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2016 Fishing Report

Congratulations to Randy Jenkins who landed and released this 47 inch and 42 lbs bullred. A new Redfish Lodge record!

Congratulations to Randy Jenkins who landed and released this 47 inch and 42 lbs bullred. A new Redfish Lodge record!

With some time to reflect on Redfish Lodge’s 2016 season, I am still firmly convinced that it was the most successful year from a fishing standpoint that we have ever had. While it was happening I found that thought repeatedly running through my mind, and in retrospect I was not simply caught up in the moment.

WE CAUGHT LOT OF FISH!

A perfect culmination of light winds, high tides, and rain working in conjunction with the newly opened Cedar Bayou has had a tremendous positive impact on our fishery. Trout have enjoyed an incredible resurgence in both size and quantity, which is still holding true in winter fishing. Redfish were plentiful throughout the year, with a lot of giants released back to the bays, including a new lodge record set in October. All manner of baitfish and crabs were present en masse throughout the season, making our fish population fat and healthy. Until this past weekend, the winter has been mild and summer-like allowing our fish to continue to feed and thrive. Now that we have had a good cold snap, the winter fishing pattern should fully emerge.

As we come out of a cold weekend and back to temperatures in the 80’s this week, it is only natural to stop daydreaming about the unprecedented 2016 season and start looking to 2017. With the bays in the best shape they’ve been in the last 20 years and a fish population that seems to be headed straight up, the prospects are exciting to say the least. Make your reservation now to see for yourself what this season has in store!

July Fishing Update

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The prolific rain that dominated our spring has been reduced to an occasional sea breeze shower, but its lingering effects can still be seen in the health and vitality of the bays.  Baitfish, shrimp, and crabs are still abundant. The trout fishing has remained consistent through July in spite of the unusually high winds.  The wind has settled a bit now, and the mid-bay reefs that were inaccessible a few weeks ago are teeming with good keeper-size trout.  Redfish and drum became a bit scarce in the last month, as they seem to do every year, but their resurgence has already begun.  August always marks their return to a normal feeding pattern, especially if we have some tropical activity to get them fired up.  As the cooler months approach, the fishing is going to shift from good to amazing, a by-product of a great spring and a healthy bay.

All the rain has also done wonders for the grain crops, so the dove will find plenty to eat when they begin to head south in a few weeks. Low salinity has also produced a bumper crop of sea grass to help keep the ducks in our area throughout November and beyond, as long as a large amount of rain doesn’t fall inland and flood the prairie between now and then.  All in all, it is shaping up to be a great autumn for sportsmen on the Texas coast, so make your reservations soon if you haven’t already.

There are not many spots left!

Why Do So Many Executives Gather To Admire The Sunset at Redfish Lodge Following A Day Of Fishing?

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They seem a world removed from the busy schedule of the corporate office.

Redfish Lodge is a mixture of business and pleasure. For corporate clients, the combination seems to be exactly what the busy executive world needs to recharge its batteries. Redfish Lodge’s corporate base has been growing steadily since 1992.

The privacy of the lodge and the time spent casting a rod helps foster work relationships that are hard to develop in traditional meetings. The lodge takes people and places them together in a position where they can get to know one another.

Redfish Lodge is striving for excellence in service and attention to detail because we know corporations expect nothing less. We cater to specific needs and wants. We know the clients want a hassle-free experience, while still having the flexibility to customize any visit. This includes a variety in meals and recreation and a unique atmosphere for entertainment and business.

Accessibility is important. We are within driving distance of Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Also, we are only a short flight from Dallas and Denver.

If business is built on trust, Redfish Lodge is the place to provide and build these attributes. The semi-isolated settings create a captive audience for team building, deal discussing and staff recognition.

With facilities for up to 26 guests and 2 lodges, Redfish Lodge may just be the ideal setting for your next business gathering.

When was the last time you had a meeting where the only interruption was a beautiful sunset or a flock of shore birds flying overhead?

Redfish Lodge May 2016 Fishing Update

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Many anglers & guides alike look back on the mid-nineties as the “glory days” of trout fishing on the Texas coast. I was just a few years into the business, & at the time I did not appreciate the abundance of fish & the quality of the estuary. By 2004, the drought had begun to affect our bays & fishing had become tougher as a rule. I often fondly looked back at the “good old days” when trout seemed to be bigger & everywhere while I was routinely making a 30-mile run to find fish in the late 2000’s.

