Fish move in more as month progresses
September is a month that drives anglers crazy.
“You can smoke them one day, and then next day wonder where they went,” Calcasieu Charter Service’s Capt. Erik Rue said.
It’s not that fish aren’t around — they are just in that annual fall transition when they are constantly on the move. For Big Lake, that means focusing more on inshore waters than down along the coast.
“The fish are making their way into the system,” Rue explained.
At the beginning of the month, trout and reds will be found in the best numbers in the lower part of the ship channel, the jetties and the beaches. (Just like in August.)
But as the month ages and cool weather slowly begins lowering water temperatures, things change and boat rides become shorter.
“Between Labor Day and about Sept. 10 — that’s when I drive away from the jetties and wave goodbye: ‘See you next year,’” Rue said. “The bulk of the fish move inshore.”
The reason is simple: Bait like shrimp are beginning to migrate up the system and into Big Lake proper.
“About the end of teal season, you’re going to start seeing birds,” Rue said.
And where there are birds picking on shrimp, there will inevitably be trout and redfish underneath.
“When the birds start showing up, you leave the dock and you know you’re going bird fishing,” he said.
When birds are diving-bombing bait, Rue and his clients ease into position upwind of the flock and drift through the school.
The great thing about fishing these schools is that, while you can still use live bait, artificials will definitely produce. Rue’s preference is to tight-line, but he said dangling a plastic beneath a cork is a good way to go, as well.
“Whatever it takes,” he said. “With a cork, you can keep it in the strike zone a little longer; it helps.”
Unfortunately, this is when you’ll also catch a lot of catfish. He said there are times when it’s quickly apparent nothing but gafftops will be caught under a flock of birds.
But he gives the area a few minutes to yield some specks.
“If you see fish busting, you might have a group of (trout under the birds),” Rue said. “But if you catch six or eight gafftops, it’s time to move on.”
And that’s a key to success this month: Staying mobile.
“You just have to pick at them,” Rue said. “You might catch four or five at one spot, move and catch another handful, and just keep moving around.”
Another productive approach is to head straight to the reefs north of Long Point.
“These reefs are in good shape,” Rue said. “I start upwind and drift the reef. When you hit a fish, Power-Pole down and work the area.”
There are always key spots along any reef that produce consistently, so he ensures he hits those thoroughly.
“Those spots are amazing because they hold fish day after day after day,” Rue said.
But a word of warning: These reefs are community holes, so don’t sleep late during the fall if you want to get the most out of them.
“If you leave the dock late, you’ll find someone has beaten you to the best spots,” Rue said. “The early bird gets the worm.”
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