Fishing & Boating News

Feathers n' Spoons

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

It's Autumn cool and time to fish the birds
Photo by Ed Snyder
Perks for fishing the early bite are always the East Bay Sunrises
Photo by Ed Snyder
(Oct. 25, 2010 - Galveston East Bay, Bolivar Peninsula, TX.)

Piercing shrieks and feathered splashes 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 a watery expanse of Galveston's East Bay was my focal point. Running to within 50 yards of the fracas, I then shut my engine down and dropped in the troll-motor. One quick cast and the battle was on!

The months of October/November/December offer some of the best fishing action of the year for the Galveston Bay area as the cooling effects of Autumn initiates a phenomenon of hungry sea birds and feeding trout. This occurs when cooling bay waters draw schools of baitfish together in tight schools for their migration to the warmer waters of the Gulf. When this happens, marauding schools of trout ambush these rafts of baitfish into a massive, roiling frenzied feeding spree of fish and panicked prey. The seagulls, spotting these sprees, then swarm in flocks to feed on the fleeing baitfish.

There's excitement in the air mixed with autumn temps and hot fishing action with the specks hitting cast after cast, maxing my adrenalin and slicking my rod with the aromatic scent of speckled sea-trout. Most of these schooling trout are juvenile 12 to 13 inch throwbacks but a few make the keeper box. The trick is to allow your spoon to flutter below the feeding juveniles getting down where the larger trout are, BUT, the problem is so many juvenile trout are surface feeding making it almost impossible to get under them.

But the splashing and shrieking birds mixed with the ?pocking? sounds of feeding specks along with the thrills of the hookup triggers a feeling of absolute pleasure.

The perfect tackle for this type of angling are bait caster reels balanced with 7ft fast action casting rods. Reels spooled with 12lb test fluorocarbon line makes for better casting, and better hookups. My tackle includes Castaway and Falcon rods with Ambassador, and Pinnacle reels rigged with 3/4 oz silver or gold spoons.

When the birds are up and trout are feeding they 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 lemon/chartreuse and pumpkinseed/chartreuse and the new MirrOlure 3inch 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 has been one of my most productive tools to have and has helped to fill my limits on many occasions.

If you're careful how you enter the feeding area by shutting down at least 50 yards out then use your troll-motor or drift 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 be awarded single digit salutes by other anglers who are already fishing there. So PLEASE fish friendly and everyone will have a good time catching fish. When the birds fly off you may think the actions over with and leave with them, but wait 5 or 10 minutes before you leave to see if the fish have left. I've experienced this several times without the birds feeding over them as the fish 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 early 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 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. ?
Colorfull redfish are bonus catches when fishing birds
Photo by Ed Snyder
Went looking for a bite and found a fight- one cast and the battle was on
Photo by Ed Snyder