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Old 02-27-2019, 07:45 PM   #1
pocjetty
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Rockport 2/27 - Something new

My friend Kevin (StabbinFlatties) called and said we had to go fishing on Wednesday. The new battery was dead on my boat, and I put the charger on it. You know those little red caps they put on battery terminals, with the + and - on them? They put them on the wrong side. All the smoke came out of my charger, so it doesn't work anymore. I had a spare battery, and we finally got on the water about 10:30.

Conditions were great. Just enough breeze, just enough ripple on the water. Kind of overcast, which I love. My only complaint was that the water was extremely clear everywhere. Our first stop was over mud and grass, and we found some small trout but never got a hint of the redfish we were looking for.

I took off to fish some shell (naturally), and we found some bigger trout. By bigger, I mean they were allllmost keepers. Actually, my first fish was legal, but after that they were all just a tiny bit short. But they were really, really fat. I kept thinking I had better fish, because they were so big-bodied. Not just healthy, but unnaturally bloated looking. We caught a lot of them, and Kevin kept saying that they were puking up... something. He finally said it looked like worms. That wasn't too surprising, since trout feed on a lot of "critters" in the winter. But I was a little surprised about them having so many of them that they were puking them up.

We finally left to find bigger fish. I'll leave out the middle, except to say that once we actually spooked two smallish redfish, and that was it. Our last stop was a cut through some heavy shell, with a wind-blown current pushing water through it. The trout were thick. Fish on most casts, multiple bites on many casts. Once again, they were mostly just undersized, and ridiculously bloated - so they felt like bigger fish when we were reeling them in. We knew it was our last stop, so we just took what the day was giving. I tried every trick I know, trying to find some bigger fish, but without much success We caught a LOT of fish, but only five keepers between us.

When we got them on the cleaning table at my house, the first one I put my hand on puked out what looked like some kind of jellied grass or something. I've never seen anything like it. I washed it away, and the next time I touched him a bunch more of it came out of his mouth. Kevin saw it and said, "That's what they were puking up out on the water." All I could say about it was that it was nasty looking. Most of the others had some come out of their mouths, and I kept washing it all away. When I was done, we realized that we should have taken a picture to see if anyone ever saw it before.

The last carcass was on the table, and it's stomach was HUGE. Bloated and sort of black looking. I cut the stomach open, and it was just packed full of that green jelly mess. Looking at it closely, we could see that it was loaded with what appeared to be little worms. I still don't know what the green stuff was, or why the whole mess looked like it was sort of jellied. But these fish are loading up on these little worms right now, and not just in one area. The first ones were up in Carlos Bay, and the last ones were way down in the south of Aransas Bay.

Look at the picture below, and keep in mind that this was about a third of the stomach content of a 15" trout. They look like polychaete worms - sometimes called bristle worms. But I can't imagine how they are all able to find so many of them. All we can figure is that a BUNCH of them must have hatched out, and it's a feast for trout everywhere. And they've all eaten so much that their stomachs just can't hold it. All I know is that in the many years I've done this, I've never seen anything like that come out of a trout.
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Old 02-27-2019, 09:07 PM   #2
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Wow. Thanks for the post. I’m interested. Following this thread.


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Old 02-27-2019, 09:36 PM   #3
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Here - I know it looks gross, but this picture gives you an idea of how green it looked. Most of the stuff they puked out looked a lot brighter green than this.

The stomach was stretched so tight with it that when I punctured it, the stuff just kind of exploded outward. I always say that fish are eating machines. When there is a plentiful food source, they will gorge themselves. The ones we caught were so full that there was no more room, but they were still eating.

Last thing - and I wish I had gone in to get a better camera. Some of the things look like bristle worms, because it looks like rows of bristle legs down each side. But a couple of them look like they have eyeballs, and more like they might be mysid shrimp of some kind.

Maybe it's a mix. Whatever they are, there must be a lot of them right now. We hardly saw any baitfish the whole trip.
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Old 02-27-2019, 10:08 PM   #4
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I've caught redfish in the dead of winter that had similar stomach contents. Very green. Those fish were bloated also. When I would pierce their gut I could literally hear something like escaping air or gas. Had a little bit of a ripe smell but not too bad. I caught those fish over some deep reefs and I assumed they were eating algae and whatever else they could glean off of the reef. Whatever it was, it was rich and blew them up like a toad frog. By that I mean they weren't just full of solids, they were gassy.
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Old 02-28-2019, 08:08 AM   #5
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I didn’t notice any smell to them and I tried to get Scott to get in close to get a smell but he wouldn’t have no part of it.
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Old 02-28-2019, 09:07 AM   #6
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I was speaking with Tobin a couple of weeks ago, and he informed me of a marine worm hatch going on right now in the bays. Not sure what they look like though.
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Old 02-28-2019, 09:11 AM   #7
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This confirms for me the reason that Norton Sand eels are effective and it's because worm like critters are eaten by trout and redfish as food. That is somewhat obvious, but I've never seen worm or eel like bait sized creatures in the gulf and I've never seen them sold alive in a bait shop. But I presumed if Norton made a bait like that, then elongated eel shaped creatures were sought after as food. Whether it's an eel or a finned fish doesn't matter to me. It's the elongated shape (think Norton Sand Eels, Lil John XLs). This report and these pictures are proof.

Seeing fishes stomachs packed buffet style might mean that they were on school of those critters. I wonder how long those critters are around and if there is an abundance of those critters in our Galveston bay system? Are they on a spawning cycle? I bet the trout are eager to move on from winter mullet and on to the new tasty stuff that comes every spring.

I've been itching to try a certain bait and rigging technique the next time I go out. If those critters are up here too, I bet that technique will be effective. I plan to find out soon. Thanks for this insightful information and the pictures.
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Old 02-28-2019, 09:47 AM   #8
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Great report as always, but this one is really interesting. If anyone can figure it out I’d be interested to know.

The thing I’m really surprised about is that y’all didn’t limit. That’s really unusual.
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Old 02-28-2019, 09:55 AM   #9
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It's these guys. They form huge swarms to mate, typically at night under lights, and the trout gorge themselves on them.
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Old 02-28-2019, 10:10 AM   #10
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WOW. Mystery solved.
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