Coleto White Bass 2/5/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Time to throw that Strike King spinnerbait!  Man I love spring!

It was nice to get my buddy out of the house as he has been laid up with a broken leg.  Jeffish and I always have a good time fishing together.  In this instance not only did we want to catch a few whites to eat, but I wanted to show him where they were in case he got a chance to take his son out to catch a few

It was still blowing out of the north, 15 mph, still a little chilly but not near as bad as yesterday.  We motored up lake to the last deep water and dropped the trolling baits over the side and in about 2 minutes had our first one.  From then on we had a good solid bite.

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Hooked up!

We circled a large area and would catch one or two here and there, and did manage to figure out a couple of key areas where we would catch one or two each pass.  Shad imitating crankbaits about 45 feet behind the boat in 6 – 10 foot of water was the ticket.  We had multiple hook ups and put around 10 – 12 smaller ones in the box for a fish fry and released the rest.  We caught them off and on for about 3 hours.

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A little better than the average size today.

It was not as windy up lake today, and we noticed that when it would slick off every now and then the fish would bite in the calmer places.  I really was puzzled though that the fish were a smaller today, and we only caught a few of the bigger ones.  I am not sure if the bigger females went farther up lake or what, but they moved.  But it still is fun to watch them smack it and drag the rod down.  As it got a little later in the afternoon we made a pass or two and only caught one so it was time to hit a couple of bass banks before we quit.

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You never know what you will catch trolling.

So next it was a little crankbait fishing.  I used the same red one from the day before and managed to catch 3 fish.  The one below was in a tree and ate it when I cranked it next to the tree and stopped it.  He popped it and went back in the tree, but since he ate it I was able to keep slow and steady pressure and he finally backed out.  Jeffish just could not get it going, so we headed down lake to a bank I have caught a few nice ones on lately.

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There is a red crankbait down his throat somewhere.

We spinnerbaited  one of my favorite spring banks and did not have a bite.  The only real difference from the day before, when I caught the big one on it, was the wind was not really pounding on it like it was.  So with no bites in about a half hour we called it a day.

There is one sure sign that the fishing is less that stellar on Coleto, when you get back to the ramp at 4, and there is not truck and trailer one.  We are still stuck in that high pressure with a north wind cycle.  It really is not surprising, it is still winter in south Texas.  But that is going to change, and change fast.  We cleaned a dozen or so, caught another 20 give or take a couple, so not a bad day at all considering.

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Speaking of catching white bass I got his comment from Matt.

You need to try Texana for white bass. Go up the Navidad north of Hwy 59.

I have heard that it can be pretty good there, and it should be right now.  I have never tried it up there and I have a questions or 2 for you or anyone else that knows.  I see off Highway 59 on the north side there is a sign for a ramp.  Is that the one to use?  And how about the ramp on the south side?  How far up do you go above 59? Any help you can give any of us is greatly appreciated.  And thanks for reading.

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Folks if you want to read not only a complete report, but a how-to for those of you who fish Travis here it is.

Redfishlaw,
Last spring I annihilated white bass day in and out on Travis near the Perd, also off Pt. Venture, on a sandy slow dropping bank trolling 8-12FOW. Also a bunch of Crappie to 2.6 lbs and many just under striper.
Bait of choice was the Storm Smash shad 06-07 in Metaalic yellow/black back. They have a rattle to them so they work well in murky, stained, muddy water. They’re also cheaper than the Shad rap…. The hooks can be a little cheap so I just kept the split ring pliers and some good red replacements handy.
Speed of choice was 1.7-2.3mph.

Thank Jay, that is a great report.  I know from my  past trolling adventures where you have stripers in the lake there is always a chance to really catch a big one.  In fact I was just telling Jeffish yesterday about getting spooled on Beaver Lake by a huge striper while trolling for white bass the  year before I moved here.  And nice you had crappies mixed in with them.  Anytime you want to fill us in with a report or comment please let us know, we appreciate it.

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And I got this great question from Jimmy.

Sounds like you had a great day at Coleto. I sure enjoy reading all posts and a really good job on the saltwater lures 101 article. Just wondering, have you heard any updates on the Lavaca River or Garcitas Creek?

Funny that you asked, I have not heard a word.  Sorry not much help here.  If any of you out there have caught a few on either place give us a shout out.  I know that normally it is often about over there, but who knows.  So if you have a clue let us know.  Thanks for keeping up with us Jimmy.

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And last I got this from a Rick, a regular around here.

Great report….as usual. Man you really do get around. Looking forward to a POC report.

You POC reports are coming in spades.  I will be down there 3 days this week, one of them with the Austin Boys so I am sure there will be a couple of good reports.  With those guys something spectacular usually happens.

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As I finish this up today Bill Dance is on TV fishing the North Fork of the White River in North Arkansas.  I fished and guided on that river many days over 20 years and it leaves me a little nostalgic.  Both the White and the North Fork are premium trout rivers with some of the biggest brown trout in the world.  And if  you just want to catch fish you can sure do it on both rivers.  You don’t have to be a big fly fisherman to catch fish, and if you have never tried it put it on your bucket list, you will not be sorry.  And it gets me cranked up for my trip there in less than 2 months.

My schedule this week involves 4 days of fishing, at least 3 at POC and one at Coleto.  The other day will be doing our taxes.  I am one of those folks that does not mind paying taxes,  I consider it a privilege to live here.  My only complaint is what we are getting for our money.  But a few days on the water will definitely take the edge off.  And last but not least I sure love hearing from all of you, so keep those cards and letters coming.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Heats Up 2/3/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Time to throw that Strike King spinnerbait!  Man I love spring!

There are certain times of years, certain days, a perfect set of conditions, when it is time to do a certain thing as far as fishing goes.  We are in early spring, and the weather is changing every day.  Today was clearly a lake day, unless you like a solid 20mph wind out of the north with a 20 degree temperature drop for bay fishing.  That is not me, so it was back to the lake.

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Nothing like white caps in the cove, and it did not lay down any more than this most of the day.

Instead of messing around down lake I just put on my big boy pants and drove all the way up lake before I stopped.  It was a rough ride, not to mention cold.  It really was a big cold front.  And if I was going to fish I was going to spend a little time trying to catch some white bass.  Trolling for white bass is one of my favorite early spring things to do.