I almost always mention rain & its effects on our fishing in each of my reports, & the last 20 months or so have blessed us with unprecedented rains in the Rockport area. This inflow of fresh water, in addition to the reopening of Cedar Bayou in September, 2014, has made a tremendous impact on our fishery.

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Looking back on April & May, I can say with confidence that I have NEVER seen trout of this quality & abundance in our bay system in the 23 years I have been fishing the waters of Rockport. Salinity is low, bait fish is available & abundant, shrimp & crabs are everywhere, & we, the anglers, are the beneficiaries of it all.

Another round of significant rain is expected here in the next few days, all but assuring that our summer salinity levels & water temps will stay low, and that our fishing will remain at or near this incredibly high level for the next several months.

If you want to participate in some amazing fishing, book a trip to Redfish Lodge this summer and see for yourself. There is no doubt in my mind that years from now we will look back at this season as the “glory days” of trout in Rockport.

Redfish April 2016 Fishing Update

The 2016 fishing season is still quite young, and yet it seems that we have seen every condition nature can throw at us. High tides followed by extreme low tides, strong winds followed by slick calm days, pouring rain followed by high pressure and blue skies, an ever changing assortment of conditions have kept Redfish Lodge guides on their toes.

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While a variety of fishing techniques have been employed in a variety of areas under a variety of conditions, the outcomes have remained relatively consistent. Fish are being brought to the boat.

On the calmer days when the water greens up, live shrimp under popping corks have been keeping our anglers busy. Trout, and LOTS of them, have been eating on the shell reefs of Copano, Aransas, and Mesquite bays. While a lot of these fish are small, focusing on pockets of bigger fish has resulted in some nice boxes coming to the dock. These pretty days are also productive for wading with lures, as bigger trout mixed with a spattering of reds have been cruising the mullet rafts on the shorelines.

On the days when the winds are stronger, reds and drum are taking advantage of the dirty water ambush scenario by feeding on shrimp and mullet on both reefs and shorelines. Gulf menhaden are beginning to show up in the bays, and the reds have been responding positively to them as well.

The dramatic weather variations of a coastal spring will soon be coming to an end, but the fishing is only going to ramp up. Salinity conditions are ideal in the bay system right now, along with bait fish, crabs and shrimp in unprecedented numbers. The gamefish are fat and healthy, and the population seems to be in great shape.

2016 is on track to be the best fishing year in Redfish Lodge history!

Redfish Lodge 2016 Fishing Report

We always put a lot of emphasis on rain here in the coastal bend as so much of our fishery depends on it to thrive. 2015 brought rain in volumes that most people cannot remember in their lifetime living in Rockport. As a result, the bays flourished. Seagrass grew in places it has not been seen in decades, crab, shrimp and menhaden populations are at all-time highs. The bay is in optimum condition which is great news for its aquatic residents.

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With food aplenty, we saw some of the biggest redfish ever caught in these bays over the last three months. Several in excess of 40 inches have been released this fall including a couple of 44-inch giants that rode the tide into the bays in search of blue crabs. The seagrass and lower salinity, combined with the proper flow of the cedar bayou cut and the abundance of food has brought a resurgence to the trout that has resulted in increased numbers and size all over the bay system. Flounder have also been making a comeback with the highest recorded catches here at Redfish Lodge in over a decade.

Drum populations have remained excellent, making for some really stellar fishing action throughout 2015.

Winter is supposed to be cooler and wetter than normal this year, but it is certainly taking its time getting here. Warm water and lots of food are still present here in December, giving the fish a bonus opportunity to fatten up for winter.

2015 was a great fishing season, and there is no sign of slowing down for 2016. We will be at the Dallas Safari Club show January 7-10 and the Houston Safari club show January 15-17, so please stop by our booth and say hello. We’d love to see you. Also, if you would like to take advantage of 2015 pricing for your 2016 fishing trip, get with Melissa or Virginia for a reservation. Deposits must be received by December 31 to get last year’s rates.

2016 looks to be a great year, we hope to see you then at Redfish Lodge.

Fall Transition

The air is cooling down, but the action is heating up as bait pours out of Gulf estuaries and fish fatten up for winter.

By Brian Holden
Photos by James Fox

Sometimes it is as subtle as a chill in the pre-dawn air accompanied by the pungent smell of dirt. Maybe it is a bit more obvious, like a few days of northeast wind and a swelling of equinox tide that brings the water level up 8 inches. It can be as bold as a howling 40-knot north wind accompanied by 4-foot whitecaps and a 30-degree temperature drop. Maybe it happens in the third week of September, or the second week of October.

