Aransas Bay Fishing Charters Featured in Lonestar Outdoor News!
LSON – Jan. 1, 2020 – Published with Permission from the author. Captain and Guide Robert Hamilton featured in Lonestar Outdoor News
Drift fishing tactics out of Rockport
By Robert Sloan – Lone Star Outdoor News
Rockport is a big-time tourist destination for the arts, bird watching and good eats. But when it comes right down to having fun drift fishing the surrounding bays for trout, reds and black drum is tough to beat, even during the winter months of January and February.
“Over the past couple of weeks our trout fishing has been excellent,” says guide Robert Hamilton, who runs family-oriented fishing trips and specializes in drift fishing. “We’re catching lots of trout. They aren’t all that big, but lots of keepers in the 16 to 17-inch class. I’m mostly setting up drifts on the flats in 3 to 4 feet of water. The best bite has been on live shrimp fished under a popping cork.”
It’s not often that you hear about people catching speckled trout on dead shrimp. But you never know what’s going to work, especially during the winter months.
“I was out on Aransas Bay recently and it was one of those days when fishing started out a little slow,” says Hamilton. “I was trying to catch some finger mullet with my cast net and not doing too well. I did have dead shrimp on the boat. They were old dead shrimp, too. I got the boat set up over a shell reef, put the power pole down, baited up with shrimp and proceeded to catch 10 trout from 17 to 18 inches. I couldn’t believe it. Those shrimp were supposed to be used to catch black drum. But the trout ate ‘em up.”
Hamilton says his favorite rig for fishing during the winter months is a live shrimp or finger mullet under a popping cork. He uses a wide gap hook, not a circle hook.
“I tend to catch more trout and reds on a 4/0 or 5/0 wide gap hook,” says Hamilton. “A lot of my customers tend to set the hook at the bite. That works with the wide gap hook, but not with a circle hook. I don’t do anything real fancy with the popping cork rig. A lot of people prefer to use a fluorocarbon leader that’s about 24 to 30 inches long. I tie the braided line directly to the hook for a more direct and faster hook set.”
He says that so far they have had a mild winter in Rockport, and that has kept plenty of reds and trout on the shell reefs, and flats with mud and grass. He’s not only fishing in Aransas Bay, but also Carlos, Mesquite and San Antonio bays. Regardless of where he’s fishing Hamilton says he’ll use both live and dead baits. The dead baits are usually best for reds and black drum.
“If my customers want to fish with lures I’ll rig up with Berkley Gulps,” says Hamilton. “Some of best colors this winter have been new penny and nuclear chicken. A lot of the bigger trout will lay up in the grass on the flats. That’s where the Gulps will catch them.”
On really cold days he’ll be fishing live baits or gulps on the wind ward side of shell reefs where reds and trout will be holding. He’ll also fish deeper channels and the edge of the drop along the ICW.
“When the water is cold the key is to fish the edge where a flat drops off into deeper water, with very little current,” says Hamilton, who runs Aransas Bay Fishing Charters. “That’s where the better trout, reds and black drum will be feeding.”