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Number 3 out of a small creek.

I started in a small creek way up lake that was probably the calmest place on the lake.  Before it was over in there 3 came over the side, and I missed another one.  That senko has remained consistent and if there is isolated cover you can often get a bite.

After that it was the main river channel throwing a red crankbait.  With the water color like it is a small red crankbait fairly slow is a good choice.  I was letting the wind blow me down the bank, like I had a choice, it was blowing right down the lake.  But a couple of bass smacked it, and then I caught a white bass.

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My first white bass.

So it was time to see if I could finally put some in the boat this spring.  Using a small Bagley crankbait on one rod, and a shallow running Shad Rap on another I started trolling.  Usually it is a long cast out and then pull out another 3 long pulls with the rod to get it out about 40 – 50 feet at a slow troll.  Generally baits like that run about 5 foot deep.  So off I went and they started to bite.

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Then it was game on!

They were in an area along the creek channel in 6 – 10 foot of water and when they hit it they knocked the stuffing out of it.  Whether going up lake or down, once I had them cornered  it was about 2 hours of catching whites.  Big ones, little ones, and more in between there were several doubles, and would have been a few more if I had more arms.

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They were smacking that crankbait.

I tried other trolls up and down lake but once I found the area that is where they were.  Before I finally decided to go bass fishing I probably caught 20 -25 whites.  It is so awesome to put the rods in holders and idle along and then seeing them jump on it.  It really was fun, and tomorrow I intend to throw jigs and jerkbaits if the wind is not blowing like a banshee.  I love catching them on jerkbait, they knock the stuffing out of it.

So it was about halfway back to the ramp to hit a main lake bank with some points and pockets on it.  The wind was blowing out of the north right on the bank.  I had only gone a little ways when I buzzed it by a bush and one just annihilated it.

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This big girl came out of a bush and just blasted that spinnerbait!  The biggest bass I have caught in a while, but it won’t be the last this spring.

I have been trying to hurry spring along, and it is big fish like this one that keeps me fishing hard in the spring.  They are getting ready to bite and even though conditions today were not optimum it was a pretty good day.  It really is a good day when you boat one like this.

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The last fish of the afternoon.

So I fished a little more bank and put one more in the boat on spinnerbait.  When one stops it as you are reeling high speed and making a wake it is a thing of beauty.  The fishing should really take off the next real warm front we get.  Then a cloudy day with drizzle after a 3 or 4 day warming front and the fishing for big fish will really take off.

It was a good day considering I fished 10:30 to 4.  Tomorrow my good buddy Jeffish, who has been laid up with a broken leg is coming along.  Trolling like that he can just get comfy, throw a bait out back and just reel them in.  Not sure what is next after tomorrow but maybe the Gulf on Friday depending on the wind.  It is supposed to blow a little less tomorrow so hoping to really sack them up.  There are a couple of more things to share with you and will try to get them up with tomorrow’s report.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto 2/2/216.

Fish Catching Travel

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Our good bass fishing is right around the corner and Strike King has the baits for you!

Nothing like Texas weather.  As I write this today the wind is starting to blow out of the north, before it is over it will blow 25mph again today.  The temperature is set to drop from in the 80’s yesterday to barely making 60 tomorrow.  And of course the wind is forecast to blow for the next 5 – 6 days.  Welcome to early spring on the coast.

When I got to Coleto Monday it was nice and warm, but the wind was already howling out of the southwest at over 25, with gusts exceeding 30.  Begs the question:  Why when the weatherman forecasts completely crap weather with high winds is he always right, but when he forecast 10mph at the Gulf he misses it by 10mph?  Oh well.

The water level continues to rise and the color, it is just plain ugly.  In fact there is almost no water from the dam to up lake that I would describe as clear.  Not sure what that is all about.  One thing that is going on is there seems to be some king of moss/slime bloom up lake.  Not sure what that is about either, but it is messy stuff when you toss your bait in it.

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That 5″ stick bait has been the only consistent thing I have found the last couple of months.

I started on the main lake throwing spinnerbait and probably went an hour without a bite.  As I worked my way back in a pocket, where it was fairly calm, I threw the senko up against a stickup and the one above tried to swim off with it.  A fish all the way back in a cove is a sure sign of spring, or at least of the warm weather the last few days.  After a long stretch down lake I headed up.

I stopped on a main lake bank with a serious of points and small pockets.  The wind was pounding on that bank so it was buzzing a spinnerbait.

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Spring fishing is right around the corner.

It is time for a Strike King ad.  The spinnerbait I was throwing was a Booyah and it happened again.  I caught the first one and as I reached down to lip him he tossed the arm and blades off, at least I got this one in the boat.  Usually you just see the arm fly off and then the fish swims off with the hook in their fact.  Last year I probably had 5 Booyah spinnerbaits do that, and this is the last of the replacement ones they sent me.   There is no excuse for that so be advised, their spinnerbaits do not hold up.

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The ones that did hit the spinnerbait tried to jerk the rod out of my hands.

So I got out the Strike King Red Eye spinnerbait, my favorite, and that solved that problem.  That windy bank gave up a couple before I moved farther up lake.  From there I let the wind blow me up the river and I fished most of it without ever starting the boat.  By this time the wind was just howling out of the southwest, which on Coleto means it was blowing in and on almost every inch of the lake.  Before I headed back down I caught another one on a spinnerbait and 2 on senko, all in coves.

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Managed to even put one in the boat on topwater.

My last stop on the way back in was one of the big coves around the corner from the boat dock.  They were probably the only place on the lake without white caps.  Before I quit I wanted to see if they would hit a topwater.   The one above, and a smaller one, came over the side, and another missed it.  For the day it was only 3 misses, 1 on spinnerbait, 1 on plastic, and 1 on topwater, and 7 made it in the boat.

The Carolina skiff has a shoot thru the hull transducer so not sure what the water temp was, but at least a few of them have moved into the coves.  To bad most of them were unfishable.  The last couple of days of warm weather had them thinking of spring, but reality is returning.   A cool down should keep things about the status quo as far as the bass fishing.  The day I wait for now is the drizzling day following a 3 day period of sun and warm weather.  Some of my best days have come on Coleto on those very days.

