October is prime time for bending rods all along the upper Texas coast
October is among the best months for fishing the upper Texas coast. Temperatures are cooling and estuaries teeming as fall fishing patterns begin to gain momentum.
The effects of freshwater inflows from spring and summer rains have diminished, and the fish are beginning to spread out. In fact, there will be good activity near freshwater inflows such as the mouths of rivers, bayous and marsh drains. Anglers should expect to encounter a variety of species migrating toward these areas and upstream, because salinity in the upper bay systems is significantly higher than during the summertime.
With trout, redfish and flounder on the move, a run-n-gun approach likely will render the most success. This is not the time of year to practice patience, waiting for stubborn fish to bite. It’s time to be aggressive. Find stretches of water with signs of feeding gamefish and work them hard. If strikes don’t come, move to another spot.
Look for flocks of seagulls and terns hovering over schools of fish on sunny days with calm winds. The birds often will be diving as specks and reds chase swarms of shrimp and shad to the surface.
Areas such as Jack’s Pocket and the Anahuac Pocket in Trinity Bay usually are loaded with bird activity during October. The same goes for East Galveston Bay, Lower West Bay and open water stretches of upper Galveston Bay. East Matagorda Bay and Sabine Lake also are great places to fish the birds this fall.
Chasing the birds is a numbers game. Sometimes you have to hit several schools before you find fish of the caliber you want. Bait presentation can play a role in the size of fish you catch. Chucking bigger baits, like topwater plugs, typically results in strikes from larger specimens.
Playing the cold fronts this month also is going to be key. The first strong pushes of north wind from fall cold fronts can send fish into ultimate feeding mode. Watch weather forecasts regularly to know when these frontal systems will pass through.
When the north winds blow, the mouths of marsh drains, bayous and creeks from back lakes are the places to be. As tides begin to dump because of northerly gusts, baitfish will be forced out of these secondary bodies of water. You can bet predatory fish will be stacked up and waiting for them.
Other areas anglers can’t ignore this time of year include the surf and the jetties. Although typically thought of as prime summertime hotspots, these areas can produce and usually aren’t as crowded in October. When the winds are calm and the waters around jetties are flat, it’s worth giving them a shot.
Wade fishing also is picking up as fish begin to move from deeper areas toward shallow flats. Stretches along the north shore of West Galveston Bay, as well as the Texas City levee, can be dynamite for those willing to wade.
Oyster reefs also are excellent options anglers should target this month. Some of my favorites lie in upper Galveston Bay from April Fool’s Point on up to the Kemah and Seabrook flats. As October wears on, more and more fish will begin to stage along shell pads and reefs in this part of the estuary.
One of the most rewarding aspects of spending time on the water during the fall is the brilliant sunrises. For whatever reason, sunrises just seem to be more vibrant during this season, and that alone is a great reason to get out there.