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On Schedule With the Fish

One of the most frequently questions at Redfish Lodge is “When is the best time to catch … ?” or “What is the best bait for …?” or “If we book in October, what can we expect to catch?” To help give you an idea, we have put together a handy reference chart to cut out and put on the fridge so you will always know when to visit and what you can catch.

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Of course these are only guidelines to increase your odds of catching your target species. These fish can be anywhere at any time, so the best thing to do is have your bait in the water as often as possible. When booking your trip, use these guidelines to pick a time frame and let the gang down at Redfish Lodge know if there is something specific you would like to catch and they can gear up to provide you with the best shot at that fish.

Redfish
When Fishing Is Best: March through May, September through December
Preferred baits: Live shrimp, mullet, piggy perch, menhaden, crabs, mud minnows; Lures designed to imitate above baits such as topwaters, soft plastic shrimp, gold spoons, swimming shad, sand eels
Trophy Red: Possible anytime, best chance in October and November; Crab, piggy perch, big mullet, or lure

Speckled Trout
When Fishing Is Best: February through December
Preferred Baits: Croakers, piggy perch, shrimp, mullet; Lures such as topwaters, sand eels, Corkies, or swimming shad
Trophy Trout: February through early May; Corky, topwater, croaker, piggy perch

Surf and Jetty Fishing
When Fishing is Best: July through early September
Preferred Baits: Croakers and piggy perch for trout and reds; Ribbonfish and crankbaits for kingfish; Piggy perch and mullet for ling; shrimp or shrimp imitations for tripletail; Mullet or menhaden for tarpon
Trophy Surf or Jetty Fish: Any time there is an opportunity to get out there

Black Drum
When Fishing Is Best: February through early May, September through November
Preferred Baits: Crabs, shrimp, sea lice; Limited choice of lures, mostly by accident
Trophy Drum: February through early April; Crab or sea lice

Flounder
When Fishing is Best: March through May, October through November
Preferred Baits: Shrimp, mud minnows, mullet; Soft plastic lures, jigs
Trophy Flounder: October and November; Mud minnows, jigs

Kingfish
When Fishing is Best: May through September
Preferred Baits: Ribbonfish, mullet, hard tails; Diving crankbaits, Russell lures, squid jigs
Trophy King: May through September, Live mullet, crankbaits

Fly Fishing
When Fishing is Best: July through September
Preferred Baits: Shrimp imitations such as ghost shrimp, snapping shrimp, grass shrimp, or small poppers; Finfish patterns such as sea-ducers, needle nose, mud minnow, clouser, or spoon fly; Crab patterns such as crazy Charlie or merkin crab
Trophy Fly-Caught Fish: March or April for trout, August or September for Reds and Drum

Chris’ New Menu Items For 2007 Season

Appetizer
Caribbean shrimp ceviche with pineapple and avocado.

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Salad
Applewood bacon wrapped scallop on a bed of watercress salad drizzled with ginger and lime vinaigrette.

Meat Entrée
Crab and shrimp stuffed lamb chop with a cabernet reduction sauce.

Fish Entrée
Broiled redfish topped with crawfish and shrimp covered in a honey rum glaze.

Dessert
Triple layer Swiss chocolate with Bacardi and raspberry reduction.

Oversized Fish

Why was a 47-inch redfish weighing in at 35 pounds caught in Copano Bay in May of 2006?

This fish represented the fourth time in three years that the Redfish Lodge record was broken and was also recognized by the State of Texas to be the largest redfish ever to be taken from this bay system!

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In recent years, Rockport anglers have been the beneficiaries of a fishing trend that has everyone scratching their heads and smiling. Oversized reds, which are redfish in excess of 28 inches in length, are being caught in the bay systems of the Coastal Bend with greater size and frequency than ever before. While they have always been residents on the jetties and near shore rigs, bull reds (as they are commonly known) can now be found in great numbers throughout the shallow bay systems of Central Texas. While no one is complaining about this trend, several anglers and biologists alike have began to wonder why this is happening.

The natural life cycle of a redfish calls for the fish to be born and grow to maturity in the bays and estuaries and then permanently migrate to the Gulf of Mexico by the time they are 7 to 10 years of age and 28 to 32 inches long. The spawning portion of their life begins after this migration and can last in excess of 20 years.

When this trend first began in the late 1990s, biologists suggested that it had to do with an error in the hatcheries. The reds, which the hatcheries began releasing in the late 1980s, may have been born into water that was too warm. Therefore, the first few graduating classes from the hatchery preferred the warmer bay over the cooler gulf and never left. By the time these fish reached ten years of age, they were noticeably larger than the wild redfish in the bays. Stocked redfish had no genetic markers to positively identify them from wild reds, however, so this theory was never proven. Additionally when the water temperature problem was corrected, the trend seemed to stay the same.

