means longer shadows, shorter days, and a welcome relief from the heat of summer. While lots of outdoorsmen get in gear for dove and teal season, saltwater fishermen know that the action is about to heat up in the bays. Just like us, fish feel that same relief from the heat, become more active in shallow water, and do some hunting of their own!

Working the Birds

One of the best ways to catch fish this time of year is the fast and furious action available under the birds. Seagulls can be found diving for shrimp and baitfish being pushed to the surface by marauding speckled trout. The key to this type of action is stealth. Motoring up on the school quickly, getting too close, and making a lot of racket will end the action quickly.

It helps to think like hunters. Sneaking up on the fish using the trolling motor, wading, or paddling quietly within casting distance will help you take advantage of this action. Other tips including using heavier lures to get deeper when working the birds, and then not moving away as soon as the birds do. Keep working on the area because the action may not be over.

Shrimp and Baitfish Movement

Fall fishing in Texas also means taking advantage of the shrimp and baitfish moving from the bayous and marshes out into the bays. Thinking like a hunter and a gamefish, you know that cuts and drains are going to be funneling the water, baitfish, and shrimp. And you know who’ll be waiting! Redfish and flounder will be taking advantage of this movement. Thinking like a river fly fisherman will come in handy here as well.

To present the fly in the most natural manner, fly fishermen fish upstream, casting the fly and letting it drift naturally downstream to the waiting fish. Just like fish in the mountain streams, redfish and flounder will be looking upstream into the water coming out of the marsh and back lakes. Casting up into the drain and bringing it out will draw strikes.

This same concept applies to the more open areas of the bays, especially those near major passes where tides are more pronounced. In these areas, working the grassy points and the edges of reefs will pay off. Closer to the surf along the jetties, working the bay side of the jetties on an outgoing tide also will be productive.

Fishing Slicks

Let’s continue to think like a hunter to help us understand fishing slicks. Slicks occur when trout gorge themselves to the point that their stomachs overflow. This overflow of partially digested baitfish will produce oily patches on the water called slicks. Now back to the hunting analogy.

When bird hunting with shotguns, we’re taught to lead the birds and continue the follow-through so the shot goes where the bird will be and it will be spread out to give us the best chance of bringing down the bird. Slicks are like a shot in that they move with the wind and spread out as they move. So the small slicks are the freshest and newest, and the fish are close! When you see a larger slick, watch closely to detect the movement and anticipate where it came from. Then cast accordingly until you find the fish.

Shallow Water

Cooler temperatures mean shallow water back lakes and marshes are more comfortable for the fish. Fishing on an incoming tide will bring fish into these areas, looking for baitfish and shrimp. Looking for nervous bait along the edges will pay off. The same rules apply to the flooded shorelines of the main bays. Look along the grass for bait and cast as close as you can for redfish and flounder.

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