Captain Experiences slated an inshore trip down in Corpus Christi to get the team out on the water and on some fish. Although mid-December is generally the offseason for Corpus Christi, all of us love to fish and weren’t going to miss a chance to hit the coast. It’s a three hour drive from Captain Experiences HQ in Austin to Corpus Christi so Jonathan, Attison, David, and I (Joey) met up early to head down to Clem’s Marina.
We got to the dock at 8:30 am and met Captain Mitch who was fired up and ready to get after it. We headed out with dolphins in our wake passing miles of beautiful coastline before arriving at the first spot. When Captain Mitch shut down the boat we jumped up, baited our lines, and started making casts. The game plan was throwing popping corks with shrimp while drifting bays to hook up with speckled sea trout or drum. Our expectations for catching fish were cautiously optimistic with unpredictable December weather.
It only took a few minutes for Attison to hook up with a trout, which kicked off an hour-long drift of catching fish after fish. If anyone had any doubts, we quickly put them to rest. The trout were on fire and within 15 minutes everyone on the boat had landed fish. By the 30 minute mark, we had doubled up a few times and were getting into a groove.
I was posted up on the stern of the boat and it had been a few minutes since my last bite so I got a new shrimp and sent it back out. A couple of casts later my cork disappeared and I snapped my rod back to set the hook. As soon as the line got tight there was a big gold flash beneath the water and everyone on the boat erupted. We were using light tackle and with redfish being notorious for spitting hooks, I had to be careful. The fish went on several runs that had me circling the boat, but eventually, we were able to net the fish and bring it on board. The redfish measured 33” long with a gold body and blue on its tail. We snapped some pictures before safely returning it to the water then celebrated an already amazing trip.
We drifted a little longer and caught a few more trout but by that time it was getting shallow and Captain Mitch put us back where we started. Everyone on the boat couldn’t help but smile and share some fist bumps after an action-packed first hour. The wind picked up on our second pass and action had cooled off but we were still able to snag several trout.
Captain Mitch was always busy netting, pulling out hooks, measuring fish, and grabbing shrimp but still found time to teach us a few new things about speckled trout.
The most identifiable markings on a trout are their spots but as it turns out the younger trout have a ton of spots. As the trout grow older they tend to fade and generally have fewer spots.
Opposite of the spots, trout have a yellow or golden mouth and are sometimes called yellow mouths. The yellow is very faint on young trout but becomes vivid and more golden on older trout.
Early on in our trip, Captain Mitch explained the importance of having a fresh and lively bait when fishing for trout. Trout are aggressive predators and want to kill their prey and will generally pass up slow-moving or dead bait.
We decided to move to a new spot that was more protected from the gusting wind and resumed popping corks and catching fish. Halfway through our drift at the second spot, David launched a cast off the bow of the boat and started working it back to the boat. A few seconds later he wound back and set the hook on a fish that didn’t budge. He went around the boat trying to keep tension on the line while holding tight to endure intermittent runs. David was able to haul the fish close enough to the boat and netted a hefty black drum.
Before he could get his line baited and back in the water, Attison was hooked up and fighting a big trout. Once Attison got the fish to the boat and onto the deck, it was clear that this was a solid fish. We pulled out the tape and Attison’s trout came out to 19.25” long, an awesome fish any day of the week. After two sizable fish, the bite slowed down and we rolled out to hit another spot.
The third spot had no shelter from the wind and even with a drift sock, the boat was flying across the water. An overhead cast would carry 100 yards but we had to reel constantly just to prevent slack from piling up. The fish didn’t seem to mind the wind because the bites kept coming. David had another solid black drum crush his bait as soon as it hit the water, and Jonathan came up big with one of the largest trout of the trip.
On our way back we decided to stop and try our luck one last time. The bite was inconsistent until Attison said “the next fish is the last fish” and suddenly we were getting smoked left and right. In the next 3 minutes, everyone had a bite or caught a fish.
To finish off our incredible day of fishing, Captain Mitch filleted our catch and we went to get some lunch. With fresh fish in hand, we pulled up to Scuttlebutts which is a local favorite bar and grill just down the road from the marina. They took our filets and cooked them three ways, blackened, grilled, and fried, to go with the sides we ordered. The meal was exceptional and while we ate we shared our favorite moments from the day.
We were fortunate enough to have nice weather but looking back it’s hard to believe that a day of fishing can get any better than the one we had. The idea that the best Texas fishing happens in the summer doesn’t seem to account for our day of lights out fishing in mid-December which raises the question: What is the peak season for fish that stay local throughout the year? The answer to that will be in an upcoming blog so make sure you stay tuned. The bottom line is the fish are biting on the Texas Coast and oddly enough, the “offseason” is a great time to get in on the action.