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Fishing Texas

Best Bets for Texas Gulf Coast Fishing

by Robert Sloan   |  April 26th, 2012 0

Capt. Bruce Schuler used a 5-inch Wedgetail Mullet to catch this 5-pound speckled trout while fishing the Laguna Madre out of Port Mansfield. Photo by Robert Sloan.

The month of May marks the beginning of fishing fun in the sun. This is the time when numbers of speckled trout, redfish and flounder can be caught on any given day on the Texas Gulf Coast. But the looming question remains: where to go and how to catch them.

Keep reading and you’ll find out.

Let’s start with speckled trout. My No. 1 pick for trout — big trout and lots of them — is out of Port Mansfield in the middle of Laguna Madre. One reason that is my top spot is based on my last three trips to this Lower Coast destination. Since the daily limits on trout there were reduced from 10 to 5, the fishing has rebounded like nothing you have ever seen.

About this time last year I found myself at Port Mansfield and I was fishing with Capt. Bruce Schuler of Get-A-Way Adventures Lodge. The evening prior to our first day of fishing, Schuler held up a few photos of big trout — fish in the 7- to 10-pound class.

“This is what we’re catching now,” said Schuler. “The limits were cut in half and the fishing has rebounded big time. You’ll see what I mean tomorrow.”

The next morning Ken Chaumont and I loaded our gear onto Schuler’s boat and idled out of the harbor. The first stop was along the King Ranch shoreline. The water was emerald green and loaded with mullet. Chaumont, who is the lure designer for Egret Baits, was tying on his latest creation.

“Tie one of these on and let me know what you think,” said Chaumont. “This is a Kick-A Mullet. It’s got a wedged tail with a big thump when reeled on a slow retrieve. You can fish it on the surface, swim it or let it sink and work it back at various depths.”

I latched onto a chartreuse/white Kick-A, tied it on and slipped into the water. Three of us fished that one little area and caught and released 4- to 7-pound trout for the better part of two hours.

“Right spot, right time, right lure,” yelled Schuler. “Trout fishing doesn’t get any better than this.”

Duh!

My second go-to trout location is on Sabine Lake where Texas and Louisiana meet. For numbers of trout both big and small, Sabine is tough to beat. Wading is the name of the game on the Laguna. On Sabine it’s almost all drift-fishing from a boat while chunking soft plastics, topwater plugs and swim baits. May is the month of double-digit trout on Sabine.

One of the most successful anglers there is Dr. Kelly Rising. A Beaumont resident who grew up fishing Sabine Lake, this is the guy who caught the lake-record speckled trout, which weighed 11 pounds, 12 ounces. He used a chartreuse-colored Top Dog to catch the longstanding record.

There are three very good places to fish for big trout on Sabine. One is in Lighthouse Cove in Sabine Pass. Another is along the north revetment wall. And third is at the jetties. The heaviest trout I ever landed was at Lighthouse Cove. She weighed just over 10 pounds and slurped a chartreuse/black Top Dog in 3 feet of water.

May is the month when the Sabine Jetties begin to load up with trout. One way to catch them is with soft plastics like an Egret Wedgtail in black/chartreuse or limetreuse. Right at daylight you’ll do best by fishing topwater plugs close to the rocks. As the sun gets up, switch to a jig or live baits like shrimp, finger mullet or mud minnows.

If you like a combination trip of drifting and wading, you can’t go wrong by fishing on East Galveston Bay. This is speckled trout central for Houston anglers. One of the most popular shorelines to wade-fish along the entire Texas Coast is the south shoreline of East Bay. It’s got a combination of sand and mud flats with shell. When it comes to catching big trout and numbers of trout, the shell pads along the south shoreline are tough to beat. Best lures will be swim baits early, along with topwater plugs. After about 9 a.m. you’ll want to tie on a 1/4-ounce jighead and rig it up with something like a Bayou Chub, or a rat-tailed soft plastic in red/white, bone or LSU. Work the shell pads in 4 to 5 feet of water when the sun is high and hot.

The reefs in the open water of East Bay attract and hold lots of 15- to 18-inch specks on any given day from about now through next October. One of the most consistent is Hanna’s Reef. But there are many other productive reefs from one end of the bay to the next. You can fish them with jigs, or for guaranteed action tie on a live croaker below a couple of split shot weights and hang on. Remember this: When all else fails, fish with a croaker.

“A shrimp is good, but a croaker is awesome when free-lined over shell in 6 to 9 feet of water on East Bay,” says Galveston guide Jimmy Trahan. “From May through September the trout bite over mid-bay reefs is excellent, especially when you’re soaking live croaker on bottom.”

Fishing jigs under rattle floats is big time popular at Sabine, Galveston and East Matagorda bays. Capt. Charlie Paradoski has been putting fishermen on numbers of specks at East Matagorda Bay for years, or make that decades. And one of best rigs is a soft plastic under a rattle float.

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