I was happy with the fishing as the last couple of trips I barely scratched out a couple.  Spring is right around the corner.  Now it is just watching the weather looking for the least wind possible and head to POC.  I have a hankering for a trout fry.

We made our Canada reservations, and this will be my 4th year and we are learning more and more about Lake of the Woods.  And the Arkansas trip is getting closer, and being the first week in April we should catch a wad of them.  First the Austin Boys hit POC in February and if their luck stays like it has been, the fish should be afraid.  So the spring fishing is starting to take shape.  I hope to hit the Upper Laguna one more time.  As soon as I publish this it will be out to do a little work on the boat, it never stops.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Back and Ready to FIsh 1/31/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Our good bass fishing is right around the corner and Strike King has the baits for you!

We interrupt this fishing site for a short travelogue.

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We went on in anyway!

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Built in the 1800’s they just put in running water in 7 years ago.

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The main bar, about 8 seats.

We are back from our Western swing and the weather could not have been any more confusing.  From when we left until Sunday as I write this it has been a blizzard, then 20 degrees and cold, to it is around 80 degrees and flat out beautiful here at home.   The forecast for this week is lots of wind, up to 30mph tomorrow and almost 80, to in the 50’s with a little less wind.  So the plan is to hit the lake tomorrow, then the bay a couple of days this week, again depending on the wind.

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Never did see that big bull.

We really had a good time out in Ruidoso.  We did some serious driving around, including some dirt road driving in the mountains.  Antelope, mule deer, turkeys, and a few elk, we basically saw all the cool stuff out there.  Our favorite part of the trip was a drive to White Oaks.  Established in the late 1800’s after gold and silver were discovered, it was a real boom town.  A railroad was planned t0 town but the land owners got greedy and the line never materialized.  Then the town basically was deserted.

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Taken at around 8000 feet from a roadside turn out on a 12 mile mountain road, one great drive.

It had banks, stores, bars, and a post office.  Today around 30 people are left and there is one open business, The No Scum Allowed Saloon, one of the original saloons.  The town had Pat Garret, Billy the Kid, and a host of other characters woven into our history.   We visited the saloon and of course got the t-shirt.  We also did a little driving in the National Forest that is adjacent to the town and will definitely be back.  It is one of the cooler little places we have ever visited.

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The cemetery was awesome.  From wooden markers of old miners that are almost gone to newer headstones of families with a long history in New Mexico, it was something.

We really enjoy the Ruidoso area, and have expanded our range on each trip.  There is so much to see and do there, and if you love the mountains and the west, you can not beat the area.  Our next trip, and there will definitely be one, will probably be in September.  Four wheeling on some of those mountain roads is such fun, and we want to time our mountain exploration with the Elk bugling season.  I can only imagine how awesome it is to sit on the top of a mountain overlooking a huge valley and hearing a big bull screaming his head off!

Today I spent some time getting my fishing stuff back organized.  Tomorrow it will be back on the water, in fact I have lots of days to fish in the coming weeks.  I will be interested in seeing the changes in both the lake and Gulf since this warm weather.  And I really appreciate you sticking with me, and if you have any reports send them this way.  Keep stopping and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Somerville and Snow. 1/28/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Our good bass fishing is right around the corner and Strike King has the baits for you!

Over the last couple of years the Shoedog and I have fished Somerville a time or two for bass without much success.  We have caught a bunch of whites and the occasional hybrid there, but never really had all that much luck.  Now KVD we are not, but we have caught a couple of bass in the past, it just stumped us.  But we had a trip earlier this year and caught some, and then I got this report from him on his last trip there.

I was lazy this morning and it probably cost me some bites. There was a front coming through mid-day and it was very warm. Over 65 when I left the house at 11 am. The clouds were coming through and the wind was picking up. Supposed great conditions for a bite. Well I got to lake Somerville and it was a bit windy, but not bad. We had heard better reports about the bass fishing and in December we had caught a few nice fish on our first trip there in a while.
I left out of the park ramp by the dam and went out and fished the big island on the way out on the west- always get a bite or two there and the last couple trips have caught catfish there on jerk bait. But, today, nothing. Water levels were probably 8-10 feet lower than last month and water was more off color than usual.
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Love those nice spinnerbait fish.

So I headed off to a creek arm that we had caught some in last trip. I started with a white spinner bait with the wind and the chop, even though the water temp was only 53-54 degrees. I started off about 2/3 of the way back in the creek.  Second cast I caught a nice 16 inch bass. I went all the way back on that side of the bank and got back into muddier water and they were definitely not all the way back in the end. I headed back out and as soon as I got back into 4-5 of water with dead reeds/horse weeds (or whatever they are) I got some great bites. In the next 200 yards I got three more nice bass- all right on the edge of the brush and they were whacking it!

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Spring is on the way.
The best was a real solid 17 1/2 inch fatty and they were all healthy fish. Looks like good times ahead for this spring at Somerville.
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Got some nice bellies on these.
But- as usual- it changed. the front passed and even though it stayed warm, the wind died and the high pressure stopped them cold.I tried the Strike King Swim jig, a KVD jerk bait, nothing. The rest of the day I only managed 2 small bass on a crank bait that I don’t even know what kind it has been in my tackle box so long.
Overall a good day- I just should have been there sooner.
Nice job dude.  Things are really looking up for Somerville and it looks like it is poised to have a resurgence.  And then today I picked up a copy of the Outdoor rag and they just had a Collegiate tourney there and it took 18lbs for 5 fish, a nice average.  So those of you that haven’t fished it in a while put it on your list this spring.  So thanks for the report Shoedog, looks like I need to head that way soon.
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 Over Christmas we had made plans for a couple of days in Ruidoso after visiting our daughter in Oklahoma City but it was during the giant winter storm.  The roads in to New Mexico were closed so we rescheduled for this week.  So we thought we would leave a day early and make a stop in Alpine.  We really like the high desert out here and this is the second time we have been here this year.  So on  the way we stopped in Alpine Texas overnight.
The weather man said there might be a few snow showers in Alpine, and he was right, sort of.  About a half hour out of Fort Stockton it started to snow some, then more, then more.  By time we stopped for gas outside of town it was snowing to beat the band, basically a blizzard.  There were no plows out and it was a mess.
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Our gas stop after it had been snowing about a half hour.

