Hot Water Inshore Fishing Options
Let’s face it, Texas’ summer heat affects us all. In August, the air is hotter and the sun is brighter. When the sun is high and the heat index is spiraling upwards, we all begin to feel a little lazy, move a little slower and start looking for somewhere to cool off. Fish are no different. In fact, August is one time when fishermen don’t need to think like a fish, they just need to think like themselves. When are they likely to be most active? Where do they want to be in the middle of the day when the sun is high and the temperature is scorching? Basically, but answering these questions to suit their own needs, anglers can virtually ensure angling success during August.
Fish, like fishermen, are lethargic during the warmest portions of a summer day. So, for anglers to find active fish, they need to find fish that are in their comfort zone as August temperatures soar.
WHERE TO LOOK
Shallow Flats – Think of shallow flats like you would your backyard. When, during August, are you most likely to cut the lawn? Most of us would prefer to do any outdoor to-dos during the cooler morning and evening hours. Fishing the flats is much the same way -- fish will still be shallow but only when they are comfortable, typically during the cooler morning and evening hours. But, during the time they are on the flats, they are usually fairly aggressive.
Given the fact the fish will vacate the flats as soon as the water begins to warm, anglers should key on flats close to deep water. Unlike spring and fall, when fish will travel great distances in knee-deep water, summer sees most fish holding close to the relatively cooler deeper water so they can quickly transition given the rapidity with which the water warms during summer. As a result, most shallow water activity will be concentrated within a few hundred yards of a channel or deep flat.
Shaded Water – What is more quintessential summer than a hammock hanging under a shade tree? Just as people employ shade to keep cool during the heat of summer, so do a variety of fish species. Therefore, any type of structure that provides shade holds the potential to hold fish during summer. Docks and bridges are obvious examples. In deeper water areas, platforms holding range markers or gas wells can also serve as fish magnets. The closer the structure is to the water's surface, the more cooling shade it will provide to the water directly beneath it and the more fish it will attract. These areas are particularly productive during the middle of the day when temperatures are at their peak.
Deep Pockets – Think of deep pockets as big, fluffy pillows – perfect for an afternoon nap. And, basically, that is what fish do during the midday hours on the hottest August days – they find deeper, cooler water and just sort of hang around until the shallower waters begin to cool in the evening hours. Because they are basically just killing time while waiting for the shallower water to become more inviting, fish found in deep holes during the middle of the day may not be the most aggressive. More often than not, in order to tempt fish holding in deep holes during the afternoon heat, anglers need to employ some finesse tactics such as freelining, drop-shotting or vertical jigging.
Another thing for fishermen to keep in mind is that the fish may not be hugging tight to the bottom when found in deep holes. In fact, they will seek out the most comfortable temperature, which will often be found in a layer of cooler water known as a thermocline. A thermocline can occur at different depths for a variety of reasons. Whenever a thermocline is present, water within the thermocline will be cooler than the water either above or below it. Although there may be fish scattered throughout the water column, the greatest concentration will always be found in the thermocline. So, rather than dropping baits straight to the bottom, anglers should experiment with different depths until you find where the fish are holding.
Channels & passes – For fish occupying a channel or pass while a tidal flow is moving in, the sensation is probably a lot like a fishermen sitting in front of a window unit air conditioner in a beach house – a steady stream of cool to beat back the surrounding heat. Moving water, in essence, is like an aquatic a/c during the summer months. But, while moving water will always be cooler than stationary water, water moving in from the open Gulf will always be cooler than water draining from the back bays and lakes. And, water closer to a Gulf pass will be cooler than water found in a channel some distance from the pass. Of course, the depth of the channel or pass will also impact the temperature. These are all conditions which anglers should consider when selecting channels and passes to fish in during August.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, passes and channels are actually different. From an angling standpoint, they can be defined thusly: Passes connect two bodies of water, with a Gulf pass connecting the Gulf of Mexico with an inshore bay. Channels are deep trenches running for some distance within a bay.
Channels, whether natural or manmade, offer relief from the summer heat for many fish species. Anglers fishing along channels should concentrate on the channel edges early in the day, then drop down a little deeper as the day wears on. Try to time your channel fishing during times of moving current. And, as is the case with deep holes, there is often a thermocline present in channels. Find the thermocline and you will find the largest concentration of fish.
Passes are the key to moderating bay temperatures and salinity levels. The beachfront water temperatures are cooler than those of back bays during the summer months. As a result, the water exchange between the Gulf and bay ensures the water in passes and flats adjacent to a pass will be more moderate than that found on the backside of a bay system where the current flow either does not reach or has become substantially warmer after traveling across the bay. In any event, when the weather gets hot, it is advantageous for anglers to focus on passes, as well as the flats which line the pass or are very near it.
Additionally, most major Gulf passes on the Texas coast are lined with granite rocks. These extended rock groins are known as jetties and certainly concentrate fish, especially during the summer months. Anglers should adjust their target areas on jetties depending on the direction of the current flow – an outgoing flow means fish near the end of the structure, whereas an incoming flow will concentrate fish inside and near the base.
Night under lights – Most beach towns have a popular night spot or two. So do most coastal angling venues. Docks and piers fitted with lights will tend to attract fish during the summer months more than at any other time of year. Fishing under the lights is not necessarily a guarantee of good fishing, but more often than not, fish will show under the lights at some point. Many of the same rules of daytime bay fishing apply when selecting a time and location to fish under the lights – moving water will increase odds, as will finding a location near a Gulf pass.
Beachfront – Everybody likes to go to the beach in the summertime and fish are no different. During the summer months, surf waters are swarming with speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, redfish, pompano and more. Of course, this is hardly a secret. In fact, many Texas coastal anglers live to fish for speckled trout in the surf during summer. Again, water temperature plays a key role. Although surf temperatures may be warm during August, it is still much, much cooler than the water found in the back bays and lakes. As a result, there are more baitfish and predator species found in the surf than in the back bay areas during August. But, even in the surf, fish will transition throughout the day. Early morning will find fish feeding right up to dry sand. As the sun rises, these fish will move progressively deeper, taking advantage of the deeper guts found behind the sand bars that parallel the beach. One thing anglers can usually count on as the morning wears on is seeing balls of bait and working birds to help locate schools of roving fish.
Again, in order to be more successful during late summer, anglers need only to think of the conditions which would make them more comfortable. Odds are the fish are seeking similar comforts and, when anglers find them in these areas, they are much more likely to strike a properly presented lure or bait.