Updated: Oct 28, 2022
By David Graham: 7.14.2022
Nicknamed ‘The Sparkling City by the Sea’, Corpus Christi, Texas drew my residency a year after my graduation from The Citadel in 2010. For me it was the pristine coastline, low cost of living, and abundant outdoor activities that drew my interest.
With little more to my name than an old Jeep and a half dozen rod and reel combos I packed up my limited belongings in the upstate of South Carolina and moved halfway across the country to South Texas – eager to start a life and explore the abundance of angling opportunities provided by Texas’s Gulf Coast.
The move occurred during a time when I was laser focused on the prospect of Alligator Gar pursuits by rod and reel – but it didn’t occur to me how close I was to some of the best coastal wade fishing for sea trout in the entire country. A short hop and a skip south from my single bedroom apartment in Corpus Christi is Baffin Bay – nestled just outside the small town of Riviera, Texas. This unassuming little area hosts world class inshore fishing for anglers of any budget class and gives opportunity to encounter speckled sea trout of the highest caliber.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Captain Justin (Storm) Brodnax who specializes in the pursuit of sea trout by land, wading, and watercraft out of Baffin Bay. Brodnax has grown up fishing around Baffin Bay for roughly two decades. Along with his wife Meghan, he manages La Pesca Lodge where customers can enjoy some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities available in all South Texas.
About Baffin Bay
Brodnax detailed the unique characteristics of Baffin Bay that make it truly special. “Baffin Bay is considered a hyper-saline lagoon” explained Brodnax, “Our bay is full of fossilized rocks that hold a lot of bait, and form long reefs down the shorelines that are home to the trophy speckled trout”. It is believed that these fossilized rock structures or ‘reefs’ were formed over the course of thousands of years by serpulid worms. These worms colonize and aggregate over time make tubular homes out of calcium carbonate. Over the course of time, the tube-like structures accumulate into large reef like structures.
The unique habitat attracts a plethora of forage species like mullet, much to the delight of local predators like speckled sea trout and redfish. “We regularly catch 4-6lb trout with multiple up to ten-pounds throughout the year”. Brodnax explained that the trout in this area are not heavily pressured by natural predators and, as a result, they have tremendous range to grow and populate. “People come from all over to catch their personal best speckled sea trout on Baffin Bay. 75% of my clients caught their personal best on these shorelines. Many others come looking for the very real potential of landing a new state record”.
Getting The Bites
To chase the trophy sea trout Brodnax prefers a true medium-light power-fast action rod and reel setup that he can throw a variety of artificial lures with. “I use The Priest, a Sarge custom rod and reel set up. I use a lot of jerkbaits and topwaters. My personal favorite is a six-inch SW Shad by Saltwater Assassin”. Brodnax explained that the prime time of year occurs between March and June. “This is when the fish are in full spawn. Some of the heaviest trout I’ve caught are during that time of year” – said Brodnax.
Lures can be advantageous to the wading angler because of the amount of water that can be covered in a short amount of time. Calm, quiet mornings in smooth conditions are ideal for throwing topwater lures. Conversely, soft plastic jerkbaits or jigs may be ideal when conditions become rough. Anglers can suspend these lures under a popping cork when fishing in dirtier water. Sea trout can get finicky but it is important to note that if you aren’t getting bites relatively quickly you need to be moving.
Anglers who prefer the use of live or chunked baits may benefit from the use of a 7 ½ foot medium-power fast to moderate fast action rod. Free-lined weightless setups can be highly effective for big sea trout using live or chunked mullet or shrimp. A casting rod with 10-20lb monofilament line topped off with a five-foot section of 20lb fluorocarbon leader is a basic setup for throwing live mullet or croaker on a 1/0 2/0 live-bait hook.
For the travelling angler seeking to wade fish around Baffin Bay, Brodnax suggests bringing several essential items. “Bring your favorite rod and reel combo with a wader box full of lures. I never leave without a few Saltwater Assassins or custom Truchador Corkys”. Brodnax recommends the use of a Feral Concepts wading box. A versatile wading box can hold all the essential tools like pliers, boga, net, and a stringer. “Bring a pair of fishing pants and booties for wet wading the warm water”. Brodnax assured that customers who should happen to book through La Pesca Lodge can be set up with all the gear necessary if they don’t have their own. This style of fishing demands efficiency. A minimalist approach is necessary to pack out a day’s worth of gear while still maintaining two free hands to cast and retrieve.
Anglers seeking to wade fish Baffin Bay need to be considerate of the elements. A pair of breathable Gore-Tex stockingfoot waders can be ideal when traversing South Texas’s warm waters. A stockingfoot style wader will allow anglers to select the best wading boot for the situation. A sturdy pair of wading boots with good traction should help deal with the rocky ‘reefs’ around Baffin Bay.
Wading anglers should use the environmental elements to their advantage in locating and catching big sea trout. Speckled sea trout often gather near sand pockets in the grass. A soft plastic swimbait paired with 1/8-ounce jig head can effectively mimic shad and mullet over these sand pockets and potholes. Anglers should try to make long casts around the ambush zones provided by deeper sides of sandbars or rocky reef structures.
Consideration into tidal movements can be key as well. At higher tides, sea trout may spread out along flats. In this case, they may push as tightly as they can against the shoreline in search of mullet and other forage species. On the other hand, during a low tide sea trout can be expected to retreat into deeper holes and cuts where they stage during the tidal shifts.
There is likely no place on earth with better odds at encountering a giant speckled sea trout than Baffin Bay, Texas. To pursue them by wade fishing only adds to that unique experience. Full immersion into the environment as a wading angler requires a great deal of self-sufficiency. The experience affords anglers the opportunity to test their self sufficiency in the most intimate way – where immersion into the waters allows one to be a participant in the behavior and environment of the fish they share the water with.
For more information contact Captain Justin Brodnax –
La Pesca Lodge at Baffin Bay, Texas.