April means more consistency and more options, but also more anglers
April typically brings some consistency to the upper Texas coast. Water temperatures are more stable and rising by the day. Plus, angling action in bays and estuaries becomes more predictable and easier to pattern.
This provides anglers with a plethora of options about when and where to try to put a bend in their rods. Tactics they employ will depend on which game they decide to play.
Follow the Leader
Successfully fishing our main bay shorelines and open bay waters during the fourth month is a lot like playing “Follow the Leader.” The only difference is, the main goal is to follow the fish, and stay with them as they migrate back and forth between shallow and deep water.
Throughout April, there still will be plenty of speckled trout and redfish along the shorelines, especially early in the morning and late in the evening. During these times, it’s always a good idea to jump out of the boat along a protected shoreline and wade fish stretches of water teeming with baitfish. Swarms of glass minnows, shrimp and finger mullet all are indicators that gamefish are lurking nearby.
As the water temperature warms up during the midday hours, the fish will tend to move off the shorelines into deeper water to feed along nearby structures. This transition from shallow to deeper water can mean a change anywhere from 1½ to 8 feet deep or more, depending on the waters you’re targeting.
The key is finding deeper areas holding structures near or adjacent to flats along the shorelines fish are using during cooler periods of the day. Main bay oyster reefs, clam shell reefs and wellheads all are prime options. Once anglers can connect the dots between shorelines and deep-water structures, they can make a plan to catch fish while wade fishing and drift fishing in the same day.
Inside and Out
The “In and Out” game involves another pretty simple concept that will help anglers stay hooked up for the next several months. It revolves around fishing near jetties and passes on both the bay side, the inside, or the beach front, the outside.
There’s a ton of activity to be found where estuarine and Gulf waters meet. The direction the tide is flowing ultimately plays a large role in determining where the fish will be concentrating.
Speckled trout, redfish and other species are opportunistic feeders. They try to use every factor to their advantage to score an easy meal. Therefore, they are usually found feeding on the down-current side of structures, waiting on prey being swept toward them by the tide.
That means the inside of jetties and passes tend to be more productive during periods of incoming tides. When the tide is falling, or going out, it’s better to fish the outside.
April usually kicks off tournament season on the Texas coast. That means two things — there’s plenty of opportunity to compete, and there’s going to be increasingly intense boat traffic and fishing pressure during competitive angling events. It’s safe to say there’s at least one tournament being held almost every weekend from now through the fall.
Increased pressure during this period means recognizing the importance of getting away from crowds and being respectful to fellow anglers. As a professional redfish tournament angler, I define a great day on the water as one in which I was able to stick to my game plan without being interrupted by other boats and anglers. There’s something very rewarding about catching fish in an area where other boats aren’t constantly buzzing around. Fish typically feed better in these stretches of water as well.
This is possible when anglers are respectful of one another and make ethical decisions. While fishing during high traffic periods, give others plenty of space. Give them the amount of space you would like them to give you if you were on a school of fish.
Nothing is worse than pursuing a school you found, only to have another boat run them over because the anglers are inconsiderate or just aren’t paying attention. Not only is it frustrating, but it also usually breaks up the schools and shuts down the action. If everyone on the water makes ethical decisions and is courteous, more folks can enjoy phenomenal encounters with hungry gamefish.
Challenge yourself to find stretches of water away from the crowds. Less pressured waters often will hold more fish that are aggressive, and they likely will feed for longer. Some of the most incredible days I’ve ever spent on the water have taken place in areas where I never saw another boat anywhere nearby. Pressure makes a difference.
There’s a lot to be excited about as we enter into the fourth month of the year. Plentiful options abound, and a variety of species await. Whether you’re just hoping to catch a few fish or target a specific species in a particular area, things are only going to get better. Stay safe on the water, and let the games begin.