Texas 2 a Days
Last updated 8/2/2022 at 7:33pm
Now unless you live under a rock in a far dark corner of the planet you probably have some sort of idea about how completely fanatical Texas folks are about football. The summer months in our great state are often looked upon with great enthusiasm as thousands of football players begin their preparations for the fall campaign by first trying to beat the Texas heat. The football term “2 a days” refers to the common practice of working out twice a day, usually once in the morning and once in the afternoon in an effort to escape the hottest parts of the day. Well football players aren’t the only ones trying to beat those high temperatures; fishermen are also trying to combat the heat as well. Triple digit temps not only have an effect on fishermen but also on the fish in some instances.
The whole key to successful summer fishing is figuring out how to cope with the heat and that means focusing on the best times as well as tides to pursue your fish. The folks who have to make the biggest changes in how and where they fish are those that stay in the shallow water areas like the marshes around Sabine and Calcasieu. During the summer months those shallow brackish marshes can have some ridiculously high water temps which in turn really do a number on the fish. Surface temps in the 90’s will begin to make things dangerous even for the heartiest of redfish as oxygen levels decrease during the long summer days. Many times these fish will retreat to the deepest areas of the marsh in search of cooler water. Several years ago I was helping some Florida angler’s pre fish for a big tournament and watched them carve out a very unlikely but successful pattern by fishing deep ditches adjacent to larger back lakes and ponds. We watched several other anglers scour the shallow water areas and finally give up after having little or no success while the deeper ditch pattern steadily produced quality fish. Its amazing the difference in temperature that comes from water only a couple of feet deeper than the surrounding area, especially if it has a decent tidal influence.
Another great equalizer for the fish is matted vegetation that acts like a canopy and provides shaded cooler water. Many of the areas I like to fish will get covered in widgeon grass, turtle grass, or even coontail and the fish seem to gravitate to it like a magnet. Besides the immediate relief from the temperature that mats offer there is also the extra added bonus of bait that tends to gather there as well. Shrimp, small crabs, and other baitfish will seek out the safety and sanctity of those grassy areas just like redfish will and that’s a great combination for both fish and fisherman. Certain adjustments in tackle and technique will need to be made in order to properly fish these areas and it all starts with lure selection. For me it’s the Stanley Ribbit, hands down one of my absolute favorite ways to fish. After taking a page out of the freshwater fishing playbook on fishing grass and vegetation the Ribbit opened up an entire new world for clients and myself. Being able to fish water that in the past was basically off limits due to the thick grass enabled me to fish virtually anywhere and not be uncomfortable with those conditions. The Ribbit is not only a versatile lure but the strikes it provokes from thick grass are heart stoppers! Definitely worth experimenting with if you’ve never done it before.
Now the shallow water folks are not the only ones who have to adjust to the heat, the open water folks have to adapt as well. The fish in the open lake or bay are not as affected as the shallow fish are but they certainly can be at times. Surface temps, high skies, bright sun, little to no wind can all be factors that stifle a bite. The most obvious factor is surface temperature and that causes perhaps the biggest adjustments. Tons of anglers will habitually patrol the shorelines barely a cast away from the land regardless of other factors. During certain times of the year that program pays off but in the summer it can hurt just the same. I have seen plenty of boats anchored up at marsh drains that empty into Sabine lake during the summer oblivious to the fact that the water coming out is much hotter than the water in the lake. Most of these folks just go there because they fished here one time and caught fish so it must be the same year round. In the summer this can be a bad idea while in the winter it’s a perfect pattern. Perhaps one of the best bets during the summer months is to burn a little gas, get off the shoreline, and go see what the open water has to offer. On Sabine you may just run into some of the huge schools of shad and pogies that are often times being destroyed by schools of big redfish and hungry trout. The tell tale signs of feeding slicks along with an occasional shrimp skipping across the surface can be a precursor to some absolute angling chaos without any crowds to dampen the fun.
Now so far we’ve thoroughly discussed how temperatures affect the fish, its time to consider what this summer heat does to anglers. For most of us the thought of working in hot temperatures is down right unappealing. The funny thing is that fishing in those same temps somehow doesn’t seem so bad. Standard precautions of staying hydrated, using sunscreen, and wearing appropriate clothing go without saying. Many folks also adjust their time schedule and will often leave the dock after dark to get a more comfortable surrounding. Fishing in the dark has its own set of rules and precautions to follow so we’ll talk about that at another time. Just be sure if you do decide to prowl the bay after dark to communicate with some one about where you’ll be and have all your necessary safety gear in order, especially lights. Back to our schedule change, the pre dawn launch that allows you to grab that first hour or so before the sun starts cooking is a magical part of the morning and a favorite for many fishermen. The same can be said for the last hour of daylight until sunset. These times are tailor made for catching big fish in the summer and there are many anglers I know who try to do both in the same day. The thought of 2 or 3 fishing hours at dawn followed by 2 or 3 fishing hours at sunset is my idea of a “Texas 2 a day”.