By Jeff Dennis
Wetting a line in the Gulf of Mexico for spotted seatrout is always exciting, and the Texas fishery does not disappoint. Fishing out of Rockport requires air travel to Corpus Christi, followed by an hour ride down to the coast and Copano Bay.
Anglers need only fish with live shrimp under a popping cork in order to get the attention of the trout, and other fish species are sure to join in. A popping cork with an artificial lure like the D.O.A. shrimp underneath is another surefire way to wake up the trout.
Lots of shallow water makes parts of the bay excellent for wade fishing, and Texans are known for sneaking up and casting wary seatrout. Fishing an old standby like a MirrOlure or casting a streamer on a fly rod are just a few of the other methods that can fool a Texas trout.
The tide in Texas is very subtle and it does not rise and fall very far during normal conditions. Look for structures including sandbars, shell mounds and deeper holes where the trout can be staging, waiting to ambush bait fish.
Some shell formations can look identical but depending on how the bait washes through an area, one location may consistently hold trout and another may not. Constantly moving water is key, with three to eight-feet of water being the ideal depth to prospect for trout.
If the water is clear the trout can see the angler approaching, so take care to cast a few times to the area you are approaching. Fan cast in 180-degrees if able in order to cover all of the water. If using a popping cork, vary the tempo and action of the cork to see what the trout are responding to.
Fishing in Texas usually produces a mixed bag of saltwater fish with a heavy emphasis on redfish. Black drum, flounder, sheepshead, ladyfish, and catfish are common and even pompano are not out of the question.
It can be quite breezy some days along the Gulf coast so taking along a waterproof outfit is always prudent, along with a face shield and polarized glasses. The fish are used to the wind churning up the water into a murky mess, but it is the angler’s job to search them out and drop a lure close enough for them to see or hear.
Most guided fishing trips don’t get canceled due to the wind, because that’s just a part of fishing in Texas. I’ll never forget a day we fished in terrible wind, and we took a beating while riding to the fishing grounds, but as soon as we arrived I caught a 31-inch redfish.
Something that is fairly unique to the Texas fishery is the use of large dock lights that point down into the shallow waters. These lights attract bait and that in turn attracts gamefish.
The Redfish Lodge on Rattlesnake Road has a private beach with large lights that face the water, and this area has produced many memorable night fishing exploits for spotted seatrout. On one such occasion the lights attracted some small shrimp, with gulls working them over from the air, and the trout picking them off from below.
Two anglers caught at least 50 trout in a row during a night bite that resembled anarchy. Catching and releasing these small, juvenile trout provides a brief view into the long term sustainability of the Texas trout fishery. The daily limit on keeping trout is five per day within a slot of 15 to 25-inches.
The author’s Lowcountry Outdoors blog is celebrating a tenth anniversary in 2019.
Photo By Jeff Dennis
A solid 20-inch spotted seatrout caught in Copano Bay, Texas