As we headed off I10 south to Alpine it really started snowing and the road had not been plowed at all.  You can deal with it 2 ways, either freak out, or drop it in 4 wheel and keep on rolling.  The 4 Runner is a beast in the snow and it was no problem.

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Driving in Fort Stockton, it only got worse, or more fun, depending on how you look at it.

About halfway to Alpine there was a good 6 – 8 inches of snow but people were actually acting like they had half a brain.  Weird I know, but other than almost getting rear ended by a rear end in a Beamer, there were no close calls, and like we used to do in Arkansas with a big snow, it was just 4 wheeling.  The only thing that is a little different, I still can not get over snow in what they call the high desert.

And a side note, one of our favorite restaurants in the whole world is at the Gage Motel in Marathon.  So we headed over to get some supper and on the way I saw a cow elk.  Hope that is a sign of things to come tomorrow as we head to New Mexico.  I love seeing the antelope and the mule deer.  She said she wanted to see a little winter and she sure got her wish.

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On the way over to Ruidoso we took the long way through the mountain and got to see a few elk and a couple of wads of mule deer.  Unfortunately no bulls or bucks, but hunting season just got over and they still are keeping their head down.  Funny how getting shot at for a couple of months has that affect on critters.  But we will be taking more mountain drives so who knows what we will see.  And then we will be on the road home in a couple of days and I am really looking forward to what looks like a warming trend.  The fishing should be in full swing.  So if you have a report drop us a note.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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A little Coleto and some trout stuff. 1/26/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Our good bass fishing is right around the corner and Strike King has the baits for you!

Sometimes you take one for the team and today was that day.  Of course I had ulterior motives, I wanted to catch some white bass.  And I hoped to find some so I could tell folks and maybe put them on some fish that they could take the kids.  Unfortunately the day did not start out quite as good as I hoped.

First the starting battery on the Carolina Skiff was dead.  It was dead one day a couple of weeks ago, but I left the key on.  This time there was no reason.  So I put it on the charger and after an hour it would start so off we went.  Of course when I got to the lake it wouldn’t start.

I carry the works in the truck for just such an occurrence.  So I jumped the starting battery with the trolling motor battery and off I went.  I have fished a lot of the lake, but had never been way above the second bridge and the houses way up the Coleto arm.  So I went until there was only a couple of feet of water and started trolling.

Other than one small bass, I did not have another bite for over 2 hours.  I kept heading back down river trolling a Shad Rap and white jig and finally had a bite, way back past the bridge, and it was a white.

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That is what they look like.

At this point you would think you could troll around in that area and narrow them down, and then stop and fish them.  You would think that, but it did not happen.  I could not buy another bite. So after about 3 hours I decided to fish for some bass.  So down the trolling motor went and I fished a short bank.  No bites so when I went to move the battery was dead as hell.  At this point it was time to call it a less than rewarding day.  No sense in getting stuck somewhere.

But there is more.  When I get back to the ramp and head to the trailer there is one of the long bunks laying across the trailer.  Apparently it fell off when I pulled out and someone noticed it and put it on the trailer.  Why I did not see it on the ground I do not know, but that is how the day was going.  Now back to carrying all the stuff to fix boats and trailers, I had bolts and screws and tools and fixed it in 2 minutes.  It was time to go home before something else breaks  I know one thing, it just was not my day.

Just for your information quite a few folks were fishing today and most of them were heading into the coves.  We will have a little cool down, but we have a good warm weather pattern coming the next couple of weeks.  The lake should really take off as soon as the water starts the slow steady rise to the spawn.

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I got this report from RL on his trip to POC this weekend.

I had the pleasure of spending a couple hours on the water in poc this am. (Tide was as low as I have ever seen it) Beautiful mourning and there was just enough wind /sun to make the fish bite. It was a very lathargic weird bite. Caught 2 limits of fat trout to 20″ and missed many. Down South in purple/chartreuse worked best followed by gulp jerk bait in pink/white. Hope you have a good week fishing and look forward to your reports!

Great report.  The full moon in the winter can really result in some super low tides.  Sometimes the fishing is pretty good, other times pretty tough.  So sounds like you got them dialed in.  I appreciate your comments and please feel free to let us hear from you anytime.  Thanks.

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 Good morning Doug
Since we are talking saltwater 101, maybe you could put some of the puzzle pieces together. Here’s the big question, where and when. I read about your trips to the river, the creek and the barge canal all deep water cold weather spots. I get that, and then the very next day you are wearing them out at the Army hole flats, or Shoalwater bay in knee deep water on top waters. Seems to me the weather both days were close to the same conditions. How did you know that the fish would be on the flats in the winter? I guess the real question is what’s the magic air or water temperature to move fish from one to another.
If the weather holds, we are headed down to Baffin Bay this weekend for our first trip down there.
Just a side note, we were at the Belton boat show this weekend and saw a great deal on a new 2014 Mako LTS 115hp for $22,000. A 2016 is over $30,000.
Thanks for the help!
Steve

Lets deal with a couple of things first, then get to the important stuff.  That is really a good deal on the 2014 LTS.  We really like ours and when compared to the cost of other boats it is a steal. Good luck on the Baffin trip, I am jealous.  I hope to get back there before the winter is over.  It really does help keep you in the water when every cast could be the fish of a lifetime.  Fishing many other places in this country, and a few others, there are only so many places that really do provide a legitimate opportunity to catch a world class fish, and the ULM and Baffin is one of those.  Those of us who live close need to take advantage of it whenever we can.

Now the tougher question, how to decided whether to fish back lakes or wade.  I am far from an expert, but it seems to me that when the water temp hits 60, and keeps dropping, change is coming.   The trout and reds really start moving to the back lakes.  Lets take Pringle as a perfect example.  Pringle has a large area of soft bottom, as does Shoalwater and some of the other lakes off of San Antonio Bay.  So the sun shines all day, and even though it is cold that soft bottom soaks up heat.  Often it is also somewhat off color compared to the open bay, which in and of itself soaks up a little more heat.  And during the night a lot less of the heat siphons off.

