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"SHELL SHOCKED"
by Capt. Chris Martin
July 6, 2006


Although we have had to dodge an occasional thunderstorm as of late, we are finding the San Antonio Bay waters to be shaping up just fine for some hot summer time shell action. If you have ever had an opportunity to apply your angling skills in or around the SAB vicinity, then you are probably well aware that this particular bay system has some of the finest mid-bay reefs that the Texas coast has to offer. Because SAB proper is littered with shell pads of all shapes and sizes, it is a venue which offers plenty of space for everyone interested in getting in on the act, even on those tournament and vacation weekends when the fishing pressure may seem a bit heavy. Based upon my historical fishing logs, I naturally have a list of my somewhat favored reef locales, but I am always on the lookout for what that next unexplored pad may have to offer in the way of particular fish attractions - bait, depth, contour, points, tidal movement, etc. Next time you have a chance to fish the open-water reefs of SAB, pay particular attention to the varying differences between one reef and the next. Make special note of those reefs that seem to be flourishing with all signs of marine life, and make mental comparisons of them against those where it appears as though the fish have placed the "For Sale" sign out on the front lawn. You may just be shocked to find there is a common pattern which makes some reefs more productive over the others in the neighborhood.

At the beginning of the summer time reef pattern when the days are not yet as hot as they are going to be later on down the road, I do not limit my focus on submerged reefs, but rather concentrate on locating any one particular reef which happens to be offering-up the preferred configuration of active baitfish, a bit of mud underfoot, and an immediate vantage point of deep water accessibility for the fish. The combination of these three key ingredients will generally spell a recipe for success above these vacated oyster homes. Upon locating such a spot, I prefer to begin my efforts just within casting range of the crest of the reef. This allows experimentation within various water columns while working a favorite Norton Bull Minnow rigged with 1/16oz Norton Lazer Lock jighead from the peak of the reef and back along the downward contour, and is a proven practice by which one can expedite the process of pinpointing the bite. If I have determined the bite to be concentrated in a bit deeper water away from the ridge of the reef, I like honing my skills with one of the more popular suspending plastic baits such as the slow-sinking Corky or Corky Devil. You are not able to cover the same amount of territory at the same rate of speed with these baits as you are with your standard tails, but once you have located the bite, there's little else in comparison on the excitement scale over the slow-sinkers.

During the hotter months, I attempt to begin my first morning wade session prior to sunrise over a submerged reef - one that may be submerged year round, or one that is submerged as the result of a high tide. The reason for the pre-dawn effort here is to be able to take advantage of the cooler night time water temperatures of the shallowest spot of the submerged reef. Because the daylight hours at this time in the year heat shallow water so rapidly, it is imperative to beat the heat to the punch early in the morning. Fish will travel the shallow spots atop submerged reefs during the night time hours while in search of food, or while looking for shelter from night time predators of deeper water. Start your approach to the area with a smaller top water of choice, something like a Skitter Walk Jr. or Super Spook Jr. Position yourself so as to be able to overshoot the crest of the reef by several feet, and then work your surface plug slowly across the shallowest point of the reef's ridge. Work the area immediately in front of you completely by making several casts from your 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock positions. If no results, shuffle on down the reef about twenty feet in either direction, and repeat the previous routine.

Absent any major freshwater runoff resultant of recent rainfall, the waters of SAB should continue to provide top notch reef action all summer long. As always, our hopes remain for a subtle hurricane season this year as we prepare to break ground on a new lodge overlooking the waters of San Antonio Bay. Stay tuned for more exciting information and photos. We're very excited about the new project and can't wait to share our dreams with you. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region…www.BayFlatsLodge.com…1-888-677-4868
 

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Great report Capt. I had been looked for it, and it was worth the wait... Thanks again for offering us some our your insightful knowledge.
 

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Report was great, but the photo blew me away
 
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