Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


Photo © Lefty Ray Chapa


Angling the Dog Days

Late summer brings fishing for redfish, stripers and largemouth bass.

by Art Morris and Randy Brudnicki

Looking to get a jump on the August red drum pre-spawn schooling behavior? Hit the flats of the Laguna Madre. Dissected by a 20-mile mudflat called the Land Cut, the 130-mile lagoon is broken up into upper and lower sections. With an average depth of about 1 meter, the system provides arguably the finest shallow-water fishing in the world. While wade fishing reigns here, drifting or poling the flats is popular as well. A textbook opportunity to sight-cast to “tailing” red drum draws anglers to the Lower Laguna Madre; the action really heats up in August.

With the lagoon bordered by several large ranches and the Padre Island National Seashore, access is limited to sites near Corpus Christi, Port Mansfield and Port Isabel. The remoteness and isolation contribute to fewer crowds and more fish. Lengthy boat rides to fabulous fishing are customary here, but abundant wildlife and unspoiled scenery make the trip well worth it.

Casting weedless gold spoons is the standard operating procedure; casting soft plastics or live shrimp rigged underneath a clicker cork does its fair share of damage. Casting top-water baits often makes for exciting action as well. Long expanses of shallow, clear, grassy flats offer an idyllic setting for fishing.

Since the Lower Laguna Madre may be better known for trophy spotted seatrout fishing, red drum may be overlooked, but that doesn’t mean they’re not abundant. In fact, about 27 percent of the statewide recreational landings of red drum come out of the Laguna Madre.

Home to 80 percent of the state’s submerged seagrass flats, the Mother Lagoon could be Texas’ finest locale for superb late-summer red drum action. AM

Photo courtesy of Randy Brudnicki


The hotter-the-better edition: Falcon Lake is “hot” for fishing now. The lake produces big bass in the late summer, making up for the sweltering heat. Unless a tropical depression comes through to raise the reservoir’s water levels, plan to fish away from shore. The state park ramp may be unusable, but you can launch from the main lake point to the right of the ramp (four-wheel drive recommended). The county park may be down to one or two lanes but should remain usable.

Tactics change in summer, so go deep to ledges, rocks and main channels. Some of the old building foundations will be in play, too. With the lowered lake level, fish have less cover to hide from the anglers, so they use depth for security. Top baits include deep-diving crankbaits or 10- to 12-inch plastic worms in 20 to 30 feet of water. When the heat gets oppressive at 2 p.m., be ready by dressing appropriately. Modern cooling fabrics, sun gloves/sleeves and wide-brimmed hats will help you make it through the day. When you catch that 10-pounder, it’s worth it. RB

Photo © Robert S. Michelson


Lake Buchanan is one of the best summer striper fisheries in Texas. Deep trolling for stripers during the heat of the summer means anglers may have to use downriggers to reach striped bass holding in the deep water. Using your electronics, determine the depth in which the schools of stripers are suspending. Quality electronics will help you see the thermocline; the screen shows a visible line for the gradient where water temperature changes from one layer to another. Lower the downrigger ball to a depth just above this thermocline. Many anglers use simple hair jigs (such as bucktails) because they are durable and inexpensive. Plus, it’s much faster to remove a single hook from a fish, so you don’t miss out on the hot action. Add a soft plastic twister-tail trailer to increase vibration or color contrast. White, yellow and chartreuse (or a combination) work. RB

Photo by Earl Nottingham / TPWD


At Sabine Lake, birds feeding on baitfish are a sign that schools of “Texas gold” — groups of large, voraciously feeding red drum — may be nearby. This 90,000-acre saltwater estuary on the Texas-Louisiana border drains some 50,000 square miles of Texas and Louisiana marsh into the Gulf of Mexico. Chasing schools of redfish feeding on “pogies” (menhaden) is a Sabine Lake tradition. Gear up this summer for some fast and furious action. AM

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