Lets compare that to what happens to some of the areas that were holding fish before the cold weather got there.  Much of it was hard bottom, often with a sand and shell mix.  The water is super clear on lots of it and the minute it starts to get late in the day, much less a big cold front, it cools off immediately and basically stores no heat during the night.  This year was a perfect example, once we cooled off they deserted those places I was catching them.  Now of course they all don’t desert the bay, it is a matter of finding softer bottom.  Some of Big Pocket, Grass Island,  and the end of Ayres Point to name a few, are perfect examples of soft bottom that still hold fish in the winter.

Last time we drifted Pringle you could actually tell when you were going to get bites as the water was definitely off color.  That day we caught them drifting, but as the day warmed up they moved to the bank and we caught them wading.

So I guess the punch line is if it warmer and cloudy, maybe a light mist, it is time to get in the water.  Bank selection is still critical, but no soft bottom on  a cold day and it will probably be pretty tough.  If it is that sunny clear cool day after a super cold night with a north wind, it is time to drift the deeper holes in places like Pringle and Shoalwater.  And one thing to keep in mind as long as we are going there, pay attention to the wind direction on places that had fish, if the water temp is cold and dropping as it blows on a bank it is probably toast.  If it is warming during the day and blowing on the bank the water temp may raise during the day and not run the fish off.  A basic plan, dropping temp, fish the soft bottom.  Warming, back to sand and shell.

And in your example of conditions being the same both days, they probably were.  But remember, even if the conditions are not the best, they will usually bite in the deeper holes, rivers, and back lakes, not true with the shallow bay fish.  So if conditions are perfect for wading, those other areas are still good.

I know this is rambling but one thing that also plays into this is the tide.  We start getting low tides as winter comes on, and picking the perfect day for wading is actually easy.  Does the tide fall all day?  If there is some wind you can drift no matter what the tide and catch fish in the deeper water.  But if the tide is falling we start looking at those places where the water is falling out and not only creating a current, but bringing some bait with it.

I am no trout master, and this is what little I know and should not be taken as gospel.  This really is basic, and while it could be more organized, you get the point.  Of course when it is all said and done nothing beats time on the water.  You can follow the fish and if they have moved you can often adjust pretty quickly, as opposed to trying to grind it out and then realizing it is wrong when a lot of important fishing time has passed.

As I write this I am in the high desert in west Texas.  It has been an interesting day.  I wanted to get this post up today, and there will be another coming as soon as I get a minute tomorrow.  A good Somerville report and a blizzard.  God love that Texas weather.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

 

 


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This and That 1/24/15.

Fish Catching Travel

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Our good bass fishing is right around the corner and Strike King has the baits for you!

Even though I normally do not fish weekends I really should have got off my butt and headed to the lake today.  I got a report on white bass on the upper end of Coleto and I want to give them a go.  During my time in Arkansas, whether it was Beaver, Norfolk, or Bull Shoals, I always enjoyed the white bass run.  Now I am not sure where they might specifically be located on Coleto, but if they are like white bass everywhere there are a couple of keys to catching a wad of them in the spring no matter where you live.

First, drive up lake, and then drive some more.  In fact, drive until you are worried that you will bottom out, and then start fishing.  White bass gang up on the shoals in the middle of the river, or on the flat banks.  Especially pay attention to flat banks with sun on them and no wind.  Those type of banks warm up faster and more than the surrounding water.  And it actually attracts the shad and baitfish, and here  come the white bass.

As far as lures there are only a couple you need to catch some fish.  Rapala makes a line of balsa bl/silver minnow looking baits.  My favorite is the shallow running Shad Rap.  That said, any good smaller shad colored crankbait or jerkbait will get the job done.  Once you locate a wad of them get out the light action spinning rod, the 1/8th ounce white or Chartreuse feather jig or plastic twister will put the hurt on them once you locate them.

A great fish to take folks after who are not the most experienced fisherman.  Once located the action is fast and the fish are willing.  So if you have never taken the time to do it they can be found on the upper end of almost any reservoir in this country.  Remember, drive up lake, the drive some more, they are way up.  Writing this makes me want to head out, but there is some football to watch today.

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Glen dropped me a note after I answered his question on basic trout lures.

All I can say is WOW!
I didn’t expect to get that kind of response, but I can’t thank you enough. All the info is much appreciated. Thanks again and keep posting.
The column is great and really helps.

Glad it helped out.  Keep it simple and if you work at it you can make those baits work.  It sure is a lot easier and cheaper than live bait.  Usually, lol!

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Glen was one of several folks who commented on that post.

Excellent saltwater 101 post!

Thanks   Jim

That really was the idea, a true 101 class.  Sometimes I forget not everyone fishes as hard as some of us do.  And those of us that do use jargon that we think everyone understands.  So that is the exact comment I hoped to get.  But that was just one of several and here is another.

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Redfishlaw,
Thanks for the lowdown on the baits!
Been wanting to venture to the salt.
Recently moved from Austin area to North Alabama due to aging parents, 59 acres to upkeep with cows. Good thing the TN river is close for cats, Guntersville for bucketmouth, Wheeler and Wilson for smallies and Lewis Smith for 20-40lb class striper.
My brother goes to Orange Beach 1-2 times a year for7 days each. And I’m definitely joining that! This will give me a good start. Since you gave a bait lowdown, anyway we could get a short and curlies on rods and reels…..
I also looked back in your history for something on your “sciff”. Found a pick of a Mako. Is it 16′, 17′ 18′ or the 21′. And maybe your observations about it. As I don’t plan to put my 35 year old, non-leaking, recently totally restored interior Lund in the salt!!
Thanks! And yeah different but I’m still chomping thru your stuff.
Jay

Nice to know I have readers way off in the hinterlands.  While I have never fished that area I of course as a hard core bass guy am real familiar with all those places you listed.  Austin it is not, but when you can decide to go fishing based on what body of water is hot you are in a great place.  Of all the fishing styles I miss after leaving Arkansas it is the stripers.  I love catching them at night on topwater, how fun is that.

