Glass Minnows Point the Way to Fast Action
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Throughout late spring and well into summer, the otherwise glassy surface of back lakes and coves in various Texas bays will often explode with what appears to be tiny slivers of glass. However, these small shards are actually diminutive glass minnows leaping quite literally for the lives in order to escape hungry predators beneath them.

As summer wears on, this same scenario plays out in the passes and along beachfronts up and down the coast. In every instance, when glass minnows break the surface, it's a sure bet something much bigger - and hungrier - is lurking below.

Timing a glass minnow hatch can be somewhat tricky, however. Various bays will experience higher populations of glass minnows at different times. Even within a single bay system, peak glass minnow activity can vary from year to year. This is due to the glass minnow's cyclical spawning nature, according to TPW biologist Mark Lingo.

“Bay anchovies - which most people refer to as glass minnows - are cyclical spawners, as are many of our inshore species,” said Lingo. “This means they will spawn whenever conditions - water temperature, salinity, etc. - are right for them. This can vary from year to year or from bay to bay. Here in the Lower Laguna Madre, we typically see the highest concentration of glass minnows in our bag seine surveys during August. You can usually expect them to have spawned about 60 days before that, because they have to grow to a certain size before they're big enough to be caught in our bags.”

Regardless of when or where they're encountered, glass minnows can mean fast-action for both fish and fishermen. And, any angler lucky enough to stumble into a glass minnow attack will certainly wade away impressed.

“The first time I saw a bunch of redfish feeding on glass minnows, I thought a school of tuna had shown up in the cove,” recalled longtime Lower Laguna Madre guide Capt. Steve “JR” Ellis. “I had never seen anything like it. The fish were feeding so aggressively and causing so much commotion - I just stood there and watched for about 10 minutes.”

But, although it may seem as if any bait throw into the melee will result in a strike, fish feeding on glass minnows can often be more selective than they seem.

“When I'm fishing schools of redfish feeding on glass minnows, I like throwing a size 4 white bendback (fly),” said Ellis. “You can also do okay on small silver spoons or tiny topwater baits. But, whatever you throw pretty much has to look like a glass minnow or they won't hit it.”

“If we have a glass minnow hatch, I throw the 19MR Series MirrOlure,” said Matagorda-based guide Capt. Tommy Countz. “I really like the way that bait looks in the water. Plus, some of those colors look like an exact replica of a glass minnow. I really like that mullet pattern - with the green back and silver sides. And, that's what you need - something that looks just like a glass minnow.”

Tossing tiny baits also works well along the beachfront, even though the target species may be larger.

“When I've seen kingfish working balls of glass minnows, it sure seems like smaller spoons or Rattletraps work better than bigger baits,” said Port Isabel guide Capt. Rolando Gonzalez. “It seems like when they're feeding on those small baitfish, they don't even pay attention to the bigger baits.”

And, although fish feeding on glass minnows can cause quite a commotion on the water's surface, the activity can be surprisingly easy to overlook. However, Galveston Bay guide  Capt. Michael LaRue says there's another way to find the action.

“Glass minnows are a big deal to us in July,” said LaRue. “But, we usually have some birds working in July. And, most of those birds will be working over glass minnows. You find glass minnows, you'll find fish - I guarantee it.”

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