No matter how or when it arrives, it is fall.

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It is, and should be, the most anticipated event on any Gulf Coast fisherman’s calendar. That’s because the days of sweating in the broiling heat and grinding on the 90-degree water for fish that really don’t feel like eating is over…for now. It means that the air and water temperature will drop steadily, creating a comfort zone for both man and fish, only dreamt about in August. It means that less serious fishermen start filling deer feeders, or stringing duck decoys, or blowing off a weekend wade to watch football on TV.

But we are the anglers, and this is our time to shine.

We all know the parable of the ants and the grasshopper. In the realm of fish, there are no grasshoppers, only ants. Their goal over the next few months is to feed with abandon and put on as much weight as possible for the impending cold. They know that the cornucopia of bait available with soon be disappearing to the Gulf or other deep water, so pigging out now is an investment in an easier winter. Unlike the ants, fish cannot store food. So they eat, and eat some more. Shrimp, mullet, perch, mud minnows, crabs…nothing is off the menu and nothing is safe. So how do we take advantage of this new fish attitude that blew in with the autumn air? Watch for the signs and it will be easy as a fall breeze.

BIRDS

Mother Nature is beckoning the shrimp out of the safety of the estuaries where they hatched several months ago and encouraging them to run a gauntlet of hungry creatures to the slightly safer waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In order to get there, they must leave their thick grass sanctuary and pass through dangerous open water, and lots of it.

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They are armed with two lines of defense. The first is sheer numbers, increasing the chance of each individual making it to safety. The second is the ability to jump, a talent that may confuse a hungry fish for a critical second and create an escape opportunity.

Enter Mr. Seagull.

With a keen eye for more than just cheese puffs, he can see fleeing shrimp take to the air from hundreds of yards away. With a few squawks to summon friends, a group of gulls create a commotion that a fisherman can see for a mile on a pretty fall day. The birds gather for the jumping shrimp buffet, the shrimp jump to avoid certain death from reds and trout below, and anglers join the mix to bend rods on the hungry fish. A perfect symbiosis for both bird and fisherman. Not so much for fish and shrimp.

As the migrating chaos passes over the fish-holding structure, more fish may join the party, creating a perpetual feed that may last until the last shrimp is eaten. When fishing birds like this, position your boat out in front of the birds in the direction they are headed and avoid driving through them as that may spook the fish and end the cycle. Live shrimp, and many artificials including topwaters, work great in this scenario, but if fishing a jig unsuccessfully, try a lighter head or put on a cork above the lure. These fish are focusing their attention upward and a fast dropping jig may get out of their strike zone too quickly.

COLD FRONTS

Fishing a cold front may require a miserable boat ride and cold-weather gear made famous by television shows about Alaskan crabbers, but if done safely and properly, the benefits far outweigh the discomfort. Hard north winds and the cold dense air associated with them blow water off the Texas coast faster and more forcefully than anything else in nature. The billions of shrimp and baitfish that populate the shallow lakes and marshes adjacent to our bays, are pushed involuntarily out of the sloughs that feed these marshes like screaming kids out the mouth of a slide at a water park. Predators know this, and will gather where these sloughs reach the bay to take advantage of a buffet that is incredible in both volume and variety.

For the first several hours after the front hits, the water will pour out green and pretty even into the teeth of a north wind, and trout will feed in this green water as well as reds, flounder and drum. Eventually the water will turn muddy and the trout will shut down. Change over to bait, live or dead, and the reds will still respond positively. This feed may last 12 to 24 hours after the front hits, depending on the strength of the wind and the height of the tide at the start.

If wading, be sure to stay on the edges of the slough so as not to scare the feeding fish or get stuck in the boggy silt associated with these areas. If fishing from the boat, be sure not to anchor in water that is too shallow. The tide that creates this feeding frenzy is falling at an alarming rate and you don’t want to be left high and dry when it comes time to leave. If you have several sloughs in the area where you fish, drive until you see pelicans and cormorants working the outgoing water. That one will always have feeding fish. And be careful, those waves can be big and mean.