As far as rods and reels I will sit down and write a little bit on the subject.  You actually might  be surprised on my theory of rods and reels.  Suffice to say I have lots and lots, and have not really spent all that much money.  So watch for that.

Speaking of the Orange Beach area the boss and I stopped in that area last year to look around and we really liked it.  There were endless fishing opportunities in the area and we actually plan on returning soon.  We stopped at a ramp in Gulf Shores and talked to a guy who was telling me how good the fishing was.  Lots of access and miles of protected water, it sure looked good to me.  And if you are a tackle store junkie like me be sure to take the time and stop in at L&M Tackle in Orange Beach, one awesome tackle store.

I have 2 boats and often use the term skiff interchangeably.  My true skiff is a 17 1/2 foot Carolina Skiff with a 50hp mercury on the back.  I have owned it for almost 17 years and would never think of giving it up.  It is simple. light, cheap to run, easy to tow, and can take a licking and keep on ticking.  A 50lb trolling motor will tow it for days.  I have used it on rivers, lakes, the Everglades, and everywhere in between.  You could beat that thing with a sledge hammer and not do any damage.  No carpet or fancy electronics, it is as low tech as you can go.  And it usually burns about 6 gallons of gas, on 3 trips!  The major drawback on big water is if the wind is blowing you will get wet, and your teeth may be lose by time you get back to the ramp.

My brother and I bought a Mako 18LTS about 6 years ago, in fact it was one of the first ones in Texas.  It had just come on the market and while it had some bugs, they got worked out and we love it.  On that one we did the works, on board charging, 24 volt trolling motor, front and rear locators/gps, power pole, it is a saltwater fishing machine.   But it also works just great as a bass fishing boat, and has had several real hogs come over the side on Falcon and Amistad.

Now as far as a skiff goes for general fishing I really like the looks of the new Mako 17 Skiff.  Simple, easy to maintain and clean, easy to tow, and with the 60hp 4 stroke it should move right along.  And with the new hull design it should be a lot a drier ride.  It would be a great river boat or catfishing boat, along with a good saltwater boat.  Hose it off and put it to bed.

And last you are  so right about the Lund.  The best aluminum on the market, I see them by the hundreds when we are fishing Canada every year.  I bet yours looks great and very few boats handle big water like the Lund.

Since I bought my first cigar style bass boat with a 70hp, which was something at the time, through my first Champion pad boat, then the Champ V followed by the Black Max engine, to todays 24 foot saltwater boats with 300hop racing engines, the boating thing has gone nuts.   It is easy to get caught up in the flash and speed deal, but it overlooks one very important point:  All the money in the world does not make you a good fisherman.  In fact, we often see that it makes you a horses ass at the ramp, a snotty knucklehead at the cleaning table, and some kind of a big shot at the tackle store, to mention a few.  When it is all said and done there is only one thing that matters, fish on the end of the line.   The biggest payment in the world does not put fish in the boat.  So thanks for your comments and send us a couple of pictures when you catch some of those Alabama fish.

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Last, I heard from Todd of the Austin Boys and they are coming down here in February and it looks like I will get to fish with them a day or two.  Always a good time with those guys and I look forward to it.

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And here is a blast from my past.  Our old buddy Jimmy, who likes to fish almost as much as he likes building his rat rods, sent Clyde these pictures and I wanted to share them with you.  Texas it isn’t.

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Nothing like the Iowa winter.

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If you have never had a fresh, ice caught, bluegill fish fry you are missing something.

Ice fishing is something every fisherman should try once, but it is just to cold for me.  Watching the storm this weekend out east reminded me how much I do NOT miss winter or snow.  Pretty to look at a light dose does it as far as I am concerned.

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Sorry for the limited number of fishing reports lately, but it is January.  Our weather is as schizophrenic as can be, hot/cold/windy/calm, we have had it all.  We have a little more weather to get past before spring is really here, but it is coming.  I will be taking a little time today getting things back in order for the big spring push.  Tomorrow it will be out early and hard at it.  As usual I have not made a plan yet, but those white bass are calling me.  And after fishing Coleto hard the last few years it is time to see if I can catch a few, or a few hundred.  So no matter where we are on the water I can not thank you enough for sticking with me.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Saltwater Lures – The Basics 1/23/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Redfish Magic or a Rage Tail Shrimp, Strike King has the bait for you!

The Question:

I am a novice coast fisherman. Usually we wade fish with live shrimp on popping corks.
You always talk about baits you use but being a rook don’t know what they are. Could you please include some pictures of these lures. Thanks

Ok Glen, here you go, saltwater lure fishing 101.  This is not the be all end all list, that would take a book, but hopefully it helps you get a feel for saltwater lure fishing and the terms I use when I write my reports.  There are many other baits and styles of hard and soft baits, jerk baits, crankbaits, in fact you can spend money until you drop and still not buy it all.  Keep it simple and learn to use a small assortment of baits and you will be successful.  If you are experienced this may not be for you, but remember, we all started somewhere.  (The following pictures are lures right out of my tackle bag.)

Plastics

Basically I use the following terms for plastics – Straight Tail, Paddle Tail, Flapper Tail, and Shrimp Tail.  Generic lengths for saltwater plastics are 3″ to 5″.  They come in as many colors as you can imagine, but basically it seems to boil down to the following question:  Are they hitting dark or light colors?  So lets look at a few of each style and talk about the differences.

Paddle Tails

The important point about paddle tails is how easily does it paddle?  When I look at a paddle tail I am looking to see how narrow the tail is where it meets the paddle.  That is the one factor affecting how well it vibrates, narrow = good vibration.  Some thump, some vibrate, it just depends on how they are designed.  A good rule of thumb, the warmer the water the faster the vibration.  And softness is another factor when picking plastics, especially if you fish in the winter.

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D.O.A. C.A.L. – Strike King Caffeine Shad – H&H Cocahooe Minnow – Down South

Straight Tails.

When I use the term straight tail it covers a variety of baits that many folks call bass assassin style baits.  The action is basically imparted by the user.

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MirrOlure Soft Minnow Split Tail – Strike King Zulu – SaltWater Assassin – Sand Eel

Flapper Tails.

Basically they have big flat beaver type tails.  Of course while they work year round, I prefer them in the winter when the water temperature is down.  They clearly have a different beat and can be highly effective on bigger trout.

