The whitetail rut will be in full swing in South Texas, snow geese will hit green fields and pintails will put on a show on coastal prairie ponds and shoalgrass flats. It’s a good time to be a hunter in Texas; however, for those who continue to plug away on the bays, it’s a good time to be an angler, too.
The mild winter has extended the fabulous fall fishing the entire Texas coast has been experiencing. Birds are not readily working over pods of shrimp, but speckled trout and redfish are staging in the same locales over deep shell and mud and readily eating soft plastics, slow-sinking plugs, and at times, topwaters.
Weather patterns the past five years have resembled early October instead of late December. Water temperatures might dip in to the 50s early in the month, but with afternoon highs in the low 80s, water temps rise in the 60s on some shallow flats.
The shell in Matagorda is full of fish. We normally work on solid 2-4 pounds trout on Bass Assassins while drifting, and there are usually redfish everywhere.
Blame it on the Christmas holidays and/or the popularity of deer season, but boat ramps will have plenty of parking spaces available.
Our trout really start to eat lures a lot better in December. MirrOlures, topwaters and Bass Assassins are our go-to's. Prepare for Solstice tides to pull fish from the shorelines and dumped them in deeper water. Large schools of trout hang near drop-offs scattered with mud and shell.
When the tides are so low, redfish congregate in the holes and guts. We run shallow-draft boats and work the back lakes as they drain. The edges of the Intracoastal can be just a productive with a piece of mullet or crab.
We will be hunting most mornings and fishing the afternoons. Since many anglers double as waterfowlers, I wanted to add a few tips to help you shoot more ducks.
The greatest conservation tool ever created for ducks is the duck call. Knowing when to call and when to play the quiet game distinguishes the pro from the rookie. Blown discretely and sweetly, a melodious tuned call seals the deal. Blown like a party horn at a five-year-old birthday party and you might as well wear a flashing neon sign with an arrow reading, “Look at me, I am duck hunting.”
Plenty of hunters shoot lots of ducks without ever uttering a note. When I call, it is normally to turn ducks. I never hail a quack when ducks are cupped and committed. Why would you?
You only increase your chances of making a mistake.
Instead, try whistling. Since most species co-habituate on the same ponds, the whistle of a wary pintail can be a confidence call to other pintails, wigeons, gadwalls and teal.
In my opinion, less is more in calling. Call-makers might disagree, but in all my years of guiding, I seldom have made longer than a five-note, “quack, waaaack, waaack, waack, wack…” Once I get their attention and turn them, I shut up and whistle. If the duck turns and becomes disinterested again, I hit them with a three-note call to try and get them back.
It is really about what the ducks want on that day. It changes every day, sometimes every hour.
The best hunters adapt to the attitude of the ducks.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (email@example.com).