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Piercing bird cries and splashing alerted me to the melee! One minute I was casting sea-grass looking for a bite and the next I was at full throttle looking for a fight!
A gaggle of shrieking, feeding seagulls diving over the salty expanses of Galveston’s East Bay was my focal point. Running my craft to within 50 yards of this frenzied fracas, then shutting down to drop the troll-motor in for cruising to the edges of this exciting action. A quick cast and my first battle was on!
The months of October thru December offers some of the finest fishing action of the year around the Galveston Bay area, when cooling winds of Autumn initiate a phenomenon of hungry sea birds and feeding trout.
This occurs when cooling bay waters draw pods of baitfish together in tight schools for their migrations to the warmer waters of the Gulf. When this happens, marauding schools of trout and reds ambush these rafts of baitfish, which in turn creates a scene of massive surface feeding frenzies of predator fish masticating panicked prey. The seagulls, on spotting these surface feeding sprees, then swarm in to feed on the fleeing baitfish. This was the scene that I was witnessing on arriving in my boat.
Excitement in the cool Autumn air mixing with the hot fishing action of speckled trout hitting cast after cast will definitely max your adrenalin, as your rod arches to the fight of speckled sea-trout. Most of these schooling trout will be juvenile 12 to 14-3/4 inch throwbacks, but a few make the the 15inch keeper box. The trick here is to allow your lure to fall below the feeding juveniles where the larger trout are holding, BUT, AT TIMES the problem is that there are often so many juvenile trout surface feeding making it almost impossible to get your lure under them.
The perfect tackle for this type of angling are bait caster reels balanced with 7ft fast action casting rods. Reels spooled with 12lb test fishing line makes for smooth casting, and better hookups. My tackle includes Castaway and Falcon rods rigged with Ambassador, and Pinnacle reels with 3/4 oz silver or gold spoons. Open faced spinning reels are also a good choice of fishing gear for smooth and accurate casting.
When the birds are up and trout are feeding the trout will hit just about anything, including an assortment of soft plastics, top water lures, and live bait under popping corks, but your casting distance will be very limited, while the weight of the spoon allows for longer casts. This is the key for catching schooling specks by avoiding getting too close, which will spook the school off the bite.
My tackle pack also has an assortment of soft plastics which include Saltwater Assassins in rootbeer/chartreuse and pumpkinseed/chartreuse with the MirrOlure soft plastics in chartreuse/gold and salt/pepper. These are my top lures in soft plastics as well as the 3/4 oz silver and gold spoons. Another important item to have on board is a pair of binoculars for spotting feeding birds on the horizon. This is one of my most productive tools to have, which has helped to fill out my 10 speck limits on many occasions. In order to fish the birds you first need to spot them.
If you’re careful how you enter the feeding area by shutting down at least 50 yards out, then using your troll-motor for control drifting to get within casting distance, you should be able to take advantage of the situation. But if you’re not and decide to throttle in on top of the school you’ll not only shut the action down but also will be awarded single digit salutes by other anglers who are already fishing there. So PLEASE fish friendly and everyone will have a good time having fun and catching fish.
When the birds fly off you may think the actions over and leave for greener pastures, but wait 5 or 10 minutes before leaving to see if the fish have really left. I’ve experienced this situation several times when the feeding birds fly off. Often, the fish will reappear and start feeding again. The best times for fishing East Bay birds is always early when they’ll be active at daybreak till about 10am. Then again mid-afternoon till evening.
Some bird activity may only last 5 or 10 minutes with others lasting an hour or more. I’ve fished under birds lasting over an hour, catching and releasing 65 specks in one feeding spree alone. That extended feeding event had three other boats working the same school where we all were busy catching trout. So the action is there if you take care on how you join in on the action. We will appreciate, the birds will appreciate, and the trout will appreciate!
It’s Autumn cool, the birds are up, and the trout are biting, so go have some fun folks.?
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