The introduction of the oversized redfish tag on a Texas fishing license in 1994 suggested that the trend was here to stay. The spawning population in the gulf was not declining, as a matter of fact it was steadily on the rise. With the number of keeper size and undersized reds was also increasing, but not as significantly as the bulls. Biologists now suggest that the influx of big reds may be “migratory” fish moving in and out of gulf passes with the huge masses of baitfish such as menhaden and mullet, and may stay in the bays until the food supply runs out. Another theory is that the population density of the gulf is at an all-time high and that they are simply not needed out there.

The fact of the matter is that the abundance of big redfish is due to a perfect growing recipe:

Oversize Redfish Recipe
1. Close the commercial fishing industry.
2. Add one CCA stocking program.
3. Season with healthy baitfish population,
4. Skim out a significant freeze.
5. Simmer for 17 years, and enjoy.

Why Not Wade?

Wadefishing is a very popular method of fishing throughout the middle and lower coasts of Texas. It is done in areas where concentrations of fish are high and the bottom structure is favorable for walking, such as hard sand or a shell reef. It can be done with bait or lures, although lures are usually more conducive for this type of angling. Equipment includes the usual rod and reel, a wade belt to hold your extra tackle, a stringer if you plan to keep fish, and a rod holder. Redfish Lodge supplies all of these items if you elect to wade during your stay. If the water is cold, waders should also be on your accessory list; They will keep you warm and dry, yet are comfortable enough to walk around in. In the warmer months, a pair of wade boots or old sneakers will do.

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Wadefishing offers many benefits over fishing from a boat. The first and foremost is exercise. Walking is great to keep you fit and help you lose weight, while being good for the knees and back because of the slow pace and the fact that a great deal of your body weight is being supported by water. Best of all, it is a one-way trip and your guide will bring the boat to you when the wade is over.

The fishing benefits are numerous, starting with the ability to control your pace. If there are a lot of fish, you can stop and cast repetitively. If the fish are scattered and infrequent, move faster to an area of higher concentration. This eliminates drifting quickly over a big school of hungry fish in the boat or anchoring just short of a hot spot. Also, wading is much quieter than fishing from a boat. The slap of the water on the hull and the sound of feet on the deck alert fish, especially big fish, to your presence and make them more reluctant to strike. Walking quietly can put you in casting range of the fish without them knowing you are there. This is the number one reason that most trophy specks are caught while wading. A group of three to four waders can cover a wider swath of water down a shoreline or reef that can the same group of fishermen from a boat. This improves your odds of finding the fish and concentrating your efforts where they are feeding. Seeing a school of feeding redfish while you are wading allows you to stay within casting distance of them indefinitely, even if they are moving across a shallow sandbar or into the wind as most feeding reds do.

Water temperatures typically range from five to fifteen degrees cooler in the water than in the air. For much of the Texas summer being in 80 degree water feels a lot better that being on a 93 degree boat. The peace and solitude of a wade, just you and the fish, is a great way to enjoy the quiet and watch the birds and wildlife. Plus, there is a satisfaction in knowing that you beat a fish on his own turf and in his own element. Until you have caught your first big red or gotten your hand on that monster speck while you are in the water with them, you will not understand. And once you have caught that fish, you will not understand why anyone would want to stand in a boat.

Some people view wadefishing with trepidation for a couple of reasons. The first is usually stingrays. If you heed the advice of your guide and do the “stingray shuffle,” this concern is all but eliminated. A stingray has to be pinned to the bottom by your foot before he becomes dangerous. Otherwise, they are very docile and shy animals. If you slide your feet along the bottom it is impossible to step on a ray, and therefore impossible to get stung. If you still feel uneasy, get a pair of stingray proof wade boots from your local tackle store and worry no more.

Vibrio is another hot topic in the news lately that keeps unapprised people out of the water. It is a virus that lives in saltwater environments and can be fatal to humans. The strain that is found in Texas favors hot water over 82 degrees, which only happens for a short time during the summer. If you do come in contact with the virus, it needs a breech in your skin to enter your body. If it does enter your body, a normal immune system is perfectly capable of destroying the virus before you know you have it. If you do contract it, you will show symptoms in only a few hours. Go to the hospital immediately, tell them the circumstances, and IV antibiotics and hospital observation will generally clear it up. If you are elderly, overweight, have a circulatory immune disorder, or a large open wound you may want to pass on the wadefishing or wear breatheable waders even in the warmer water. Overall, your chances of being hit and dying from the common flu virus are far greater than dying from vibrio. The odds are stacked in your favor.

If you think you may want to try wadefishing during your trip to Redfish Lodge, let us know in advance and we will have a guide and gear specially prepared for you. You will quickly see that all of your questions will be answered, your hesitation eased, and your fishing rod bent. Give it a try, you’ll love it!