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Fishing Report

By Capt. Kris "Double K" Kelley

Sponsored by: American Rodsmiths

You would think that with the tumultuous weather of last week that there was little fishing going on. To the contrary, picking the weather window and jumping all over it produced a fast paced run and gun style that was more to my speed and productive. We had a few days around here that I was glad to be off, few windows of opportunity to say the least. However, I talked to Capt. Mike Patterson down in Rockport and he said he wasn't having any problems with weather and that the fishing was fantastic. One thing noticeably absent with the unsettled weather has been high wind velocities. This has been a blessing and has helped hold the water together when it's time to get it on. After strong weather, the break comes and it's time to fish and I always wonder what kind of devastation I will be confronted with. Freshwater is a given, we've been flooded through most of the fishing season. Getting a grip on the stabilized or destabilized character of that water is something to read quickly and attack or push on.

The second major push of freshwater has been hitting us the last few days. The water reaching us currently would be from the major rains of a couple weeks ago. Salinity levels at Charlies as of yesterday were 0 ppb while Port O'Connor is around 10 ppb. Normal salinity in our area is mid 20's ppb (parts per billion) of saltwater. With this second major push, the fish have again parted like the Red Sea and split the First Chain of Islands pushing East and West. Shell above the ICW in San Antonio Bay is essentially "ground zero" experiencing freshwater blow out with velocity. The First Chain of Islands is essentially a "blast zone" and takes the brunt of the fallout as the water moves East to Port O. With a poor water exchange from Cedar Bayou, we don't get the circuitous push and pull of "good water in, bad water out" like in the past. Consequently, all of the live oyster that was beginning to come back in SAB is now dead, killed by prolonged freshwater concentrations. Old timers say it will take three years to come back and I assume that means "three years of stability". That's a shame, Oyster Men were finally starting to have some success above the ICW. Turning the shell over and harvesting oysters has always made for more productive fishing.

With the "big split" in the fish, I've been working South primarily and that has been a lot of fun. Catching Trout with coloration to them has been a nice change of pace. My primary focus right now is depth and stabilized water (if located in freshwater). When everything is running hot straight and normal (totally opposite of this year), there is usually a correlation between tide levels and structural positioning of fish concentrations. For instance, Trout will push shallower on structure in high water while falling farther off and deeper in low water. That's not necessarily the case right now but it is corresponding "some of the time". On a trip the other day, the fish were as tight to the back bone of the shell reef as they could get and in approximately a foot and half of water. This was on a tide fallout. Yesterday, my fish were deeper on the break in four feet of water while Capt. James Cunningham had to push into two feet of water to locate his fish. This was on high water. So you can see, there is no "same old same old" pattern.

On the catch and release scene, Capt. James Cunningham and I had a chance to scout together the other day and it was the first time in too long. We decided to scout ahead of upcoming trips due to potential battles with this latest big freshwater push. It was a good thing too, we quickly ruled out everything and found the fish. I released a Trout estimated to be in the 27 to 30" range. She was a beautiful dimple back sow with great coloration. I have to give a range on size because I didn't handle her, I simply slid her into the net and popped the hook out of the corner of her mouth. Bad things always happen when these fish are handled. She swam away nicely. Fishing south is producing larger fish and I've had a lot of willing "catch and release" clients that are more than happy to part with "an above average" Trout for the benefit of the fishery. I have essentially taken the 25" threshold out of play by encouraging the release of anything "that even looks big". For example, if we are catching and keeping 15 to 18" Trout and we catch a 22" fish, I will encourage its release. Why not?

With all the "nail biting" early in the season with tidal waves of freshwater pouring down on us and unsettled weather around every corner, it has been a great year thus far. Barring a hurricane, I don't think we could face any more challenging conditions. As such, I've got to thank all of my customers whose trust I've earned over the years and "come when things look bleak".

Good luck, and take care out there.


Capt. Kris "Double K" Kelley
Coastal Waterfowl & Fishing Guide Services
e-mail: [email protected]
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