Working Birds Back on Track for Upper Coast Trout Seekers; A Trophy Buck in the Making

Aside from providing some desperately-needed bona fide cool weather, Saturday’s cold front has spurred one of the Texas coast’s premier fall fisheries into action.

On the literal upper end of the spectrum (in other words, fishing near the surface), action for speckled trout beneath working flocks of seagulls has finally picked up the pace. The major freshwater inflows of last month have finally dissipated into a favorable mix of salt water and fresh, and the productive blend is activating pods of shrimp in Upper Coast Bays. Fellow fishermen have reported, in just the past two days, a remarkable resurgence in working bird activity … a trend that was woefully shut down when the October deluge arrived. Speckled Trout

Be it East Galveston Bay, West Galveston Bay or Trinity Bay, on any given day in the next several weeks (wind allowing), even relatively inexperienced fishermen can easily capitalize on what is arguably the most productive, obvious, in-your-face fish-catching scenarios on the face of the saltwater planet.

Yes, the wind is kicking. A hard north wind admittedly totally screws up the water. However, with the weekend front gaining some age, wind conditions promise to settle. Ironically, for effective bird fishing (and especially in the absence of an electric trolling motor) a bit of wind is actually helpful. Fishing working birds is essentially drift fishing, and without any semblance of a breeze, a boat isn’t prone to move. A moving boat does not cover water, and it definitely doesn’t transport you toward the action. If you are unaccustomed to the ways of working birds, here’s a bit of information about Great American Outdoor Trails Radio Magazine (www.gaot) and what this week’s show offers to saltwater aspirants who could use a little useful advice on how to make the most out of dive-bombing gulls:

This week’s installment of Great American Outdoor Trails Radio Magazine, hosted by radio veteran Jim Ferguson with Yours Truly serving as the Gulf Coast Editor, covers the basics of how to successfully approach and catch fish below flocks of gulls that are preying on shrimp driven to the surface by feeding trout. Next week’s segment will go into yet more detail.

You can hear both online by logging on to It’s a great program, one that is about to be substantially enhanced with the addition of PodCasts.

A decent pair of binoculars is a valuable asset for the angler in search of birds. Most often, the productive flocks consist of laughing gulls (you know, the squawking and cackling variety that is virtually everywhere along the coast). Trick one is spotting them: binoculars indeed help, and so does the propensity to look for motion instead of clearly-visible birds. It’s a lot like looking for deer. It’s better to look for the flash of white against green (or on the water, the less contrasty blue) than it is to look for the critter itself.

Trick two is approaching them. There is no quieter way to do so than with the assist of a gentle breeze. However, approach logistics for not only birds but also the shiny surface reflections known as “slicks” (another installment topic to come on next week’s program and this website as well) virtually mandate the purchase and use of a corrosion-resistant electric trolling motor.

No matter how you come up on ’em, though, seeing birds is a lot like seeing deer. An experienced eye really helps.

Speaking of deer (and, with opening weekend a week ago, who isn’t?):

For those of you who logged in while I was out of town deer hunting, I did indeed see last year’s infamous Lavaca County “big buck” (another story, but one that will bear repeating one day when the weather is too nasty for fishing … Unfortunately, those days will be here soon enough). A photo of that deer … a beautiful, but still-young 13-pointer that I am guessing to be no older than 3-1/2, will be posted on Ferguson’s GAOT Newsletter this week (available upon request, again, at Lavaca County 13-point Young Buck

Much as I would have loved to, I didn’t shoot the photo with one of my Nikons. Instead, the picture was taken with a motion-activated Cuddeback Game Cam that I purchased last year from Chuck Cashdollar at South Texas Tripods … you’ll find Chuck’s website at, where you can check out his extensive lineup of Kahle Scopes, CZ Rifles, countless accessories for hunters and, of course, Cashdollar’s namesake tripods and hunting stands).

Yes, the Cuddeback is an expensive unit. No, best as I know, you cannot get a better one, and certainly not for less money … at last check, $399, plus tax, a Compact Flash Card and batteries. That price, again, at last look, seemed to be uniform across the board from retailers such as South Texas Tripods, Bass Pro and Cabela’s.

Like I said, it’s another story … one that I hope to cover in an upcoming issue of Texas Sporting Journal (, but until then, I assure you that a remote, motion-activated game cam … be it from Cuddeback, Stealth, Moultrie or whichever manufacturer … is a wise investment for the hunter.

There’s nothing like knowing that a deer … or even a pack of hogs … is coming through every evening at a particular deer stand at a particular time of day (or night).

Now, if manufacturers can just come up with a way to do the same with fish.

That, I suspect, and despite all the outdoor technology rocking the marketplace, is still a ways in the making.

Keep your line wet and your powder dry …



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