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Gambler Flapp’n Shad

Shrimp Tails

Like everything we are talking about here, there are tons of variations.  From cheap to the Gulp Shrimp, they all catch fish.  If I am going to fish a popping cork there is only one shrimp tail I use, the Strike King Rage Shrimp.  Not only does it catch fish, it last forever.  It is tough and often the same one stays on my rod for months.  Again, the joys of super glue.

018Salt Striker Shrimp Tails  –  Strike King Rage Shrimp

Lead Heads

To get our plastics to the fish, or the bottom, or anywhere else they need to be, plastics are generally used on lead heads.  While there are tons of sizes and colors, there are really only a couple of important factors, hook size and overall weight.  Those factors are then combined with the depth you are fishing, the speed you are fishing, and the size of the plastics.  Color is basically irrelevant, so do not get caught up in that, unpainted is fine with the fish. It is really all about the fall rate when you combine the bait with line size.  Basically plastics should be fished on as light as line as possible, usually 8 – 12 lb test for me.  Remember, the lighter the line the finer the wire hook to make it easier to set the hook.  And the punch line: Super Glue the plastic to the jig head.  You will use less than a third of the plastics you would normally use, I carry it in my wading box.

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White – stand up heads – Lead Screw Lock – Strike King Flats Jig Head – 2 on right are Bass Shakey Head Jig Heads

Topwaters

Hoppin’, poppin’, skippin’ and floppin’, there are as many topwaters out there as there are folks making baits.  And while those of us who fish hard have a box or two full, just a few will meet most of our needs for inshore saltwater fishing.  My basic styles I throw are the walk the dog style like the Skitter Walk and the Spook Jr. and the popper style like the Chug Bug or the Skitter Pop.

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Zara Spook (top) – Rapala Skitter Walk  (left) – Strike King Sexy Dawg (right)  – Storm Chug Bug (bottom)

                                                        Jerk or Twitch Baits

Like all the baits we have talked about previously, there are tons of different baits, but a few will get the job done.  Hard plastic and soft, basically they are designed to be jerked and then suspend or sink very slowly.  Primarily a colder water bait, they work year round.  And the original Paul Brown Corky, and it’s family of baits, are probably responsible for more really big trout than any other bait on the Texas coast.  I have had great success in Florida on a regular bass minnow jerk bait.  The corky style plug is the bait that probably requires the most skill of the lot.  Practice makes perfect.

Soft

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Paul Brown original Corky (top) – Tsunami Fat Boy (bottom)  –  Tsunami corky (right) – MirrOdine soft jerk  bait (left)

Hard

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Rapala – MirrOlure twitch bait – Catch 2000

Spinnerbaits

There are several companies that make a saltwater spinnerbait, but as they said in the movie, The Highlander – There can be only one!  And that is the Strike King Redfish Magic.  End of story.  Of course I use many companies baits but when it comes to spinnerbaiting for redfish there is really is only one, and in the words of Forest Gump – “That is all I have to say about that.”

011The Redfish Magic  –  there is not reason to show you any other spinnerbait!

Getting Started

Almost every fisherman who ever lived likes baits, the more the merrier.  But not everyone has a budget to accomplish it.  But with a little planning you can cover all the bases and not break the bank.  So if you are wading with a popping cork here is the list of lures that will cover your needs fishing the same depths.  This list is specifically designed for wading depths and about tells it all about what I throw on a daily basis.

Shopping List

4 bags of plastics – Down South watermelon red + Strike King Rage Shrimp white/chartreuse tail +  Saltwater Assassin SW Shad electric chicken + D.O.A. C.A.L. Shad in a dark color

2 packs of jig heads  –  1/16th + 1/8th (Strike King Flats jig head)

2 topwaters – Zara Spook Jr. in bone color + Rapala Skitter Walk Bl/Silver

2 twitch baits – Black Back Silver MirrOdine + Bone or White Tsunami or Paul Brown Corky

2 spinnerbaits – 1/8 + 1/4 Strike King Redfish Magic

This list will do it.  Of course I have tons of baits, more than any sane person could possibly need, but they are not really necessary.  If you have this short list in your pocket when you wade you can cover every set of conditions, no matter the time of year, no matter where you are on the Texas coast.  It is important to note:  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MAGIC BAIT!  They are just tools, nothing more.  They have a time and place, it is up to you to figure out the rest.

So I hope this answers your questions.  And the rest of you, if I am spouting off about anything else like I am want to do and you are not sure what the hell I am talking about, let me know.  I love your questions and comments.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.  Now go our there and catch some fish!

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Quick trip to Coleto. 1/22/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Tough conditions?  Throw the Redfish Magic!

I had an appointment I could not get out of so it was 10 by time I shook loose.  It was cloudy and the forecast was for the wind to switch out of the north, clear up, and blow to 30 mph.  My hope was to get out enough before the wind change to catch a few bass, and it almost worked out.

Gust to 40mph with a Gale Warning on the coast.  That was the forecast at 6 yesterday.  I can sure attest to that, when the wind switched it started blowing hard enough I called it a day before 2.

When I got to the lake it was clearly up and the water color seemed to have clouded up again.  The skiff has the transducer in the hull so I have no clue what the water temp was, but it was cool to the touch.  The wind was still blowing out of the west and it started to rain pretty good as I approached the first bank.  So I struggle to get all the rain gear on, and of course it quits raining.  And worse the sky was starting to clear.

I fished main lake stuff around the dam and in those coves with spinnerbait, which they were not having, and topwater.  It was an easy hour before I had my first bite.

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This one fooled me and it went downhill from there.

The first, and only fish I caught, ate a topwater balsa minnow in less than a foot of water in a big cove.  I kept after that for a while without success.  For the last 4 years on Coleto topwater has been the first real indicator of the spring bite beginning.  As  I fished to the end of one of the main lake banks it turned to timber so I tossed the senko around the first tree and one ate it immediately.  I always say it is the little things, and  I watched as a really good fish rolled over and broke my line on a branch.  I forgot that last time I fished I broke a couple off and decided the leader from the braid was weak.  To bad I forgot to change it.

