The winter of 2020-2021 started out with some epic fishing, especially wading with lures in December and January. Unfortunately, it ended with a devastating freeze and a major hit to our coastal fishery. The bad news is that a lot of fish died. The good news is that a lot survived, and TPWD did not deem it necessary to adjust the regulations in our area. Corpus and areas south will be facing stricter size and number limits for a while in an effort to increase this year’s spawn among speckled trout, which will help rebuild our stock. It was with anxious curiosity that I returned to the water just days after the freeze. There were a lot of fish floating, and it was hard to look at, but the survivors seemed to outnumber the casualties. Drum were relatively easy to find, and usually had some reds mixed in with them. Dead shrimp was the only option at first, and worked well most days. In recent days, some of the bait stands have begun carrying live shrimp, a great sign for the rebound of our fishery.
I have not insisted that my guests release fish, but I am encouraging it. Most are very supportive, either releasing everything or keeping a couple fish for dinner and letting the rest go. The more days I have had to assess the fishery, the more comfortable I am keeping drum and some reds. The trout, however seem to be small and scarce. This may change when live bait becomes more readily available, but for the time being the focus is on drum and reds.
We did have a couple fantastic days fishing the spawning drum run in the ship channel over the last two weeks. Big fish ranging from 24 to 55 pounds were plentiful and hungry. What a great way to tire out your arms! It appears the major fronts and cold weather are behind us, and temps should stabilize and slowly rise to optimal fish activity. With shrimp and baitfish returning to the bay, I am cautiously optimistic that we will have a great season despite the freeze. I have a few days left in April, and plenty of weekdays left in May and June so get your trip booked soon.