by Capt Craig Lambert
The weather is finally beginning to settle out and conditions are improving dramatically. July has always been hot but so far this summer we have hardly even broken a sweat. With water temperatures hovering in the middle to low 80's and plenty of cloud cover and wind it has made this a very enjoyable summer to be on the water. But this "cool start" may not last long so get out on the water and enjoy it now while you can.Fantastic Fishing Weather!
The main ship channel and reefs surrounding it have always been a great place to start during the dog says of summer. The cooler waters coming up the ship channel from the Gulf will bring bait and gamefish to the area. The many reefs, spoils and rigs located around the mid bay area will hold a large concentration of fish as they run up and down the channel spoils. Structure is everywhere along the channel and targeting structure is the key to successful fishing in July. Soft plastics or croakers will be the best baits to attack these newer reefs that TPWD has done a magnificent job in creating for the recreational anglers. Redfish island is right in the middle of the reefs so after a morning of speckled trout the islands will definitely hold a few redfish. I recommend spinner baits or even a popping cork and shrimp to throw up next to the rocks along redfish island and the other islands along the ship channel. Drifting or anchoring up along these islands can be productive and dangerous. Large waves from passing ships can be quite large and destructive so keep a look out and just know that when those big boys come by it will be time to move when their wake comes through. What a STUD!!!
Well hopping is one of my favorite ways to fish and as water temperatures rise the many wellpads along the channel and in the open areas of the bay system will be loaded with gamefish. For most wells I prefer to start about 50 yards up wind or up current and drift past it 50 yards. I have found that the sweet spot on most wells never moves. So once you have found that exact "strike zone" on a well the odds are they will be in the same location on your next trip out and throughout the summer until they continue on their northern migration. MARK
on your GPS every well you find fish on. You do not want to come out the next year to find your favorite well gone and if you don't have it marked you are just out of luck. I have learned that lesson the hard way so don't let it happen to you. Bigger structures, typically separators, have bigger wellpads and tend to be very productive. Some of my favorite wellpads on the bay are bigger pads so do not overlook them. Lots of debris tends to be on the bottom near these big structures so the bigger female specks really like using these areas to their advantage. First Ever Speckled Trout
Both East and West Bay are also producing well at this time. Look for the many reefs in East Bay to hold feeding fish on days with good moving tides. Finding a few good slicks is a dead give away so pay attention to your surroundings. Reading the water and looking for signs of fish can produce big boxes if you really pay attention to your surroundings. West Bay does not have designed reefs like East bay because it is basically one giant oyster reef in itself. Long drifts out in the open with croakers is about as productive a technique as you can do for this area. There are literally tons of oysters and shell which means lots of hang ups and lots of specks also. Keep those croakers healthy and frisky. Quality of bait is huge when using croakers. Half dead and red bodied croakers do not draw too many strikes so make sure and take good care of them. Fresh oxygen and even some ice thrown in the livewell will go a long way to helping you draw more strikes. Looks Like Dinner
This is a great time of year to be outdoors so take advantage of that cooler weather and as always take a kid fishing!!!