So I retied with a new leader and tossed it back in there and one swam away with it, I set the hook, and about halfway back it comes off.  To make it more perfect the wind really started to blow out of the north, and then it blew harder.  I fished a couple of other places but it was just impossible.  I am just not that mad at them anymore.  When I got to the ramp a guy was having a heck of a time getting his aluminum boat on the trailer.  It took me 2 runs at it to get mine on.  And a as a side note they have fixed the approach to the one ramp with concrete.  It is still roped off, I am sure to cure, but it will be an improvement.  It would not hurt to fix the other side also, the holes are pretty big.

I admit I am trying to hurry spring along with my bait choice.  But in spite of my best efforts the forecast for this weekend, possibly below freezing tonight, will keep things in winter mode.  My only real hope is that it stays clear enough for the vegetation to grow at the lake.  Luckily the water level is getting up in the stuff, and when they start biting it should be really good.

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My last couple of trips have been a little rough, but the Shoedog had a good trip, without even leaving his house.

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Nice one.  Love catching that size on a spinnerbait!

There is a little pond in his backyard that was empty a few years ago, but is full now.  It has bass, catfish, and bluegills in it.  He had trouble catching any bass out of it last year, but that surely changed the other day.

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A couple of nice bass out of his small pond.

 So congrats on that first one, really a nice bass.  And I am already thinking about our trip to Bull Shoals and Norfork in Arkansas in April.

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As I write this the wind is blowing about 25 out of the north and it is 45 degrees.  Looks like it will stay this way for about 3 days.  Not sure when the wind will quit, but hopefully it will be soon.  One thing I have been meaning to do is answer this question –

I am a novice coast fisherman. usually we wade fish with live shrimp on popping corks.
You always talk about baits you use but being a rook don’t know what they are. Could you please include some pictures of these lures. Thanks

Tell you what Glen, I am going to get up and go get an example of the lures I use in the salt and put a face to what I talk about.  It is good to be reminded that some folks who read this are rookies, or maybe just getting back in to fishing.  I hope that lots of you come here, it has become the reason I do this, to help anybody catch one more fish.  So here it comes.   And if anyone else has anything to add keep those comments coming.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Keller Bay 1/20/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Tough conditions?  Throw the Redfish Magic!

The Upper Laguna Madre it wasn’t, but it sure was not Keller’s fault.  I had not been to Keller Bay in months and the wind was going to be perfect.  With 5 – 15 out of the North East it would be blowing over the north bank, a good thing in Keller.  So I headed down that bank about halfway back, dropped anchor, and over the side I went.  That turned out to be a big fat zero.  I was throwing the light plastic and a corky and not getting bit, period.  From 1 1/2 out to about 4, they just were not there.

So I moved a couple of hundred yards down the bank and waded that area.  In both places I fished from 2 – 4 foot deep without any success.  The only thing I had resembling a bite was this guy.

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Best fight I had the first couple of hours.

It was probably 3 hours worth of wading without success.  One big factor was that low tide was like 8 am and it was 9:30 before I started fishing.  To go along with that the water was not moving though  the wind was blowing just enough to ripple the surface and it was cloudy.  I finally gave up wading and headed to the channel where Keller opens up to the back bay, right in front of the park and ramp.

This time of year there are always some trout in there and they were there today.  There was just one problem……

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I know where you can catch 50 of these.

They normally position on the mud bank opposite the park, and when the water is moving it is usually a pretty good bite.  Unfortunately today they were all small, willing, but small.  So after  a couple of passes there it was time for one of my favorite redfish banks at the mouth of Keller.

The tide was still not really moving when I got there so I put the trolling motor on low and went to chucking that Strike King Redfish Magic.  And as it does so regularly it produced a couple of fish.

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The Strike King Redfish Magic can save the day.

The couple I caught on that bank smoked the spinnerbait, but it was the only 2 bites I got fishing there.  The tide was really low and the water was just sitting there so I finally called it a day.

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On this note I called it a day.

The biggest problem was I did not go until the tide was done moving, and it did not start again before I finally quit.  Not saying moving water is the be all end all, but it sure is important.  It was disappointing simply because this time of year is ususally pretty good in Keller.  And today I did not fish the dock area back into the back bay which might have helped.  That bank usually has some pretty good reds on it at times.

The north bank, the pasture, is a long bank and I should have drifted it until I got a few bites, then hopped over  the side.  But you make your choices and live with the results.  It was just to bad, Keller is a good fishing hole.

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I got this comment from Steve and it brings up several things worth chatting about.

Doug, I always enjoy your adventures and want to follow in your footsteps one day.  This past weekend my dad came to Austin to visit and off to Port O’Connor we went for a fishing adventure.  Now dad does not get around like he used to so boat fishing is about as adventurous as it gets with him.  I know it is not glamorous like wade fishing with light lines and lighter artificial baits, but we caught over 50 sheepshead with many pushing 5 lbs.  Dad also managed to land a 40″ redfish and he commented afterwards that he thought he was going to have to pass off the pole to someone else several times.  Not bad for an 81 year old.  Thanks for all you do to make fishing our part of the world more fun.  You seem to have a ball doing what you do and that makes it all worthwhile.

First, nice job.  Second, make sure if you follow in my footsteps you don’t step in the same stuff I did.  My best piece of advice, marry well, I sure did.  As far as glamorous, wading like that in the winter is not even a little bit glamorous, it is just a matter of grinding it out.  As far as I am concerned any way you can catch them is good by me.  Why I like fresh water fishing just as much as salt, it is all about catching fish no matter how you do it.  It just so happens this time of year is when the big trout are on the prowl.  So maybe catching a 5lb + on light line is cool, but taking your Dad and catching a bunch of fish, including him having the fight of his life on a big red is awesome.  Our time is short on this earth and sharing a trip like that with your dad is a thing to be treasured.  So thanks for the report, keep them coming.

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 Not sure what is next, but it definitely will involve catching fish, at least that is the plan.  It feels like I have a fish hangover after last week, it really helps keep up the intensity when you have a legitimate chance of catching a big trout on any cast.  As usual the wind will play a big factor in the next few days and it looks like there is a pretty good cold front.  It is winter you know.  By I will be fishing somewhere.  So keep stopping in and thanks  for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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