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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


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By Ron Mc
#2312332
Arroyo City and the Arroyo Colorado have become annual fall and winter sojourns for us. Every trip is a little different, but most of the difference has been giving up on day fishing LLM to focus on the excellent nite-lite dock fishing for the traveling schoolie specs that sweep the lights every night. On past trips, we were catching all males, and could be picky, with everyone's daily bag limit all 17" to 22" male schoolie specs.

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Just got back from 5 nights in the Spencer Bell house with Lou and Susie, Steve and MA.
The difference this time - I wouldn't call the dock fishing a bust, but we never saw a single schoolie, and only had one night and one day of sporadic finger mullet.
We were fishing nursery trout the whole time.
The good thing about Arroyo, the nursery trout are bigger than most places - but they also quickly get wise to everything you offer. The dearth of the traveling schoolie specs had to be related to the dearth of bait. Seems like everything is late this fall, late hurricanes, and the shimp and mullet migrations equally late. The locals blame the lack of bait on the abundance of jellyfish.

Don't get me wrong, everyone had a great subtropical vacation, with high every day at 80, and low every night at 70.
Even our day trip to South Padre, climbed the lighthouse, and on our way out stopped at all the good bait stands in the shrimp fleet harbor, and no one had live bait.
We did, however, have a great meal at the South Padre Brewpub.

And speaking of meals, here are those famous Huts-clone onion rings at Chili Willies in Arroyo City. We also sampled from the menu their version of calamari, fried shrimp, and chicken-fried steak. They cook a remarkably perfect burger.

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We mostly stuck with our dock fishing plan. It begins with watching all the birds fly out in the hour before sunset.

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Then fish on and off, dictated by the fish action, intermittent naps to let the fish warm back up, and concentrate on meals and entertaining the girls during the days.
The nursery trout were all directly under the lights, and you could see them. They were feeding on invisible glass minnows and scattered poecilid minnows. The poecilid minnows were well-imitated using a 2" swim shad spec rig.
We saw closed-mouth specs in pairs pushing poecilids on the surface to test them, and most of the time the bait would get away. At other times, we saw the baitfish skipping across the surface, ending with a feeding slash.
Success catching came from retrieves that duplicated the immediate bait motion - staggering slow retrieves most of the time, to quicker active retrieves when the nursery trout were feeding in earnest. And always varying count-down to fish different depths in the water column to find where they would feed.
We caught a lot of 14" trout, and the trip fish was 17" - Lou caught the most fish, including a small snook, but was never able to add to the stringer. Lou also caught the most hardheads on lures I've ever seen by anyone.

We were able to put together one Excellent fish fry.
Susie does this better than anyone (including my mom...)

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The beating NE wind arrived on Sunday, and Sunday night fishing picked up a bit. It also moved some finger mullet in from LLM. We saw a few being slashed, and were able to vary our lure size. I caught fish on 3" swim shad, and had a blast with fast retrieves on YoZuri twitchbait.
The wind laid enough on Monday morning to let us paddle down the natural Arroyo. This was an entertain-the girls paddle, and no one brought a rod - too bad.
First, we had to work out launching from the dock, and there was a nice step-down in the boat slips that let us get in.
Then, we had to work our way out of the slip through the boat lift hardware.

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Going down the natural arroyo the left bank is the mainland side and steeper
(this photo is going back in)

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The right bank going down the natural arroyo is the island side, mostly shallower with large patches of mangrove marsh.
Here, Lou saw our first redfish.
Along this bank we saw more redfish, patches of finger mullet, and slashing trout.

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We made to where the natural arroyo narrowed, began splitting into fingers,
and found a good beer-thirty wind break from the building NE wind against this island bluff.

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going back in, we surfed
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That evening, we got the word that Jerry's had a charge of live shrimp, which made our last evening under the dock.
(also, another plug for Jerry's great tamales)
Must have caught 20 under-size trout in no time, added keepers to our new stringer, then they ignored the shrimp, except to play with it or occasionally bite a tail.
So another nap, and got back up at 1:30 am to finish the shrimp and finish out this nice stringer. .

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Lou and Susie headed back first thing in the morning, but Steve and I spent our last two hours before packing out with another foray down the natural arroyo, this time with rods.

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The wind would soon build for us, and gave us a nice technique using our drift socks to parallel the mangrove marshes. Unfortunately, it was just another good paddle.
We saw one redfish, no patches of finger mullet, and no slashing trout.
Waiting on barge traffic for the last channel crossing.

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User avatar
By Ron Mc
#2312435
Thanks KK, I always shoot too many photos for one post alone, so I like to show more in follow-up posts.

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We caught more fish than trout - I mentioned Lou's little snook - I broke off a big snook on UL. I got a couple of nice reds, but under slot.
Also forgot to mention I landed 5 doubles, all on UL.

And talk about nursery trout staying around, I had a 3-turn uni-knot on a heavy fluoro tandem leader let go of a glow 2-inch swim shad. Two days later, the same trout was still taking bait at our dock with the glow lure in the corner of his mouth.