THE CALMER DAYS

If a cold front is not in the forecast and the birds are scarce, don’t get discouraged. The fish are still around and probably still feeding. Take out your map of your favorite bay, and find the largest shallow estuary connected to it. Now trace your finger from that area down the shoreline to where the shrimp will exit that bay to get to the Gulf. Pinpoint any reefs, sandbars, or near-shore islands on this migration route. These will be ambush points, where reds, trout, flounder and drum will wait for days or even weeks to fatten up on shrimp stragglers.

Wade, drift, or anchor in these areas and work them slowly and thoroughly before moving to the next stop. Small white or bone topwaters, or gold or brown shrimp tails, fished lazily over the structure will get the strikes you are looking for. Shrimp under a cork are always a good bet, especially if drum are on your dinner menu. If you see some birds, run off and chase them, but return to these spots periodically throughout the fall and you will be rewarded. If the southeast wind is cranking and these areas are rough or muddy, try a chunk of crab or cut mullet. A redfish waiting on a meal is not likely to say no to that offering.

As the calendar changes to fall, remember that is a time to take advantage of opportunity. The fish are capitalizing on their opportunity to prepare for winter, and the fishermen should be out there taking advantage of the fishes’ good mood brought on by the beautiful autumn weather. The air is cooling down, but the action is heating up.

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Brian Holden has spent the majority of his life chasing fish in both fresh and salt water throughout North America. He now focuses his energy on the central Texas coast where he has been guiding and teaching anglers for the past two decades. He is also the general manager of Redfish Lodge in Rockport, Texas. For more information or to make a reservation, visit redfishlodge.com.

Summer 2015 Fishing Update

The rains of spring and early summer have created some spectacular summer trout fishing in the Rockport area.

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Cooler than normal bay waters and lower salinity have translated into a bounty of healthy, hungry trout. The waters in the middle of Aransas and Mesquite bays finally turned to the beautiful shade of green that Rockport anglers are accustomed to seeing when the wind subsided in late July.

Drum and reds have been scattered all over the shell in the northern part of our bay system and eagerly hit a shrimp or crab in the early part of the day. Copano, San Antonio, and St. Charles bays are still holding a lot of fresh water and as a result are not getting a lot of fishing pressure. This means the fall tide will open some untapped fisheries and keep the action going strong through fall.

Cedar Bayou is flowing great and has resulted in a lot more crabs in the bays and that means a redfish buffet come September. All the seagrass that grew as a result of the rains should translate into a great shrimp migration as well as a good duck season.

2015 has been one of the best fishing years so far, and shows a lot of promise for the rest of the season as well.

We have a bit of space in the Ruddy in the first few weeks of September but limited availability at both lodges in October. But it never hurts to ask as groups move dates often!  It’s going to be first come, first serve for the choice cast & blast dates for dove and duck season.

Check out our newly revamped website – www.redfishlodge.com – Suggestions, comments and recommendations are welcome!

Have a great rest of the summer, hopefully we’ll see you in the fall.

A Spring Fishing Report From Brian

Lots of rain combined with lots of tide has been a recipe for lots of fish! This spring has been really productive for trout and drum alike, and in the last two weeks the reds have decided to join the party. Shrimp, menhaden, and mullet have all been producing good numbers of fish, and so have plastics when the winds are down.

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We are on the cusp of croaker season right now, with a few croaker flags flying above bait stands in town. It’s been tough to transition to croakers when shrimp have been producing so well, but the day is coming soon.

All bays have been really consistent in producing fish, on shell reefs as well as shorelines and grass beds. Another round of rain is due this week, promising more fresh water and good fish activity well into summer. Join the fun! We still have dates available for June, July & August.

An early season fishing report from Brian

As a result of some really skillful planning, the opening of the 2015 Redfish Lodge season coincided almost perfectly with the arrival of spring.  I say almost because our first day was rained out by over 3” of rain.

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We recovered quickly, and the warm days that have followed have produced some surprising numbers of trout on live shrimp and plastics alike.  Many are small and will provide a great crop for next year, but there are some nice keepers mixed in as well.

Light winds have granted access to mid-bay reefs, and they are holding abundant fish.  The copious rains of the last week have left Copano the color of iced tea, which is great to see and great for the sea grass a couple of months down the road.  Water temperatures have jumped out of the 50’s and  are approaching 70 degrees.  Bait fish are starting to show up in good numbers, and the fish are ready for them.

Spring is in full swing, and we are taking full advantage of it.  We still have a few open dates, so if you haven’t gotten the memo…Winter is over!  Let’s go fishing!