Back to back winters have come and gone in Rockport almost without notice. With 70 degrees and sunny being the norm rather than the exception, the fish spent the winter happy, healthy, and nearby. The new year has already provided us with a couple of prolific rains, even staining the water around the Mission, Aransas, and Guadalupe deltas the color of tea for a few weeks. With salinity down a bit, fish activity should increase in the coming weeks as trout prepare for the spawn and reds and drum gear up their metabolisms for a busy spring. It is hard to say “increase,” since they never really slowed down throughout the winter.
There has been lots of bait holding in the shallows as a result of the warmer waters, sustaining healthy fish fat on mullet, sand eels, and mantis shrimp. The fronts that have come through the area every few days for the last two months have kept the tide low, but as spring approaches the combination of southeast winds and an equinox tide will bring a flood of gulf water loaded with food and fish.
Locally, reports are that the dredging of Cedar Bayou is scheduled to begin in April. For those of you who know the significance of that event, no further explanation is needed. If you are not familiar with how this will impact the fishery, let’s just say it will be the most profound positive influence on fishing in the Rockport area since the gill net ban back in the 80’s. Great news for the fishermen, birders, and all proponents of a healthy marine estuary! It will probably be completed in early September and will impact the fishery immediately and for years to come.
The drum run, which hits its stride during spring break, is probably going to get started a little early this year, as will most other seasonal events such as the trout spawn and the arrival of croakers and menhaden. It would not be surprising if some of the big bruisers are lining up right now to get a spot in line. If you don’t think you are up for a tussle with a giant drum, there are no shortages in the redfish and “slot” drum population headed into spring.
Trout started big and with a bang in 2012 on the reefs of San Antonio bay, then flew mostly under the radar through summer until a dramatic re-emergence in north Aransas bay in late October. Hopefully spring 2013 will have them feeding hard again, and some periodic rain throughout the year will keep them active.
2012 also saw good numbers of pompano coming to the boat. These fish are often present in the bays in good numbers in summer and fall, but this year they decided to start eating. On three separate occasions, pompano even jumped into the boats on their own! Now that’s a honey hole! Other exciting catches throughout 2012 included giant gar, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel, tripletails, and an unusual number of whiting, which normally spend their lives in the gulf. It’s always nice to see some “new” fish around.
With spring arriving early this year, it’s time to dust off the fishing gear and schedule some time on the water. 2013 is shaping up to be a good one, so plan a trip and see what’s in store for you at the coast. See you soon.
Thanks for thinking of Redfish Lodge!