I tinkered through everything I had, including lures that would cast farther and get me deeper in the column.
A YoZuri pencil jig on my Abu CT caught a mangrove snapper, but too small to fillet.
Here, showing the rod with cut bait during Sunday's beating NE wind.
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a little Chili Willie's '20 humor
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Stevo's getting better at filleting fish, giving me almost a half-time break.
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here's that first branch of the Arroyo on the way to the north end of Peyton Bay
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Steve and MA, who ride a tandem bicycle, lashed their Hobies into a catamaran
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Steve and I both got good enough at single-hand launching our boats, we can probably do it in the dark if we want to extend our night fishing across the Arroyo
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Last edited by Ron Mc on Sun Nov 22, 2020 9:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By Ron Mc
#2312441
thanks friend.

this was kind of a salvage-the-year trip for my friends. They all needed something good to happen.
Lou and Susie save up for a trip to France every year, didn't happen.
Steve and MA usually make the Reno Air Races every year to crew and tailgate for a winning team. along with our other friends Randy and Sharon.

This may not substitute for either, but it's always a nice place to land, and not hard to stay busy having fun - or simply have fun being a palapa lizard.
The South Padre beach and jetties is an easy day trip - I didn't bring my camera for our day trip.

Padre Island Brewing Co. has a world-class chef and pretty amazing food - just checked google, they call themselves a "Gastropub"
I had the spinach salad with blackened shrimp, and it was over the top, served with pesto - maybe not France, but all part of good 2020 lemonade.

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By OldTownYakBoi
#2312568
You put a lot of effort into this report. I’ve never been to that area of the Texas coast but it’s definitely on the list!


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By Ron Mc
#2312569
it fishes really well all winter. Sow trout and even tarpon are caught on the shelves where the natural arroyo diverges from the barge channel.
The problem this year, all the bait migrations are running a month late. We would have done better on the December new moon, and have done very well in January and February in the past.
We still had a great time.
By OldTownYakBoi
#2312571
Ron Mc wrote:it fishes really well all winter. Sow trout and even tarpon are caught on the shelves where the natural arroyo diverges from the barge channel.
The problem this year, all the bait migrations are running a month late. We would have done better on the December new moon, and have done very well in January and February in the past.
We still had a great time.

Good to know. I agree with you on everything being late this year. Big Flounder are still staging in the marsh. You’d think they’d have moved out by now. I think the lack of strong cold fronts is the culprit


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By OldTownYakBoi
#2312572
OldTownYakBoi wrote:
Ron Mc wrote:it fishes really well all winter. Sow trout and even tarpon are caught on the shelves where the natural arroyo diverges from the barge channel.
The problem this year, all the bait migrations are running a month late. We would have done better on the December new moon, and have done very well in January and February in the past.
We still had a great time.

Good to know. I agree with you on everything being late this year. Big Flounder are still staging in the marsh. You’d think they’d have moved out by now. I think the lack of strong cold fronts is the culprit


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Speaking of Tarpon, I was fishing Galveston bay a few months ago and saw one roll. I threw right to it and Hooked up, my blood was pumping.... until I pulled up a gaftop. Maybe one day I’ll hook up on one of those beasts


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By Ron Mc
#2312573
Late last spring, TexasJim caught a baby tarpon in The Pasture at S. Padre.

As far as the effort, we put a lot of effort into the dock fishing. It's a skill I honed with my daughters for 20 years.
Have gotten really smart about the tackle, and Arroyo is the most amazing place I know for it.
It's just this trip, we didn't get the schoolies sweeping the lights at night.
The writing comes easy for me using my many photos - I had 50 subjects with multiple frames of many of those to choose.
I don't do the good job organizing stats like Josh does, but I work all the information into my essay.
By OldTownYakBoi
#2312574
Ron Mc wrote:Late last spring, TexasJim caught a baby tarpon in The Pasture at S. Padre.

As far as the effort, we put a lot of effort into the dock fishing. It's a skill I honed with my daughters for 20 years.
Have gotten really smart about the tackle, and Arroyo is the most amazing place I know for it.
It's just this trip, we didn't get the schoolies sweeping the lights at night.
The writing comes easy for me using my many photos - I had 50 subjects with multiple frames of many of those to choose.
I don't do the good job organizing stats like Josh does, but I work all the information into my essay.

It must be some serious dock light fishing for one to dedicate a trip to it. At least you got to spend some time and fish with friends. Now you have an excuse to get back there . I do appreciate you sharing the report even though you didn’t kill em. To me the beauty of the reports is in the diversity. It would be boring if they all read the same. I will agree though josh puts us all to shame


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By Ron Mc
#2312575
We had a really great fish fry, and my friends took home 12 fillets from the last night - we just didn't all stock up on fish tacos like usual.
You couldn't count the number of 14" trout we caught, plus redfish, ladyfish, snook, mangrove snapper.
Right after dinner one evening, I caught 3 of my 5 UL doubles on consecutive casts.

if you search Arroyo in fishing report thread titles, you'll see some of our past trips - each of those, dock fishing was over the top.
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By Dandydon
#2312600
Wow! Sounds like paradise down there in far south Texas!

Super report, Ron. But being Thanksgiving, I enjoyed your delicious food photos as much as the fishing shots...

Save me some of those dang onion rings...

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By Ron Mc
#2312619
thanks DD, it was really a great trip for all of us - the lemonade factor was about 2020.
We caught a lot of fish that tested our skills and dock stealth - just didn't bring home the meat that we've done in the past.
Paddling the Arroyo was a joy, and next time, we're going to focus more on this.
I bet this weekend's front is going to move a lot of fish all over the TX coast.
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